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New in Travel: 15 best new openings of 2017

Looking for inspiration to refresh your travel wish list in 2017? From walking a tightrope above a 3000m drop to tasting gourmet snacks fresh off a 3D printer, Dutch-Library Travel News has sought out the best openings and brightest attractions for the coming year.

Ionad Cultúrtha an Phiarsaigh, Connemara, Ireland

Opened November 2016

The newly opened visitor centre at Patrick Pearse’s Cottage lies in the heart of the Gaeltacht area where Irish is still a vibrant, living language in use by the locals. As well as paying tribute to one of the key figures of the country’s revolutionary history, it celebrates the local history and cultural impact of the native language. Set in the middle of an incredible windswept landscape, it’s a chance for visitors to experience an often hidden part of Ireland.

Ruta de Cafe, El Salvador

Go back to the source of the world’s favourite pick-me-up by exploring the Coffee Route. El Salvador’s dense coffee forests are opening up to tourism and are full of exciting opportunities for extreme sports, wildlife spotting and a chance to cultivate the beans themselves, all within sight of the countryside’s magnificent hills and mountains.

Food Ink, Worldwide

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Get a taste of the future as the world’s first 3D printing restaurant embarks on a world tour this year after a successful pop-up in London. Combining fine dining with the latest in technology, the results are visually stunning gourmet feasts. If you can’t book in for a full meal, you can visit during the day to taste the snacks and learn how the printers work.

Thrill Walk, Switzerland

Opened July 2016

If hiking the Bernese Alps isn’t enough of an adrenaline rush for you, it’s time to tackle Schilthorn Mountain’s new Thrill Walk. You’ll need nerves of steel to cross the tightrope with nothing but a net between you and a drop of nearly 3000 metres, but you’ll be rewarded with priceless views and stunning photos from the observation deck.

World’s largest Lego store, London, UK

Opened November 2016

The world’s biggest Lego store is now open in Leicester Square and is a must-see for young and young-at-heart travellers. Covering a whopping 914 square metres over two floors, it’s a huge treasure trove for fans of the building bricks that have sparked a love of construction and creativity for decades.

Shanghai Tower, China

Opened July 2016

Now officially the world’s second tallest building, Shanghai Tower offers unrivalled views of the city’s incredible skyline from the world’s highest observation deck 118 storeys above the ground. Best of all, you’ll reach it by travelling upwards at 18 metres per second in the world’s fastest elevator.

Pike Place Market expansion, Seattle, USA

Opening June 2017

Arguably America’s most famous food market, Pike Place Market is finally due to be completed in 2017 with its long-planned expansion to the Market Historic District. As well as an extra 30,000 square metres of public space to wander in, there’ll be plenty more local shops, restaurants, farm and craft stalls to browse for souvenirs and artisan treats.

Mangrove Museum, Chilaw, Sri Lanka

Opened July 2016

The race is on to protect the world from climate change and the extraordinary mangrove trees are at the forefront of the battle. They can eliminate up to five times more carbon than any other forest and the Sri Lanka Mangrove Conservation Project hopes to cement their importance for generations to come.

Europe’s first beer fountain, Žalec, Slovenia

Opened September 2016

Celebrate all things ale and hoppy with this innovative fountain of beer. The micro-chipped glass will trigger the automatic dispensers allowing you to taste eight different varieties of the local brews that Slovenia is so proud of. Its location in the public square means it’s always open for business.

University of Kairaouine Library, Fez, Morocco

Opened June 2016

Bibliophiles will have a new entry on their bucket list with the reopening of the oldest library in the world at the Kairaouine University. Closed since 2012, it has been a centre for Islamic learning since 859 and now scholars can once again explore the sprawling courtyards, reading rooms and ornate interiors that have been home to Islamic studies for centuries.

Noma’s urban farm, Copenhagen, Denmark

Opening February 2017

One of the world’s most famous restaurants is going in a whole new direction by reopening in a new location nestled in their very own urban farm. With it comes a new focus on seasonal produce, dividing Noma’s menu into three distinct seasons; seafood in winter, a fully vegetarian menu in spring and summer, before turning to forest produce and game for autumn.

IMG World of Adventure, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Opened September 2016

With zones dedicated to dinosaurs, Marvel and Cartoon Network, family travel in Dubai just got a lot more fun. IMG World of Adventure (imgworlds.com) is the world’s largest indoor theme park and is just the beginning for the United Arab Emirates, with similar ventures being planned for Doha and Abu Dhabi.

H&W Shipyard Hotel, Belfast, Northern Ireland

Opens 2017

Step back in time with a stay at what promises to be the world’s most authentic Titanic-themed hotel. One of the Northern Ireland’s most iconic buildings will be transformed into an exclusive boutique hotel, giving visitors a chance to fall asleep surrounded by history.

Turismo Bribri, Talamanca, Costa Rica

Starts April 2017

Turismo Bribri is a new tour agency aiming to give visitors a chance to experience the indigenous Bribri culture of Costa Rica for themselves. Local guides will help you explore the rainforest, natural food and medicine and learn about the unique Bribri language and culture while supporting the local community.

The Abraj Kudai hotel, Mecca, Saudi Arabia

Expected to open 2017

Pilgrims to Mecca will soon be able to book one of 10,000 rooms currently being built in the largest hotel in the world. There will be 12 towers (10 four-star and two five-star) and 70 restaurants spanning a whopping 1.4 million square metres. It literally doesn’t get any bigger than this.

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8 places to escape to this weekend for under £200

Looking to spend the bank holiday weekend as far away from home as possible? Then you’re in luck; here are eight destinations you can escape to for under £200.

1. Edinburgh

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The Scottish capital is just a 4.5-hour blast up the scenic East Coast Mainline, with return tickets from London starting at £135. Once you’re there, soak in the city’s medieval history, scale Arthur’s Seat, see an exhibition or two and rehydrate in the city’s excellent pubs.

2. Inverness

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If Edinburgh isn’t quite far enough, you could head further north to the Highlands. It’s a bit of a schlep alright – the London to Inverness service (return tickets from £162) takes eight hours – but passengers are rewarded with exquisite scenery en route. When you eventually get there, in Inverness you’ll find a handsome Highland city with fine restaurants, cosy pubs and monster-spotting excursions to nearby Loch Ness.

3. Zurich

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Head to Zurich this weekend to celebrate the centenary of Dadaism, a cultural movement that changed art forever and began in the city’s narrow, cobbled streets in 1916. There are plenty of events – from walking tours to art exhibitions – going on to mark the occasion. Vueling can get you there and back (from Luton Airport) from £198.

4. Paris

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Return tickets to Paris on the Eurostar this weekend start from £199, though you’ll have to set the alarm pretty early. Admittedly the pound is down against the euro, but Paris has scarcely been so affordable, with hotels slashing prices in a bid to tempt tourists back after the recent terrorist attacks. Despite the headlines, the city is safe and very much open for business.

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5. Bruges

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Arguably the best preserved medieval city in Europe, Bruges’s cobbled streets, quaint canals and timeworn bars are just a few hours away from London thanks to Eurostar, which has return tickets to any Belgian station for £199.

6. Jersey

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Enjoy the dying embers of summer in Jersey, which boasts gorgeous beaches, fine restaurants, terrific coastal walks and some fascinating historical sites where the ghosts of Nazi occupation still lingers. British Airways will get you there and back from £173. Alternatively, take Condor’s fast ferry from Poole (return £130).

7. Hannover

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The historic links between Hannover and Britain run deep: from 1714 until 1837 the king of Hannover was also the British monarch. Forge fresh links by visiting the German city this weekend, taking time to explore its pretty old town, baroque gardens and bountiful bars. British Airways has return flights from £172.

8. The Hague

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Stena Line can ferry you and your bicycle between Harwich, Essex and The Hague this weekend for just £78 return. According to Telegraph Travel’s destination expert, Claire Wrathall, the city is staking a claim as Holland’s cultural capital. Upon arrival, visitors can sizzle on The Hague’s sandy beach, admire its stately architecture, kick back in leafy parks and flutter between world-class cultural attractions such as the Mauritshuis gallery.

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Small, beautiful Mediterranean islands – readers’ travel tips

These picks are hardly household names but with their solitude and scenery they are the antidote to the more familiar, crowded, Med hotspots..

Winning tip: Walking on Sifnos, Greece

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Sifnos, in the Cyclades, provides a mix of beautiful beaches with a few cafes, restaurants and bars. There are great hiking trails that will lead you to remote, quiet beaches; and delightful hilltop villages with independent boutiques and tavernas. The hiking trails of over 100km are well signposted and maintained by the authorities with a website that provides details of each trail and detailed, downloadable GPS maps. We particularly liked trail 4, a loop that offers great panoramic views, solitude, and two beaches to ourselves at Fikyada. For a sundowner and dinner, head to Apollonia and don’t miss the bakeries that offer traditional Greek pastries and baked goods. Melopita , a cheese pie with honey, is a must. I stayed at Villa Antoniadis  at Platis Gialos: it’s a B&B five minutes’ walk inland from the beach. It has a large pool and friendly owners, who serve delicious and indulging breakfasts.

Astypalaia, Greece

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This butterfly-shaped island in the Dodecanese is the true arthropod of the Mediterranean. Three minutes away from Livadi beach is Kalderimi “hotel” – actually a group of traditionally built houses (doubles from £50 a night B&B) with a clear view of 13th-century Guerini Castle’s Venetian splendour. While staying on this isolated island, we felt truly at peace with the world. Among the island’s attractions are its caves, with fantastic formations of stalactities and stalagmites. Caves have always been a part of Greek mythology and Astypalaia has some glorious examples.

On the trail of Leonard Cohen, Hydra, Greece

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See if you can capture the spirit of Leonard Cohen on Hydra – with some ingenuity and just a little local help we managed to find the house he bought back in the 1960s. Later that day the mature lady sitting at the table next to ours at a taverna told us that she had known Cohen – but in what capacity we never quite found out! Hydra, which is just off the Peloponnese, is a one-hour trip from Piraeus by Hellenic Seaways Flying Dolphin . It has no motorised vehicles and a harbourside to die for. Boat trips will take you to idyllic beaches.

Bozcaada, Turkey

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This island in the north-eastern Aegean is an intriguing meld of Greek and Turkish culture. The town centre boasts a mosque and Ottoman architecture as well as a church and whitewashed cottages. Beaches are crowd-free; eating out is amazing value and locals are welcoming. Cycle through a landscape of olive groves and vineyards, stopping to sample the excellent local wines. Or head for Bozcaada Castle with its wonderful view of the coast. In the evening, make your way to the Polente Feneri  with a picnic from the market: bread, thyme-scented honey, rose-petal and tomato jam, and drink in the sublime sunset.
The island is 30 minutes by boat from the mainland towns of Geyikli and Canakkale

Salina, Italy

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Lipari is probably the most popular of the Aeolian islands, but Salina is the one for me – it seems to be the closest to how the islands were before commercialisation took hold. If going for the day and sailing from, say, Milazzo, alight from the ferry at Rinella and take the small bus across the island to Santa Marina Salina. The journey takes a while, with a long(ish) stop on the outskirts of Malfa, but it really gives you a flavour of the island – it’s the setting for many scenes in the 1994 film Il Postino.

Solitude and prehistoric art, Levanzo, Italy

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The Egadi islands, off north-west Sicily, are less known than the Aeolian and are still home to the old fisherman lifestyle of the region. Levanzo, 10 minutes by hydrofoil from the larger Favignana, is ideal for those seeking peace and quiet and the opportunity to lose themselves amid wild and fragrant nature. It has only one village, the attractive Cala Dogana, and a scattering of stony beaches with crystal clear water. One of the island’s draws is La Grotta del Genovese, a cave – only discovered in 1949 – with graffiti and rock paintings up to 12,000 years old, which is accessible on foot, by boat and 4WD .

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Porquerolles, France

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A great island for cyclists and walkers is Porquerolles, off the coast of Provence. No cars are allowed on this, the largest and liveliest of the Iles d’Hyères, but it can be explored by a series of paths across its steep southern reaches, passing plenty of secluded bathing places. Ferries to the island run from Hyères  and Toulon.

A day out on Formentera, Spain

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Take the morning ferry from Ibiza over to the small, flat island of Formentera. It takes up to an hour and there are several companies operating lots of ferries . Upon arrival, hire bicycles from the port, or take your driving licence to get mopeds. Whiz around the island between the salt flats, before stopping for lunch at Tiburon , which is right on the beach. Take a dip in the clear waters and get a natural fish-pedicure for free … have a snooze on the beach before cycling the mile or so back to get the evening ferry, admiring the sunset as you speed back over to Ibiza. A perfect day out.

Vis, Croatia

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The furthest inhabited island from the Croatian mainland is easy to reach (ferry from Split), but feels a world away. The fishing town of Komiža seems to exist in a time warp. Fishermen still fish, and it’s got a nice, slightly-rough-around-the-edges feel. There are cute little houses, a string of sheltered pebbly beaches, fresh seafood and the best gelato this side of Italy. The best accommodation options are the fishermen’s houses right on the harbour, which are very reasonably priced . The best spot in the Med by a mile.

Korčula, Croatia

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This island, served by ferries from several mainland towns, and the islands of Hvar and Mljet, is held by many to be the birthplace of Marco Polo. A museum in Korčula Town celebrates the adventurer’s travels in China by admitting Chinese visitors free of charge. A steep ascent to the top of what is said to be his family home’s tower repaid us with a bird’s eye view over the narrow streets and alleyways of the town. Taking a short bus journey to Lumbarda, a little village east of the town, we swam and sunbathed on the nearby quiet sandy beaches. The Greeks planted the first vineyards in this area over 2,000 years ago, so we ended the day with a glass or two of grk, the excellent local white wine.

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This Flying Hotel Concept Offers Customizable Trips to Remote, Hard-to-Reach Destinations

With tourism around the world increasingly on the rise, innovators are constantly coming up with new ways to reinvent the hospitality industry—from luxury villas that let you dream underwater to catamarans that double as mobile guest suites.

One of the newest proposals, Driftscape, imagines an eco-conscious, self-sustaining lodge comprised of a fleet of airborne pods, designed to grant guests the ability to explore largely inaccessible, untouristed locales without spoiling the natural environment.

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“To set off on an adventure, leave all comforts behind, and wander in pursuit of the unknown has been a fundamental urge of humankind throughout history,” HOK, the international architecture and engineering firm behind the concept, said in a statement. ”We thus set out in search of a way to fulfill this urge, seeking a fully immersive, unique way to experience this amazing world we live in from above and within.”

A Radical Innovation Award finalist, the modular notion centers on bean-shaped units crafted out of high-impact polymers and lightweight aerospace alloys, operated using drone technology. Dubbed “Driftcraft,” the autonomous, 250-square-foot module—fit to accommodate up to two guests—would contain a bed with adjustable side tables and a three-piece bath. “ Water and waste management would be no different than those in existing aircraft systems, but smaller in scale,” HOK noted.

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Equipped with self-leveling, retractable pneumatic support anchors that enable them to securely park on any terrain without marring the site, the translucent vehicles would offer guests 360-degree views of their surroundings.

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An interactive installation would display information regarding the unit’s operational capabilities and inform guests on activities available at the nomadic resort. Travelers would be able to map their own two- to three-day excursions from the comforts of their Driftcraft, which would be monitored and operated from a remote control hub.

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“Customization and personalization are key to the Driftscape experience,” said the company. “G uests would be able to create their desired routes with command central, which would advise them of any limitations.” Possible adventures include soaring above the Serengeti, gliding over the Grand Canyon, and sailing through China’s Pearl Waterfall.

The portable suites would be complemented by a 2,500-square-foot capsule called “Oasis,” which would house support services and amenities including a restaurant, a courtyard, and a communal lounge.

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Though a tangible Driftscape model does not yet exist, the idea could soon become a reality. “From the research we conducted, it seems the technology is already available in some form,” the company asserted, citing the Ehang 184—an electric-powered autonomous aerial vehicle—as an example. “It is expected to be available for commercial use in as early as five years.”

Still, many issues have yet to be addressed. “Foreseen challenges regarding regulatory restriction that govern air space are expected,” the firm confessed. “However rigorous testing and safety features that eliminate operational errors will help to allay concern and pave the way for widespread use.”

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23 Companies That Will Help You Travel The World For Free

Think you can’t afford to go on vacation? Think again.

A Wisconsin-based teacher and author with a passion for Spain, Abbey Algiers looks for inexpensive ways to take trips on her summer holidays. So when she discovered Diverbo, she couldn’t believe it. Diverbo offers free vacations for English speakers willing to spend a week mingling with foreigners in Spain or Germany to help them practice their language skills.

“It’s the best-kept secret on the planet,” she says.

Algiers spent a week chatting, enjoying Spanish tapas and wine and bonding with fellow travelers. The setting couldn’t have been more perfect: La Alberca, a tiny village four hours west of Madrid. The best part? Apart from paying for the flight there, the trip didn’t cost her a cent.

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Algiers loved it so much, she has done Diverbo two more times and is currently traveling in Portugal with a friend she met on her first trip. “This is a legit way to make lifelong friends from around the world,” she says.

Diverbo is part of a growing trend: companies that are giving new meaning to the phrase “business trip.” If you’re willing to do a little work while you’re on vacation, these companies will help you get most — if not all — of your travel costs covered. Some will even pay you a stipend or a salary. It’s a trend that is taking off, especially among young female travelers who are new to the workforce and looking for affordable vacation options or for millennial women in search of ways to give back while on vacation.

Here are 10 ideas and 23 companies to check out right now.

Practice English

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Speak English? You’re in luck. Diverbo recruits English speakers to help foreigners in Spain and Germany practice their language skills. Even better: Diverbo prefers if you don’t speak Spanish or German. There’s not much downtime — you’ll spend most of the day “working” in small villages near Madrid, Munich, and Frankfurt. But it’s not a hardship: There are group dinners, parties, and even theater performances. There’s also an offshoot of Diverbo for teens.

Work On A Farm

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Sue Coppard was a London secretary who volunteered on a farm with some friends back in 1971 and thought the idea was so great that she turned it into a business: WWOOF, which stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. The company has recently been rediscovered by a new generation of travelers that craves getting dirt under their fingernails. Here’s how it works: Farm owners post help-wanted ads on the site, and you can apply to do anything from sowing seeds to making cheese to gathering herbs. In return, the farm pays for your accommodations and food (you usually need to cover the flight). Volunteers typically work a few hours a day, then get time off to explore. There are opportunities everywhere from Costa Rica to Cambodia.

Volunteer

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Are you willing to put in a little sweat equity on your next vacation in exchange for free meals and accommodations? The sharing economy has resulted in innovative resources for work-exchange programs. Workaway and HelpX connect travelers with locals around the globe looking for volunteer help. You could find yourself working for people like Alex and Allie, who own an eco-lodge in the Northern Thai mountains near Chiang Mai where they rescue elephants and support human rights. Or Pamela, who has a house in Provence and wants assistance gardening and cooking. Or there’s Rick and Lindy, a couple who needs workers for their cattle farm in New Zealand. Generally, volunteers work four or five hours a day, five days a week, then have the rest of the time to themselves. It’s a great way to affordably see a new place and live like a local.

Work In the Adventure Space

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Want to spend a week or two skiing and snowboarding — and get paid to do it? The website AdventureWork lists jobs in the adventure space, some long-term postings but others for vacationers looking for a free trip. For instance, PGL hires ski reps at its resorts in France, Italy, Austria and the U.S. to accompany school groups. In exchange, PGL covers your room and food, in-resort expenses, lift passes, board hire and gives you a small stipend of $229 (£175).

Organize A Trip

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Now here’s a sneaky way to get a free vacation: Plan a trip for a group of your friends or family. Many travel operators will cover your costs if you function as a trip leader. The rules change depending on the company, but as an example, YMT Vacations will give you a free vacation if you enlist 12 people to take a trip with them; if eight of the guests book their flight through YMT, your airfare is also covered. Other companies offering free trips to group leaders include Grand Circle Cruise Line, Select International Tours, All Abroad Travel and Merit Group Travel.

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Host An Educational Trip

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Are you a teacher who wants to take your students on a trip so that they can immerse themselves in what they’ve just studied? A number of educational travel companies provide free trips to teachers in order to get them to host trips for students. (Many will even throw in a free training trip beforehand, so that you can learn the ropes of hosting and guiding.) Some of the best outfitters include EF, CHA Educational Tours, and Explorica.

Explore Your Roots

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Are you lucky enough to have roots somewhere else? Your home country might want you to come back and connect with your culture. For instance, the Hungarian Human Rights Foundation runs ReConnect Hungary to get young Hungarian-Americans ages 18-28 to take a two-week trip to learn about their history and traditions. The program covers airfare from New York to Budapest and two weeks of accommodations, meals, transportation, entertainment and programming. Countries with similar programs include Heritage Greece, aimed at accomplished college students of Greek heritage. Birthright Armenia reimburses expenses for Armenians ages 20-32 who will intern or volunteer for at least two months for a variety of organizations, including media outlets and NGOs. Love Boat Study Program is for people of Chinese or Taiwanese descent, ages 16-27. And Birthright Israel has helped over 500,000 Jewish young adults travel for free to Israel sincethe company was founded in 1999.

Take Your Nursing Skills On The Road

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If you’re a nurse, you can go mobile and travel for free to places like Florida or Hawaii — and get paid for it. The site TravelNursing.org offers opportunities around the country, with assignments lasting eight to 26 weeks. Compensation varies based on your skill level and the type of position you’re filling, but a traveling nurse can make as much as $10,000 a month, with food and housing often covered.

Become A House Sitter

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Are you open to taking care of someone’s home – or even their pet — while on vacation? You might have a free place to stay for offering your services. Companies like Trusted Housesitters and HouseCarers connect travelers and people in need of sitters around the world.

Teach English

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If you’re willing to teach English as a foreign language to non-English speakers, you can pretty much write your ticket. Some of the best resources for job hunters include TEFL.com and ESL Cafe, which list salaried jobs across the planet in search of your skills (typically, you don’t need to speak the home language). This isn’t something you’d do for a week-long vacation: Postings generally range from nine months to two years. Still, it’s a great way to have an extended (paid) vacation.