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STA Travel Blog

A Christmas away from home

I’m Jemma, one of STA Travel’s Digital Execs, email machine and serious Bali beach bum…
It’s quickly approaching the two-year mark now since I spent my first Christmas away from home. Away from the humming of Christmas songs, wrapping of trees in tinsel, yummy nut roasts and endless amounts of chocolate (I really mean drinking). But fear not all the Christmas fans out there, t’was a happy story, this Christmas away from home. And here is what made it oh so very special… 

Turning back time to December 21st 2015, I was stepping off a rickety wooden boat on the sublime island of Gili Meno. Accompanied by four of my best friends, an oversized backpack and an arm full of cotton plaited wristbands. Although our spirits were high (I mean whose wouldn’t be, with a secluded beach to ourselves, the view of Mt Rinjani in the background and £1 beers all day) but still something felt weird. We were four days from Christmas and I was dying to smell some cinnamon gingerbread men, hear the carols chime through the streets or just wear a knitted jumper. Instead, I was slapping on factor 50, taking an outdoor shower and searching for turtles on the reef. (I know you’re thinking. What. Are. You. Complaining. About).

Bali

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Travel Crush: 10 reasons the Philippines is the place to be in 2018

Allow me to introduce myself… I’m Georgie, a digital marketing executive at STA Travel, happiest in the ocean, sun worshipper and summertime fruitarian. So, you can imagine my excitement when I was told I’d be heading on an educational trip to the Mimaropa region of the Philippines this November! We’ve all seen the pictures. The Philippines is the epitome of an island paradise with its turquoise water, white sandy beaches, paraw boats and coconuts on tap. Well kids, it’s even better in the flesh … Here’s 10 reasons why we’ve fallen head over heels for the Philippines.

1. The Underground River

Glide by canoe into the mesmerising caves of stalagmites and stalactites of this UNESCO World Heritage site in Puerto Princesa. Spot bats and swifts as they fly among the ancient rock formations as well as monkeys and crab-eating macaques in the surrounding forests. Be sure to book in advance, this place is popular!

underground river

2. Camping under the stars

Pull up to remote Kalipayan Island and prepare for a night under the stars with nothing but the waves and rustle of the trees to disturb the silence. Go for a late-night swim, and if you’re lucky, catch sight of the plankton glowing and lighting up the way.

camping on the beach

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Photoshooting the Philippines with Instagrammer Jordan Hammond

In the age of Instagram and Pinterest, it is safe to say more and more of the travel inspo we get comes from online platforms rather than old school brochures. Be it dreamy locations shot using drones or GoPros, the travelling game has become more aesthetic and visual – enabling us at home to dream, escape and plan our next destinations through others’ trips!

One of these dreamy locations is the Philippines. With a choice of 7,000 islands to visit, beautiful beaches, hikes and landscapes, it is a destination that has something for everyone with many ‘Insta worthy’ settings. I decided to catch up with one of STA Travel’s most reblogged Instagrammer with over 30k followers Jordan Hammond (@jordhammond), who is currently travelling around this wonderful bucket-list country with his girlfriend Sophia, and who’s content has really convinced me that life really must be ‘more fun in the Philippines’…

What inspired you to take a trip to the Philippines?

As you mentioned earlier, an increasing number of us are inspired to travel through the medium of social platforms. For me, Instagram was the main source of inspiration. So many incredible photos were being shared from the Philippines towards the end of last year, and from that I knew I had to make it my first trip of the new year.


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The creativity behind #PhilippinesUnplugged

By Tor White. Global Creative Director STA Travel
Last year, STA Travel and Tourism Philippines embarked upon a pioneering new project. Philippines Unplugged would document the journey of British band Skinny Living as they traveled through the island province of Palawan. Raw, unscripted and all-access, this film series would show the beauty and honesty of the Philippines. The footage and photography would capture a world of authentic people and unfamiliar places; and the lyrics would tell their story, with Skinny Living writing an exclusive track for us on the road.

Here are our highlights from behind the cameras and the music.
“Through each other’s eyes”

We’re never more alive than when we travel. And despite being far from home, sometimes we never feel so at home.

Part of our Philippines Unplugged adventure was for Skinny Living to write a song inspired by the country and their experiences, and for us to capture this creative journey for you in film. Travel for
musicians is like creativity on steroids. We had a lot of jeepney rides, boat trips, sunrises, sunsets and beers to think about why.

A break from the routine

When you change up your daily routine, you rewire your thinking – you have new stimulus and can tap into different parts of your brain. Combine this with the sensory overload that is Asia, and what you have the is the ultimate hotbed for new ideas and ways of thinking.

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The band behind #PhilippinesUnplugged

By Tor White. Global Creative Director STA Travel
Last year, STA Travel and Tourism Philippines embarked upon a pioneering new project. Philippines Unplugged would document the journey of British band Skinny Living as they travelled through the island province of Palawan. Raw, unscripted and all-access, this film series would show the beauty and honesty of the Philippines. The footage and photography would capture a world of authentic people and unfamiliar places; and the lyrics would tell their story, with Skinny Living writing an exclusive track for us on the road.

Here are our highlights behind the cameras and the music.
“Come take a trip with me”

Ryan, Rhys, Danny and Will are Skinny Living – our first STA Travel Sounds artists from back in 2015. From smashing our Sounds stage at Bestival on the Isle of Wight, to playing in a converted railway carriage in Cornwall as part of our Airbnb film series, together we’ve worked on some incredible projects.

However, none would depict the relationship between music, travel and discovery like this one. The band hadn’t been to Asia before, let alone to the remote Filipino island of Palawan, and the experience was transformative. From the madness of tricycles on mud roads, to making music at sunrise on the beach; watching the story unfold from behind the scenes and behind the camera was incredible.

We interacted with everything, and the influences were many. But here are a few that really hit us.

A local affair

From the school kids who sang their hearts out with us at their school on a secluded island, to the chilled and friendly folks we met in each village… the Philippines IS the people.

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