Five Reasons to Choose a Hostel Instead of a Hotel

Many travelers associate hostels with unkempt backpackers strumming on their guitars or massive dorm rooms filled with snoring strangers.

Others still think all hostels are youth hostels, and that they’re either too old or too experienced to check in to one.

However, nothing could be further from the truth.  Hostels have come a long way in the past twenty years, and are an increasingly appealing option for travelers of all ages, experience levels, interests and budgets.

Here are five great reasons why you should consider booking a hostel instead of a hotel on your next trip:

Why book a hostel: Hostel vs Hotel

1. You’ll Save Money

A quick search on one of the major booking sites shows that of the more than 1000 available accommodation options in London, England, the sixty least expensive options are all shared, dorm-style rooms.

In fact, the average price of a bed in a dorm room in London is approximately 80% cheaper than the average price of a hotel room.

For single travelers, the savings can’t be beat.

Groups of two or more may be able to find double rooms for approximately the same price as two dorm beds, but the hotels with prices that low generally get equally low scores from guest reviews.

The more expensive the city, the more you’ll save by staying in a hostel.

Hostels are economic when you are on a tight budget

2. You’ll Make New Friends

Whether you’re traveling solo or with others, it’s always nice to make new friends along the way.

When you stay in a hostel you have instant access to a group of people who, like you, are interested in travel, meeting new people and learning about other cultures.

Many hostels organize activities such as walking tours, day trips and pub crawls to help guests get to know one another.

The best hostels also have comfortable common areas where you can relax with a book, sip a drink or connect to the internet while chatting with other guests.

Most travelers who frequent hostels can easily list a dozen cool people they’ve met while hosteling… can you name even one friend you’ve made in a hotel?

Social Life is one attraction at hostels, new friends

3. You’ll Reduce Your Environmental Impact

Think about the cost and environmental impact of lighting, heating, cooling and cleaning a hotel room.  Now multiply that by the hundreds of rooms in any given hotel.

The impact is pretty huge, and it’s especially harmful in sensitive ecological areas.

When multiple travelers share common facilities, however, the impact can be reduced.  Instead of needing air conditioning in ten separate rooms, hostels can simply air condition one ten-bed dormitory.

Instead of cleaning ten separate bathrooms every morning, hostels can clean one shared bathroom a couple of times throughout the day.

When you’re concerned about your environmental footprint, spend part of your trip in shared dorm rooms and look for hostels that incorporate other eco-friendly practices like recycling, composting and non-toxic cleaning.

Hostels Use Less Fossil Fuels

4. You’ll Feel Like You’re At Home

Anyone who’s ever taken one look at a hotel’s dry cleaning price list and decided to just wear a dirty shirt again will know what this one is about.

Good hostels anticipate budget travelers’ needs and offer home-style services like washing machines, drying racks, shared kitchens (often equipped with cooking basics like oil and salt), free computers and complimentary boarding pass printing.

Even when you’re not trying to keep costs down, sometimes it’s just nice to cook yourself your favorite meal or wash that t-shirt that somehow seems to have developed a chocolate ice cream stain.

5. You Can Still Have Privacy

Example of a private room at a hostel two single beds.

The most popular hostels today offer a variety of room types, which may include a mix of both shared and private accommodations.

Solo travelers seeking a bit of privacy can look for hostels that offer single rooms, while groups can look for double or triple private rooms, or even consider booking an entire dorm just for their group (even if you don’t use all the beds, it’s often cheaper than the equivalent number of hotel rooms).

When you’re not into sharing a bathroom with strangers, book yourself into one of the many hostels where rooms feature an ensuite bathroom.

Recently, more hostels have been adding family rooms to their collections, so even travelers with children can take enjoy the benefits of staying in a hostel.

Take Away: Hostel vs Hotel

Motives for Booking A hostel

Whether your goal is to save money, meet new people, reduce your environmental impact or enjoy the comforts of home, staying in a hostel offers many advantages over staying in traditional hotels.

With the option of staying in a shared dorm room or your very own private room, you can now experience all the great things about hostel accommodations while also deciding just how much you want to interact with the other hostel guests.

Bon voyage!

Go Further, Life – Its Your Heroic Adventure

How to Break in a New Pair of Hiking Boots – Without the Blisters

Even the best pair of hiking boots will come out of the box a little stiff, which can easily lead to pain, pinching, and even blisters if you don’t take the time and effort to break them in properly.

While the time it takes to break in a pair of boots can vary depending on the materials, the handy tips below can help you quickly and easily get a perfect, comfortable fit – without the blisters.

Pay Attention to Pinches and Hot Spots

Before you start breaking in your boots, make sure that they are a decent fit out of the box.

While you can expect any brand-new boot to be a little stiff, sharp pinches or hot spots are warning signs that shouldn’t be ignored.

Hiking Boots After the Sale - conditioning against blisters

In most cases, such pains are not likely to go away even after the boots are broken in, since they stem from a problem with the size or design of the boot itself.

Always take the time to try on boots before you buy them, and if you are shopping online, look for sellers with generous return policies.

Start Slow

Trying to break in boots too quickly, even on a day hike, can lead to calluses, blisters, and swelling.

Instead of wearing your new boots for a long hike or a full shift at work, take things slowly.

Start by wearing the new boots for 10 to 20 minutes a day, and work your way up as they become more comfortable.

Soften the Leather

Leather is animal skin, and just like skin, moisturizers can make it softer and more flexible.

Many manufacturers offer leather conditioners in the form of creams, oils, and sprays, all of which can help you break in your boots much faster.

Hiking Shoes with Walking Poles on top

A good moisturizing product will keep the leather supple, helping the boots mold to the shape of your feet, and it will also protect the boots from drying out or cracking.

Boots broken in — plan a trekking  adventure in India >>>

Invest in Thicker Socks

A thicker pair of socks can make a huge difference when it comes to being comfortable in new boots.

Avoid loose socks, ankle socks, or dress socks, as well as socks that don’t let your feet breathe. Hiking socks are an excellent choice–many of them offer extra cushioning, reinforced heel and toe areas, and arch support, making them perfect for long days spent on your feet.

Use Boot Stretchers

Sometimes a new pair of boots can have a problem area even after being properly broken in.

In these cases, your best option is to invest in a set of boot stretchers. These handy tools allow you stretch out the leather in places that might rub or squeeze your feet.

Using boot stretchers together with moisturizing oil is an excellent way to get rid of stiff leather and make your boots as comfortable as possible.

Avoid Hiking Boot Quick Fixes

There are a number of supposed “quick fix” methods for breaking in boots, ranging from wearing them in the shower to submerging them in salt water or even baking them in the oven, but the simple truth is that breaking in boots the right way requires patience.

These shortcuts are often very damaging to boots in the long term, and saving a bit of time isn’t worth the risk of cracked leather or loose soles.

Hiking Equipment Shoes New

A great pair of boots can last you a lifetime, but it’s crucial that you take the time to properly break them in early on so that they can mold to the shape of your feet.

While it will always be a bit uncomfortable at first, using the tips above will make the process as quick and painless as possible.

Are you planning to break in boots out on the trail? Ensure yourself, just in case, don’t forget trekking poles>>>


Hiking boots for women and men can conditioned the same way. Even waterproof boots can go through this process.

If the hiking shoe fits wear it, when it’s a hiking boot, break it in to avoid blisters!

Time to hit the trail…

Go Further with Heroic Adventure, More Tips for the Journey

 

Stay Safe on the Trail with Hiking Poles

Barring a trek up Mount Everest, hiking isn’t typically regarded as the most extreme of sports.

Nevertheless, safety is an important consideration to make, especially if you wander on trails that take you far from civilization and potential rescue.

Hiking poles not only increase your speed and comfort on the trail, but also your safety.

Here’s How Hiking Poles Enhance Your Trek:

Girl Pair of Hiking Poles Grand Canyon

1. Hiking poles act as antennas.

That rock might look stable, but you won’t know until you put your foot on it.

Hiking poles can allow you to test surfaces before transferring your full weight.

Use hiking poles to probe the ground for slippery ice patches, rogue holes and loose rocks.

This is a good way to avoid falling down or twisting an ankle.

2. Hiking poles prevent stress injuries by reducing strain on your feet and knees.

As anyone who’s hiked in steep ranges such as the Alps can tell you, mountain terrain can really wear on your legs.

Repetitive stress injuries are common among long-distance hikers, so it’s important to take preventative measures.

3. Hiking poles keep you alert.

Couple Iceland Trekking Nordic Poles

If you don’t believe this one, try doing an algebra problem after walking for a few hours with a heavy pack.

The discomfort of a heavy pack tires you out and dulls your senses, making you vulnerable to wrong turns or surprising dangerous animals.

Hiking poles will ease the weight of a pack. This will make you more comfortable and therefore more able to be aware of your surroundings.

4. Hiking poles keep you balanced on tricky slopes.

No hiker wants to fall to their death; hiking poles are handy on a steep slope that’s intent on pitching you to the bottom.

Whether ascending or descending, hiking poles will make slopes much safer, allowing you better control over your balance.

Poles allow you to have four points of contact, which can help you negotiate patches of loose rocks and slippery mud.

Couple Hiking Mud Puddle Hiking Poles in Use


While safety is top priority, also consider the other benefits that improve the trail experience. Poles allow you to move faster and cover more ground. If your goal is maximum mileage, poles better be on your equipment list.

The use of poles can also make more difficult terrain accessible to older nature lovers.

You may be over the hill, but with poles, you can get over a mountain.

Buying Trekking Poles

Many poles are listed at $200, but your first set doesn’t need to be that expensive.

You can purchase a perfectly reasonable set for $100 or less.

If you’re short on cash, simply repurpose some used ski poles, which can often be found for cheaper. To read more about things to consider when buying a trekking pole check out this post [with videos] >>>.

Essentials for a Day Hike

It’s easy to have a great time hiking, but it’s also easy to have a miserable time if you hit the trail unprepared.

Below you will find a list of essentials for the average day hike.

Having the essentials covered will allow you to have a fun and relaxing time.

Just give some thought to these before you leave the house, and you can leave the worries of everyday life behind once you do.

1. Hiking Shoes

Shoes for a Day Hike

One of the best ways to have an awful time on a hike is to be wearing the wrong type of shoes.

They can cause you to develop blisters, sore heels and arches, or may pinch and rub against your foot in the wrong places. This may even happen with a pair of shoes you wear every day, because hiking is likely more strenuous than what you usually put them through.

A comfy pair of runner should be okay for a shorter hike, but you might want to choose actual hiking boots if you plan to be on the trail for the better part of the day.

Classical hiking boots with ankle support will be important if your trail is going to involve steep inclines and declines.

2. Outdoor Clothing

Hiking Clothes for day summer

Make sure that you check the forecast before you head out, and dress and pack accordingly.

It isn’t much fun being wet, cold, and miserable in the middle of the woods, and being too hot is no good either.

Dress for the weather and bring some extra clothes in your pack in case the weather changes.

Bring a sweater even on a hot day, especially if you will be out after the sun dips below the mountains.

3. Meals, Snacks, & Water

Hiking Food and Drinks Bottle

Make sure that you bring enough water with you, as you don’t want to get dehydrated out on the trail.

Food is important as well, to keep your energy and your blood sugar up.

When you are taking a very long hike, then plan to stop and have a picnic (making sure to carefully clean up after yourself!). Leave no trace.

Bring snacks even for a short hike in case you get hungry.

4. Trekking Poles

Female Two Walking Poles View over Ocean on Mountain

Trekking poles are incredibly useful on long trails, and can even be helpful on short ones.

Ascending and descending a trail can put a lot of pressure on your knees and thighs, which trekking poles will help to ease. They are also great for crossing streams and offer security on a slippery trail.

Use trekking poles if you are going a long distance, on a rough trail, or have problems with your knees.

Check out this guide on what to look for when buying trekking poles>>>

5. First Aid & Miscellaneous Items

First Aid Hiking

There are, of course, many other items that you can bring on a hike with you than the four listed above.

You should also have some basic first aid supplies such as bandages and painkillers, and items such as bug spray and sunscreen are important depending on where and when you are going.

You will also want to bring a compass, sunglasses, pocket knife, hand sanitizer or wet wipes, and a bear bell and bear spray.


Trekking Pole Dog Icon

Three Trekking Spots in Coorg, India

If you’re planning a trip to India, don’t leave out Coorg. 

Located in the southwestern part of India in the state of Karnataka, Coorg, which is also known as Kodagu, is known for its natural beauty.

Ghats Mountains India

Amongst other activities, trekking in Coorg is extremely popular with visitors.

Here’s a closer look at three places to go hiking and trekking, with your trekking pole, in Coorg, India.

1.  Irupu Falls

At the top of your list for trekking in Coorg should be Irupu falls.

The waterfalls are not only a tourist destination, they are also a sacred site for many Hindus.

During the festival of Shivrati, many pilgrims flock to the area to honor Lord Shiva due to the legend associated with the falls.

During monsoon season, Irupu Falls are at their peak.

Once you reach the falls, you may wish to take the forest trail from the falls to Brahmagiri Peak in the southern part of Coorg.

2.  Abbi Falls

Coorg Abbey Falls

Abbi Falls is another famous waterfall in Coorg that makes for an excellent and exciting trek.

Abbi Falls is located in the Western Ghats mountain range, a range which has the honor of being a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its biodiversity.

In fact, the Western Ghats mountain range ranks near the top of biodiversity hotspots in the world.

The path to Abbi Falls is a lovely one that winds through coffee and cardamom plantations.

Like Irupu Falls, the best time to visit Abbi Falls is during the monsoon season, when all the extra water makes the falls a very impressive sight.

3.  Nagarhole National Park

Elephants in Nagarhole National Park

When you’re ready to catch a glimpse of wild elephants, bisons and maybe even a tiger, go trekking in Nagarhole National Park.

Although the park isn’t a UNESCO World Heritage Site yet, it is currently under consideration thanks to its location in the foothills of the Western Ghats mountains.

Visiting Nagarhole is easy thanks to the organized safaris that happen twice each day.

Although the park is closed during animal mating season and during heavy monsoons, the rest of the year remains open to visitors.

These are just three of the best spots for trekking in Coorg, but they are certainly not the only places for a good hike.


To know if you need a trekking pole for your hiking journey in Coorg don’t miss this hiking pole how-to.

Take More Heroic Journeys

The 3-Step Used Shipping Container Quality Assessment Checklist

Being avid travelers, we think it’s only appropriate to want to use a shipping container as building material.

It’s essence gives off the adventure, distant lands, trade, and foreign places vibes–vibes we like to carry with us through life. So, what better way than to repurpose a shipping container for, well–the options are numerous.

From living quarters, to restaurants, to sheds, to emergency shelter, with the sturdy construction of a shipping container built to specs to survive the rigors of the high seas–you can take advantage of this and build a dream something or other.

Whether you’re in the market for a second-hand shipping container for storage purposes, construction material, or anything in between, you want to make sure you’re not getting ripped off.

To ensure you’re purchasing a high-quality used container, take this easy 3-step checklist with you when you talk to the seller.

Apartment housing made from shipping containers

 

1. Where has it been?

When you talk to your chosen seller about their shipping container, you’ll want to ask them where it’s been.

Depending on the temperature it’s exposed to, metal will expand and contract. If your container has been back and forth from Australia to a cold region like northern Europe, the constant swelling and shrinking of the metal may have caused warping and weakness in the steel.

Find out what journeys the container has taken to ensure you don’t get this kind of damage. The less extreme temperatures it’s been exposed to, the better.

Buildings Created Used Shipping Containers Shopping Center

2. How many times has it been used?

The location of your shipping container’s journeys isn’t the only important thing to consider.

You’ll also want to know how many journeys it’s been on.

Aside from damage caused by repeated exposure to extreme temperatures, the constant loading and unloading that a well-used container has to withstand can also cause problems.

You can take a look at the state of the walls inside the container to verify what the seller tells you.

For example, if he or she informs you that the container has been used once, but you can see scratches and dents of various ages, your seller may be lying about the product. Don’t be afraid to ask for extra clarification on any damage you see.

House Design Using Shipping Containers

3. What has it carried?

If your shipping container has taken few journeys to places with moderate temperatures then you may be in luck, but don’t forget that the contents of the previous cargo matter.

For example, if the container was used to ship hazardous chemicals or other dangerous items, it’s possible that some of these could have leaked into the container and permeated the walls.

It’s especially important to avoid this if the container will be used to construct a structure like a house or pool, where the users’ health could be threatened by such substances escaping into the atmosphere.

Amsterdam Apartments Using Shipping Containers


Remember:

Buying used only works out to be a good deal if the item is in good condition and fit for purpose.

If not, you could find yourself spending so much on repairs and replacements that a new container would have been a cheaper purchase.

When your chosen seller cannot answer these questions, find someone who can or purchase at your own risk.

Travel + Work: Synching Across Multiple Time Zones (When on the Road)

Managing a project team is tricky, particularly if your people work across multiple time zones.

With deadlines to meet, projects quickly run into trouble if you don’t account for different working hours.

Make your life easier and meet project targets by implementing these simple global resource management tips.

Use technology to save time  

(The Clock is and awesome world clock that makes keeping time zones up to date a breeze for those on iOS)

It’s confusing trying to work out what time it is in other places.

Avoid mistakes by downloading a time zone app to your computer or smartphone. This handy widget instantly displays the current time in major cities around the world.

With a quick glance, you can check what time it is in Hong Kong or Sydney without having to try to work it out in your head.

When your team works across multiple time zones, this is a great way to save time when booking meetings and planning project activities.

Clearly communicate team member locations and time zones

Team Members Time Zone Map

You can’t assume that all your people know that there is a time zone difference in the team.

Compile a project organization chart, which shows your team members’ locations and which time zone they work in.

Make sure that everyone has a copy of this document, and update it regularly to cope with summer and wintertime changes.

Work package delays often occur because people don’t even know that their colleagues are working several hours ahead or behind.

Make the most of the ideal times of day

Take Advantage of Time Overlap with Remote Workers

Work out if there are certain times of day when everybody in the team is in working hours.

Use these times to concentrate on activities where people need to work together, or where you need a one-to-one conversation with somebody.

It’s much easier to get things done if you can discuss a problem together, rather than try to find the solution via email.

Keep the best time slots free, and spend the rest of the time working on activities that you can complete individually.

Look for opportunities for flexible hours

Offer Flexible Hours

Never assume that your project team members all want to work between nine and five.

Some people are happy to work different hours to suit the needs of the project, and this can help speed up delivery.

Ask people to come in earlier or work later in some countries, to create longer periods of time for collaboration.

Make sure you talk to your colleagues in HR about any legal implications first, because local laws may mean that you have to pay a premium for working outside core office hours.

Can your project budget cope with this?

Communicate more often

Man Communicating Business to Headquarters

If the project delivery is moving very quickly, it’s difficult to make sure that everybody knows what’s happening.

Send regular updates via email even if it’s just to report that everything is on track.

Lead by example and show your project team how important it is to tell one another what is happening.

A daily call is not always necessary if everyone is in one place, but frequent contact is vital if people are working at different times of day.

Never assume that people know the latest developments. Give them the information they need to complete their tasks effectively.

It’s difficult to manage project teams across different time zones.

Global projects bring unique challenges, but if you plan your time carefully, you can easily meet project goals.

Your Heroic Adventure Begins Now

7 Great Business Retreat Activities

Your leadership team will soon be leaving town, heading towards a few days of team building and business-minded brainstorming. You’ve been charged with planning your executives’ business retreat activities.

So, where do you start?

Here are seven luxury business retreat activities that will keep your leadership team happy while creating a successful company outing:

1. Golf

Golf Retreat Team Building

Any good group outing with executives is likely to include a round or two of golf.

Look for golf courses in the area where your execs will be staying, and reach out to the courses for assistance with your planning needs.

Gold course employees are usually well-versed in the art of planning executive getaways.

2. City-Wide Scavenger Hunt

Man Searching on Scavenger Hunt in City

Take team-building across town with a scavenger hunt that resembles The Amazing Race.

There are plenty of online resources to help you make this dream a reality.

The concierge at your leaders’ hotel may be able to offer some tips.

3. Cook-Off

Cook OFF

Cook-offs are favored luxury business retreat activities that pit leaders against each other in a little friendly food competition.

Choose a theme, separate the attendees into two teams, and let the kitchen contest begin! Maximize teamwork by including the task of shopping for groceries in the battle.

4. Bowling

Bowling Alley teamwork

Leaders tend to have a hard time letting their hair down and just hanging out. 

A few gutter balls usually help to bring out some humility, allowing the participants to just enjoy themselves without worrying about always trying to win.

5. Show Your Strengths

Strengths Finder 2.0 Book

StrengthsFinder 2.0 is renowned for making a huge impact in the workplace. 

Have each participant take the test, read about his or her strengths, and discuss them with the group.

Each person can then choose one person for further discussion.

With their StrengthsFinder partner, each person can explore the ways they can enhance communication now that they’ve been given the tools necessary to bridge the gaps.

6. Create A New Company

Retreat Brainstorm new Business Opportunities

Throughout the week, task your leaders with creating a new company.

They’ll need a name, product or service, slogan, logo, vendors, and everything else that makes a business run. This exercise will help each functional department understand the viewpoints of other areas.

If you break your participants into teams, make sure various departments are represented in each group.

Each team should analyze the other’s company, asking questions and identifying holes.

7. Rope Courses

Ropes Courses Executive Rtreat

A rope course may seem cliche at first, but these team-building businesses have been around for a long time for a very good reason: they’re impactful.

Rope courses and zipline adventures are intended to take people out of their comfort zones and find trust with each other.


When you’ve been tasked with planning team-building events for your company’s corporate retreat, fret not!

These ideas will have your executives well on their way to a successful and enjoyable getaway.

Where’s Your Next Heroic Adventure?

A Traveller’s Guide to Finding the Cheapest Airport Parking

When planning a trip beyond the great blue horizon, people often make many considerations for the time they will be in the air heading from point A to point B.

Many travellers fail, however, to make proper considerations for the logistics of arriving and departing from the airport and, therefore, have to make last minute and often costly arrangements for the parking of their vehicles.

Fortunately, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and finding the cheapest airport parking solutions before you go is easier than ever.

Below is an outline of what you should expect and should be looking for when picking the cheapest airport parking.

Tons of Competition

Air Port Parking space find

Many people simply drive onto the premises of the airport and pay for the most affordable option of parking that is available.

This is akin to walking into a major theme park without bringing any refreshments and immediately having to pay £5 for a bottle of water.

The reality is that most major airports have several – if not dozens – of private and off-site airport parking solutions that were built with price competition in mind.

The main reason for parking off-site as opposed to at the airport is the savings in cost. Without this benefit, off-site airport parking would not be a viable business model in most cases.

Disadvantages to Consider

By selecting the cheapest airport parking available – whether at the airport or off-site – there are going to be obvious disadvantages.

This may include being a very inconvenient distance away from the terminal if on-site or having to wait for a shuttle to take you to and fro if you are using an off-site parking service.

While on-site airport parking in many cases is expensive, it’s understood that access to your vehicle from the airport and vice-versa is typically easier than it would be with the cheapest airport parking solutions, especially those that are off-site.

Ultimately, it all comes down to nothing more than the balance of cost versus convenience.

Many Airports Have Valet Parking

Online Services

There are several online comparison hubs that you can use to find the best deals on airport parking.

One example in North America is BestParking, which compares on-site and off-site parking solutions that are centred around 79 airports throughout the United States, Mexico, and Canada.

Comparison tools like this one allow you to know before you go, make prior reservations, and get a scope of what each airport parking solution has to offer.

You can map out and determine how far each parking hub is from the airport, how much it will cost, and how long your “commute” will be.

Using online airport parking comparison tools is the best way to find the cheapest airport parking, regardless of where you are located currently.

If you are willing to walk a little bit more or otherwise spend more time on a shuttle getting to your destination, then you will appreciate the flexibility and savings that off-site parking solutions can offer.

For many, though, parking on-site is a must. No matter what, though, there are generally many pricing options available for this service, too. So the only way you can save the most money and be prepared is by doing your homework beforehand.

Adventure Forth to Your Next Heroic Adventure

All About Sushi – Japanese Vinegared Rice

It’s a common misconception with Japanese cuisine that sushi means raw fish, and while the jokes about eating it for the first time can be funny, it’s also misleading.

Like this old chestnut: A couple walk into a Japanese restaurant and pause to admire a tank full of tropical fish. They ask the waiter what the fish are called. “Sushi,” the waiter replies. But as any good waiter would know, sushi actually refers to the vinegared rice, with which raw fish – called sashimi – is often served.

Sushi actually refers to the vinegared rice, with which raw fish – called sashimi – is often served.

Sushi is believed to have started 14 centuries ago, when a common method of pickling fish and rice gained popularity in Japan.

Bamboo Sushi Roller, two hands, rice

The fish was slit open and packed with rice, and as the whole thing fermented for anything up to two years it took on a tangy pickled flavor. Later this process was speeded up, and later still, 19th century food stall owner Hanaya Yohei started creating sushi dishes with vinegared rice and raw fish in Tokyo.

In the 1970s, sushi travelled to the US and other parts of the world, and became part of a new age food revolution. Out of the simple seaweed, rice and raw fish combinations came the California Roll, characteristically bigger than the Japanese delicacies and packed with fish, meat and vegetables and wrapped in a sheet of seaweed, or presented ‘inside out’ with the rice on the outside and the seaweed tucked away with the filling.

California Roll

But Japanese sushi chefs continued to evolve the delicacies known collectively as sushi into ever more graceful art forms.

There are several different forms of sushi, including:

  • maki-sushi, which is the ‘inside out’ sushi that evolved into the California Roll;
  • Nigiri Sushi, which is vinegared rice shaped by hand into a small bed for seafood;
  • oshi sushi, which is sushi rice shaped into squares or rectangles and covered with a variety of toppings;
  • chirashi sushi, which is vinegared rice scattered on a plate and served with toppings.

To make sushi at home you need to buy the right ingredients.

There are only two of them – Japanese short grain rice and sushi rice vinegar. You can get them both from an Asian grocery store.

  1. Rinse two cups of rice in a colander under a running tap to remove the starch and ensure the rice is sticky when cooked.
  2. Put the washed rice into a large pot, and add two cups of water, or into a rice cooker following the manufacturer’s instructions. If in a pot, bring it to the boil, turn down the heat and simmer until the rice has absorbed all the water.

Japanese Short Grain Rice

Your Asian grocery store may stock sushi rice vinegar, pre-mixed and ready to use.

If not, buy rice vinegar and mix half a cup of vinegar with three tablespoons of white sugar and 1 teaspoon of salt in a small pan.

Heat until sugar dissolves, and sprinkle over the rice in a non-metal bowl. Mix thoroughly with a spatula, and your sushi rice is ready to roll and shape, using a sushi fan as you work to cool the rice. Store any leftover sushi vinegar in the fridge.

Whether you choose to make maki, nigiri, oshi or chirashi sushi, it is important to have the freshest ingredients possible.

Raw fish, such as tuna and salmon, are among the most commonly used ingredients, but if you cannot obtain these really fresh from the ocean, you will be better off using canned, smoked or cooked fish.

Avocado is a popular ingredient in California Rolls and most sushi sold today, but you can also include carrot sticks, celery, prawns, crab, chicken, lettuce strips, tomato and cucumber.

cutting sashimi in kitchen

If you are rolling the sushi in seaweed sheets, a bamboo hand rolling mat (see photo above) will make the job easier.

This won’t stop people making jokes about raw fish, of course, but at least while you are laughing, you can gently correct them as you hand them your own delicious sushi creations.

Bonus: How to Make Sushi [Video]

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