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Travels (102)

Are you are a fan of Bollywood music or simply in love with Bryan Adams, Justin Beiber and Guns N’ Roses? Then a trip to Dubai in 2017 could be the ultimate musical experience for you. Imagine long nights of enthralling music, exemplary performances by top musicians, electrifying concerts and soul-stirring music – a music lover’s groovy paradise.

Here is a peek into some of the most glitzy and glamorous music festivals held in Dubai:

Emirates Airline Dubai Jazz Festival – Promising much more than jazz, this unbeatable mix of quality live entertainment is one of the oldest music concerts held in Dubai, and it will celebrate its 15th edition in 2017. This year the festival is all set to commence on February 22nd , 2017 and the performers lined up for this year’s show are: Tom Jones + The Rad Trads, Mariah Carey + Raul Midon, Enrique Iglesias + Nathan Sykes. Get set for music explosion!

dubai music lovers

Cairo Sound Music Festival – This is a new cultural project launched and is all set to become a series of festivals in the UAE. This festival promotes Egyptian culture and music in Dubai, bringing together Middle-Eastern expatriates and music lovers from all around.

Redfest DXB 2017 –Thumping music, good food and an exotic setup, could it get any better? This year the festival takes place on February 2nd and 3rd and will feature Demi Lovato, Alessia Cara, Sean Paul, The Veronicas, Mike Posner, to name a few.

Party in the Park – This one-day music festival is a must visit for both music lovers and non-music lovers. This festival celebrates the end of summer and beginning of winter. Let your favorite DJs tear up the night while you groove the night away. This hugely successful party saw an attendance of 10,000 people last year and this year it’s all set to blow your mind away on November 11th .

Piknic Electronik – This is also a one-day music fest, which is renowned internationally. This festival is ideal for families - adults as well as kids can have the time of their life here.

And, don’t worry if you find it difficult to pay for tickets online. Customers can now visit any UAE Exchange branch to buy tickets for all major entertainment events in the UAE. And if you’re travelling from to Dubai, to soak yourself in music, you can always purchase a travel card and load it on the go and enjoy.

Now get ready to hum, sing, and groove the night away with music, food, fun and laughter.

“People who love to eat are always the best people.” 

                                                                          Julia Child

Are you a foodie – someone who revels at the idea of food and can travel far and wide just for the aromas that stir up your imagination and palate? Well, this article is just for you. 

Sit back, relax and get set to travel with us to our top 5 recommended destinations for food, glorious food. Oh and don’t forget if you decide to travel to any of these destinations, go prepared with a travel card. Top it up with multiple currencies if you wish to explore different destinations and load as you go. 

Aruba – This small island just 19 miles long in the Southern Caribbean Sea is one of the four countries that form the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Great to visit from April – August, it’s a food lover’s paradise. With over 200 restaurants, serving Cuban food to crepe Suzette to lobsters and duck breasts, including gluten-free gourmet vegetarian fare, this destination is as exotic as its name.

New Orleans – For sea food lovers, Louisiana is a must-visit. With its Cajun fishermen fishing in its numerous bayous and rivers, Louisiana has some of the best sea food in the USA. From crawfish to cat fish, crab to lobsters, shrimp cooked in the most amazing ways, go there during February – May and have a feast. Of course there’s Mardi Gras during January – March so you may want to check in early and book your table at a restaurant pronto.

culinary destinations

Austria – If you have a sweet tooth and want to a taste some really fine chocolate, then Tirol in Austria is a not-to-be-missed destination. In fact, many would think Belgium, or even Switzerland when it comes to chocolates, but for a true chocolate lover, its Tirol. Milk and dark chocolate bars, to bonbons filled with local fresh ingredients from black currants to mountain mint, Tirol is a choco paradise. Visit anytime from June – Sept. Go on, book those flight tickets now!

Paris – When you talk of love, it’s always je t’aime Paris, but Paris is also a gastronome’s delight. Every museum, every café, every neighbourhood has a lovely nook that you can settle down in and delight in wine, cheese and of course croissants. With bread, chocolate, pastries and Cordon Bleu trained chefs dishing out some of the best food on the planet, Paris is definitely for the food-obsessed. Come spring, March – May, or summer, June – August, Paris beckons you, oui!

Italy – If Paris is here, can Italy be far behind? Italians are known for their love of food and wines. Head to Tuscany and drink in the landscape as you sip on some delicious cappuccino or lick up a gelato. Think of pasta and of course pizza and you can start a heated debate on which pasta goes with which sauce. Go there anytime between April – October and enjoy the food and the weather. And say Grazie! 

If this gastronomic  journey isn’t making your mouth water, we don’t know what will. Plan, load up your travel card, and get ready to indulge your taste buds. Bon appétit!

 

“People who love to eat are always the best people.”
                                                                          Julia Child

Are you a foodie – someone who revels at the idea of food and can travel far and wide just for the aromas that stir up your imagination and palate? Well, this article is just for you.

Sit back, relax and get set to travel with us to our top 5 recommended destinations for food, glorious food. Oh and don’t forget if you decide to travel to any of these destinations, go prepared with a travel card. Top it up with multiple currencies if you wish to explore different destinations and load as you go.

Aruba – This small island just 19 miles long in the Southern Caribbean Sea is one of the four countries that form the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Great to visit from April – August, it’s a food lover’s paradise. With over 200 restaurants, serving Cuban food to crepe Suzette to lobsters and duck breasts, including gluten-free gourmet vegetarian fare, this destination is as exotic as its name.

New Orleans – For sea food lovers, Louisiana is a must-visit. With its Cajun fishermen fishing in its numerous bayous and rivers, Louisiana has some of the best sea food in the USA. From crawfish to cat fish, crab to lobsters, shrimp cooked in the most amazing ways, go there during February – May and have a feast. Of course there’s Mardi Gras during January – March so you may want to check in early and book your table at a restaurant pronto.

Austria – If you have a sweet tooth and want to a taste some really fine chocolate, then Tirol in Austria is a not-to-be-missed destination. In fact, many would think Belgium, or even Switzerland when it comes to chocolates, but for a true chocolate lover, its Tirol. Milk and dark chocolate bars, to bonbons filled with local fresh ingredients from black currants to mountain mint, Tirol is a choco paradise. Visit anytime from June – Sept. Go on, book those flight tickets now!

Paris – When you talk of love, it’s always je t’aime Paris, but Paris is also a gastronome’s delight. Every museum, every café, every neighbourhood has a lovely nook that you can settle down in and delight in wine, cheese and of course croissants. With bread, chocolate, pastries and Cordon Bleu trained chefs dishing out some of the best food on the planet, Paris is definitely for the food-obsessed. Come spring, March – May, or summer, June – August, Paris beckons you, oui!

Italy – If Paris is here, can Italy be far behind? Italians are known for their love of food and wines. Head to Tuscany and drink in the landscape as you sip on some delicious cappuccino or lick up a gelato. Think of pasta and of course pizza and you can start a heated debate on which pasta goes with which sauce. Go there anytime between April – October and enjoy the food and the weather. And say Grazie!

If this gastronomic  journey isn’t making your mouth water, we don’t know what will. Plan, load up your travel card, and get ready to indulge your taste buds. Bon appétit!

I’m nervous. Yes, it’s my first time as a bride and you know how it is – you want everything to be perfect, especially your honeymoon! Over mind boggling discussions and scribbles about locales, climate, budgets and what not, we finally narrowed down four romantic destinations.

So, here they are:

Costa Rica - A Spanish colony for three centuries, Columbus, the great explorer was the first European to set foot here. It is full of history and culture and some amazing beaches. From the Mayan ruins to the Caribbean waters, to hanging bridges and forests, this South American destination looks and seems idyllic. Moreover, since we’re getting married in January, it’s quite alright even at this time of the year with a pleasant climate. Can you imagine how the pictures will look? Awesome! I can see my friends going green with envy!

Greece – When I think of Greece, blue skies, azure waters, white houses and of course history pops up into my mind. January to March may have some rain, but it’s still warm and sunny. Maybe for those who want a tan it might not be sunny enough, but Santorini, Mykonos, Crete and even slightly off-the-beaten path places like Kea are much sought after. In fact it might not be too crowded as in the summer, so we could get great discount deals. And I could use my travel card to book great flight tickets. I can totally imagine us feasting on unbelievable Greek food and talking with our mouths full.

 

honeymoon destinations

Bali, Indonesia – Bali, the name itself is so exotic. I can imagine the both of us soaking up in some much-needed spa treatments at the resorts there, especially after the hectic wedding. Unspoiled beaches, lots of beach activity like snorkeling and scuba-diving and other water sports aside, we can go cycling and visit the rice terraces, ancient Hindu temples and more. It’ll be warm in January, though it’s supposed to be ‘winter’, and while there might be some thunderstorms, I can totally imagine us cuddled up and watching the rains at night from our room or beach house. Bali…the more I think of it, the more I feel inclined to make it my first choice.

Slovenia – Well, I love the idea of going to Europe. But instead of going during the crowded months, January – March is usually winter and so Slovenia seems great. I mean the pictures look like something out of my fairytale books. I want to go to Lake Bled and do some river rafting in Soca River or just lose ourselves in many of the hiking trails. Mmm…Slovenia does sound amazing and it’s not a very expensive destination either.

Glad I got this list done. It helps in planning our travel expenses and booking our flights in advance and loading up currencies on our gocash card. Am so excited. Now it’s time to sit down and have an hour long debate with my fiancé. Phew! Marriages are made here but for a heavenly honeymoon, it sure does take a lot of planning.

Travel cards have become very popular over the years mainly because of the convenience and security they offer. Being the easiest way to buy foreign currency and take it overseas, travel cards such as gocash are a big hit among frequent travellers. Industry experts have claimed that apart from being the safest option, travel cards are also the cheapest option for travellers, especially for those who are travelling on a budget. These travel cards offer a host of benefits when compared to credit or debit cards.

When compared to traveller’s cheques or carrying hard cash, travel cards are a better option because these cards can be pre-loaded with money of a single currency or even multiple currencies, based on your travel plans. Most cards offer standard currencies such as US Dollars, UK Pounds, and Euros, as well as other world currencies ( gocash offers upto 16 world currencies). Once the travel card has been topped up, they can be used as a regular debit card to withdraw cash from ATMs, buy products, online purchases, pay bills, flight tickets and for many other expenses.

travel card

Benefits derived from travel cards when compared to credit/debit cards:

  • Facility to lock ideal exchange rates for future use. So, no matter how badly the currency fluctuates, the amount loaded onto the card does not get devalued.
  • The flat ATM withdrawal fee for travel cards is much lower than the charges associated with debit/credit cards.
  • A single travel card can be loaded with multiple world currencies at the locked exchange rate. Spending in local currency means, not having to pay any conversion fees!
  • Since these cards are loaded with a fixed amount of money, the temptation to overspend is curbed. There is no overdraft facility in travel cards.
  • These cards are absolutely secure and should they get lost, a lot of the issuing banks will replace the card almost anywhere in the world. Also, losing these cards means you are losing only a small amount of fixed money and not all your money.
  • Travel cards offer free travel insurance, which credit/debit cards usually do not provide.

No stress, no fuss and wherever you go, cash is available. Armed with this information, now travel with peace of mind.

Have you got your travel card yet?

Don’t listen to what they say. Go see!

Travel is not just a goal, it’s a journey, a journey of life itself. However, it’s not easy to just take off whenever you want to wherever you want. There’s much to be planned, that includes taking some time off from work, ensuring you have the money saved up, and co-ordinating schedules with your loved ones and family. Buying flight tickets at discounted rates, getting great hotel deals if booked in advance, and availing some fantastic offers on prepaid travel cards such as gocash enable you to plan without the stress.

A list of destinations that you’d most like to visit is a good place to start and we can give you a leg-up with our recommended list of travel destinations. We’re starting with a list of 3 best adventure destinations, because we believe that every life deserves a little bit of adrenaline rush. Our travel recommendations are based on National Geographic’s lists for some of the best adventure and nature trips of 2017.

Traveldestinations

 

So let’s get the party started shall we?

Cloud Forests, Ecuador – The forests of Ecuador’s Choco region in South America are considered to be a biodiversity hotspot, with one of the richest depositories of plant and animal life on the planet. Great for ardent birders, nature lovers or outdoor enthusiasts, Ecuador’s Cloud Forests offer something for everyone. From guided night walks to ziplining on a Sky Bike or sitting in an open-air gondola for some breathtaking views of the forests, Cloud Forests definitely top our list of must-visit travel destinations.

Best time to go: It’s a year-round destination though mid-June to early October is drier than February to April when there could be daily rainfall.

Baja, Mexico – If you want to experience the magnificence of the oceans, then the Baja California peninsula is a treasure trove of marine life, the likes of which you will rarely see. Ginormous gray whales, manta rays, the great white sharks are the staple in the waters of this region. Snorkel, kayak or take a cruise and feel the wonder of God’s creation when you visit Baja California. If you’ve always dreamt of close encounters of the jaw-dropping kind, then Baja California, in Mexico is a must-visit.

Best time to go: December to April for whale watching.

Finland – The land of lakes, Finland with 188,000 lakes and 180,000 islands, is a traveler’s delight. Finland has national parks, wilderness areas and hiking trails that make this country of northern Europe an absolute delight. With a quarter of its territory lying in the Arctic Circle, you can enjoy the Northern Lights of Finland in 2017, the year of their centennial celebrations. With spots filled with hot saunas to reindeer farms, make Finland one of your most memorable destinations this year.

Best time to go: February to early May for skiing, June to August for biking, hiking, kayaking and September to March for the Northern lights.

So gear up for your travels in 2017 and start making your bookings. But remember, don’t forget to buy travel insurance or better still, get free travel insurance with travel cards .
Go explore, it’s a beautiful world.

I had just completed college and was at the threshold of starting a job, settling down into a routine and doing what most adults do once ‘done’ with education. But having wanderlust in my veins, I wanted to travel, explore and expand my horizons so to speak. I decided to back pack to Europe. I wanted to live out my dream of visiting foreign lands and guess what, my parents agreed!

It’s true when they say, travel leaves you speechless and then you turns into a storyteller. So yes, I have stories and tales that are funny on hindsight and nerve racking, but I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world. So when I bought my ticket to Paris, that being my port of entry I had to apply for a Schengen visa which allows you to travel in most countries under the EU seamlessly. My father ensured that I had a travel card that I could top up wherever and whenever I wanted, and could actually load multiple currencies on it. It was safe, convenient and the best way to travel, instead of worrying about cash, theft and all of that. The prepaid travel card allowed me to do a host of things including check my balance, transaction history, and even block a stolen card. This was fantastic.

travel insurance

“Have you got your travel insurance done?” my father asked and I thought to myself, “dude what’s the need for a travel insurance?” That was the first and last time I ever thought that travel insurance was unnecessary.

  • Amsterdam airport – I was lost without my back pack. It was everything, my life in a back pack. But the travel insurance that I had bought was so helpful. I made a call to their emergency number and within a couple of hours I had emergency money to cover for expenses. A slight disruption, but that travel insurance sure helped.
  • Venice – After 15 days of travelling and eating in strange lands, my stomach decided to do its own number. I was ill and had to see a local doctor. Remember medical consultation can cost you an arm and a leg, especially if you’re on a budget, and many doctors abroad won’t even entertain you if you’re not insured. Guess who came to my rescue? Travel insurance again. Hallelujah!
  • Florence – I was travelling by the night train from Venice to Florence. When the train chugged into the station in the morning, to my horror I found that my wallet was stolen, and all my cards, money, change, everything gone. Thankfully my passport was intact and I had my phone on me. The first thing I did was report the loss to the railway authorities and then made a call to my insurance company. After which I reported loss of my travel card to the service provider. In a few minutes I was asked to visit a particular branch and got my travel card and my insurance provider promised me to reimburse me for my loss within a day or two. I had emergency money and I was saved.

What’s a trip abroad without incident, that’d be so boring!

You’d have realised by now that having a prepaid travel card with multi-currency facilities and most importantly buying travel insurance is a life-saver. Go for travel insurance policies that will cover you against incidents like trip cancellation or curtailment, medical issues, and lost or stolen possessions. By the way, it will serve you well to know that certain multi-purpose travel card providers such as gocash, provide free travel insurance.

So the next time you’re planning a trip abroad, ensure that you’re insured. Take it from someone who knows a thing or two about travel.

The term digital nomad is a much-bandied term nowadays, considering that the world is a global village. Any country, city or village that has the requisites to enable you to work from the location of your choice can actually be your home. Of course it does take some planning if you’ve decided to go for a change of avatar and become a ‘digital nomad’.

However, if you were to choose to set up base in a city, which city would you choose and why. We have chosen top 6 locations based on the cost of living, internet connectivity, weather, safety and fun.
Given the above, the cities that emerged as the most desirable for a digital nomad are as follows.

1. Chiang Mai, Thailand – it’s a perfect combination of low cost living, great culture, good weather, friendly people and of course very good wi-fi. Some digital nomads who’ve made Chiang Mai as their base say that you can actually live on USD 600 to 1500, a month. But it does rank low on night life, so it’s really meant for those who are looking for some peace and not the hustle and bustle of city life.

2. Berlin, Germany - With great co-working spaces, a friendly vibe, competitive prices of apartments and rented spaces, fantastic night life and superb cafes, Berlin is a great place to set up base as a digital nomad. It’s a perfect place for ideation and needless to say, the internet connectivity is really great.

best locations digital nomad

3. London, England - Comparisons are always being drawn between Berlin and London as Europe’s hot spots for digital nomads. However, London is fast emerging as a startup haven for technology. It has a lot going on, in terms of fun, activities, culture and communities, but it is an expensive place. How Brexit is going to affect it is unsure, and so, it had got 3rd place in our list.

4. Ubud, Bali –From the quality of air, weather, cost of living, fun, friendliness to foreigners, it all seems to work well for Ubud, Bali.

5. Madrid, Spain – You could actually rent out a 1 BHK apartment for about USD 750 per month. The cost of living for expats is a little less than USD 2000 per month and is rated very highly on parameters including safety, internet, quality of life and night life. If you know Spanish, it would definitely help, but you could always learn and pay for it with a prepaid travel card that you can top up whenever you need.

6. Lisbon, Portugal - From recent travelogues published by digital nomads, Lisbon comes out as one of the most preferred destinations for a digital nomad. It scores really well on most parameters including friendliness to foreigners, racial tolerance, English speaking, and so on. Some reports say that it’s actually quite comparable to certain Asian cities in terms of cost of living and prices and for those looking for a work-life balance, this could be a place to settle in.

And remember, with great internet connectivity, you don’t really have to worry about travelling, sending money home, shopping or using ATMs, because you can be safe and prudent with travel cards that help you use it the way you want it and top up when necessary.

So it seems digital nomad is a great way to travel, work and enjoy life. After all YOLO (You Only Live Once)!

Motherhood (and indeed fatherhood too) is a life-changing experience. The first few weeks of being a new parent can be an emotional and anxious time. Thankfully, there exists a host of baby-related technologies that can make life easier for worried new mummies. Here, in alphabetical order, is our list of the top technologies for parents of small babies.

Breastfeeding app: There are lots of apps available which allow you to keep track of nursing sessions, the side you nursed on last, and alternate breast and bottle feedings. A popular app you can try is “Baby Tracker: Nursing”.

A new mom Technologies that can make your life better
Online forums: Online communities have come into their own, lending much needed advice and support. “British Mums Dubai” is an example. The website is aimed primarily at expat mums and offers baby advice, weaning tips, competitions and access to a community of mums who’ve already been there and are ready with helpful advice. It’s linked to their Facebook group, which you can request to join.

Digital Ear Thermometer: You will use it many times every day, to check whether that crying is because your baby is ill or just fussing! You can also use it at night without waking the baby up if he or she feels hot. It’s not glamorous, but is an essential piece of technological kit.

Itzbeen Pocket Nanny: This hand-held device helps you record and monitor your baby’s naps, feedings and diaper changes- essential for those sleep-deprived weeks where you can’t remember the last time you changed your baby!

White Noise Machine: There are many of these available, and all emit white noise similar to that heard in the womb, to help shush your baby to sleep. A popular option is the Baby Shusher, which emits a constant rhythmic shushing sound designed to mesmerise your baby into a calm sleep.

WiFi baby monitor: The days of the static “radio” baby monitor are long gone. Baby monitors have revolutionised in the digital age, and now use WiFi, 4G and smartphones so you can easily keep an eye on your sleeping baby from anywhere. The best ones offer high-security, password-protected streaming to keep you and your baby secure.

There are many technological advances to help make your parenting experience better. But perhaps the most essential piece of technology is a data-enabled smartphone, whether to google a strange rash, look up baby products, or simply while away the midnight feeds with some gentle browsing.

Happy parenting!

Petra: a city lost… and found

Friday, 06 January 2017

For thousands of years, Petra, the Rose City, has stood as a symbol of Jordan; its warm-coloured stone a feast for the eyes and its rich history a treat for the intellect. Famous for its architecture, carved out of the rock itself, and for a water conduit system to rival any modern engineering ingenuity, Petra continues to attract a host of visitors each year to marvel at its wonders. It is Jordan’s biggest tourist attraction and the country’s greatest treasure.

It seems incredible, but this area of outstanding natural and man-made wonders was completely unknown to the western world for most of its history. It was only in 1812 that Petra was “found” and revealed to an astounded Western public, by the Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt. Now Petra waits to be “found” anew by the thousands of first-time visitors who flock to discover its mysteries every year.

Petra a city lost. and found

A UNESCO World Heritage site, inhabited since prehistoric times, the settlement to be seen today dates back two thousand years, to when it was established by the Nabataeans, an ancient Arab people who made it their capital. Petra became an important trading hub at the junction of the silk and spice routes, where China and India met Egypt, Greece and Rome. The Nabataeans were gifted engineers, and evolved an ingenious water-management system which ensured that the city thrived even in an arid landscape.

You may read your guidebooks and look up pictures on the Web, but nothing prepares the first-time visitor for the awe-inspiring first glimpse of the city in real life. Tourists enter the site through a kilometre-long narrow gorge known as the Siq, with dizzying cliffs on each side, before emerging for a first look at “Al Khazneh” (“The Treasury”), the breath-taking façade carved as the tomb of a king. This is only the beginning. Petra has hundreds of tombs, a Roman-style amphitheatre which was built to seat 3,000 people, temples, altars, streets and monuments.

To really make the most of your visit to the site, a visitor would need three to four days. However, if you don’t have that sort of time, the Petra Archaeological Museum and the Petra Nabataean museum offer an excellent guide through the site’s highlights.

Here are some practical notes for travellers: Cars are not allowed to enter the site, so people either walk the kilometre along the “Siq” or hire a horse/horse-drawn carriage to take them through. Once in Petra, many people hire donkeys or camels (with handlers) to help them explore the city. Keen photographers advise that the best time to take photos is either early morning or late afternoon, when the slanting sunlight shows off the treasures to their best advantage. And as with all tourist spots in hot countries, it’s best to arrive armed with plenty of water, sunscreen and a hat.

Supplied with the necessities, and prepared in advance, awestruck visitors to Petra will be free to marvel at the natural beauty of the red mountains, and the man-made splendour of the civilisation carved into them.

So why wait? Grab your plane tickets, and make Petra your next holiday stop.

Want to see the world but don’t have the money for expensive hotels? Feel like turning your travels into a social experience where you connect with like-minded people and make new friends all over the globe? Well then, couch surfing could be for you.

The concept of crashing on someone’s sofa to save money while travelling is not a new one: impoverished backpackers have been doing it for generations. However, now there’s a way to do this via social media.

Couchsurfing.com is a site that connects members with each other all over the world. People use the site to find a place to stay, or on the other hand, to open their homes up to share with visitors.

Couch surfing Your chance to travel the world without breaking the bank

As the name suggests, it can be as little as offering a spare couch for someone to sleep on. It could be an air mattress, or if you’re feeling generous, a spare room. In this way, the site is quite like Airbnb, where homeowners rent out their spare rooms to travellers.

There is a social element to couchsurfing.com, with regular events being organised in cities all over the world. Even if you don’t have space to share, you can still join the site, hang out at events, and make yourself available to show travellers around your city, thus making new friends and broadening your horizons.

Think you’re ready to join the couch surfing community?

A good first step might be to register at Couchsurfing.com. It involves filling out a profile, with information about yourself. Then, you get in touch with couch surfers in your hometown by going to one of the weekly events organised there. Finally, once you’re ready for your adventure, travelling the world, you search on the site for people with “couches” available in the places you’d like to visit. After reviewing your host’s potential profile, you send a request, communicate, agree payment (if any) and jump on a plane! And make sure you top up your prepaid gocash card to pay securely and keep to your budget!

Being involved with the couch surfing community is exciting. But there are precautions needed. First, you might want to check if couch surfing is legal and permitted by regulations in the city you’re staying in. It’s worth making sure that you’re covered by the law. Members should also take into account cultural norms and laws in different countries (for example, in some countries single men and women would not share a sleeping space).

And then there’s the element of safety. While many people jump at the chance to see the world at a fraction of the cost of hotel rooms, others will balk at the prospect of sharing a sleeping space with a stranger who could have ulterior motives. Couchsurfing.com says it takes members’ safety very seriously. It advises members to take the time to read profiles very carefully, to take into account the feedback posted about individuals, to set boundaries and have backup plans.

If you take the necessary precautions, couch surfing – and the form of socialising and communications it enables – can open up a whole new world of exciting experiences and new connections for the intrepid traveller. Happy surfing!

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