Category Archives: Featured

Off the Beaten Path: Self-Directed Travel without the Crowds

A rural road in Tanzania en route to Mount Kilimanjaro.
Ditch the tourism superhighways and leave the asphalt behind.

As we’re currently backpacking through Southeast Asia for a few weeks, we thought it would be a good idea to work on a collaborative post for the first time. We’ve both been to tourist traps like Paris, and far-flung places like rural Poland, and we have found there are several ways you can avoid the crowds, see the best and least-trodden attractions, and also get by on the cheap in pretty much any country out there.  This post will be the first in a series of self-directed travel guides.

Why You Should Blaze Your Own Trail Abroad

There’s a reason everyone should see the Eiffel Tower, the Colosseum, and London Museum – they’re all gorgeous, and most people can appreciate these beautiful sights. And there’s nothing wrong with wanting to see these for yourself, in fact we encourage it.

However, along with popular destinations come a variety of annoyances, frustrations, and even dangers. Here’s just a few:

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Quitting Coffee

Only you can decide if its for good or evil

Coffee is a regular part of many person’s diet;  about 1/3 of people in both Europe and America regularly drink the caffeinated beverage.  Whether this is a good or bad thing is up for debate.  I have scoured the Internet and professional journals for years about a conclusion on coffee and caffeine, and there is none to be had.  The Olympic committee has banned the substance because caffeine has been proven to increase athletic performance in skills such as distance running. But from an overall health perspective, it seems coffee isn’t too bad, but nor is it a panacea.  There are numerous articles out there on quitting coffee, but if you plan to quit, you will need a good reason to do so, for as I have found, reducing caffeine intake can be a challenging task.

I have had an abbreviated history with caffeine, as I didn’t drink soda as a child.  I first stared drinking coffee regularly in sophomore year of college, and have been drinking it ever since.  Caffeine has a pronounced effect on me, probably in part due to my late introduction and perhaps just due to my body chemistry. The Mayo Clinic talks about caffeine sensitivity, but luckily its effects aren’t that severe with me, but a cup at 10:30PM will keep me up until 4am.  So why stop?  When I first started working a standard hours job, I wasn’t getting enough sleep, and was consuming 1 to 3 cups a day.  The experience was a daily emotional rollercoaster, a little too much to regularly handle.  I cut it down to 1-2 cups a day, but I still had a rise and fall in the morning and early afternoon, which would often conclude with a cup of tea around 2PM.

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Thought, Science, and Art: Daily Motivation Tactics

Van Gogh's Starry Night Over the Rhone
Van Gogh's tribute to the night sky could give you an inspired morning

You get out of bed, blink your eyes blearily, make a weak attempt to stretch and loosen up, then head to the shower, where you lean against the wall half-asleep and hope the hot water will tease you awake. After you get cleaned up, you trudge downstairs, inhale a cup of coffee, and grudgingly walk out the door.

Sound familiar?

Not exactly the picture of purpose and motivation, is it?  Waking up is hard, but especially when you do so by an alarm clock (out of necessity of course) and by packing yourself full of a stimulant, namely caffeine.

In frustration over the inglorious way I used to wake up – i.e. very slowly for a couple of hours with a predictable afternoon crash – I’ve brainstormed and used several tools effectively to get myself off to an inspired start. Continue reading