Beauty is in the eye of the beholder or so they say.  That may be one of the few things I agree with “they” about.  However, what if you could look at things with God’s eyes?  I think that’s what it’s like when you are in Iceland.  The beauty is so astounding and so diverse you can’t help wonder if it is the Land of the Gods.  In fact, the History Channel must have thought similarly as they send Floki via one of his handbuilt sailboats in their Vikings series to what they refer to as the “Land of the Gods” i.e. Iceland.  In this post, perhaps you can gather some modicum of what I mean about the beauty of Iceland by looking through my eyes or, rather, my Olympus camera’s viewfinder in the Fifty Shades of Iceland – Part II. If you want to see Fifty Shades of Iceland – Part I of the series click here.

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If you have any questions or comments regarding this post, please fill out the form provided below as we would love to hear from you.

Are You Travelling to The Philippines in 2019? Here Is How to Ensure You Pick the Best Possible VPN

You have probably been planning a visit to the Philippines for months. It could be for work or pleasure. You already know everything you will take with you including your portable Wi-Fi to ensure you will have secure access to the internet.

However, during your last minute research, you realize your portable Wi-Fi will not be that reliable. Why? The Philippines is made up of countless islands. As a result, once you start visiting the islands or the more remote regions, the connection will probably be spotty.  While in urban centers, it will work fine, but when you venture out, connectivity issues will undoubtedly arise.

However, there is a saving grace—free public Wi-Fi. Statistics show that in 2016, against a population of 102, 250, 133 Filipinos, there were 44, 478, 808 internet users. More statistics indicate a 43.5% internet penetration rate. In 2018, internet cover is even more expansive.

That means in the majority of the country; you can access public Wi-Fi. It could be in hotels, in major cities, in parks, the fact remains internet is available. As a security conscious person, the question now becomes, which is the best possible VPN? Here are the four things you must keep in mind when selecting a Philippines VPN.

1. The VPN Should Not Be Free

Arguably the most important. Ryan O’Leary, the vice president of the White Hat Research Center at WhiteHat Security, had this to say regarding free VPNs. “The lower the cost of an app, the greater the chance of security issues.”

He goes on to say that these free providers also need to make money. That means they could be collecting your data and selling it to a third party. Alternatively, they could distribute your IP which will lead hackers back to your PC.

The lesson here is that whatever you do, avoid free VPNs. Cheap is way too expensive.

2. Research and Choose a Reputable Company

Admittedly, when in a new country, it is not always easy to determine the good vs. the bad. It is especially difficult where there is a language barrier. That is where research comes in. Take the time to do an in-depth background of any VPN provider you are considering.

During the research, identify a reputable Philippines VPN. That means a company that has good reviews, a company that has operated the business for a while, and a company with an excellent social media presence where clients voice their satisfaction or dissatisfaction.

It follows that any reputable company spent years cultivating that reputability. That means you will rarely go wrong with such a company.

3. Consider VPNs That Offer a Free Trial

If a company offers a free trial and a 30-day or whatever-day money back guarantee, then chances are high they are confident in their service. That, in turn, translates to excellent services.

Also, the free trial will allow you to test the speed. Remember, any time you use a VPN, the internet access speed lowers. During the trial period you can analyze the speed, and if it is too low, then you can get a refund and try another VPN.

4. Check The Type of Encryption They Offer

With VPN encryption, the general rule is that a longer key translates to stronger encryption. However, there are other considerations to keep in mind. Mainly, all you need to keep in mind is that there are two common key lengths—128-bit and 256-bit.

They are both strong enough with the 256-bit encryption key being the stronger of the two. When choosing a VPN, the provider should at least use a 128-bit encryption key. If they happen to have the 256-bit encryption key, then that is even better.

Always remember to check, and if the website does not mention the type of key they use, then you are within your rights to contact the company and ask.


If you keep the above four things in mind, then you are in a better position to select the best possible Philippines VPN that will ensure your data is continuously safe.




An apple a day takes the doctor away.

Below are some tips for avoiding getting sick on the road and handling it if it happens…and it will happen…

Sometimes nature overtakes you when traveling and interjects an unplanned halt in your journey. This has happened to me on more than one occasion in the three years I have been traveling around the world. It turns out that an apple a day does NOT keep the doctor away especially when you are in another country. It happens to everyone if you have been traveling long enough.

It’s what I not so lovingly call the Asian Flu a/k/a eating street food, not resting enough between adventures, not drinking enough water, drinking too much tap water and failing to use a straw. This “flu” has ripped through me – rather literally – on a few occasions while traveling and no it is not limited to being in Asia.  I have been sick in Cuba, Chile, Rwanda, Romania, Laos, Columbia, Peru and plenty of other places and I’ve suffered from both the stomach flu and colds but this particular story is about being sick in the Philippines.  Here, in Boracay, I had some of the most peculiar symptoms from swollen and bleeding gums to a cramp in only my right calf and foot (so weird) to violent chills, heartburn, one nostril running and numbness in only some of my fingers along with a bladder infection. Of course, the regular symptoms such as unquenchable dehydration regardless of the amount of water and Gatorade I drank (in fact it seemed like it had the opposite effect) and the other ‘no need to mention’ symptoms we have all suffered from at one time or another.

So what’s a girl (or guy) to do?

Continue reading “GETTING SICK ON THE ROAD”

Travelirvana Feature: The Photography of Stephanie Arguelles

Stephanie Anne Arguelles is a 24-year-old photographer based in Manila, Philippines. She loves to travel and capture the emotions that places emit. Stephanie believes that every place has a wonderful story to tell that evokes the most precious emotions within a person. Being in a place is like standing in a million different moments. Just knowing that makes you understand how fleeting a moment is and how wonderful it is to capture it within the four borders of a photograph. Her photography focuses mainly on cityscapes and landscapes but on occasion, she will venture to abstract photography.

Street Crossings by Stephanie Arguelles


Boards in Wait by Stephanie Arguelles


From Up Here by Stephanie Arguelles


Preservation of History by Stephanie Arguelles


Golden Gate Sunset by Stephanie Arguelles


Remnants of Conflict by Stephanie Arguelles

Stephanie is currently doing collaborations with abstract artists through combining two mediums of art, photography and abstract painting. She plans on opening a photography gallery in Bonifacio Global City, Philippines in the future as a way to showcase her work and the work of other emerging photographers. Stephanie is currently selling her photography on and you can find and follow her on her Instagram: @pixelperfect021518


Like a royal necklace, one bedazzling jewel after another stuns your eyes as you turn another corner, climb another mountain, skirt the sea on a gravel road or bathe in the milky turquoise waters of a volcanic crater.

This is the north of Iceland where the country hugs the arctic circle, waterfalls playfully tumble down mountain gorges and rainbows leap up to meet you not to mention terrain that is referred to as Mars on Earth. I was bewitched or was that be-trolled? You never know where the little devils might find you.

Continue reading “NORTHERN ICELAND”


Live a little, get off the Ring Road and go visit the West Fjords!

The adventure through the West Fjords is a jaw dropping and ear popping driving experience in the northwestern part of the country (in red on map above – courtesy of Wikipedia). Facing Greenland, the peninsula is connected to the rest of Iceland by a 7-km-wide isthmus to the mainland.

Because the roads are narrow, winding and often snow and ice packed, travel by land is often difficult. Not unlike Alaska, travel by boat or plane is often not only the preferred method of transportation but the only feasible way to get around in the winter months.

Continue reading “WEST FJORDS OF ICELAND”


Jagged mountains plunging to the sea, crystal clear water reflecting the sky, geothermal pools dotting the landscape and narrow roads leading to one breathtaking scene after another as yet another waterfall springs to life. So what paintbrush do I use to capture God’s grandeur a/k/a the Fifty Shades of Iceland – PHOTOGRAPHY. And now I am certain that the phrase “A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words” must have come from Iceland.  See if you agree between Fifty Shades of Iceland – Part I and Part II which will post later -this week.

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If you have any questions or suggestions, please fill out the form provided below as we would love to hear from you.

Help Travelirvana Support Unity Opera’s Fight Against Malaria

Travelirvana proudly supports Unity Opera’s fight against Malaria. Please consider reading more about their incredible cause below and on their fundraising site.

Check out this short video about their cause!

From Unity Opera’s Fundraising Site:

In the last decade, malaria deaths worldwide have declined by more than half. Millions of lives have been saved from malaria since 2000. Eradicating malaria is possible in our lifetime and could save an estimated 11 million lives.

Despite the progress made so far, a child dies from malaria every two minutes. The crazy thing is that this shocking reality is completely preventable!

Families with access to long-lasting insecticide-treated bed nets can protect themselves from the mosquitoes before the mosquitoes can transmit the disease from one person to the next.  In the last couple of years, we have researched the organizations that do this the best and have chosen Nothing But Nets. One bed net will protect 2 people and can be delivered for just $10 by Nothing but Nets.

Their goal is to raise $10,000 or 1,000 nets in individual donations to Nothing but Nets between November 1st and November 26th.   Their partners will provide a match of FOUR TIMES for every net donated.

Click here to visit Unity Opera’s fundraising page and read more about their vision, other supporters of the Nothing But Nets Organizations, and how your contribution will help change lives.




Whoever said laughter is the best medicine doesn’t know what it feels like be in a country far away from home, alone and sick as a dog without the proper medication. Depending on the country you are going to and what activities you plan to engage in, there is definitely a list of medicines that are important to take with you or, if you don’t, forget the laughter as you might be in tears.  I’ve been there.  I know. The purpose of this article is to teach you what I’ve learned about what medicines you should have with you before you leave for a foreign country….I call it my “Justin Case”.

I’ve managed to get your basic cold and flu sure.  In fact, I remember being miserable for a week in Cuba because of that flu and heartbroken when I didn’t get to go salsa dancing (which I love) two nights in a row because of it. I remember how ill I was after staying in a mold ridden room in Laos the night before I went on the Gibbon Tour which required hiking in the jungle all day under the blazing sun, dehydrated as all get out and staying in a 40 meter high tree house in the jungle storm of all storms with a few cockroaches and tree rats to keep me company. While it was one of my favorite experiences in all my travels, I’m guessing it would have been better had I not been so sick. I also remember Boracay, Philippines. Let’s just say don’t drink out of a bottle. Use a straw. And the most recent and seemingly everlasting beating I’ve ever taken on the road was the giardia I picked up in Africa – Tanzania to be exact. I made it from Tanzania to Rwanda before spending a week in Kigali next to a toilet.  While my body never looked so good than it did after that illness, it is not the way I would recommend losing weight!

And I’m not the only one folks.  I’ve met travelers around the world who have gotten malaria because they didn’t have the proper anti-malaria meds.  Friends who struggled climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro with me because they didn’t have anti-climitazation meds. Friends who struggled with ferry and boat rides because they didn’t have scopolamine.

So talk to your doctor and get these tailored made meds prescribed to you before leaving home or pick up these recommended over the counter meds because while some say “AMEX – Don’t leave home without it”, I say “Don’t leave home without your JUSTIN CASE”: