10 best places to live for avoiding world conflict

New ZealandExpatify.com asked the question, “Where would you be the safest if World War III broke out tomorrow?” The answers arrived in a post titled “10 Best Places to Live for Avoiding World Conflict.” Irrelevant as it may seem to you, the claws of conflict affect a revolving roster of nations. The knowledge of where not to go because of conflict, or better yet, where to go to avoid it, can be useful if you’re planning to live, or even just spend some time, abroad. According to this article, countries that make the safety cut are: Switzerland, Costa Rica, Papua New Guinea, Canada, Seychelles, Finland, Tuvalu, Iceland, Bhutan, and New Zealand. Most of these choices make sense to me, based on what I know, but the undeniably gorgeous Seychelles seems like a somewhat uncertain choice. News stories covering the Somali pirates swarming the Seychelles area are prevalent. To be fair, I’m not convinced Somali pirates are a current threat for World War III. What are your thoughts? Where would you move in order to be as far removed from world conflict as possible?

Explore More Options with These Art Maps for the Home


EuroCheapo launches budget travel guides for Switzerland

eurocheapoWhile Switzerland is not usually thought of as a budget-friendly destination, there are actually many worthwhile hotels, sights, and restaurants that won’t cost you a fortune. To help travelers navigate their way around this usually costly country, EuroCheapo has launched budget travel guides for the cities of Zurich and Geneva, marking their first Swiss guides on the site. These guides will not only feature accommodation recommendations and photographs from the editors themselves, but also insider tips on how to explore these cities without breaking the bank.

Says EuroCheapo’s founder and editor-in-chief, Tom Meyers, “While it’s certainly easy to overspend in Geneva and Zurich, our editors have uncovered many simple ways to make visiting more affordable. Both cities offer delightful inexpensive hotels that will keep your trip budget in check.”

EuroCheapo is a free budget travel guide for Europe. To check out the brand new Swiss guides as well as money-saving guides for other European cities, click here.

Airport Carbon Accreditation program grows in Europe

Airport Carbon AccreditationEurope’s Airport Carbon Accreditation program is now boasting fifty-five major European airports as members and making a significant dent in carbon emissions. The voluntary program has a four-level rating system that assesses and recognizes the efforts of airports to manage and reduce their carbon emissions to achieve carbon neutral operations for all emissions over which the airport has control.

“It is clearly helping to move European aviation onto a more sustainable footing,” European Union Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas told the Associated Press. “Genuine progress on greening transport … can only occur when the regulator’s work is complemented by citizens and businesses taking action of their own.”

Airports are changing airport vehicles to electric or hybrid power, installing solar panels to generate the airport’s own electricity, and involving the entire airport operation. Airlines, air traffic control, ground handlers, baggage handlers, catering companies, refueling trucks, passenger shuttle transport, airport maintenance services, emergency services, police, border control and retailers are all held accountable and encouraged to make a positive impact.

Aircraft engines are probably what we think of as major contributors to the carbon emission tally. At participating airports, specific taxiing techniques are used to reduce fuel burn. Apparently, common taxiing routes are not always the most fuel efficient, especially if the aircraft has to overcome steep taxiway elevations, sits still waiting for cross traffic to clear and/or many sharp turns.

Like some cruise ships, ground power is provided to parked aircraft. Instead of having them leave their engines running, aircraft plug in to land power, further reducing emissions and possibly making for more breathable cabin air quality too.

The 55 major European airports participating in the Airport Carbon Accreditation program account for over half of all passenger traffic from Europe’s 400 plus aviation facilities. That’s up from 43 accredited airports last year who achieved a reduction of 729,689 tons of greenhouse gases, equivalent to removing around 180,000 cars from the roads.

Participating airports include London’s Gatwick and Heathrow; Frankfurt; Munich; Amsterdam; Brussels; Zurich; Geneva; and others.

How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint at Home

Flickr photo by Christoph Mendt

Upcoming travel blogger conferences for 2012

travel bloggers conferenceIf the word “conference” immediately conjures images of tipsy, poly-suit clad conventioneers, comic book geeks, or coma-inducing workshops, you obviously haven’t attended a travel blogger gathering.

‘Tis the season for some of the year’s biggest travel industry blowouts. Each has a different focus–some are for accredited travel writers, others hone in on the burgeoning travel blogging industry or events tailored for the public. What they all share is an emphasis on networking with industry professionals, travel trends, and continuing education in the form of field trips, workshops, seminars, panel discussions, and yes, a fair bit of partying.

Below, our picks for the best in travel industry camaraderie and information exchange:

Travel Blog Exchange (TBEX)

The year’s most anticipated travel scribe gathering will be held June 15-17 in Keystone, Colorado. Expect a mix of over 350 fledgling and veteran writers, PR and travel industry experts, guest speakers, and workshops. In your downtime, take advantage of Keystone resort and environs by hiking, mountain biking, paddling, fly-fishing, or riding. Psst. Europe TBEX will be held in Lausanne, Switzerland, October 11-13.

New York Times Travel Show (NYT)
Held March 2-4 at Manhattan’s Jacob C. Javits Convention Center, this is a great event if you’re an accredited writer with a specific niche (Industry Professional Sessions include topics like “Focus on Africa,” and “Focus on Travel Media”); there’s also a “trade-only” day. The public and and newbie writers can explore the Exhibition Hall, check out a variety of cultural events to be held on five stages, and let the kids run amok in the Family Fun Pavilion. Bonus: Accredited travel professionals can attend the Friday Exhibition Hall and travel industry welcome reception, and Saturday and Sunday seminars and Exhibition Hall free of charge.

Travel Bloggers Unite (TBU)
Feel like a tax write-off trip to Umbria, Italy (did I just say that)? From April 20-22, this UK-organized conference unites travel writers and bloggers with travel PR experts, tourism boards, and travel companies. Seminars include photo walks and workshops, and using social media. Best of all, delegates will be able take free post-conference tours of Umbria.

Book Passage Travel Writers and Photographers Conference

Lonely Planet guru/Gadling editor Don George co-founded this renown industry event with Book Passage owner Elaine Petrocelli in 1991. Held annually at Petrocelli’s Marin County bookstore (located 15 minutes north of San Franciso; the other Book Passage is a tiny shop in San Francisco’s Ferry Building). The event has attracted in the past luminaries such as Tim Cahill, Larry Habegger, and Gadling’s David Farley. This year, esteemed writer Susan Orlean will be in attendance, and the schedule includes four days of seminars, workshops, panel discussions, and optional evening field trips. If you’re serious about travel writing–and few places provide as much topical diversity as the Bay Area–sign up, stat.

Be sure to check out Don’s article on “Top tips for TBEX and other writers’ conferences” before you sign up or get on a plane (they say advice doesn’t come cheap, but this is free, baby).

[Photo credit: Flickr user Dia™]

Presenting Xtranormal’s “I want to be a travel writer

10 Etsy shops from around the world

With all of the Etsy shops out there, how are you supposed to know which shops to peruse and potentially support? While it’s a good thing to be supporting independent, local, self-made, all-natural, and/or struggling artists, it’s a difficult thing to know where to start. So here’s some advice, fellow travelers of the world: start with the Etsy shops that bring different regions of the world to your shopping window. Start with the Etsy shops that can transport you into another culture with a single browsing. Start with the Etsy shops that allow you to bring home goods with a flare from your favorite places if you can’t always be getting on a plane to travel to those places and bring home the goods yourself. Need some inspiration? Here’s a list of 10 Etsy shops from around the world, 10 personal favorites. This should help get you started.
1. Wooden decor from Ireland
Zen-inducing, modern art with a minimalist flare. Mostly wooden items like clocks, picture frames, and candle holders. ArtGlamourSligo on Etsy.

2. Jewelry, vases, home decor, and more from Kenya
This shop offers varying items from different artists. Taken from the shop description:
“Onacar School of Art is an innovative school that is helping organizations come up with income generating activities through various artisan activities such as soapstone carving, the making of jewelry and the designing of cards. All items are made from locally available materials that can be used without destroying the environment. Soapstone carving has changed from being just an art to being a production industry that helps organizations and communities generate income.” They’re selling good stuff for a good cause. Onacar on Etsy.

3. Laser woodcut jewelry from Argentina
Geometric shapes never looked so good! This artist, based in Buenos Aires, sells laser woodcut jewelry. Necklaces and earrings abound! Indomina on Etsy.

4. Organic skincare and perfume from Hawaii
I can smell these products from here! And they smell good! From the shop description:
“Ambrozhia’s essential blends are created with pure essential oils, absolutes, CO2 extracts and resins. I have spent over 18 years sourcing these precious botanical oils from reputable suppliers and am confident of their superb quality. I would like to note that I do incorporate special aromatics from fragrance oils in my perfumery to expand my blending palette and enliven the blends. One fragrance is musk oil, as I do not believe in using any animal products OR support animal testing. My Sandalwood is a combination of Arabian Sandalwood fo* and Austrailian Sandalwood essential oil as the Mysore forests of India are in the process of reforestation. Essential oils and fragrance oils have been combined and used in the art of perfumery since the 1800’s.” Aromatique Arts and Organic Skincare on Etsy.

5. Sea glass and other jewelry supplies from Grenada
Grenada, home of many fabulous beaches, boasts an incredible amount of island-esque jewelry and supplies. Interested in making some of your own? Buy from this seller. MamaBois on Etsy.

6. Vintage-inspired dog-themed art from Switzerland
Love your pooch? This Swiss shop will have you rejoicing in dog humor if so. Taken from the shop description: “As a digital designer, Kennel Club judge and a great admirer of dogs, I decided to go one step further to show that the dog is no longer just a companion and supporting figure in art, but the main protagonist of the events, and so receives well-deserved role.” NobilityDogs on Etsy.

7. Simple tea light holders and home decor from Japan
If you like the simple but beautiful Japanese aesthetic, then you’ll love this shop. Complete with minimalistic pieces, many designed for candles, I wouldn’t mind having some of these in my own house. TokyoCraftStudios on Etsy.

8. Throw pillow covers from India
Shimmering fabrics, intricate designs, and vivid colors help this shop’s items come to life. Based in Pune, these Indian throw pillow covers are gorgeous. TheHomeCentric on Etsy.

9. Coat racks, coffee tables, and other handmade things for the home from New Zealand
This homeware is simple, modern, and straight from New Zealand. ObjectifyHomeware on Etsy.

10. Gemstone jewelry from Singapore
Confession: I have purchased several items from this store myself. This Singapore-based artist has a way with gemstones. Looking for a special piece of jewelry? Look no further. I even wore one of her pieces for my wedding. AstralEye on Etsy.

A Tour of Etsy in New York