Happy new year! Here are my top 5 adrenaline rushes for 2010

Getting ready to plunge off the Macau Tower

Attention thrill-seekers! Find yourself bored by lazy beach life at all-inclusive resorts? Do you dream of pushing the limits, testing your nerves and your bladder control? For the brave and ballsy, here are five adrenaline-pumping activities that will rock your next vacation:

1) Race Car Driving School in Arizona:

Those with a need for speed will love the Bob Bondurant High Performance Driving School, where students learn to drive like the pros. Located in Arizona, this 60-acre racing facility offers four hour to four day courses specializing in racing techniques, car control and accident avoidance on an open track. Under the supervision of top instructors, you can take a Corvette Z51 Coupe for a spin around the block for some Grand Prix goodness. http://www.bondurant.com/

2) Macau Sky Jump in Hong Kong:

Imagine yourself standing on the edge of the Macau Tower, preparing to plummet 233 meters toward the Earth. For Superman wanabees, the Macau Tower offers the world’s highest SkyJump where you “fly through air at 46 mph in 20 seconds before decelerating to a comfortable landing speed.”  According to the Guinness World Records, it’s the world’s highest commercial decelerator (Keep reading.)

Julia’s Traveler’s Holiday Gift Guide

Looking for that perfect holiday gift for the globetrotter in your life? Here are eight ideas on what to get for your jet setting buddies.

For the Book Worm Traveler:

When you’re stuck in an airport, or dealing with those pesky travel delays, the Kindle, a wireless reading device which holds up to 1500 e-books, can be a life-saver. At $259 a pop, the Kindle isn’t cheap but downloading bestselling books wirelessly sure is easier than lugging them in your carry-on luggage. For those long road trips, there’s even a ‘read-to-me’ feature, where newspapers, magazines or blogs are read out loud. Compact, lightweight and eco-friendly, it’s a great gift for the voracious readers and frequent flyers in your life. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0015T963C

The Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook:Travel, by David Borgenicht, from www.Amazon.com

For the Nervous Traveler:

“The Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook – Travel” offers cheeky advice on such travel nightmares as: runaway camels, UFO abductions, plane crash landings on water, hostage situations, volcanic eruption and crossing piranha infested waters.  $10.17 at Amazon.com

For the Gadget Geek:

You can now charge your iPhone, Blackberry, mP3 player, digital cameras and other tech gear all (Keep reading.)

Julia’s Top 10 Holiday Travel Survival Tips

Survive the Holiday Travel Season with tips from Julia!

Traveling around the holidays can be very stressful. Long line ups, delayed flights, crowds of irritated people…holiday travel can be a nightmare! Having traveling around the world four times, to over 80 countries, across five continents, and hundreds of flights, I’ve picked up a few tips along the way.

Here are my Top 10 Holiday Travel Survival Tips:

1.  The #1 Rule of Survival – Give Yourself Enough Time: This rule applies across the board, from booking to connecting flights. When first selecting your flight, remember to book in advance for better prices and bigger selection of dates and routes. When browsing for flight, hotel and car options, a great travel tool is www.kayak.com – an online travel search engine that compares hundreds of flight options in one simple search.

Using Kayak Trips www.kayak.com/trips is a great way to organize your travel itineraries and set up alerts for delays, cancellations, and gate changes. Trip alerts can be sent directly to your mobile device so you can stay informed before and while you are at the airport.

Kayak also has a newly updated Kayak iPhone app which offers a quick directory to all airlines. You can forward all of your different booking receipts from airlines, hotels and car rentals, and get an integrated itinerary on the trips tool on the iPhone. Handy!

2.  Book a direct flight to avoid getting stuck somewhere due to weather. It will cost more than connecting flights but may save you hours in layovers. If budget is more your concern, then connecting flights are your best financial bet, but be aware of potential delays and give yourself a good buffer zone between flight connections. (Keep reading.)

When in Rome… Fight Like a Gladiator

Julia Gladiator 1

Smash. Our swords collide with a colossal metal clang. Lifting my shield above my head, I manage to avoid a lethal blow before narrowly dodging a trident aimed for my stomach.

This is an average day at Scuola Gladiatori, a school just outside downtown Rome, which trains students to fight like gladiators. Using authentic weapons dating back to ancient Rome, instructors take tourist beyond the crowds and kitsch of the Coliseum. It’s a two-hour, hands-on history lesson that encourages learning through active participation.

As the saying goes: “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” so I sign up for a private lesson to learn how to rumble like a real gladiator. (Keep reading.)

Quirky Things to Do in NYC This Thanksgiving Weekend

Photo Credit: MoMa.org

Photo Credit: MoMa.org

Succulent roasted turkeys, buttery pumpkin pies and Rockwell family portraits may be how most people aim to experience Thanksgiving, but when visiting the Big Apple this weekend, there are some travelers who crave something a little more… alternative.

Quit tradition cold turkey. Ditch the Donald Duck balloons at the annual Macy Thanksgiving Day’s parade for these five outrageous and totally unconventional New York City activities. (Keep reading.)

A How-To Guide to Volunteer Vacations

elephant washing

Thanksgiving is a holiday that inspires generosity, charity and kindness. For the traveler, this festive feast may also stir altruistic desires to give back and help those who are less fortunate. Volunteering abroad is a great way to help local communities, learn about the country and gain some major karma credits.

But where do you start? If you’re looking to plan your own volunteer vacation, there are thousands of opportunities offered around the world, from environmental protection groups, to animal rights, archeological digs to organic farming, building wells to teaching children soccer. There’s truly something for everyone but, with all the options available, choosing the right one may be a little confusing.

Having dabbled in global volunteer work myself, I offer the following step-by-step guide to finding your perfect placement: (Keep reading.)

Travel Junkie – An Intro to Julia Dimon

Jordan-Julia on camel in Wadi Rum - courtesy of WT

My name is Julia Dimon and I’m a self-diagnosed travel junkie.

My obsession with travel first started with an innocent high-school trip to Italy. I was sixteen, impressionable, and thrilled to be living outside the watchful eye of my over-protective parents. It only took a few days of Renaissance art, chocolate gelato, and handsome Italian boys before I was hooked.

Take it from me, travel is highly addictive. It doesn’t come with the Surgeon General’s warning, but it should. Travel once and you’ll have an insatiable desire to do it over and over and over again.

My addiction has taken me all over the world – more than 80 countries across six continents and I’m only in my twenties. I’ve lived as a Buddhist monk in Korea, battled through a survival course in the snake-infested jungles of Belize, jumped off one of the world’s highest towers, toured genocide memorials in Rwanda, made lip-plates with the Mursi women of Southern Ethiopia, braved radiation in Chernobyl and spent a night of “torture” in a Latvian prison.

From the depths of the Great Barrier Reef to the top of Machu Picchu, I’ve hiked with silverback gorillas in Uganda, snorkeled with whale sharks in Mozambique, climbed The Great Wall of China, dog-sledded in Greenland, camel trekked in Jordan, slept with lions in the Serengeti, snacked on local delicacies such as silk worm, goat brain, six-inch scorpions, snake blood…even severed human toe – nasty.

So what prompted this desire to gallivant across the globe? (Keep reading.)

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