Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Consider Traveling in the Most Peaceful Countries.

No matter if you’re an experienced traveler or just started traveling, you should always think about your safety before choosing to travel to a certain destination. Many countries in the world are perfectly safe, but not all of them, unfortunately.

Consider travelling in the most Peaceful Countries

In some countries, a combination of poverty and a different political system can lead to the higher crime rate, which can be potentially dangerous not only for locals but also for tourists and travellers. Therefore, it’s always recommended to check properly the current political and economic situation of the country you’re planning to visit in order to avoid potential trouble and risk.

Luckily, the majority of world countries are pretty safe to visit and you’ll probably never face the situation where your life is endangered. In this article, Agness and Cez will highlight the most peaceful countries everyone should put on their bucket list. Also, these etramping bloggers will share some travel advice on how to make sure a certain country is safe to travel around or not.

How to Check Level of Peace in Countries

Before each trip, we highly recommend you to check the peace level of the country you’re planning to visit. You can do it easily and effectively by using a Global Peace Index Map. That is an interactive map where you can navigate the country you plan to visit and start your safety research from there.

Go on! But not before checking the peace index.
Let's Go! But not before checking the peace index!

A great thing about this interactive map is that if you click on a given country, you will be provided with detailed statistics covering each aspect that has an impact on a country’s safety. In this way, you will be familiar with the current situation in the country you desire to travel to and based on that you can decide if this is a safe or unsafe country for you. It’s a great starting point but try not to stop your research here.

Based on our experience and the Global Peace Index Map research, we came up with top 5 most peaceful travel destinations you can visit without putting yourself at risk. We bet you’ve heard of them before and can’t wait to visit, if you haven’t done it yet.


The safest country to visit is Iceland. It has the highest level of peace due to its democratic system, good economic situation, gender equality and low to now incarceration. What is more, its educational system is perfectly organized and free for foreign students so you can not only travel to Iceland for your holiday but also stay there a bit longer and study at the university.

Gorgeous mountain, gorge, ravine landscape of Iceland
Gorgeous mountain, gorge, ravine landscape of Iceland

Iceland is a Nordic state located in the Atlantic Ocean. The whole island is thinly populated which leaves the majority of stunning nature untouched. You will enjoy spending time outside and exploring the island. Depending on your preferences, Iceland offers many things to do and experience. You should try out their natural spas, watch Northern Lights, try their healthy cuisine and observe Geysers. Travelers who are passionate about outdoor activities will enjoy their time in this most peaceful country in the world.


New Zealand is an attractive travel destination for millions of people who want to start out a new life. It has a world-class educational system, a great healthcare, low crime rate and outstanding social progress which makes it a perfect place to visit, live and study.

Aoraki Mount Cook Mountain New Zealand
Aoraki Mount Cook mountain range in New Zealand.

Also, New Zealand is an ideal country for active travelers who love nature. There are many hiking trails out there (check out Wai-O-Tapu) that will lead you to the stunning volcanic craters that are often placed on the list of most surreal places in the world. For adventurous travelers, there are many activities to do like bungy jumping, swimming with dolphins, rafting and hiking that will provide you with breathtaking views of nature. Some of the most adventurous travelers should definitely try skydive in Abel Tasman which will give them an overview of both islands of New Zealand.


The European tour wouldn’t be completed without visiting a culture-rich Portugal. This country has showed a significant improvement of its peace level in the last ten years. Low cost of living, good relationships with neighbouring countries, perfect climate and friendly people - all of these make Portugal very interesting country to visit. Travelers who love adventures will definitely find Portugal a great spot for many outdoor activities. Did you know that Portugal is the most famous destination in Europe for water activities? If you’re into surfing, then you will definitely enjoy the waves and vibe in Portugal.

Street Performers Lisbon Portugal
Street Performers in Lisbon Portugal

Furthermore, Portugal’s rich culture and history will make you wanna come back here and learn more about this country.


Austria is one of the richest countries in the world, well-known for its low crime rate and strict recycling laws. It’s located in the central Europe so reaching Austria from Slovenia, Switzerland or Hungary is very easy.

Austria belvedre Vienna night
The Stunning Belvedre Palace in Austria, Vienna at night.

Austria will definitely amaze you with its great architecture, various castles, great cafes and delicious chocolate, obviously. If you love skiing and other winter sports, then you should definitely visit Austria’s beautiful mountains this winter!


Denmark records a shallow corruption level and it is always placed high on the list of happiest countries in the world. Both health and education system are advanced and free for its residents so it’s a very desirable country to live in and study.

Boats in Nyhavn, Copenhagen, Denmark.
Boats in Nyhavn, Copenhagen, Denmark.

On top of that, Denmark has a very low crime rate and quite a good political situation, thus it is currently considered as one of the most peaceful and tourist friendly countries in the world.

We recommend you to visit Copenhagen - the city where the majority of people ride bikes to the school and work, you will be exposed to remarkable architecture and friendly vibe all around. Fun fact at the end: it is planned that Copenhagen will be carbon-neutral by the 2025!

Which peaceful countries did you visit?
What are your recommendations?

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

8 Years of Goodness And THAT Blog Named 'My Yatra Diary...'

Arti at My Yatra Diary...

Wisdom begins in wonder.

~ Socrates.

We are 8 today. Me and My Yatra Diary… As I sit down to type the post, I realize it’s not easy to put words to my thoughts today. How to get across an impact which is more transformational in nature by weaving everything into a single blog post? Everything… thoughts, feelings, emotions… one life!? In honor of what I have learnt from this journey, I am still going to give this a try but not without making an upfront confession: Right now, behind the curtain of my eyes, it’s all becoming a bit of a blur…


'Let's name this Padchinna' (Padchinna is Footsteps in English). No, retorted my brother enthusiastically, My Yatra Diary is better! (Now you know, I was SEO-ically retarded right from the word go). How does it matter anyway…? I thought as I gave in to his zest, after all it was his idea of starting this thing called travel blog and he was the jumping jack on a hot tin roof – not me.

Writing my thoughts puts things in perspective

So, it's not gonna be easy.
It's gonna be really hard.
We're gonna have to work at this every day,
but I want to do that because I want you.
I want all of you, forever, you and me, every day.
~ Nicholas Sparks.

There was no way I could possibly know at that time… this wasn't a mere travel blog name idea, but a huge blessing in disguise coming to me. There was no way I could possibly know at that time… that by pushing me onto an unknown path all my pre-existing beliefs of a ‘perfect secure life’ (I am having a strong urge to sneak in the word 'ideal' in there as well) were to be called into question. And that, I was setting foot on a momentous journey that was to change me and transform me in ways we both could never have imagined before.


IB groomed me. What’s more, their way of grooming was unlike the ones you’d find in any so called success strategy lists that we have today: it was much more simple and one that instantly resonated with me. At IB, everyone simply, purely celebrated everyone else – the quirkiness, the madness, the friendliness, the stubbornness, the goofiness – everything was embraced wholeheartedly, as it was, in all its totality, no questions asked, no eyebrows raised. IB was far more than just a place, it was a community, a culture, a family, a family that was founded in a kind of humble, sincere love that made us believe in ourselves and then in our dreams as well.

I fondly remember winning trips to Japan and Melbourne and some more prizes as part of various contests held by IB. For someone who stepped into the community as a nobody, carrying a blank pen and paper in hand, with eyes twinkling in buoyancy, and no prior inclination towards the writing medium or reading, such appreciation and acknowledgement of my most tiny, nondescript efforts filled me such an euphoric feeling that life and living itself felt like nothing shot of a beautiful dream. The entire phase proved to be a very humbling experience for me, expanding my blob of confidence and swelling my heart in abundant gratitude.

Feather on the shore

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched -
they must be felt with the heart.
~ Helen Keller.

They say, be patient... God brings you everything at the right time. Perhaps, it was time for the shy girl to come out of her shell, make some noise and find her own feet find her own wings and fly. I still struggle to step out of my shell sometimes and speak my heart even after all these years but I am a learner and a patient one at that – I'm confident I'm getting there with every passing day.


'We will see you here one day' he said pointing towards the article printed in the Explore section of the Speaking Tree newspaper. 'But my writings are nowhere as good to appear here.' I tried to convince him.

You write beautiful, I always look forward to reading your blogs.

For as far as I can remember, my family has held dreams for me when I was too young or unconscious to hold them on my own, my dad being the pioneer among them all. Not the one to lavish expensive gifts on her daughter, the best one that he did give me was having believed in me and My Yatra Diary. The only credit I can take upon myself is that I believed in him and whatever he told me. So, yes, may be I did in fact write beautiful if HE loved reading them. And may be, just may be, I could one day appear in The Speaking Tree as well.

Published in Speaking Tree

Just remember, you can do anything you set your mind to,
but it takes action, perseverance, and facing your fears. ~ Gillian Anderson

This happened during one of our breakfast sessions, around 4 to 5 years back. After a few failed attempts to get through, I was delighted when I finally made him proud this year. Not one but two of my articles from Soulie Series were accepted to be published in the newspaper subsequently. To taste the sweetness of print, to reach a benchmark envisioned, after all the hard work of many long years felt like tasting nectar. I also got interviewed on Radio One 94.3 for a quick travel chat and just recently, one of my articles appeared in Life Positive magazine this month, a magazine both, me and father, have loved reading for a few years now.


My blogging yatra does not come without its ups and downs, without its own hiccups and speedbreakers and rough days but what has made the journey so far so easy is the genuine joy I feel while holding the pen or tapping the computer keys to create something I can call my own. I feel like I am an extension of my diary and she is an extension of me. A kind of fit which is incredibly rare and highly liberating. And did I mention magical? Honestly, I can ask for no other blessing.

Bird in free flight

O, do not pray for easy lives.
Pray to be stronger men!
Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers.
Pray for powers equal to your tasks!
Then the doing of your work shall be no miracle.
But you shall be a miracle.
Every day you shall wonder at yourself,
at the richness of life which has come to you by the grace of God.
~ Phillips Brooks.

It is only by some divine design that my blog sprang to life 8 years ago despite my incompetence in the arena and that I continue to feel empowered to fill the pages of my dear diary despite the rapidfire changes in the industry. Looking back at all these fragments today, I cannot help but wonder at the richness of life that has come to me by the grace of God. The confidence to embrace my vulnerability, to be sincere and authentic in my words that bind our hearts together, the joy of learning and to share my perspective and voice without apprehension has undoubtedly been some of my biggest achievements of my blogging journey.

Anniversary card for blog by Mohini

I don't cry because we've been separated by distance,
and for a matter of years. Why?
Because for as long as we share the same sky and breathe the same air,
we're still together.
~Donna Lynn Hope

Surely, one of the greatest gifts of this little space of mine is to have been surrounded by all you kindred spirits in my life. Your beautiful comments, encouraging support and appreciative feedback have seen my heart through the good, bad and beautiful and have been my biggest motivation through all these years telling me all my labour is not in vain. Over the past many years, all of you have left an indelible mark on me and enriched my life in more ways than you can possibly imagine enhancing my path of curiosity, growth and learning.

Thank you, Friends.

It's not the length of time we know someone that makes them so special.
It's what they brought into our lives.
~ Sandra Kring.

And all this has been possible for me only because of that one someone… My Yatra Diary.  She has been my teacher, my friend, my mentor, my everything rolled into one. She has given me the breathing space and the freedom to just be besides so many wonderful experiences for which I have no words to thank her for. All I can do is pray to always be able to give my best to her.

There is still a lot that remains to be shared but as I said, it's not easy... as much as I am trying to hold on to all these feelings right now, I understand the best way to treasure them is still to let them all go... free... so that they can fly, and be, just like me.

Canoe on a river in Allahabad

8 years back I took a leap of faith and started a yatra.
8 years hence, that yatra continues…
is life.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Forget what you’ve been told, let’s travel in the cold!

In today’s world, holiday plans are steering away from traditional expectations. People are choosing to go for thrilling travel experiences rather than the ordinary poolside retreat. We live in a digital age where everything is available to us through a screen. You can compare holiday packages and get more for your money with travel tech sites. You can take a look on internet maps and automatically view your next route. At the click of a button, you’ve suddenly signed up for the trip of a lifetime! Enjoy diverse opportunities and see why travelers, like Agness and Cez, are choosing cold over hot holidays...

Snowy white dreamy weather

Innovative Igloos.

Ever wanted to sleep in an igloo village and live like an Eskimo?! That’s just one of the perks of an adventure into the cold climate. Igloos are astounding architectural creations. To witness these innovative houses is great but to take one step further and stay in one is amazing. Ditch the social norm of staying in yet another hotel. Treat yourself and nestle into an icy cave.

Freezing Igloo Village

Igloo villages are becoming very trendy due to their interiors. Most igloo hotels will have the majority of their furniture made out of ice. From ice bars, ice beds and ice sofas, there are so many cool design features! Don’t worry though, the rooms and bathrooms ARE heated. Usually, at a good igloo hotel you’ll be provided with reindeer blankets and saunas to keep your body warm. If you select an igloo looking up to the northern lights then you’re going to have a superb experience! Snow villages add a little spice to your vacation. It’s something totally different and worth trying out...

Custom Cruises.

Want to view the sights by a calm and relaxing cruise? Float along the ocean and stay in a cosy custom cruise. Instead of the usual beach holidays, Greenland cruises are proving to be rather popular in the past couple of years. You can get a lot more for your money as your accommodation is portable and saves you a lot of flight time! Sail around the icebergs and gaze at glaciers. You may also be lucky enough to spot a few seals and polar bears on your exploration.

Custom Cruise Ship

Onboard, you have access to SO many services. There are spa treatments and massage centres for those stressful body aches. There are usually hot tubs (great for the cold!) and childcare services available for family groups. You literally don’t even need to leave the ship. Of course, they’ll be providing you with a variety of day tours and expeditions so that you get the best of both worlds. With this option, you can still stay warm and snuggled up in your cabin whilst the ship sails around freezing cold waters. What could be better than that!?

Spontaneous Snow Sports.

For those adrenaline junkies, snowy holidays offer extreme upgrades from those beach banana boat rides. When it comes to sports in the snow, skiing and snowboarding are very common. Yet, there are so many more activities available! For instance, have you ever tried tobogganing? Simply slide down an icy track and enjoy the freedom of this unique sport. Whizzing down fast snow slopes isn’t just for kids - adults love it too!

Winter Skating Snow Sports

Incredible ice also equates to an incredible ice skating session. There’s nothing better than sliding across natural ice with a stunning backdrop behind you. Holidays in the cold can provide you with luxurious landscapes rather than made ice rinks. Skate across the scenery and enjoy earth’s simple pleasures. Life is too short not to try...

Food by the Fire.

We all love sitting by a fire and roasting marshmallows. Imagine doing that but in somewhere special like Greenland or Antarctica! Campfires are a lovely way to get your friends and family together. If you’re an independent explorer, you may find these fires useful for making friends. People love to share stories round the camp and enjoy a few roasted snacks.

Marshmallows Campfire

There’s something very relaxing about chilling by a campfire. Perhaps it is the noise of the wood crackling and the great circle of companions. According to Huffington Post, there is an evolutionary reason behind the enjoyment. Apparently, watching a fire lowers our blood pressure and it gazing at its beauty helps to soothe our soul. Dating back to the prehistoric times, it is something that has remained fluent through our holiday activities.

Cosy Cabins.

If an igloo village doesn’t appeal to you, there’s always the classic cosy cabin. When you picture a winter getaway, you imagine a cabin in the woods. There are so many gorgeous wood cabins in the world that are anticipating your arrival. Just like a cruise, these cabins are usually fully equipped with all your necessities. If you’re lucky enough to stay in one surrounded by forests, then you can take daily nature walks and discover the land via foot.  Just to warn you, you may want to take insect repellent with you in case you’re by the water and in close proximity to mosquitoes.

Banana trees Cabin Clouds

Additionally, cabins bring you and your fellow travellers closer together. You’ll be far away from city stress and endless work calls. Your focus will be on your itinerary and what to cook on the barbecue for dinner. Peace and quiet in today’s hectic world is hard to come by. That’s why renting out a cabin is in style. You get to reconnect with nature and your inner self. Quite often we are on autopilot and forget to listen to what we truly want in life. Distractions are everywhere and your time suddenly becomes someone else’s to own. Therefore, if you want an adventure that offers fresh air and a fresh mind, then a venture into the colder climate may be your ideal getaway!

Which would you rather- a hot or cold adventure?