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Should You Learn a Language to Travel?

World travel exposes individuals to new countries, new cultures, and new languages.  It’s all very exciting, but it can also be mildly terrifying – especially if you’re facing a language barrier.  So we’re analyzing whether it’s actually necessary to learn the language of the country you’re about to visit.

We have been traveling now for more than five months, and we have been exposed to over 10 different languages on this trip, alone… across multiple situations and with various levels of fluency.

So is another language required for your trip?  Let’s take a look.

I love you wall in multiple languages

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Traveling with Servas International

A big happy Thanksgiving to all our American readers (and even if you aren’t :))!  We are very fortunate to be sharing this day of gratitude with a local Couchsurfer, and it has us reflecting on our other generous hosts.

Throughout our travels, we have employed many ways to find low-cost lodging. Some of these are less interactive like house-sitting, where we watch someone’s pets while they are traveling. Other lodging types are more of a cultural exchange like Couchsurfing, and Servas is another option. It is much more focused on the fostering of world peace and values more sustainable travel practices and humanity. When we have the opportunity, this program is a perfect way to gain a better understanding of cultures around the world by living with hosts for a couple of days.

Small Canal in Netherlands

Have you ever heard of Servas? Most people have not as it is relatively small as compared with other similar sites. In this post, we’ll talk about what Servas is and how it started. We’ll also share some of our experiences over the past five months of travel that have made us well-versed in the program. Read on to learn everything you need to know to get started! Continue reading “Traveling with Servas International”

Celebrating Thanksgiving Abroad – Travel’s Influence on Our Traditions

Family are gathered, pies are baked, wine will soon flow, football is queued, and the bird is already releasing heavenly, succulent smells that will quickly infiltrate every corner of the house.  By the end of the day, tummies will be stuffed, the room will be full of laughter and games, and eventually, we’ll all pass out in a food coma before our first holiday movie of the year.

Does this sound like your home on Thanksgiving Day?

For us, Thanksgiving has always been about family, food, and celebration.  And while millions of Americans will be traveling home this holiday season, this will be our first abroad.  So how do we celebrate when so far from home?  And how has travel changed this American tradition for us?

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2015 Continue reading “Celebrating Thanksgiving Abroad – Travel’s Influence on Our Traditions”

View of Heidelberg from Philosophers Walk

Heidelberg Germany: The Perfect Fairytale Town

The town of Heidelberg is magical with its historic old town. With a hilltop castle and views along the Nekar river, we were completely blown away. There is something special about this place that made us feel like we were in a fairytale. The cobblestone streets and medieval architecture were a pleasant view into old Germany. It is a wonderful place for a romantic holiday and the perfect fairytale town.

Heidelberg Palace

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How to Get Free (or Mostly Free) Lodging Around the World

We want to share with you our favorite types of lodging for long-term travel – particularly the free and nearly-free types that let us keep traveling longer (because that’s the end goal, right?).  When you’re on the road for as long as we’ve been (and will be), you’ll quickly find that accommodation is one of the most expensive buckets of your budget.

Finding a place to sleep shouldn’t cost your entire life’s savings.  Fortunately, in only four months, our food expense has surpassed our lodging.  And this isn’t because we absolutely love food (though we do).  Rather, it’s because we aren’t spending the money on hotels.  Hey, we can’t always afford to stay at a resort!

Read on to discover our favorite programs, what they’re all about, what to watch out for, and how much you can save compared to hotels.

kitty-1

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Namib Desert Sossusvlei Adventure (Video)

Namibia is home to more than just spectacular wildlife. It also has some of the tallest sand dunes in the world. The Namib-Naukluft National Park is the home to most of these wondrous landscapes and also the famous Deadvlei. We camped for four days in Sossus Oasis Camp which was enough to cover everything well. This campsite was inside the gate, and this allowed us to get in the park an hour earlier than those outside the gate. We had some unexpected surprises during our visit that turned out to be amazing and even eerie.

Big daddy dune fog

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25 Photos That Will Make You Want to Visit Namibia

As a photographer, I couldn’t wait to get to Namibia.  I’ve dreamt about going on an African safari for years, and I was told this was a great alternative to the far more popular Tanzania.  What I didn’t realize is that Namibia has so much more to offer than just elephants and zebras.  If you’re debating a trip to this beautiful country, here are some photos that should tip the scales.

wildlife-2

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Camping in Namibia: 8 Amazing Campsites

Campsites in Namibia are generally well equipped, easy to get to, and affordable. Upon reaching our first site, we were happy to find WiFi, hot showers, a restaurant, shops with food and water, and even electric outlets. These amenities seemed pretty standard across most of our campsites with few exceptions. Our time camping was very memorable and will stay with us for our lifetimes. The landscapes were beautiful, and some camps we had all to ourselves. How could you pass up such an opportunity to explore Namibia?

Camping in Namibia - Inside Tent

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The Ultimate Etosha National Park Wildlife Viewing Guide

When we first checked in at the Andersson Gate at the south end of Etosha National Park, the guard thought he misheard when we told him we were planning to camp in the park for six nights.  While much longer than their average visitors (who tend to only spend 3-4 days in the park), we had the luxury of time on our hands.  With that time, we were fortunate enough to discover all the best places in the park to spot the wide variety of wildlife.

And now, we can share that knowledge with you.  Which animals do you most want to find in the park?

etosha-1

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Visiting the Damara Tribe in Namibia

The Damara are one of the oldest tribes in Namibia. We had the honor of visiting them easily at the the Damara Living Museum near Twyfelfontein. The experience was much different than the Himba, as it was more of a structured sharing of the culture, but was still a very valuable visit. We interacted directly with one of the tribe members, witnessed traditional song and dance, and were shown many of the traditions still held today by the tribe members. If you are traveling through this part of Namibia, the Damara are worth visiting.
Damara tribe member walks through the village in Namibia

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