The Best Sunglasses for Hiking & Outdoor Activities

There’s been a massive boom in hiking around the world. According to the AllTrails app, hiking was up 50% in 2020 – with gyms closing, people confined to their homes, and no running races, this is no surprise.

This trend has continued and is set to continue as more avid hikers continue exploring new trails. Becoming a regular hiker means being well-equipped with all hiking essentials, including having good quality sunglasses for hiking.

Our eyes are often neglected but being out in the blazing sun (even in the winter months) can do more damage to your eyes than you think, which is why hiking sunglasses have some pretty complex technology.

We’ve listed some of the best sunglasses for trekking and hiking that offer both protection and functionality.

At a glance: Here’s our best hiking sunglasses

A few frequently asked questions about sunglasses for hiking

Before we get into the best hiking sunglasses for women and men, let’s first answer a few frequently asked questions that people have when looking for good quality hiking sunglasses.

Do I need sunglasses for hiking?

Short answer: yes. Whether you are hiking, fishing, backpacking, biking or doing watersports, a quality set of sunglasses is essential. Not only will they protect your eyes from the sun, but they also offer excellent protection from dirt, sand, snow and other ‘things that tend to find their way into your eyes during active outdoor activities.

Are polarized sunglasses better for hiking?

Polarized lenses are an absolute must for hiking, especially if you’re hiking near large bodies of water. Polarized lenses give the wearer added protection from direct sunlight as well as glare from water or snow.

When light reflects off a surface, such as snow or water, the light becomes ‘polarized’. Polarized sunglasses filter out this reflected light and reduce glare.

What makes a good pair of hiking glasses?

Have you ever been on a hike with the wrong pair of sunglasses? Whether they’re sliding down your nose, constantly fogging up, or not giving enough protection from the glare – the wrong pair of hiking sunglasses can really ruin your hike.

Here’s what to look out for in a good pair of hiking and outdoor sunglasses:

  • Polarized lenses: Polarized sunglasses are essential for hiking – don’t ever buy a pair that aren’t polarized!
  • Anti-fog coating: Foggy lenses block your views – while not always an issue with hiking, it’s an excellent feature to have in a pair of outdoor sunglasses.
  • Weight: When you’re wearing sunglasses for a prolonged time, you want a pair that is lightweight for added comfort.
  • Non-slip fit: Look for sport- or hiking-specific glasses designed to stay in place – especially if you are prone to get sweaty on your face.
  • Durability: You don’t want brittle sunglasses that are prone to wear and tear. Look for frames made of durable materials and lenses that are impact- and scratch-resistant.
  • UV protection: Make sure to get sunglasses that provide UV protection. If you want to get really fancy, then get sunglasses with photochromic (transition) lenses that lighten and darken based on your surroundings. These are great for hikes where you’re moving between shaded forest areas and open landscapes.
  • Aesthetics: While it shouldn’t be the first thing that you look for, you still want to like the look of your sunglasses. There are enough high-quality sunglasses available that still look good – so you should be able to find a pair that suits your style.
  • Price: Don’t always go for the cheapest option; invest in a quality pair that will not only serve you better on the trails but will also last for years to come.

Can I get prescription glasses for hiking?

If you need to wear prescription glasses in your everyday life, you can still get prescription glasses for hiking. Many manufacturers and retailers of sunglasses now provide you with the option to provide your prescription details, and they’ll custom make a pair for you. Ryders Eyewear and Abaco both offer this option.

Alternatively, you can find a pair of “clip-on” lenses or a large pair of “fit over” glasses that can be worn over the top of your regular prescription glasses while hiking.

So, what are the best sunglasses for hiking?

High-quality, comfortable eyewear while hiking can make the difference between an enjoyable hike and one filled with discomfort. Choose wisely when buying sunglasses for trekking.

Here are some of the best outdoor sunglasses:

Abaco Polarized

Abaco makes a few excellent hiking sunglasses are reasonable prices. While they’re not the most technical glasses, they are great for the average hiker.

Their lenses are polarized and have 100% UV protection and 2mm polycarbonate lenses. They are also layered with triple-action scratch resistance and anti-reflective inner lens coating.

Specs:

  • Lens material: Polycarbonate
  • Polarized: Yes
  • Price: They range from $60 to $100

Buy now

Abaco Polarized sunglasses
Polarized Abaco sunglasses

Enthusiast by IRONMAN Triathlon

These IRONMAN® sunglasses are great for completing races as well as for hiking. The square, wraparound style has a rubberized black plastic front frame with stainless steel detailing on the temples and polarized lenses to reduce glare.

Specs:

  • Lens material: Polycarbonate
  • Polarized: Yes
  • Price: $39.95

Buy now

Sunglasses for hiking
Enthusiast by IRONMAN Triathlon

Pello – Standard by Ryders Eyewear

Ryders Eyewear offers some great sunglasses for all outdoor and sports activities. We love this particular style as it provides both the ‘sporty’ and ‘casual’ sunglasses look.

Its anodized magnesium aluminide frame is lighter and stronger than aluminium, and its wire core temples and nose pads can be adjusted to sit perfectly on your face. It’s also impact resistant and offers 100% protection from UVA, UVB and UVC rays, and harmful, high energy light to 400nm. That’s a lot of protection!

Specs:

  • Lens material: Polycarbonate, hydrophobic
  • Polarized: Yes
  • Price: $149.99

Buy now

Hiking sunglasses by Ryders Eyewear
Hiking sunglasses by Ryders Eyewear – Pello

Jackson – Standard by Ryders Eyewear

Another great option from Ryders Eyewear, the Jackson-standard gives a more classic, casual look. It’s also impact resistant and offers 100% protection from UVA, UVB and UVC rays and harmful, high energy light to 400nm.

This pair is an excellent option for women’s hiking sunglasses.

Specs:

  • Lens material: Polycarbonate, hydrophobic
  • Polarized: Yes
  • Price: $149.99

Buy now

Hiking sunglasses by Ryders Eyewear
Hiking sunglasses by Ryders Eyewear – Jackson

Foldable Polarized Sunglasses by Foldies

These aren’t your regular sunglasses for trekking but are perfect for the traveler who loves to indulge in a bit of hiking on their trips (and not have to carry a specific pair of sunglasses with them for it).

The unisex polarized Folding Classics by Foldies are practical, stylish, sturdy, and can easily be folded away to pack into your backpack. They are also 100% UVA + UVB protected and have polarized, scratch-resistance lenses.

They’re the perfect backpacking sunglasses!

Specs:

  • Lens: HepTEK™ 7-layer lens system
  • Polarized: Yes
  • Price: $69

Buy now

Backpacking sunglasses by Foldies
Backpacking sunglasses by Foldies

Oakley Flak 2.0 XL

You’ll find some great Oakley hiking sunglasses, but the Oakley Flak 2.0 XL is a great all-around option for hiking sunglasses. It’s lightweight, comfortably hugs your face, and the frame has a rubber coating for extra grip.

The polarized lenses are optimized with high-definition optics and patented XYZ Optics for razor-sharp clarity. The lenses are also coated with black iridium, which provides a mirror-like reflection giving you more protection.

Specs:

  • Lens: Polycarbonate
  • Polarized: Yes
  • Price: $128

Buy now

Oakley hiking sunglasses
Oakley hiking sunglasses

Julbo Explorer Mountain Sunglasses

Julbo Explorer Mountain Sunglasses are designed for extreme conditions. These are for the hikers tackling the big mountains like Mt Kilimanjaro and Everest Base Camp – they’re a bit of an overkill for average hiking.

The frame material is made from nylon, and the lens material is made from polycarbonate. As for the polarized lens, the Julbo Explorers have full-spectrum UV protection, an anti-reflective coating, and brown color.

Specs:

  • Lens: Polycarbonate
  • Polarized: Yes
  • Price: $229

Buy now

Julbo Explorer sunglasses for hiking
Julbo Explorer sunglasses for hiking

GOMER – Polarized Smoke Black

Pretty much all the sunglasses from Bomber Eyewear are perfect for hikes where swimming might be involved – whether it’s a dip in a waterfall, lake, or river. Their glasses are all floatable – meaning you won’t lose them if you forget to take them off before jumping into the water!

Their sunglasses are designed for optimal comfort and performance with lightweight, durable materials. They are both polarized and offer 100% UVA & UVB protection.

We love the Gomer Bomb polarized smoke lens sunglasses for its clean lines and retro style for a fun, bold look.

Specs:

  • Lens: Polycarbonate
  • Polarized: Yes
  • Price: $62 (use the code 15BOMBER for 15% off)

Buy now

Gomer Bomb from Bomber Eyewear
Gomer Bomb from Bomber Eyewear


Visit Kazakhstan – Where Old Meets New on the Ancient Silk Road

Until twenty years ago Kazakhstan was one of the great unknowns, a relatively undiscovered region of the former USSR. But today, many travelers are excited to visit Kazakhstan.

Located along the ancient Silk Road, this land of vast plains, beautiful mountains, clear lakes and clean rivers was considered basic, unwelcoming and remote to all but a few of the hardiest adventure travelers.

Today, Kazakhstan is an ethnically diverse republic with a unique culture mix on the border between Europe and Asia.

It is prosperous, modern, and chic in places, unspoiled, cultural, and quiet in others. It borders the Caspian Sea, the only inland sea in the world and is famous for its caviar; it is also the nation which gave the world tulips, apples and domesticated horses.

Bol'shoye Almatinskoye Ozero, Almaty in Kazakhstan
Bol’shoye Almatinskoye Ozero, Almaty

History of Kazakhstan

In the past Kazakhstan was broadly divided in two – the area of the settled Silk Road in the south, and communities of nomadic horseback herders who covered the rest of the country.

This situation continued until the early 20th century when the Kazakh people, under Soviet rule, suffered serious hardships.

An estimated 1.5-2 million died of hunger, some people fled to China, whilst others, mainly intellectuals, were repressed by the regime; this is undoubtedly where the image of an unwelcoming and cold land originated. However, in December 1991 Kazakhstan was proclaimed an independent state, and circumstances started to change.

Places to visit in Kazakhstan – Its Towns, Cities & Countryside 

As large as Western Europe and four times the size of Texas, Kazakhstan is totally diverse. North, south east and west, there are opportunities to enjoy everything from five star hotels to traditional Kazakh tent homes – yurts, where guests can learn about local customs, lifestyle and traditions.

There are mountain trekking and wildlife reserves, extreme touring adventures and chances to try out the ancient tradition of hunting with birds of prey. There are also opportunities for those interested in history and culture.

Kazakhstan is eager to attract foreign visitors, so those that take time to visit, are treated with enormous respect and genuine hospitality.

Visit the south of Kazakhstan

The south is rich with ancient history and culture. It is renowned for its medieval architecture, mausoleums and ancient burial mounds, it also the location of Kazakhstan’s equivalent of Cape Canavera — the Baikonur Cosmodrome.

  • Almaty, the city of the apple tree, was the nation’s capital between 1929 and 1998, and is the largest financial and cultural centre in the south. It is one of Kazakhstan’s most beautiful cities situated at the foot of the Zailisky Alatau Mountains, a base for exploring and winter sports. 
  • The Shymbulak ski resort offers exhilarating runs on deep snow between November and April, and during the spring, summer and autumn, there are walking and hiking opportunities through the gorges and foothills as well as chances to relax by crystal clear lakes.
  • The vast steppe of Baikonur is the location of the Baikonur cosmodrome, the largest of its kind in the world. This was where cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin was blasted into space in April 1961 to become the first man to orbit the earth; it is also where the first satellite ‘Sputnik I’ was launched into obit. Until a few years ago tours of the site were not available to foreign visitors, but today everyone can view the launch complex, space shuttle ‘Buran’, Gagarin’s launch site, as well as a small museum which houses photographs of every expedition launched. There are also pieces of Gagarin related memorabilia, including his uniforms and a keepsake of soil from his landing site.

The site is located in a semi arid and unpopulated area with links by road and rail. It is advisable to arrange visits through a specialist tour company such as Country of Tourism Ltd or Kendala Adventures, as permits are in high demand, especially leading up to launches.

Visit Kazakhstan, Almaty
Almaty, Kazakhstan

Places of the Silk Route in Kazakhstan

The most highly populated region of Kazakhstan, Shymkent, is the third most populated city in the country. The city was founded during the 12th century as protection for the town of Sayram, an important stop on the Silk Route 10km to the east, but the town soon grew to become a central market town for trade between the settled people and the nomads.

Two other fine examples of an important towns on the Silk Route are Turkestan (Yassay) and Taraz.

Taraz is more than 2,000 years old and known as the city of merchants. It has ancient archeological monuments such as the fretwork covered 12th century mausoleum of Aishai-Bibi, a UNESCO protected monument, and the unique 16 rib umbrella dome of the 11th century Babadja-Khatun mausoleum, the only one of its kind in Central Asia. Finally is the city of Turkestan, 1500 years old, and the final resting place of the Muslim poet and humanitarian, Hodzha Ahmed Yassavi

Sayram, Kazakhstan
Sayram, Kazakhstan

Visit Western Kazakhstan

Western Kazakhstan is the crossroads between Europe and Asia. The Caspian Sea, the Volga, and the Ural Rivers make it a prime area for hunting, angling, and water sports. Here, it is also possible to witness the second lowest land level on the earth, the Karaghiye Depression; 132 meters below sea level. There are clear springs, beach resorts and canyons where extreme travelers will appreciate rock climbing on striking cliffs.

It is not just southern Kazakhstan that was influential in the Silk Route, the west and the Caspian Sea were also hugely significant. Small settlements – Caravanserais, survived here at Sartash, Ketyk, and Alta. There is also the legendary sacred mountain of Sherkala, where ruins of a fortress belonging to Jochi, eldest son of Genghis Khan, can still be seen.

As well as a thriving beach resort, the area around Aktau is the home to galleries of rock carvings attributed to nomads dating back between the 10th and 2nd centuries BC, and an underground necropolis created by Beket-Ata, the Muslim prophet to whom all creation was open. 

Ustyurt National Biosphere Reserve is a land of desert landscapes, lowlands, plateaus and a haven for rare animals. Ustyurt moufflon, cheetah, jackal, fox, saiga, gazelle, and long spined hedgehog are all found here. As well as the reserve, Ustyurt also features the ruins of ancient settlements and cemeteries on the banks of the Dead Kultuk, which are thought to belong to nomadic tribes from the 4th century BC.

Visit Northern Kazakhstan

Northern Kazakhstan is another region which provides excellent outdoor opportunities such as cycling, boating, and off-roading, as well nature reserves and health resorts.

One of the most popular resorts for both locals and visitors is Borovoye. Known as the Switzerland of Kazakhstan, and just like its namesake, it has a rich variety of restaurants, bars, shops and nightlife. It is a natural oasis with lakes, and unspoiled green forests, camping sites and spa resorts on the lakeside. Visitors looking for a remote experience can cross the small mountainous isthmus to reach Big Chebach Lake, which is a perfect, unhurried wild experience.

The capital of Kazakhstan, Astana, is a cosmopolitan and architectural city. Set on the banks of the Ishim River, the city has everything from opera and ballet to modern architecture such as the Baiterek Tower, the symbol of the city. At the top of the 97 meter tower there is an observation deck with a bird’s eye view for miles around. There is also a restaurant, art gallery, and a large aquarium lower down.

Astana, Kazakhstan
Astana, Kazakhstan

Visit Central Kazakhstan

Central Kazakhstan is a huge and relatively undiscovered region of the country, and location of the unique Blakhash Lake; one of the largest lakes in the world.

Balkhash Lake is the largest undrained reservoir after the Aral and Caspian seas. It is unique because of the different mineral composition of its water in the eastern and western parts, and it’s also a phenomenon because of its fish. There are an incredible amount of fish in the lake; trout, marinka fish, carp, white amur, barb fish, bream, barbel fish, catfish and many others. Every year between 8 and 10 thousand tons of fish are caught here.

The central region is also home to Bektauata Mountain Massif which comprises of bizarrely shaped rocks. In clear weather the massif can be seen for hundreds of kilometers, giving it the nickname ‘the lighthouse of Balkhash’. Daylight penetrates deep into its caves, where cavers explore grottoes and crystal cellars. Over thousands of years the pounding elements have eroded the granite to create fantastic rock formations with names like the Mushroom, the Chest, and the Turtle.

Visit Eastern Kazakhstan

Eastern Kazakhstan is distinguished by the Altai and its wooded foothills, the Irtysh River and lakes; this is the border with China, Mongolia and Russia. The mountain ranges of Rudnyi, Southern Altai, Kalby, and Saur-Tarbagatai play a considerable part of the region’s landscape.

Snow capped Belukha Mountain is the highest mountain in Altai and Siberia. It is the kingdom of ice and snow, with incredible thundering avalanches and clear, sparkling waterfalls. Berkutaul, meaning home of an eagle, is the neighboring mountain and another of the of the Southern Altai’s popular peaks. At 3,373 meters, this area is also home to the endangered Snow Leopard, some of the most illusive animals on the planet.

Markakol Reserve is another land of animals. Siberian stags, ermine, brown bears, elk, foxes, lynx, sable, the rare red wolf and birds such as falcon, grouse, black stork, and herring gull can all be found in the woods. There are attractive rocky mountains covered with greenwoods, fir forests, and sub alpine meadows, rich in flowers and rare medicinal plants.

Kiin-Kerish, which literally translated means proud beauty is a natural city made from tertiary clay; an incredibly beautiful and unique place with distinctive orange, white and red structures. The main feature of Kiin-Kerish is small layers of sand and clay with imprints of plants from its ancient tropical past and the fossils of rhino, crocodile, turtle and salamanders.

Visit Kazakhstan, Belukha Mountain
Belukha Mountain


Biking Through the Vineyards of Chianti, Italy

If you are looking for a way to see the vineyards of Chianti, taste some delicious wine and get out of Florence for a few hours, check out Tuscany Bike Tours.

While in Florence last summer, my friends and I went on their tour. Included was transportation to and from Florence to the countryside, tour of a castle, wine tasting, lunch, water break and a bike tour. It is worth every penny.

Here’s our experience of cycling through the vineyards of Chianti in Italy – from visiting a medieval castle to eating delicious local foods.

Cycling through the vineyards of Chianti
Cycling through the vineyards of Chianti

Biking through the vineyards of Chianti

Upon arriving at the Chianti castle, we got a tour of the castle and saw the wine and olive oil production sites. The tour included a panoramic view of the surrounding countryside, where we would later bike. The wine was delicious and the olive oil was amazing. All of the products are available for sale at the end of the tour.

The guides helped everyone get a bike and helmet that fit them. They made sure that everyone’s helmet fit correctly and that the bike was adjusted to their height. The number one concern was safety, as we bike on roads used by cars for the entire trip, and they made sure that everyone knew that if their biking skills were not up to par-they would be pulled off and ride in the van. This warning was serious. Two of my friends didn’t bike the entire time because they were poor bikers, they admitted to having a blast in the van though.

The bike ride was absolutely breathtaking and about 12 miles long. The rolling green hills were on both sides of the road. We passed countless vineyards and olive groves, some that are used to make the very wine and olive oil we tasted at the castle. The first half of the ride was hilly but mainly downhill.

You can go at your own pace, although if you’re too slow or unsteady, your guide will put you in the van. Lunch was a giant spread of bread, pasta, salad, dessert and more wine. It was great to meet more of the people on the tour-since you don’t really talk much when you’re biking.

The second half of the bike tour started out with 3 miles of flat roads. Then came a steep hill, with an 11-17% grade. Most people walked up the hill or rode in the van, the brave biked it. My tour guide said it was hard for him-so I opted out so that I could enjoy the end of the tour on rolling hills. There was a water break at the top before riding back to the castle. Not only was it a beautiful ride, but it was also relaxing and a great work out.

It’s worth every penny and a different experience than anything else that I encountered in my travels. I would recommend it to anyone that is in shape, is comfortable on a bike and loves wine.

Book a similar Tuscany bike tour here.


Hidden Gems in Europe – Travel Dudes

You could travel and explore the typical highlights of Europe… But why don’t you visit these hidden gems in Europe as well?

When thinking about a trip in Europe, your first thoughts are probably the big cities of Europe like visiting Paris, Barcelona, Prague or going sailing Croatia. But, there’s a lot more to Europe to discover than these hot spots.

If you’re looking for somewhere quieter, check out these hidden gems in Europe.

The best hidden gems in Europe

Skip the crowds and check out these secret spots in Europe.

Cinigiano, Italy

100 kilometers south of Florence, this small corner of Tuscan wine country has managed to its keep old-world charms while producing some of the most striking new-school Super Tuscan wines.

Breathtaking views of endless fields and vineyards, even better at sunset, are around practically every corner. Yet somehow, the crush of crowds isn’t.

Tour organic family-run vineyards like Cantina Basile or live royally while staying at the Castello di Vicarello. It’s all truly divine.

Another lovely place to visit nearby is the vineyards of Chianti.

Hidden gem in Italy, Cinigiano
Cinigiano, Italy

Roanne, France

Foodies will find eating their way across the French countryside is a breeze, no matter where they go. But those serious about top-notch gastronomy cannot miss Roanne, home of the Troisgros family and of Maison Troisgos, a restaurant that foodie bible Gault Millau referred to as the best in the entire world.

Those who prefer to sharpen their own skills in the kitchen can attend The Ecole des Trois Ponts, a famous nearby cooking school.

Take a stroll by the Loire river to walk off the calories, and enjoy some of the historical architecture.

Here are a few other trips in France that aren’t Paris.

Lappeenranta, Finland

Closer to Saint Petersburg than to Helsinki, Lappeenranta draws a fair share of visitors from nearby during the summer months. A short drive from Saimaa, the fourth largest lake in all of Europe, travelers come for boat cruises and sunbathing during the warmer months.

But there are plenty of great ways to spend the day that don’t involve fishing or swimming. A bustling central market, ancient fortress, and plenty of museums and other cultural attractions mean there’s never a dull moment in this curious Scandinavian city.

Winter brings low temperatures and plentiful skiing, snowmobiling, and sledding.

Another hidden gem in Finland is Hossa National Park.

Lappeenranta - Hidden gems in Europe
Lappeenranta, Finland

Cotas, Portugal

A couple years back, Portugal’s Duoro Valley was anointed the next Napa, and while the international market might not have reacted accordingly, wine lovers and fans of peaceful vistas overlooking rolling hills will fall in love once they visit.

The small town of Cotas is predominantly known for Quinta da Romaneira, where old-world decor is preserved but cutting-edge fermenting tanks and materials are used to help local vines step up their game.

It’s a perfect luxury retreat for travelers looking to be pampered somewhere other than the typical European haunts.

Abisko, Sweden

This secluded Lapland town might not immediately seem like a must-see spot, but that’s before travelers take into account its Arctic Circle location – definitely one of the hidden gems in Europe.

Photographers, nature-lovers, and anyone who wants a mind-blowing experience should make the pilgrimage to Abisko National Park, one of the best spots in the world to catch a glimpse of the aurora borealis (Northern Lights). Shimmering curtains of bright green and blue dance across the sky for hours during the winter months, and clear skies mean an even more stunning spectacle.

For those who are serious about their viewing experience, booking an overnight with the Aurora Sky Station is a must. Check out these accommodation options.

European hidden gem in Sweden
Abisko, Sweden


The Complete Guide to Volunteering Abroad

Volunteering abroad means giving your time and energy to work in a project without payment.

There are many volunteer opportunities out there for anyone interested in doing volunteer work, more so abroad. Where some people go into the volunteer world for just the simple experience, some go towards it as a vocational calling, or as a stepping stone for their future careers.

It is best to choose a volunteering program that will be most beneficial to you and to those that you intend to help. Our guide to volunteering abroad is here to help you choose which volunteer program is most suited to you!

The complete guide to volunteering abroad

When considering volunteering abroad, you know to know what options are available to you and which programs will be suited to your skillset, likes, and time available. Our guide to volunteering abroad is here to help you decide.

Firstly, what is volunteering abroad?

Travelling is a passion to some while others do it to get away from their routine.

There are many volunteer abroad programs to choose from for example: teaching; orphanage work; HIV/AIDS work; community developed; Health/ Medical work; teaching extreme sports, music lessons; conservations projects; and research projects.

Volunteer travel is a more rewarding experience if you want to do more sitting in a hotel and seeing museums and animals. Volunteering abroad is a life changing experience for anyone who does it, whether you are in your teens, in college, taking a career break and whether you have retired.

The experience you get is worth more the money you spent in your volunteer vacation.

Now, onto our guide to volunteering abroad.

Guide to volunteering abroad
Guide to volunteering abroad

What are some good volunteer abroad opportunities?

The programs of the volunteer work are made by the organization in which you are going to volunteer in.

Most of the volunteer abroad programs are flexible. As you will be putting in your time, energy and sometimes money, the volunteer programs available are flexible. The flexibility comes by choosing the numbers of hours that you are willing to work in a day or in a week and the duration of the volunteer program.

Also most of the work that you will be doing does not need any academic qualifications, meaning anyone can apply. Most volunteer abroad programs involve a lot of traveling, you don’t want to go to another country and find yourself being ineffective. You should put considerable research in to the work that you will be doing abroad. In that, you want to choose a program whereby it emphasizes on your strengths, skills and abilities.

Here are examples of the most popular volunteer abroad programs that are available:

Volunteer Teaching programs

Volunteer teaching programs are the most popular volunteer programs. Volunteers will work in private, public schools, orphanages and community schools. The volunteer work involves working with kids who are 7 to 18 years.

The volunteer will be involved in teaching some of the subjects like English, Math, Science, Music and physical education.  

The volunteers will partner with local teachers and other volunteers to provide proper education to the children. The main duties involve work as a teaching assistant: teaching classes, grading books, work as a social worker with the Administrators, help in sports activities and playing with the kids. For this program, you will need to like kids, love teaching and to be patient with the kids. Sometimes some training for this program is needed but it’s not mandatory.

Those who have done TEFL (teach English as a foreign language) classes have an advantage. Schools are not open throughout the year; you should time your volunteer work in order to coincide with the school calendar.

Volunteer Health/ Medical programs

The volunteer work will be done in hospitals, clinics, dispensaries, and public health offices. The volunteer health programs target the poor and those who don’t have access to medical facilities.

There are many clinics and volunteer organizations in such areas that offer medical help to the poor. In conjunction with the clinics and the health centres (dispensaries) the volunteer will work alongside them to provide medical services. Other duties include filling in forms and charts, diagnosing diseases, giving out prescriptions and consultations.

In this, the volunteer will need to have a medical background in order to work with the patients. This program is best for health professionals like: doctors, nurses, medical students and clinical officers.

Volunteer HIV/ AIDS program

As a volunteer you will be asked to help in the outreach programs to help educate the members of society and create awareness about the disease.  

The volunteer work involves supporting the infected and affected through provision of food and medical supplies.  

As a volunteer work, you will be counseling them, encourage and help empower them. Other volunteer duties will involve: intensify advocacy; demystify HIV/AIDS by encouraging people living with HIV to talk for them and advocate for greater understanding by the society; design, develop and disseminate materials fighting stigma and discrimination.

For this volunteer program, you will need to be compassionate about the disease and understanding to those who are infected and affected. There are no academic qualifications that are needed to work in this program.

Volunteer orphanage work

Working in children’s orphanages is very popular, and it’s the most fun and engaging. If you like kids and want to change their lives for the better then working in an orphanage is the best place. The kids are active and love the attention they get from the volunteers.

The volunteer work involves: spending time with the kids; work as a teaching assistant; work as a social worker; help in cooking and cleaning; help in organizing sports activities and playing with the kids. This program involves little mental work and organizing. Most of the programs activities are already arranged and you will have a supervisor to help you all the time.

Here is a volunteer opportunity to work in an orphanage in Buenos Aires.

Volunteer work involves education, empowerment, construction, and vocational training; providing sex education to the girls and the local community which you can assist with. It also involves empowering women through activities that make them financial independent. This is done through marketing their products, skills development and giving them access to information.

Global Work & Travel offers community volunteer work in Tanzania, Cape Town, Zanzibar and Buenos Aires.

Volunteering abroad with kids
Volunteering with kids

Which volunteer abroad opportunity is for you?

We want our guide to volunteering abroad to help you choose the right volunteer opportunity. Here is a deeper look into some programs you can look into while trying to make your decision.

Related Read: What to know before volunteering abroad

We will kick off by looking at volunteering as a teacher

This is one of the most fulfilling paths one can take as a volunteer. Volunteering as a teacher has a long term outcome in the community you are volunteering in. If you can help educate just a few people from a community that has suffered less fortune than yourself then this few individuals will in turn uplift the whole community with time.

If you have qualifications as a teacher the better but you do not have to teach strictly in the class room, teaching can be in many forms including just showing a community how they build a latrine to ensure that their water is not contaminated. In the end it is all worthwhile.

Let’s look at those who may be interested in volunteering in healthcare

You can therefore help in this regard all over the world. Those interested in healthcare can have a choice in working in places where disaster has struck or picking one specific location along the globe where you would like to help out.

How you help does not have to be strictly in a medical sense, you can do your part by simply distributing mosquito nets to area where malaria is highly occurring, or start a campaign to make sure every household in an area where there have been cholera outbreaks has a means to boil or purify their water. The end result of all these efforts is that you have helped keep a community healthier.

The saying goes that children are our future, so let’s look at those of us who would like to volunteer in children homes or with orphans

In this field you get to mold a person who will go off into the world someday, and make something of themselves because you had the courtesy to be involved in their lives.

In an orphanage you can provide healthcare, teach, work in the kitchen as a cook, build a dormitory, clean up the compound or even do some missionary work while there. And the beauty of all this is you can commit yourself to one or more of the causes above all at the same time; you therefore get to touch a life on several fronts.

If you like animals and the environment around you, the one program you can look into is volunteering in wildlife conservation

Here you get to work with all sorts of wildlife from those that live in the savannah to marine animals, in the process you also get to interact with the environment as you spend a lot of time in the field, sometimes even spending nights outdoors camping, depending on how adventurous you are. Here is a clear instance where you can have some fun while doing your volunteer work.

There are many other potential programs for volunteers out there, including community development, construction work or even missionary work.

Once you have made a clear choice on what you want to work in then the next step is to get your hands dirty and join in the volunteer community around the world.

Global Work & Travel offer volunteer programs to work with wildlife conservation in South Africa, sea turtle conservation in Costa Rica, elephant rescue in Thailand, and in an Amazon Shelter in Peru, among others.

Volunteer with elephants in Thailand
Volunteer with elephants in Thailand

What do I need to be able to volunteer abroad?

Picking the right volunteer work program is important as you plan your volunteer trip. There are many volunteer service organizations that offer many volunteer abroad work programs.

All volunteer abroad work programs are not the same. They are different and require different skills, expenses, training provided, types of placements, and quality of service.

The following tips in our guide to volunteering abroad are to help you choose the right volunteer abroad work programs and what you need to volunteer abroad.

Skills and abilities

Many volunteer service organizations recruit volunteers who don’t have any specific skills apart from being able to speak the language in which you are going.

If you are an independent traveler, grass roots organizations also want volunteers with no skills or requirements to come and work for them. Most of the programs don’t require you to have specific skills or academic qualifications except for a few e.g. Health care and medical work whereby you are asked to provide relevant skills or background experience.

One of the reason they don’t require any skills and qualifications because they attract young people who don’t yet have academic and work experience. Meaning anyone can apply for any program and be accepted.

Even though you will be accepted in any program it is better choosing a program where you can apply your skills and experience. This will make you more effective in your volunteer work. With your love for kids and being good with them will help you better work in an orphanage or teaching. If you are a marketer your skills and abilities will be best suited in a marketing position. Also if you want to learn new skills choose a volunteer program where you will taught and experience new skills.

Time

Find out how much time you have for your volunteer holiday. There are programs that range from one week to three years

Some programs are appropriate for short term volunteer work which takes up to one week to one month like orphanage work. On the other hand, there are long term projects like community development, construction projects which take between 6 months and 12 months. The volunteer programs are open throughout the year.  

But some programs are time specific in that they don’t operate in certain times of the year. Choosing the length of the volunteer and timing is important, for example when picking teaching programs take into considerations that the program doesn’t run in certain times of the year because the schools are closed.

Travel insurance

When volunteering abroad, it’s important to get specific volunteer abroad travel insurance.

Buying volunteer abroad travel insurance
Make sure to get volunteer abroad travel insurance

Choosing Volunteer abroad organizations

There are many opportunities that are available for those who want to volunteer abroad.

When you type volunteer abroad on Google you are get around 481,000 results and on yahoo it’s about 21,600,000. There are about 270 organizations or more which provide volunteer abroad programs. These organizations offer a variety of programs in different countries.

The reason for this is because the volunteer service industry is new and is rapidly growing fast. In the last ten years there has been increase on the number of organizations that provide volunteer abroad services. Many are made up of past volunteers and who want to make volunteering easier for the next volunteers. All these organizations are market themselves well, they have really good websites, pamphlets and recruitment drives.

When you are looking for the right organization to use takes too much time and energy.  You are normally overwhelmed with all the information that is out there, making your decision to be difficult.

We recommend checking out Global Work & Travel. They volunteer opportunities in South Africa, Costa Rica, Tanzania, Thailand, Peru, Nepal, Myanmar, Namibia, Ecuador, and Argentina.

When choosing which volunteer service organizations that you are going to use consider the following in our guide to volunteering abroad:

Destination

After you make the decision on where you want to go you can narrow the search on which organization that you want to use. When you search on Google and type volunteer in Cambodia you get 200,000 results with much fewer organizations.

There are many organizations that provide volunteer abroad services in different countries. There are problems all over the world and many places where you can volunteer. Deciding on where to go shouldn’t be difficult as you would already have had an ideal place to go and volunteer. After picking the place to go, start sorting through the list and finding out which organizations work in that area.

Also when choosing on where to go the language they speak is important as you don’t want to be in a place where it is hard to communicate. Other things to look out for is whether you prefer a rural setting or an urban setting.

Duration

How long you want to stay will influence which organization you will pick. There are different organizations that offer you the option of volunteering for one week and there are others that offer 2 to 3 years. 

Short volunteer programs are for those who are on their holidays which can be up to a month. While those who go for 6 months and more are the guys who are on a gap year. Very few organizations offer you both short term and long term volunteer abroad periods.

The short term projects could be teaching, working in a hospital, and child care. Long term projects include construction and community development programs. Time of the year also matters as it means that some programs don’t operate in December like for example schools are closed. Time of the year also depends on the season of your volunteer holiday. You could travel to another part of the world and find its winter.

Cost

Choosing the right organization depends on your budget. There are some organizations that charge thousands of dollars for a month long volunteer program while there are others that charge a few hundred for the same period.

They charge differently depending on the motivation of the organizations. In that some are not for profit while others are for profit organizations. The charges differ depending on the services they are going to be offering you.

Some organizations include travel insurance with their package as well as flight fees and other expenses. When choosing the organization, ask which services they will be offering e.g. room board, health insurance, emergency evacuation, in country support and transport to and from location.

Ask how the fees are being spent and does any of it go to the program projects or the community. There are some organizations that help in fundraising and some offer scholarships for the high costs. There are some organizations that offer paid volunteer work, whereby they help ease the cost of volunteering abroad by giving a stipend and out pocket expenses. Lastly find out if there are any financial penalties if you cancel your trip or whether you want to leave early from your program placement.

Program

This is the volunteer abroad program that you will engage in while you are in the host country. Choosing the right program that matches your skills and interest will determine which organization you will work with. When you decide what you are going to do will help you to find out which organizations are providing the services that you want.

If you have professional experience as a teacher and you want to teach look for organizations that offer volunteer teaching programs. Also if you want to improve on your skills by doing something in which you have no experience in, choose an organization that will help you do that.

Support

Look for an organization that has 24/7 support in the host country. Ask if they have representatives both locally and internationally. Just in case something happens you will have somebody who will be there to help you with your problems.

Look for organizations which have a representative in the host countries. In that when you have a problem you don’t have to call home because they won’t be able to help you as well as somebody who is there for you locally. Support also comes in the training they give you on the culture and language, pre departure information and orientation. 

Guide to volunteering abroad
Volunteering in schools

How much does volunteering abroad cost?

Volunteers don’t get paid, not because they’re worthless, but because they’re priceless.”  ~Sherry Anderson.

In spite of the fact that volunteering means giving up time and energy to help someone else in need volunteering abroad is not free.

Wherever you want to go, from helping the flood victims in Australia, Brazil and the earthquake victims of Haiti, there is always a price to pay to volunteer abroad. Many volunteers work with small community based organizations or not for profit organizations and the organizations don’t have the resources to pay for hosting and feeding them. Volunteers don’t pay to do their volunteer work abroad. They pay for the costs they will incur while they are abroad.

There are basic costs that everyone has to pay for example air fare, Visa, travel insurance, and vaccinations. In addition to these costs there are other expenses, like; accommodation, meals, and transportation within the country. When using a volunteer service organization, or travelling independently these factors must be put into consideration.

Here are a couple of more things that are included in the cost of volunteering abroad:

Length/duration

The period of time that you volunteer in a foreign country determines the cost. Wherever any volunteers go abroad they are bound to pay for food and accommodation for the length of their stay. Even if they leave their home town for a town nearby, they are bound to pay for these two expenses.

Food and accommodation depend on the length of stay. As an independent traveler, the cost of living will be calculated per day. For those who will stay in a hostel or a hotel they have to calculate the rent, food and transport. Those who will volunteer with travel companies will be charged per week.

The program fees are dependent on the number of weeks they will spend in the country. Their fees will be directed into paying accommodation, food and sometimes transport. The price varies depending on the volunteer travel they choose to use. They can go from between $ 99 to $ 1000 per week.

Volunteer Program

The cost of volunteering can be affected by the type of volunteer programs s/he chooses to work in. Some programs don’t cost too much as there is minimal risk involved and resources needed.

Volunteer programs like teaching, orphanage work and community service do not require many resources and the volunteers can improvise with what they have.

Other programs are more costly because the volunteers are at considerable risk, need more resources and positions are limited. Examples of such programs are wildlife, marine conservation and some sports programs. In wildlife programs, they will be working with wild animals and they need to be protected while they are doing their work, this means that they have to be assigned game rangers to assist and protect them while in the field.

In marine conservation programs the volunteers will be required to take scuba lessons and to have the scuba equipment. These drive up the cost of volunteering.

Support

This is mainly for the volunteers who choose to use a volunteer service company. While the volunteer is in another country they could require somebody to take care of everything else, leaving them to focus on volunteer work. They would require somebody to be there just in case there is a problem and to solve it for them.  

The price that the volunteer travel organization charges, determines the amount of support the volunteer will get while they are in the host countries.

The organizations that have high fees, charge for the following: training and orientation while in the volunteer’s home and host country; language training; 24/7 support and backup; weekend excursions; emergency precautions; and in some cases a college credit.

Those that have lower fees don’t skimp on these services but provide them in a limited capacity.

Miscellaneous

These are out of pocket expenses that the volunteer will incur. These include buying amenities that the volunteer would require to have while s/he is volunteering abroad for example a bottle of water, snacks, and curios. In some occasions the volunteer would want to go for a local tour that is not included in the volunteer package.

Volunteer work
Volunteer work

That’s it for our guide to volunteering abroad. By now, you should have enough information about volunteering abroad and which program is best for you.


What to Know Before Volunteering Abroad

Before you leave home for your trip to help and change humanity, there’s a few things to know before volunteering abroad.

Here are things you should look into to make sure you are not caught unawares. For inexperienced travelers these are very important and should not be taken lightly. As an experienced traveler you know some of these tips but also you need to be reminded of the basics.

Volunteer work
Volunteer work

What to know before volunteering abroad: Questions to ask

Here’s what to know before volunteering abroad, including the important questions to ask when deciding what volunteer work to do abroad.

Also, don’t forget about getting volunteer abroad travel insurance!

1. How much time do you have available to volunteer or travel?

Many volunteers don’t plan their time well before they leave for their trip. Some plan too little time and feel like they are not effective. Or feel like their impact was not felt like it should have.

Some volunteers are people who are working and they use their vacation period to go. Depending on your employer and how much time they give you. You should plan your time well so that you can leave as soon as you can and be back early also. So that you will not be burnt out by the time you are going to work. Also the vacation should be too short for you to leave an impact. Gap year travelers are the lucky ones here as they don’t have a time limit. And they are able to start and finish a project.

2. What kind of work do you want to do?

Many companies out there offer great programs and projects for volunteers. The packages available are good too but the programs are mainly generalized for the public. There are a list and a whole number of programs available but if you are to decide to something you want to make sure you like what you are going to do and be good at it.

The work you pick to do should be something you like to do and it should play to your strengths. For example if you like to play with kids then orphanage work would be good for you. Also if you are used to teaching your peers, then teaching would come naturally for you.

Check out our guide to volunteering abroad for more details on the types of volunteer abroad programs that you can do and how to choose one.

What to know before volunteering abroad
Volunteering to clean the beaches

3. What kind of work would you prefer to avoid?

Like the previous paragraph, this is very important. You don’t want to feel burdened or overworked in your vacation. Also, sometimes when you choose to be involve in some program there are duties that you would like to avoid.

For example if you work in an orphanage and they ask you to wash clothes and you are not comfortable with that. You should talk to the organization that you are using to make sure you avoid things you are not comfortable with.

If the work you choose has certain areas you are not ok with, explain to them that you can’t do it most companies will work with you and will change to suit your preferences.

4. What skills and talents can you bring to the group?

One of the hardest questions to answer is what are your talents? Most of us don’t know what we are good at. There are few of us who are lucky to know our talents early. If you are in the first group, then use a series of guided questions to help you find the things you can bring to the volunteer program.

Look for things you like to do. For example if you love playing video games it doesn’t mean you can’t help with your skills. This means you could come up with games that people enjoy like monopoly, chess or scrabble.

5. What locations are you most interested in?

Many organizations offer a multitude of locations. The problem comes when you are overwhelmed with the choices and you are not sure where to go. In some they give you the option of which continent to apply your volunteer trip or where to start your gap year. In some they you can choose whether you want to be in the cities or in the rural areas.

You should look at your options and find the ones which are more appropriate for you. For example if you choose to go and live in the rural areas in a third world country. You will find the conditions there to be basic, no running water or electricity.

Global Work and Travel offers volunteer opportunities in South Africa, Costa Rica, Tanzania, Thailand, Peru, Nepal, Myanmar, Namibia, Ecuador, and Argentina.

Related Read: Reasons to Volunteer in Cambodia


Unique Things to do in Barcelona

Barcelona is a city jam-packed with history, culture, gastronomy, and art. There’s no shortage of unique things to do in Barcelona.

There’s so much to experience in the Catalan capital, that it’s simply impossible to tick off everything on your to-do list on a single visit here.

For those looking to experience something a little unusual while in Barcelona, here’s our list of…

The top unique things to do in Barcelona

Take a shot at beach volleyball

This fun, summer-time sport takes place all year round in Barcelona! This is a city that loves its sports, with the legacy of the 1992 Olympic Games living on today with the Catalans passion for all things sporty.

Beach volleyball has become particularly popular in the city over the last few years. Due to the increased interest, the council has set up several public nets on the beaches of Barcelona. The most popular beach for a game of volleyball is at Nova Icària. Many people come to play a casual game, or to take part in more competitive tournaments.

And, while you’re at the beach why not check out some of the water sports in Barcelona?

Unique things to do in Barcelona - play volleyball on the beach.
Beach volleyball on Nova Icària Beach

Party at a summer festival

If there’s one thing that Barcelona is famous for, it’s partying. The Catalans know how to throw a good fiesta, with summer being the best time of year to get involved.

There is the iconic Primavera Sound festival, which takes place every April. They’ve had the likes of Radiohead, Kendrick Lamar, and Arctic Monkeys, among many others, perform here in the past. Next up on the line-up is Sonar, an electronic dance festival with uber-cool attendees (you’ll have to wait until 2022 for the next one).

Aside from the big, international music festivals, there’s also Barcelona’s own street fiestas in Summer. There is the Festa de Sant Joan (Feast of St. John) on 23 June to celebrate Summer Solstice each year. Expect fireworks, dances, bonfires and much more at this exciting celebration!

Unique festivals in Barcelona during the summer months.
Crowds at Primavera Sound Festival

Sail on a private boat

The comfortable year-round climate of Barcelona and the Mediterranean Sea makes it perfect for sailing, 365 days a year. For an unforgettable day out on the blue shores of Barcelona, why not hire a private sailing boat?

Take a stab at sailing, or have a professional skipper make life easier! Sip on some refreshing vermouth, while you sunbathe in front of the spectacular views of the city.

Sailing in Barcelona
Sailing boat in Port Vell at Sunset

Learn to cook paella

Barcelona is a foodie-paradise, but why not try being the chef for the day yourself? Paella is a classic Catalan dish, and one of Spain’s most famous dishes. We recommend joining a cooking class to master this delicious rice dish.

Make it a fun day out with your friends and family, so you can all go home knowing how to cook likes pros! Some courses include a trip to the market to see where all the fresh ingredients are coming from, too.

Learn how to make paella in Barcelona
Seafood paella

Related Read: Cheap Tapas Bars in Barcelona

Take a Segway tour of the city

Forget a boring walking tour of Barcelona, up your sight-seeing game and hop on a Segway around the city! This is definitely one of the more unique things to do in Barcelona.

A tour guide will train you how to use the Segway, so there’s no dramatic falls in front of the Sagrada Familia! Then zoom round Gaudí’s city, learning about all the most fantastic landmarks and sights as you go.

Unique things to do in Barcelona - go on segway tour
Segway tour along the seafront

Ride on the oldest amusement park in Spain

Tibidabo can be seen from all over Barcelona, up on the Collserola Ridge Mountains. It was first established over 100 years ago, making it the oldest amusement park in Spain. But don’t worry, the rides aren’t originals!

Get your camera ready for some breathtaking views of the entire city at your feet. Tibidabo is great for any age, as there’s a variety of attractions to suit everybody. We recommend a trip on the big wheel, though be wary if you have a fear of heights!

Here’s a few other great spots with the best views in Barcelona!

Unique things to do in Barcelona
The view of Barcelona from Tibidabo

Take a yoga lesson on a paddle board

If you want to take your fitness skills to the next level, this is the activity for you. Stand up paddle surf combined with yoga lessons can be super challenging, but such fun! If you already practice yoga, and love the beach, this is a great way to combine the two.

Head out on the waters with your instructor and group, basking in the beautiful sunshine. Stand up paddle yoga reinforces your balance and stability, great practice for any budding surfers too.

Sup yoga in Barcelona
Stand up paddle yoga class with SupYoga, via @supyogacat

These are just a few of the most unique things to do in Barcelona – check out our Barcelona activity guide for more of the touristy things to do in Barcelona.


Practical Tips for Driving in Brazil

Brazil is a huge and fantastic country, and the best way to discover it is by car or motorcycle.

Of course, when you’re used to driving in Europe or the US, you will quickly notice a number of differences. In this post, I would like to give some practical information and pointers about driving in Brazil.

Tips for driving in Brazil
Tips for driving in Brazil

The rules of driving in Brazil

In my opinion, driving in Brazil can be divided into a number of different conditions:

The “rules” (I don’t mean “the law”) vary according to which situation you’re in, but one thing that almost always applies is: who has the bigger vehicle, has the upper hand.

Don’t expect people to stop and give way, even if you have priority (like on a roundabout). Don’t expect people to use indicators when they turn left or right. Don’t be surprised to see cars and even trucks driving at night without lights.

  • Big cities – Traffic jams: In the big cities you will almost always end up in a traffic jam. Rio de Janeiro but especially São Paulo are notorious for the hectic traffic. The already complicated situation is often made worse by accidents, broken down vehicles or storms (flooding). there are also hundreds of motorcycles (125 – 250cc) making their way through the rows of cars, honking their horns and switching lanes, often at considerable speeds, so be VERY careful in traffic jams and check your mirrors before changing lanes.
  • Major highways: These are usually in good condition and especially the toll roads are equipped with a well-functioning tow service (free of charge). In case of an accident or engine problems, you will get towed to the next gas station. One of the best highways in Brazil (also the most expensive in terms of toll) is the BR116 (the “Dutra”) between Rio and São Paulo. São Paulo is the state with the densest road network. a quick look at the road map of Brazil and you see this very easily.
  • The condition of vehicles (cars, trucks, motorcycles, bicycles…) goes from excellent to literally falling apart… I’ve seen cars with doors missing, or pieces being held together with a piece of rope. You also see lots of cars with completely bald tires. Some vehicles you see here wouldn’t last 10 minutes on the road in Europe.

I don’t want to scare anyone, because a road trip in Brazil can be an extremely rewarding experience. It’s just that with the right information, you can avoid bad situations or at least avoid getting frustrated by the undisciplined or even reckless behaviour of other road users.

Related Read: Most Beautiful Regions in Brazil for Motorcycling

Tips for driving in Brazil
Tips for driving in Brazil

Tips for driving in Brazil

Here are five practical hints and recommendations for anyone who wants to venture out on the road in this amazing country.

1. Road conditions in Brazil

As in most countries, road conditions in Brazil can vary a great deal. As a general rule, the roads in the south and south-east regions are in much better shape than those up north. When you cross the state border between Espirito Santo and Bahia, the BR101 suddenly changes from a double two lane highway with perfect asphalt into a secondary road with potholes and no hard shoulders. No better example of the economical differences between the South-east and the North-east of Brazil. Independent from the location, heavy rains can wreak havoc, causing land slides, wash away part of the road surface or leave impassable mud holes.

  • Holes in the road: Sometimes water can wash away the earth under the asphalt and eventually part of the pavement will cave in and a hole will appear in the road… people usually “mark” these places with a leafy tree branch. So when you see something that looks like there’s a tree growing out of the asphalt, there’s probably a deep hole in the road. Needless to say that this kind of “signalization” is very hard to spot in the dark…
  • Dirt roads: are very common in Brazil, especially in the rural interior, and are being used intensively by cars, motorcycles, but also by trucks and buses. Some of them have codes (like RJ153 or SP225) and are official state roads and are usually kept in reasonable condition, whereas the “unofficial” dirt roads can be in very bad shape, especially after the rainy season, when landslides make lots of roads very difficult to use. One good rule of thumb is: when you’re in a dirt road and don’t see any tracks from other cars, (meaning that the road hasn’t been used for quite some time), chances are that the road you’re on is not going anywhere and it might be a good idea to turn around and find another route to your destination.
  • Signalization: On the major highways, signalization is good, but in more remote areas and small cities and villages, don’t rely on following signs to get somewhere. You will often see signs to your destination for a while until they vanish. In case you’re lost, gas stations usually are a good source of information, but you will have to get it from someone who only speaks Portuguese…Signalization of road works is usually good, even in the dirt roads.
  • Speedbumps: To control the speed of vehicles around schools or in village centers and residential areas, there are numerous speed bumps all over the country. The official name is “Lombada” but most people call them “quebra molas” (literally: suspension breakers). this is not exaggerated, because some of these bumps are so high and steep they almost look like concrete half-cylindres. Hitting one of these at high-speed will destroy your car… They should be painted in bright yellow and black stripes for visibility, but unfortunately this is not always the case. Beware!
  • Flanelinhas: when you park your car in most urban centres, it is very common to see a guy come up to you, indicating that he’s going to keep an eye on your car. They also “help” people to find parking spots and sometimes even offer to wash your car. These people are called “Flanelinhas”, and what they are doing is illegal, but it is unwise to turn them down if you don’t want to end up with a few scratches on your car.

2. Gas stations in Brazil

Gas stations in Brazil are still very much operated by humans. Unlike in Europe, where in most countries you need to fill your tank yourself, every station has several attendants who will fill up the car for you. Usually there’s no problem to pay with a credit or debit card, but several gas stations in more remote areas that will only accept cash.

  • Gasoline prices and quality: Gasoline prices in Brazil are high compared to the US (about 7$ a gallon), but lower than in Europe. Some gas stations – usually the small, unknown brands – have lower prices, but this usually means that the alcohol level in the Gasoline is higher than the legal 20-25%. Some gasoline you buy at “cheaper” gas stations has up to 60% of alcohol in it. It is always advisable to buy your gas at a big distributor station like Petrobras or Shell…

3. Animals (and other stuff) on the road

Unfortunately, Brazil has thousands, if not millions of stray animals wandering the streets. Cows, horses, donkeys, dogs… not to speak about the wildlife, like capivara, tatu, snakes, lizards…  Your reflexes can be tested.

4. Use a GPS for directions when driving

A GPS can be a great tool and save you lots of time and gas as long as it has a good map installed. I have a Garmin GPS that I use both on my motorcycle and in the car, and I arrived in Brazil with the standard Garmin map of Brazil that I purchased in Belgium.

As long as I was on a major road or a significant city, things seemed fine, but once I started venturing into the interior, I quickly learned that the Garmin map was all but accurate. In fact it was perfectly unusable… (sorry Garmin, but that’s just the way it is..)

When you come to Brazil you want to use your Garmin GPS, make sure you have a good map installed. I strongly recommend the “Tracksource” map. It is totally free, developed by volunteers and as far as I have been experiencing up to now, very accurate.

Another advantage this map has, is that it not only contains the official roads (Federal and state roads) but also a wealth of small roads, 4×4 tracks and hiking trails that aren’t on ANY map. Some smaller cities don’t have all the streets yet, but there’s a monthly update and the map gets more complete every time.

To download and install the Tracksource map, go to: www.tracksource.org.br

5. Be prepared when driving in Brazil

Whenever setting out on a road trip, bring the following:

  • Some food & water
  • maps of the area you’re going to travel through
  • Flashlight / Headlight
  • A phone card: comes in handy when you’re in an area without mobile phone signal. every small village has at least one payphone (orelhão). You can also call collect (a cobrar) from the payphones
  • Cash for highway toll (there’s no way to pay with any type of card)
  • Cash for gas (especially when you plan to go to remote areas)

and make sure to:

Hope this was useful.


3 Day Self-Guided Michigan Brewery Road Trip

Craft brewing has never been bigger in the United States, and there are a few states which really stand out as masters of the microbrew.

Surrounded by Great Lakes and beautiful Midwest landscapes, Michigan boasts over 120 craft brewers, including several national and world beer competition winners.

Making it a great idea to do a Michigan brewery road trip!

Read on to get the perfect itinerary for exploring the many great breweries in Michigan.

Michigan brewery road trip
Michigan brewery road trip

How to plan a Michigan brewery road trip

For a road trip to remember, start out at Michigan’s southwest corner, and be prepared for frequent pit stops at the many micro and craft breweries along the way. Of course, you’ll need a designated driver – but be good sports and chip in for some bottles to go, so they can at least enjoy them later!

Day 1: Three Floyds

If you can, start your journey a bit west of Michigan (less than 1 hour) in Munster, Indiana – home of the esteemed Three Floyds Brewpub, one of the country’s most talented brewers.

As their 96% “world class” rating on Beer Advocate indicates, Three Floyds is famous for their hoppy brews, but they can seemingly do no wrong with whatever style they take on. Be sure to try some fan favorites like Dreadnaught, Gumballhead, and Zombie Dust, and fill up on some great bar food too, including top drawer burgers and deliciously crazy scotch eggs.

Day 1: Greenbush Brewing & The Livery

Continue your quest north into Michigan, stopping by Greenbush Brewing (Sawyer, MI) and The Livery (Benton Harbor, MI) for some samples on your way to one of the best breweries on the route – New Holland Brewing (Holland, MI).

Day 1: New Holland Brewing

New Holland has a well-established, big and well-lit brewpub (a contrast from dimly lit 3 Floyds) with a wide variety of craft brews on draft. Fortunately, you’ll be able to try nearly all of them by creating your own flights – a sampling of (usually 4 to 6) smaller sized beers.

Holland is a nice small town on the coast, great for walking, and with beautiful sandy beaches, so it makes a good place to stay for the night. If you’re travelling in group, opt for a Two Bedroom Suite at the Residence Inn in Holland, complete with indoor pool, barbecue grills, and complimentary breakfast.

Day 2: Founders Brewing Company

The next day, head east to Grand Rapids, MI and make your first stop at Founders Brewing Company.

Grab a full pint of one of their phenomenal breakfast stouts and sample a few others. Even the designated driver can have a taste, because you’ll be walking to the next must-visit brewery…

Day 2: HopCat

HopCat, the #3 brewpub in the world according to BeerAdvocate magazine. Hopefully you arrive around lunch time, because in addition to some awesome beer, HopCat has some great food (don’t miss the crack fries).

Day 2: Jolly Pumpkin Artisanal Ales

There are three more important breweries to visit before the trek is complete. Continue east a couple hours to lovely Ann Arbor, Michigan, which has become even lovelier now that Jolly Pumpkin Artisanal Ales has a brewpub here.

Jolly Pumpkin specializes in interesting, complex beer styles that many brewers don’t even attempt. Their Oro de Calabaza ale has won several awards and has been lauded as the best non-Belgian Belgian beer you can find. Enjoy a night of food and drink, and shack up in Ann Arbor for the night.

Day 3: Dark Horse Brewing Company & Bell’s Brewery

Finally, on the last day of the Michigan brewery road trip, head back west, stopping by two very prestigious midwest craft brewers – Dark Horse Brewing Company (Marshall, MI) and Bell’s Brewery (Kalamazoo, MI).

Both of these breweries have a wide range of beers to sample – Bell’s has succeeded to perfect many of the standard American styles, while Dark Horse tends to be more experimental, often incorporating fruit into their process.

Alternatively, if you don’t have a dedicated driver, you can always book a Michigan brewery tour. Here’s a few options.

Looking for more things to do in Michigan? Check out this post:


Exploring Las Ramblas de Barcelona Step by Step

Las Ramblas or La Rambla (from Arabic Ramla which means sand) is the finest identified landmark in Barcelona.

It is a 1.2 km extended and busy avenue, preferred with each tourists and locals. Las Ramblas is going down from Plaza de Catalunya all the way to the Columbus statue.

Strolling straight down Las Ramblas in Barrio Gotico you can take a look at its a lot of outlets or appreciate observing the a variety of street performers, of which some of them have an spectacular act or either existing a quite exclusive creature. Furthermore there are a number of newspaper kiosks, floral and animal stands.

On each sides of Las Ramblas are additionally many cafes and restaurants (including some of the best cheap tapas bars in Barcelona). Right here you can eat or drink one thing though observing the occupied road.

Ask anybody who’s going to visit Barcelona where they’d like to stay, and the common reply is “close to Las Ramblas”. This Barcelona promenade is the most famed street in the city, and is really an old brook bed.

Exploring Las Ramblas in Barcelona
Exploring Las Ramblas in Barcelona

Exploring Las Ramblas in Barcelona

The Barri Gotic or Gothic area used to be the old Barcelona (known in Roman times as “Barcino” ) and has a wall running around the city to protect it, with the main entrance the iron gates 1/2 way down the particular Ramblas, and know known as Portaferrissa (literally “Iron door” ). Flanking Barcino to the left was countryside and the Roman church of Sant Pau del Camp (Saint Paul of the countryside) which now is in the heart of the Raval.

Las Ramblas now dissects the old city – leaving El Raval ( also from Arabic meaning beyond the walls ) to the left and El Gotico to the right. The name “Las Ramblas” is essentially plural – meaning many ramblas all collected together. Ramblas has even coined its own word “ramblear” meaning to stroll / ramble as many neighbors and visitors do on weekends.

From the city’s main square – Playa Catalunya – down to the Port and the monument of Christopher Columbus, Las Ramblas epitomizes Barcelona and is a colourful, 24-hour street where you can find a mix of neighbors and tourists alike.

The whole of the promenade is dotted with paper kiosks which are open twenty-four hours, and is the best place to get your hot-off-the-press copy of the local and international news. 

Back in the day Las Ramblas applied to be a river bed that ran from the mountain tops to the sea.

The main areas of Las Ramblas

Although Las Ramblas is one steady street, it in fact is made up of 5 Ramblas:

– Rambla de Canaletes
– Rambla del Estudis
– Rambla del Sant Josep
– Rambla del Caputxins
– Rambla de Santa Monica

Rambla de Canaletes is the first Rambla starts at Plaza de Catalunya. This Rambla is named by a fountain. In accordance to a legend, when you consume from the fountain, you can preserve coming back again to Barcelona. The 2nd Rambla is Rambla del Estudis. It is named soon after a 16th century university, the Estudis Generals..

Starting from the top of Plaa Catalunya, and walking down to the port (also this is slightly downhill) we first have Rambla de Canaletes – named after the fountains at Plaa Catalunya. This part of Las Ramblas is a favourite for the local OAPs to collect and set the world to rights, as well as the typical hang out for the FC Barcelona fans after a victory ( particularly if it’s over their bitter rivals Real Madrid).

Next in the continual transition is Rambla de los Estudios (studies), which joins the Catalana Library on Calle infirmary, and is where the beginning of the street performers and human statues las Ramblas has become so feted for, start to appear.

Rambla de Sant Josep is so named for the famous market of Saint Joseph, also more commonly known as “La Boqueria” – allegedly Europe’s biggest food market selling everything edible under the sun.

This stretch is closely followed by Rambla de los capuxinos – some of the city’s finest and oldest cafs sit alongside the impressive Liceu Opera house and have been inspiration to several a visitor and writer to Barcelona. What easier way to stop and write a postcard than with a caf con leche here!? This part is often referred to as rambla de les flores, due to the many flower sellers crammed into the small space here, and is a dazzling place to visit in the saint George’s day celebrations ( the patron saint of Catalunya ) as roses are historically given on this day.

The following Rambla is Rambla del Sant Josep named immediately after a convent which was demolished in the mid 1900 and replaced by Mercat de Boqueria. La Mercat de Boqueria is a common coated fruit market. Here you can locate refreshing fish, vegetables, fruit and beef. Notice, the stalls close the entrance are the a lot expensive.

The fourth Rambla is Rambla del Caputxins. This Rambla is also named following a demolished building, Capuchin monasterysturdy. A very fascinating building, called Gran Movie house del Liceu, is situated at this portion of Las Ramblas.

The final stretch is Rambla de Santa Monica – named from the old Portal de Santa Monica still untouched on nearby Parallel street. Here the city’s many artists and caricature painters plant their stalls along with the everyday three cup conmen who never fail to attract interest. Crowning the base of Las Ramblas and the entrance to Port Vell ( “the old Port” is Christopher Columbus monument – pointing out towards Las Americas. Look for fantastic and inexpensive Ferienwohnungen Barcelona next to the Columbus monument.

This Rambla leads to a roundabout with the Columbus Monument. This portion of The Rambla is broader then the higher Ramblas and though strolling down be certain to glance to your still left and walk into Plaza True for a drink to cool off. If you are wanting for paintings from locals artists you should find most here, and at the end of Las Ramblas you can uncover a nice roundabout which has the statue of Colom as a middle concentrate point.

From Las Ramblas you can cross a bridge over the sea and carry on your practical experience by going into the Maremagnum complex.

Check out our guide on where to stay in Barcelona for more info on staying in Las Ramblas and hotel options.

Looking for more tips on Barcelona? Check out these posts: