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Just back from: Suzhou, China

 

Megan enjoying a sunny walk along the canals © Megan Eaves Megan enjoying a sunny walk along the canals © Megan Eaves

Megan Eaves, Destination Editor for North Asia, recently returned from a trip to Suzhou, China.

Tell us more? I spent a week hanging out in chilled-out Suzhou, a historic city not far from Shanghai on China?s east coast. Suzhou is most well-known for its canals and its classical gardens, and it has a really lovely ancient feel. There is a grid of streets dating to the Qing, Ming and Song dynasties as far back as the 900s.

In a nutshell? Suzhou has 69 classical gardens that are collectively a Unesco World Heritage Site. Most of these were built by wealthy families and scholars as places for contemplation, debate and respite. In addition to visiting several of these gardens, I also went green-tea picking, took a canal boat ride and ate lots and lots of delicious food.

An evening performance at the Garden of the Master of the Nets © Megan Eaves An evening performance at the Garden of the Master of the Nets © Megan Eaves

Defining moment? Going to an evening performance in the idyllic Garden of the Master of the Nets. The garden is all lit up in magical lights under a clear evening sky, and as you walk through the various halls and rockeries, performers play classical Chinese music and give theatrical renditions of traditional stories and plays. It was an absolutely magnificent evening, with the full moon out, glistening off the water of the garden?s ponds, and the sound of erhu (a Chinese two-stringed bowed instrument) strings floating on the warm breeze. It was like being transported into a moment of classical Chinese poetry.

Good grub? But of course! This is China, after all. Suzhou?s cuisine (s? b?ng cŕi, ???) is a little different than some of the more widely exported Chinese food. The city?s most beloved dish is the squirrel-shaped mandarin fish: a fish is deboned except for its tail, then sliced into a pattern and deep-fried so that the pieces stick up in easily-munchable slices. Everything is coated in a sweet-and-sour sauce ? one of the most moreish dishes you will consume in China (and that?s saying something). I also had plenty of street food snacks, as well as a really lush modern Chinese meal at the W Suzhou hotel?s Su Yan restaurant, which has an amazing view of Jinji Lake.

Examples of traditional Jiangnan-style architecture along Suzhou's canals © Megan Eaves Examples of traditional Jiangnan-style architecture along Suzhou's canals © Megan Eaves

You?d be a muppet to miss? A boat ride around Suzhou?s canals. It has become a bit of a cliche to call the city the ?Venice of the East?, but the fact is that Suzhou has just as many charming canals as its Italian counterpart and they are a huge part of the life and culture here. There are lots of companies offering boat rides, during which you get to see some of the ?backstreet? canals where locals? homes still overlook the waterways, with stoops covered in potted plants and hanging laundry.

Fridge magnet or better? Silk production has historically been a big industry in Suzhou, so you?ll see lots of silk items on sale and you can pay a visit to a silk production factory to see how silk cocoons are harvested and transformed into thread and eventually fabric. I came away with a beautiful silk handheld fan, as well as a scarf that?s so lightweight and smooth and luxurious. Oh? and Suzhou has some of the best Chinglish signs in all of China, so I got plenty of great pictures for my collection.

A tai chi master demonstrates the forms in the Humble Administrator's Garden © Megan Eaves A tai chi master demonstrates the forms in the Humble Administrator's Garden © Megan Eaves

Fave activity? I was given a unique opportunity to have a tai chi lesson with a martial arts master inside Suzhou?s drawcard garden, the Humble Administrator?s Garden. It was pretty amazing learning tai chi (a very slow moving martial art practised to harness one?s inner energy for self-defence) in the surrounds of a classical garden with loads of tourists going by. We were quite a spectacle, and lots of people stopped to watch and take photos. It also sparked an interest for me, and I?ve actually signed up for tai chi lessons since coming back home!

Megan Eaves travelled to Suzhou with support from Suzhou Tourism. Lonely Planet contributors do not accept freebies in exchange for positive coverage.

In the studio with Ross Murray, illustrator for Epic Hikes of the World

 

Ross at work in the studio © Bruce Barnard

Ross Murray, illustrator of our latest title Epic Hikes of the World, gives us a glimpse into his studio and talks us through how he illustrated walking locations featured in the book. They're so epic you'll want to down tools and stretch your legs along one of these spectacular routes.

Tell us about the brief

Epic Hikes of the World is the third Lonely Planet book I?ve illustrated. The brief for this one was very similar to the brief for Epic Drives of the World and Epic Bike Rides of the World, which are in the same series. I was asked to create a wrap-around front cover and five illustrated double-page spreads. We?d chosen five locations for the spreads; the African Savannah, The Grand Canyon, The Himalayas, Manarola on the coast of Italy and finally, the Routeburn Track in New Zealand. I decided that the Routeburn Track was the most epic so it deserved a to feature on the cover.

How did you make a start?

I began with photo research, getting a feel for each location. Once I?d decided on a suitably epic perspective and compositional approach for each location, I began sketching in Photoshop on my Wacom Cintiq tablet. Colour is an important part of these illustrations? identities ? I find Photoshop the easiest software to use for experimenting with different palettes.

Were there any challenges?

Nothing too dramatic! Using stylised geometric forms to describe these locations while ensuring they?re geographically recognisable takes some tinkering. However, they were lovely images to create and each of the concepts was approved immediately.

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

Aside from my computer gear (Mac + Cintiq), I?d say it?s probably my kids? artwork that?s plastered all over the walls. It?s colourful and strange and always lifts the spirits!

How did you get into illustrating books?

I?ve been drawing pictures since forever and have always loved books so it just seemed inevitable! The Epic series has been a continuing collaboration with the Art Director, Dan, who I've worked with for a number of years on various other projects. I also write and illustrate my own picture books and comics which is fun!

Ross' illustrations:

Rough sketch of Manarola in Northern Italy
Final version of Manarola, Northern Italy
Rough sketch of African Savannah
Final version of African Savannah
Final version of the Routeburn Track in New Zealand
Final version of the Himalayas
Cover illustration sketch
Cover illustration final version
Final version of The Grand Canyon

Enter our Epic Hikes competition for the chance to win travel goodies!

 

Epic Hikes competition Have you been on an epic hike recently?

You don?t need to summit Everest to experience an epic hike. Adventures on foot can range from one-day jaunts and urban trails to cultural rambles and mountain expeditions ? what matters is that you?re lacing up your boots and getting out there!

Have you wandered along any spectacular walking routes on your travels? Are there trails galore on your doorstep? Enter our Epic Hikes competition on Instagram for the chance to win a bundle of hiking kit and inspiration, including a copy of our brand new book, Epic Hikes of the World.

How to enter the Epic Hikes competition

Share your most inspiring hiking photo on Instagram and tag it using #myepichike ? it?s that simple! Be quick ? entries close at 23.59 BST on 7 August 2018.

The prize

A whopping 25 entrants will get their hands on an epic selection of travel goodies from Lonely Planet and our prizing partners, Duluth Pack and Hydro Flask:

First prize: a Duluth Roll-Top Scout bag, Hydro Flask and Lonely Planet's Epic Hikes of the World First prize: a Duluth Roll-Top Scout bag, Hydro Flask and Lonely Planet's Epic Hikes of the World

Five first-prize winners will each receive:

We?ll reshare the top five pictures on @lonelyplanet too!

Second prize: a Duluth Round Duffel bag, Hydro Flask and Lonely Planet's Epic Hikes of the World Second prize: a Duluth Round Duffel bag, Hydro Flask and Lonely Planet's Epic Hikes of the World

10 second-place prize winners will each receive:

Third prize: a Duluth Grab-N-Go bag, Hydro Flask and Lonely Planet's Epic Hikes of the World Third prize: a Duluth Grab-N-Go bag, Hydro Flask and Lonely Planet's Epic Hikes of the World

10 third-place prize winners will each receive:

Wondering where to hike next? Visit our Explore Every Day hub for more walking inspiration!

Terms and conditions

Don't forget to read through our terms and conditions to ensure you are eligible to enter the Epic Hikes competition. We'll pick the most inspiring images to win our hike-ready prizes.

Just back from: Morocco

 

Cory Lee riding a camel in a specially adapted saddle Cory Lee riding a camel in a specially adapted saddle © Cory Lee

Cory Lee, travel blogger at Curb Free with Cory Lee and Lonely Planet Pathfinder, recently returned from an unforgettable trip to Morocco.

Tell us more? I?m just back from Morocco, where I led a wheelchair accessible group tour (I use a motorised wheelchair in my everyday life) in conjunction with Morocco Accessible Travel Consultants, a company that specialises in wheelchair-friendly tours. Morocco isn?t the most accessible country in the world, but with a sense of adventure, we made it work and had a fantastic trip. From wandering through the medina in Fez to seeing the sand dunes in the Sahara Desert, by the end of my 12 days in Morocco it had become one of my favourite places I?ve ever visited.

Good grub? Morocco is full of great food! Must-eats include couscous and Moroccan salad, and you should prepare to be offered mint tea every time you go into a shop, hotel or restaurant. The tea is delicious, so I was always ecstatic to drink more of it. The one dish that I liked more than anything though, and ate at least once per day, was vegetable tagine. Tagine is cooked and served in a conical-shaped dish, and you can get lamb, chicken, meatballs or a variety of other meats in it.

A spread of traditional Moroccan salad dishes Don't miss tucking into a traditional Moroccan salad © Cory Lee

You?d be a muppet to miss? Rolling through Djemaa El Fna square in Marrakesh. I know that it is infamous for pickpockets, hagglers and snake charmers, but it?s unlike anywhere else in the world and must be visited at least once. Yes, there are snake charmers (and plenty of them), but you?ll also see monkeys, henna tattoo artists, and you can grab a fresh juice if you like from one of the local vendors. Compared to other parts of Marrakesh, Djemaa El Fna is like being on a different planet.

Quintessential experience? After visiting the imperial cities of Morocco, I headed to the Sahara Desert. It?s about a nine- or 10-hour drive from Marrakesh, but totally worth it. To get to Jaimas Madu, our camp in the desert, we rode over some epic sand dunes in a Land Cruiser and it felt like I was in a real life video game with some of the best views ever! Once at the camp, I even got to ride a camel thanks to a specially adapted camel saddle made by Morocco Accessible Travel Consultants. My whole desert adventure was the experience of a lifetime and I was able to do things that I never thought were possible.

A rug shop in Morocco Forget the fridge magnet, a Moroccan rug is an unbeatable souvenir © Cory Lee

Get any souvenirs? Before visiting Morocco, I never thought that I?d purchase a rug while there, but that changed as soon as I entered a rug shop in the town of Rissani. The whole rug buying process was quite a spectacle, with hot tea being served and dozens of rugs being unfolded just for me to look at ? negotiating the final price was an event in itself. The rug that I purchased was made by a Berber woman over the course of an entire year and it now sits proudly in my home. I might not have necessarily needed it, but there?s really no souvenir quite like a Moroccan rug.

What struck me most was... how helpful everyone was. If a place wasn?t fully wheelchair accessible, the locals would go out of their way to assist. One time a shop owner found a wooden board to lay down over a step, so that I could get inside. Another time, after seeing that a fellow wheelchair user in my tour group needed help with cutting up her meat, the waiter rushed over and did it for her with a smile on his face. Accessibility in Morocco may not be perfect, but the people sure do make it feel accommodating.

Cory Lee travelled to Morocco with support from Morocco Accessible Travel Consultants. Lonely Planet contributors do not accept freebies in exchange for positive coverage. For more information on accessible travel, check out our free Accessible Travel guides and resources.

Want more behind-the-scenes adventures? Find out what Associate Product Director Angela Tinson got up to on her recent trip to Nepal.

Pathfinders: top Instagrams from June 2018

 

The dramatic vistas and red-hued landscapes of Chile's San Pedro de Atacama © Michele Roux

From mountain peaks to world-famous canals, our Pathfinders were 'gramming hard last month, expertly capturing the beauty and character of the countless destinations they visited. Vibrantly colourful, creatively framed and skilfully caught ? here are the Instagrams that turned our heads in June.

Venice, Italy

'This city is always a favourite of mine to photograph because there is always so much to see. I love to find different perspectives when photographing, even in the most obvious of locations ? the Ponte dei Sospiri is just around the corner of the famous Piazza San Marco. Tourists and locals were running around behind me, even crashing into my back, but I managed to capture this little scene of tranquillity through the gaps of the bridge.' ? Dario, @dario.dimaggio

Why we like it: For a city of such worldwide fame, you'd think there couldn't possibly be any angles, shots or perspectives of Venice left uncaptured. Somehow though, Dario's clever use of the bridge he was standing on to frame his image results in a fresh look at this most renowned of travel destinations. Plus, achieving this razor-sharp focus and soft foreground combo requires some serious photography skills ? we're impressed.

Java, Indonesia

'The day I took this image we had risen at 1:30 a.m. and hiked for 2.5 hours, our headlamps lighting the way, to the summit of Penanjakan to watch the sun rising over Mount Bromo, Java. The sunrise was spectacular, and once the sun was up, the views were no less amazing. I could have stayed there for hours, contemplating the sea of clouds, which looked like a real sea crashing against the cliffs.' ? Carmen, @world_citizen_64

Why we like it: Carmen's image is truly spectacular, with the rugged peaks of the mountain semi-ensconced in rolling cloud. The sunlight shining in from the top left-hand corner of the image illuminates the patchwork of fields and buildings perched atop the mountain, whilst the shadowy meeting of cloud and land creates the perfect central focus, running directly through the middle of the frame.

Kaikoura, New Zealand

A post shared by Paul Healy (@anywhere_we_roam) on

'I desperately needed some relief from my extreme seasickness while on a boat trip in Kaikoura, when this show-off put on a display for us and his mates!' ? Paul, @anywhere_we_roam

Why we like it: Anyone who has ever tried to photograph dolphins frolicking in the wild knows how difficult it is to capture that hallowed leap out of the water ? Paul has managed it with incredible flair and admirable clarity, all whilst battling seasickness in Kaikoura's choppy waters!

Lofoten, Norway

'This was taken on the first night of our trip to Lofoten. We waited until dark, and then started driving to hunt for the Northern Lights. This was the first view we caught of them, so we immediately rushed to the beach to grab a great shot as they lit up the sky.' ? Michael, @michaelpetrick91

Why we like it: We defy anyone to tire of looking at the Northern Lights, and Michael's shot showcases that familiar electric green rippling across the sky perfectly. The expertly defined outline of the mountain in the bottom right-hand corner of the image and foreground boulders running along the bottom contrast wonderfully with the swirling colours of the dramatic sky. This is a real masterclass in capturing natural beauty at its most majestic.

San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

A post shared by MICHELE ROUX (@michele_roux) on

'I took this photo from the top of the Cerro Toco at 5600 metres, waiting for the sunset. The Atacama Desert is the driest desert in the world, and one of the best places to witness endless, extensive skies. It's an amazing place to explore many landscapes; lakes, mountains and volcanoes.' ? Michele, @michele_roux

Why we like it: From the mottled oranges, pinks and greys of the sky to the rusty red hues of the desert's rocky landscape, every element of this picture seems to have been created from one harmonic colour palette. The lone figure standing in the foreground draws the viewer's attention to the distant, beautiful horizon, and focuses the eye to take it all in.

Follow @lonelyplanet for more Instagram inspiration.

Pathfinders: top posts from June 2018

 

The palm-fringed shoreline of the San Blas Islands, Panama © Andy Troy / 500px This month's round up includes a tale of a voyage from Honduras to Panama, via the beautiful San Blas Islands © Andy Troy / 500px

Throughout June our Pathfinder community has been on the move, literally. This month we?ve read stories of turbulent voyages across open seas, personal pilgrimages to remote Irish surf villages and colourful crawls through Budapest?s best ruin bars (for the sake of research of course!).

In hopes of inspiring you to embark on your own odyssey, here?s some of our favourite blog posts produced by our Pathfinders during June.

Bundoran: How a remote Irish village turned into an international surf town ? Christophe Gaillard

You?d imagine most European surfers seeking an Easter break would opt for the warm waters of The Algarve, or maybe the golden sands of Biarritz, but in this post Chris recalls his personal pilgrimage to Bundoran, a remote Irish coastal town that has swelled from a single-street village to the ?surf capital of Ireland?. A personal narrative about the author?s desire to take on the wild Atlantic waves is combined with an overview of the town?s intriguing history, resulting in a well-rounded read that evokes a keen sense of place.

Chris is a Dublin-based blogger who endeavours to inspire travellers to visit the Celtic regions of the world. Discover more of Chris?s travels at celticwanderlust.com.

Kayaking glacial meltwater in Canada ? Lisa Michele Burns

An extraordinary natural phenomenon is brought beautifully to life in Lisa?s post, which details her experience kayaking the turquoise meltwaters that form along the contours of British Columbia's glaciers for a few short weeks each spring. While the snaps of the brilliantly blue streams contrasted with the snowy landscapes are the star of the show, there?s something almost magical about this activity ? so natural and yet mildly surreal ? that should leave all aquatic adventurers itching to get involved.

Lisa is an Australian photojournalist in search of amazing landscapes to document. Follow her blog at thewanderinglens.com.

Sailing the San Blas Islands ? Becky Mangan

In the modern era of cheap air fares and luxurious, high-speed trains, sometimes getting from one destination to the next is viewed as more of an inconvenience than a potential adventure. Step up Becky, with her engaging story of a five-day voyage from Colombia to Panama aboard the Gypsy Moth, a large catamaran. This is a classic travel yarn: an inspiring and exciting story full of well-formed characters and witty anecdotes ? far more exciting than any in-flight movie.

Becky is an Australian blogger with an affinity for the ocean. Read more of her work at bikiniadventures.com.au.

10 summer vacation destinations to escape the crowds ? Michelle Joy

Working to combat overtourism ? the act of concentrated tourism having adverse effects on a destination or attraction ? is high on our agenda at Lonely Planet, and Michelle?s post is a great resource for those who don?t want to contribute to this global issue. Here Michelle asks a cross section of travel bloggers to select their favourite lesser-visited summer destinations ? with choices ranging from idyllic remote atolls to dramatic far-flung fjords ? where visitors are more likely to interact with local people, rather than rub shoulders with other tourists.

Michelle is a freelance writer living in Texas and traveling as often as possible. Keep up with her adventures at harborsandhavens.com.

Pub hopping around Budapest?s best ruin bars ? Dave McClane

Budapest?s ruin bars are a big draw for travellers and, thanks to evocative descriptions and crisp imagery, after reading this post we feel like we?ve joined Dave on a crawl through a handful of these ramshackle drinking establishments. While focusing largely on the modern appeal of these venues, Dave?s post also delves into the district?s darker history ? including its time serving as a Jewish ghetto following WWII ? and ends with a useful listicle segment highlighting the authors favourite of the many modern-day drinking spots, topping off a very refreshing read.

Dave is a 30-something Yorkshireman on a quest to see ? and photograph ? as much of the world as possible. See more of his work at manvsglobe.com.

RUNNERS-UP

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

Wonderings: what can you do about overtourism?

 

Illustration of a traveller looking out of a train window at a lake with mountains and forest in the background © Joe Davis / Lonely Planet Wonderings: rambles through and reflections on travel... this month, James Kay considers the challenge of overtourism © Joe Davis / Lonely Planet

The acqua alta was so high that the concierge gave each guest a pair of wellington boots after breakfast. With our feet protected from the ankle-deep water, we forded the flooded pavement from the hotel to the nearest bridge, and from there reached dry ground.

Aside from the water, which overspills the canals of Venice when a high tide coincides with a strong sirocco wind blowing in the Mediterranean, there were other downsides to visiting La Serenissima in November: the days are short, cold and often foggy in winter, a combination that explains why so few people visit out of season.

But the city over-compensates those who do: we had enough elbow room to enjoy the Basilica di San Marco and the Palazzo Ducale, San Marco?s heavyweights; only light foot traffic flowed back and forth across the Ponte di Rialto; it was easy to find a seat on the vaporetti; and the city?s churches, museums and galleries lived up to the promise of its nickname, providing a serene shelter from the chill.

Loved to death

You?d scarcely know it in the depths of a dark November day, but Venice has long been a focal point of the debate about overtourism. More than 25 million people visit each year, the vast majority of them from May to September when a high tide of humanity overwhelms the city?s infrastructure; this is the real flood threatening its fabric and future.

Venice is not the only victim of its own success, of course; from sites like Machu Picchu to cities like Barcelona and countries like Iceland, destinations around the world are wrestling with the question of how to grow tourism sustainably, reaping the economic benefits without selling their souls for the sake of it.

A person in rubber boots walking in Venice's Piazza San Marco © Nullplus / Getty Images Provided you've got the right footwear, the depths of winter might be the ideal time to visit Venice © Nullplus / Getty Images

At the end of last year, the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) released a hefty report that outlined five key tactics: even out the number of visitors over time, spread those visitors over a wider area, balance supply and demand through pricing, regulate accommodation, and, in the most extreme cases, limit or even ban some tourism-related activities.

Destinations are devising innovative approaches to this formidable challenge. For instance, London is trying to disperse travellers by engaging with them through a free mobile app that gamifies their visit, encouraging them to explore attractions outside of the city centre and collect rewards in the process.

Problem or solution?

Since no two destinations are alike, the WTTC report stresses that the right approach will vary from place to place. As tourism chiefs work out the best strategy for their unique circumstances, travellers who want to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem can make a difference at an individual level right now.

Going out of season is one straightforward way. Going off the beaten track is another. Yes, that might mean forfeiting some aspect of the experience (a guarantee of fine weather, a tick on a bucket list). But in addition to a clearer conscience, your choice will probably be rewarded in other ways, both tangible and intangible.

For one thing, travel at less popular times and to less popular places tends to be cheaper, so that?s one practical advantage of adopting these tactics. Getting far from the madding crowd can also result in a much more personal, one-of-a-kind trip, too. I?ve been back to Venice at other times of the year, but never recaptured the magic of that cold, fogbound, long-ago weekend ? and I doubt that I ever will.

FREE mini-guides: London, Warsaw, Charleston and Norway's southern fjords

 

Lonely Planet Magazine?s August issue (UK) has hit the shelves! This month?s edition includes a Great Escape to Corsica, our staff?s best European road trips and original ideas for a jaunt in the Med.

Every UK issue of Lonely Planet magazine features cut-out-and-keep guides featuring our top picks for four irresistible destinations. Fancy a sneak peek? Download the latest Top Picks PDFs for free right here, right now!

The skyline over Marion Square, Charleston during sunset © Sean Pavone Photo / Getty Images The skyline over Marion Square during sunset © Sean Pavone Photo / Getty Images

Charleston: old and new

South Carolina?s historic port city is a centre of fine museums and American Civil War monuments, as well as a magnet for modern fusion restaurants, contemporary art galleries and freestyle sports.

> DOWNLOAD FREE PDF

Maltby Street Market, Bermondsey © Issy Croker / Lonely Planet Maltby Street Market, Bermondsey © Issy Croker / Lonely Planet

London world food tour

Once the brunt of many a culinary joke, London has transformed into a global dining destination. The sheer diversity is head-spinning: from Afghan to Zambian. Work it all off with our mapped-out walk.

> DOWNLOAD FREE PDF

Warsaw facades © Celal Erdogu / 500px Warsaw facades © Celal Erdogu / 500px

Weekend in Warsaw

Poland?s capital is a mash-up of restored Gothic architecture, communist concrete, modern glass and steel. Use these tips to ensure you glean the most you can from Warsaw in two or three days.

> DOWNLOAD FREE PDF

Overview of Voringsfossen waterfall near Eidfjord © Justin Foulkes / Lonely Planet Overview of Voringsfossen waterfall near Eidfjord © Justin Foulkes / Lonely Planet

Norway?s southern fjords

Impossibly steep-sided fjords of stunning beauty cut through the jagged coastline of southern Norway. This guide helps you to plan a fjord expedition that involves all the best sites, walks and waterfalls.

> DOWNLOAD FREE PDF

Find Lonely Planet Magazine in UK shops and newsagents, digitally on iTunes, Google Play and Zinio, or subscribe from anywhere at lonelyplanet.com/magazine.

US resident? We also have a US magazine. Learn more about it at lonelyplanet.com/usmagazine

Pathfinder spotlight: Holly Habeck

 

Holly having her photo taken in a wooden pier overlooking the ocean © Holly Habeck Holly is always thinking about her next travels © Holly Habeck

This month Holly Habeck from hollyhabeck.com takes the limelight for our Pathfinders spotlight! Holly?s travel and lifestyle blog takes her around the world, but we love the fact that she?s also a huge advocate for having adventures close to home, exploring your own neck of the woods as a tourist.

Tell us about your blog!

I started my self-titled travel blog, Holly Habeck, from my freshman dorm room in 2014. I was a journalism student at the time, but was feeling totally uninspired by the content I was producing for my classes. I've always wanted to travel the world, so starting a blog and documenting my experiences sounded like a great excuse to actually start doing it. I also create content to show people that it is possible to travel the world and experience cultures outside of our own; contrary to popular belief, you don't have to wait until you're retired or have more money saved up. That's why I try to share a variety of experiences for every budget on my blog, as well as tips on how to find good travel deals.

I want travel to be accessible to everyone, because I think it opens your mind and changes you for the better. It's also the one subject that I know I'll never run out of ideas for posts with, because there's a whole world out there to explore.

Describe your travel style in three words.

Researched, adventurous, cultural.

Exploring the colourful houses of Charleston's Rainbow Road © Holly Habeck Exploring Charleston's colourful Rainbow Road © Holly Habeck

Which destinations are on your travel list for 2018?

Oh my gosh, there are so many! I did a lot of travelling at the beginning of this year visiting Punta Cana, Newport (New England), Fort Myers, Orlando, Charleston, the Catskill Mountains and Atlanta. I also have some upcoming trips to Atlanta again, Pittsburgh, and possibly the Adirondack mountains in the next few months. There will definitely be more international travel in 2019, as I'm currently researching Bali as a possible honeymoon destination for next year.

Tell us about your most unforgettable travel memory...

I was in Italy during my sophomore year of high school. I went with my best friend at the time and a group from our school, and there was one day when my friend and I totally ditched the tour. We weren't really allowed to have free time to explore since we were with the school, but we just faded to the back of the tour group and eventually ended up going to lunch at this Italian restaurant located in the basement of a small shop. Not only was the homemade pasta unforgettable, but there was something special about that small Italian town and the feeling of rebelling as a teenager that made it a really memorable experience. That trip was also my first taste of Europe, which started to fuel my travel ambitions into adulthood.

A plate of Bologna?s famous bolognese pasta sauce is always served locally with taglietelle © Susan Wright / Lonely Planet That first experience of fresh Italian pasta is unbeatable © Susan Wright / Lonely Planet

Why do you think people should ?be a traveller? in their hometown?

It's so important to be a traveller in your hometown. Not everybody has the opportunity to travel full-time (I know I don't), but that doesn't mean you should stop exploring. It's easy to get into a rut when you don't have any trips lined up right away, so there's got to be something that keeps you going in between your travels. You can also miss out on a lot of cool, local experiences if you're not looking for them.

Why do you love travel blogging?

I think I love travel blogging so much because it keeps me inspired. I'm constantly honing my storytelling, photography and social media skills to better serve my audience, and it also gives me a great outlet to document my trips. I'm inspired by everyone who leaves a comment or travel recommendation on my latest post, and I try my best to inspire them in return.

If you?re a member of our Pathfinders community and would like to share your story, keep your eye on the Lonely Planet Pathfinders forum for our monthly spotlight call-out.

Lonely Planet?s day of local adventures

 

Man sitting on rock in front of Hong Kong skyline at sunrise © Martin Puddy / Getty Images You don't have to travel far to embark on an adventure © Martin Puddy / Getty Images

To celebrate the launch of Lonely Planet?s Everyday Adventures we challenged our staff to get out and explore their local areas and inject a dose of excitement into their everyday routines.

From lunchtime art classes to wild swims in Wales, here?s a selection of the microadventures Lonely Planet staff and contributors embarked upon.

London

Our London office was spoilt for choice when it came to potential adventures, with historical walks, experimental art classes and an evening yoga session at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

Hunger for small-scale adventure not completely fulfilled, North Asia Destination Editor Megan Eaves took a tube to the end of the line to uncover the joys of Cockfosters while Deputy Online Editor Emma Sparks participated in a lunchtime yoga class 135m off the ground.

New York

Staff in the Big Apple swapped the traditional office lunchtime routine of sandwiches and social media swiping for a rather suave tour of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan.

Oakland

The team from our Oakland office took to the streets in search of some of the city?s best street art on a tour led by the director of a local art organization, Dragon School. Seemingly things got a little out of hand...

Melbourne

The guys down under opted for an edible adventure, heading to Melbourne?s weekly Winter Night Market to sample a selection of the diverse dishes on offer from Taiwanese pancakes to West African Acarajé.

Dublin

Our Dublin office spent an enlightening afternoon learning about some of the inspiring women who led Ireland?s suffragette movement during a guided walking tour.

Franklin

Franklin staff members started their day with a dose of zen thanks to an early morning yoga class and continued the edifying activities with a tour of Fisk University?s art galleries, led by the curator himself.

Contributors

Lonely Planet Trailblazer Daniel James took on a cross section of mini adventures that included putting his social media followers in charge of his daily activities (what could go wrong?), while Chloe Gunning, also a Trailblazer, took a day to explore the photogenic Amalfi Coast.


Elsewhere Lonely Planet Local James Pham explored the undeveloped Thanh Da peninsula (just 15-minutes from Ho Chi Minh City), writer Kerry went wild swimming in Wales and author Tim Bewer explored a temple near his home in Khon Kaen, Thailand.

A post shared by James Pham (@fly.icarus.fly) on


Itching to embark on your own microadventure? Check out Lonely Planet?s Everyday Adventures for ways to see a new side to your hometown.

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