Planning Your Next Europe Travel

Word Vacation rings a bell in everyone’s mind and reminds us of the good times we have had, the different places we visited and some of the pictures of things seen come in the mind’s eye.

When you think of traveling overseas, the long duration flights do make us weary just by thinking about it. You have got to get to the airport a few hours in advance, stand in queue, customs formalities and waiting for boarding announcement can easily tire you out even before you get into the flight.

Those who travel to Europe on holiday cover the entire length and breadth of Europe by euro rail. Europe has one of the best rail service system across the entire continent and more over one can buy passes at cheap rates and well in advance. In fact there are many students who travel over the weekends by trains to other stations and even save on hotel stay. A trip from London to Paris can cost you just about $50. Un believable isn’t it?

Euro Start takes you from London to Paris and Brussels on its fast speed train service and it is worth getting on board this train from St.Pancras Station in London. After its recent refurbishing and revival, traffic has increased tremendously from the station and people love this place.

Traveling across Europe and visiting different countries need not give you jitters about having to buy tickets at every station. All you need to do is to buy euro rail pass for a certain amount. It has a certain period validity and you can travel on those particular lines across several countries without having to bother about buying new ticket.

You can start anywhere in Europe and travel the entire length and breadth of the continent. For example most people take the super fast train between London to Paris and Munich to Madrid and so on, thereby cover all of the cities across Europe.

Read up complete information on Euro rail passes and check out very many options available like ferry travel service from port Copenhagen etc. With detailed planning you can zig zag across Europe and have an adventurous holiday without having to spend a lot of money.

One other way of traveling across Europe is to finish sight seeing all through the day and catch a night train to the next destination in another country. You can sleep through the night and get rested well and be ready to start exploring the new country again in the morning. The long journey trains provide you with sleeping cabin births and are very comfortable for you to sleep or relax.

On arrival you can check out the next train on your schedule and head out for breakfast before hitting the road to discover the magic of the new town. You can let your hair down and go ahead without any bother.

Europe Travel Ideas to Make Your Journey Memorable

Planning a vacation to Europe is no easy task, especially when you know that there are innumerable destinations to go and even more things to do. So, the foremost thing that you need to do is plan, depending on your budget, choice of places, accommodation facilities and many more. Look for the best holiday packages Europe or Europe vacation rentals that will suit your pocket as well as your choice of spending your vacation. Here are some Europe travel ideas that can help you plan your itinerary in this exquisite destination:

Plan your destination: Some of the most visited destinations in Europe are London, Madrid, Prague, Rome and Paris. They might not be cheap, but they can provide you an insight into the cultural and the historical diversity of the continent. While London brings you the royal entourage, Spain brings you the colour and the splendour of carnivals and traditional parades. Best visited during spring, Paris is the hub of lovers, art enthusiasts, foodies and historians. One gets to see some of the most magnificent buildings and constructions in Paris, such as the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre museum and the Notre Dame castle. Italy, however, has a spiritual air to it with the Vatican City and the numerous churches and cathedrals. However, the fact that it is also the hub for fashion, cannot be ignored. Hit on the street fashion and get the best deals in the streets of Via Borgognona, Via Condotti and Via Frattina. Prague is another beautiful destination, which is known for its Gothic architecture, historical landmarks, and mystique sites and so on.

Accommodation: It is obvious that while visiting an unknown city, you would be concerned about accommodation despite knowing the fact that there are various options in the above-mentioned cities. The main concerns include booking rooms, their prices, etc. Therefore, it is best to hire an international travel agent and take his help to book rooms, while keeping your budget in mind. Some of these agencies also provide vacation rental deals Europe that suit your pocket and vacation type. They will also help you chalk out the ‘things-to-do’ list and help you navigate through the best places across Europe.

Travel Checklist: Once everything is set and you are ready to go, ensure that you have your passport, visa and tickets in place. The booking details of hotels and car rentals have also been taken. Also carry first aid and medicines that you require along with the doctor’s prescription. Ensure that you have medical insurance while traveling abroad as that comes handy in emergency.

Keep the above Europe travel ideas in mind and set on a journey across the continent for a memorable experience.

Business Traveller Flying to London? A London City Guide for Getting to the Centre

London. The vibrant, beating heart of the United Kingdom. It’s one of the world’s most popular destinations for tourists, and for business travellers too. The amount of commerce that goes through London is staggering, with a financial centre second only to New York, and service industries that cater for both the UK, European and international markets. As the world’s most multicultural city – there are over 300 languages spoken by a population of over eight million people (twelve million if you include the metropolitan area) – the opportunities for business are clear.

With the UK strategically positioned for the business traveller on the western edge of Europe, London is a global hub for air travel, providing easy access to mainland Europe, and a stepping stone to the United States. Primarily served by five airports – Heathrow, Gatwick, City, Stansted and Luton – London is easily reached from anywhere in the world. But with the exception of London City Airport – smallest of the five and located in East London, close to the business district of Canary Wharf – the other four airports are satellites evenly dispersed around the city. The most popular, Heathrow, is located to the west of London; Gatwick is situated to the south; Stansted to the north east; and Luton to the North West. Knowing this before you make your travel plans can be useful. Since the greater metropolitan area of London covers over 1,000 square miles, your final business destination may not be right in the centre. Researching which airport is closest to your destination can save you time, effort and money.

However, whether you’re a business traveller flying from within the UK or from overseas, your starting destination may often determine the airport you arrive at. Other factors, such as your chosen time of travel, budget and availability will also make a difference. For example, if you’re travelling with a major international carrier from a major city, such as New York, the chances are you’ll arrive at Heathrow or Gatwick (Stansted also receives flights from New York but is the smallest of the three). If you’re travelling locally from within the UK with a budget carrier you’re more likely to arrive at Stansted or Luton (though not exclusively). And if you’re travelling from a major European city, particularly a financial capital, such as Frankfurt, London City Airport is a likely arrival point (the airport was created specifically to cater for short haul business travellers, particularly between financial centres).

Each airport is served by comprehensive rail and road infrastructure, providing business travellers with a variety of options to enter London. All five airports offer direct rail travel into the heart of Central London, coach travel to the main Victoria terminus, and hire car, mini-bus, licensed black cab and taxi services by road. If you’re a VIP business traveller, chauffeur services are also available, and with the exception of London City Airport, each also offer direct helicopter transfer into the heart of the city.

London Heathrow Airport

The busiest of the five airports is London Heathrow. Located less than twenty miles from central London, Heathrow is situated to the west of the city within the M25 motorway metropolitan boundary. The fastest route into London is via the Heathrow Express train service, taking just 15 minutes from terminals 1, 2 and 3 to Paddington station (located on the western side of Central London). If your flight arrives at either terminal 4 or 5 it’s a further four and six minutes travel time respectively, and you’ll need to transfer on to the main London-bound service at terminals 1, 2 and 3.

The service is excellent, offering comfort and convenience, but does not always suite everyone’s travel budget. The standard ‘Express’ single journey ticket costs £21.00 (€25.00 / $35.00), but business travellers can get better value when purchasing a return ticket, priced at £34.00 (€40.00 / $56.00). The ‘Business First’ ticket is more expensive, with singles costing £29.00 (€35.00 / $48.00) and returns £52.00 (€62.00 / $86.00), but it does afford business travellers considerably more leg room, the privacy of a ‘single seating’ layout, and a fold out table. The experience is akin to that of air travel. All passengers across both pricing structures enjoy access to electrical sockets, USB ports and free Wi-Fi. The overall quality of service and passenger experience generates a ‘wow’ factor, and if your budget can afford it, is certainly the smoothest, quickest and most convenient way to travel into London from Heathrow. Trains run regularly every fifteen minutes in both directions, particularly useful for last minute dashes to the airport.

There are two further rail options available to business travellers, both considerably less expensive, though this is reflected in the quality of service. That’s not to say either is not a good solution for business travellers, just that there is a noticeable difference in convenience and comfort.

With a service typically running every thirty minutes, and a journey duration – depending on the time of day – of between 23 and 27 minutes from terminals 1, 2 and 3, Heathrow Connect is more than adequate for business travellers who are not in a hurry. Like the rival Express service, Connect also arrives at Paddington station, but unlike its faster rival stops at up to five other stations before reaching its terminus. The ‘inconvenience’ of this less direct journey is compensated for by a considerably less expensive ticket price. Single journey’s cost £9.90 (€12.00 / $16.00) while a return is £19.80 (€24.00 / $32.00). There is no saving to be made from purchasing a return ticket. While the convenience and comfort of the traveller experience cannot match the Express, the Connect business travel solution is an acceptable compromise that suits a greater number of travel budgets.

The third – and least expensive – rail option is the London Underground ‘tube’ network. Despite the network’s name the majority of the journey from Heathrow is overground, until the business traveller nears Central London. Starting on the Piccadilly Line, the service connects all five Heathrow terminals and provides frequent trains into London, stopping at a considerable amount of outlying stations before arriving in the capital’s centre. This continually ‘interrupted’ journey – there are seventeen stops between Heathrow terminals 1, 2 and 3 and Paddington Tube station (the nearest equivalent tube terminus for a fair comparison) – and takes approximately fifty minutes journey time on average, considerably slower than its more direct rivals. This journey comparison also requires the inconvenience of a transfer between lines.

So why would the business traveller consider using the tube from Heathrow to Central London? Simple. The frequency of service, the array of destinations, and the cost. At a cash price of just £5.70 (€6.80 / $9.50) for a single journey in either direction during peak hours (06:30am to 09:30am), financially the Underground is an attractive option. At nearly half the price of the Heathrow Connect, and at just over a quarter of the price of the Heathrow Express, this service is comparably good value for money. Further value can be found if the business traveller purchases an ‘Oyster Card’, the ‘cashless’ electronic ticketing system beloved by so many Londoners. Available to purchase at Heathrow London Underground stations, this useful option allows you to get tickets cheaper than for cash – in this case a reduction to just £5.00 (€6.00 / $8.30). Off-peak travel with an Oyster Card offers even greater value, with Heathrow to Paddington in either direction costing just £3.00 (€3.60 / $5.00) per journey. The Oyster Card can also be used for unlimited travel on buses and trains throughout London, with a maximum daily spend capped at £17.00 (€20.00 / $28.00) peak time and just £8.90 (€10.60 / $15.00) off-peak for a six zone ticket (destinations across London are divided into six main zonal rings. Travelling from Heathrow to Central London crosses all six zones).

The Underground is primarily a city-wide mass transit system, rather than a ‘train’ service. As such the level of comfort and convenience is substantially less than that of both the Heathrow Express and Connect services, and at peak hours can be considerably uncomfortable. Having endured a recent flight, business travellers who choose this option run the risk of having to stand up the entire journey if travelling during peak hours. If the carriage is full to squeezing point (as is often the case at peak time) managing your luggage can be a challenge. It should also be noted that the tube network – which, as the world’s first urban mass-transit system is over 150 years old – is often prone to signal failures and delays. If the time between your arrival at Heathrow (don’t forget to factor in clearing immigration control, luggage collection and customs) and your business appointment is tight, particularly during peak hours, it is not unfair to say that you are taking a risk if you choose to use the Underground.

Compared to using rail, travelling by road into Central London is far less convenient. Like every major city around the world, traffic congestion plagues the streets of London. The M4 and A4 route from Heathrow into London is always busy and in parts can be slow moving at times. No matter what your method of road transport, the business traveller is vulnerable to the risk of delays and accidents.

Buses and coaches are plentiful. The dominant carrier is called National Express. They operate services between Heathrow Airport and London Victoria, the main coach terminus in London. From here travellers can travel to many other destinations around the UK. The coaches run from Heathrow Airport Central Bus Station, which is located between terminals 1, 2 and 3. Its well sign posted so easily found. If you’re arriving at terminals 4 or 5 you’ll need to first take the Heathrow Connect train to the central bus station. From Victoria Station you can get to any other part of London with ease, via the Underground, plentiful buses, local trains and licensed black cabs / minicab taxi services.

A single journey tickets start from £6.00 (€7.20 / $10.00), while returns cost £11.00 (€13.20 / $18.00). Although you can purchase your ticket at Heathrow, it is advisable to do so in advance, and online. This will ensure you have a guaranteed, reserved seat on your coach of choice, and also provide you with the opportunity to select a time of departure and/or return that best suits your needs. Typically this service runs three coaches per hour to and from London Victoria coach station. The journey time can vary, dependent on the route taken, the time of day and traffic conditions, but you can typically expect your journey to take between 40 and 90 minutes.

National Express also offers business travellers a Heathrow hotel transfer service to and from the airport, known as the Heathrow Hoppa. With hundreds of services each day running around the clock, it’s a clean, comfortable and affordable way to get about, costing £4.00 (€4.80 / $6.60) for single journey and £7.00 (€8.40/ $11.50) for a return journey. This service is particularly useful if your business appointment is located close to Heathrow and you have no need to travel into Central London.

An alternative to coach travel is taking a bus. This can be particularly useful if you arrive at Heathrow late at night. Depending on the day of the week, the N9 night bus runs approximately every 20 minutes to Trafalgar Square in Central London, from 11.30pm to 5am. The journey time is approximately 75 minutes, subject to traffic delays. It’s a very affordable service, and as part of the Transport for London infrastructure a single journey can be paid for with an Oyster Card (£1.40 (€1.70/ $2.30) or by cash (£2.40 (€2.90/ $4.00).

If your journey into London requires the freedom to choose to travel whenever you want, to wherever you want, or you simply require privacy, then private hire transport is readily available at Heathrow. If you’re just interested in getting from A to B and back again, without any other journeys in between, taking a licensed black cab or minicab taxi may suit your needs. Travelling in an iconic licensed black cab into Central London will take approximately 45-60 minutes, subject to traffic delays, and can typically cost between £50.00 (€60.00/ $83.00) and £80.00 (€96.00/ $132.00). If you do find yourself delayed in traffic the journey will cost more, since black cab meters also charge for waiting time when not moving. Black cabs are readily available at all hours, and good sign posting at Heathrow means they’re easy to find. At a squeeze up to five business travellers can be accommodated, though if you all have large luggage it will be a problem.

An alternative private hire to black cabs are licensed taxi services. This could be a better option for the business traveller, particularly if a number of people with luggage are travelling together. An array of vehicle types are available, ranging from standard 4/5 seater saloon and 6/7 passenger people carrier cars, up to 15 or 17 seater minibuses and even coach taxis. An added advantage is you can book your vehicle of choice in advance and at a fixed price. With so many different companies offering these services, prices – and quality of service – can vary, but typically for a single journey the business traveller can expect to pay a fixed, advance price of £40.00 (€48.00/ $66.00) for a saloon car; £50.00 (€60.00/ $83.00) for an estate car; £55.00 (€66.00/ $90.00) for an executive car; £55.00 (€66.00/ $90.00) for a people carrier; £65.00 (€78.00/ $108.00) for an 8 seater minibus; £80.00 (€96.00/ $132.00) for an executive people carrier; and £165.00 (€198.00/ $272.00) for a 16 seater minibus. Savings can be made on all tariffs if a return journey is booked in advance.

Travelling by black cab or licensed taxi affords the business traveller the freedom to travel at his or her own pace, and can take the hassle out of a journey. It can be a very relaxing way to commute from the airport into London, particularly after a long flight, and offers the business traveller an opportunity to unwind prior to their business appointment.

If you need to arrange senior executive or VIP transportation, chauffeur driven services are readily available (booked in advance) between Heathrow and London. The vehicle type and the length of time you require it for will dictate the price you’ll pay. Chauffeur driven services are readily available to find online. The same is true of helicopter charter services which can transfer the executive business traveller from Heathrow into Central London (Battersea Heliport) in approximately 15 minutes. Flightline Travel Management is experienced at providing our customers with both modes of transport, and we’re happy to take your enquiry.

© Copyright Flightline Travel Management Ltd. All rights reserved.

All prices correct at time of publication.

Europe Travel Itineraries – Oktoberfest

There are countless Europe travel itineraries but one of the most popular ones is Oktoberfest. This two week festival runs every single year from late September until early October and is well known the world over. Six million people will frequent it, a quarter of which will be foreign tourists. Originally started in 1810 by a Bavarian prince to commemorate his marriage, it featured a horse race.

It has since morphed into its modern form of beer-drinking Germans decked out in lederhosen and traditional garb (minus the horse race, plus lots of drunken foreign tourists). For anyone considering Europe travel itineraries, this one should be on the list. It reminds tourists of the historical roots of such a modern country like Germany, which is sometimes easy to forget. The sight of traditional costumes indicates that tradition is not yet dead, even in one of the most contemporary places on earth.

Oktoberfest takes place in a giant arena called the Theresienwiese where 14 tents are erected for the event, each one being sponsored by a different brewing house and each one able to fit several thousand people at a time. Each tent has a particular reputation and tourists choose the ones to frequent based on what type of “mood” they are looking to evoke. The atmosphere is intense and crowded, with picnic tables stacked so closely to one another that people are often back-to-back with strangers from the next table.

The beer maidens descend upon the tables over laden with many enormous beer mugs, foaming from the rim. Germans like to sing in these establishments and the sounds of song and dance percolate all day until reaching climax way into the night. Since 1950, the mayor of Munich has opened the festival. Following a 12-gun salute, the mayor taps the very first keg of Oktoberfest beer with the words “O’zapft is,” which means, “It is tapped!” World-famous, tasty German beer is, of course, the main attraction. You will soon learn the German word for tasty: lecker!

Although beer happens to be the star of the show, let us not ignore the traditional German fare that you will be able to sample in copious amounts. When considering Europe travel itineraries, do not forget the gastronomical considerations. After all, it would be folly not to have food wherever beer is heavily consumed; if you did not feed the hungry, drunken masses, they would soon become agitated.

The wurst, or sausage, comes to mind first. This is perceived as the quintessentially German food and their diversity is simply stunning. Every region has its own variety and some estimates place the total number of German variations at close to a whopping 1500. As well there is grilled fish, various types of pork roast, pretzels, potato dumplings, cheese noodles and lots of cabbage.

Thailand Martial Arts and Outdoor Adventure Travel – Long-Term Travel in Thailand on a Budget

1. Amazing Adventures in Thailand

A few years ago, I decided to migrate the majority of my efforts, lifestyle and long-term ninja training programs to Thailand. This decision was based on number of pros as compared to our original California program. First, I like change and I like to stretch what we can offer to students. I have run programs in Europe, the United States and now Asia equally.

Does it mean that California or the United States does not have a lot to offer? No, it just means there are other options and I have a lot of pros to talk about for the Adventurer that can financially manage a long term trip to the U.S. or Europe.

Thailand has a lot to offer serious students and adventurers. Especially those participating in our long-term Martial Arts Training camps.

There is a popular commercial in Thailand called – Amazing Thailand. It highlights the plethora of adventure and fun that is available in one small location.

In Bangkok for example, you can spend time shopping in a 7 story mall (even purchase Ferrari in one of the stores), visit historical temples (feel like a king in the Grand Palace or say hello to the emerald Buddha), or perhaps enjoy an endless variety of nightlife (have a drink on top of the world overlooking the city). Bangkok is an internationally known pit-stop and great for students to spend some time adjusting to the Asia before heading out to see what else Thailand has to offer.

For me, the major draw to Thailand was the tropical outdoor options that are available. I have taken students to the mountains of Pai near Chiang Mai to the warm blue waters of the Andaman sea. We have trained on beautiful islands like Koh Samui and climbed some of the best rock climbing available in the world in Krabi province. When you are not training in the martial arts, there is plenty of adventure in Thailand.

Enjoy a fresh and extremely healthy coconut on the beach, or go snorkeling and diving for a price that you can feel great about. Feel like checking out the bridge over the river Kwai or exploring the Erawan Waterfall in Kanchanaburi? No problem. How about taking a trip to Hua Hin where the King lives and enjoy the long ocean strip. You name it, adventure is abundant and access to that adventure is made extremely accessible.

It might sound silly, but many of my students found that renting a moped and cruising around the islands to be one of the best experiences. Simple adventures like taking a long tail boat from one island to another can be quite thrilling. Adventure is often equated to new experiences and Thailand has plenty to offer.

I believe Thailand offers the best of Southeast Asia, but one of the added benefits to being in Thailand is that with a hop, skip and a jump you can be in experience new adventures in Vietnam, Malaysia, Laos, or Cambodia. You can stretch that just a bit to visit China, Singapore, Hong Kong or further to places like Taiwan and Japan. When you are in Thailand, other locations in Asia feel closer and you are more likely to explore.

What Thailand has to offer is of course amazing. However, the real benefits of Thailand hit when we get practical and this is determined by how much of a hole any trip will have on our pocket book.

2. A big reason students love Thailand is financial

As with any functional service – money is an important tool. Students that attend my programs, often do so for long periods. Many students prefer 1-12 months of training as opposed to weekend seminars or weekly courses that often cost far more.

Another benefit of a long-term program in Thailand is the students lower personal costs as compared to what they would pay in the States. There are too many discounts to list here, but here are a few to consider.

3. Cheaper Food in Thailand

You can pick up a decent healthy meal for about $2.00 in Thailand, and that is in a restaurant. On the street, you can get a filling bowl of noodles for 50 cents. In California, you are lucky to get a meal for $5.00 (though Subway helps with their $5.00 foot long sandwiches) and 50 cents might buy you a candy bar. I also tip a minimum of $5.00 in restaurants in the States. A tip like that in Thailand would be outrageous, even 20 Thai Baht is high and that is less than a $1.00

4. Entertainment can be costly, but not in Thailand

In Thailand, you can see a movie for about $5.00. In California, a movie ticket can cost you closer to $10.00. In addition, the quality of movie theaters in Thailand is often superior to what you find elsewhere. For example, you can choose to sit in a reclining mini couch, and choose your seats in advance (even pay less depending on where you want to sit). In the States, if you cannot choose your seat in advance you are forced to arrive early to get a good seat and also be forced to sit through previews and commercials.

This savings extends to almost every sector of entertainment, whether you want to rent a motorcycle, go to a nightclub or ride an elephant, the costs in comparison are outstanding.

5. Shopping in Thailand

Although students and adventures may not have shopping on their mind, it can still be a factor for those that like to buy and why not save some money in the process. Thailand is famous for getting a great deal on your purchase and has shopping streets all over the country. You can pick up designer jeans for $20 as opposed to $200 or invest in a work of art. I managed to buy gifts for Christmas for everyone in the family in Thailand and spend the same amount (including flight, hotel and gifts) as I would have spent just on the gifts themselves (judging from my normal spending habits) in California. I also am able to buy items that are unique and not just another gadget to clutter their closets. Many people have made their short term stay in Thailand into a business and fund their new lifestyle by purchasing items in Thailand to sell in the States.

6. Travel in Thailand

You can travel from the mountains of Pai (north of Chiang Mai) all the way south to the islands of Koh Phi Phi (where they filmed the movie the Beach) for about $60. This would cost you in the hundreds in the States. When I lived in Pai, I would fly to the city for only $30. The bus ride down the mountain is about $5 and takes 2 hours. This travel savings extends to almost every type of travel in Thailand. You can take a taxi anywhere you want for about $10 an hour or hop in a tuk tuk for $5.00 and take a scenic route. Students have rented mopeds for an entire month in Pai for only $50 or $150 in more expensive locations like Samui Thailand. If you want to jump on a short flight to Cambodia to see the Angkor Wat (a wonder of the world) or take a train to Malaysia – no problem, and it won’t hurt your pocket book. I often fly to Singapore from Bangkok and it costs me less than it would to fly from city to city in California.

7. Housing and accommodation in Thailand

A great thing about Thailand is that you have a choice of stay that will meet every budget. In California, a typical hotel is $100 per night and for a month at a basic hotel you will pay about $3,000 or more. This is usually without Internet, without food and without additional benefits. In Bangkok for example, you can get a one-month stay in a great hotel that will include internet, give you a great breakfast buffet (usually for two), swimming pools, fitness gym, lounge use and daily maid service all for $1,000. Not to mention these locations can be found with a small kitchen area – much like Extended Stay of America only at half the cost. Now $1,000 a month may not be cheap to many, but this is for an upscale location. You can also stay in a small house for as low as $200 a month in many locations. I have stayed in a $2,000 a month location on a tropical island and I have stayed at a $300 a month location on the same island. Both locations were great and no, you do not have to live in the alley to get a great price.

All of this is very important to a long-term student of the martial arts. They often only have so much money to spare and they need it to last them a long time. Students that come to California programs often run out of money in a few weeks (going out to town to eat, seeing movies, buying ridiculously pricey popcorn and hanging out with friends). Whereas in Thailand, they can stretch that same money into months and actually get more entertainment – not to mention enjoy the splendors of a tropical island or globally famous city.

8. Medical care

One time flying to Thailand for another adventure I couldn’t help overhearing the couple in front of me. They were not together but seated next to each other. One person asked the other why they were going to Thailand. His response at first startled me. He said he was going to Thailand to see a dentist as it was just too costly in the States by comparison.

I have not seen a dentist in Thailand however I do remember a student that had a cavity removed for only about 500 baht in a great location off of a main Soi in Bangkok. I also remember visiting the hospital in Chiang Mai and after visiting three doctors for three separate issues (thought I would try to get as much covered as possible at the same time) it only cost me about 1000 Thai baht (about $35 U.S. Dollars). Naturally, this person must be getting some major dental work done to spend $1,000 or close to it to fly to Thailand to see a dentist.

However, Thailand is famous for those looking for high quality medical care for a low price. I often catch myself saying, “I will wait till I am back in Thailand to get that checked out.” Many people have a poor view of Thailand when it comes to health care. Yes, you don’t have to get a prescription when you want some medicine to fight off a major virus and you don’t have to get 5 screenings before you can see an expert. All of the facilities I have been to in Chiang Mai, Bangkok, and even the island of Koh Samui have been top notch locations with modern equipment and English speaking doctors. I would wager that I received more attention and better care than I have in the States.

As a martial artists and adventurer – it is important to know that when I am traveling that there are up-to-date medical solutions in the event of an accident.

9. Culture of new locations

I once heard that there was more culture in Yoghurt than there was in the California. This might be why websites like EscapeAmerica.com are springing up supporting life outside our borders. Some people are looking for more than freedom of speech. Now I love California and I am proud to be an American, so I will not have much to say about negative concerns. However, having run adventure programs for the better part of 20 years and teaching students for the same amount of time, I know where they can get more for their money.

An exciting part of travel and adventure is meeting new people and learning new languages. Going to places like Thailand will offer a NEW approach and with that comes a benefit that is hard to measure. If you live in the United States already, traveling to another location in the U.S. will not offer much variety. It is hard to grow if you are not challenged to adapt to new locations, meet new people and learn new languages.

10. Friends in Asia

Naturally, you can meet friends almost anywhere you go, but there is something unique about traveling in a country with others of like mind. When you are abroad, you will meet others that have taken the time and have the time to spend – people from all over the world. In California, you are likely to meet more people just like you. This can be boring. My first trip to Thailand I made good friends with people from places like Holland, England, Norway, Australia and of course Thailand itself.

11. Time to play in Thailand

One of the reasons I created my long-term program was to offer a lifestyle that is against the grain of modern society. If, for example, you come to a typical city in the United States, you will meet people that are more than likely following a very specific path. They are working, going to school or busy with their family or business.

Long term students can however get together easily to take a road trip almost any time to either explore a new location, go rock climbing or take a road trip. The same ability to meet new people and adventure with them spontaneously is available in Thailand. This is because Thailand and places like Bangkok is an adventure hub of the world.

In a typical city in the U.S. you are more likely to be challenged with schedules and a tight work week. In Thailand and for students and adventurers alike, the weekend is whenever they want it to be.

12. Moving to Thailand

I ran my long-term martial arts program in California for more than 5 years. I have not had one student of hundreds, move to California (other than to train at our camp) for a new lifestyle. However, with only a few years in Thailand, I have had already three students that are trying or have tried to move and set up life in Thailand (outside of our program). Is it because their American dollar will go a lot further? Is it because they have additional freedoms they are excited about in a new country? Is it because they can escape the almost forced social strategy that is pushed in the U.S.? Any of these might be true, and they are a few reasons that so many foreigners attempt to set up life in Thailand. Even if it is just for a change of pace and a break from the typical norm. Many might head home in a year or two refreshed and ready to settle down in their home country.

My last visit I met a man that was to only be in Bangkok for a few weeks decide to move and live there. He was only there to organize shipments of gems to the U.S. and realized he could spread his wealth and live like a king as opposed to just getting by in the States.

One of my students made the comment the first week I introduced him to Thailand that he had seen enough to know he never wants to come back – that same person is now living in Thailand and has been for more than a year now. It only took another week to convince him that his typical Untied States views of Thailand were way off base.

Do students want to live in Thailand? Some might, but the point is that for a long-term program to be successful, you need to be able to survive in a location long term. As a child, living on a tropical island was a dream and a goal. Living on an island in Thailand is not as challenging as some might think.

Our program also serves as a stepping-stone for introducing students to a new life. I too am able to fully appreciate the good with the bad. As I am from California, I am spoiled with majestic mountains and National Parks like Yosemite. However, I have found that I appreciate the wealth the United States has to offer by living abroad.

13. Freedom to be YOU

As a U.S. citizen you truly have a lot of freedom, but you will only begin to respect your real freedoms when you travel to a country where you have even more opportunities to do what you want and how you want to live. In Thailand, for example, if you want to live in one location for a week or months, it is very easy to do so without the hassle of paperwork, credit checks and other headaches that limit you from actually feeling free. Naturally, every country has limitations and Thailand has many. However, for the long-term martial artist or adventurer – Thailand has plenty of options to make you smile.

Consider being able to pick up a moped in a matter of minutes, or rent a 1 month serviced apartment without anything other than your passport (and the ability to pay of course). In the States, most houses or apartments that you rent (other than outrageously expensive hotels) charge you first month’s rent, last month’s rent and a security deposit. Many only charge a security deposit, but this is usually the same as the rent.

In Thailand, there is a lot of flexibility with how you decide to use your rental space too. Usually you are not charged more if you have more people in your room. This is great for students that are looking to adventure with friends and get the best deal. If book a hotel in the States (including Extended Stay Hotels) and add another adult, you will most likely be charged more for the same room and service. If anything, they should be giving you an additional benefit, such as breakfast.

My point is to point out the positive benefits for long-term students to choose Thailand as their destination for growth. I expect everyone to return home with tales of adventure and eventually settle down where they are happy and can make a successful life for themselves. However, the truth is that jobs will always be there and family and friends will be waiting for you to return. Therefore, while you are focused on training and personal growth, you might as well get the best adventure and experience that your money can buy.

14. Self-Power

I remember something that I either read or heard from a public speaker more than 20 years ago. The quote or text was something like this:

If you want to be a success – leave home.

Thinking about my experiences over the last 20 years, I would have to agree that my time away from home has taught me some very important lessons. Thailand has a lot to teach any open minded individual, but the big lesson is already available as the student must leave their country and embark on a journey. This step alone is a big step for any adult and one that I believe will help to teach them more about who they are as a human being.

One of the major differences between our martial art system and others label based martial art styles is the fact that we really push self-powered training and personal growth. It is about creating a lifestyle that you love.

I remember traveling for the first time on the boat to Koh Phi Phi island from Phuket thinking how great it would be to share this experience with students. It reminded me of the feeling Bruce Lee’s character might have felt on his island trip where he was headed to deal some kung-fu fighting in the film Enter the Dragon.

What about you? Have you ever been to Thailand? Have you ever dreamed of going to Thailand? Do you know anyone who had been to Thailand? Share your experience or thought with us!

Join NinjaGym Live-In Martial Arts and Adventure Camp in Thailand and bring balance to your Mind (with the mental martial art of Winjitsu), Body (by teaching the Martial Arts and Ninjutsu) and Spirit (outdoor adventure – travel and climbing). Whether you want to learn how to become a Ninja, get in shape fast with our NinjaGym fitness boot camp, or be part of the an island adventure, we can help.