What are the holidays without a little humor? Who can forget National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation movie?
Here are two fun holiday videos, produced by none of the usual suspects! These are by the most maligned, money-grubbing industries out there ... the airlines!
In this post we're featuring 2012's Air New Zealand airline safety video featuring the creatures of Middle Earth. They used this video on board in November and December 2012 to showcase The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which was filmed in New Zealand.
Air New Zealand has put together what has got to be one of most entertaining and well-produced airline safety videos ever, which has a cameo by Mr. Lord of the Rings himself, Peter Jackson, at 1:40.
I have to admit I've never flown Air New Zealand, so I can't attest to the service. But I am a frequent flier on Delta. Delta Airlines is spreading cheer and humor with their new holiday edition of Delta's in-flight safety video. This video features Delta employees, a 777 and even a surprise celebrity appearance at 4:44. Whether you're traveling abroad as a teacher or a volunteer abroad or you are flying domestically to go see Grandma for the holidays ... you may get to see this one on board this season.
We hope you have enjoyed some travel fun in this post.
Do you have nominations for us to view and share this season? We'd love to see them.
I have one full screen for my travel apps on my iPhone. I have so many, I even put them into groups like Air, Hotels and Navigation. I use these apps all the time when I travel abroad and just before I head to the airport.
If I'm going abroad, I check out my destination on Smart Traveler and make sure everything is fine on that end and that where I'm going is considered safe rigt now. If it's a country where I've never been, I open up Cultures and read about where I'm going to make sure when I hold up 2 fingers it means I want 2 of something ... not that I'm offending anyone.
Right now I'm testing 2 packing apps: Packing Pro and Packing Planner. Truth is, I normally throw things into a bag and head to the airport. I'm hoping one of these apps will help me plan what I'm taking better, so I can start traveling with a smaller bag.
Packing Planner is essentially a digital packing checklist app for your device that allows you to create customizable to-pack (or to-buy) lists from a selection of hundreds of various items. You can categorize them (clothes, tech, toiletries), then once you’ve packed that item, check the box and move on to the next one. Simple as that. You can do that with Packing Pro as well.
Want the app to take on Skynet-like control of your packing? You have the option of setting the app to remind and nag you to pack or buy certain items prior to the trip. You can also email off the list to your traveling partners and print out a copy in case you need a backup. This is a cool setting that Packing Pro does not yet have. And I need to be nagged constantly, so I'm going to enjoy that part of the app.
Here is a screen shot of my iPhone travel app area. I'm a real nut job, huh?
I guess I'm going to rely on you to tell me if I've missed anything. And if there are travel apps you highly recommend, please let me know and I'll give them a try.
For more information about Packing Pro and Packing Planner ... and more information about the Cultures and Smart Traveler ... I've provided those links for you in this post.
And on the subject of Smart Traveler, always remember that it's a great idea to always register with the State Dept. so in case of a dire emergency, someone in that country is going to have a record of you.
Here at GeoVisions, we send people abroad (mostly Americans) and some need a visa, depending on what they're doing and where they're going. Also, the other side of GeoVisions (The U.S. Summer Work and Travel side) is designated by the U.S. Dept. of State for the J-1 Visa program for Work and Travel. 100% of the college students coming to the US on this program need to qualify for a J-1 Visa.
What exactly is a visa?
Essentially, a travel visa is a document that shows you’re allowed to enter a specific country, for a specific length of time, to do a specific thing such as tour or study or work.
Americans Don't Need One For France | Yes They Do!
So that's the issue, really. If you're a tourist and you're headed to France (and your from the US) you don't need to go to a consulate or embassy and get a visa to enter France. You can stay 90-days, visa-free. Almost without question, countries in the Schengen Area -- a coalition of 26 mostly European countries as far north as Norway and as far south as Greece -- allow tourists to visit for up to 90 days without a visa.
But! GeoVisions sends Au Pairs to France. (We send them to six other countries too ... but we're just using France as the example.) What's an Au Pair? The French term "Au Pair" means "on par" or equal. GeoVisions Au Pairs travel to Australia to experience Australian life while living with an Australian family and caring for their children in exchange for room, board and a monthly salary.
I digress. So if you're a tourist headed to France, you don't need a visa. If you're an Au Pair headed to France, you need a visa. A student visa at that. And you will need to take anywhere between 10 and 20 hours of French language courses while you're there.
See? Just when you thought you had it all figured out.
Read the entire article, How To Get A Visa: A Beginner's Guide To Travel Documents here. It isn't that long but it's full of great information about travel documents. What's My First Move, What Will It Cost and Can I Make The Process Faster are sections you may want to read.
In an article I saw on the Huffington Post by Suzy Strutner, I was interested in why students should take a Gap Year. Suzy lists the 10 Reasons You should Take A Gap Year in her post. And at the end of the post she gives the top 10 destinations for a Gap Year.
Reason number one is college performance. US News writes that "College admission officials have become more accepting of the gap year over the past several years. Some even encourage their admitted students to take one. For more than 30 years, Harvard's acceptance letters have included a suggestion that students take time off before enrolling."
Reason number two is that the Gap Year might help you decide what you want to do with your life or what you really do want to study in college. Academic Advising at the Univeristy of Oregon suggests that "Many students are undecided about their majors when they enter college - and many who are decided change their minds more than once before they graduate (an average of three times)." Think of all the time and tuition money you will save if you take a Gap Year and realize what you want to do before you start your first class.
Anyway, Suzy lists out eight more reasons to take a Gap Year in her post.
If anyone is interested, here are the top 10 destinations for Gap Years. We added the programs we operate in each of the countries, where applicable. A $ symbol indicates participants earn a salary or stipend during the program:
Paid Teacher $
Summer Camp Counselor $
Au Pair $
Protecting the Cheetah
Health and Wellness
Kindergarten Community Work
Keeping Children Off The Streets
Au Pair $
Protecting The Environment
Read Suzy's article on the Huffington Post
I just read an article on The Expeditioner site entitled How Many Days Can I Travel In [Insert Country Here] With $1,000? It was interesting. The comments ran from "this is all a load of crap" written by someone who can obviously either spend MUCH more than that or is happy to sleep on a park bench ... to "this is the best thing I've ever seen."
So I do want to type in here that your mileage may vary.
But I used the list to test out pricing on our own programs. So for example, if I look at the pricing of our programs in France, Italy and Spain, I get a huge savings by going with GeoVisions. The Expeditioner site said it would take 22 days to blow through $1,000 in the Euro zone. That's $45.45 per day. In 22 days you'd have to leave.
On our Conversation Corps France program, you can stay a month for $1,549. That's $52 a day. But you can also stay 60-days for $27 a day and 90-days for $19 a day. On Conversation Corps Spain it will cost only $38/day for 30-days. Compare that to The Expeditioner's spending of $45 a day. If you stay with us 60-days, it drops to $19 a day and 90-days will cost $13 a day.
Asia is a good deal for travelers also. The Expeditioner spent $1,000 in 43 days. So looking at Conversation Corps Thailand ... we cost $53 a days compared to The Expeditioner at $23 a day. But when you stay in Thailand 90-days (why would you travel that far to stay only 43 days) the cost goes down to $18 per day. Still less than The Expeditioner's findings.
Keep in mind also, as you read their article and look at the chart for your favorite country that they built their budget on a room in a hostel each night, street food and minimal transport.
As a member of the Conversation Corps, you have your own private bedroom, 3 home-cooked meals a day, an orientation, and insurance (not covered on the examples in The Expeditioner's findings).
If you're well traveled and you've done a great deal of travel on your own, let us know if you agree with the findings. No matter how you cut it, if you choose a 90-day GeoVisions program, you're going to spend half as much as if you did it on your own.
Read more of their article and have a look at their chart here.
Recently, Michael Huxley, founder of Bemused Backpacker, wrote an article entitled Why I Hate The Term Solo Female Backpacker. It reminded me of the posts we published here by GeoVisions teacher in Thailand, Carla Gott. Carla pinned 3 posts for us on teaching in Thailand as a woman ... the safety, health, packing and living solo aspects.
You can read Part I, Part II and Part III of Carla's posts here. We also have 8 posts tagged with Travel Safety, that you may find interesting.
As Mr. Huxley points out in his post, "...it is just as safe for women to travel independently as it is for any man, and any stereotype or assumption that states that isn't true, is in my opinion, wrong." We found that in Ms. Gott's posts for us on women teaching in Thailand and living alone. With a few mindful precautions, it is very safe for women traveling independently.
I chose Mr. Huxley's post to share with our subscribers because of this quote: "The prevailing wisdom is that somehow just because they happen to be female the fact that they have dared to go it alone and travel the world somehow elevates them above the norm, somehow makes them braver and stronger than everyone else. Of course it is much more difficult for women to travel isn't it? So of course women have to be braver and stronger than men to conquer that mountain.
That is absolute rubbish."
It is exactly what Ms. Gott had to say in her posts.
Did you know that although 50% of the jobs in the United States are held by women, at GeoVisions 75% of our participants are women? It says a great deal about women, travel, going abroad. 90% of our programs are solo programs. In other words, everyday we see women of all ages and walks of life come in, take on a program they really want to do, go abroad and make it highly successful, and return to encourage others to do the same.
Mr. Huxley obviously see's the same thing: "Perpetuating the ideology that it is dangerous for women to travel independently and alone does absolutely nothing to normalize the fact that women are perfectly capable of traveling independently and safely."
What do you think? If you're a female traveler, what are your experiences?
Read more of Mr. Huxley's article here.
Where do you want to go? Where have you been? Have you read 1,000 Places To See Before You Die by Patricia Schultz? Did you find yourself adding destinations of your own?
I just looked at my profile over on Where I've Been, and I was shocked to see that I've only been to 8% of the world. I'd think on my bucket list would be a goal of 20%. And even then ... to see only 20% of the planet on which I live? How disappointing.
I was fascinated to read a post on National Geographic entitiled The Ultimate Travel Destination: Home. In the post by Robert Reid of Reid on Travel in Travel with Heart on October 11, 2013, he makes a case that the ultimate destination is ... home.
Of course, I find it very cool that Mr. Reid is from my home state of Oklahoma. Tulsa to be exact, where I'm going to be spending my Thanksgiving week.
As Alain de Botton put it in The Art of Travel, “The pleasure we derive from journey is perhaps dependent more on the mindset with which we travel than on the destination we travel to.” Reid goes on further to write, "That’s a mindset that can only form abroad – like a muscle built from exercise — and that finds its greatest purpose once back home."
Read more from the original post...
What do you think? Do you agree that the ultimate travel destination is home? What is home, exactly? What is your ultimate travel destination?
Greetings from Denver, Colorado!
I'm here on a little business and a lot of pleasure. I get to see my daughter, Alex, and my family is celebrating my Mom's 85th birthday here.
I'm visiting Denver, of course and Boulder, Estes Park, Golden, Woodland Park, Green Mountain Falls, Colorado Springs and Canon City. (I want to go to Red Rocks, where I of course missed Mumford and Sons.)
GeoVisions is a State Department designated sponsor of the Summer Work and Travel program. I'm going to take a day and head to Estes Park, where we have students working for the summer. I want to say hello, take their pictures and see how they like the United States.
Aside from all of this, my mind is on GeoVisions' outbound programs (volunteer abroad, teach and work abroad) becoming GeoVisions Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit. It was always a goal, to hand off those incredible programs to a Board, and to watch the company we gave birth to leave the nest. So there will be GeoVisions (a for-profit company designated for the J-1 Summer Work and Travel program) and GeoVisions Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit sending volunteers, teachers, interns and au pairs abroad.
The Foundation will officially launch on August 1 ... in less than two-weeks. I will stay on as the Executive Director of GeoVisions Foundation. My business partner, Kevin Morgan, will be the CEO of GeoVisions. I'm excited to take this next step and to working with a Board. New programs that are very unique is what gets me out of bed everyday.
A great example is our newest internship in the Bristol, England area. Child-Safe is an incredible opportunity to develop awareness of child abuse outside the home. An internship in the UK is new for us. Prevention of child abuse outside the home is a unique approach to child-safety, where so many other organizations focus on it in the home. Founded by a former Detective in the Avon and Somerset Constabulary Headquarters, near Bristol, UK, I am incredibly proud of the work our interns are going to do on the program.
Well, I'm going to join my family for a few rides on an Alpine slide and show them that racing this 63-year old down a Colorado mountain will guarantee two things: stunning scenery and the back of my bald head.
Travel safely, and I'll see you out there...
This is installment 3 of 3 of Carla's Blog post on a woman’s perspective, living and working in Thailand. Feel free to email Carla at: firstname.lastname@example.org
We come from far-off countries with different ways of doing things. So it helps to recognize local culture and norms. These can read like a regime of do's and don'ts, but recognizing basic courtesies will help bring you quiet acknowledgment from folk you pass by, and easily offered help on the smallest matter when you want it.
Cover up - please wear a bra at all times. Thailand isn't California, and it makes sense to recognize different attitudes to what is good and bad taste.
Being topless on the beach is a no-no. Do not wear tank tops or shorts when visiting temples.
You will be teaching young boys and girls, so be sure you don't reveal cleavage and thighs in the classroom. It might seem conservative to you, but you are bringing to your classroom the best of the West - not what the kids' parents might think is the worst.
It is recommended that you buy teachers' skirts and a plain white blouse. They are very cheap and will never get you into trouble with or offend your co-workers. You can find them in any street market for less than $5 dollars.
More generally, don't do things you wouldn't do back home.
That can be tough, given your new-found freedom. You will want to experiment a little bit, let your hair down. However, public intoxication, for example, is never ok. You have to remember that you are in a different country; foreigners already have a reputation for being potentially disturbing.
And the locals are not always angels - so don't walk around with that $1,000 in your pocket. Pick pocketing does happen quite often especially in areas flooded with tourists so leave your passport at home and carry a copy instead.
If you accept a drink from a stranger, make sure it's a bottled or canned beer that you see opened.
Thais have a well-earned reputation for being endearingly and genuinely friendly. If someone touches your arm, it’s not sexual harassment.
However, Thai men tend to be shy comparatively and certainly respectful. And it’s ok to have dinner with strangers - I do it all the time! It is often unavoidable. Street food is cheap, tables are often crowded. And when eating among friends, it is the norm for everyone to help themselves from common bowls of soup or plates of chicken. So you will quickly learn to share food, and in the process pick up a few words in Thai and make new friends.
Getting around: transport can be remarkably cheap, particularly buses and communal taxis. Tuk-tuks are fun, can be scary, and can be expensive. Make sure you ask the price for your destination before you get on. Motorbikes are cheaper, but can take some getting used to. If you reckon yours is going too fast, tap on the driver's shoulder and wave him to stop or slow down. Prices are generally negotiated before you get on the bike. After a few days, you will have a fair idea of the general going rates.
Taxis are generally safe. In Bangkok, they are metered, and are not unduly expensive - but make sure the meter is always on.
If you are taking a cab after midnight, you can negotiate prices with cabdrivers. If you encounter a moody driver (it can happen at the end of their shifts, when they have to change with another driver at a predesignated time and place), you can always take the next one. Still, as in any city, it always makes sense to play safe. So it is recommended that you sit in the back. Play with your phone, text a friend. Pretend to be talking to someone or better yet, talk to someone! Have your address in hand.
And last but not least - shopping. Bangkok has phenomenal shopping malls. Some are more glitzy than others, but they all have bargains, and many have top-end international brand-name outlets. If you want to spend $100 in Zara, you can. If you want to spend $10 on an entire outfit at a street market, you can - and can often haggle the price even lower.
However, it is difficult to find good bras and underwear in street markets, so pack light - but pack wisely.
You will have a one-month break in October. Your long break will be in March – May. There are plenty of activities to do during break. They include volunteering across Southeast Asia, English camps, acting gigs or relaxing in the islands. This might be the first time you will be traveling solo since you arrived in Thailand - it doesn't mean you will be traveling alone. You will meet plenty of people along your way who will become friends and traveling companions. And you will already have plenty of experiences to share with them.
You can email Carla directly, or enter your comments or questions below. We have embedded three videos you can watch about the Teach in Thailand experience with GeoVisions. Two of those videos are by Carla Gott.
Carla Gott has been teaching in Thailand with GeoVisions for more than five months. For more information on a woman’s perspective, living and working in Thailand, please email Carla at: email@example.com
Fears sensibly put in their place, let's get down to the packing. I graduated, packed three suitcases and I was gone. With one terrible mistake and that was the three suitcases. Within a week or two, I had given away half of my clothes.
Thailand is in the tropics which means sunshine, lots of it and often humid, sticky weather. And sometimes gorgeous cool breezes.
That means you need a few T-shirts or other light tops, and two or three easy-to-wash trousers, dresses, or skirts - they will dry overnight. Don't bring dress suits and three pairs of high heels. Do bring comfortable shoes for walking.
When you need more clothes, you can have fun buying stuff as you need it at unbelievably cheap markets and road-side stalls.
Personal accessories - obviously take what you need from day one. But don't overdo it - Thailand has most everything you will want, unless you are in one of the smaller villages. Even in the smallest town, you will see the same brand names that you use at home. One exception and one useful tip: If you use tampons, pack a few boxes of them. They can be difficult to find in Thailand.
But above all, remember - if you pack it, you carry it. And in the tropics, that can be hot work, especially by the time you add some souvenirs to bring home. So pack light, travel light, and enjoy the experience.
Once you've arrived, is it all plain sailing? If only… I've had good times; I've had bad times, but overall I have loved my experience.
So what's not to love?
We all react differently to tropical weather. Your skin can glow - or break out in spots; your hair can decide to shed itself more than is usual - or not. If it does, don't panic - it is called acclimatization. The climate forces some changes, eating exciting new foods brings others.
One common change - new eating habits mean many of us lose excess weight. Another plus - except for special occasions, I no longer wear makeup because I soon sweat it off, sometimes almost as soon as it goes on. Who said with travel comes freedom?
Then there are the basics: toilets. Standard Western-style toilets are now common, but squat toilets are still the default type, particularly in trains and public conveniences. Your hotel might have either - or both. Squat toilets can call for a bit of unfamiliar balancing at first - but you soon get used to them. It's good idea to keep a bit of toilet paper and hand sanitizer handy.
When you have found wherever you are staying, and before you head out into the great unknown, ask your landlord to provide you with your address in Thai. It will be handy when you are taking a cab back to your place. (Yes - I've seen more than one person telling a cab driver - try this road, try that, I'll recognize it soon…) For this reason, keep your landlord's phone number on speed dial.
Now you can get to know your surroundings. Familiarize yourself with your neighborhood. Walk around your apartment building, guesthouse, or hotel and take mental notes. How many blocks to the nearest 7/11? Are there any traffic lights or other easy-to-remember signs that will guide you back to your hotel? Plenty of folks can speak rudimentary English, but helping yourself first makes sense.
An early purchase is likely to be a sim card for your phone - or buying a new phone if you left yours at home. Getting one in Thailand is the easiest thing on the planet - and cheap. You can either buy a dumb phone or use your smart phone. Simcards (and top-ups) are available at 7/11s (you will have no trouble finding one), or from numerous other street outlets. If you want internet on your phone, pay a fee of 300 Baht (10 US dollars) and have unlimited access for a month. If you don't want to unlock your smart phone, you can buy a dumb phone and use your smart phone just for WiFi.
Yes, there is WiFi! You don't have to try to rely on WiFi cards from back home. You will have Internet at school, there are plenty of internet cafés, and numerous venues and hotels, restaurants and bars have WiFi.
Part III of Carla's adventure Teaching English Abroad in Thailand will be published next. You can email Carla directly, or enter your comments or questions below. We have embedded three videos you can watch about the Teach in Thailand experience with GeoVisions. Two of those videos are by Carla Gott.