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If you love haunted houses, spooky places with f*cked up histories, listen up.

As the holiday for thrills and chills are almost upon us, ditch the local creepy haunt and stick these on your bucket list.

For a real scare, Holiday Guru has hooked us up with some of the most terrifyingly haunted places on the planet. 

1. Island of the Dolls, Mexico

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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First up is one you might be familiar with, chilling on a small island outside Mexico City is probably one of the most freakish tributes to a young girl.

A man named Don Juliano Santana Barrera was the caretaker and lone inhabitant of the island, and legend tells that he found a young girl's body who had drowned in the canals

In the 1950s, he hung her doll to a tree to remember her little life, and supposedly many believe the man was then possessed by the girl's spirit – JUST, NOPE.

He began decorating the place with more and more dolls, turning it into a bizarre wonderland of cracked, dirty toys.

If you want to see this little hellish island, grab a boat and get ready to see one of the weirdest collections of dolls in the world.

2. Poveglia, Venice

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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If creepy dolls ain't your thing, why not try the bubonic plague?

This island in the Venetian lagoon was home to imprisoned people suffering from the disease in the late 18th century, which means there are thousands of pissed off souls lurking here.

Get out your ghostbuster gear, as the island also hosted a mental asylum in 1922, and the doctors were reportedly d*cks, as they tortured patients.

The story goes that they would perform crude lobotomies and using hammers and drills as surgical instruments. – which is probably why the island is said to have a morbid atmosphere.

Tourists have reported screams and if your travels aren't entertaining enough, why not risk becoming possessed, as some people say visitors to the island have been – joyous. 

3. Aokigahara, Japan

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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At the base of Mount Fuji, forget the compass as the paranormal activity is rife. 

Aokigahara, is better known as Japan's ‘suicide forest’. The forest has sadly become known as the world’s second most popular place to take one’s life. 

The forest’s malevolent energies are said to swallow up unfortunate visitors and the atmosphere is unlike anywhere else.

And, if you do frequent the forest, just don't make a Youtube video about it – *cough, cough*

4. Centralia – Pennsylvania Ghost Town

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Don't fall for the pretty colours in the image, this used to be a high way and there's a very good reason why nature is reclaiming this city.

The town of Centralia, Pennsylvania is a modern-day ghost town because they suffered a coal mine fire in 1962 – which is still burning today.

It's a real-life horror story as people began to fall ill as lethal levels of carbon monoxide billowed towards the surface.

Sinkholes literally appear in people’s back gardens – one of which nearly killed one young boy. Fewer than 10 people live here today.

While the town isn’t necessarily haunted, it does get an influx of curious, seek-thrilling tourists around Halloween. 

5. The witches of Salem, Massachusetts

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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In the late 17th-century, the children of Salem Village, Massachusetts experienced something rather baffling. Cue the young ladies going into fits, making strange noises, throwing objects and contorting their bodies.

Instead of looking for a logical explanation, witchcraft was the obvious cause.

Hysteria erupted which led to the infamous Salem Witch Trials when over a dozen people were executed.

The judges involved in the trials and future sheriffs died under mysterious circumstances and today, strange noises and mysterious floating lights have been reported at the local cemetery. 

6. Greyfriars Kirkyard, Edinburgh

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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You couldn't pay me enough money to visit this place. Why I hear you scream? – Well, only controlled visits at night for ghost tours are allowed – which sends alarm bells ringing.

Would you actually risk being abused? Visitors often leave with bruises, scratches, bite marks and burns and fainting is a regular occurrence – that's some serious head rush.

But why is this place so locked with a dark aura? Well, it is said that the hundreds-year-old graveyard is protected by the ghost of George McKenzie, a ruthless judge who imprisoned and starved over 1,000 Scottish Presbyterians in the 1600s – So don't f*ck with him.

7. Ballygally Castle, Northern Ireland

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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This tale involves one evil husband and the male ego. Lady Isabella Shaw was unfortunately wed to James Shaw and couldn't produce a male heir – it's your swimmers, mate. 

When she gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, James snatched the child and locked Lady Shaw in the room, leaving her to stave.

In a bid to escape, some say she fell from the window, others say she was pushed – either way, it's a grim way to die.

She has remained in the hotel ever since, gently knocking on bedroom doors and walking the corridors, looking for her child. Today, you can lap up luxury in the hotel and visit the “Ghost Room”.

8. Lawang Sewu Semarang, Indonesia

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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A truly spooky place, Lawang Sewu translates to “a thousand doors”.

During WWII, the Japanese used its basement to imprison, torture and kill Indonesian nationalists and Dutch colonials.

Among the ghostly residents, there's one badass b*tch, a Dutch woman who supposedly committed suicide inside as well as the beheaded rebels who were killed by the Japanese.

 9. Château de Brissac, France

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Château de Brissac  (@chateaudebrissac) on

You really couldn't get more cliche than this: in 1477, Lady Charlotte de Breze was caught doing the dirty on her husband with Jacques de Breze. 

In a fit of rage, her husband murdered her and since the incident, guests have reported seeing the ghost through the window of the tower room of the castle’s chapel, with holes where her nose and mouth should be.

Her moans are said to be heard throughout the chateau early in the morning.

10. Bhangarh Fort, India

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Last but not least, we meet an abandoned 17th-century fort, known as one of the most haunted places in India. So much so, tourists and locals under government orders are forbidden to enter the fort after the sun sets. 

As the tale goes, a magician, Singhia fell in love with the beautiful Princess Ratnavati. The tantrik attempted to use magic to win her over, but the Princess learned of his plan and sentenced him to death. Before Singhia died, he cursed the fort's residents to die and for the surrounding houses to remain roofless forever.

Nowadays, the surrounding village is abandoned and Bhangarh Fort attracts plenty of curious tourists who have reported hearing the screams of ghosts and seeing strange lights. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Josh Perrett / Bristol  (@josh.perrett) on

You couldn't offer me enough to get me to willingly go to any of these places.

But if you're brave, adventurous and curious, these are a definite in the travel plans, but remember – BE RESPECTFUL.

If restrictions exist, they're for your own safety – don't be that person.

 

Feature image credit: Josh Perrett/Instagram

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There are few better ways to spend a Sunday afternoon than a spontaneous cross-country day trip, and with so many fantastic destinations dotted around this little island of ours, there's no reason to ever be stuck for something to do on your day off. 

Ireland is bursting with pockets of cultural, scenery and heritage just begging to be explored, and seeing as most of them will only cost you the price of petrol money or bus fare, it'd be rude not to, really. 

Here's our top five picks:

1. Glencar Waterfall

Situated near the Leitrim-Sligo border, Ireland's most beautiful waterfall flows from a height of 50ft and once served as inspiration for the William Butler Yeats poem, The Stolen Child.

The relaxed atmosphere offers the perfect escape from urban life and is a popular day trip destination for families, couples and friends alike.

There are picnic and café facilities available on site, as well as ample parking and tranquillity for days.

2. Lough Derg

Easily accessible from all corners of the country, the Lakelands Lough Derg are absolutely bursting with scenery and heritage just waiting to be discovered.

Located between the counties of Clare, Tipperary and Galway, the lake offers a huge variety of water activities including stand up paddling, sailing, cruising canoeing and fishing.

And for those of you who don't fancy getting wet, there are plenty of scenic walking routes to explore and local food to be sampled.

 

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3. Kinnagoe Bay – Donegal

One of Ireland's most beautiful 'hidden' beaches, this small stretch of golden sand is completely enclosed by a sloping hillside, making it the perfect spot for some serious rest and relaxation… well once you get down the hill, of course.

There are a handful of parking spaces available, however, if you're not lucky enough to nab one of these, you'll need to continue your journey on foot.

The steep descent does require some hard work, and you'll probably fall more than once, but hey, it'll all be worth it when you get a glimpse of that breathtaking ocean view.

 

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4. Cobh – Cork

Popular among tourists and local alike, Cork's colourful waterfront town is one of the most charming Ireland has to offer.

Visitors can grab a bite at one of the many bars and restaurants, or soak up the history at the Titanic experience.

Or, if you fancy, you can even hire your very own self drive boat and take it for a spin around the world's second largest natural harbour.

 

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5. The Japanese Gardens – Kildare

Created between the years of 1906 – 1910, the world famous Japanese Gardens were laid out by Japanese gardeber Tass Eida and his son Minoru.

Designed to symbolise the 'Life of Man', the gardens offer vistors a uniquely peaceful experience as they stroll through the seamless fusion of Eastern and Western cultures.

Oh, and if you fancy a bit of retail therapy to go along with all the soul searching, Kildare Village is just a 4 minute drive away – just saying.

 

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The Bahamas is celebrating 45 years of independence this year, it was formerly part of the British Commonwealth.

Britain clamped down on piracy in the country in the 18th century, but the country remains infamous for smuggling to this day.

Located at the edge of the Bermuda Triangle, it embodies Caribbean perfection as a mass of blissful islands emerging from the sea.

It is an archipelago of over 700 islands, not including its 2000 coral cays, but only 14 are inhabited. The word 'Bahamas' means 'shallow water', and the country has a reputation for its swimming pigs, pirates and crystal clear water!

Tourism makes up almost half of the nation’s economy, making it one of the only 50 countries in the world where tourists outnumber the residents!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by The Bahamas (@visitthebahamas) on

First of all, is it expensive?

It certainly isn’t cheap, but there are ways to easily cut costs, such as travelling off-season or giving some of the majorly exclusive tourist activities a miss. You would need minimum $1000 for a two week stay, not including flights! It’s the third most expensive country on earth to reside in.

How can I get there?

Flights from Dublin to any of the main islands range between €500-€900, depending on the time of the year. It’s significantly more economical to fly outside of the summer season, and flying to private islands is more costly, but lavish!
 

What are the best islands to go to?

Each island is its own treat for the senses. They are full of movement, smells, sounds, colours and have world famous colonial style Caribbean beach hotels, and exemplify tropical paradise.

The island of Grand Bahama is where all the popular beach resorts are, but prepare to see thousands of American tourists from the nearby Florida state. Other islands include: Exhumas, which is perfect for island hopping, Eleuthera, Paradise Island, Harbour Island, Inagua and the illustrious Abaco islands.

The Abaco islands are home to some of the most renowned diving, sailing and snorkelling spots in the Bahamas. The only place which is slightly unsafe for tourists is New Providence Island, where criminal activity has spiked in recent years.

Sadly, this includes the capital of Nassau, where most crimes occur in the downtown areas. If you do decide to go to Nassau, stay in the resort areas only. The parts which do not include the resorts have warnings issued by the US State Department.

The beautiful Out Islands are the best option for tourists, they have all the most legendary accommodation spots, water activities, and stunning beaches the nation has to offer.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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What accommodation spots do you recommend staying in?

Accommodation in the Bahamas ranges from high end resort hotels to peaceful private islands to isolated beaches and gorgeous guesthouses.

There are very few hostels on the islands, but Airbnb is a great option, seeing as budget hotels even cost minimum $90 a night. You can also rent some exquisite apartments as a cheaper option than a resort hotel.

When looking for a hotels or resorts to stay in, The Big Game Club is an attractive five star offering in North Bimini. Coral Sands and the Runaway Hill Club are two stunning beachfront hotels on Harbour Island which are admired by travellers from all over the globe.

There is also a small Couchsurfing community, which is much more low-priced form of accommodation if you are on a tight budget. Camping on the beach is an alternative choice.

If you are on a couples getaway, Chez Pierre on Long Island are a group of adorable rustic style bungalows on a deserted beach. We guarantee that you won’t find anywhere else as romantic! There are some absolutely stunning rental houses in the Bahamas, you’ll be so glad you had this experience, trust us.

For a family trip, the capital of Nassau is home to The Cove Atlantis: a massive family resort with its own cinema, casino, beach, water park and essentially every activity you can imagine.

Your kids will never be bored! The Graycliff Hotel is an alternative option for staying in the capital, with two pools, a range of glorious gardens, a cigar factory, restaurant and wine cellar, as well as sun terraces.

An impressive option on Cat Island is Fernandez Bay Village, 18 beachfront cottages with direct access to the beach, the Tiki Bar and a private patio. Greenwood Beach Resort on Cat Island is an idyllic hotel with tropical style rooms in a secluded but blissful area on the beach.

On Grand Bahama, try staying in the Bell Channel Inn, it’s a bright pink hotel on the beach and is cheaper than most hotels of the same standard.

What is the best way to get around?

Renting a bike will save you from using the expensive taxi services. For just $20 it’s great value, and is much safer than renting a car.

In terms of taxis and minibuses, the popular 6 BSD water-taxis are a fun experience and cheap as well! Inter-island flights are an efficient and affordable option if you are doing a large-scale trip around the main parts of the Bahamas.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Food and Drink

Drinking rum is far cheaper than any other form of alcohol on the island. Another exception to the expensive alcohol prices is local beer!

Most food is imported to the Bahamas as the country grows very little, and is therefore highly expensive, but cooking your own food would cut some of the costs. Eating locally is one of the cheaper things to do, Westernised dishes cost up to $25 per dish, whereas local fish food is more in the $10 range.

If you visit Xuma’s Restaurant and Bar on the private island of Highbourne Cay, the chef will prepare whatever fish you caught that day. Max’s Conch Bat and Grill for a casual, affordable and quirky roadside restaurant in Long Island.

There are licence plates from all over the world on the ceiling, plastic mermaids, stuffed monkeys, paper currencies and knick-knacks also feature! The Chat ‘N’ Chill beachfront restaurant on Stocking Island is also great for lounging on the beach and local cuisine.

Definitely try the rum punch parties, cocktails, and local fish dishes, and don’t leave without having Sky Juice: a Bahamian classic cocktail made from gin and sweetened coconut water. ‘Sip Sip’ on Harbour Island’s pink sand beach has ideal cocktails, you won’t want to leave.

Check out Tru Bahamian Food Tours. The notable three-hour venture includes some stops at the finest hole in the wall eateries off the beaten path. We recommend trying some of the country’s trademark fried conch- a Bahamian speciality.

Things to Do

One of the best things to do in the Bahamas is to explore the magnificent underwater cave system, in gorgeous clear turquoise water. Explore the white sandy beaches, lounge by the ocean and play volleyball on the beach. You can even feed the stingrays!

Discover the palm savannahs, tropical forests and cliffs around the islands. There s also literally every water-sport known to mankind to try, as well as swimming with the aquatic life.

The aquarium at the luxurious Atlantis Paradise Island resort has a total of 14 lagoons, eight million gallons of water and more than 50,000 aquatic animals from 250 species, not to mention a giant waterslide running down the centre.

Don't forget to bathe with the pigs! Major Cay, otherwise known as Pig Beach- is renowned for its pig residents who laze in the shallows all day (posing with tourists, no doubt)
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Go and see the Pompey Museum of Slavery and Emancipation- smuggling and servitude were a major part of the country’s identity until 1838, when slavery ended. The British founded Nassau in 1650 and it became the historical spot where Blackbeard the pirate challenged British rule.

The capital is overflowing with fun pirate forts and museums, and a huge open-air aquarium, don’t miss out! You can also visit San Salvador to find more history, the place where Christopher Columbus allegedly stopped in 1492 when he entered the West Indies.

Climbing Cat Island’s Mount Alvernia is a must, the mountain is topped by one of the best scenic monasteries in the world.

​​​​​​​Jumping into Dean's Blue Hole, the world's second deepest blue sinkhole, is another popular spot for having a unique experience. It’s a famous place to go diving and the location is surrounded by cliffs for those brave enough to leap off.
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Other things to note

-Currency= Bahamian Dollar (BSD), which is a ratio of 1:1 to the US dollar, which means you can spend American dollars freely there but will most likely receive Bahamian dollars in return.

-Gambling is legal for non-Bahamians visiting the islands

-Language= Everyone speaks English in the Bahamas, but their own colloquial type of creole dialect

-Be careful if you decide to visit on a family holiday during the March-April time of year, this is when the massive influx of US students come down for Spring Break to party!

-Tipping around 15% is the norm, but most of the time a service charge is already added to your restaurant bill

-Uber only runs in Broward and Palm Beach, and all cars drive on the left hand side of the road

-You may be required to show your return plane ticket before entering the country

-Negotiate rates up front with taxis, minibuses etc, most of them don’t run on meters so it’s easy to get scammed!

-Make sure the watersport equipment which you rent is in proper working order, as watersports in the Bahamas are not regulated

-Bahamian people are very formal in how they address you, they normally refer to you by your last name and shake your hand; you should do the same in return.

-June through to November is hurricane season, so make sure to check weather reports and talk to your airline to avoid your flights being cancelled due to bad weather.

-The tap water is safe to drink, but avoid unpeeled or uncooked fruit and vegetables in case of tummy trouble.

-The people are known for their politeness and friendliness, the best way they can get to know you is by sharing a meal with you.

-Dress formally in the restaurants and if you are invited to dinner, dressing informally in the Bahamas is often misconstrued as a lack of respect towards your hosts. Watch your table manners too, they take dining very seriously.
 

Enjoy your trip to the most beautiful place on earth. Leaving that oasis will be tough!

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Whether it's a girl's trip to a Spanish beach resort or a backpacking adventure through South East Asia, there are a few essentials you can't afford to forget about.

While travelling is one of the most exciting and enriching things we can do, leaving the important items at home has the potential to ruin your trip.

Many of the standards we keep up at home fly out the window as soon as we step onto foreign soil, but there are some things you always need to bear in mind.

From eyewear, to health products, to electronic lifesavers, here's your essential guide to everything you'll need to take with you when travelling, wherever the destination.

Source: Pixabay

Carry-On

Your carry-on bag should always be reserved for the most important items, especially any relating to your health and wellbeing.

That means any medications you need should always be carry-on items, as well as any special equipment or health-related items that you need to function.

It's also a good idea to have some "travel versions" of items that you regularly use.

If you're visually impaired, your best bet is to bring contacts, no prescription needed, along with you in your backpack or handbag.

If you're worried about where to pick some up or have already left for the airport, it's now easier (and faster) than ever to get no RX contact lenses online.

Simply order your contacts without prescription from a trusted retailer and you'll receive them in no time. Similar rules apply to everyday items such as tampons, painkillers and bug-repellent sprays, all hang-luggage material.

Also make sure to pack a change of underwear and any device chargers in your carry-on – baggage going missing is not unheard of and these are things you don't want to be caught without!

Source: Shutterstock

Suitcase

Some items can be stuffed into your suitcase to be used upon arrival in your destination.

Make sure to pack clothing for every weather (and enough clothes for a few days at least), as well as however much makeup is needed to get you through the day.

It's also recommended that you pack a towel in case your accommodation doesn't provide one, as well as a sleeping bag liner in order to avoid any nasty surprises in a hostel dorm room bed.

Also make sure to throw in larger liquids such as moisturiser, shampoo, wet wipes (a true godsend) and any other toiletries you can think of, and you will be prepared.

Source: Pixabay

Electronics

The truly savvy traveller knows to take the right electronics on board with them.

Luckily, all you really need is an average modern smartphone, as long as you've downloaded the right apps.

Wherever you're going, consider downloaded apps specifically run by the public transport authorities of your destination. Also make sure to get apps detailing air pollution, temperature, pollen count and local SPV.

You can take steps towards meeting other successful women on the go with popular friendship apps such as MeetUp, so you can expand your global network.

The key to smart travel is looking after yourself. Once the essentials are taken care of, the rest will fall into place.

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As the dull overcast sky follow us all the way into work, our Instagram can reveal beautiful, sunny places.

Travel bloggers pout and strike a pose in front of the most world's most exotic and luxury locations.

But just how much do they get paid for taking the vacay? Well, get ready to be sick. 

A recent report by Hopper reveals exactly how much the globe's most well travelled grammers make per Instagram post – and we are only a tad bitter about the cash they rake in for taking a holiday *sigh*. 

1. Garret and Jessica Gee @thebucketlistfamily 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by The Bucket List Family (@thebucketlistfamily) on

Followers: 1.4 million Earnings per post: $23,000

It's a family affair taking top spot. Yes, The Bucket Family have rocketed their way to Instagram and Youtube fame when they sold off all their valuables and took to globe trotting for three years.

Now back in Hawaii, it'll be interesting to see what the family will get up to next and if they can keep their number one position in 2019.

2. Paul Nicklen @paulnicklen

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Paul Nicklen (@paulnicklen) on

Followers: 4.5 million Earnings per post: $9,250

Paul's feed is every animal lovers DREAM.

Filled with spectacular images of some of the globes rarest animals, it's easy to see why Paul is in high demand and can afford to charge so much.

3. Chris Burkard @chrisburkard

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by ChrisBurkard (@chrisburkard) on

Followers: 3.1 million Earnings per post: $8,800

Get ready to be blown away by the landscape shots Chris has taken.

His impressive content has earned him a place at number three, allowing him to add a neat price tag onto his ads.

4. Jack Morris @doyoutravel

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by JACK MORRIS (@doyoutravel) on

Followers: 2.8 million Earnings per post: $8,250

Jack's Instagram is one of goals, his snaps capture him lounging by crystal blue seas or coasting around the world with his partner.

It's no wonder he able to keep up this type of lifestyle as advertisers fork out a pretty penny to be featured on his gram.

5. Lauren Bullen @gypsea_lust

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by LAUREN BULLEN (@gypsea_lust) on

Followers: 2.1 million Earnings per post: $6,000

Animals, beaches and festivals. Lauren's feed has it all and it's not a surprise that advertisers will shell out for a post.

Her photographs look effortless and her all round tan is a clear mark that this gal enjoys warmer weather. 

6. Alex Strohl @alexstrohl

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Followers: 2 million Earnings per post: $5,750

Discover the world's hidden corners with Alex. 

The Instagram star captures the illusive side of life and he isn't afraid to investigate caves or jungles.

7. Leonie Hanne @leoniehanne

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Leonie Hanne | Ohhcouture (@leoniehanne) on

Followers: 1.8 million Earnings per post: $5,000

Not only are Leonie's travel posts on point, her fashion is too.

This gal seems to have every element down of what it takes to get that perfect Insta photo.

8. Louis Cole @funforlouis

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Louis Cole (@funforlouis) on

Followers: 1.4 million Earnings per post: $4,000

A familiar face to many, Louis took Insta by storm with his adventures, so we aren't one bit surprised to see him on the list.

His iconic hair paired with his wild side, makes him an instant hit on the social media platform.

9. Hannes Becker @hannesbecker

 
 
 
 
 

Followers: 1.3 million Earnings per post: $3,600

Fall in love with Hannes' gorgeously themed Insta, we are seriously in awe!

Through a lens, he manages to still-frame nature at its finest.

10. Tara Milk Tea @taramilktea

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Tara Milk Tea (@taramilktea) on

Followers: 1.1 million Earnings per post: $3,000

Finally, last but not least, we have Tara's page. Her Insta is bursting with vivid colours.

This gal knows how to stand out from the crowd and add some flare to your feed.

There you have it, now you know what your fav travel Insta stars are making when you see #ad.

If their feeds aren't enough to give you the travel bug, we don't know what will.

Excuse us, we are now off to scout for some cheap flights.

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Looking for a weekend break with a bit of a difference?

Why not look beyond Berlin and Amsterdam, and try some of the alternative destinations Europe has to offer.

Here's our top picks:

1. Bonn – Germany

Located on the banks of the Rhine in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, Bonn effortlessly combines a nostalgic historical flair with a lively urban vibe.

With a huge selection of top-rated museums and a picturesque riverside setting, Bonn is the perfect city for a relaxing weekend away.

Oh, and it's also home to a number of cherry blossom tunnelled streets, which are every bit as magical as they sound. 

2. Riga – Latvia

While Latvia's capital may have held onto its classic Gothic aesthetic, it's flamboyant art, trendy bar scene and youthful population give this vibrant city a fresh and modern vibe. 

The streets of the pedestrian-only Old Town are steeped with culture and seeing as art nouveau architecture makes up roughly one-third of all the buildings in the city centre, it's the ideal destination for art lovers who aren't afraid to let their hair down. 

3. Vilnius – Lithuania

This charming and compact city is the perfect destination for anyone looking for incredible value for money.

Visitors can immerse themselves in a warming sense of historical awareness, or simply soak up the culture in the city's bustling cafe scene.

What's more, the cobbled streets boast some of the most Instagrammable graffiti eastern Europe has to offer.

 

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4. Girona – Spain

Located just over 100km North East of Barcelona, the so called “City of the Four River” serves as the capital of the Girona Province in Catalonia.

Its winding streets and old city walls offer the perfect base for travellers who wish the explore the surrounding areas, and with Ryanair offering Irish passenegers a direct flight from Dublin, it's be rude not to, really.

5. Sintra – Portugal

Often described as a Portuguese fairytale, this picturesque town is nestled among the pine-covered hill of the Serra de Sintra.

A popular destination for those looking to take a day trip away from Lisbon, this magical resort is famous for its hilltop 19th-century Pena National Palace that boasts a whimsical design and spectacular views.

 

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6. Utrecht – The Netherlands

Often overlooked by tourists who instead flock to the neighbouring cities of Amsterdam and Rotterdam, this vibrant student centre offers all the charm of a mediaeval Dutch city – minus the stag parties.

Its canals are some of the prettiest in Europe and with world-class festivals, hip cafes and fascinating museums, it is truly The Netherland's hidden gem.

 

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We could easily spend hours lusting over all of the stunning homes on Airbnb. There are just so many beautiful properties dotted across the globe that we need to visit.

This summer is the busiest summer yet here in Ireland, with approximately 640,000 guests using Airbnb.

Airbnb is celebrating ten years in operation globally today. In honour of the momentous occasion, they have shared ten of the most wish listed properties on their site and we want to stay in them all.

If any of you are secretly rich then you need to book a stay at one of these wonderful spots. We are itching to jet off but we might need to enter the lotto first.

10: Waterfront with an extraordinary view, Kotor, Montenegro:

This waterfront terrace would make for the dream reading spot. You could spend the day soaking up the sun and delving into the pages of your favourite novel. This apartment is one of the most popular Airbnbs in Europe due to the incredible view of two Bay of Kotor islands.

9: The Cozy Palace, Marrakech, Morocco:

According to guests, the pictures of this spot simply don’t do it justice so we’ll just have to visit it in person. This restored riad features striking tiled archways and is the perfect place to unwind.

8: Off-grid ItHouse, Yucca Valley, CA, USA:

The house of California dreams. This peaceful destination is the perfect place to escape the dull realities of everyday. The desert location has no WiFi so you can enjoy a well-needed social media detox.

7: Bamboo-Eco cottage in Rice Fields, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia:

Be at one with nature in this heavenly bamboo hut. You can gaze at the fireflies above the rice fields at night. This place would be perfect for a romantic getaway, you know if your other half was a millionaire.

6: Dreamy Tropical Treehouse, Fern Forest, Hawaii:

This secluded jungle canopy is an introverts dream place. The treehouse is located on the outskirts of the Big Island’s Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, which makes your stay that little bit more exciting, but totally safe.

5: Luxurious Sone Villa in Crete, Greece:

Belinda Carlisle once said heaven is a place on earth and we think this may be the place she was talking about. The house is carved from natural rock and features a balcony that overlooks Kissamos Bay.

4: Hideout Bali Eco Bamboo Home, Bali, Indonesia:

The second Bali location that features on the wish list. Guests have nothing but praise for this serene spot. However, you need to be well organised if you want to stay here. Guests have to book six months in advance of their stay because the spot is so popular.

3:Romantic Cabana with a view, Armenia, Colombia:

These properties just get prettier and prettier so prepare yourself to get bitten by the travel bug. This spot is said to be the best location for exploring Colombia’s coffee region so if you’re a coffee addict like us then you have to add it to your list. The view from this cabana will certainly take your breath away.

2: Hector Cave House, Santorini,  Greece:

We’ve become obsessed with Greece since the release of Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again so it comes as no surprise to see this Santorini cave house appear on the list. It’s carved into the caldera cliff and has a view that looks like it came straight from a dream.

1: I Sette Coni – Trullo Edera, Ostuni, Italy:

And finally we reach the number one place on our list and we are swooning more than ever before. This quirky house has a rustic feel to it that makes it the most wishlisted place on Airbnb. The greatest thing about this location is the price. It costs a mere $81 per night so if you need us we’ll be booking a month long stay at this divine spot.

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If your social media feed is to believed, glitter and wellies are the only things you need to call your Electric Picnic experience a success.

Unfortunately, as many festival newbies quickly learn, glitter is the last thing you care about when your phone is dead, your tent is leaking and your back is painfully sunburnt.

Sure, festivals are an incredible opportunity to get creative with your look as well as being the perfect chance to kick back with your mates for an entire weekend, but that doesn't mean the practicalities of daily life stop applying.

From protecting your skin from sun damage to ensuring you remain connected to the outside world with a fully-charged phone, here are six festival essentials every die-hard music fan will be carrying this weekend.

1.  Antiseptic wipes

We hardly need to spell this one out, but unless you've encountered your own personal hell in a festival toilet, you may not fully appreciate the importance of a pack (or three) of antiseptic wipes.

From helping to make your chosen portaloo that little bit easier to use, to saving the day when the sinks outside are overrun with people, antiseptic wipes are your best friend. Forever and always.

2. Sunscreen

Whether or not the forecast looks good for the weekend ahead is beside the point. You're going to be spending the vast majority of your time outdoors (rain or shine) and that means you need to protect your skin against any pesky sunrays that break through.

Opt for P20 with its unique composition of extremely photostable UVA and UVB filters,which are very slowly degraded by the sun. The ingredients in P20 adhere to the skin and remain on it, and the combination of these two factors makes P20 Sunscreen last for up to 10 hours

And remember, the average adult needs to apply 30-40mls of product during each application to ensure sufficient coverage and effective protection, so make sure that goes in your rucksack.

3. Portable charger

Anyone who has spent even a moment praying their battery will last long enough to locate their friends by the main stage will attest that a portable charger is an absolute must-have at any festival.

Yes, it costs a few quid, but when you've splashed out on a festival ticket, the last thing you want is to hand over more cash to charge your phone or spend hours queuing to charge your phone thereby missing the act you paid to see.

Divide the cost between a few pals, and check one worry off your list for the coming weekend.

4.  Duct tape

Whether it's for a hole in your tent or a leak in your welly, you will not regret packing a roll of duct tape.

You never know when you'll use it, but trust us, there will come a point at some stage over the weekend, when you actually will need it. 

 

12 years on and She gave up when I needed her most. #BodyandSoul #Mud #ducttape #FuturisticStylings

A post shared by Niamh McClelland (@niamhomac) on

5. Binliners

Like duct tape, you may question why you need it when you're already spent money on a quality tent, hardy wellies and expensive rain jacket, but trust us on this one.

Whether it's simply for using to collect rubbish around your tent or as a makeshift rainjacket when you lose your own, a roll of binliners weighs next to nothing, but will always, always, always come in handy.

6. Folding chair

After you've spent one festival sitting in the lotus position for three days straight, you'll soon realise that a folding chair is one of the most important things on your 'To Pack' list.

The floor of the tent is all well and good for a few hours, and sprawled on the grass definitely works for a while, but there will come a point in the weekend when you'd step over your own mother just to get five minutes on your neighbour's folding chair.

 

 

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There are few things more dread-inducing than the prospect of staring down a packed tube platform full of stressed out and aggressive commuters at eight in the morning or, even worse, getting gridlocked in that notorious London traffic.

The intense crowds, frequent breakdowns and that wonderful quirk of the Tube wherein it has zero air conditioning or ventilation can make your morning commute feel like a battle march.

Not to worry, though; with a few simple steps you'll soon be bossing that commute like a pro and the stress will soon feel like a distant memory.

Here's how to survive London in rush hour.

Source: Pixaby

Know the Rules of the Game

Anyone who has been in London for more than five seconds will know that there is a Byzantine etiquette system comprising of dozens of rules that must be followed in order to avoid the ire of your fellow passengers.

Most of these rules are honestly just a combination of noise, urban myths and personal preferences, so definitely don't spend too much time getting worked up over whether your platform posture in on point.

As long as you know the few simple essentials, your trip will go more smoothly.

These are; keep your Oyster card ready and in-hand the second you enter the station, stick to the right on the escalators, don't talk loudly and, most importantly, never make eye contact with your fellow commuters.

Come Prepared with Distractions

Chances are you'll be dealing with the same commute every day, to the point where you could travel the whole route with your eyes closed.

This kind of commuter autopilot is common, with the positive side being that you should be able to zone out and immerse yourself in less stressful activities during your journey – just remember to keep your wits about you on station platforms and road crossings!

A good online game is always the ideal way to get through the journey, ideally something engaging like a puzzle game or online escapade.

For example, there are now lots of roulette games online, from European to American, that you'll be able to play at any point during your commute when you need to zone out, thanks to that sweet and brand new Tube WiFi.

Your commute is also valuable time in your day that you can use to catch up on things you've been neglecting.

So, read that novel that has been gathering dust, finish that podcast, or simply burn through your emails.

Source: Pixaby

Mix It Up

A morning commute doesn't have to be something to just get through, to be banished to the annals of memory and not thought about until 5 pm. You can actually enjoy it. The best way to do this is by occasionally mixing things up.

Explore your city by walking part of the journey, which might involve having to get out of bed a few minutes earlier but is definitely worthwhile in such a beautiful and varied city as London.

Even just going via a different bus route might feel like a refreshing and pleasant surprise, as seeing your city as new again will remind you why you moved here in the first place.

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Calling all Downton Abbey fans! You need to add this hotel to your bucket list. 

This breathtaking, themed hotel is designed like an Edwardian mansion and has officially been ranked second on Travel + Leisure's ‘Top 100 Hotels in the World’ list for 2018.

And it looks amazing!

The five-star getaway, Ballyfin, is located in Co. Laois and is a refurbished boarding school with a total of only 20 rooms available for stay.

The old-fashioned hotel is picturesque and people are raving about their experience! ‘Ballyfin it was like stepping back in the past without the inconvenience of no electricity,’ said hotel guest Richard Grant.

Before the building was a school, however, ‘it was built as a Regency-era mansion for the Anglo-Irish Coote family’, according to The Independent. Each suite in the hotel is uniquely designed to reflect the original style of the house.

Yes, the Coote family are basically the real life version of the Crawley's. 

The American owner Fred Krehbiel thought it would be a great experience for people to enjoy during their stay, and we could not agree more! The businessman refurbished the property with his Irish wife Kay.  

Since it’s opening, Ballyfin has won numerous awards including AA's Irish hotel of the year for 2018.

Located near the Slieve Bloom Mountains, the hotel is only an hour and a half from Dublin city. So, not only are the rooms fabulous, but there is a beautiful vista of water, mountains, and greenery too.

Photo Credit: Ballyfin

Ballyfin is also ranked number one on Travel + Leisure’s list of ‘Europe's Top 10 Resorts’. Needless to say, there is a reason this hotel cannot stop earning awards. 

‘It’s a great place to fulfil all your Downton Abbey fantasies,’ the magazine said.

The gorgeous getaway sits on 614 acres of property and also has an indoor pool, spa, gardens, library, tapestry room, and conservatory. You can even request some time on the nearby lake, and one of hotel's butlers will row you out onto the water.

Fancy a stay at this top-rated, hotel? Book a night here. Prices range anywhere from €670-€1,350 per night depending on the time of year.

Of course, the hotel is also available for weddings and would be the perfect venue for Downton Abbey fans!

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Hundreds of people are reportedly missing and many feared dead after a dam in Laos collapsed.

The incident at the hydroelectric dam in the Attapu province, southeast Laos occurred on Monday, and released enough water to fill more than two million Olympic swimming pools.

It sent flash flooding through six villages and at least 6,000 people have been made homeless. 

The dam was under construction at the time, however, the reason for the collapse is not yet known. 

Local authorities are appealing for emergency aid for those affected, including clothes, food, drinking water and medicine. 

feature image via  ABC Laos News' Facebook page

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Fancy a holiday with a bit of a difference?

One that is off the traditional tourist routes… like way off?

A trip that you'll be talking about at every night out? Well, then this experience sounds like it will be right up your street. 

To celebrate the fact that Mars will be the closest it has been to Earth in 15 years on July 27th, two Airbnb hosts will be offering a one-of-a-kind experience to get up close to the Red Planet from one of the world’s largest telescopes, the Gran Telescopio Canarias (GTC).

Located in La Palma, Spain, six guests will join hosts Juan Antonio González, a local astronomy guide, and Antonio Luis Cabrera, the leader of scientific operations at GTC, to learn the importance of preserving the sky through the lens of the largest single-aperture optical and infrared telescope in the world.

Guests will enjoy the ultimate planetary experience by observing – and photographing! – polar ice caps and dust storms on Mars, all while marvelling at the longest lunar eclipse in the 21st century.

If you can't make next Friday don't worry, Airbnb, who have seen a huge growth in astro-tourism, has nearly 3,000 homes equipped with telescopes and unique, astro experiences on the platform. 

In fact, scores of listings on the platform include “stargazing” in their description, highlighting it as the perfect spot to take in the skies.

The US ranks as the number one country with the most astro-tourism friendly listings, like the Folly in Twentynine Palms, CA, the Desert Retreat in Pioneertown, CA, and the Dome in the Desert in Joshua Tree, which is the community that offers the most listings globally perfect for stargazing.

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