Tag - Feature

UNESCO World Heritage Site Map

This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site Map from taste2travel.

Introduction

One of the joys of travelling is being able to visit incredible monuments and areas of natural beauty which are considered to be of immense value to humanity.

The Grand Canyon is one of 1,154 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The Grand Canyon is one of 1,154 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Locating these special places is made easy thanks to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) who designate places of significance as World Heritage Sites.

World Heritage Sites are designated by UNESCO for having either cultural, historical, scientific, natural or some other form of significance. The sites are categorised as either ‘cultural‘, ‘natural‘ or ‘mixed‘.

The top ten UNESCO World Heritage Site countries.

The top ten UNESCO World Heritage Site countries.

Of the top ten countries, ranked by the number of sites, 6 are located in Europe, with Italy having the most sites at 58.

As of 2021, there were a total of 1,154 World Heritage Sites (897 cultural, 218 natural, and 39 mixed properties) located across 167 countries.

The iconic Machu Picchu in Peru is one of 1,154 UNESCO World Heritage Sites around the world.

The iconic Machu Picchu in Peru is one of 1,154 UNESCO World Heritage Sites around the world.

Visiting iconic sites such as the Pyramids in Egypt, the Galapagos Islands, Machu Picchu in Peru or the Grand Canyon in the United States provide lifetime memories for those who make the journey. These are just 4 of the 1,154 World Heritage Sites around the world!

World Heritage Site Map

How to locate these 1,154 sites across 167 countries?

I’ve created a map (above), using data from UNESCO, which shows the locations of the three different types of sites around the world, with gold markers representing Cultural sites, green representing Natural sites and purple representing Mixed sites.

Different colour markers indicate different site category types.

Different colour markers indicate different site category types.

The map is an interactive Google map which allows you to zoom in and select a specific site. You can launch the map in full screen mode by clicking the box icon in the upper-right corner.

Information, which has been provided by UNESCO, is displayed for each World Heritage Site.

Serial World Heritage Sites

The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Spain is part of a larger UNESCO World Heritage Serial Site.

The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Spain is part of a larger UNESCO World Heritage Serial Site.

While there are 1,154 sites, these represent the tip of the iceberg!

Many sites contain separate, multiple ‘sub-sites’ which are known as ‘Serial World Heritage Sites‘.

Currently, the largest serial site, “Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe”, contains 94 sub-sites, spread across 18 European countries.

Such a profusion of sites offers a lifetime, or two, of exploration for the enthusiastic nomad!


I hope this UNESCO World Heritage Site Map is of use as you make your way around the world, ticking off all of those interesting sites.

If you have any comments or questions, please do not hesitate to contact me using the comments field below.

Safe Travels!
Darren


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How to Book Cheap Flights

Departure boards at Hamid International Airport.

How to Book Cheap Flights

Welcome to the taste2travel ‘How to Book Cheap Flights’ guide!

Date: June 2019

Introduction

How to Book Cheap Flights explains how you can find and book a bargain airfare, a simple, straightforward process, made easy thanks to a few useful websites.

Deal Websites

Secret Flying

The Secret Flying website allows you to select deals according to geographical regions. such as 'USA'.

The Secret Flying website allows you to select deals according to geographical regions. such as ‘USA’.

One of my favourite websites for bagging a bargain airfare is Secret Flying. If you’re flexible with your travel plans or just want to view a list of deals, Secret Flying features regularly updated lists of deeply discounted and error fares.

Error Fares displayed on Secret Flying.

Error Fares displayed on Secret Flying.

What’s an error fare? An error fare is when an airline accidentally lists a pricing mistake, thereby offering tickets significantly cheaper than intended. The trick to securing an error fare is to be quick and book the flight before the airline realises their mistake.

Why do error fares occur? Error fares happen for various reasons such as the dumping of the (very expensive) fuel surcharge fee, human error, computer error or even mistakes due to currency conversions.

Deals displayed on the Secret Flying website.

Deals displayed on the Secret Flying website.

You can view current deals based on geographical region (most of them are in North America) and subscribe to receive a daily email which will list the latest bargains. Handy links are included in each deal which will take you directly to the discounted airfares which you can then book.

Finding a Cheap Flight

Wikipedia Airport Guides

The Wikipedia page for Tahiti International Airport, officially known as Fa'a'ā International Airport.

The Wikipedia page for Tahiti International Airport, officially known as Fa’a’ā International Airport.

Not all airlines are included in search results, especially low-cost carriers. Before conducting a search for flights, it’s best to gain an understanding of which airlines serve your destination.

To do this you should perform a Google search on your destination airport. At the top of the search results, you’ll find a Wikipedia page for that airport.

On the Wikipedia page, you’ll find a list of all airlines (see the following image) currently flying to/ from the specified airport. In this example, I have searched on Tahiti International Airport, officially known as Fa’a’ā International Airport.

Once you have a list of all airlines, you can then search for flights using regular Online Travel Agent (OTA’s) websites such as Expedia, Skyscanner etc and, if certain airlines are omitted from the results, you can check their websites manually.


A listing of all airlines currently serving Tahiti International Airport in French Polynesia which includes French Bee.

A listing of all airlines currently serving Tahiti International Airport in French Polynesia which includes French Bee.

As an example – I once searched for an airfare to Tahiti from the United States. Normally flights to this South Pacific paradise are very expensive and the regular search results were not encouraging.

However, a quick look at the Tahiti International Airport page on Wikipedia showed a French discount carrier, French Bee, flew to Tahiti, from Paris via San Francisco, three times a week. It didn’t appear in any of the search results!

I then checked their website manually (also clickable from the Wiki page) and found an airfare for a third of the price of the other regular carriers. I booked a one-way ticket from San Francisco to French Polynesia (click to read my report) for US$350! Most other carriers were charging around US$1000.

ITA Matrix

A search on the ITA Matrix for a one-way flight from Miami to Brussels, selecting a calendar view of lowest fares.

A search on the ITA Matrix for a one-way flight from Miami to Brussels, selecting a calendar view of lowest fares.

My go-to sight for searching out bargain airfares is the ITA Matrix, which is a Google website. You can search for One-way, Return or Multi-City airfares by either specifying a specific travel date or electing to view a monthly calendar view of airfares.

The search result from the Miami to Brussels query clearly highlights the cheapest fares in red.

The search result from the Miami to Brussels query clearly highlights the cheapest fares in red.

Search results are displayed on a calendar view, which highlights the cheapest available airfare on each given day, with the cheapest monthly fare easily identifiable in red.

Clicking on any of the days will allow you to view all available fares for that date. The following screenshot shows the results from the 6th of July, one of three days in the month offering the best value.

The cheapest fare available on a particular route during the month will be highlighted in red.

The cheapest fare available on a particular route during the month will be highlighted in red.

The results from the 6th of July show the low-cost (Belgium) carrier, Tui Fly, are offering a direct flight (8h 55m) for US$174, just a quarter of the cost of the next cheapest offer from Aeroflot, whose indirect flight (22h 30m) leaves you sitting around Moscow airport for hours. I have flown on this flight before at the same price – a great value connection between Miami and Europe. 

To view the itinerary for the Tui Fly flight, you simply click on the Price button next to the fare, in this case – US$174.

How to Book Cheap Flights: The itinerary for the TUI Fly flight includes the all-important fare construction code for the ticket.

The itinerary for the TUI Fly flight includes the all-important fare construction code for the ticket.

At the bottom of the itinerary is the fare construction code for the ticket, which is needed to book the ticket. The only thing you cannot do on the ITA Matrix is actually book a ticket.


ITA Matrix Advanced Controls

A list of 'Advanced Control' options which allow you to enhance searches on the ITA Matrix.

A list of ‘Advanced Control’ options which allow you to enhance searches on the ITA Matrix.

The real power of the ITA Matrix comes from the many ‘Advanced Control‘ options which allow you to refine your search in a variety of ways. If you wish to travel on a certain airline, via a certain city etc, you can specify it all using the advanced functions.

If you wish to fully understand all of the controls and features of the ITA Matrix, upgradedpoints.com offers a comprehensive tutorial which will allow you to become an ITA Matrix guru.


Booking a Ticket

Book With Matrix

How to Book Cheap Flights: The 'Book With Matrix' website allows you to copy and paste an itinerary from the ITA Matrix which can then be converted and fed to a booking site.

The ‘Book With Matrix’ website allows you to copy and paste an itinerary from the ITA Matrix which can then be converted and fed to a booking site.

Once you’re ready to book a ticket, you’ll need to find an OTA which can convert the code generated from the ITA Matrix. Unfortunately, not many sites can do this!

The site I use, and recommend, is Book with Matrix which isn’t an Online Travel Agent but an interface between the ITA Matrix and various OTA’s. Book With Matrix allows you to copy and paste the itinerary generated from the ITA Matrix into a window at the top of the website.

'Book With Matrix' converting the booking code from the ITA Matrix.

‘Book With Matrix’ converting the booking code from the ITA Matrix.

The site then converts the booking code, passing it to various OTA’s, from where you can book your bargain fare.

How to Book Cheap Flights: A list of Online Travel Agents from which the Fly Tui airfare can be purchased.

A list of Online Travel Agents from which the Fly Tui airfare can be purchased.

In this example, I selected Priceline.com as my OTA of choice. The following screenshot shows you the final step in the process where you get to purchase your bargain ticket.

The screen from Priceline.com from where you can purchase the TUI Fly flight.

The screen from Priceline.com from where you can purchase the TUI Fly flight.

Book With Matrix Utility

If you’re going to be a regular user of the ITA Matrix and Book With Matrix, it’s worth downloading the useful utility from Book With Matrix, which installs a ‘booking button’ on your internet search bar.

When you install the 'Book With Matrix' utility, a clickable booking button will be automatically added to your search bar.

When you install the ‘Book With Matrix’ utility, a clickable booking button will be automatically added to your search bar.

The 'Book With Matrix' booking button.

The ‘Book With Matrix’ booking button.

From the ITA Matrix Itinerary screen, you simply click the booking button to initiate an automated process which converts the ITA Matrix fare code, then displays the OTA’s from which you can book your ticket.

All automated, and done in seconds! 

The ITA Matrix Itinerary screen.

The ITA Matrix Itinerary screen.

Once purchased, your bargain ticket will be emailed to you and you’re on your way!

If you have any questions regarding this topic, please contact me via the ‘Contact’ page. If you think this would be helpful to others, feel free to share it using any of the buttons below.


That’s the end of this post. I hope it has provided some useful tips which will save you some dollars!

Safe Travels!

Darren


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How to Book Cheap Flights How to Book Cheap Flights How to Book Cheap Flights How to Book Cheap Flights

Proof Of Onward Travel

A panoramic view of Statia from a Winair flight.

Proof Of Onward Travel

How to provide proof of onward travel when travelling on a one-way ticket.

Last Updated: November 2022

“Can I please see Proof of Onward Travel?”

For someone travelling on a one-way ticket, this sweat-inducing request can come anytime from either an airline employee, during check-in, or an immigration officer, when entering a country.

The need to provide proof of onward travel, when journeying to a country, is the curse of the modern, nomadic traveller who travels with no fixed plan or schedule.

Whilst most countries are happy to welcome visitors, none are happy if you overstay your welcome and, increasingly, airlines and immigration officials want to know you have a confirmed departure date.

If, when asked, you are unable to show proof of onward travel, airlines can refuse to board you and immigration officers can refuse to admit you into their country.

For almost all conventional travellers, who travel with return tickets or have onward flights, this requirement presents no problems.

However, for the tiny percentage of nomadic, meandering souls (especially backpackers), who wish to remain free from the constraints of a planned itinerary and hop around the planet using one-way tickets, this requirement can be onerous.

How to remain flexible, with a fluid itinerary, while satisfying a requirement which forces you to commit to a firm departure date?

Onward Travel Hack

One ‘travel hack‘ is provided by Priceline.com, and other Expedia companies, who offer a free 23-hour cancellation window on certain tickets.

A Priceline.com ticket, with the free 23-hour cancel option highlighted.

A Priceline.com ticket, with the free 23-hour cancel option highlighted.

If, for example, you’re flying into Thailand on a one-way ticket and need to provide proof of onward travel you could purchase a cheap one-way flight to nearby Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam) with the free cancel option.

Such a ticket should be purchased just before you depart for the airport, as you will have just 23-hours to cancel the ticket from the time of purchase. 

Flight ticket purchased through Priceline with the 'Cancel Your Flight' option clearly shown.

Flight ticket purchased through Priceline with the ‘Cancel Your Flight’ option clearly shown.

You can then use this legitimate ticket as proof of onward travel!

Once you reach your destination, you then simply login to your booking and select the cancel option. The full cost of the flight will be refunded to the credit card which was used to book the flight.

Once you reach your destination, you can simple cancel your Priceline flight ticket.

Once you reach your destination, you can simple cancel your Priceline flight ticket.

You are now free to continue your travels and organise your departure at a later date.

Of course, this hack only works provided you will have entered your destination within 23 hours of ticket purchase – beyond that, you will be penalised for any changes or cancellation. 

 


That’s the end of this post. I hope it has provided you with some useful information which can be used next time you need to book an onward flight. 

Safe Travels!

Darren


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Henley Passport Index

Henley Passport Index

This is a taste2travel post on the Henley Passport Index.

Latest Update – January 2023

Introduction

Henley and Partners of London have just released their 2023 Henley Passport Index to reflect the current strength of all passports.

What exactly is the Passport Index?

The Henley Passport Index is the original, authoritative ranking of all the world’s passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa.

A Measure of Passport Power

Passport Index Globe. <br><i>Source: Henley & Partners Website

Passport Index Globe.
Source: Henley & Partners Website

In 1984, Saint Kitts and Nevis, the smallest sovereign state in the Americas, passed a law offering citizenship to individuals who “made a substantial investment in the state” and were of good character and not a threat to the country.

Since then, other Caribbean nations such as Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, St. Lucia and Grenada have introduced their own citizenship programs which allow for those willing to pay a substantial fee the opportunity to easily acquire a 2nd passport.

For consulting firms in the residence and citizenship-by-investment industry, there is a need to rank the ‘quality’ or ‘power’ of different passports.

One such firm – Henley & Partners – publish the Henley Passport Index which is an annual ranking of all the passports of the world according to the number of countries their holders can travel to visa-free.

The ranking is based on data provided by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which maintains a comprehensive database of global travel information. The IATA data is augmented by in-house research conducted by Henley & Partners itself.

Index Mechanics

Passport stamps.

The index includes 199 different passports and 227 different travel destinations.

For each travel destination, if no visa is required for passport holders from a country or territory, then a score with value = 1 is created for that passport. A score with value = 1 is also applied if passport holders can obtain a visa on arrival, a visitor’s permit, or an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) when entering the destination.

These visa-types require no pre-departure government approval, because of the specific visa-waiver programs in place.

Where a visa is required, or where a passport holder has to obtain a government-approved electronic visa before departure, a score with value = 0 is assigned. A score with value = 0 is also assigned if passport holders need pre-departure government approval for a visa on arrival, a scenario not considered ‘visa-free’.

The total score for each passport is equal to the number of destinations for which no visa is required (value = 1), under the conditions defined above.

2023 Henley Passport Index

The strongest passport on the 2023 Henley Passport Index is that of Japan, whose citizens enjoy visa-free travel to 193 countries.

‘Top 10’ Rankings

"2023

‘Bottom 10’ Rankings

At the other end of the index, the weakest passport belongs to Afghanistan, whose citizens can visit just 27 countries visa-free.

"2023

Online Passport Comparison

The Henley & Partners website allows you to compare the strength of your passport and to view the performance of your passport during the 18 years in which the index has been compiled.

How does your passport measure up? 

 


Safe Travels!

Darren


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Country & Territory List

Country & Territory List

Welcome to the taste2travel Country & Territory List!

Last Update: 16th of October 2020

Introduction

A far-away-land, the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia is the World's largest salt plain.

A far-away-land, the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia is the World’s largest salt plain.

Once-upon-a-time, in a far away land, I was curious to know how many countries and territories I’d visited.

Whilst I don’t visit destinations simply to tick them off a checklist, after visiting so many places, I needed a way to keep track of where I’d been.

I searched high and low for an editable, electronic list but found nothing suitable so I created my own Countries and Territories list in Excel and built in some basic functionality, sparing me the onerous task of always updating my ‘total’ count.

United Nations Members

The United Nations General Assembly hall in New York City.

The United Nations General Assembly hall in New York City.

Once I started researching, I realised that there are many different types of ‘country’ lists. The United Nations defines a country as those states whose sovereignty is undisputed.

Currently there are 193 such states, with all of them being members of the United Nations. For many “country counters”, the list of 193 UN member countries is the standard reference list which they adhere to.

UN Structure

Member States

Following its independence, Timor-Leste (East Timor) became the 191st member of the United Nations.

Following its independence, Timor-Leste (East Timor) became the 191st member of the United Nations.

With the addition of South Sudan on the 14th of July 2011 to the UN, there are currently a total of 193 UN member states, which includes all undisputed independent states – apart from Vatican City. The UN member states meet in the General Assembly hall at UN Headquarters in New York City.

Non-member States

There are currently two non-member states, the Vatican City (Holy See) and the State of Palestine, which have a standing invitation to participate as observers in the sessions and the work of the General Assembly and maintain permanent observer missions at UN Headquarters.

Limited Recognition States

This cloaked statue of Lenin greets all visitors arriving in Tiraspol, capital of Transnistria.

This cloaked statue of Lenin greets all visitors arriving in Tiraspol, capital of Transnistria.

Additionally, there are currently nine states whose sovereignty is disputed and, hence, are unable to become UN members. Included on this list are Taiwan, Kosovo and Western Sahara, all of which are included on my list.

Another disputed state is Transnistria, which has broken away from neighbouring Moldova. A wonderfully quirky destination, you can read all about it in my Transnistria Travel Guide.


Video: How Many Countries Are There?

 


Dependent Territories

The 'Blue Hole of Voh' in New Caledonia, a French territory in the South Pacific.

The ‘Blue Hole of Voh’ in New Caledonia, a French territory in the South Pacific.

One of the limitations of the UN list is that all dependent territories are included under the umbrella of their parent state.

As an example, by spending some time in France, you can tick-off ‘France’, which also includes all the dependent French territories.

This would eliminate the need to visit amazing destinations such as Martinique, Guadeloupe, St. Barts, St. Martin, French Guiana, Réunion, French Polynesia, New Caledonia or even Mayotte (click the links to read my Travel Guides for these destinations). Such a shame!

Those who focus only on visiting the 193 UN member states can rightly claim that they have visited ‘all countries’ in the World, which is semantically correct. However, focussing only on the UN states disregards the many fascinating and engaging territories located around the world.

An incredible sight, Sørvágsvatn is the largest lake in the Faroe Islands, a territory of Denmark.

An incredible sight, Sørvágsvatn is the largest lake in the Faroe Islands, a territory of Denmark.

Once you include dependent territories, you have a choice of including the many uninhabited territories (small islands in the middle of nowhere which are home to a few seabirds) or just the inhabited ones. I chose to include only the populated territories on my list.

There are also two populated territories which serve as sovereign military bases and are are off-limits to visitors; Akrotiri and Dhekelia (Cyprus) and the British Indian Ocean Territory, both of which are administered by the United Kingdom.

Such places have been excluded from my list as they are not accessible to the travelling public.

Antarctica

An Adelie Penguin with her chick in Antarctica.

An Adelie Penguin with her chick in Antarctica.

One exception to the rules of inclusion is Antarctica. A truly unique destination, technically no one owns Antarctica, although a lot of people claim it, and you can visit it.

While not a UN member, or a territory of any one country, I have included it on my list.

Sovereign Military Order of Malta

 

The coat of arms of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.

The coat of arms of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.

Then there is the case of the truly bizarre Sovereign Military Order of Malta (the Wikipedia page makes for interesting reading) which has its own military, currency, postage stamps and passports, and which has permanent observer status at the UN, but doesn’t have any territory.

Headquartered in the opulent Palazzo Malta in Rome, its mission is summed up in its motto: Tuitio fidei et obsequium pauperum, “Defence of the (Catholic) faith and assistance to the poor”. The order is led by an elected Prince and Grand Master.

The SMOM is a non-state sovereign entity and is not included in the United Nations, as it claims neither statehood nor territory.

The Order has established full diplomatic relations with 107 sovereign states as a sovereign subject of international law, and also maintains full diplomatic relations with the European Union, the Holy See, and the State of Palestine.

I have not included the Order on my list.

Travelers’ Century Club

Travelers Century Club Logo.

Based in the United States, the Travelers’ Century Club maintains a list of 324 destinations which its members spend their time visiting. The TCC claims that their list “has widespread recognition as the standard of countries and territories that are of significant interest, as distinct destinations, to serious travellers”.

Membership, which requires an annual fee, is open only to those who can prove that they have visited at least 100 countries.

Most Traveled People

MTP Logo.

Most Traveled People (MTP) is a free club for travellers who aspire to go “everywhere.”

Where is everywhere? MTP’s master-list includes 995 destinations for you to tick-off, with many countries broken down into separate states/ provinces/ counties etc. Enough to keep you busy for a lifetime or two!

Once you’ve finished ticking the boxes, you can view your ranking against the thousands of other members and possibly make the ‘Hall of Fame‘, which lists those members who have visited at least 500 destinations, of which I am one.

The website includes news on the latest exploits of enthusiastic adventurers who risk life and limb on their quest to reach every remote outpost on the planet.

Best Country Counting App

My travel map in the Mark O'Travel app, with all countries visited shaded in 'Yves Klein Blue', the same blue which is used throughout the Taste2travel website.

My travel map in the Mark O’Travel app, with all countries visited shaded in ‘Yves Klein Blue’, the same blue which is used throughout the Taste2travel website.

There are many free apps which allow you to keep track of the countries you have visited.

The one I use, and recommend, is Mark O’Travel, which, unlike other apps, allows you to select the country list you wish to use and offers much more functionality. The map can be fully tailored including the colours used for specific regions, countries etc.

The basic country list is comprised of the 193 UN Member States, from which you can then add different types of dependent territory lists.

A flag icon is included for each country/ territory, and, for those who wish to be even more specific, region lists are available for many countries.

Taste2travel Country & Territory List

The Taste2travel Country & Territory list lists 246 countries and dependent (populated) territories and highlights those which are UN Member states.

To make this (Excel) list your own, simply click on the ‘Download‘ link (below the spreadsheet) then place an ‘X‘ next to those destinations you’ve visited. Your total count will be displayed at the bottom of the list.



 



That’s the end of this post.

Safe travels!

Darren


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