5 Things About Rome That May Shock You

You’ve decided to make that big jump across the pond and head over to Italy. You’ve read all the tour guides, seen plenty of vlogs and have been fantasizing for what seems like forever, and now it’s finally happening.

But if Rome is your first stop on a European adventure, or if you’ve never been to the city before, then you might be in for a surprise. Here are five things about Rome that may shock you. Knowing them might help you prepare for your trip.

1. Rome Is busy

Anyone who’s been to Rome will tell you how busy the city is, but you’re not going to understand how busy until you experience it for yourself.

Depending on when you go, not only will Rome be full of locals trying to live their daily lives, but it will be filled with tourists as well. The metro and buses, while well-connected, are quite crowded.

Europeans and Italians are going to be traveling during the summer and into the early fall months, so be sure to time your trip accordingly.

Vatican City, a tiny country within Rome, is the center of the Catholic Church’s activities. It is also is the home of the Pope, so if there is a Christian holiday coming up, you can be sure there will be throngs of worshippers, especially during Christmastime and Easter.

During these holidays, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to find cheap accommodations in Rome. You might be better off delaying your trip instead of going during a holy time.

Be prepared for the crowds in Rome

2. Pickpockets work 24/7

Professional street hustlers are everywhere.

If you want to blend in and avoid most pickpockets, you should dress as the locals do.

Italians are known for being fashionable yet understated. Clothing is always expertly tailored and often paired with gorgeous, handmade shoes (which are surprisingly reasonable to purchase in Italy).

Tone down your image and leave the digital SLR camera with the extra lens in your hotel. If you don’t feel like being fashion forward, you just have to be more aware of your surroundings than you normally might be.

Keep valuables (like your passport), at the accommodations and keep money and cell phones inside your zipped coats or under your clothing. Don’t make it easy for thieves to rip you off, duh.

Keep your head up and don’t assume someone is offering to help out of the kindness of their heart: Con artists target tourists under the guise of helpfulness, but then expect to be “paid.” Be polite, but be firm. A loud “No!” is often most effective, as they will move on to easier, less-vocal targets.

Roman Ruins Hiking

3. Accommodations are expensive

Hotels are not cheap, even when using discount websites to book them.

Fortunately, there are many alternatives to choose from. Locals will often rent out their homes through private vacation rental sites, such as AirBnB. This is a great way to save money since the locals set the rates, not hotel chains.

Another alternative is to stay at an agriturismo–accommodations that are located on a farm and typically offer B&B-like amenities. Often run by individuals who also live on the property, agriturismos allow you to experience their culture and see how they live from day to day.

When you’re looking to stay in the city, hostels are another alternative to major hotel chains. Bear in mind that many hostels cater to a younger clientele and can be busy, noisy places. Check the reviews before you book and be sure there is no age restriction.

Many hostels are run like conventional hotels; you just have to be sure the one you’re staying at caters to your particular needs.

By saving money on accommodations, you’re free to spend that extra cash on the things you want to do in Rome like eat and sightsee.

roman coliseum

4. The food is terrible (unless you know where to look)

Unless you only want to eat pizza and panini, eating in Rome can be a terrible experience.

Most restaurants around the popular Roman tourist sites are expensive and cater to tourists that are desperate for food and willing to pay anything to get it. Don’t fall into this trap. Before you go to Rome, investigate some cheap and delicious restaurants online, and then program them into your cell phone map.

Not only will you have a guide to great eating right in your hands, but you’ll also be able to find your way around the city and explore areas you might never have gone to otherwise.

The best restaurants are where the locals also go, and they usually do not eat near touristy areas.

TeeShirt for Sale in Rome

5. The weather can be wild

Depending on the time of year, Roman weather can vacillate wildly between extremely hot and humid and miserably cold and damp.

Check the weather forecast and plan ahead. You will need an umbrella, a sturdy rain jacket, and comfortable walking shoes.

Although public transportation is efficient in Rome, you will be doing a lot of walking, so leave the heels and dress shoes at home (unless you’re planning on a fancy dinner night).

Temperatures can fall below freezing during the winter, so make sure you pack light but warm clothing (think Merino wool that can be layered).

In the summer, the less clothing the better, but you need to be careful.

Many religious sites have specific clothing restrictions (women can’t have bare legs or shoulders in churches; men can’t be wearing shorts or go in without a shirt), so check the sites you want to visit and be sure to pack comfortable, cool clothes that also cover your body.

When in doubt, pack a scarf that can double as a shawl, or pants that convert into shorts.

Clothing is relatively inexpensive in Rome, so if you forget something at home, you can pick up what you need at one of the local shops.

Hiking in the Rain Rome

Ohhh, the Memories…

Rome is an amazing city and one that will linger in your memory long after you’ve left, but it does take careful planning, especially if it’s your entry point into Italy.

When you plan, pack accordingly, and keep your head up, you’ll have a wonderful time in the eternal city.

Hiking Poles

Bangkok Airports (there are two) Don’t miss your flight in Bangkok!

Suvarnabhumi International Airport and Don Mueang International Airport (sometimes Don Muang) are two separate airfields serving Bangkok.

The site of harried tourists leaving their hotels and arriving at the wrong airport has become more common as flight traffic increases in Bangkok.

Tourists should be prepared and know which airport they will be using, how to get there, the differences between the two and the services available at both.

Why does Bangkok have two airports?

Tourist Waiting Arrival

In September, 2006, a Quantas flight bound for Sydney departed Don Mueang Airport at 3:12 a.m.

It was to be the final commercial flight from the field that had served Bangkok since 1914. Operations ceased and were transferred to Bangkok’s new airfield, Suvarnabhumi International Airport.

The closure was short-lived, however: Operating costs at Suvarnabhumi Airport were high, and safety concerns over cracked runways and taxiways created a crisis of confidence.

Low-cost carriers saw Don Mueang Airport as a viable transit hub, and authorities began to see it as a reasonable alternative to expanding operations at Suvarnabhumi International.

By March 2007, Don Mueang International Airport again reopened for domestic flights.

Today, legacy carriers and long-haul international flights operate from Suvarnabhumi International, while low-cost carriers operate from Don Mueang International.

Here are some things to know about Bangkok’s Two Airports:

Suvarnabhumi International Airport (BKK)

Suvarnabhumi Airport Thailand Travel

Suvarnabhumi International Airport, 25 km east of the city, is the sixth-busiest airport in Asia and handles 53 million passengers yearly. It also has the world’s tallest free-standing control tower. It serves as the main hub for Bangkok Airways, Orient Thai, and Thai Airways. It was built in an area formerly known as Nong Nguhao, or Cobra Swamp.

The terminal is massive and as beautiful as it is functional.

TIPTourists should be warned that the arrivals hall can be populated by con-men and illegal taxi drivers, and should use care.

Getting to and from Suvarnabhumi is easy.

In addition to taxis and express buses, the Airport Rail Link, which operates from 6 a.m. to midnight, connects Suvarnabhumi to downtown Bangkok.Airport Rail Link Bangkok

Connections to Bangkok’s MRT subway system can be made at the Makkasan City interchange, while the BTS Skytrain connects at the end of the line, at Phayathai Station.

Transit is cheap and the connections are easily made, but parties of three or more may find it cheaper to take a taxi.

Travel Time from Suvarnbhumi Airport to Bangkok:

Approximate time into Bangkok is 30 minutes.

More Info:

>>> Check your flight status for flights arriving and departing Suvarnbhumiy Airport here.

>>> Suvarnabhumi Airport Bangkok Official Info Page.

Don Mueang International Airport (DMK)

Don Mueang International Airport

Don Mueang International Airport, 25 km north of the city, has seen yearly double-digit growth in passenger travel and handled over 35 million passengers in 2016.

Don Mueang International Airport began handling commercial traffic in 1924 and served as a major US base of operations during the Vietnam war.

Today, it is a hub for Asia’s low-cost carriers, including Thai Lion Air, Nok Air, and Thai AirAsia.

Don Mueang’s two terminals:

  1. Terminal 1: handles international travel
  2. Terminal 2: for domestic flights

Most people traveling between Bangkok and Don Mueang Airport opt for a taxi, as there are no fast transit options in and out of the city.

A few bus routes travel to Don Mueang.

Some travelers attempt to take the Skytrain to Mo Chit station, and taxi from there, but savings are slim and reports of difficulties finding cabs at Mo Chit abound.

Travel Time from Don Mueang Airport to Bangkok:

Approximate time into Bangkok is 45 minutes or more.

More Info:

>>> Check your flight status for flights arriving and departing Don Mueang International Airport here.

>>> Don Mueng Airport Bangkok Official Info Page.

Airport confusion can be prevented in Bangkok.

First, tourists must note well which airport serves their airline.

Second, you must be specific with cab drivers when traveling from hotels to the airport. It is prudent to have the name and the address written along with the terminal number to avoid confusion.

Bangkok’s two airports each serve different but equally important purposes.

Knowledge of the two and prior planning can save a mad dash between Suvarnabhumi International Airport and Don Mueang International Airport as minutes tick down to departure.

Happy trails… now catch your flight!

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Phnom Penh, Cambodia: Take a Second Look

Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, is often just a minor pit stop for tourists who land at the airport and almost immediately board busses for Siem Reap, the home of Angkor Wat, or the white sand beaches of Sihanoukville and its islands.

Phnom Penh, with its modern cafes and sky scrapers, French colonial buildings, and shopfront row houses mixed among gorgeous Buddhist temples and local markets, should not be overlooked at it really does have something to excite everyone.

Many travelers who take the time to see any part of Phnom Penh will simply grab a tuk-tuk and zoom off to visit the more popular tourist attractions such as the Royal Palace and the infamous Killing Fields of Choeung Ek.

While important in their own right, these sites barely scratch the surface of a complex and engaging city that is undergoing massive and rapid change.

The National Museum 

Cambodia National Museum

The National Museum for instance, located just behind the Royal Palace, offers a museum experience that is unlike most others. Most visitors quickly notice is that the museum is open air. The window openings are protected by large wooden shutters during the night, but when open, air, and sometimes birds, freely pass through.

Not surprisingly, the museum contains one of the largest collections of Angkorian and Pre-Angkorian artifacts in the world.

What is surprising however, is that the majority of this collection was gathered after the ouster of the Khmer Rouge in 1979 as they had abandoned the museum and destroyed most of the artifacts during their reign of terror. The museum also contains a small, but hopefully growing, collection of artifacts from Cambodia’s French Colonial era.

Nightly, behind the museum, a traditional dance show is held with young artists who are rekindling their culture of dance and music that was all but lost during decades of civil war, genocide, and rebuilding.

Stability has finally allowed the arts to return and the Traditional Dance show is one of the best ways for tourists to witness them.

traditional dancers cambodia

Like any large city, the local neighborhoods of Phnom Penh each have their own distinctive character and charm.

Walking the streets, or taking a tuk-tuk ride through a local neighborhood is a rewarding experience, especially if you are able to explore several different areas and witness a variety of locals going about their daily lives.

From the busy streets surrounding the riverfront packed with local street vendors, markets, and small shops to the much more upscale BKK1 area with its Starbuckseque coffee shops and a new Krispy Kreme, there is a neighborhood that will make most everyone feel at home.

Walking a neighborhood is also an excellent way to see the architecture of the area.

The ornate metalwork that makes up many of the common fences that surround most buildings and villas can easily be called works of art.

From the French colonial buildings with their curved corners and balconies to the hand carved roof brackets, the architecture of Phnom Penh does not disappoint either.

French Architecture in Phomn Penh Cambodia

Many concrete walls, especially those surrounding the numerous wats (temples) around the city, are also intricately detailed and very worthy of close inspection.

For those who are interested in construction as well, Phnom Penh is growing at a phenomenal pace and new construction, in its concrete and rough brick form, can be seen all over the city in both low and high rise buildings.

Local Market – Local Life

Cambodia Local Market

Most tourists who venture into Phnom Penh’s markets visit Central Market and more recently Toul Tom Pong market, commonly called The Russian Market. While each of these has its charm, there are many local markets where the people of Phnom Penh do their daily shopping.

Unlike Central Market or The Russian Market, local markets will have little to no souvenirs and instead will be stocked with fresh fruits and meats, tools, kitchen appliances, and other daily needs.

A local market is a great place to interact with Cambodians, witness the variety of foods and goods, and practice some of the common travel phrases like “How much is this?”.

Local markets are also an excellent place to dive into a fresh bowl of noodles or whatever is on the menu that day.

Cambodians are often friendly people and more than happy to help you through the buying process but remember that modest haggling is expected.

Even if you don’t purchase anything, seeing a local market is not an experience you will soon forget and for many is one of the highlights of any trip to Phnom Penh.

Phnom Penh Up-and-Coming Center of Business & Culture in Southeast Asia

Phnom Penh, once known as the Pearl of Asia, is again an up-and-coming center of business and culture in southeast Asia.

Unlike in its past though, today’s Phnom Penh is not just limited to Asia but is becoming a truly international city that is a worthwhile addition to any traveler’s schedule.

Off the path City See it Now

It’s Never Too Late For a Heroic Adventure

Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka – A Beach Paradise

In the dry zone of Sri Lanka’s Southeast coast, 320 km east of Colombo, laid-back Arugam Bay beckons tourists to the Indian Ocean.

It has a local population of only a few hundred people, one main road, and one of the best point breaks in the region.

Map of Sri Lanka and S. India showing Arugam Bay

Many find the crescent of multicolored sand and turquoise water along Arugam Bay beach to be the ideal surf spot in the country.

Tourists can glimpse expert surfers vying for prizes, and beginners attending their first lesson at one of the abundant surf schools in the area.

Arugam Bay surfing is not the only activity attracting wanderers from around the globe.

Surfing in Arugam Bay Sri Lanka

There are abundant options for swimmers, windsurfers, kitesurfers, beach partiers, yoga buffs, and seekers of ayurveda and traditional medicine.

It is an ideal spot to begin an adventure into the surrounding rural parks or to do nothing on a beach while enjoying Arugam Bay’s low-key vibe.

When to Go

The hamlet is energetic from May to October, and quiet November to April.

Things to do in Arugam Bay

For the local populace, Arugam Bay is a fishing village.

An afternoon walk along the beach will reveal myriad fishermen preparing their wooden boats for the following day’s catch.

Beach Scene sunset Arugam Beach, Sri Lanka

Some are happy to take tourists with them for the day, for those who wish to experience local life. Lagoon boat tours are also plentiful.

Cooking classes and homestay visits are available, but strolling along miles of unspoiled beach should not be missed. For those who prefer not to stroll, scooters are available for rental to get around locally.

Restaurants and reggae bars light Arugam Bay and become busy as the sun sets.

Things to do around Arugam Bay

Arugam Bay is a perfect base of operations for visiting Yala National Park, the most popular and second largest national park in Sri Lanka.

Wildlife in Yala National Park, Sri Lanka

Yala National Park, which includes Ruhuna National Park and Kumana National Park, is a wildlife sanctuary important to the preservation of Sri Lankan Elephants, leopards and birds.

The site of ancient civilizations, Yala National Park also contains two pilgrimage sites.

On the way to Yala National Park, Kudumbigala monastery beckons from high atop a hill in the middle of the jungle. The 360-degree views are astounding, especially at sunrise.

The crocodiles, elephants, sloth bears, and birds seen en route is as spectacular as the monastery itself. Though you must remove your shoes at the entrance, keeping them with you to climb is a smart practice.

“…with wild elephants occasionally coming to drink at the lagoon, and langur monkeys and macaques roaming in the forests.” (New York Times)

Four kilometers north of Arugam Bay is the town of Pottuvil, site of Muhudu Maha Viharaya, a Buddhist temple nearly 2,500 years old.

Visitors can walk among the ruins and contemplate the history of King Kavan Tissa. The site takes about an hour to explore and is a must-do for tourists interested in Sri Lanka’s rich cultural past.

Nearby Sangamankandy Pilliyar Kovil, an ancient Shiva Temple, can be seen in the same day.

Whether your interests are sun and surf, history and culture, fishing, religion or nature safari, Arugam Bay beach and its surrounds are a fun and fascinating place to relax and explore, and a welcome respite from Colombo or your hectic Southern Asia travel itinerary.

Beach Bums Go Further with Heroic Adventures

The Story of the ‘World’s Most Dangerous Walkway’

El Caminito del Rey, which means “The King’s Little Pathway” in English, is a small pathway located in Spain.

Built over a hundred years ago to join two power plants in Malaga, the path stretches across beautiful scenery, inviting many people to walk across it.

This seemingly innocent road, however, has actually led many people to their deaths, and is treacherous to the extent that many now call it “the world’s most dangerous pathway.

Cliff Hanging Route of El Caminito Del Rey Spain

Workers began to build El Caminito in 1901 to connect two hydroelectric plants in Malaga.

When the pathway was completed in 1905, it was constructed of concrete and steel beams but had few safety features like handrails.

Over the years, the pathway became even more dangerous as it deteriorated.

In some places, the concrete had completely collapsed, leaving only metal beams hanging over 330 feet in the air.

Over time, blogs across the world picked up on the poor condition of the walkway.

When several people died in the late 1990s and early 2000s, they gave it the honor of being ‘most dangerous in the world‘ and dared adrenaline junkies to travel to Spain and walk across it.

Most Dangerous Walkway in World El Caminito Cliffs

Hundreds of people took on this dare, and many of them did not survive their trip.

The Spanish government, horrified by the deaths, closed the path in 2011 and began renovating it.

Using modern construction tools and techniques, they refurbished the walkway and installed handrails.

In 2015, the walkway was reopened to the public, now much safer for tourists to traverse.

Bloggers, however, did not realize that the pathway was now nowhere near as dangerous as it had been before.

King's Pathway (english) Spain Dangerous

Many webpages continued to call El Caminito ‘the most dangerous pathway,’ and daredevils continued to travel to Spain to see it.

Luckily, though, now tourists can test their bravery without risking their lives.

Are you heading on trek? Can you benefit from a professional trekking pole? Find out here>>>

Know the best Trekking Pole for you, Read the Hiking Poles Buying Guide >>>


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Destinations Unknown: What’s Your Secret?

Three Trekking Spots in Coorg, India

If you’re planning a trip to India, don’t leave out Coorg. 

Located in the southwestern part of India in the state of Karnataka, Coorg, which is also known as Kodagu, is known for its natural beauty.

Ghats Mountains India

Amongst other activities, trekking in Coorg is extremely popular with visitors.

Here’s a closer look at three places to go hiking and trekking, with your trekking pole, in Coorg, India.

1.  Irupu Falls

At the top of your list for trekking in Coorg should be Irupu falls.

The waterfalls are not only a tourist destination, they are also a sacred site for many Hindus.

During the festival of Shivrati, many pilgrims flock to the area to honor Lord Shiva due to the legend associated with the falls.

During monsoon season, Irupu Falls are at their peak.

Once you reach the falls, you may wish to take the forest trail from the falls to Brahmagiri Peak in the southern part of Coorg.

2.  Abbi Falls

Coorg Abbey Falls

Abbi Falls is another famous waterfall in Coorg that makes for an excellent and exciting trek.

Abbi Falls is located in the Western Ghats mountain range, a range which has the honor of being a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its biodiversity.

In fact, the Western Ghats mountain range ranks near the top of biodiversity hotspots in the world.

The path to Abbi Falls is a lovely one that winds through coffee and cardamom plantations.

Like Irupu Falls, the best time to visit Abbi Falls is during the monsoon season, when all the extra water makes the falls a very impressive sight.

3.  Nagarhole National Park

Elephants in Nagarhole National Park

When you’re ready to catch a glimpse of wild elephants, bisons and maybe even a tiger, go trekking in Nagarhole National Park.

Although the park isn’t a UNESCO World Heritage Site yet, it is currently under consideration thanks to its location in the foothills of the Western Ghats mountains.

Visiting Nagarhole is easy thanks to the organized safaris that happen twice each day.

Although the park is closed during animal mating season and during heavy monsoons, the rest of the year remains open to visitors.

These are just three of the best spots for trekking in Coorg, but they are certainly not the only places for a good hike.


To know if you need a trekking pole for your hiking journey in Coorg don’t miss this hiking pole how-to.

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Travel + Work: Synching Across Multiple Time Zones (When on the Road)

Managing a project team is tricky, particularly if your people work across multiple time zones.

With deadlines to meet, projects quickly run into trouble if you don’t account for different working hours.

Make your life easier and meet project targets by implementing these simple global resource management tips.

Use technology to save time  

(The Clock is and awesome world clock that makes keeping time zones up to date a breeze for those on iOS)

It’s confusing trying to work out what time it is in other places.

Avoid mistakes by downloading a time zone app to your computer or smartphone. This handy widget instantly displays the current time in major cities around the world.

With a quick glance, you can check what time it is in Hong Kong or Sydney without having to try to work it out in your head.

When your team works across multiple time zones, this is a great way to save time when booking meetings and planning project activities.

Clearly communicate team member locations and time zones

Team Members Time Zone Map

You can’t assume that all your people know that there is a time zone difference in the team.

Compile a project organization chart, which shows your team members’ locations and which time zone they work in.

Make sure that everyone has a copy of this document, and update it regularly to cope with summer and wintertime changes.

Work package delays often occur because people don’t even know that their colleagues are working several hours ahead or behind.

Make the most of the ideal times of day

Take Advantage of Time Overlap with Remote Workers

Work out if there are certain times of day when everybody in the team is in working hours.

Use these times to concentrate on activities where people need to work together, or where you need a one-to-one conversation with somebody.

It’s much easier to get things done if you can discuss a problem together, rather than try to find the solution via email.

Keep the best time slots free, and spend the rest of the time working on activities that you can complete individually.

Look for opportunities for flexible hours

Offer Flexible Hours

Never assume that your project team members all want to work between nine and five.

Some people are happy to work different hours to suit the needs of the project, and this can help speed up delivery.

Ask people to come in earlier or work later in some countries, to create longer periods of time for collaboration.

Make sure you talk to your colleagues in HR about any legal implications first, because local laws may mean that you have to pay a premium for working outside core office hours.

Can your project budget cope with this?

Communicate more often

Man Communicating Business to Headquarters

If the project delivery is moving very quickly, it’s difficult to make sure that everybody knows what’s happening.

Send regular updates via email even if it’s just to report that everything is on track.

Lead by example and show your project team how important it is to tell one another what is happening.

A daily call is not always necessary if everyone is in one place, but frequent contact is vital if people are working at different times of day.

Never assume that people know the latest developments. Give them the information they need to complete their tasks effectively.

It’s difficult to manage project teams across different time zones.

Global projects bring unique challenges, but if you plan your time carefully, you can easily meet project goals.

Your Heroic Adventure Begins Now

7 Great Business Retreat Activities

Your leadership team will soon be leaving town, heading towards a few days of team building and business-minded brainstorming. You’ve been charged with planning your executives’ business retreat activities.

So, where do you start?

Here are seven luxury business retreat activities that will keep your leadership team happy while creating a successful company outing:

1. Golf

Golf Retreat Team Building

Any good group outing with executives is likely to include a round or two of golf.

Look for golf courses in the area where your execs will be staying, and reach out to the courses for assistance with your planning needs.

Gold course employees are usually well-versed in the art of planning executive getaways.

2. City-Wide Scavenger Hunt

Man Searching on Scavenger Hunt in City

Take team-building across town with a scavenger hunt that resembles The Amazing Race.

There are plenty of online resources to help you make this dream a reality.

The concierge at your leaders’ hotel may be able to offer some tips.

3. Cook-Off

Cook OFF

Cook-offs are favored luxury business retreat activities that pit leaders against each other in a little friendly food competition.

Choose a theme, separate the attendees into two teams, and let the kitchen contest begin! Maximize teamwork by including the task of shopping for groceries in the battle.

4. Bowling

Bowling Alley teamwork

Leaders tend to have a hard time letting their hair down and just hanging out. 

A few gutter balls usually help to bring out some humility, allowing the participants to just enjoy themselves without worrying about always trying to win.

5. Show Your Strengths

Strengths Finder 2.0 Book

StrengthsFinder 2.0 is renowned for making a huge impact in the workplace. 

Have each participant take the test, read about his or her strengths, and discuss them with the group.

Each person can then choose one person for further discussion.

With their StrengthsFinder partner, each person can explore the ways they can enhance communication now that they’ve been given the tools necessary to bridge the gaps.

6. Create A New Company

Retreat Brainstorm new Business Opportunities

Throughout the week, task your leaders with creating a new company.

They’ll need a name, product or service, slogan, logo, vendors, and everything else that makes a business run. This exercise will help each functional department understand the viewpoints of other areas.

If you break your participants into teams, make sure various departments are represented in each group.

Each team should analyze the other’s company, asking questions and identifying holes.

7. Rope Courses

Ropes Courses Executive Rtreat

A rope course may seem cliche at first, but these team-building businesses have been around for a long time for a very good reason: they’re impactful.

Rope courses and zipline adventures are intended to take people out of their comfort zones and find trust with each other.


When you’ve been tasked with planning team-building events for your company’s corporate retreat, fret not!

These ideas will have your executives well on their way to a successful and enjoyable getaway.

Where’s Your Next Heroic Adventure?

Pirates of the Seychelles: Looking for Booty

Magnificent cliffs and stunning waters have earned the Seychelles a reputation for romance and unparalleled beauty. Every year honeymooners flock to this storybook paradise, which lies more than 1,000 miles from any other land mass between Africa and India.

Inhabitants of African, European and Asichanan descent call the remote archipelago home but have only populated the islands for a few hundred years. The first people to make use of the area were pirates who hid from capture in the uncharted waters during the 16th and 17th centuries.

pirate shipIronically, history has come full circle in the Seychelles where, for over a decade, modern pirates, equipped with global positioning systems and lightweight outboard motors, have increasingly plagued the region.

Sandy Shores of seychelles

This piracy has its roots in the Seychelles’ distant and unstable neighbor, Somalia.

According to the Congressional Research Service, in the 1990s, Somali warlords operating along clan lines began using misleading names to act as “official security” and extract fines from foreign ships.

Somali piratingOver the past decade, driving forces such as poverty, environmental adversity, lack of employment and a volatile political situation have all contributed to an increased recruitment of pirates in Somalia.

Although pirates drowned by the dozen, financial desperation countered the risk associated with pirating on dangerous open seas in small fishing skiffs. In addition, the pirates benefited from certain conditions including high levels of commercial activity, weak regional cooperation, small national navies, and a large coastal area across which they could operate. The pirates loosely organized into seven to ten “gangs” with different patterns of activity and different abilities.

In response to the increased piracy, international vessels intensified patrol in the waters off the Horn of Africa.

Unfortunately, this pressure pushed the pirates southeast across vast stretches of ocean to the Seychelles. “Motherships” loaded with fuel and water allowed the pirates to increase their range around the isolated islands where, according to the BBC, more than 200 attacks took place in 2009 alone.

Pirates of the Seychelles Pirate Map Seychelles

Unlike pirate attacks in other regions that aim to seize ships and cargo, these attacks often involve kidnapping and ransom demands for as much as $5 million, possibly because the pirates have access to inland areas of Somalia where they can hold victims for what have become longer and longer periods of time.

Insurance companies often settle these types of kidnapping cases hidden from the media.

However, in September 2009, when pirates captured British retirees Paul and Rachel Chandler from their yacht less than 60 nautical miles offshore, the terrifying story became public and attracted international attention. As incidents such as this one continue to publicize piracy in the Seychelles, islanders fear that frightening images of AK-47s and rocket grenades will superimpose those of turquoise waters and pink granite in the minds of potential tourists.

This fear runs deep because the Seychelles’ tourism industry provides 25.5 percent of its GDP and employs a large portion of the population.

real pirate shipsIn addition to kidnapping for ransom, piracy in the Seychelles has been associated with increased terrorism, trafficking of weapons and narcotics, illegal fishing, illegal dumping, and human smuggling.

None of these provide enticing material for brochures, and residents are keenly aware that couples looking for romantic getaways and leisure sailors wanting to experience the stunning natural scenery do not want threats of piracy overshadowing their fantasies. Furthermore, the Seychellois worry that the ransoms paid for hostages will only make piracy look more profitable and increase the number of attacks.

However, their biggest nightmare is that the pirates will venture out of the open seas and attack one of the tourist beaches.

pirate hideout seychelles shoreline

The people of the Seychelles have good reason to be afraid.

The nation’s economy, which had finally begun to rebound from a huge per capita national debt, has begun to see large scale negative effects from piracy.

Modern Day PiratesYacht yards lay empty and hotels have lost $8 million in cancellations. Fewer cruise ships and leisure boats are making stops in the archipelago, and cargo insurance continues to increase as the pirates interrupt international shipping.

Most large vessels have begun carrying French marines or Spanish private contractors for defense. According to the African Independent News, these security details have successfully fended off at least ten separate pirate attacks, but this protection drains monetary resources, both public and private.

Piracy has hit the fishing industry in the Seychelles even harder than tourism and shipping.

The backbone of the islands’ economy rests on skipjack and yellow tuna fin tuna headed for the European market. One tuna factory alone employs 3,000 people in a nation of only 85,000.

In September 2009, the same month the Chandlers were kidnapped, the factory’s entire tuna fleet had to come into port because the danger of pirate interception was so high. Crews continue to fear both the pirates themselves and the economic dangers they bring.

Somalian piratesThe threats and fleet dockings have significantly impacted tuna production which is down thirty percent, according to Joel Morgan, Minister of Environment, Natural Resources, Transport, and Prisons.

The factories, in turn, have had to let go dock workers and crew members, leaving them without incomes.

While the EU, United Arab Emirates, Denmark, Russia, US and Britain have supplied help to the Seychelles in the form of spotter planes, drones, and ships to better prevent pirate interception, it is estimated that naval ships have but a fifteen to thirty minute window in which they can successfully ward off an attack.

modern day Pirates Keeping Tourist Away from Seychelles

Further hindering the effort to stamp out piracy in the region is the tricky issue of pirate imprisonment.

Astoundingly, until 2010, foreign vessels that captured pirates often took them to Somalia and let them free.

buccaneers The Seychelles lacked the laws, courts, and prisons for prosecuting the pirates and, although there were a few isolated instances of prosecution in European countries, it was feared that the prisoners could use this as a route to political asylum.

A breakthrough was achieved in 2010 when the Seychelles passed tough anti-piracy laws and sentenced eleven pirates to ten years in prison. It became the only other country besides Kenya to sign an agreement with the EU that allowed suspected pirates to be jailed and prosecuted.

The tiny nation also built a new wing for captured pirates in its one and only prison.

Ocean Map Seychelles in Center

Pirate Prison UN Office on Drugs and Crime

(“This is the pirates’ prison, hidden high in the hills” source)

While anti-piracy cooperation in the Seychelles looks promising, the situation remains complex.

Conspiracy theories abound.

pirate shipSome Seychellois claim that the pirates are linked through Somali Islamist groups to Al Queda. Other islanders think that the pirates’ profits ultimately end up in the hands of certain British and American banks.

However, the US Congressional Research Service explains the pirates indirectly benefit terrorists but are not directly aligned with them.

Furthermore, it debunks the myth that the pirates operate through pre-emptive intelligence on land.

As for the key to permanently lifting the dark cloud of piracy from these breathtaking islands, all involved agree that it lies in the hopeful emergence of a stable Somalia.

Read Part Two: The Pirates Of Mauritius: More Indian Ocean Booty


Seychelles Piracy in the News

Elsewhere in Pirate News

Top 5 Cities to Live as a Digital Nomad

As the internet has given people the ability to work remotely, some have abandoned the old lifestyle of being tied to a place and 9-to-5 job.

Digital nomads travel the world, working from places as diverse and bohemian as an internet cafe in Prague or a beach in Bali.

Their geographically independent lifestyle lets them choose the cities with the lowest living costs, best climate or best local food.

Whether you are a writer, teacher, web developer, engineer, programmer or designer, here are the best places in the world to live as a digital nomad:

1. Bali, Indonesia

Ubud Bali Rice Fields

Bali is an Indonesian island known for its beautiful beaches, breathtaking mountain views and diverse wildlife.

It’s hard to imagine a more exciting and exotic place to live. Whether you want to see a live volcano, go on a safari, explore a monkey forest or enjoy one of the most complex cuisines in the world, Bali has something to offer to everyone.

The affordable rent and great WiFi connection have made Bali an extremely popular place for digital nomads in the past years.

Cost

The cost of living in Bali is a mere $900 USD a month.

2. Prague, Czech Republic

Prague Sunset Old Town

The capital of the Czech Republic, Prague is the fifth most visited city in Europe.

Prague is full of cultural attractions which survived the world wars, such as:

Not to mention many world-class museums, galleries and concert halls.

With good WiFi, a more than affordable cost of living, great public transportation, and an amazing nightlife, Prague is currently one of the upward trending destinations for digital nomads.

Costs

About $800 a month.

3. Phuket City, Thailand

Startup Style Soloprenuer in Phuket

Phuket, the largest island in Thailand, is a veritable paradise of turquoise waters and white beaches.

You can explore beaches and lagoons, practice water sports, enjoy the mix of Chinese and colonial architecture or visit the Buddhist temple of Wat Chalong, the spiritual center of Phuket.

Cost

The living expenses for a digital nomad in Phuket amount to a mere $800 a month, including housing and eating out three times a day, as well as fast WiFi connection.

4. Hanoi, Vietnam

Hanoi Boats on Water

Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam and its second largest city, lies on the bank of the Red River.

With its busy streets, delicious street food, many bars and cafes and extremely low cost of living, Hanoi is attracting more digital nomads every year.

Cost

Hanoi also offers fast WiFi and several great coworking spaces, which are bustling with entrepreneurs and startups, making it easy to get inspired and start connections. The living expenses in Hanoi are around $700 a month.

5. San Jose, Costa Rica

San Jose Costa Rica National Theatre Statue

Costa Rica is one of the most popular places in Latin America for digital nomads, especially for those who enjoy nature.

With its great beaches, natural parks and a myriad of natural attractions, Costa Rica is the ideal place to work remotely.

San Jose, the capital, is renowned for its great food and nightlife.

For those who enjoy activities such as yoga and surfing, Santa Teresa offers a more relaxed lifestyle.

Cost

The cost of living in Costa Rica is about $1,500 a month.


The internet has revolutionized the way people live and work, bringing with it more flexibility and freedom.

Increasing numbers of people are abandoning crowded offices and polluted cities to work from idyllic places in the world, where the food and beaches are exceptional and the costs of living are much lower than in most Western cities.

Not only can such a nomadic lifestyle be cheaper than living in the same place all the time, but it gives you the opportunity to experience new places and cultures, which can be a boost to your creativity.