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Pathfinders: top Best in Travel 2019 blog posts

 

A portrait shot of a fishing cat, a large feline that lives in the wetlands around Colombo, Sri Lanka This month's Best in Travel-themed round-up includes a story on Sri Lanka's lesser-known big cats © Breaking The Walls / Shutterstock

For this month?s blog round-up, we asked our talented Pathfinder community to share with us their best stories from destinations included in our Best in Travel 2019 list ? an expert-approved shortlist of the top 10 countries, cities, regions and best value destinations to visit over the next 12 months; and boy did they deliver.

Through them, we?ve heard tales of endangered cats in Colombo, treks to sulphur lakes in Indonesia and the joys of sustainable living in Slovenia; all adding extra colour to this year?s nominated destinations.

Narrowing down the submissions is never easy, but here?s five of our favourite Best in Travel-themed blog posts courtesy of our globetrotting Pathfinders.

The Asian fishing cat: surviving urban jungles in Sri Lanka ? Carol Guttery

Destination covered: Sri Lanka, #1 best country for 2019

Carol?s article is focused on efforts to save Sri Lanka?s big cats from extinction; no not leopards, the country?s lesser-known oversized moggie, the Asian fishing cat, whose wetland habitat is under threat from the expanding city of Colombo. The unusual subject matter draws readers into this informative post, which, along with a detailed background of the allusive predator, recommends areas in the city where visitors can catch a glimpse of the animal and how they can aid in ongoing conservation efforts ? the result is a near purrfect post (sorry, couldn?t resist).

Carol?s blog aims to encourage travellers to go beyond the headline sights and find alternative and offbeat adventures. Learn more at wayfaringviews.com.

11 reasons to visit the desert of Kutch, Gujarat: in photos ? Ellie Cleary

Destination covered: Gujarat, #7 best region for 2019

Ellie?s post is beautiful to look at, interspersed with vibrant images of life in the arid Kutch district of Gujarat, including shots of colourful camels and shepherds sipping chai with their flocks. And while the pictures alone make this an interesting piece, Ellie opts to delve a little deeper into what she sees, posing questions about whether tourism?s capability to help preserve traditional cultures is a positive or negative thing ? ultimately leaving the reader with much to ponder as well as look at.

Ellie and Ravi created Soul Travel as an inspirational and practical guide to sustainable travel, showcasing how travel can be a force for good. Find out more at soultravelblog.com.

Kawah Ijen: the infernal beauty ? Aleksandra Tofil

Destination covered: Indonesia, #7 best country for 2019

Why is Indonesia ranked as one of our best countries to visit in 2019? Primarily because of the smorgasbord of activities on offer throughout this thousand-island archipelago, and here Aleksandra highlights an experience away from the cerulean-ribboned shorelines the country is perhaps best known for. Aleksandra?s story is a classic travel yarn documenting her early-morning ascent to the sulphur crater lake atop Ijen volcano in East Java. Full of excitement, tension and humour, this piece left us wanting to pull on our hiking boots and seek out our own off-piste adventure.

Aleksandra and Andrzej are travelling around the world in a converted ambulance, sharing stories from the destinations they roll through. Keep up with their adventures at peryferie.com.

Jordan: 10 great days ? Javi Lorbada

Destination covered: Jordan, #6 best country for 2019

Javi is a wizard with a camera and his photo essay of Jordan sent us into something of a trance. The snaps in this post, which range from brooding, copper-tinged desert vistas to colourful wall murals on the streets of Amman, wonderfully showcase the draws of this multifaceted destination, bursting with attractions for outdoor lovers and city slickers alike. The impressive imagery is complemented by Javi?s usual clipped prose style, providing context to the visuals and personal thoughts on the areas he visits.

Born in Madrid, Javi travels far and wide in search of the perfect shot. Keep tabs on his latest work at javilorbada.com.

Vipava Valley: Slovenia?s sustainable, scrumptious and story-full secret ? Daniel James

Destination covered: Slovenia, #10 best value destination for 2019

Sustainability may be something of a buzz word in the travel industry at the moment, but in the sleepy villages of Slovenia?s Vipava Valley it?s a long-established way of life. In this post, Dan ? one of our trailblazer contributors ? slows down the pace and takes a few days to explore this gorgeous region, sipping on wine from family cellars, tasting honey from local hives and gorging on food sourced from the surrounding countryside. Dan?s descriptions of vine-bedraggled balconies and snoozing dogs bring the village atmosphere to life, with excellent imagery rounding off a great read.

Dan is one of Lonely Planet?s trailblazers and has spent over 1000 days on the road exploring new places and meeting new faces. Learn more at danflyingsolo.com.

RUNNERS-UP

Find out what else the Lonely Planet Pathfinders are up to by checking out the Pathfinders forum on Thorn Tree.

Pathfinders: top Best in Travel 2019 Instagrams

 

St. Ulrich's church in Augsburg, Germany © @californiaglobetrotter

Our Pathfinder 'grammers have done us proud with this splendid selection of Best in Travel 2019 themed shots. From the imposing architecture of Belarus to lazy days on Sri Lankan beaches, these are the shots from the last 12 months that make us want to get planning our travels for the year ahead!

Amman, Jordan

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'We don?t normally have great expectations of cities when we travel; rather it?s the smaller, quieter places we look forward to. ?So Amman took us a bit by surprise! ?A city built on 17 hills, there?s always a view to be found in Amman ? this one is from the citadel at the centre of the city, where civilisation goes back to the bronze age (this is the temple of Hercules, which dates back to the second century AD).?' ? Ellie and Ravi, @soultravelblog

Why we like it: Let's face it ? rarely do we see an image of Jordan that isn't depicting some angle of Petra or Wadi Rum, so Ellie and Ravi's shot of Amman is a real breath of fresh air. From the striking blue hues of the horizon to the beautifully framed ruins in the image's centre, it's a shot that showcases a lesser-explored side to the country; the perfect blend of ancient relics in the foreground, surrounded by the sprawling city.

Minsk, Belarus

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'Little touches of Soviet-era architecture can be found all over Minsk, including buildings with the distinctive star detailing. We wandered by this one just after a rain shower had passed, with the storm clouds in the background adding contrast to the peach-coloured building.' ? Andrew and Katryna, @wherethesnowsgo

Why we like it: Minsk is full of characterful buildings, and Andrew and Katryna have expertly captured this one with their central framing of its tower and spire. The terracotta hues look all the more dramatic set against the marbled, cloud-filled sky, and the sunlight dancing across the upper windows adds an extra sparkle of life to the image as a whole.

Neist Point, Scotland

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' It was a very windy, very cold evening, when the sun disappeared quickly behind a cloud and all the sunset crowds dispersed with it. It was the end of September, but a sturdy hat, gloves and winter coat was exactly what we needed to continue exploring the area, even in this unfavourable weather. Neist Point Lighthouse did not disappoint! The blue hour was breathtakingly beautiful, and we did not have to share the view with anyone. There is no such thing as bad weather, only not enough layers!' ? Alina and Jekabs, @lincalincalinca

Why we like it: The dramatic landscapes of Scotland's Highlands rarely fail to impress, but Alina and Jekabs have managed to capture the stormy, brooding horizon, ruggedly beautiful coastline and velvety waters of Neist Point with real finesse. Framing the outcrop of land so that it winds from one corner of the frame to another draws the eye smoothly across, to settle on the miniature lighthouse, perched on the point's very tip ? this is nature at its jagged, craggy, weather-beaten best.

Tangalle, Sri Lanka

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'We finally made it to Sri Lanka! We arrived a few days ago to this amazing island. We barely feel like we?ve gotten to know the place as we?re on a quick tour, but the one conclusion we have come to these past few days is that the beaches are absolutely gorgeous. They're definitely calling our names to return and bask in some Indian Ocean vibes!' ? Natasha and Cameron, @theworldpursuit

Why we like it: Sri Lanka has no shortage of picturesque and photo-worthy beaches, but there's something about the warm, almost sepia tones of Natasha and Cameron's image that add an extra haze of calm and tranquillity to the scene depicted. From the crisscrossing palm tree trunks and boats left discarded for the day, to the shimmering reflections in the lower quarter of the frame, everything about this shot showcases Sri Lanka at its most peaceful and idyllic.

Augsburg, Germany

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'While walking along the main street in Augsburg, Maximilianstrasse, I stopped to snap photos of the Hercules Fountain with St. Ulrich's Church in the distance. It was a gloriously clear summer morning, and this particular angle, zoomed in on a bust on the fountain, caught my attention. Augsburg is an easy day trip from Munich!' ? Lorelei, @californiaglobetrotter

Why we like it: This shot of the main street in Augsburg is a real masterclass in framing and focus. As Lorelei points out, despite its soft focus, the distant St Ulrich's Church is the image's main feature, which she achieves by capturing the road in the frame's lower third and drawing the eye from the beautifully sharp foreground fountain directly through to the church's tower. There's a lot of life to this image; from the dappled sunlight across the road and water, to the tiny droplets splashing up from the fountain. It's a clever, sharp, unique perspective.

Follow @lonelyplanet for more Instagram inspiration.

Pathfinders spotlight: Kelsey and Peter, Travelin? Fools

 

Kelsey and Peter enjoying a gondola ride through Venice's canals Kelsey and Peter enjoying a gondola ride through Venice's canals © Travelin' Fools

Full-time travellers Kelsey and Peter use their blog to inspire people to make their own travel dreams a reality. We caught up with Kelsey to find out more about their life on the road...

Tell us about your blog...

Peter and I started Travelin' Fools in 2013 after our first (combined) international move from Texas to a tiny coastal town called Playas del Coco, Costa Rica. I realised there was a giant gap in travel content about how to move abroad as a young, mostly-broke person, who has no immediate plans to retire, start a business or teach English. I wanted to change that by offering entertaining yet practical information about how to move somewhere on a budget, and what to expect from the 'slow travel' way of life.

Describe your travel style in three words?

Spontaneous, funky, feasible.

How do you juggle full-time work and full-time travel?

To be fair, when at all possible, we typically opt not to work full-time. Over the last 5 years we have lived in 6 countries, and that has included an above average amount of employment ups and downs, from Peter working as a scuba dive instructor, kayak guide, surf photographer and ski lift operator, to my employment as a dance instructor, bartender, blogger and digital copywriter for tour-based companies.

Depending on the expense levels of wherever we are currently living, which has varied from extremely affordable in Thailand to outrageously expensive in our former stomping grounds of New Zealand, we manage to find employment that allows us to (mostly) live the lifestyle we want.

Horses being led through a scenic campsite in New Zealand A sight for sore eyes the morning after the night before... © Travelin' Fools

What is your most unforgettable travel memory?

My most recent unforgettable travel memory was celebrating my 30th birthday ? with a mandatory Soul Train theme ? at a campground on the outskirts of Queenstown, New Zealand. It was a gorgeous night, my friends and I all dressed up and did the classic ?Soul Train Line? dance, and in the morning we woke up to horses being led through the amazingly scenic campground and had breakfast tacos by the lake. Does life get any better?!

Sometimes the hardest part about travel is just deciding to go. What advice would you give to someone thinking about their first big/long-haul trip?

Agreed! Overthinking has always been the death of adventure, and honestly, as long as you have semi-decent common sense, there's almost nothing that can't be solved with a little patience and the help of a kind stranger.

For someone considering whether or not to make that big first move or initial extended trip abroad, I would say it is okay to slightly over plan the first time around. Don't book yourself into a bubble by prepaying rent for 6 months in a country you've never been to, but make it easy on yourself by researching everything you can about the often overlooked details, like visa regulations, standard customs, offbeat job opportunities and what people in the area do for fun. It's also solid advice to be as adaptable and low maintenance as possible, as you'll certainly need these skills when things inevitably work out differently than you expected.

Kelsey presses her hand to the glass of an indoor aquarium while a man in a diver suit presses back from the other side Blogging gives Kelsey an honest and personal outlet for her creativity... and getting to work alongside her boyfriend isn't too bad either © Travelin' Fools

Why do you love travel blogging?

Since I primarily write for other companies for a living, I love the fact that my travel blog is just that ? mine. I can write with personality and brutal honesty and silliness, and those aspects only make my blog more memorable. I love that I can actually convince people that living in their dream destination(s) isn't an impossible feat. It's intensely rewarding, and having my boyfriend work alongside me as the photographer has been an amazing way for us to brainstorm ways to take our skills ? and life ? to the next level.

If you?re a member of our Pathfinders community and would like to share your story, drop us an email at pathfinders@lonelyplanet.com and tell us what exciting things you?re up to on your blog.

FREE mini-guides: Bishkek, Hong Kong, Dubai, Zanzibar, Tulum and Córdoba

 

A flat lay of Lonely Planet Magazine (December edition 2018) December's edition of Lonely Planet Magazine (UK) is out now! © Lonely Planet

Lonely Planet Magazine's December issue (UK) is available to buy now! This month's edition includes tips for a Tallinn city break, family-friendly hiking in Cornwall and tons of ideas on where to go in 2019.

Since it's a special time of year, we've featured six destination mini-guides (instead of the usual four) to help you plan your next trip. You can download them for free right here.

Women selling traditional Central Asian bread at popular Osh market bazaar in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan Women selling traditional Central Asian bread at popular Osh market bazaar © Radiokafka / Shutterstock

First time in Bishkek

Bishkek doesn?t get the appreciation it deserves. Dig into the cuisine, art scene or nightlife of Kyrgyzstan?s capital and you?ll be pleasantly surprised by this gateway to the Tien Shan mountain range.

> Download free PDF

A rusting bicycle is parked outside a Hong Kong eatery Explore the culture and history behind ultra-modern Hong Kong © Adrienne Pitts / Lonely Planet

Historic Hong Kong

Look beyond the glass and steel of Hong Kong?s commercial heart to find a cultural landscape in which the city?s Chinese roots and colonial connections are entwined. Explore Hong Kong history with these tips.

> Download free PDF

The open-air restaurant of the Madinat Jumeirah resort, in the background the Burj al Arab tower Get a table with a view in Dubai © Gimas / Shutterstock

Eating in Dubai

Travel to Dubai not only for its futuristic architecture, traditional souks and desert landscapes, but also for its food. Dubai?s kitchens are diverse and innovative. This list collects the city?s best places to eat.

> Download free PDF

A tropical ocean scene in Zanzibar Discover the best bits of Zanzibar ? including its turquoise waters © Andrey Chabrov / 500px

Ultimate Zanzibar

With a preposterously beautiful tropical coastline, a wealth of Swahili history and great food, this dreamlike island off the coast of Tanzania is quite the destination. This guide will help distil its highlights.

> Download free PDF

Ancient Mayan ruins on the beach of Tulum, Mexico Ancient Mayan ruins on the beach of Tulum, Mexico © Patryk Kosmider / Shutterstock

Tulum on a budget

Tulum?s coastline, with soft, sandy beaches, clear, turquoise waters and balmy breezes, makes it one of the top holiday destinations in Mexico. Even better, it?s accessible to those on a tight budget.

> Download free PDF

The interior of Córdoba's mosque turned cathedral Inside Córdoba's mosque turned cathedral © cge2010 / Shutterstock

Culture in Córdoba

In the Spanish city of Córdoba, one of the greatest mosques ever built in Europe overlooks a web of winding medieval lanes that reveal a striking mix of Roman, Moorish and Spanish cultures.

> Download free PDF

Want more freebies? Check out last month?s mini-guides.

Pathfinder pics: exploring Slovenia's Vipava Valley, one of our top European destinations for 2018

 

Winding roads through the beautiful Vipava Valley countryside © Dan Flying Solo

Lonely Planet Trailblazer Daniel Clarke of Dan Flying Solo recently took a trip to Slovenia's lush Vipava Valley ? one of our Best in Europe destinations for 2018. From dazzling countryside to world-class wine, he shares his discoveries with us...

I?ve been vocal about my love for Slovenia since my first visit six years ago, but exploring the lesser-visited region of Vipava Valley felt like discovering a brand new side of the country. Countless knarled vines sit alongside imposing mountains and white-spired churches dot the landscape. Meanwhile, underground, small, family-run wine cellars hide away from the blazing summer heat.

Once you're cycling among the verdant, rolling hills, it's easy to joke that the picturesque setting is 'just like the Italy you see in the movies'. But this is Slovenia through and through; it's slow-paced, it's sustainable, and all of the locals have stories to share. The passion of the people in Vipava Valley is unmistakable, and comes through in everything that the region has to offer.

Relax into lazy days exploring quiet countryside

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While a road trip though Vipava Valley would be incredible, it would also be relatively short (given the region's size) and would offer limited opportunities to sample its most prized produce ? wine. Cycling tours between local vineyards provide the perfect way to take in the impeccable landscapes before sipping on the good stuff, including local grape Zelen, at various producers. Local enterprises such as Wajdu?na can arrange both bike tours and tastings.

Hike and fly over amazing mountains

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Such is the importance and strength of the wind in the Vipava Valley, it even has its own name. The Bora Wind, which can hit the north Adriatic regions at speeds of up to 200 km/h, is vital for wine production here, but it also makes the Vipava Valley a popular place to hike up a mountain, and paraglide back down! With the promise of incredible views across Slovenia, Italy and the Adriatic Sea, and fantastic wines waiting for you at the bottom, it's easy to see why this is quickly becoming a popular destination for adrenaline seekers.

Stop by serene springs and rivers

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The Vipava River runs through the valley and into the town which shares its name, where you can kick back at local bars alongside the cool springs and small waterfalls. Slovenians pride themselves on taking care of their environment and these pristine waters, offering mirror-like reflections, are testimony to that.

Visit family-run wine estates

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During my time in Vipava, plenty of people joked that half the valley was underground, due to the vast number of wine cellars you can find here. Some are small, private, family ones, while others bottle and export internationally. No matter the size of production, the passion for the product is evident at every tasting or cellar you visit, and trust me, you should attend as many as you can to hear the individual stories that are served with each glass.

Discover small villages with long histories

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The small villages throughout the valley all have something unique to offer. From the family restaurants and stone houses of Go?e to the quaint streets in Vipavski Kri? ? a fascinating spot thanks to its historical trade route position and 15th-century castle ? you'll find plenty of stories covering over a thousand years of history, no matter where your two wheels take you.

Indulge in amazing views with incredible food

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When it comes to food in the Vipava Valley, the focus is on sustainable, seasonal and locally-sourced ingredients. A wine tasting will always come with snacks that could easily replace a meal, and local produce stores such as Faladur, housed in an old castle turret, also double up as fantastic lunch spots. Impressive fine-dining at Dvorec Zemono provides an indulgent yet relaxed treat, thanks to one of the country's top chefs, Toma? Kav?i?. Since my visit was accompanied by an incredible sunset from the restaurant's terrace, it's certainly a meal I'll never forget.

Do you love to write about your travels? Or perhaps Instagram is your thing? Find out more about how you can contribute to Lonely Planet.

Making Best in Travel

 

The four most recent editions of Best in Travel © Lonely Planet The four most recent editions of Best in Travel © Lonely Planet

Of all the amazing places and travel experiences on Earth, how do we choose the best for the year ahead? It?s a decision we do not take lightly. Read on for an overview of how the magic happens.

1. The survey

The annual Best in Travel survey is sent to the whole Lonely Planet family ? every staff member, over 200 travel writers, bloggers, our publishing partners and more. In it we ask LPers to share their expertise on places and travel trends that they predict will be buzzing in the year ahead.

A Best in Travel ideas board in B?ij?ng © Lonely Planet A Best in Travel ideas board in B?ij?ng © Lonely Planet

2. The Travel Hack

We also organise brainstorming events in Lonely Planet offices the world over ? from B?ij?ng to Buenos Aires. This is when we come together to discuss the subject that inspires us the most: travel. Where have we been? What are we excited about? Which destinations are doing something special? Amid a flurry of Post-it notes and coffee cups, the Travel Hacks produce hundreds of ideas.

Four staffers in Lonely Planet's Seoul office discuss their top travel picks for 2019 It was all smiles at The Travel Hack in Lonely Planet's Seoul office © Lonely Planet

3. The Destination Editors

The results of the survey and Travel Hacks produce a longlist of more than a thousand ideas. This is then reviewed by the Destination Editors ? Lonely Planet?s regional experts, a varied bunch of travel geeks with hundreds of thousands of air miles between them. They help whittle down the list to the very best places.

4. The panel

A shortlist of the best ideas is then sent to a panel of travel experts. These are six people who live and breathe travel in their everyday lives. They scrutinise each idea and score them out of 100 for topicality, excitement and ?wow? factor.

5. The final list

When the panel results are in, the list is finalised and shared with a trusted handful of people at Lonely Planet until October when, finally, the selection of the best places and travel trends to experience in the coming year is shared with the world.

Best in Travel 2019 judging panel

Piera Chen by the sea Piera's job involves going barefoot to explore rocky coastlines © Piera Chen
Piera Chen

Piera is a travel writer who divides her time between Hong Kong (hometown), Taiwan and Vancouver when not on the road. She has authored over a dozen travel guides and contributed to just as many travel-related titles. Piera has a BA in literature from Pomona College, in California. Her early life was peppered with trips to Taiwan and China to visit relatives, and then to Southeast Asia where her father was working. But it was during her first trip to Europe that dawn broke. She remembers fresh off a flight, looking around her in Rome, thinking, ?I want to be doing this everyday.? And she has.

Bailey in the Cordillera Blanca, Northern Peru © Bailey Freeman
Bailey Freeman

As Lonely Planet?s Destination Editor for South America & Antarctica, Bailey Freeman has commissioned and managed the content for 45 countries and written pieces for lonelyplanet.com, the Lonely Planet US magazine, and coffee-table titles like Secret Marvels of the World. Her work has led her on many adventures throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, her areas of speciality, and she calls Nashville, Tennessee, home.

Tony Wheeler in a library of Lonely Planet guides © Lonely Planet Tony Wheeler in a library of Lonely Planet guides © Lonely Planet
Tony Wheeler

Tony was one of the founders of Lonely Planet and wrote many of the early guidebooks. Recently he?s contributed to The Travel Atlas, Epic Drives of the World and The Cities Book. In 2017 he spent four months driving along the Silk Road from Bangkok to London and his recent travels have taken him to Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh and to the Italian colonial architecture of Asmara in Eritrea.

Kia Abdullah posing with the moai on Easter Island Kia meeting the locals on Easter Island © Atlas & Boots
Kia Abdullah

Kia Abdullah is an author and travel writer based in London, UK. She has written two novels and contributed to The Guardian, The New York Times, BBC and Channel 4 News. Kia is a Lonely Planet Trailblazer and the founding editor of outdoor travel blog Atlas & Boots. She has visited more than 50 countries in pursuit of the world?s best outdoor activities and believes nature is the best antidote to the stresses of modern life.

Andrea in the South of France © Andrea Schulte-Peevers Andrea in the South of France © Andrea Schulte-Peevers
Andrea Schulte-Peevers

Born and raised in Germany and educated in London and at UCLA, Andrea has travelled the distance to the moon and back in her visits to some 75 countries. She has earned her living as a professional travel writer for over two decades and authored or contributed to nearly 100 Lonely Planet titles as well as newspapers, magazines and websites around the world. She also works as a travel consultant, translator and editor. Andrea?s destination expertise is especially strong when it comes to Germany, Dubai and the UAE, Crete and the Caribbean Islands. She makes her home in Berlin.

Martin Heng in Eguisheim, France Martin in Eguisheim, France © Martin Heng
Martin Heng

Martin left England in 1987 and travelled for a decade before migrating to Australia to start a family. He has worked for Lonely Planet since 1999 in many different roles, including seven years as Editorial Manager, until a road accident in 2010 left him a quadriplegic. As Lonely Planet?s Accessible Travel Manager he has published several accessible travel titles, including the world?s largest collection of online resources for accessible travel. He has become a regular speaker at accessible travel conferences around the world.

Check out this year's Best in Travel list.

Pathfinder spotlight: Rob Lendon, A second life

 

Rob with kite runners in Kabul, Afghanistan © Rob Lendon Rob with kite runners in Kabul, Afghanistan © Rob Lendon

Meet community-level Pathfinder Rob Lendon, whose blog asecondlife.co.uk takes you down the road less-travelled, using exploration to motivate people to be more adventurous and, crucially, happy!

Give us the low down on your blog

My blog is a creative outlet for me to share my photography and musings on my travels. I tend to travel to less-popular destinations, many perceive as dangerous. It?s not a conventional travel blog in that the articles focus on storytelling, with the aim to inspire people to travel rather than provide a practical guide to the destinations.

Describe your travel style in three words...

Relaxed, impulsive, adventurous.

A portrait shot of a Sufi at a mosque from Rob's travels in Herat, Afghanistan © Rob Lendon An incredible portrait shot of a Sufi at a mosque from Rob's travels in Herat, Afghanistan © Rob Lendon

What destinations are on your bucket list for 2019?

South America has remained untapped for me, in particular Bolivia and Patagonia. But I also want to train in the martial art of Kun Khmer in Cambodia, visit Antarctica, walk across Iceland, climb another mountain, walk another camino and spend some time drinking wine in Alsace, France. It?s going to be a busy year. I tend to decide last minute and go where my mood takes me, so may well end up somewhere else completely.

The sunset reflecting off Mount Everest's peak © Rob Lendon The sunset reflecting off Mount Everest's peak © Rob Lendon

Tell us about your most unforgettable travel memory...

I?m fortunate to have many, but I think trekking to Everest Base Camp in Nepal was the most significant. It was on this trip that I realised what was important to me, and it gave me the push to start travelling full-time. There was one unforgettable moment in particular when I was walking along an open plain with snow-covered mountains rising high above me on both sides and I just felt so lucky to be there in that moment. I understand why it?s a spiritual place to the locals: the mountains are rock- and ice-hewn cathedrals in honour of mother nature.

Why do you love travel blogging?

It gives me a reason to travel beyond the obvious. It?s surprisingly easy to get complacent about your travels if it?s the only thing you do, and while I don?t want to view my travels purely as work, blogging does provide a much-needed focus at times.

If you?re a member of our Pathfinders community and would like to share your story, drop us an email at pathfinders@lonelyplanet.com and tell us what exciting things you?re up to on your blog.

Travel quiz: October edition

 

Evzones, Royal Guards, performing changing of the guard in front of the Parliament Building in Athens Where in the world could you spot these two dapper gents? Find out in our quiz © Anders Blomqvist / Lonely Planet

Do you know which sub-Saharan African country has Spanish as its official language? Or which Hindu celebration is known as the Festival of Lights? Test your knowledge of travel trivia with the October edition of our monthly travel quiz, based around stories featuring in this month?s Lonely Planet magazine. Can you score full marks?

TAKE THE QUIZ

Desperate for more travel trivia? Have a go at last month?s quiz.

Find quizzes just like this, plus plenty of travel inspiration and planning tips in Lonely Planet's UK magazine.

Pathfinder pics: highlights of Hawaii

 

Natasha and Cameron admiring the view in Kauai © The World Pursuit

Lonely Planet Pathfinders Natasha and Cameron of The World Pursuit recently traveled to Hawaii to check out some of its most amazing landscapes and beaches.

It?s easy to see why Hawaii is one of the most alluring destinations in the world. The islands are smack-bang in the middle of the deep blue Pacific ocean, which teems with marine life and awesome waves. The islands comprise a dizzying number of biomes and beautiful, white-sand beaches that beckon everyone to visit at least once.

Oahu?s arts district

Kaka?ako is the creative epicenter of Oahu and features nine blocks of amazing art. We took a tour with the co-founders of Pow!Wow! Worldwide to admire the many murals. Of course, being fans of Miyazaki, we had to grab a photo of Totoro. Interestingly enough, the artist added Totoro after noticing the attention cartoon characters drew to other murals. Many of the murals are the product of a week-long event, Pow!Wow!, which takes place every February. The event brings in some of the best street artists from around the world to collaborate and paint. Visitors now come year-round to check out the art.

The surf capital of the world

The North Shore of Oahu is arguably regarded as the surfing capital of the world. Come during the winter months and you?ll find monster waves and pro surfers out on the water almost every day. It all culminates every year with the Triple Crown of Surfing, one of the most prestigious surfing events in the world. Besides the surf, the towns on the North Shore have a great food truck scene as well as tasty restaurants, hip coffee shops and unique lodging.

Oahu?s stunning mountains

It goes without saying that Hawaii is stunning, but it?s hard to pick which island is the most beautiful because they all shine in their own ways. We got to take in the majesty of Oahu from the air ? one of the best ways to see the island whether by helicopter or plane. The 1929 Bellanca CH-300 Pacemaker that we flew in took us over jade mountains, coral-filled bays, sheer cliffs and waterfalls! The 1929 plane was Hawaiian Airlines' very first, as well as the first owned by Alaskan Airlines. It?s a real work of art, and has been restored by the airline in honor of their 80th anniversary.

Ho?omaluhia Botanical Garden


We searched high and low for the Ho?omaluhia Botanical Garden, as various locals had told us that it was here we could get a close-up view of the mountains. We ventured to the garden after hours, and found that while cars are not allowed in the evening, walkers, runners and cyclists are free to enjoy the quiet. The garden isn?t as popular as other tourist stops on Oahu, making it the perfect place to get away from the hustle of Honolulu.

Snorkeling in Maui

Snorkeling and Hawaii go hand in hand! We love snorkeling and took to the water almost every day. One of our favorite spots was on Maui; the island is well known for having some of the best beaches in Hawaii, along with the best snorkeling spots, including the Molokini Crater (which is said to have the clearest water in Hawaii). We loved Kapalua Bay, Maluaka and Anini Beach, where we found tons of coral reef fish and a bunch of green sea turtles ? honu in Hawaiian.

Getting active in our home country

It?s really easy for us to overlook our home country, but for us 2018 has been all about exploring the place we know best. Visiting Hawaii was an easy decision, what with the plethora of things to do and its verdant landscapes. Kualoa Ranch is a private nature reserve and cattle ranch that plays host to tourists every day on Oahu. We were lucky enough to enjoy a zip-line tour here, while flying over the real Jurassic Park! That?s right, Kualoa Ranch has been the filming location for a number of famous movies and TV shows, including Jurassic Park, Lost, Kong: Skull Island, Pearl Harbor, and Jumanji.

Cameron and Natasha visited Hawaii on assignment with Lonely Planet, Hawaiian Airlines and Glamping Hub.

In the studio with Lindsey Spinks, illustrator for Ancient Wonders - Then & Now

 

Lindsey hard at work in her studio © Lindsey Spinks

Illustrating our new Lonely Planet Kids title, Ancient Wonders - Then & Now, was never going to be simple. It opens and folds to reveal in incredible detail what the ancient wonders of the world used to look like, from Angor Wat to Stonehenge. We found out from the illustrator Lindsey Spinks just what it took to create such intricate and impressive drawings.

Tell us about the brief

The task was to illustrate 12 of history?s most famous civilizations which included amazing palaces, temples and buildings from across the world. The illustrations needed to depict what the ancient wonders look like today compared to how they looked thousands of years ago. Illustrated gatefolds and flaps reveal how these wonders were built and their role in ancient society.

How did you make a start?

I collected photos and sketches for each page and made my own rough sketches. Bringing all of these elements together allowed me to observe the overall feel of each page and feed in as much detail and information as possible to the drawings.

Were there any challenges?

There were certainly a few! Firstly, because of the level of detail in my illustrations, I had to be mindful of timings, making sure I delivered the roughs, final sketches and final art on time. I also found it tricky illustrating tiny people because this meant I had to take a step back in terms of detail. It sounds like it would make it simpler but it meant adapting my work slightly which is always challenging. The final challenge came when my computer decided it couldn?t cope with the huge Photoshop files and gave up ? luckily this was near the completion of the project so it worked out alright in the end!

What?s the one item in your studio you can?t live without?

Am I allowed to say my dogs? Technically they're two items and they?re not items, they're dogs... However, I really appreciate having them by my side when I spend longs day illustrating; it?s a great excuse to leave my studio for fresh air. If I was being logical I'd say my computer ? without it, I wouldn't be able to finalise or send off any work.

How did you get into illustrating books?

This is actually my first picture book, which is really exciting! This project came about after my lovely agents shared my work at Bologna Book Fair and I went for a meeting at Lonely Planet not long after. I hope this will be the beginning of many picture book projects as I absolutely loved working with the team on this project.

Lindsey's illustrations

The Colosseum taking shape - look at that detail
The final of The Colosseum spread
Lindsey as a 'moai' or 'Dum Dum' if you've seen that well-known film set in a New York museum...
Final of the Easter Island spread
Adding colour to the Angor Wat final drawing
Final of the Angor Wat spread
Final section of The Great Pyramid of Giza

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