Tag Archives: Travel

6 Reasons Why Cancun Is Becoming The ‘New Spain’ For Euro Tourists

Hands up if you’ve holidayed in Spain in the last say 10-12 years? Yep, pretty much everyone has flown down for some sun and sand in Marbella, Barcelona or Ibiza and there’s no obvious reason to knock it. It’s been an affordable, convenient and a standout holiday for Europeans for a long time.

Fast forward to 2016 and the world has become a smaller place thanks to increased competition from airlines and more opportunities to save on accommodation. While Spain’s tourism industry has seen a revival of Lazarus-like proportions since the 2008 slump, the backlash has begun with locals demanding tourists go home on account of trying to ‘turn us into a theme park’. They’ve seemingly made their position clear in Palma.

Continue reading 6 Reasons Why Cancun Is Becoming The ‘New Spain’ For Euro Tourists

J1 Insider: Tips & Tricks For Loving Chicago

Ahoy hoy! Two of our J1 Recruitment Team, James & Lyndsey just got back from a busy week scouring Chicago for more employers for this year’s J1 students (you lucky people!) and finding out the best things to do in the city, how best to get around, where to stay and what to enjoy. If you’re hitting Chicago, you’ll want to read this. Even if you’re not, you’ll want to go another time!

James Lyndsey Consulate
James & Lyndsey popped in to the Irish Consulate

 Before we start I would like to go on record by saying Chicago is definitely one of the best locations for a J1 in the U.S. The city comes alive in the summer as everyone is delighted to see the back the winter where temperatures can reach a bone chilling -10 degrees below freezing. The city bursts into life come May and summer temps can range between 25-38 degrees which makes it extremely seasonal and perfect for J1ers looking for seasonal work. Chicago is a busy city but is also extremely chilled and laid back. The city is located on Lake Michigan which is one of the 5 superior lakes of North America and the only superior lake to be fully located inside the U.S. Although it is a lake, get Glendalough lakes out of your head as it is more ocean then lake. To give you an idea of the size, 68% of Ireland could fit inside the circumference. The city sweeps down to the lake side and is picturesque beyond belief. There are 3 main beaches in the city Ohio Street Beach, Oak street beach and the greatest beach on earth North Avenue beach.

Continue reading J1 Insider: Tips & Tricks For Loving Chicago

Volunteer Spotlight: Kate’s Life Changing Indian Summer

Ireland is a mainstay as one of the most charitable countries on the planet (give yourself a self five). It’s no wonder then that so many Irish people decide that an adventure spent Volunteering is far more rewarding and memorable than simply lying on a beach for 2 weeks. One of those people is Kate Hagan, who’s spent last Summer teaching children in India. She’s given us her take on what makes Volunteering so special and how proud she is of immersing herself in an entirely different way of life and culture…

Looking back I still remember what it felt like sitting in the classroom in the 40+ degree heat with the sounds of children laughing, dancing and playing around me.  Now reflecting on my journey – India could not feel further away.  It’s been nearly a year since I’ve been home from my volunteering experience and I can’t wait to get back to this majestic place full of hidden beauty. Nobody will ever be able to understand until they travel there themselves, until they see how beautiful the people, the culture, the towns and villages can be.   The sights, smells, tastes, touch of India was something I never experienced before and I was proud to be part of it – to embrace it for what it was.  This country was my home for three months and I honestly can say that it had been the hardest yet rewarding three months of my life. 

The main reason I travelled to India was because I wanted to feel a sense of making a difference to our world, to make a small change and to experience a different culture. I wanted to experience something that was out of my comfort zone –and so I signed up to volunteer in schools that were run by NGO’s that needed resources, needed time and just needed somebody to care.  My placement lasted ten weeks and there was never a dull moment.  The children ranged in ages 5-14 years and they required a lot of my energy, time and empathy. The children wanted nothing more than to dance, sing, learn and play with Aunty (my title in the classroom) and to share their stories even if sometimes I couldn’t understand what they were saying!

school children in India

The children and teachers could not have made me feel any more welcome. The school days filled with smiles and laughter, the evenings filled with songs and dance, there never was a dull moment.  I can’t sit here and tell you everything was fantastic because then I would be lying to you and myself, there were tough times.  The heat, the constant sweating, the exhaustion, the tummy bugs to name but a few but I can honestly say the triumphs outweighed these tough moments.  From triumphs to defeats,  I will never forget what I felt the moment I knew my time in my school was making a difference.  I remember the day like it was yesterday when a child that wouldn’t engage with me did.

I could see that the child was progressing and it was down to myself not giving up and embracing the different styles of teaching and learning. The language was a difficult barrier to overcome and I had to teach in a more creative way and so I used the art of theatre to do this.  Looking back it was the little moments that made my time overseas a success. Seeing the smiles on the children’s faces and seeing them ooze confidence by the end of my placement that’s when I knew I had made a difference even if it was a small one. 

Looking back on this ten week experience my team was the greatest support for me, we always spent time together around the table drawing and laminating, exchanging anecdotes from our school days, revisiting old nursery rhymes and sharing observations of what we saw. No one will ever be able to understand or take away the pride, love and happiness we felt with the children and organisations we worked with. When people ask me what the hardest part about India was – I tell them it was saying goodbye to the children.

school in India

The knowledge, skills and values I learned was something that will be with me forever.  The teamwork, the resilience, the communication skills to name but a few no college or university will ever teach.   The moment you make the choice to volunteer you are adding your own little touch of magic and your stamp on the map. You are becoming more aware of how we can empower, promote equality and education for all and you will question why things are the way they are and how we can change that.  Can’t you just imagine what that would be like?

Make a difference and put your foot in the water of volunteering – it’ll be the best thing you ever do. 

Massive thanks to Kate Hagan for sharing her story with us. If, like us, you’re inspired to make a positive imprint on areas of the planet less fortunate then USIT run Volunteer programmes in India, Nepal, Ghana, Vietnam, Sri Lanka & Thailand. For enquiries of availability this summer get in touch with our Volunteer Coordinator aoife.murray@usit.ie

Volunteer programmes start from €619.

Ireland & Scotland Make List of Most Scenic Airport Approaches

I’m sorry but if you’re one of those people who doesn’t possess any real fear of flying but doesn’t make a concerted effort to get a window seat, I’m labeling you as a buzz kill! We cannot understand why these type of airline passengers aren’t more stoked to get to see the world from above, especially when flying into these 10 Airports, voted for as the Most Scenic in 2016 in a poll run by PrivateFly. How many of these have you flown into?

No.10 – London City Airport, England

London City

I know you’re thinking “how could a London airport be cool to fly into, it’s just a field an hour away?!”, and if we were talking about Heathrow or Gatwick you’d be spot on. But this one is different. Approaching London City Airport brings you past the very heart of London, not the suburbs but Canary Wharf, The O2 & Westminster all within a stones throw. It’s quite a sight and once you land, no messing about getting into the City Centre as you’ll get there in >15 minutes. Lovely hurling.

No.9 – Los Angeles International (LAX), USA


Maybe surprisingly the only airport approach in the USA that makes the list so by default this one must be the best? Downtown LA reaches skyward and dazzles in the California sunshine. Depending on your approach you’ll probably see all of the Cali desert, the city of LA & the Pacific which hugs the coastline and as the 3rd busiest airport in the US we can bet many of you have soaked it up.

No.8 – St Maarten Airport, St.Maarten

St Maartens

The first truly exotic destination on the list is in the Caribbean and anyone who has had spent any time on Maho Beach will be arguing that this should be higher. Arriving into St.Maarten you’re greeted with bluer than blue Caribbean sea and with the runaway next door to a public beach, the resulting pictures 100% look photoshopped. We assure you, they’re not.

No.7 – Donegal Airport, Ireland


Ireland makes the list! Hands up how many of you have flown into little Donegal Airport though? Well, next time you visit arguably Ireland’s most beautiful county (they’ll be up in arms in Kerry after that one), leave the car at home at take in the wild Atlantic coast as well as Mt.Errigal. Beautiful.

No.6 – Toronto City Airport, Canada


Anyone who has spent time in Canada will know about the island airport of Toronto. This is almost two separate experiences in your descent, the one hand you have the tranquil beauty of Lake Ontario, the other the dramatic skyline of Toronto complete with the CN Tower & Rogers Center. It’s a smashing sight and chances are you’re about to start your Work in Canada Visa. Even more excitement.

No.5 – Sabo Airport, Sabo


The second entry from the Caribbean is unique as all flights will allow you see your island destination on approach before banking left and down onto the ground. It’s probably worth noting however that Sabo has the World’s Shortest Runway so you’d want to trust your pilot!

No.4 – Barra Airport, Scotland


A previous winner of the poll situated in the Outer Hebridies, Barra is probably another airport too close to home for you to have appreciated just yet. Don’t feel bad about this however as it’s largely seaplanes that land here given that the tidal current actually encroaches the runway making for a pretty surreal landing!

No.3 – Queenstown Airport, New Zealand


Just, wow! The Land of the Long Cloud will genuinely take your breath away on approach to the Southern Island airport of Queenstown. You’ll feel as if Frodo and his mates are enviously watching your descent as you’re surrounded by snow capped peaks, wild rivers and barren tundra that still looks untouched by human hands after all this time. It’s a special journey.

No.2 – Cote D’Azur Airport, France


Anyone who has been in the South of France will notice a smile form across their face at the mention of the Cote D’Azur. Almost surrounded by the beautiful Mediterranean, you’ll be still be able to make out the mountains to the north and if you look hard enough, the perfect spot for a glass of vino in the sun after you leave the airport. C’est magnifique!

No.1 – Malta Airport, Malta


The Med scores a 1-2 finish in this year’s PrivateFly.com poll as the rock of Malta is crown the Most Scenic Airport Approach you can take in 2016. While the scenery of Malta and it;s sister islands of Gozo and Comino are a spectacular enough sight, the true beauty of this approach is at sunset or sunrise. If you end up getting emotional, don’t come crying to us. Just pretend you hit yourself in the eye with the seat belt or something.

So there you have it, this year’s Top 10. How many have you flown into so far? How many will you before the year is out? USIT Travel offer packages globally all year round and you better believe these approaches are included. Email adisa@usit.ie for details.



Travel Q+A with Janet Newenham (Journalist on the Run)

This month we were lucky enough to catch up with travel blogger extraordinaire, Janet Newenham whose blog Journalist on the Run has been shortlisted for Best Travel Blog in Ireland and articles have been published on Matador Network and National Geographic!  If you dream about becoming a travel blogger some day, consider Janet your inspiration… Continue reading Travel Q+A with Janet Newenham (Journalist on the Run)

9 of the best once in a lifetime trips to take

There are some places in the World that you’ll probably visit time and time again.  Then there are others that you’ll only experience once in your life, either because of a cash-flow situation, or the fact that they are so far away, or simply because they’re so special that you don’t want to spoil the magic!  These 9 trips fall into the second category…
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Destinations: 15 Things to do in Sydney

We probably could have come up with a list of 100 things to do in Sydney – the city will never leave you stuck when it comes to all of the shopping, food, activities or breathtaking sights that it has to offer!  Here are our 15 picks for what you should get up to while you’re exploring ‘The Harbour City’… Continue reading Destinations: 15 Things to do in Sydney

Travel Q&A with Edwina Elizabeth O Connor (The Life of Stuff)

This month, we caught up with blogger Edwina Elizabeth O Connor, whose blog ‘The Life of Stuff’ combines travel with food, culture, music and more!

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Top Cities to Have your Stag Weekend

Following on from last week’s post about the Best European Cities for a hen weekend, we’re moving onto the stags, lads!

Having your stag party abroad generally costs the same amount overall as having it someplace in Ireland, plus you get the added bonus of getting to explore another city, experience the culture, and most importantly sample all of the fine beers it has to offer!* Continue reading Top Cities to Have your Stag Weekend