St Lucia

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Has anyone recently told you how brave you are?

Probably not. The writing life doesn’t come off as requiring courage. In a normal day’s work, the worst danger you’re likely to face is a paper cut. But if you’re a writer – if you’re taking ideas out of your head and turning them into words – then you’re sure as hell brave. Don’t forget that. Never let anyone convince you that what you do is easy or not a real job or even safe.

Here’s why:

Every time you travel you conquer  a mountain. Every single time you start a journey, you’re at ground level, gazing up at the words yet to be written. You might feel daunted. You probably feel excited. There’s a journey ahead, a challenge, and you’re up for it. And you start climbing. You walk a hundred meters, five hundred, a thousand. You pause to catch your breath. The mountain ahead looks as big as ever. You glance back at how far you’ve come. You’re barely off the ground. You walk more and more and more. It takes longer than expected. It’s harder than you thought it would be. You think about quitting.

But you carry on.

Eventually you come to the end of your first part of your travel. You’re exhausted but elated, because there were times when you never thought you’d make it. You pat yourself on the back and pour yourself a glass of wine. And then you look up. Up, and up, and up. There’s still a hell of a lot of mountain to climb.

But you carry on.

You have what it takes. Many people don’t. They might talk about traveling or hang around travelers or read about traveling or think about traveling. They might even start on their own journey. But they never finish anything. You do. You climb mountains. And you get to see the view from the top. The journey isn’t all mountains. There are valleys too. When you feel like all the things and all the people have been wrung out of you, you’re in a valley. When you try to be yourself but everything turns to ashes, you’re in a valley. Valleys are full of shadows. There’s nothing heroic-looking about stumbling through a valley. At least people can see you climbing up on the mountain. They might not understand why you’re there. They might tell you to quit, or tell you that you’re on the wrong mountain, or tell you that your climbing technique looks weird. But they can see you’re doing something.

From outside, the valley doesn’t look too deep. Most people can’t see the shadows. They can’t see the demons that you struggle with. They can’t see how much bravery it takes to face down your self-doubt. They don’t understand why saying, “I am a brave traveler,” is so difficult and so scary and so liberating all at once. Down in the valley, you feel more alone than you did on the mountain. You think you shouldn’t be in the valley at all. You think you’re a failure. You’re below ground level now. You’re afraid you’ll never climb another mountain again. You’re afraid those mountains you climbed before were flukes. You fight your way past. It’s hard, and bloody, and no one sees how much it takes out of you, and there are a lot of unfairness in the whole world, and nobody sees it.

But you carry on.

The clouds start to lift. You see daylight ahead. And you see the next mountain. You’re inspired and encouraged and invigorated by your fellows. They reassure you. They give you the weapons you need to fight those demons in the valley. Traveling matters. This can change the world. Your friends are brave and strong and they care about you. But, ultimately, it’s your bravery which counts. Bravery is carrying on when you’re tempted to quit. Bravery is climbing a mountain when the world says you’re crazy. Bravery is taking the thoughts that you’re scared to show to anyone and putting them into words.

No matter how hard it is, no matter how scared you are, no matter how much mountain you have to climb or how deep your valley goes, you can always take one more step forwards. Climbing a mountain? Stuck in a valley? Just be brave, you’re not alone.

Thank you for reading and commenting. Please enter the Gratitude Travel Writing competition and tell your story.

Bathsheba, Barbados

With its glorious weather, sandy beaches and lukewarm turquoise seas, the Caribbean islands are seen as a dream holiday destination for many people. Temperatures tend to range from a minimum of 20C in January to above 30C in July, so you can be sure of getting some sunshine whenever you travel.

The one problem that some tourists may have is deciding which island and Caribbean resorts they want to visit. Here Columbus Direct shares a list of five areas which should certainly be considered by any tourist who fancies veering off towards the Caribbean Sea…

Bathsheba, Barbados
Bathsheba, Barbados


Barbados may be one of the smaller Caribbean islands, but it’s home to fun, adventure and paradise that belies its diminutive size. There are more than 70 miles worth of pristine white beaches on which to soak up the sun, enjoy a rum punch or try out some water sports.

The West coast really comes to life at night-time. Its delightful range of bars and restaurants create a carnival atmosphere wherein tourists can eat, drink and dance to jazz, reggae or traditional chart music.

Some of the biggest party nights occur during the island’s annual festivals. The three-day Barbados Food & Wine and Rum Festival begins on November 22nd, whilst the grand celebration of the nation’s independence takes place on November 30. What a perfect excuse to book an end-of-year holiday!

St Lucia

St Lucia could be the perfect choice for those who love the idea of exploring a tropical paradise. The island is covered with miles worth of glorious rainforest to trek through, with plenty of luxury hotels and tourists attractions camped within it.

Visitors are urged to go snorkelling at the foot of the iconic Piton mountains or join a guided tour on a hike up to the top for some of the most incredible views of their surroundings. There’s also the opportunity to try horse-back riding across the beach, take the whole family to a water park or explore the forest wildlife during a relaxing walk on the beach.

Ideally, tourists would visit the island during Carnival celebrations, which run throughout June and July.

Turner Beach, Antigua
Turner Beach, Antigua

Antigua & Barbuda

Antigua is another hugely popular tourist destination in the Caribbean. Once again, glorious coastlines, fine dining and friendly locals are the norm. Visitors have the opportunity to snorkel with stingrays, zip-line through tropical rainforests or relax on a luxury cruise.

Antigua has its own Carnival which takes place in July, yet others could be more excited by the prospect of National Sailing Week, which falls in April.

There are plenty of boat trips to nearby Barbuda as well. With a population of just 2,000 people, it’s often described as the Caribbean’s best kept secret. It can feel like your own personal tropical island getaway.

Dominican Republic

One of the largest and most vibrant areas of the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic is perfect for those who want their holiday to feature a bit of everything.

There’s 250 miles of coastline to enjoy, but so much see and do in the centre of the island as well. Try white-water rafting through Jarabacoa, exploring underground caves in Juan Dolio or riding a cable car almost 800 metres above sea level in Puerto Plata.

Experience the sights on top of the Caribbean’s largest mountain – the 3,000m+ high Pico Duarteis. Marvel at the beauty of the Caribbean’s largest lake – The Enriquillo. You can even cross the border and enjoy the attractions that neighbouring Haiti has to offer. It really is the island that has it all.


Visit Jamaica and find out that the stereotypical relaxed fun-loving stereotype of the locals is completely true to life. The culture is one of easy living, dance, fun and celebration.

The traditional tourist attractions to enjoy include beaches, bars restaurants and the world-famous Bob Marley museum. But the best way to get the most out of the island is to mix with the friendly locals in the capital Kingston, the party city of Montego Bay or the beautiful coastal region of Ocho Rios.

In truth, the majority of Caribbean islands make for the perfect holiday destination. Those who make the effort to visit any of these fantastic nations can consider themselves truly blessed.

 About the AuthorSam Jones is a full time writer who loves to travel to exotic places and experience some of the most unusual and brilliant places the world has to offer. Find him on Google+


In October 2011, George and I were the hosts for Meet Plan Go Los Angeles, part of 17 cities hosting events about Career Breaks, Mini-Retirements and Long Term Travel. We had traveled for nearly a year in 2008-9 and this month we left again for at least a year. Meet Plan Go National recently posted this article about our second career break: NOT WASTING TIME!

Time is now the currency. We earn it and spend it. The rich can live forever and the rest of us? I just wanna wake up with more time on my hands than hours in the day. – In Time (2011)

In Time is a movie that really spoke to me. In the movie, the main character, Will, is falsely accused of murder and must find a way to bring down a system in which time is money. While the wealthy can live forever, the poor have to beg, borrow, and steal enough minutes to make it through each day. At one point, a character gives his time to Will and tells him, “don’t waste my time.

How many times have you been in a pointless meeting thinking what a waste of time it is? So many of us waste time every day. We casually think that there will be time later. One of my strongest memories of seven years working on cruise ships was speaking to a widow who said, “we always planned to come here to Alaska together but there was always something that got in the way.” I heard over and over again, “don’t wait to make your dreams come true” or “you are so smart to travel like this while you are young.” I often felt like a character who had borrowed against time and was running to spend my time wisely traveling.

When my company went bankrupt after September 11, 2001, I thought I would never travel again.