Home

Home Travel Tips Travel Deals Destinations Trip Reviews Forums Blog
The IndependentTraveler.com Blog

Suffering from the Monday doldrums? For everyone out there facing the beginning of another work week, here’s a little jolt of wanderlust to brighten up your morning. Each Monday, we offer a photo of a spectacular place to spark ideas for your future travels.

This week’s colorful shot was taken near a market in Toliara (formerly Tulear), Madagascar.

toliara madagascar


Post Your Questions About Madagascar

Send us your best travel shot! E-mail your most beautiful or captivating travel photo to feedback@independenttraveler.com. (Please put Monday Inspiration in the subject line.)

12 Travel Photos That’ll Make You Want to Get Up and Go

– written by Sarah Schlichter

Here’s something fun to kick off your weekend. It’s a travel-themed picture puzzle. You just have to tie the photos together to make words. For example, a photo of an eye, combined with a photo of a full glass of water would be eye + full = Eiffel. Get it? (For another example, check out last week’s puzzle.)

This week’s puzzle is two words and represents a famous man-made “natural” attraction.

Once you think you know the answer, post it below. You have until Monday, November 11, at 11:59 p.m. ET to post your response. We’ll keep all comments private until then. On Tuesday morning we’ll choose one winner at random to receive an IndependentTraveler.com travel mug. Note: Although all are welcome to play, we can only ship prizes to the Continental U.S.

Editor’s Note: This contest has ended. The winner is Diana Kautz, who correctly guessed that the pictogram spelled “Mount Rushmore.” Diana has won an IndependentTraveler.com travel mug. Congratulations! Stay tuned for further opportunities to win.


– written and created by Dori Saltzman

“Lord of the Rings” director Peter Jackson, exercise guru Richard Simmons and Bear Grylls of “Man vs. Wild” are just a few of the celebs who’ve made appearances in Air New Zealand’s always entertaining in-flight safety videos — and now it’s Betty White’s turn. Along with Gavin MacLeod of “Love Boat” fame, the nonagenarian actress has taken to the seatback screen with a humorous take on “Safety Old School Style.”

Set in a retirement community, the video plays up the senior citizen jokes — so if you’re sensitive to cracks about hearing aids and oxygen tanks, you might want to give it a miss. But the mostly elderly cast is clearly having such fun that it’s hard to take offense. Give it a watch:



Note: The part about turning off electronic devices for take-off and landing may soon be outdated, following the Federal Aviation Administration’s recent announcement permitting the use of such devices at altitudes under 10,000 feet for all approved aircraft.

For more laughs, check out Air New Zealand’s past safety videos below.

- Bear “Man vs. Wild” Grylls Takes On In-Flight Safety
- Airline Safety Briefing: Middle Earth-Style
- President Obama Makes Cameo in Air New Zealand Safety Video
- Richard Simmons Sweats to a New Flight Safety Video

– written by Sarah Schlichter

bill brysonTravel writer Bill Bryson has made a career out of examining the follies and foibles of different countries and regions, including Australia, the Appalachian Trail, his home state of Iowa and his adopted country of Britain. Few authors have as much insight into how tourists behave as he does.

Chris Gray Faust, Destinations Editor at our sister site Cruise Critic, caught up with Bryson last month on a cruise aboard Cunard’s Queen Mary 2. During their one-hour interview (read part 1 here), Bryson discussed his travel pet peeves — including the phrase “bucket list” — and how you can get the most out of a trip to even the most well-documented cities.

IT: After a fairly normal 1950s childhood in the Midwest, did you ever expect that you’d spend much of your life traveling?

Bill Bryson: Not at all. But I grew up with a really powerful urge to see the world, and the thing I remember very clearly is looking at National Geographic when I was a kid. My dad always had a subscription.

Now, the classic thing for little boys to do is look at the bare-breasted ladies in Africa or Tahiti, but what I was looking at was France and Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Everywhere in the world looked so attractive and exotic. I just wanted to go off and see the world.

IT: Are certain places still on your bucket list?

BB: I don’t like using that term “bucket list” as I get closer and closer to being in bucket territory. But no, there are a lot of places that I’ve never been where I’d like to go, and there are a lot of places that I’ve never been with my wife where I’d like to take her, and then there are a lot of places that I would like to go and possibly write about. But they aren’t all the same places.

16 Signs You’re Addicted to Travel

IT: What is your biggest pet peeve when you look at other travelers?

BB: There are so many people who are so obsessed with their job and their career that — no matter where you send them — they seem unable to enjoy the experience of travel. I think that’s a great shame, not only because travel makes you a better person but because it also makes you better at whatever business you do.

I know a man whose business took him all over the world but especially Sydney. And every time he’d go to Sydney from America, he’d stay at an airport hotel and meet his Australian colleagues at the airport hotel, and as soon as he possibly could he’d fly out again. He’d never seen Sydney Harbour! I don’t care how ambitious I was or how tied to my job I was, if you sent me to Sydney, at the minimum, I’m going to have a day to enjoy the experience.

IT: How do you think the Internet and smartphones have changed the way that we travel?

BB: People are so busy reporting their experiences that they aren’t actually having the experiences. I don’t travel with a cell phone in America because my cell phone from England doesn’t work in America. It drives my publishers crazy that they can’t phone me! I tell them, pretend it’s 1995 again and you don’t have a cell phone. They want instant access. So many people email you and expect an answer within minutes. You don’t have that entitlement to expect me to respond immediately.

12 Photos That’ll Make You Want to Get Up and Go

IT: What else have you noticed about how travel has changed?

BB: There is so much more of it happening now. Just a year or so ago, I went to the Ponte Vecchio in Florence. It was out of season, but [the bridge] was so full of human beings you couldn’t walk across it. It was physically impossible without fighting crowds. It’s a shame that there are so many people who are trying to have the same few experiences.

IT: So how can a traveler who wants to have a unique experience do so?
A: Well, if you just go another 200 yards, you can have it all to yourself. [My wife and I] walk away from Trafalgar Square or Place d’Concorde. We usually end up going to some residential area or some park or follow the river. Then you very quickly shed all the tourists.

If you want to experience Paris or Rome or London in an authentic way, it’s still really easy to do. Go where people live, not where the tourists hang out. Walking is the way to get a full three-dimensional experience where all your senses kick in. You’ve got the smells and the sights and the wind in your face.

– interview conducted by Chris Gray Faust

bill of rightsToday is Election Day in the United States, when people from all over the country celebrate our right to vote by going out and choosing our leaders. In keeping with the theme of the day, IndependentTraveler.com presents this (slightly irreverent) Travelers’ Bill of Rights.

1. Travel companies, whether tour operators, cruise lines, hotels or tourist boards, shall make no law prohibiting travel reviews, or abridging the freedom of travelers to tell others about their trips, good or bad.

2. A well-packed suitcase is necessary to the success of a trip; therefore, the right of the people to carry their (modestly sized) luggage onto an airplane without hindrance shall not be infringed.

3. No travelers shall, if they have paid a fair amount, be quartered in any hotel room that is plagued by bed bugs.

4. The right of travelers to be secure in their person, papers and belongings, against pickpockets and thieves in public places, shall not be violated. And no law keeper shall maintain, upon a traveler reporting a crime, a blame-the-victim attitude.

Nine Ways to Make Travel Less Stressful

5. No tourist shall be compelled to wear a silly outfit or act foolish while visiting any attraction or on any tour, nor shall any traveler be subject to street vendors loudly trying to push their wares on them.

6. At all tourist attractions, the visitor shall enjoy the right to a speedy entrance, and to be informed up front of all the charges and fees associated with the site and related experiences.

7. On tours, where the size of the group exceeds 20 people, the right to separate from the group if they are annoying shall be preserved, and no traveler may force his or her presence upon another during meals without the specific consent of the diner.

8. Excessive walking shall not be required, nor shall uninformative lectures from bored tour guides reciting names and dates be inflicted.

9. The powers delegated to travel companies, including any rules and regulations, shall not infringe on the basic human rights of travelers such as working toilets and clean drinking water.

10. The enumeration in the Bill of Rights, of these rights, shall not be construed to deny other rights retained by travelers.

How to Find a Clean Hotel Room

– written by Dori Saltzman

Suffering from the Monday doldrums? For everyone out there facing the beginning of another work week, here’s a little jolt of wanderlust to brighten up your morning. Each Monday, we offer a photo of a spectacular place to spark ideas for your future travels.

In this week’s shot, a hot-air balloon soars high above the otherworldly landscape of Cappadocia, Turkey. Learn more about this experience in 10 Best Turkey Experiences.

cappadocia turkey hot air balloon


Our Favorite Istanbul Hotels

Send us your best travel shot! E-mail your most beautiful or captivating travel photo to feedback@independenttraveler.com. (Please put Monday Inspiration in the subject line.)

12 Photos That’ll Make You Want to Get Up and Go

– written by Sarah Schlichter

Here’s something fun to kick off your weekend. It’s a travel-themed picture puzzle. You just have to tie the photos together to make words. For example, a photo of an eye, combined with a photo of a full glass of water would be eye + full = Eiffel. Get it? (For another example, check out last week’s puzzle.)

This week’s puzzle is two words and represents someplace tourists go to see amazing things.

Once you think you know the answer, post it below. You have until Monday, November 4, at 11:59 p.m. ET to post your response. We’ll keep all comments private until then. On Tuesday morning we’ll choose one winner at random to receive an IndependentTraveler.com travel mug. Note: Although all are welcome to play, we can only ship prizes to the Continental U.S.

Editor’s Note: This contest has ended. The winner is Stacy, who correctly guessed that the pictogram spelled “Uffizi Gallery.” Stacy has won an IndependentTraveler.com travel mug. Congratulations! Stay tuned for further opportunities to win.


– written and created by Dori Saltzman