When you head to the Emerald Isle there are a few things you will be keen to see and do above all else. Sure, spotting a leprechaun would be nice and you wouldn’t say no to a pint of creamy Guinness but there are some incredible, legendary places to check out too. What about Dunluce Castle in Ireland’s north and other mysterious spots? There are plenty of these places to choose from.

Charming Dunluce Castle in Ireland

This beautiful, ruined castle is in Northern Ireland. If you are ever in this part of the world then you really need to make the effort to head over and see this stunning medieval castle.

The first Dunluce Castle in Ireland was built in the 13th century and since then it has had a long and frankly incredible history. Numerous battles. A shipwrecked Spanish Armada shi. A kitchen that collapsed into the sea. A town around it wiped from the map.  These are just some of the highlights of the Dunluce Castle in Ireland story to date.

Dunluce Castle 4

Getting to Dunluce Castle in Ireland

I passed this legendary place while driving the Antrim Coast Road from Belfast past the Giant’s Causeway.  I knew nothing about it and just saw this incredible ruin appear in the most dramatic setting possible – with it’s impossibly steep drops down to the sea. Get ready for some of the best selfies of your life!

Giant's Causeway

Talkative Blarney Castle

Ever wished that you could talk more freely and eloquently? We Irish call this the “gift of the gab”.  You can supposedly gain this power by kissing the Blarney Stone, housed in Blarney Castle.

tower

The Blarney Stone is a large block of limestone, built into Blarney Castle, just a few miles away from Cork. It has been here since the mid 15th century.  In that time, millions of tourists from all over the planet have kissed it. In fact, the word “blarney” is now used by many people to mean a way of speaking in a flattering, witty and clever way.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/geekoftheweek/5987021765/in/photolist-a843Zc-9Jrs91-5y7yn-oyQrwF-dfGbyf-wCgsPo-wCgoHj-dfGsHD-dfFUTz-9z8bn1-arGv7q-a86RCJ-53rtmv-7Az1Po-pewP84-53vNxo-53rshe-2YivEw-v2iJWc-87pKcZ-v2iKrR-6BGCyW-pdVM47-a844mB-7RkmPu-bp76qz-7U1Aok-vXxQZ1-87sWiJ-uVx2ke-5wBciB-GR8NL-9z89oU-ddNfV-5i18L6-oTs1iM-5i19hK-moeF6-vFyusu-vVRV43-hqUfk-oAXsHs-sD5Gy-phDb8G-5toFrE-6Y1Xjf-gGGAy-uVoCxs-vSMNve-ddNgZ

It used to be that you got held by the ankles and went down head first to kiss the stone but I kissed the Blarney Stone just by holding on to the iron railing and leaning back. Get ready to start talking endlessly as soon as you do this.  I bent every ear I met for days/weeks after, true story.

Spectacular Ross Castle, Ireland

As you are probably starting to see, this lush, green island is crammed full of fascinating and historic castles. Another one of these you will want to take in is Ross Castle in Ireland.

To see this glorious 15th century Irish castle you need to go County Kerry. Here, you will find a lovely looking building this is filled with history and incredible tales.

Ross Aglow

For example, it is said that one of the previous owners either jumped or was sucked out of a window and sent to the bottom of the nearby lake along with his horse and books. In fact, he is said to be still live down there, keeping an eye on the place while presumably reading all day long.

Ross Castle, Ireland

Another legendary tale from Ross Castle in Ireland is that people believed that it could never be conquered until a ship attacked it from the lake, which was considered impossible. When a boat was taken to the lake during the Irish Confederate Wars the locals couldn’t believe their eyes and quickly surrendered.

Ross Castle, Killarney National Park, Ireland

These days, it is simply a gorgeous castle in a lovely setting in a part of Ireland you really should get to know.

Bunratty Castle, Ireland for a Banquet

One of the great things about these Irish castles is that they each offer something different and unique. With Bunratty Castle, you get to see a beautiful structure in County Clare as well as enjoy a medieval banquet.

Bunratty Castle

One of the most popular castles in Ireland.  One of the main draws is the fun medieval banquet which they have been serving up since the 1960s, coupled with live entertainment.

Singing at Bunratty Castle Traditional Irish Night

Near Bunratty Castle is the equally enchanting Bunratty Folk Park. A living museum showing how locals lived in the past. There is a lot to do, so definitely add it to your list of Irish castles to visit.

Bunratty Castle - Ireland

 

There are even more castles dotted around Ireland than featured here. The more I visit the more I understand this amazing country, its history and timeless legends.

 

Do you allow terrorism risk to dictate your travel plans?

Unfortunately we are living in a day and age where life is not all about sunshine and roses, in fact not a day seems to go by at the moment when I don’t turn on the TV or open a newspaper to a story about another unfortunate incident. This is enough to make you wonder what the world is coming to, and the one thing which makes you think that more than anything else in the world, is terrorism.

terrorism travel guide
Image by Cliff / Flickr

Now, I am writing this for a good reason. I currently live in Turkey, and as a foreigner living in a country which is on a high terrorism alert, I can understand to a degree why so many people have decided this year to cancel their holidays to tourist resorts in my second home, and to stay in their own back gardens.

terrorism travel guide
Image by Bird Eye / Flickr

Following the horrific attack earlier this year in Tunisia, people are running scared, and quite frankly I can’t blame them. The truth of the matter is however, that these attacks can actually happen anywhere and at any time, so whether you choose to travel or not, doesn’t really cut down on your degree of risk. Life at the moment is basically about juggling risk, and you either stay in and don’t leave the house, allowing these ‘people’ (and I use the word ‘people’ loosely.  In my opinion, they’re not really high enough up on the human scale to even be afforded that title) to win.

Of course, if you’re thinking of heading off somewhere high risk, then you need to be aware of the risks and make an educated, informed decision based on this, it’s not just you that would be affected, if anything goes wrong, but your family and friends.  But saying that, we each have our own paths, and hopefully afforded the freedom to make up our own minds.

terrorism travel guide
Image by Magharebia / Flickr

Terrorism Travel Guide – So, how do you decide?

My family back in the UK called me a few months ago in a state of total and utter panic because of a story which had been printed in one of the large tabloid newspapers, urging tourists not to go to Turkey because it was unsafe. Now, how does this newspaper know for a fact that Turkey is unsafe? Do they have inside knowledge that they’re not sharing with MI5?

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Image by DVIDSHUB / Flickr

No, they are simply scaremongering, and in effect causing mass panic. What does this do? It affects people’s happiness, stops people from travelling, it affects the tourism industry in a country which relies heavily on it, ruins people’s livelihoods, and basically scares the family and friends of those who are living here very peacefully and safely.

I had to reassure my family countless times, and I still don’t think I managed it to great effect. Basically, the point I’m getting at is that unless you have solid evidence to prove a point, don’t go throwing your opinion out there and calling it ‘fact’ – you’re causing more trouble than you’ll ever know.

Tourism in Turkey has taken a massive hit this year, there’s no denying it; in fact, this year is probably the worst season I have seen in seven years. Of course this is due to people not wanting to travel because of the risk of terrorism, and whilst I can’t blame them for being worried, I don’t think this should necessarily stop anyone from travelling.

Terrorism Travel Guide – What do you think?

You’re not playing Russian roulette by getting on a plane, because you could say the same thing about heading to your nearest city for a day out shopping. These terrorist organisations don’t particularly care who they hurt, they just want to cause bloodshed and terror, and that could be in the UK, it could be in the USA, it could be in Australia, it could be in any European country, or basically anywhere in the world – the fact is, you don’t know, unless you have a crystal ball, and if you do have one then you need to be sharing this information.

terrorism travel guide
Image by André Gustavo Stumpf / Flickr

I live in a very peaceful Muslim country, where western beliefs and customs sit happily side by side with the predominant Islamic religion of the country. I don’t see any negativity or terror in this, in fact from what I have seen, Islam is a very peaceful and tolerant religion; the fact is that these people causing all this bloodshed are doing it in the name of evil, not in the same of any god or any religion. This is what you need to remember – no god the world over would tolerate a single drop of blood shed.

So, how can you battle this evil? Basically, you can get on with your life and travel, because travel is a gift.  That is my philosophy.  You don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow, you don’t know if you’re ever going to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and if you are, what can you do about it?

terrorism travel guide
Image by Elliott Brown / Flickr

As sad as it is, and yes, we should not have to even consider these facts in this developed day and age, if your number is up, well, your number is up. I’m not suggesting you go out there and visit seriously high risk countries and put yourself in danger, of course you have to weigh up the degree of risk, but make sure you base this decision on concrete evidence, not some scaremongering newspaper report, written by someone who has probably never even set foot out of their own country, let alone been to the place they’re stating is ‘unsafe’.

The advice to listen to is government advice – head to your embassy website and find the up to date information, and base your decision on that. Believe me, Turkey is as safe as anywhere else in the world, and if nowhere is safe, well, you might as well get out and see the damn place, keeping your wits about you, listening to reliable advice, and enjoying the wonderful gift that is travel.

Don’t let them win.

terrorism travel guide
Image by Les Haines / Flickr

Terrorism Travel Guide – by Nicola Curtis

Featured Image – ‘Room clearing‘ by The U.S. Army and all Flickr images are licensed under CC BY 2.0

This concludes our Terrorism Travel Guide. We hope you find this information useful. If you are looking for a specific piece of information, please do comment below as we may have just forgotten to mention it.

terrorism travel guide
Image by thierry ehrmann / Flickr

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Here is our Travel bag checklist

Consider this your tick-list for never forgetting anything from that cabin bag

There are certain things you need when you go away, whether it’s a simple vacation or a travel expedition, and when it comes to packing your carry-on luggage, it’s easy to forget a thing or two, simply because you’re too focused on what goes in your actual suitcase. This is a mistake, because one slip up here could mean you’re not going anywhere.

Female Solo Travel 7

This is your travel bag checklist, the things you should tick off as you pack, to help ensure a smooth onward journey to your destination. Feel free to add a few bespoke things to suit your personal circumstances, after all, we’re all different, and if you can’t travel without your favourite teddy-bear or some other comfort-style item, then by all means go for it!

Travel bag checklist 1 – Passport – Let’s face it, you’re not getting out of the country without it, so make sure this is your first item to pack. It’s always a good idea to carry a copy of your passport also, just in case the worst case scenario does happen and you lose your original document. This means you can replace it much easier because you have a copy of the passport number etc; having said that, it’s always better to just not lose it in the first place. When ticking off your travel bag checklist, this is the number one item.

travel bag checklist
image by Mike / Flickr

Travel bag checklist 2 – Visa – Check whether you need a visa for the destination(s) you’re visiting, and make sure you do this ahead of time because sometimes the process can be rather lengthy. You might not need one, but then again you might, and the ways to obtain your visa vary from country to country, depending on your country of origin also. If you need to buy your visa at the airport when you arrive, make sure you have the right money, in the correct currency, to save time and hassle. Sometimes you won’t be able to obtain change when you arrive, so save yourself the drama.

travel bag checklist
Image by Jon Rawlinson / Flickr

Travel bag checklist 3 – Money, money, money – How are you going to take your funds with you? You need to think about this before you even start to figure out your travel bag checklist. It goes without saying that you shouldn’t carry large amounts of cash with you, so consider taking your debit card, remembering to let your bank know that you’re going to be using it overseas. Of course, you need to look into charges for this also. Many travel companies now have a pre-paid card which you top-up with cash before you go away and use at cashpoints, so simply look into this and figure out the best way for you. Regardless, it’s always a good idea to carry a little of the local currency for your destination, to get you through the first few days.

travel bag checklist
Image by Kurtis Garbutt / Flickr

Travel bag checklist 4 – Travel insurance – Never attempt to travel without adequate travel insurance, it’s simply not worth the risk. Explore your options and find the best one for you, declare any pre-existing medical conditions, and purchase your policy, taking the paperwork with you. This is a travel bag checklist staple. If your country of origin and destination is part of the reciprocal EHIC programme, then apply online for your free EHIC (European Health Insurance Card), and take that with you too, although be mindful that this doesn’t replace the need for insurance separately.

travel bag checklist
image by State Farm / Flickr

Travel bag checklist 5 – Driving licence – If you’re planning on hiring a car whilst you’re away, take both the paper copy and the card. Even if you’re not thinking about hiring a vehicle, take it anyway, because you never know when you might need extra ID.

travel bag checklist
Image by Arend / Flickr

Travel bag checklist 6 – Medications – If you are on any regular medications, make sure you head to your doctor’s surgery and obtain enough to last you for the duration of your trip. Store these in the labelled boxes, in your hand luggage. Certain medications or medical equipment may also need a letter from your doctor stating that you need it and why. On top of this, it’s always useful to take painkillers with you, because you never know when that mid-flight headache is going to kick in. This is another travel bag checklist staple you shouldn’t forget.

travel bag checklist
Image by Marko Javorac / Flickr

Travel bag checklist 7 – Gadgets and chargers – I doubt you’re going to forget your gadgets, e.g your phone, laptop, Kindle, iPad/tablet etc, but you might accidentally forget your chargers, so make these a priority to remember! It’s also a good idea to pack a universal travel adapter too, so you’re good to charge as soon as you arrive. If you’re worried about running out of battery, consider buying a back-up battery charger for your device; these can be bought online quite cheaply and really do save a lot of stress when your phone is about to die and you need battery. If you want to save space when you’re compiling your travel bag checklist, remember to download phrase books and guides to your iPad or Kindle, rather than taking heavy, conventional books.

travel bag checklist
Image by Brett Taylor / Flickr

Travel bag checklist 8 – Comfort items – If you’re prone to the fidgets when you travel, remember to take a few items to make your journey more comfortable. This could mean taking thick socks to avoid cold feet whilst flying, a hoody for when you get a bit chilly, a change of clothes, or simply sweets to avoid those irritating popping ears when taking off and landing. This is basically whatever works for you, but remember that you do have limited space and weight.

travel bag checklist
Image by juandazeng / Flickr

If you can tick these items off your travel bag checklist you should be good to go.

Cover Image by Moyan Brenn

Travel bag checklist – By Nicola Curtis

Thus concludes our Travel bag checklist. We hope you find this information useful. If you are looking for a specific piece of information, please do comment below as we may have just forgotten to mention it.

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Here Are Our Top 6 Female Solo Travel Tips

Why being a woman makes no difference to your travel fun

If you read the newspapers or listen to general hearsay and gossip, the fact you are a woman should make a massive difference to your travel plans. Apparently, your breasts mean you should not venture off backpacking, you should not head off into the unknown, and you should certainly not be doing any of it alone.

Female Solo Travel
Image by Miguel Virkkunen Carvalho / FLICKR

What absolute rubbish, right?

Female travel, be it as part of a group or a solo adventure, is just as safe as any other kind of travel, provided you heed a little advice and listen to that instinct which comes pre-programmed in us women.

With the day and age we live in, simply walking down the street could be dangerous, so really you can’t put too much danger on the idea of a woman heading off backpacking or visiting a country alone.

If you are at all worried about female solo travel, but you’re still itching to head off into the unknown, check out these 6 top tips and nuggets of advice, which all go to prove that female travel of any kind should certainly not be avoided.

Female Solo Travel
Image by Felipe Câmara / Flickr

Female Solo Travel Tip 1 – Listen to travel advice

This first piece of advice basically goes for any kind of travel, not just the female type, however you may be a tiny bit more susceptible to potential trouble if you don’t heed general, official advice. I say the word ‘official’ there, because there is a lot of scaremongering which goes on these days. Official government websites are where you need to be looking, the ones which tell you the alert level in a particular country, and give you up to date advice on where you should avoid. Listen to what these sites are telling you, because they’re not making it up for the hell of it. If you’re visiting a place that is at a low level of concern, or none at all, grab your bag and go – the fact you wear a bikini and not swim shorts should not make a difference.

Here’s a List of Some Official Government Travel Advice Websites

USA Traveller’s Checklist

USA Gov Travel Alerts and Warnings

USA Gov information on Various Destinations

International Travel Vaccines Medicines Advice

Female Solo Travel Tip 2 – Dress appropriately for the place you’re visiting

Generally if you’re visiting a country where women often cover up, especially Muslim countries, then you need to do the same. Again, it’s about heeding advice and doing a little research, but don’t go flashing arms and cleavage when you’re in a rural area, because you’re only going to attract unwanted attention, which could then lead to trouble.

Female Solo Travel
Image by Giuseppe Milo / Flickr

Female travel, provided you listen to advice, is safe, and the biggest piece of advice anyone could give you is to dress modestly. Of course, if you’re on a beach in a tourist resort, you can whip that bikini out, no problem, but if you’re wandering through a rural village in the middle of Turkey, perhaps covering up a little would serve you better. It’s always a good idea to carry a pashmina in your bag too, in case you’re called upon to cover your head in a circumstance you weren’t expecting.

10 Things You Should Never Wear When Traveling Abroad

Female Solo Travel Tip 3 – Stay in contact back home regularly

The wonder of technology has made things so much easier in terms of communication these days, and the great thing here is that you can easily check in back home on a daily basis, which ups your safety to high levels. It doesn’t have to be a full-on email per day, or a lengthy phone call, but a quick Facebook message, or a WhatsApp, is all that is needed. You also need to make sure you give someone you trust at home a general idea of where you’re heading, just in case something happens, or you fall off the radar with those back home. It’s always good to be prepared in any circumstances.

Female Solo Travel
Image by James Emery / Flickr

Female Solo Travel Tip 4 – Don’t fall for charm

It’s an unfortunate fact of the world that some men attempt to charm women for reasons other than the fact they genuinely like them. This can happen the world over, and whilst I’m not suggesting you tar everyone with the same brush, after all you could meet the love of your life, what I am suggesting is that you treat everyone with the same level of caution. Trust has to be earned. Not everyone who smiles at you is your friend. I can’t think of any other quotes to throw out there right now, but I’m sure you get the general gist.

Female Solo Travel

The bottom line is that if you’re travelling alone, you are a little more vulnerable than if you’re travelling in a group, and although female solo travel is safe, it also has a few more risks – calculated ones, mind you.

Female Solo Travel Tip  5 – Listen to your gut and remember your common sense

We women are born with a natural instinct, and it is something we should listen to. If your gut is telling you something isn’t right, for the love of God listen to it. Don’t leave your common sense at the airport, don’t go flashing your valuable belongings around willy-nilly, don’t walk down a dark street, don’t agree to going for a walk on a beach with a stranger, whether he’s drop-dead gorgeous or not. Don’t take risks with your personal safety, listen to your gut, and you should come out the other side unscathed.

Image by Barta IV / Flickr

Female Solo Travel Tip 6 – Consider women-only tours

This particular suggestion has a couple of advantages to it; firstly, traveling as a group is safer than travelling on your own, more enjoyable, and you get to see things in a more structured way, generally with the help of a very knowledgeable guide. Secondly, travelling as a group means you could meet new friends, and that is partly what travel is all about.

You’ll find many companies specialising in female-only travel on the internet, and it’s a case of researching which are the best ones, checking out reviews, and whittling down your choices.

Female Solo Travel 31
Image by Chris Barker / Flickr

I’m sure you’ve read this little ditty and come to the same conclusion as me – female travel, solo or otherwise, is basically about not taking undue risks, listening to your instincts, and being respectful of local customs in terms of dress etc. If you can do that, there’s no reason why the fact you have breasts should stop you exploring the world in the same way as a man.  Safe travels.

Female Solo Travel 2
Image by Bruno Caimi / Flickr

Female Solo Travel Tips – by Nicola Curtis.  Cover Image by Merve illeux / Flickr

This concludes our article on ‘Female Solo Travel Tips’. We hope you find this information useful. If you are looking for a specific piece of information, please do comment below as we may have just forgotten to mention it.

Female Solo Travel 34
Image by honey-bee / Flickr

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Yes, really.  That’s my advice. You get to experience the joy of discovering stunning new places by chance.  Places you never knew existed before.   Places like Logarska Valley in Slovenia. Who wouldn’t want to spend a few days there?  There are many hidden gems of breath-taking natural beauty, tucked away off the usual beaten track, not well known or talked about.

travel europe
Travel Europe and experience the beauty of places like Logarska Valley, Slovenia.

I’m often amazed at the discovery of beauty and splendour in places as I travel Europe that I just happen to ‘stumble upon’ as I wasn’t following any set schedule or plan and kinda just going wherever the wind was blowing me.

That might sound frivolous, lazy or careless to some, I know, but actually no.  The point I’m trying to make is, don’t have too many expectations and plans of fitting in lots of particular destinations and activities.

Take your time as you travel Europe or travel anywhere.   Just be in the moment, wherever you are.   It sounds pretty darn obvious I know, but when I first started to travel Europe I had so many expectations. so many places listed that I wanted to see.  I didn’t want to miss out on anything.  In hindsight that eagerness meant I missed out on a hell of a lot.   Eventually, I realised that even though there very well could be a better camping spot or hostel around the next bend, it will still be there tomorrow, so it can stay in tomorrow, as I’m happy enjoying where I am right now.

That’s the times I remember and look back on fondly, the times I was in the moment, happy to be in the moment.

All the times I was rushing to be somewhere else,  to make a deadline, those are long since forgotten. And I did have many of those, way too many.

There’s nothing new in anything I’ve said, but I still need to remind myself.  It’s amazing, even now, how often I forget my own wisdom.

There’s still so much I haven’t seen, so many places I haven’t been.  I will continue to travel Europe and travel everywhere, but I no longer care, as I once did, if I don’t manage to do it all this trip, and I no longer try, and now I always, always have a great time.

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