If you really think about it, we don’t have a lot of time on this Earth. And there’s just too much to see and do. While some people have found the courage to leave everything behind to wander the world, not all of us can do that. We need to strike a balance between having fun and being responsible; however, I think that most of us are tilted too much on the responsible side, neglecting our inner child yearning to see the world. We put having fun on the back burner: “I’ll do it later.” But before you know it, time has slipped away and there’s no way of getting it back.

I created this simple infographic to tell you to enjoy life as you go because there’s really never a perfect time. The time is now!

If you agree with my sentiment, please share then comment below to let me know your thoughts.



If you agree with this message, please share and spread the joy. To inspire you even more, check out 99 epic travel quotes that will inspire you to travel.

Travel on my friends.

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Once in a while you meet someone who truly embodies happiness. I’m thrilled to have met Silke recently and am blessed to be able to talk to her about her travels and her down-to-earth and informative blog Happiness and Things. The title kind of gives it away, huh? Well, read on and find out more about this thing we love to love (happiness) then come join Silke on her Instagram @hapnthings.


Up Up and a Bear: Please tell us a little bit more about yourself.

Silke: My name is Silke and I am a dual citizen with passports from Germany and Australia. I live in the beautiful city of Sydney, which in itself is already a great travel destination but of course there is so much more to explore… I am just way too curious to just stay put. My blog is called Happiness and Things and it’s been around for roughly 2 years now – a collection of inspirational stories and beautiful photos about all the places that I came to love.

Paris, a most beautiful city

Paris, a most beautiful city

Up Up and a Bear: Welcome! And thanks so much for doing this interview with me. I truly enjoy your blog because of the honesty and passion you bring to it – you can tell. Your story of visiting Spain as a kid reverberates with me so I would love to hear more about it. How long did that drive take from Germany to Spain? What did you do during that time without Facebook or texting or other electronics? I imagine everyone actually talking to each other in the car?

Silke: My parents didn’t have much money back then so all the funds they could spare would go towards our annual trips to Spain. You see, when you live in Germany all you can think of is how to escape the dreadful weather and you dream about chasing the sun. Even today, most people will travel to places around the Mediterranean to work on their tans whenever they get the chance. Back then plane trips were out of question. It was the 80’s and flying was still considered a luxury, so all five of us would squeeze into our second-hand Mercedes and head south.

Traveling to Spain would mean spending around two days on motorways since we were usually going all the way to the south. Just imagine: two days in the hot European summer, without air conditioning or electronic games. A lot of that time was spent looking out the window and staring at other cars doing exactly the same kind of horror trip – many traffic jams, terrible service station food, and let’s not mention the French squatting toilets. No playgrounds to speak of, no overnight stays in motels.

To top it off, I would get car sick the second we hit the on-ramp of the first autobahn, a condition that would cripple me for the entire trip. I remember by brother telling me that I had a little man in my tummy who would cook soup. And then he would try the soup and since he didn’t like it he would topple over the pot and start from scratch – his way of explaining to me why I kept throwing up, and I believed every single word!

Despite the odds, we all loved those annual trips down south to another country, the abundance of sunshine, the cool clear water of the ocean, the delicious foreign foods, and the balmy nights. A little bit of discomfort while traveling surely didn’t put us off. Looking back now, those are the fondest memories I have of my childhood and I hope to reproduce the same warm memories for my kids.

Not necessarily to go to exactly the same places but to see the world with different eyes.

Up Up and a Bear: Wow. Your story makes me giggle with nostalgia. It’s really funny how the best memories are the ones you never expected to remember. As a kid, my family would sometimes travel to visit our relatives in the city with all 5 of us packed onto a single motorcycle. You can imagine how unpleasant that was, especially in the inescapable heat of the tropical sun. But, surprisingly, that uncomfortable feeling is what I remember the most, and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Thanks for bringing me back to my childhood. But enough about me… Now that flying is so easy and cheap, do you prefer flying to road trips?

Silke: Yes and no. There are things about flying that I don’t enjoy at all, and then there are things about driving that I don’t like. Take flying for example: I hate waiting at airports, and I have a very tense relationship with airport officials and customs officers – let’s put it this way, I am not the most organized traveler. And long-distance flights can really get to me. I always look like a mess when I get off the plane with all this sitting and staring at the screen in front of you. It ain’t pretty. I love the distraction that comes with driving, the landscapes that parade in front of your window. I can even appreciate views that are less than pretty, imagining what it must be like for people to live in this house or that. But then we almost got killed on our last day in New Zealand last week thanks to a reckless driver. Each option has its pros and cons. And I think at the end of the day it’s all about making the best out of a bad situation.

Kanumera Bay in New Caledonia

Kanumera Bay in New Caledonia

Up Up and a Bear: I don’t think anyone has a great time with airport officials and customs officers so you’re not alone there. If I had to lean one way, it would be on the road but not as a driver. I love just sitting in the car staring out the windows and daydream. There’s something really serene and peaceful about it that I can’t really explain but I am in 100% agreement with you on that point. What’s your family travel tradition now that you have a family of your own?

Silke: We have tried to establish an “Easter house” tradition where we would pack up and head to the country for the long weekend. Brilliant idea until last year when it just wouldn’t stop raining and it all just felt like a waste of time and money. Having said that, we might still book something for this year, we haven’t really discussed it yet. I am not that easily discouraged. Overall, we travel as much as possible with the kids. They’ve already seen a lot: Thailand, Fiji, Samoa, New Zealand, Germany, the UK, New Caledonia… and we want to keep that up as much as possible.

Colorful Burano, Italy

Colorful Burano, Italy

Up Up and a Bear: I would vote for you to continue your Easter house tradition. Remember your story about the long drive to Spain? It was horrible but it’s also one of your fondest memories. I imagine your kids 20 years from now would think the same of their trips to the countryside. Being together inside a lovely house away from the city, talking to each other without the distractions of live – that sounds beautiful to me. Speaking of kids, I love your many articles catering to family travel, how different is it to travel with kids? I don’t have kids yet so I’m going to take some notes here.

Silke: It’s very different! People who don’t have children don’t realize how much having another person in your life changes everything, your planning, and generally the things you can and cannot do. For example, I wouldn’t take the kids mountain hiking, or on any strenuous excursion, really. Let’s say Indonesia. It’s such a hot country. All you can do with kids (my kids, anyway) is lounge around the pool. You cannot go and visit exciting places in this heat. Plus, they get carsick on winding roads, so you limit driving around in underdeveloped countries as much as possible. We are lucky insofar that we can “park” the kids at Grandma’s in Germany and then head off and explore with just the two of us. You cannot walk 40km in two days in Rome with two kids; it’s just not possible. So you need to adjust your expectations and make compromises. You can still do fantastic stuff though – in New Zealand we just went to see the Glowworm Cave, and we walked the lava fields. It was great fun!

Idyllic Selong Belanak, Lombok

Idyllic Selong Belanak, Lombok

Up Up and a Bear: On behalf of people with kids (myself excluded), thank you for your tips and please continue to write more of them. Parking your kids at Grandma’s is an excellent strategy indeed! Too bad Grandma isn’t too close by in Sydney. By the way, how did you end up in Sydney in the first place being from Germany and all?

Silke: Many people have this lifelong dream of moving to Australia for good, and then they save lots of money and wait for what feels like forever to get the visa granted (if ever). With us this was different. I never really thought about moving overseas but then an opportunity came up in my husband’s work and we were up for the challenge. We ran away from a couple of problems, actually, a house that we were planning on building that took forever to get started, my university graduation, pending job qualifications for my husband, etc. It was just a temporary secondment but after a year in Australia we knew that we wanted to stay so we set things into motion to make it happen. We have been here for about 11 years now. Our kids speak better English than German, we all have Aussie passports and we cannot imagine going back to Germany ever. Sydney is a sunny city with lots of great lifestyle options that we just don’t want to miss anymore. We have a pool in our backyard, what more can you ask from life?

I love the distraction that comes with driving, the landscapes that parade in front of your window.

Up Up and a Bear: Well… a pool in the Seattle area is no good unless there’s sunshine! And you have plenty of that so, again, I’m jealous! It’s obvious you love living in Sydney since you’ve written extensively about it on your blog; but, if there were 1 other place that could make you move, where would that be and why?

Silke: To be honest, I don’t think that that place actually exists. It’s not that Sydney is the best place on earth; it definitely has its flaws. But I cannot think of another place that would be a better trade-off. You might want to know what the flaws are? The lack of good public transport, for starters, and the lack of culture – like traditional craft cheeses and sitting on a crumbling century old terrace with a good glass of wine at sunset – things like that. We don’t get much world news here either, as if we were in a bubble, which we probably are. If I could change one thing about Sydney, I would probably scrap the winters, as they can be painfully cold. There is no central heating in the houses, so you can imagine. An ideal city would be something like Paris or London with a south Spanish climate, by the sea. That would make me happy.

So much blue in Corfu, Greece

So much blue in Corfu, Greece

Up Up and a Bear: Ahhh yes, without heating I would imagine it’d be pretty cold. We have the opposite problem here. Because it doesn’t get that warm in the summer, most houses don’t have air conditioning. So for those few weeks when the temperatures climb to 32 Celsius, it can be pretty unbearable in the house. I have an idea, let’s trade places for a year! I would understand if you decline. Anyway, what travel adventures are you dreaming about now?

Silke: I have many plans but nothing is set in stone yet. I hope to go on yet another cruise to explore the Mediterranean a bit more, sans kids. I might also meet an old friend of mine in England and we might go on a road trip together. I also hope for some spontaneous travel, maybe a media famil or two, but you never know. I am grateful for anything, really.

Relaxation in Dubrovnik, Croatia

Relaxation in Dubrovnik, Croatia

Up Up and a Bear: Excellent! I still haven’t been to England yet so that’s also on my list. Now for something a little more controversial: I’m always curious to know what people around the world think of the US to see if I should go get a Canadian passport (just kidding). What’s your general impression of it? It’s okay to be brutally honest.

Silke: You sure you want to know? Am I not going to alienate your readers? Mind you, I have never been to mainland US, only to Hawaii, so I can only judge from TV, friends and the news. We actually had the choice between Sydney and Washington DC when moving overseas, but decided to go to Sydney for the sunshine. The other reason why I didn’t root for the US was my outsider perception of gun violence and racial tensions. Then there is this crass contrast between the coasts and the Mid West. I also didn’t like the lack of education, cost of medical expenses, and the high teen pregnancy rates. The religious undertones in every aspect of public life scare me a bit as well. However, I have great American friends and despite our differences they are lovely people. I just don’t discuss God or politics with them. 🙂

The natural beauty of Fiji

The natural beauty of Fiji

Up Up and a Bear: Thank you so much for your honesty. It fascinates me to learn what other countries think of us Americans. You hit it on the head with regards to discussing religion and politics here. We try to steer clear of it because people will go off! I think it has a lot to do with our “independent” mindset – we are difficult to persuade at times. And don’t worry; the greatest thing about the US is our utmost respect to expression, whatever that might be. I appreciate your candor. I also have some preconceptions about Australia: insanely giant spiders and other creatures out of horror stories, laid back culture, well dressed, generally happy people, etc. What are Australians and Australia generally like?

Silke: I think you hit the mark here. We have two of the deadliest spiders in Sydney, the Sydney Funnel Web and the Redback Spider. They live in my garage, I am not kidding. The Huntsman spider is a giant wolf spider, which will drain all color from your face. They are not deadly but painfully ugly and the sheer sight of them makes grown men break down in tears. We are generally laid back here but of course we also have long working hours and traffic jams and angry people. Well dressed? Haha, I’m not sure about that. Aussies love their thongs (translate to “flip-flops”), and they wear them even on the planes when travelling. They go to supermarkets barefoot. I think Australia is a blissfully isolated country that just lives a happy lifestyle.

Is this heaven? Kanumera Bay in Caledonia

Is this heaven? Kanumera Bay in Caledonia

Up Up and a Bear: I just looked up the Huntsman spider and, yep, I cried. That’s the thing from horror movies! I guess I need to strengthen my constitution before making a trip to Australia. Well… I think I’ll be fine. My fiancé though, she’ll probably faint at the sight of those things. Also, I don’t think there’s a shortage of angry people due to the traffic in any country. We’ve mentioned your blog multiple times already but haven’t really delved into it much. Please tell us about your blog, its mission and what you hope people take away from the excellent details you put into each post.

Silke: Two things I want to achieve: I want to inspire you to go out and explore. Not necessarily to go to exactly the same places but to see the world with different eyes: to take note of the little things that can make you happy, and to open yourself up to new experiences. And then there is also the informative part where I want to help you get started on your own adventure by providing useful information. I try as much as possible to write about my own experiences rather that producing a journalistic copy, which I hope will make a visit to Happiness and Things so much more personal and believable.

Up Up and a Bear: Thank you so much Silke for giving us a glimpse into your wonderful blog and travel life. It’s been my pleasure talking to you and I hope we get to talk again soon. Please keep providing us with excellent trip details and tips to encourage the traveler in all of us to come out and play.

Please visit Happiness and Things for all of Silke’s previous and upcoming posts. Also check her out on Instagram @hapnthings (the pictures in this post are a preview of what you’ll see on her beautiful account) and hang out with her on Pinterest at https://jp.pinterest.com/happinessthings/.

Like this interview? Check out how to travel the world without selling all your stuff with Brigid and Adam.

Qatar airways, offers, deals, travel, holidays

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Stop what you’re doing and listen here. I’ll tell you the best places to go far and near. But don’t just take my words for it because I’ve compiled this list from all other lists. I even added my own top 16 for which this comprehensive destination tally consists. Using all the sources listed at the end of this post, I counted the destinations common to them all. Then the ones that got the most “votes” made it on this honorary 2016 top destinations wall. If you’re an enginerd like me, you’ll appreciate the data collections. If you hate stats, then just feast your eyes on these delectable picture selections.

Giant picture of the data that’ll hurt your eyes

data showing which source chose which destinations

data showing which source chose which destinations

An even bigger picture that shows the results

results showing the top destinations as voted by various sources

results showing the top destinations as voted by various sources


1. US National Parks

US National Parks top this year’s best destinations as it is the centennial of the National Parks founding – so go out there and explore these places astounding.

Arches National Park

Arches National Park

2. Australia

With sunshine aplenty, there’s no shortage of outdoor activities for you to enjoy.

Beautiful Australia - by Hai Linh Truong

Beautiful Australia – by Hai Linh Truong

3. Cuba

With relations between Cuba and America opened, now’s the time to see Cuba!

4. France

Love is in the air, and so is the aroma of fresh French baguettes and wine.

France by Dennis Jarvis

France by Dennis Jarvis

5. Japan

Cherry blossoms, sushi, and everything in between – what else can you ask for?

Japan by amira_a

Japan by amira_a

6. Spain

Beautiful coastline and beautiful people.

Spain by Les Haines

Spain by Les Haines

7. China

Great Wall, Beijing, Kung-Fu, and Chinese food.

8. Hawaii

Get lei’d. ‘Nough sei’d.


9. Brazil

2016 Olympics.


10. Italy

The birthplace of the gelato I hope – they have some good wine and olive oil too.


11. England

The Queen lives there – or something like that.

England by Ian Muttoo

England by Ian Muttoo

12. Morocco

Culture, sights and sounds that’ll overwhelm your senses.

Morocco by Jamie McCaffrey

Morocco by Jamie McCaffrey

13. California

NorCal versus SoCal – let the debate begin!


14. New York

New York is more than just the Big Apple, you jerks – there are also small apples.

New York by Henry Hemming

New York by Henry Hemming

15. South Africa

Let’s forget about the vuvuzelas okay?

South Africa by Celso Flores

South Africa by Celso Flores

16. Ecuador

Nature surrounds us all!

Simon Matzinger

Ecuador by Simon Matzinger


These beautiful images are provided by the talented people of Flickr, please check them out!

Travel on my friends!

Links where you can find the various media outlets’ rankings:

















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