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Disclaimer: Before you read the article let me be clear, the experience I talk about here has nothing to do with the real Tourism Authority of Thailand and they are in no way connected to this. They are legitimate. This experience is about a travel agency and a bunch of scammers making you believe that you are be interacting with the Tourism Authority of Thailand when in fact you are not.

It’s just day number 3 in Bangkok and I have already been scammed!

I had heard before coming to Bangkok that scams are quite common here but I never thought I would fall for it. So here’s what happened.

My husband and I were walking from our hotel, near Khao San road, to a temple nearby. We were using Google maps for directons to the temple.

A Friendly Stranger

A stranger passing by noticed this and beckoned us. We ignored him at first, but then he approached us and asked us where we wanted to go. His English was very good and he seemed very friendly. After giving us directions to the temple we were looking for, he advised us about all the places we should visit while in Bangkok. He even taught us how to say “thank you” and “hello” in Thai. We were very pleased with how warm the locals seemed. That was the beginning of the scam.

The stranger then mentioned that it was “Lucky Buddha day” today, a special day which happens only once a year. On this day, entrance to certain temples is free and the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) offers 20% discount on hotel and travel bookings. He advised us to book our hotels through Tourism Authority of Thailand only as they are the best source of information and cheap deals. He also asked us to take a tuk tuk that would take us around to some temples and Tourism Authority of Thailand at just 40 Baht as part of the “Lucky Buddha Day” deal.

We thanked him and were about to set off on our own. However, he insisted that we should take a tuk tuk as the walk up to the temple is quite long and immediately called a nearby tuk tuk. He spoke to the tuk tuk driver in Thai and told him where to take us and how much to charge. We felt this was a bit weird but we couldn’t decline as he was being so nice to us. This was the second mistake.

Tuk Tuk Ride and More Friendly Locals

The tuk tuk driver took us to three temples. The temples were not as impressive as other Bangkok temples we had already seen. However, the temple didn’t charge any entrance fee so we just shrugged it off.

In the second temple, there was another “friendly” stranger who approached us. He asked us where we were from. He also talked about the Lucky Buddha day and the deals at Tourism Authority of Thailand . However, he said that the Lucky Buddha day happens every week. This should have been our clue that something is off but we were too daft to notice. After we told him that we were visiting from Canada, he proceeded to tell us about a friend in Calgary who visits Bangkok often. He then told us that his friend had once been scammed by Booking.com and that’s why he now always books his trip through Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT). This reinforced the idea that we should always book through TAT.

We thanked him for the information and left the temple. The Tuk Tuk driver then took us to another temple where surprise there was another friendly stranger who said almost the same things. Looking back, I don’t know why we didn’t connect the dots. We assumed that the locals are very friendly and helpful. I blame lack of sleep and the heat for our slow brains.

Fake Tourism Authority Of Thailand and the Lucky Buddha Scam

The tuk tuk driver then took us to the what was supposedly TAT but in reality was a seedy travel agency.

On entering we were greeted by a friendly travel agent who was also fluent in English. We told him that we were looking to book accommodation in Phuket for a week. Fortunately, our other accommodation had already been booked in advance on Booking.com. Only, the one week in Phuket was unplanned and our journey from Bangkok to Krabi was unplanned.

As per our request, he looked for cheap accommodation near Patong Beach. He finally showed us a room for 480 CAD for 6 nights. we thought it was a reasonable price to pay and approved the amount. He then proceeded to book our train tickets from Bangkok to Krabi. That cost us 200 CAD.

While we were waiting for the confirmation to come through, he proceeded to tell us about the different tours from Phuket to Phi Phi islands. He said it’s better to book it in advance since the tours now take only 60 people per day. I don’t know if that information is true. We enquired about the price and he quoted around 240 CAD for both my husband and I for a one day tour. From my earlier research, I knew the tickets on GetYourGuide.com was way cheaper than that. So we declined.

Realization Of the Scam

For a while, we were not even aware that we were scammed. It’s only when we arrived back at our hotel and had our internet connection, we realised that the room that we had booked in Phuket was available for a much lower price on Agoda.com. The room actually cost 326.84 CAD. Now, you may say that the price difference may be due to the fact that he booked on a different website. Well… no. The hotel confirmation document he gave me said that he had booked it on Agoda.com as well and had a Agoda Booking ID. So, we had been overcharged 153.16 CAD on the same hotel room.

Regarding travel to Krabi from Bangkok, the travel agent told us that the flights were completely booked. So, we booked train tickets. However, this is not true either. When I came back to the hotel, I found several flights available at just $112 for two passengers. The flight just take an hour to go from Bangkok to Krabi. Now we are stuck with train tickets which takes 14 hrs with a transfer in between. I don’t even know if this train ticket is legit. Only time will tell. If the tickets are fake, I would have lost another 200 CAD.

If the train tickets are legit, I looked up online and the train tickets cost around 66 CAD per person. So it comes to 132 CAD in total. So, again I had been overcharged around 68 CAD. So the total overcharge is about 221 CAD.

People will argue that the overcharge is not a scam. The travel agent simply charged commission for his services. This is the normal procedure in most travel agencies. Also, the amount that I was overcharged was not much and just 221 CAD.

To this, I will say I don’t mind the overcharge so much. As a travel blogger I understand that travel agents need to be paid for their services and the information they offer. What I don’t like is the elaborate way in which this was orchestrated – like giving the impression of friendly strangers, the fake Lucky Buddha day, the travel agency masquerading as Tourism Authority of Thailand. This is what makes it a scam. If you are still in doubt, Google “Lucky Buddha Scam” and you’ll see how many people have been fooled by this.

I have to say one thing in the travel agent’s defense though. He actually provided us some information and printout maps of Bangkok. He showed us what places to visit and how to get there. So, we are grateful to him for that.

My impression of Bangkok is a bit tainted right now. However, as someone advised me, I shouldn’t judge an entire place by one horrible experience. I will take it as a life lesson and try to love Bangkok again.

Lessons for future travels and advice on how to avoid travel scams

  1. Not all friendly strangers are good peeople.
  2. Stay alert when visiting Asian countries like Thailand and India. I am including India in the mix because I am aware of such things happening in my home country too.
  3. Do your research before you travel.
  4. If your spidy senses tell you something is off, trust that instinct.
Tokyo to Kumano Kodo : A day trip from Tokyo or Osaka
Sanjudo Pagoda at Kumano Nachi Taisha
Brief Summary of the Route:

Tokyo to Kumano Kodo

Take the Shinkansen from Tokyo to Nagoya. Then, take JR Limited Nanki Express from Nagoya to Kii-Katsuura. Click here for a more details.

Osaka to Kumano Kodo

Take JR Kuroshio from Shin-Osaka or Tennoji Station to Kii-Kaatsura. click here for more details.

Where is Kumano Kodo?

Kumano, in the southern part of Kii peninsula, is an ancient sacred area known for the three grand shrines: Kumano Hongu Taisha, Kumano Hayatama Taisha and Kumano Nachi Taisha. The shrines are collectively known as Kumano Sanzan.

The Seven hiking trails that connect these three shrines are collectively known as known as Kumano Kodo. In the olden days, people went on a pilgrimage through these demanding trails to visit the shrines and attain spiritual enlightenment.

Day trip From Tokyo to Kumano Nachi Taisha and Nachi Falls

A hike through the Kumano Kodo is definitely the best way to experience this spiritual journey. However if, like me, you don’t have the luxury of time, you can do a day trip to Kumano Nachi Taisha from Tokyo.

A day trip from Tokyo to Kumano Nachi Taisha is travel intensive. You have to change several buses and trains and the one-way journey can take up to 6 hours.

This means that you will have only an hour or two to enjoy the incredible views. If time permits, I would recommend staying there at least a night or two to take in the beauty of the place.

A day trip to Kumano Nachi Taisha and Nachi Falls from Tokyo is possible mainly due to the super fast and efficient Shinkansen (bullet trains) that cover 7 to 8 hour journeys in a matter of 2 to 3 hours. Plan this itinerary carefully as the schedule is absolutely packed and a slight miscalculation may cause you to miss a train/bus. You also have to leave very early in the morning to spend more time at Nachisan.

Tokyo to Kumano Nachi Taisha

  1. Tokyo -> Nagoya

    Take the JR Tokaido Shinkansen from Tokyo to Nagoya from either Tokyo station or Shinagawa station. It’s better to board the Shinkansen from Shinagawa as the station is not as crowded and confusing as Tokyo station.

    Depending on the Shinkansen you choose – Nozomi, Hikari or Kodama, it can take from 1hr 40min (Nozomi), 1hr 50min(Hikari) to 3hrs(Kodama) from Tokyo to Nagoya. For the day trip, avoid Kodama as it takes longer to travel from Tokyo to Nagoya. If you are a JR Rail Pass holder, choose Hikari as it’s fast and the cost of the journey is covered by the pass.

  2. Nagoya -> Kii-Katsuura

    From Nagoya, take the JR Nanki Limited Express, also known as Wide-view Nanki, to Kii-Katsuura . To cut the wait time in Nagoya, plan and reserve your seats on the Wide-view Nanki in advance. The staff at the JR ticket office will help you pick the train time more effectively.

    If you are a JR Rail Pass holder, most of the trip is covered. I say most because a part of the track from Kawarada to Tsu is not owned by JR. Hence, you have to pay an extra charge of 820 Yen to the ticket collector on board the Wide-view Nanki.

    This journey takes upto 4hrs. It’s a bit exhausting. However, the scenery through the large windows of the Wide-View Nanki make up for it.

  3. Kii-Katsuura -> Kumano Nachi Taisha

    From Kii- Katsuura station, board a local bus that makes stops at Nachi Station, Daimon Zaka, Nachi-no-Taki-mae (Nachi Waterfalls) and Nachi San.

    The local bus stops right outside the station. The time-table for this bus can be found here: Kii Katsuura Bus Time-Table . Alternatively, if you are running out of time and can afford a taxi, you can hire a taxi outside the train station to take you around the sites.

The total travel time one-way from Tokyo to Kii-Katsuura is around 5 hrs 50 minutes. Remember, the JR Nanki Limited Express is not as frequent as the Shinkansen. Confirm the last train from Kii-Katsuura back to Nagoya to avoid being stuck there. In my case, the last train from Kii-Katsuura to Nagoya was at 5:11 pm. Consult JR Ticket Office or HyperDia to plan your travel.

Osaka to Kumano Kodo (Kumano Nachi Taisha)

If you are starting from Osaka and not from Tokyo, then follow the route below:

Shin-Osaka to Kii-Katsuura Station

Take the JR Kuroshio from Shin-Osaka or Tennoji Station to Kii-Kaatsura. Travel Time is approximately 4 hrs. From Kii-Katsuura to Kumano Nachi Taisha, follow the instructions given above.

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Kumano Kodo : Kumano Nachi Taisha. Directions of how to get from Tokyo to Kumano Nachi Taisha in a day.
Nachi Falls and Kumano Nachi Taisha – A Travel Guide

The Path Toronto is an underground pathway from which you can access popular tourist attractions such as the Hockey Hall Of Fame, The Brookfield Place and 30 Kms of Shopping. Find out how to use the PATH here.
The PATH Toronto – Underground Pathway of Toronto

This post has affiliate links. Read this to understand what it means.

The PATH Toronto

Toronto is located in the southern part of Canada, bordering the United States. So, it doesn’t get as cold as the other parts of the country. That being said, winters still see temperatures from -5°C to -15°C. The summers are no better, you will see very humid and hot days with temperatures from 30°C to 33°C which can feel like 40°C due to the humidity. In both cases, you don’t want to be outside. Fortunately, the city of Toronto has a solution for that. Toronto has an extensive system of underground paths which is known as The PATH which makes commuting between buildings easy without the need to go outside.

What is the PATH?

As I mentioned before, The PATH Toronto is a walkway that connects many commercial centers and office buildings in the Financial and Entertainment districts of Toronto that enable easy commute between buildings akin to the +15 walkway in Calgary. The PATH is used everyday by thousands for commuting to and fro from their office and their downtown apartments, which sometimes have direct access to the PATH, or the subway. However, the PATH is not JUST for locals commuting to their offices. I have chosen to write about the PATH in my Travel Blog because, the PATH can be a very useful route for tourists who can use it to visit tourist attractions in downtown.

What’s On the PATH

Tourist Attractions on the PATH

The picture shows the entrance of Hockey Hall of Fame from the PATH Toronto
Hockey Hall of Fame

You can access the following Tourist Attractions and notable buildings on The PATH Toronto:

  1. The Brookfield Place – The Hockey Hall Of Fame, Allan Lambert Galleria, Sam Pollock Square
  2. CN Tower
  3. Ripley’s Aquarium Of Canada
  4. Rogers Centre
  5. Roy Thomson Hall
  6. Toronto City Hall
  7. Air Canada Centre
  8. Harbour Plaza
  9. Eaton Centre
  10. Hudson Bay and Saks

The Brookfield Place, home of the Hockey Hall of Fame, the Allan Lambert Galleria and the steel arches at Sam Pollock Square is directly on the walkway.

The picture  shows the CN Tower Skywalk. It is connected to the PATH Toronto via Union Station
CN Tower Skywalk

while the Brookfield place is directly connected to the PATH, the attractions like CN Tower, Ripley’s Aquarium Of Canada are not directly on the PATH. To reach CN Tower and the other attractions mentioned here, follow the PATH to the Union Station. From the Union Station, you should get on the skywalk which is also a covered above ground walkway. To get to the Skywalk, walk up a flight of stairs at Union Train Station up to the Great Hall. From the Great Hall, follow sign boards leading you toward the CN Tower.

Shops and Restaurants

The Picture shows Pusateris  in Hudson's Bay Building
Pusateris in Hudson’s Bay Building
The yummy delights of McEwan's
The yummy delights of McEwan’s
Picture shows a shop - Necessities
Necessities

The PATH has over 1200 shops and restaurants ranging from High-end brands to local businesses. Also, it also has direct access to popular shopping malls such as Eaton Centre, Hudson’s Bay and Saks.

Hotels Connected to the PATH

Some hotels in downtown Toronto are directly connected to the PATH. If you book your stay at one of these hotels, you also have the convenience of the PATH at your disposal:

  1. The Hilton Toronto
  2. Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel
  3. Marriott Downtown at CF Toronto Eaton Centre
  4. Cambridge Suites Toronto
  5. One King West Hotel and Residence
  6. Fairmont Royal York Hotel
  7. InterContinental Toronto Centre
  8. The Westin Harbour Castle, Toronto

Connections to Subway Stations

The subway stations that are present on the “U” part of Line 1, that is Dundas, Queen, King, Union, St.Andrew, Osgoode and St.Patrick stations are all on this walkway. It also has has access to GO Train station and GO Bus Terminal at Union Station and Toronto Coach Terminal.

Getting Around the PATH

PATH is well marked by signs and maps. You can also download or view the PATH map here : Download Map. There are also color-coded arrows to guide people on the PATH. However, people with no knowledge of the color codes, find it a little confusing to navigate. So here is a brief explanation of how to interpret the color codes of the PATH.

Understanding the Color Codes of the PATH Toronto

You will observe that the four letters of PATH are written in four different colors – Red, Orange, Blue and Yellow. These colors also represent the four directions.

    North is Blue (meant to represent cold weather of the North)
    South is Red (representing the warmth of the south)
    East is Yellow (representing the rising sun in the east)
    West is Orange (representing the setting sun)
The picture shows  maps and color codes that are used to traverse the PATH Toronto
Boards showing directions

If you remember this, it becomes very easy to interpret the boards along the PATH just by looking at the color of the arrows. In the picture above, apart from the actual written words, the color codes show that Bay Adelaide Centre is to the North and the Commerce Court is to the South. Also, look for the maps that are posted all throughout as shown below:

Picture shows a map of the PATH Toronto
Picture shows a map of the PATH Toronto

A newer and easier to interpret map is in the works and will be released this year. I will surely update this blog post with the new pictures when the map is out.

A Free Walking Tour of the PATH

If you are looking for a free tour of the PATH, check out the free walking tour run by The Tour Guys. The walking tour is free 90 min tour of downtown Toronto where they also take you down to explore parts of the PATH. Especially, if the weather is bad the entire tour is done using the PATH. Check them out!

Is the PATH Open on Weekends?


During Weekdays, this walkway is abuzz with people, hot cups of coffee in their hands, hurrying along as they take determined strides towards work. In the evening, there is mad rush towards subway stations.
The PATH Toronto is partially closed on weekends
The PATH Toronto is partially closed on weekends

However, on weekends some parts of the PATH almost look like a scene from a apocalyptic flick. While the walkway itself is open, the restaurants and shop along the PATH are closed giving it a deserted appearance. I was actually scared to walk through parts of it, even though I had my husband right beside me.

Even though the PATH is partially closed on weekends, I am glad this walkway exists, specially during bad weather! Make sure you explore it when you visit Toronto and help spread the word of this amazing underground shopping walkway by sharing this blog post.

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The Path Toronto is an underground pathway from which you can access popular tourist attractions such as the Hockey Hall Of Fame, The Brookfield Place and 30 Kms of Shopping. Find out how to use the PATH here.
The PATH Toronto – Underground Pathway of Toronto

Affiliate Links


This post contains affiliate links. This means that when you book a hotel through the links posted here, I get a small fee from the booking amount. Please note this doesn’t affect my opinion on the hotels above and this doesn’t cost you extra. You pay the same amount if you do it through my link or directly. If you find this article useful, please consider booking through my link so that I can continue writing this travel blog. Thank you for your support.

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Scarborough Bluffs is one of Toronto’s most underrated attraction. With beautiful white cliffs bordering Lake Ontario and a wide sandy beach to boot, this place should ideally be a tourist favorite. Surprisingly, many newcomers to Toronto don’t even know that such a beautiful place exists in Toronto East. Therefore, I have put together this guide of 10 things you can do in Scarborough Bluffs and how to get there. I hope you enjoy discovering why this place is a local favorite and one of Toronto’s best kept secret.

Things To Do In Scarborough Bluffs

There are many things you can do in Scarborough Bluffs, that makes it an ideal weekend getaway for staycationers and tourists alike. Try some of these activities when you visit Scarborough Bluffs

1. Photograph the natural beauty of the Bluffs

The white cliffs of scarborough bluffs are an excellent backdrop for photos
The white cliffs of scarborough bluffs are an excellent backdrop for photos

Scarborough Bluffs is a Photographer’s paradise. Whether you are a landscape, nature, wildlife or event photographer, Scarborough Bluffs can give you the perfect backdrop or content for your photographs.

I frequently see many wedding parties, newly engaged couples and expectant mothers stop by the Bluffs to get a picture of their special day in the midst of the stunning blues of the lake and contrasting white of the cliffs. If you are Instagram crazy, like I am, you will also enjoy posting these stunning images on your feed leaving your followers wondering where in the world is this place! Time for some self-promotion here: Check out my Instagram at @Traveling__Pari

2. Swim in Bluffer’s beach

Bluffer's Beach and Cathedral Bluffs
Bluffer’s Beach and Cathedral Bluffs

Bluffer’s beach is located right under the foothills of Cathedral Bluffs, which is a few minutes east of Scarborough Bluffs. The Cathedral Bluffs, which border the north side of the beach, not only enhance the beauty of the beach but also give it a private secluded feel.

Swimming is allowed in the beach. In fact, this beach has received a Blue Flag in recognition of the high quality of water for swimming. Check the E.Coli levels in the beaches of Toronto in this website, before you head out for a swim.

This beach is the last stop on the newly introduced 175 bus route, so it easy to get there by TTC on weekends. For more information on how to get to this beach, check the Getting To Bluffer’s beach section in this article.

3. Enjoy a picnic or a barbeque in Bluffer’s Park/ Scarborough Bluffs Park

Enjoy a picnic at Bluffer's park.
Enjoy a picnic at Bluffer’s park.

Summer is barbeque season and Bluffer’s Park is no different. Adjacent to the Scarborough Bluffs and the Cathedral Bluffs, there is a lot of green space which has been beautifully maintained as a park.

Plenty of park benches are scattered around the park which make it convenient for families to gather around and enjoy a picnic. Many families prefer to bring their barbeque and tents to spend an entire day or even a night under the stars in this park.

4. See wildlife in the Bluffs

Wildlife at Scarborough Bluffs
Wildlife at Scarborough Bluffs

A very common sight when you visit the Bluffs is the large number of Geese which inhabit the shores of Lake Ontario. I particularly love the spring, during late April or May, when you get to see geese guiding their newly hatched goslings in the water. The geese are so used to human presence, they don’t mind them at all.

Geese and Loons are not the only species that reside and frequent the Bluffs. The area also has a numerous bird species like Bank Swallows, Swans, Dark-Eyed Junco, Egrets and a few foxes, Minks, coyotes and deer that have made the Bluffs their home.

5. Hike the Scarborough Bluffs Trail


Hike the 4.7 km Scarborough Bluffs Trail. This trail is a very easy loop from Bluffer’s beach to Bluffer’s park. Serious hikers may find this trail a bit disappointing as there is hardly any elevation, unless you climb the Bluffs. I would seriously caution against climbing the Bluffs as the clay on the Bluffs is unstable due to erosion and may cause accidents.

An interesting part of the walk is the metal bridge at Bluffer’s park that suspend screen like curtains into the water according to the Dunker’s Flow Balancing System to treat the Stormwater collected at the Bluffs. An interesting explanation of how this system works is posted at the entrance of the bridges.

6. Learn to paddleboard


Paddleboarding is a great way to get some exercise and well as have fun. If you don’t know how to paddleboard, you can get lessons and the gear from the Stand Up Paddleboard shop at the Scarborough Bluffs Marina. They also sell the equipment if you want to buy the board or you can simply rent from them. They are located at 7 Brimley Road South right next to Toronto Sailing School.

7. Go to the top of Scarborough Bluffs

View From Scarboro Crescent Park
View From Scarboro Crescent Park

There are nine parks lining the top of the Bluffs, each with an amazing view of the lake and the Bluffs below. One of the best view of the lake from the top can be seen from Scarboro Crescent Park.

Even though this park is right above the Bluffs, you cannot get to the bottom of the Bluffs from here or vice versa. Check out the getting there guide on how to get to this park. Also, parts of the park are cordoned off to public because the edges are unstable. This doesn’t stop some people from crossing over to take pictures. However, be warned you may be fined if you get caught or worse hurt yourself if the edges of the cliff give out.

8. Learn to sail

Learn to sail at Scarborough Bluffs
Learn to sail at Scarborough Bluffs

The Toronto Sailing School is located right on the Marina. The basic sailing course costs $550 dollars and takes upto 30 hours to complete. Also, the Bluffer’s Park near the Marina is home to 4 Yatch clubs – Cathedral Bluffs Yacht Club (CBYC) , Scarborough Bluffs Sailing Club, Highland Yacht Club and Bluffer’s Park Yacht Club.

All the four clubs offer yearly memberships. High Yacht Club boasts of being the most affordable club of the four. The Scarborough Bluffs Sailing Club , shown in the video above, accepts members from beginners to experts in sailing and boating. Even if you don’t own a boat, you can use the boats in the club’s fleet provided that you have the WSII or CANSail II certification. So, if you can afford the yearly membership, there is nothing stopping you from Sailing on Lake Ontario all summer.

9. Enjoy the Bluffer’s Park marina

Enjoy the Bluffer's Marina
Enjoy the Bluffer’s Marina

If you are a boat owner, the marina at Scarborough Bluffs has plenty of docking and storing options for your boat. The Bluffer’s Park Marina also has a fuel dock which has both mid-grade and diesel fuel. Also, this marina is the only on-the-water mercury dealer in Toronto. Other facilities in the marina include a full service station where you can your boats serviced and repaired.

If you are not a boat owner, you can still enjoy the view of the marina while treating yourself to delicious food from the full licensed Bluffer’s restaurant or the Dogfish pub.

10. Rent a floating house


Ever wondered what it would feel like to live in a floating home? There are about a dozen float homes on Scarborough Bluffs as shown in the Youtube video above. Of course, not everyone would prefer to own a floating home forever. However, with the advent of Airbnb, we can now experience living in a floating home for a night or two.

Check out this link Rent a Floating Home On Airbnb . If you don’t have an Airbnb account, create an account using my Airbnb link . You will get $45 dollar in travel credit when you signup and I benefit as well by getting $25 in travel credit when you complete your first trip. So, it’s a win-win for both of us.

Getting There

Now that I have sparked your curiosity about Scarborough Bluffs, I am sure you are looking for information about how to get there! Until recently, if you input Scarborough Bluffs Park in Google Maps, it led you to Scarboro Crescent Park and not to the foothills of Scarborough Bluffs. This is because, till May 2017, Scarboro Crescent Park was also known as Scarborough Bluffs Park! Talk about confusing! After many complaints of people getting lost and ending up in the wrong place, Toronto City finally changed the name of the park at the top of the Bluffs to Scarboro Crescent Park .

So, if you want to see Scarborough Bluffs, you have to decide first whether you want to see if from the top or the bottom. The top part of the Bluffs is not connected directly by a road or path to the bottom. So there are two different routes here. If you want to Scarborough Bluffs from the top, go to Scarboro Crescent Park. If you want to see the Bluffer’s beach and Bluffer’s Park, check directions below on how to get to Scarborough Bluffs.

Getting to Scarborough Bluffs Park and Bluffer’s Beach

By Public Transport (TTC)

To get to Scarborough Bluffs Park and Bluffer’s Beach from Downtown Toronto:

  1. Board the Line 2 subway going East from Bloor-Yonge Station towards Kennedy Station
  2. If it’s a Saturday, Sunday or a public holiday, board the newly introduced 175 bus from Kennedy Station towards Bluffer’s Park. This is a new service which has been added on a seasonal basis. So, this service may not be running in the Fall/winter months. I will update the blog as and when more information is available. For Bluffer’s beach, get down at the last stop. For Bluffer’s park and Marina, get down at the last but one stop.
  3. If it’s a weekday, follow these directions. Take the subway from Bloor-Yonge Station to Victoria Park Station. At Victoria Park Station, board the number 12 bus towards St. Clair and Barkdene Hills. Get down at 2665 Kingston Rd East Side, and walk to Brimley road. From there walk south till you arrive at Scarborough Bluffs Park. Please take care while walking on Brimley road; the road is not pedestrian friendly. The same path as explained is shown in the map below:
  4. By Car

    1. From Downtown, head East on St. Clair Ave or Kingston Road, whichever suits you the best.
    2. Turn Right on Brimley Road and drive south till the fork in the road
    3. If you want to see Bluffer’s Park and the white cliffs, stop at the fork in the road (shown by the cliff sign in the map below). There are two parking spaces here.
    4. If you want to see Bluffer’s beach, take left at the fork and keep going till you get to the parking lot of Bluffer’s beach

    Parking

    There are three parking lots near the Scarborough Bluffs. Two at the Bluffer’s park and one at Bluffer’s Beach. It is paid parking with a charge of $1.50/ Half Hour. The three parking spots are shown below

    Getting To The Top Of Scarborough Bluffs – Scarboro Crescent Park

    If you want to see a panoramic view of the lake and Bluffer’s park, the best view is visible from Scarboro Crescent Park.
    Check out how to get there by Public Transport and Car below taking Bloor-Yonge station in downtown as the starting point:

    By Public Transport(TTC)

    1. From Bloor-Yonge Station take Line 2 on the subway towards Kennedy Station.
    2. Get off the subway at Victoria Park Station, and board the bus number East – 12C Kingston Rd Towards St Clair and Barkdene Hills
    3. Get down at Kingston Rd at Ridgemoor Ave. and follow the walking directions on the map below

    By Car

    1. From Downtown, head East on St. Clair Ave or Kingston Road, whichever suits you the best.
    2. Turn right onto Midland Avenue and follow Midland Avenue till you reach Romana Dr. Turn left on Romana Dr.
    3. On Scarboro Crescent, turn right and then left on Drake Crescent as shown in the map below

    Parking

    There is no paid parking spaces near the park. There is only street parking available.

    I hope this guide helps you enjoy everything that Scarborough Bluffs has to offer.

    Did this guide help you? If so, please leave a comment. If you need anymore information, don’t hesitate to ask.

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    10 Things To Do In Scarborough Bluffs. #Toronto #ScarboroughBluffs #ThingsToDoInToronto #TorontoAttractions
    10 Things To Do In Scarborough Bluffs, Toronto

 Picture shows a  pink vintage car in the streets of Cuba
Cuban Vintage Cars : A pink vintage car in the streets of Cuba

Cuba is known for three things : cigars, rum and classic cars . How does Cuba have these beautiful vintage cars, even some 1950s models that you can’t find anywhere in the world? Here is some background explaining why, for all the history buffs out there:

Why Does Cuba Have So Many Classic American Cars?

The simple version of the story goes like this: Cuba was once ruled by a dictator named Fulgencio Batista. Many Cubans considered Batista to be nothing but an American stooge who catered only to rich Americans while the local people were getting poorer and suffering. Fed up with the corruption, the people of Cuba revolted against the dictator. In a historic event, the dictator was driven out of the country and the revolutionaries succeeded.

Cuba, which had been the playground of rich Americans soon turned into a communist regime as it grew closer to the USSR. In the time of The Cold War, the strengthening ties between Cuba and Soviet Union threatened the US. In the 1960s, the US found that Cuba was providing a military base for the Soviet Union. To punish Cuba, the US imposed a trade embargo. Cuba reciprocated by imposing a ban on imported goods such as cars from the US. Importing cars from other countries, which are geographically farther away, was very expensive. Therefore, no new cars entered Cuba from 1960 on-ward. When the cars broke down, the people who owned these cars patched them up with local parts.

In 2013, Cuba finally lifted the ban on car imports paving the way for new cars to enter the country. However, these patched up vintage cars have now taken on a life of their own. They have turned Cuba into a living classic car museum!

Cars In Cuba Pictures

Now that you know the history, feast your eyes on these vintage cars!

Classic cars of Cuba
Classic cars of Cuba

cars in cuba pictures

cars in cuba pictures

cars in cuba pictures

Going to Cuba? Check out my blog post Old Havana.

A Walking Tour Of Havana Cuba - Witness the time bubble that is  Havana Cuba. Experience this unique city with me as I discover the different plazas of old Havana
A Walking Tour Of Havana Cuba

Why a walking tour of Old Havana? Can I not hire one of those cool classic convertibles to drive me around? Fortunately or Unfortunately, the answer is: No. The cobbled streets of Old Havana are so narrow and cramped that the only way to explore this part of the city is by foot. I recommend you forget your high heels for this trip ladies and stick to your comfy Converse.

Old Havana

Click to open a larger map


The main attractions of Old Havana are the four famous plazas. A sample itinerary of the walking tour is as shown in the map. You can start from San Francisco de Asis Square(A) followed by Plaza Vieja or Old Town Square(B), Plaza de la Catedral(C) and then Plaza de Armas(D):

San Francisco de Asis Square


Just across the harbour-front you will find a small square with an old church and a fountain in the center. This square is the San Francisco de Asis plaza. Since this square so close to the port, it is usually the starting point of the walking tour of Old Havana for people getting off a cruise and for people coming on day-trips to Havana. It is less prominent than the other squares in both size and grandeur and easy to miss if you don’t know where it is. However, there are some good photo opportunities in San Francisco de Asis as you can find a lot of classic cars parked near the square.

Plaza Vieja


The most popular plaza is Plaza Vieja, also known as Old Town Square. Colonial buildings, with balconies facing the square, surround the square on all four sides. These balconies allowed its affluent residents, in the early 16th century, a panoramic view of all the public demonstrations and activities such as bullfights, processions and the most morbid one – executions, that went on in the plaza. Nowadays, tourists enjoy this lively square which has many café and bars often with live music and dance.

Plaza de la Catedral


Havana Cathedral dominates Plaza de la Catedral with its Baroque-style architecture and two towers. However, you will notice something strange about these two towers. They are asymmetrical! If you notice, in the video, the right tower is wider than the left. Even if you are not the religious type, this Roman Catholic Cathedral is a must-visit if you visit Havana.

Plaza de Armas


Plaza de Armas has a more laid-back and less-touristy feel compared to the other plazas of Havana. The main highlight of this plaza is the park with beautiful palm trees as shown in the video. In the center of the park, you will find a marble statue of Carlos Manuel de Céspedes. This plaza also used to host a flea-market that sold antique books. Sadly, this flea market has moved to the end of Obispo street.

It is possible to walk from one plaza to another in about half a day as many itineraries of travel companies suggest. However, in my opinion this type of half-day tour does not allow you to explore the plazas in detail. With such itineraries, you barely have 10 minutes at each plaza to grab some quick photos with too many tourists blocking your perfect shot. Your eyes will be busy keeping track of the travel guide instead of appreciating the pleasant pastel colored buildings. This, coupled with any temperature above 30 degrees could quickly drain you of your patience and enjoyment of the tour.

In my opinion, to truly experience Old Havana, you should reserve a day or two to leisurely walk through these beautiful streets. Sample the street food, chat with locals, indulge in chocolate at chocolate museums and wait for the perfect moment to click your camera’s capture button because the views are certainly worth it.

Going to Cuba? Check out my post on What To Pack For Cuba. Don’t forget to pack these 10 Essential items for an enjoyable trip!

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A Walking Tour Of Havana Cuba - Witness the time bubble that is  Havana Cuba. Experience this unique city with me as I discover the different plazas of old Havana
A Walking Tour Of Havana Cuba

How to Save on Travel, Swiss Food and Hotels In Interlaken, Switzerland
How to Save on Travel, Swiss Food and Hotels In Interlaken, Switzerland

Tips To Save Money On Travel, Swiss Food and Hotels In Interlaken, Switzerland

This post has affiliate links. Read this to understand what it means.
Switzerland has earned a reputation of being an expensive place to visit in Europe. I found this to be true when I visited Interlaken. However, there are some ways to save money on transport, swiss food and accommodation. Here is my money-saving guide to Interlaken Switzerland; Jump to relevant sections by clicking on the links below:

Save Money on Transport In Interlaken Switzerland

#1. Swiss Travel Pass or SwissPass

With the Swiss Saverpass also known as the Swiss Travel Pass or SwissPass, you can get unlimited travel on train, bus and boats on the Swiss Travel Network. The passes can be purchased for a duration ranging from 3 to 15 consecutive days or within a month. Prices start from $234 for a second-class pass per adult. If you are staying in Switzerland for less than 15 days then the Swiss Travel Pass or SwissPass is an excellent choice. However, if you are planning to stay longer than 15 days, then buy the Swiss Half Fare Card that gives you unlimited travel on train, bus and boats for half fare for about a month. Also, you get free access to 500 museums in Switzerland with the Swiss Travel Pass .

#2. Guest Card or Visitor Card in Interlaken Switzerland

Tourists visiting Switzerland are charged an extra amount called the Resort Tax or the Tourist Tax for every night of their stay which is used to keep up the tourist infrastructure. In exchange for this tax, you get a Guest Card or Visitor Card from the hotel/hostel you are staying at in Interlaken, Habkern or Beatenberg. This card gives you free access to public transport in zone 80 and travel to Iseltwald, Saxeten and Niederried . Further, this card also gives you a fare reduction on the funicular that takes you to the top of Harder Kulm and Schynige Platte.

*Travel Tip: Make sure you budget for the tourist tax separately. Most hotel accommodations don’t show the tax upfront when you book the hotel but you are charged on arrival.

#3. Jungfrau Travel Pass

If you are traveling only in the Jungfrau region of Switzerland (Interlaken, Mürren, Jungfraujoch and Grindelwald) then this pass is useful. It gives you unlimited travel on all modes of transport and can be purchased for 3, 4, 5 or 6 days. It also gives discounts on some attractions as well. However, this pass is not valid on buses within Interlaken. You can use the Visitor Card for free transport in Interlaken. Find more information about the pass here: Jungfrau Travel Pass.

#4. Eurail/InterRail Pass

The Eurail/ InterRail pass is an all-in-one train ticket which gives you the option to hop-on and hop-off trains across 24 countries in Europe contingent to the type of pass you have purchased. I found that this pass is especially useful if your travel itinerary spans 4 or more countries in Europe and your travel plans are not predetermined. There are three options available for Eurail passes : Eurail Saver Pass, Eurail Select Pass – explore 4 or more countries and the one country pass. Unfortunately, the one country pass option is not available for Switzerland. However, if you are a holder of a Eurail Select Pass or the Eurail Saver Pass, you can get huge discounts on travel, accommodations and attractions in Switzerland.

Buy the Eurail pass here:
Discover Europe by Train with Eurail

#5. SBB APP

The SBB APP gives you up to date information on train schedules, platform changes, helps you buy tickets on the go and reserve your seats. It is available for both Iphone and Android mobile phones. It is a very useful app for a frequent traveler; especially the SuperSaver Tickets on the app which can save you up to 50% in train fares.

Cheap Hotels In Interlaken Switzerland

In my experience, it is cheaper to travel to Interlaken during the off-shoulder/off-peak seasons(spring or autumn). Most resorts and hotels are open in early spring and cost less due to low demand. However, be warned that the weather conditions may mean that some of the attractions, hiking trails remain closed during this time. check out this website for the best time to visit Switzerland.

There are still ways to get Cheap hotels in Interlaken during the summer. Here are my picks of the best ones.

#1. Balmers Backpackers Hostel

Balmers Backpackers Hostel is not just an ordinary dormitory style hostel. This hostel is well-known in the backpacker community as a party destination. The hostel hosts its own in-house DJ and guest DJ for a thriving night life scene every weekend. It also has a tent-style village with hammocks, jacuzzi, a bar and a pool. If that was not enough, the hostel has organized activities for every season and the food is also good.
* Travel Tip: Book in advance as this hostel is in high-demand!

#2. Backpackers Villa Sonnenhof – Hostel Interlaken

If you are over the “party party party” phase of your life, and would rather stay at a family friendly hostel that is clean, budget-friendly and comfortable, then Backpackers Villa Sonnenhof is the perfect place for you. This hostel has individually decorated rooms with facilities such as free parking, free wifi, shared tv area, fully equipped kitchen and washers/dryers. A huge perk of staying here is that each guest receives two tokens per night of stay. You can use these tokens towards free laundry and coffee.

#3. Downtown Hostel Interlaken

If you missed out on the two hostels mentioned above, Downtown Hostel Interlaken is another good option. This hostels also has clean rooms, friendly staff and most importantly it is located in downtown Interlaken.

#4. Airbnb and Homestay

With the advent of Airbnb and Homestay, you have more accomodation options to choose from. You can choose to rent a private room or an entire apartment for the duration of your stay. The advantage of Airbnb is that you get to mingle more with the locals and have access to facilities like a fully equipped kitchen and laundry which is a major money saver. If you don’t already have an airbnb account, you can use my link to get $35 off (amount subject to your country of residence) on your first stay off Airbnb . Please note some locations are excluded from this offer.

Tips To Save Money on Swiss Food

Swiss Food is very expensive. Especially, swiss food and alcohol in sit-down style restaurants is costlier than in other European countries. Of course, tasting and enjoying swiss food is part of the Switzerland experience. So, occasionally splurge on their amazing chocolates and cheese (Fondue… Yum!). However, for everyday breakfast lunch and dinner try these options:

#1. Eat at Migros or Coop

You can find reasonably priced swiss food at grocery stores such as Migros (not Migrolino), Coop (not Coop pronto), Aldi and Lidl. Migros grocery stores even serve hot food and have an in grocery self-serve restaurant. I ate at a self serve restaurant at Migros in Interlaken; The food was delicious and well-priced.

#2. Don’t buy bottled water

The water from the tap in Interlaken Switzerland is completely safe and drinkable. Fill up your water bottle at the hotel. If the bottle is empty during the course of the day, you can fill it up at these fountains that are located all over Interlaken. These fountains are not just for decoration, they actually are there to give people with drinking water. If the water is not drinkable, then there is a clear warning sign saying ‘eau non potable’. Otherwise, drink away!

#3. Skip Alcohol At Restaurants

Alcohol is expensive in bars and restaurants. So consider buying your beer at the local grocery store mentioned before. Drinking in public is legal in Switzerland. So, find your favourite scenic spot and enjoy your drink.

#4. Cook Your Own Food

Find accommodation with some basic kitchen facilities. Eg. accommodation in hostels such as Backpackers Villa Sonnenhof , Airbnb or Homestays with access to kitchen facilities are excellent options. Instead of spending a ton of money on swiss food in restaurants, cook your own food or make quick sandwiches.

I hope these tips save you money on your travels. If my comments helped you in any way or if you have more tips to add to this list, please let me know in the comments.

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How to Save on Travel, Swiss Food and Hotels In Interlaken, Switzerland
How to Save on Travel, Swiss Food and Hotels In Interlaken, Switzerland

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This post contains affiliate links. This means that when you book a hotel through the links posted here, I get a small fee from the booking amount. Please note this doesn’t affect my opinion of the hotels above and this doesn’t cost you extra. You pay the same amount if you do it through my link or directly. If you find this article useful, please consider booking through my link so that I can continue writing this travel blog. Thank you for your support.

Banff National Park

Banff National Park is one of the most visited places in Canada. There is a lot of information available online on Banff Canada but if you are looking for a quick glimpse Banff Canada, then check the information below:

1.Experience The Natural Beauty Of Banff

The rock flour from the glaciers gives the lakes in Banff their amazing color. It not only makes for wonderful memories but also amazing photos which you can show off to your friends on social media. Here are three most photographed lakes of Banff:

2. Walk on the Glacier Skywalk and Columbia Icefields

Walk on 400 year old ice of the Athabasca Glacier and enjoy a cool ride on the Ice Explorer. Be careful while walking on the glacier, it can be very slippery. You can combine the Ice Walk with The Glacier Skywalk. The Glacier Skywalk is a relatively new attraction which opened in 2014 and it is a must do for anyone who visits Banff or Jasper National Park.

3. View Banff From The Top of Sulphur Mountain

Take a ride on the Banff Gondola or hike up to the top of Sulphur Mountain to get a bird’s-eye view of the town of Banff and experience sweeping views of the surrounding Rockies.

4. Soak In The Banff Hot Springs

What is better than soaking in a hot tub while looking at amazing scenery? The Banff Hot Springs is just that, the warm water melts away all your aches and pains. The backdrop of the amazing Rockies is just the icing on the cake.

5. Hike to Canada’s Oldest Tea House on Lake Agnes

If you have more time to spend in Lake Louise, consider taking a hike to Canada’s oldest tea house and Lake Agnes. It’s a 3.8 km hike from Lake Louise. I have written a more detailed blog post about this hike here : A hike to Lake Agnes Tea House

6. Stay At The Banff Springs Hotel

Banff Springs Hotel or Fairmont Banff is the epitome of luxury and is one of the best hotels in Banff National Park. This historic hotel is located in a beautiful setting as shown in the picture below:

7. Bike The Rocky Mountain Legacy Trail From Canmore to Banff National Park

Rocky Mountain Legacy Trail or Banff Legacy Trail in Banff National Park
Rocky Mountain Legacy Trail or Banff Legacy Trail in Banff National Park

This cycling path connects the town of Banff to Canmore. This paved cycling path is 26.8km long and can be covered in 2-3 hrs round trip. Enjoy the view of the Rockies and stop at one of the picturesque picnic spots for lunch. If you are lucky, you may also spot some wildlife on the way.

*Travel Tip

If you run out of energy after completing a one way trip, you can load your cycle on the Roam Transit bus on the way back.

The Downside Of Visiting Banff

Banff National Park is is a very popular area and receives around 4 million tourists every year. Therefore, all the problems related to overcrowding are present. The hotels are very expensive specially during the months of April to mid-September and parking near the lakes and other tourist attractions is a nightmare around mid-day during peak tourist season.

There are some ways you can get around the tourist problem:

  1. Plan your visit during the off-peak months from September to November.
  2. Book your accommodation as early as possible for best rate or book accommodation in the nearby town of Canmore. Canmore is less touristy and cheaper and just 24 min by car to Banff. There is also a regional bus service every hour from Canmore to Banff. Check this website for more details: Roam Transit
  3. Plan your visit to the lakes early in the morning or evening. Avoid mid-day visits from 10 am to 2.00 pm.
  4. Don’t buy tickets for the Banff Gondola or the Glacier Skywalk in advance. These attractions should be viewed on a clear sunny day or you waste your money.
  5. Pack a sandwich, some drinks and a picnic blanket with you when visiting any of the attractions. The cafes in these places are generally crowded and will have no seating space. It will be one less line you would have to wait in.

Quebec City is a charming city and any one who visits is bound to fall in love with it. I spent a month here and explored the city in more detail. So, here is the lowdown on the good, the bad and the ugly of Quebec City.

The Good

1.European Style Architecture

Église Notre-Dame des Victoires (HDR) by SteveQc, on Flickr
(CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) by SteveQc

You can clearly see the European influence on the architecture of Old Quebec. In fact, you feel as if you are in a town in France, not Canada. The buildings are so colorful and cute that your instagram photos will look amazing even without filters.
Read more about the architecture of Quebec City here

2. Food

cure restaurant by openprivacy, on Flickr
(CC BY-SA 2.0) by openprivacy

Delight your inner foodie with some amazing French delicacies. Specially, the rabbit sausage in Lapin Saute restaurant is out of this world. An honorary mention goes to The Hobbit too for amazing food and service

3. People and Safety

FREE HUGS, Place d’Youville by colros, on Flickr
(CC BY-SA 2.0) by colros

Canadians are famous for being very polite and friendly.
Quebec City is no exception to this. The locals are friendly, and will help you if they understand your language.

The Bad

1. Limited English

Even though Quebec City is in Canada and supposedly bilingual, the number of people who can understand and speak English, is limited. You will have no problems grocery shopping. However, it is slightly difficult finding a person to give you directions in English.

The Ugly

1. Racial Tension?

Levis, Quebec by RobertCiavarro, on Flickr(CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) by RobertCiavarro

This is not really a problem in Quebec City itself, but its surrounding area. I happened to go to Levis across the St. Lawrence river for a stroll. I got a number of dirty stares and a look of pure hatred from a stranger for no clear reason. I don’t know if they hate people of ethnic origin or tourists in general. I felt safe when I was back in Quebec City.

2. Divided National Loyalty

Québec Libre ! by Vankuso (Dominik Starosz), on Flickr(CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) by Vankuso (Dominik Starosz)

When chatting with the locals, I got the sense that some consider Quebec a separate country in itself and not a province of Canada. I live in Canada, though not a citizen, so I felt this attitude slightly disconcerting.

On the whole, I loved this city and will likely visit again.
For more information on places to see in Quebec City, please read this post

Disclaimer: The opinions presented here are my own and not meant in any way, to offend or otherwise hurt any group mentioned or omitted in this post.

I often thought and lived by the rule : Save your income in your 20’s and travel in your 30’s. Now that I am in my 30’s, I realize I should have started travelling more in my 20’s. Here are 8 reasons why you should travel in your 20’s:

1. Travel at the peak of your health:


Photo Credit: (CC BY 2.0) by Max Dawncat

It’s a known fact that as you age, you grow weaker. You will never look and feel as good as you do in your 20’s. Your metabolism rate is high and so is your energy. You have energy to hike all day and party all night. Past 30 this schedule feels tiring. You will most likely complete half the hike and turn in for the day

2. Your horizons will expand with travel:


Photo Credit: (CC BY-SA 2.0) by basti_voe

Latest research has shown that the human brain is still growing in the early 20’s. So, you are more open to trying new things, taking on daring things and learning from it. As you age, you become more careful and are less open to adventurous activities.

3. Learn through your travel experiences:


Photo Credit:  (CC BY 2.0) by kalpaktravel

When you interact with people from other cultures and see how they live, your mind broadens beyond your own life experiences. You develop a new appreciation and view of life in general.

4. Travelling makes you attractive to other people:


Photo Credit:  (CC BY 2.0) by jonas_foyn

People will find you more fascinating. A well-traveled person always has interesting anecdotes to share.

5. Travel is more economical when young


Photo Credit:  (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) by Joel Mann

In your 20’s you are more open to backpacking, sleeping in youth hostels and have the strength and energy to lug that heavy bag around. In your 30’s anything less than a 3-star hotel sounds disgusting. Also, you would probably be married with kids. So everything will end up costing more.

6. Your responsibilities are going to increase:

Photo Credit:  (CC BY 2.0) by Travel Money

When you are in your 20’s, you have only yourself to look after. All that you save from your income can go towards your trip. As you near your 30’s you are looking at marriage, kids and a mortgage. Your savings will go towards kids education, birthday gifts, house repairs, cars… the list is endless.

7. War, Natural disasters may happen any time

Photo
Credit:(CC BY-NC 2.0) by Wake Up Freeman

You can never predict how life is going to turn out. War, natural disasters may happen any day. The places you wanted to see may not even exist in the future. This may be a bit extreme but when you read the news now a days, it doesn’t seem impossible.

8. Reminisce about your travels in your old age:

Photo
Credit:  (CC BY-NC 2.0) by whitecat sg

You will have fond memories of travel and adventure to reminisce in your old age. You will be lucky, if your health and wealth permits you to travel when you are old.