All posts by Vago Damitio

Vago Damitio  (@vagodamitio) is the Editor-in-Chief for Vagobond. He jumped ship from a sinking dotcom in 2000 and decided to reclaim his most valuable commodity, time. He bought a VW bus for $100, moved into it and set out on a journey to show the world that it was possible to live life on your own terms. That journey took him from waking up under icy blankets in  the Pacific Northwest to waking up under palm tress in Southeast Asia. Three years later, his first book, Rough Living: Tips and Tales of a Vagabond was published. After diving into the Anthropology of Tourism and Electronic Anthropology at the University of Hawaii (with undeclared minors in film and surf) he hit the road again in 2008. Since that time,he's lived primarily in Morocco and Turkey, married a Moroccan girl he couchsurfed with, and become a proud father. He's been to more than 40 countries, founded a successful online travel magazine (this one!), and still doesn't have a boss. Life is good. You can also find him on Google+ and at Facebook

Stag Party Travel – Taking Bachelor Parties on the Road

Once upon a time, in a tavern, not so far away, a groom-to-be sat with his closest friends, sipping  lager and laughing at the stories of yesterdays. This was what these men referred to as a stag do.

Oh, how the times have changed…

Lads Kareoke

Nowadays this tiny get together the night before the big day has evolved into something much more. It is no longer a “stag night”, but instead a “stag weekend”, a travelling celebration of your last moments together, and an adventure with all your mates before taking the plunge into the land of the married man. Your last weekend of freedom is a chance to close this chapter of your life in style, not an excuse for another night at the local – You have your whole marriage for that!

Lucky for this generation, globalization, and the ridiculous deals to be had on budget airlines, such as RyanAir, have made the idea of a stag do abroad a reality. Going abroad not only leaves the stag with lasting memories, but it is a chance for all of his mates to have a much-deserved vacation as When it comes to picking a destination, the possibilities are endless… If you are looking to sprawl out on the beach with a litre of sangria, then perhaps Barcelona is the spot. If you want to stretch your wallets, and drink pints of the best beer in the world, then Prague may seem more fitting.

Each destination has their own unique appeal, and you must decide which style best fits your group of friends, and of course, the stag – after all it is his weekend! Interviewing friends who have been on a stag do abroad (I guarantee there are a few of them!) is the best way to get first-hand knowledge on the different destinations.

Stag dos in a foreign country are not only a good way to see a different side of Europe, but they also provide an opportunity to try something new. I doubt too many members of your group have
driven communist Russian tanks, fired an AK-47, or flown in a military jet… However, it is not just the extreme that makes a stag weekend, the camaraderie amongst men, who may not have known each other so well prior to this weekend, is a priceless experience. Group bonding activities such as white water rafting, and 5-a-side football, bring everyone together, and by the end of the weekend each of you will have a handful of ‘new’ mates.

Guns!

This stag do evolution has not gone unnoticed, and an entire industry has grown out of the needs it has created. Shifts in traditional tourist agencies have followed, and there are now a number of different businesses that offer entire pre-packaged stag weekends, saving you from the stress of planning. These companies offer everything from accommodation, transportation, activities, and all that is in between. Pissup is a stag do organiser that has been in the industry since the beginning. They are one of the few companies that offer their prices up front and they also provide free consultation, so it is a good idea to see what they can offer in whichever location you may be looking at.

It can also be beneficial to check out the activities that are going on in the city on your chosen dates. Many times this can be much more memorable than any activity booked. Fest 300 offers a definitive list of the best festivals happening in Europe at any given time. From the Cannabis Cup in Holland to fighting devils with fireworks during Barcelona’s Mercè festival, these activities are a sure-fire way to make this weekend unforgettable. Keep in mind though, booking around a festival will likely increase the price of flights, and accommodations, so best book early if you are going this route.

So although the deep rooted meaning of the stag do remains the same, one last memory to share with your closest mates before the next phase of life, the method in which it is conducted has improved immensely. This is not your father’s stag party, and if he comes along I am sure he will agree – It is way better!!

Best Autumn Festivals Around the World

We usually think of summer as the party season but across the globe, some of the best and wildest festivals happen in the autumn. The fall is a great time to travel – it’s off-season in many places, meaning cheaper flights and less of a crush at the airport.

Wat Phantao during Yi Peng Image by Takeaway@Wikimedia.org, used under Creative Comms licenseAt these autumn festivals you can hang out with Mexican spirits, swill the finest German beer or sail your own (two-inch) candle-lit boat in Thailand in the coming months. So when you do a holiday comparison for your autumn vacation, remember to check for these fantastic events before you start booking your flights…

Kyoto in Japan

September to November in Japan is a riot of color and beauty that’s particularly cherished in areas like Kyoto, where you’ll see the most stunning reds, oranges, golds and green leaves in Japan’s most traditional and fascinating city. Not much compares to seeing men and women dressed in elaborate kimonos and walking under a canopy of rich and vivid autumn leaves colours. Enjoy the sights at the Maple Festival in November, where you will also see Japanese dancing performed on boats on the river and can partake of the elegant tea ceremony.

Dia de los Muertos in Mexico

The ‘Day of the Dead’ is a colorful and macabre festival of celebration held all over Mexico at the end of November. Locals make garlands of marigolds and buy a special bread that attracts the spirits of departed loved ones, and everyone heads to the graveyards after dark to eat, drink tequila and dance to the Mariachi bands. It’s not so much a party as a thoughtful and sometimes exuberant celebration of life. Tourists will find themselves welcome to join in
and learn about this vibrant culture.

Oktoberfest in Munich

If you like beer, and you like festivals, get yourself to Munich! Also known as the Munich Beer Fest, this celebration takes over the city, with little stalls and massive tents lined up along the riverside, serving beers and ales from Germany’s finest breweries, and a wide selection of traditional German foods. There’s even a funfair and rides to go along with the carnival atmosphere.

Loi Krathong in Thailand

This beautiful river festival is a visual treat. Thousands of little floating ornaments made from bread and bark are lit up with candles and sent out onto the river. The little boats, known as krathongs, signify letting go of negative thoughts and hurts, and giving thanks for your blessings. At the same time, the festival of Yi Peng involves releasing thousands of illuminated paper lanterns into the sky. A lovely and completely unforgettable experience.

Festival de Cornuto in Rocca Canterano, Italy

Not a great choice for a honeymoon trip, this November festival is a celebration of infidelity! The ‘Festival of the Horned One’ with its carnival of floats and street theatre is a perfect choice for spurned lovers, cheated-on spouses and betrayed brides. Console your broken heart with some delicious Italian ice-cream and laugh your troubles away.

Goa – Where Old Hippies Go To Die

Goa - where old hippies go to dieIf you grew up around hippies in the 1960s or 1970s you probably heard some stoned dude with a beard longer than an Imam’s talking about Goa and the scene there. The smallest state in India was and is a veritable Mecca for those interested in exotic culture, far out spiritual experience and unregulated drug and alcohol experiences. In the 1980’s Goa seemed to take a turn as a holiday spot for the jetset, but one thing is for sure no matter what decade you come from – Goa has a rep as a party spot that causes a lot of people to shun its potential for wildlife tourism, a safe exotic destination for families or solo travelers.

Goa has always seemed like a place that hippies from Western cultures would go to let loose. A place of hedonistic pleasure and fulfilling the desire for the exotic. To be honest, the past few years, I’ve avoided it because it seemed to be one of those places where young backpackers go to enjoy being away from home for the first time, but in truth – there really is a lot more to Goa than I’d imagined.

Sure, young Brits love to take low cost flights to Goa and it is all of those things I mentioned above, but there are layers to Goa. It has always been one of the top holiday destinations in India and there is a reason it is a top visited place among tourists, vacationers and honeymooners. In a word, Goa is amazing.

Goa Hippie ParadiseDuring the holiday period, Goa is filled with large numbers of tourists from all around the world and of course, the major attractions are the beaches in Goa. Goa beaches are where you can have a perfect holiday trip and everyone knows it. Some of the well known beaches are Palolem Beach, Baga Beach, Candolim beach, Dona Paula Beach and Anjuna beach. Parties, adventure activities and of course, plenty of beach time.

The beaches though, aren’t everything. There are also monuments, churches and wildlife sanctuaries in Goa. Panaji, Mapusa, Dona Paula and Margaon are just a few of the many cities and regions you can visit. Panaji is the capital of Goa and offers architecture, monuments and a lively and interesting culture. Mapusa, the third largest city in Goa is famous for its Friday market and crafts. Dona Paula is a well known beach lover’s paradise – famous for honeymoons. Margaon is a clean, fresh city filled with green spaces. Each place in Goa has its own rich history.
When you are looking for something to do in Goa though, look no further than the water. Snorkeling, Wind Surfing, Speed boating, Canoeing, Para Sailing and more are available. For the land minded you can book jungle safaris into your holiday package.

For the cultural traveler, you will find exotic cuisine, lively festivals and a nightlife that is up to the wildest of expectations. Want to see more of Goa? Why not cruise to Grande Island, St. George Island, Devagh Island, Pigeon Island, Candolim, Calangute, Arossim, Utorda, Mobor or Dona Paula beach?

One thing is for sure, Goa is a world of its own and there is plenty there for even the most intrepid of adventurers but if you are looking for hippies, drum circles and that whole vibe – you will still find it in Goa. It’s where old hippies go to die and young hippies go to find gurus.

The photos in this post are ccImages from the Flickr photostreams of Slavasizov, Iain Tait and Nimboo