Tag Archives: United Kingdom

Home Exchange: Traveling on a Budget

 

-Emily Fraysse

The daydreams of lounging in a villa on a sandy white beach in Barbados or skiing to your hidden log cabin in the Swiss Alps could become a reality. And that reality is only a percentage of the price through home exchange. Ultimately, it is “you stay in my house while I stay in yours.”

There are two types of home exchanges: hospitality exchange and home exchange. Hospitality exchange means that the family who lives in the house allows others to stay at their home simultaneously at designated times. The benefit of this, besides the social aspect, is the in-house tour guide. Home exchange happens when each party switches houses completely at a time that is convenient for both to swap.

While many people can be leery about swapping houses for multiple reasons, the number of reasons why you should take the plunge exceeds those. It can be a scary concept to stay at someone’s house that you’ve never met before or allow others to stay at your house, so the exchange relies on mutual trust. With thousands of successful house exchanges per year, the exchange is rewarding in more than one way.

The swapping works best for people who have an alluring home to offer and those who are okay with having strangers living in the house and touching valuable items. Once you’ve found a potential host, get in contact, exchange information, and be clear about your expectations before the swap occurs. After all the nitty-gritty details are finalized, I’m sure you’ll feel less like you’re living in a stranger’s home and more like living in a friend’s.

So, now where would you like to go?

Home Exchange programs to look at:

Home Exchange

Love Home Swap
Trade to Travel
Home Link
Intervac Home Exchange

Some of my personal favorite spots:

Africa:
Watamu, Kenya

Australia:
Noosa Heads, Queensland

Canada:
Whistler, British Columbia

France:
Paris
Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur

Indonesia:
Buleleng Tejakula, Bali
Pecatu, Bali

Ireland:
Kilalloe, County Clare

Italy:
Amelia, Umbria

Sweden:
GÖteborg

Thailand:
Ko Samui, Surat Thani

United Kingdom:
Lewes, East Sussex
Beadlow, Bedfordshire

United States:
South Beach, Florida
Battery Park City, New York

Image from http://blog.barterquest.com

Robot Fish to Save the Ocean?

-Laura Lundberg

Technologies today are quickly becoming part of our normal lives, as they work to make our lives easier, and to help us combat problems that we couldn’t fix without the help of technology. Even today, it is important to keep creating technology that will attempt to combat some of the possible climate change impacts that we could be facing in the near future. One group of researchers at Essex University in the United Kingdom have been working diligently to try and make technology and the environment come together, and just a few years ago in 2006 they managed to create something incredible – a robotic fish.

As strange as it sounds, this robotic fish is an incredible piece of technology. Developed by Dr. Huosheng Hu and his team of researchers at Essex University, the idea was to create a robotic fish that could take in data from the world’s oceans and wirelessly link it to an on-shore lab that would get results about what pollution is being spread throughout the ocean. The fish was created by several leading robotics engineers and can swim at the speed of a tuna (up to 70 kilometers an hour), has the grace of an eel, has sensors that can detect pollution and intake data, and will be able to (with luck) communicate with other robotic fish in order to transfer information and co-evolve with the other robotic fish instead of learning individually. Each robotic fish will measure about five feet in length, and will be able to cover about 3 feet with every pump of its tail.

In order to make this idea a reality, Dr. Huosheng Hu had to tap into the Web of Science from Thomson Reuters, which brings scientists, engineers, and researchers from all over the world together so that they can collaborate on various projects. This robotic fish was created by several different engineers, and yet apart from just taking in data about water pollution, there is the chance for this robo-fish to help lead schools of real fish away from dangerous toxins and oil spills. An article by discovery.com explains how these robo-fish could establish themselves as the “leader” in a school, record toxicity levels in the water, and then navigate an entire school to safety. This could prevent thousands of fish killings by oil rigs and continue to keep the biodiversity of fish alive.

Dr. Huosheng Hu and his team hope that they can release a few of their robotic fish into the wild as the beginning of a new three year project. In an article on enviro-news.com, Luke Speller from one of the consulting groups (BMT) that is working on the robotic fish says that, “We’re planning to launch a shoal of robotic fish off the coast of northern Spain in late 2011 or early 2012 as part of a three-year research project”. Hopefully these fish will prove to successfully record data and help to combat pollution in our oceans.

If you want to see this robo-fish in action, be sure to check out this news report by Reuters that talks about the fish, the project, as well as the inner-workings of the fish itself.

Photo taken from howstuffworks.com