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I’ve suddenly started thinking a lot about travel recently. It could be the fact that it only got light a few hours ago and it’s already dark again (ie. It’s winter and it’s grim). It might also be the fact that one of my friends is currently planning the trip of a lifetime and I’m hella jealous. But either way, I’ve been spending a lot of time lately reading travel blogs and giving myself serious travel envy. Here are a few of the blogs I’ve been reading recently when I should have been doing my job:

Solo Sophie

Sophie Nadeau is a student living in London. She has a lot of love for Paris (and who doesn’t?) as well as writing about destinations all over the world. She started her blog by travelling solo all over the world and therefore is also a great example to hold up to your family when they start worrying about whether terrible things will happen when you go on holiday on your own.

Our Wild Abandon

Jill and Kyla from Our Wild Abandon are basically in the world to make everybody feel jealous of all of their awesome, aesthetically-perfect adventures. They travel around in a caravan full-time, and in the process they give us all something to look at on Instagram every morning when we’re on the train on the way to work. Jealous? Me? Of course not. I’ll work on it.

Travelling Weasels

Fun fact I learned from reading Travelling Weasels: You can find free accommodation in new places by house sitting. It (obviously) saves money, and means that you get to explore parts of cities that you otherwise might not. And yes, this is my way of telling the rest of Team HowNow that I’m leaving to become a house sitter as of right now. Bye guys.

Polka Dot Passport

Polka Dot Passport is a fantastic blog that teams inspiring posts about the destinations you’ve always wanted to visit with practical guidance about how to, y’know, actually do that. You’ll find everything from how to keep your money safe, to the Singaporean wildlife reserves you need to visit.

Just One Way Ticket

Just One Way Ticket combines practical things like reviews of the travel services we all might need one day, with envy-inducing pictures and posts from all around the world. Wherever you might want to go, the chances are Sab has been there first.

Port Lockroy

The inhabitants of Port Lockroy in Antarctica aren’t your typical travel bloggers, but that doesn’t mean their blog is any less fascinating. The site documents the lives of the people who staff the Port Lockroy post office (which is a thing) for a four month period each year. That’s a thing anybody can do and it sounds like an amazing experience and I desperately want it to be my turn one day. Just putting that out into the universe.

Van Dog Traveller

Van Dog Traveller is the tale of a man who gave up his day job, converted a white van into a super-cool living space, and drove around Europe, as well as exploring closer to home. One of the best things about this blog is that Mike makes the whole things seem so easy. I’ve never built a thing in my life, and I’m still convinced I’m about to follow in his footsteps. In a non-creepy way, of course.

Adventurous Kate

Adventurous Kate travelled full time for nearly five years. She visited over sixty countries. In fact, there’s a very impressive map which shows exactly where she’s been. She’s now dialled back on the constant travelling, but she’s still sharing tips, debunking myths, and offering all kinds of advice on her blog.

Don’t forget, there are tons of language classes on HowNow which could help you wherever you end up travelling. And if you’ve been bitten by the travel bug and want to make money on the road, how about teaching classes on the go? Where are you heading next?

 

You may not have noticed, because it’s hardly been mentioned at all, but it is now a new year. As such, everybody’s making resolutions and planning on becoming better people. We’re not that into making tough resolutions that make January a more unpleasant month than it already is. However, we definitely agree with making little changes that make life way more awesome. So, whatever positive change you’re making this month, we’ve probably got a class that can help you.

Change No. 1: Have a go at Veganuary

Veganuary is a thing now. It’s pretty self-explanatory, and involves eating vegan in January. It’s healthy, and it’s also good for the environment. If you can stand to be away from the bacon for a full weeks, you might find you can do it forever. There are HowNow teachers who can guide you through the process of cooking a whole host of delicious, vegan recipes, so you’ll never run out of inspiration.

Change No. 2: Get Fit

It’s not the most original, but after several weeks eating nothing but sausages in bacon and quality street, and washing it all down with wine (just me?) lots of people use the momentum of a new year to improve their fitness. It can be really hard to drag yourself to the gym, so imagine if you could exercise with a trainer in the comfort of your own home. As it so happens, we can totally help you to do that.

Change No. 3: More ‘me’ time

Modern life, guys, am I right? We’re forever running around, commuting for hours, getting work emails at all times of the day and night… It’s a juggling act, and it shouldn’t be. One of the easiest ways to start the new year feeling less stressed is to set aside some time every day that’s just for you. For example, you could try meditation. Close the door for a while, switch off your phone, and focus on yourself. Bliss.

Change No. 4: Learn a new language

Maybe you can’t wait to do some travelling in 2017. You might want to try living in a new country. Maybe you just want a new challenge, or to earn some bragging rights. These are all perfectly valid reasons to start learning a new language. The easiest way to start is to talk to people in the language you’re learning, and we know a whole load of awesome folks who can help with that.

Change No. 5: Be my own boss

Picture the scene: You have to go to work. You get out of bed, get dressed, and walk ten paces to your sofa. Because that is your office. Because you work for yourself. It’s the dream but, when you’re running around at the beck and call of your boss, it can feel totally unattainable. Maybe 2017 will be the year that changes. Start learning how to put your plans into action today, and thank us later. Maybe you want to turn your passion into profit and teach your own classes – we could even help you with that.

Change No. 6: Take more pictures

Maybe you’re about to start a new phase in your life and you want to remember everything. Maybe you got a flashy new camera for Christmas and you need to know how to use it. The best way to make sure you’re creating memories in 2017 is to start now. And a great place to start is by making sure you know what you’re doing.

Change No. 7: Learn to cook

Are you sick of microwave meals and cereal dinners? Do you feel like you might be getting judged by the people who run your local takeaway? It’s time to learn how to cook. Whether you’ve got delicate baking or hearty meals in mind, there are professionals out there who can talk you through the whole process in your own kitchen. Just remember to send us some when you’re done.

Change No. 8: Manage my money better

Oh, money. Some people think it makes the world go round and, whether or not you agree with that sentiment, most people would probably agree that there’s never enough of it. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by bills, it might be time to get somebody else to help you. You could chat about budgets and how to manage your cash better. Just remember to send us some when you’re done. (LOL, JK. Unless you’re feeling generous.)

So, what changes, if any, are you planning on making in 2017? Whatever they are, remember to keep it positive rather than punishing. The new year is a great opportunity to do new things, but no man (or anyone else, for that matter) is an island – if you need help, let someone else step in and lend a hand. It just so happens we know a few.

Why should anybody learn new skills? After all, we’re all adults here, and there’s that whole adage about teaching old dogs new tricks. That didn’t just come from nowhere, so what’s the point? Right? Well, first off, that’s quite a negative outlook. Learning new skills can be hugely beneficial for a whole host of reasons. Here are just some of our favourites.

Increased self esteem

You’re awesome. We already know that. But sometimes it can be difficult to keep in mind. One way to remind yourself exactly how great you are is to learn new skills. After all, who would have though that you’d be speaking five languages in your thirties when you spoke none as a kid? Amazing. There’s nothing like taking on challenges and smashing them to make you feel like a badass.

The chance to get in the zone

Learning new skills gives you the opportunity to get in the zone. The zone is a great place to be. For the uninitiated, it’s that moment where you’re concentrating so hard on the task at hand that everything around you ceases to exist. That means all of your stress, distractions, other people, everything. It’s almost like magic, but a magic you can recreate any time.

Increased satisfaction

Can’t get no satisfaction? Maybe you need to make a positive change in your life. If you feel stuck in a rut it can be difficult to see a way to improve things, but learning a new skill is a small step in the right direction. Maybe you usually go home and log straight on to Netflix. It’s not so different to go home and then join an online class. The only difference is that you’ve suddenly become super-productive with no extra movement involved, and that’s an achievement.

Increased creativity

You might become an amazing creative genius as you continue to develop in one particular discipline. However, you might also find that adding to your roster of skills can give you a chance to work out problems in another area of your creative life. For example, suffering from writer’s block? Pick up a ukulele or learn to cross stitch, and stop worrying about it for a while. You might be surprised how much it helps.

Improve your memory

Learning something new is a great way to keep your mind active. This is especially important as we get older. Sure, you could just do a bunch of Sudoku puzzles, but wouldn’t it just be that little bit cooler to become a badass guitar-playing rockstar instead? Thought so.

You could literally change your life

Always fantasised about moving to Italy? You could start learning the language. If you do that, you’ve just taken your first step to actually living the actual dream. Similarly, if you’ve always wanted to be a chef, you could start with a few basic cookery classes. The world is so well-connected these days that you can find somebody who can teach you all of the new skills you’ve ever wanted to learn to change your life.

Higher income

Maybe you want to make more money. Firstly, we do not blame you. And secondly, it’s all about adding value, and new skills can do that. Learning a second language, picking up some writing skills, or improving your public speaking could all help you on the road to earning more. And if your current employer isn’t bothered that you’ve gone the extra mile, you might find somewhere else that appreciates your increasingly-abundant talents.

learning

So what new skills are you raring to learn? At HowNow we’re making it possible to learn awesome stuff from experts all over the world. We can’t wait to see what you choose.

The Netherlands is great and, more importantly, the Dutch people absolutely know what’s up when it comes to food. It feels like we hear a lot about more traditionally ‘food-y’ countries (I’m looking at you, Italy and France). But that’s a shame, because Amster-DAMN they have some amazing stuff in the Netherlands. Here are some of the awesome Dutch treats you’re missing out on.

1. Bitterballen

bitterballen

This sounds like it’s going to be describing, well, bitter balls. That doesn’t sound great. But guess again. Bitterballen are actually balls of deep fried gravy. We’ll say that again for the benefit of people who blacked out from excitement at that combination of words. Deep. Fried. Gravy. There really isn’t anything else we can add to sell this. It’s either your dream or your nightmare. There is no in-between.

2. Hagelslag

hagelslag-ducth

These little guys are a very special kind of Dutch sprinkle, which are designed to go over bread. You spread it with unsalted butter (not something we have ever willingly done before when salted butter exists, but we’ll make an exception).  After that, you basically just sprinkle away. It’s like the breakfast of your childhood dreams except that in The Netherlands you can eat it as a grown-ass adult and nobody can say anything.

3. Ontbijtkoek

dutch_style_gingerbread_loaf_cut_open

Gesundheit. We’re just playing. But you know who aren’t playing? The dutch and their breakfast-specific cake. That’s right. This is cake that is specifically designed to be eaten for breakfast. It’s made of rye, spices, and molasses, among other things. If you’re into healthy eating, this cake also contains no fat. Anyone who saw us freak out about deep fried gravy earlier will know that’s not one of our main concerns, but it’s still a little extra selling point.

4. Poffertjes

dutch pancakes

You know how pancakes are brilliant. Well, these are tiny pancakes. They pack the same amount of greatness as a normal-sized pancake, but you can eat three times as many. Food maths, guys. You’re welcome.

5. Pindasaus

pindasaus-dutch

In Britain, we tend use peanuts as a sauce only in satay situations. Dutch people, however, have taken a good thing and started using it everywhere. You can dip your chips in it, or bread, or whatever you want, really. No longer does peanut-y goodness need to be reserved for childhood sandwiches and dodgy takeaways.

The best part about all of this food is that we haven’t even scratched the surface of all of the great stuff that the Dutch have to eat. Everyone should take a trip there at one point or another. And, to towards that goal, we have Dutch teachers just raring to teach you some of the lingo. Just make sure the first phrase you learn is ‘please give me all of the deep fried gravy”.

Italy is great. It’s a land of pasta, and pizza, and wine… There’s probably more to it than that, but those are the ones that stick out. On top of good food and brilliant culture the Italian language also has some great words that don’t have an easy English translation. However, now that we know them, we can’t believe they’re not getting used more. Come on, Britain. If we can add the word ‘moobs’ to our dictionary, surely we slip some of these in too?

1. Culaccio

You know that really annoying ring that gets left by a cold glass on a hot day? That’s a culaccio. We can only imagine that houseproud Italian people have a much easier time of yelling at guests who refuse to use a coaster.

2. Abbiocco

This word basically translates as ‘the drowsiness you feel after a big meal’. It pretty much just describes the whole of Christmas day. Or, indeed, any lazy Sunday. It’s something we’ve all felt, and it’s definitely something that Italy is right in having a word for. They know what’s up over there.

3. Gattara

An elderly woman who cares for stray cats. Or, in other words, what lots of us aspire to be when we grow up. They live the dream and, as such, they deserve to have an actual (sort-of) job title.

4. Cavoli Riscaldi

This literally means ‘reheated cabbage’. However, in Italy they also use this to mean an attempt to revive a a failed friendship or relationship. We love it so much more than we will ever love reheated cabbage. Or any of our exes.

5. Non tutte le ciambelle riescono col buco

This literally translates as ‘not all donuts come out with a hole’. As an Italian, you might use it to mean ‘not everything turns out as planned’. We love this for two reasons. Firstly, it is very philosophical and so are we. Secondly, it is all about donuts and so are we.

italian 2

If you fancy learning some more Italian phrases don’t forget to check out the Italian classes available on HowNow – after all, who doesn’t love learning from the comfort of their own home?