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A Travel Tip for Seekers: The Ashram

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An ashram is a spiritual sanctuary.  The word ashram is of sanskrit origin, modified to modern Hindi.  An ashram was originally a place where a holy man, teacher or guru lived, and students or followers who came from afar to study with them, would eventually end up needing a place to crash.  A community would spring up around each ashram, with its inhabitants associated with the spiritual teacher in some way.  Cleanliness, even a starkness or decor, is principle, as those who came were not interested in worldly things.

Some rights reserved by ruffin_ready. Flickr.

Some rights reserved by ruffin_ready. Flickr.

As religion and spirituality shift, change and spread around the world, the ashram is changing as well.  Many masters passed, leaving no one to take their place as the head of the ashram.  Scandal may have left communities lost for guidance.  Eastern philosophies headed west, and western seekers were more easily able to head east.  The ashram had to change as well, and now they are kept open by the remaining followers by offering cheap accommodation, yoga or meditation classes, and meals.

It’s a tough situation – those left to manage the ashrams, had never wanted to become proprietors of a business.  They would often rather be studying or practicing.   I have visited many different ashrams in the east and west, and I want to share some tips with budget travelers, who may find their way to an ashram for one reason or another.  It’s important to know that it’s not just a cheap place to stay.  Many arrive or live in an ashram because they are seeking a haven, a place to study, to practice, to contemplate life.  Here are a few tips to help you understand how you can be respectful, and get the most from your visit.  An ashram is NOT a youth hostel, so if you’re looking for a party, stay elsewhere.

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Why I Won’t Travel Alone

Filed under Adventure, general, Travel Tips
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Beep. Beep. Beep. The emergency room monitors sliced through the fog of narcotics and anti-nausea medications. The IV in the crook of my arm made it impossible to get comfortable. My neck and head throbbed with a pain I had never experienced before. Over three days and the course of two ER visits, an MRI, a CAT scan, a few hits of intravenous morphine, and a few prescription bottles filled with muscle relaxers and Vicodin, I had become convinced: after this week, I would never, ever travel alone.

Emergency Room. Photo by KOMUnews

Emergency Room. Photo by KOMUnews

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Top Four Most Bizarre Festivals in Spain

Filed under Adventure, Canary Islands, Culture, Spain
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From tomato tossing to baby jumping, Spain is home to some of the weirdest local festivals in the world and barely a week goes by without a festival taking place in at least one area, with cities, towns and villages each celebrating in their own way.

Tomatina Festival taken by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/11795120@N06/">Revolution_Ferg</a>

Tomatina festival taken by Revolution_Ferg

We’ve put together a list of the top four most bizarre festivals in Spain which are guaranteed to leave you feeling shocked, excited and eager to snap up the next available plane ticket.

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3 Alternatives to Halloween

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There’s a lot to celebrate in Autumn. Some of the festivals are regional, like local harvest and wine festivals, others are historical, like Columbus Day and Thanksgiving, and others seem to span regions and culture as well as religion – like Halloween.  This holiday has its roots in a few different regional pagan celebrations, and the season also brings other celebrations and festivals honoring those no longer with us – whether a sweet celebration of ancestors, or a time to wander between worlds.

These three featured festivals are celebrated in other cultures with a similar reverence for that other world.

 
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“Trick or treat” is a slogan often in this country for Halloween . Photo: flickr

 

1 Dia de los Muertos, Mexico

The beautiful painted skulls from Mexico have been adopted more regularly as Halloween decorations here in the US and Europe, but they originally represented deceased ancestors. The “Day of the Dead” is celebrated in Latin America between October 31 and All Souls Day (2 November 2). It is a colorful festival in honor of the dead and is celebrated differently depending on your religion. According to the traditional belief the ancestors come to the land of the living at the end of the harvest season from the other world to visit, communicate, and be celebrated by the living. Even Spanish missionaries who wanted to abolish this practice have failed. Instead this just turned into the Christian holidays of All Saints and All Souls Days. Read More »

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Upcoming Travel Trend – Corrupt Tours

Filed under Adventure, Curiosities, Prague
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Forget about the magnificent architectural wonders and prestigious art galleries that the Czech Republic is known for – a Prague-based tour company is offering tourists a bizarrely unique peak into the side of the city that most people are aware of but never get to see first-hand.

Prague Charles Bridge taken by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/fklv/">fklv</a>

Prague Charles Bridge taken by fklv

Corrupt Tour is a company which offers something entirely unique in the history of tourism in the form of corruption tour packages.

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Travel Blogger of the Month: Four Jandals

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Thongs, flippers, slip slops…jandals?  Perhaps you’ve heard the Kiwi term for the ubiquitous flip flop, but I hadn’t until I heard of Four Jandals, adventure travel blog of one of the worlds leading independent adventure travel blogging couples, Cole and Adela. (Phew!)  They’ve been slipping and slopping, flipping and flopping, around the world since 2009.

Four Jandals Snowboarding

Four Jandals Snowboarding

“Our main goal is to inspire others to travel. And we do that by providing stunning photos, adventure travel tips and tales to help you step out of your comfort zone, in comfort.” – Cole and Adela, 2013

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Snowmobiling through Canada’s Backcountry

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We can’t say they didn’t warn us. We were presented with a waiver right away that necessitated the signature of a witness before hopping onto snowmobiles for the first time in our life. All possible risks seemed to be covered by it. Even natural hazards such as running into an elk, a cougar or even a grizzly bear (how exciting would that be, right?)

Snowmobile Tour from Lea on Vimeo.

Scott, the owner of Toby Creek Adventure Centers in Panorama (British Columbia), basically summed it up for us in two sentences: “Don’t drive them into anything, they’re made of plastic. Basically, if you break them you pay for it.” We nodded, signed the waiver without a second thought, pulled our ski goggles over the huge motorsport helmets and jumped onto the leopard patterned seats of the snowmobiles. We were ready for this adventure.  

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7 Countries where you can Still Travel for Under $30 per Day

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The world is changing fast – communication and commerce the world over are creating more economic opportunity and greater equality.   Those of us who seek remote corners of the world are finding them harder to come by, and those hoping to go on that round-the-world trip are having to be quite choosy about their stops.  Prices can double, triple or quadruple in popular cities or villages in just one season with the influx of travelers, and hippie havens aren’t as budget friendly as they used to be for all the reasons above.

Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua

Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua

It can be a sensitive subject, so speaking strictly to the ease on one’s wallet, the shift in economic landscape can be beneficial in certain circumstances.  Here’s a list of countries where you’ll still be able to travel in for under $30 per day if you stay off the beaten path.  (Think $10 lodging, $10 food, $10 other expenses.)

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Our Top Travel Tips

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Happy new year!  The tripwolf team is made up of a diverse crew from around the world.  This medley of travel styles, from lovers of luxurious weekends to long-term back packing through Asia, provides us with a wealth of invaluable travel knowledge. And what better way to share our love of travel than to share our best travel tips with you!  Wishing you safe and happy travels anytime and anywhere

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Travel Resolutions for the New Year

Filed under Adventure, general
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It’s that time of year again, fellow tripwolves. The ball has dropped, the calendar page has turned, and hungry travelers are faced with a gleaming white expanse of calendar dates upon which to pencil in their future travels. Maybe this is the year you’ll finally head to Prague. Maybe this is the year you’ll finally give Priceline a try. Maybe this year you’ll use your vacation days for, you know, an actual vacation instead of playing hooky from the office.

More fun than resolving to clean the house more often; more attainable than vowing to fit back into your jeans from 1997; the travel resolution fits neatly into both the “bucket list goal” and “self-improvement” categories. What do I resolve to do in 2013? Read on.

On the road

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