Author Archives: Wife with Baggage

Hiking The Tongariro Apline Crossing in New Zealand as a Novice Hiker

To be honest, we are not super experienced hikers. First, we live in Florida, so even hills are impressive to us. Secondly, while we’ve hiked in Kauai, Namibia and Colorado, we don’t even own proper hiking boots. We have gotten better over the years, but we are absolutely, 100% novice hikers who seem to be the right mixture of physically fit, blissfully ignorant and outdoorsy-but-also-like-to-shower-every-night kind of travelers.

In our current age (mid thirties) and state of health (active and healthy) there are not too many trails we wouldn’t attempt. True, summiting Mount Everest is not on my list, but Kilimanjaro is, completing the Napali Coast Trail in Kauai is and hiking the Tongariro Trail is. Only now we can say was, since we finished the hike in just over 6 hours in December 2015. It is certainly one for the books and every bit as impressive as I’d hoped it would be.

Here is a synopsis of our 6 hour hike, in tennis shoes, on the Tongariro Trail.

Hour 1: Park, wait for the bus, ride the bus and then start hiking (Note, 99.9% of people do this. If you park and start hiking, then ride the bus back to your car you will be hiking against the flow of foot traffic.) The first hour is easy – both in general and in comparison to the rest of the hike. The first hour consists of gravel trails, well-kept boardwalks over marshy land and a slow uphill trek. There are also port-o-potties, or temporary toilets for you to use. These are the only facilities on the path, so take advantage of them.

Hour 2: Hour 2 is up and down and even perfectly flat at times. Leaving the toilets is almost straight up, but then you reach a crater like stretch suddenly the earth looks like Mars.

Hour 3: The third hour was the highlight for me. After reaching a high point and sitting a boulder to rest and eat a snack in the clouds (literally), we marveled at the Red Crater and the prismatic pools of water below. This is also a good stopping point for lunch.

Hour 4: Stopping for lunch bleeds into the next hour, but the trek through a valley and alongside other ponds is easy enough and allows your food to digest some. If this part of the trek looks like the land of Mordor, you’re a solid LOTR fan.

Hour 5: Rises and falls in the land create for changing views of the valley below and it is tough to not trip over the loose rocks as you forget to look down at your footing while staring at the stunning beauty that is all around you.

Hour 6: The last hour is the longest, because that is just how time and life work. HOwever, for me, this was the most rigorous as it is almost entirely downhill. My body is built for uphill climbs, but downhill over the course of an hour can really wear on your knees and ankles, so be prepared. The downhill trail brings you down from the mountains, foothills and ends in a forest. This forest is the only shade found on the entire trail.

Things to know before you hike:

  • Pack water and food – more than you think you’ll need.
  • Plan on spending a few days in the area as weather might not cooperate and this causes the trail to close for everyone.
  • Dress in layers. We added and peeled off layers all day long.
  • Socks were more important and helpful to us than hiking boots were. We had water wicking, warm socks that kept dirt and small pebbles out; which was paramount.
  • We did not have walking sticks, but I can see how they would be helpful.
  • Pack sunscreen and sunglasses/hat for sure! At some points you are in the clouds, but other times the sun is intense and there is no shade to be found.
  • Did I say to pack water and snacks? The average time is 7 hours.

New Zealand: The 6 Best Ideas for a Kiwi Getaway

New Zealand is a country that feels like a world away. It’s sprawling and untamed, a perfect balance between the manmade wonders of the big cities and the glorious wilderness surrounding them. Here are six ideas for when you’re travelling through the Kiwi paradise.

Take a cruise

(image credit to: https://www.flickr.com/photos/volvob12b/)

When the waters of New Zealand are so vast and glorious, it makes perfect sense to explore them with a cruise. Audley Travel recommends cruising to both the Bay of Islands and Milford Sound, two of New Zealand’s most magnificent natural wonders. The former is perhaps the less explored, a cluster of around 150 green islands surrounded by deep turquoise waters, so if you’re wanting to head off the beaten track this is the way to do it.

Seize the thrills of Queenstown

 (image credit to: https://www.flickr.com/photos/queenstownrafting/)

If you’re looking for adventure, Queenstown is where you’ll find it. Here, you’re able to jump from the tallest bungee platform in New Zealand in the form of Nevis Bungy; you can white water raft down the Tully River; and you can even skydive if you’re feeling that brave. Plus, Queenstown is the only place in the world where you can try the coveted Fergburger, a renowned culinary delight that goes down a storm with tourists and locals alike.

Explore the bustle of Auckland

 (image credit to: https://www.flickr.com/photos/volvob12b/)

It may not be the capital of New Zealand – that title belongs to Wellington –but Auckland really is a one-of-a-kind city. It truly does offer everything you could wish for – whether you’re wanting a spot of natural beauty or the bustle of a big city centre, you’ll find it here. Consider hiking through the Shakespear Regional Park, overlooking the deep blue ocean, before heading back into central Auckland to dine at one of its many fantastic restaurants and party the night away in a vibrant club.

Take a break in Christchurch

 (image credit to: https://www.flickr.com/photos/volvob12b/)

Although it’s a vast and big city, Christchurch is the perfect destination for a more relaxed New Zealand experience. Following a devastating earthquake in 2011, the city has quickly recovered through extensive efforts, blossoming into a hotspot that has a warm air of community about it. You’re able to visit some beautifully creative installations – such as the Cardboard Cathedral, erected as a placeholder for the original that was destroyed – as well as learn more about the earthquake through tasteful and insightful memorials and museums.

Indulge in the culture of Rotorua

 (image credit to: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ks_marks/)

Rotorua is a town hardly any tourists have discovered. It’s baffling that it isn’t more popular considering just how beautiful a location it is – it’s full of geothermal beauty, with hot geysers and sprawling lakes throughout for you to discover. It’s a cultural hotspot, too, with a large part of its population being Maori. You’ll see it in the century-old buildings throughout the town, as well as in the Rotorua Museum – it’s currently closed due to an earthquake, but it should be opening again very soon.

Hit the open roads

 (image credit to: https://www.flickr.com/photos/volvob12b/)

It’s said to be the best way to explore New Zealand – hire a car and take to the winding open roads. By road tripping through the two islands, you’ll come across undiscovered treasures of your own accord – secluded bays, glorious mountains and endless lakes await. Consider driving from Christchurch to Queenstown, a route that will allow you to visit the beautiful Franz Josef Glacier on the way. It’s a majestic feat of nature that is just one of many examples of New Zealand’s true beauty.

Hiking and Tramping to Cathedral Cove Near Hahei, New Zealand

Ever get somewhere and think “This is not worth it” and by “it” I mean the time, energy or money used to get there. I’ve had those thoughts before. Bangkok comes to mind. As does Disney and most movies I’ve seen in the theater in the last 5 years. Thousands of dollars, too many hours and all of our energy went into our two weeks in New Zealand, but I never once had that thought.

Throughout our 14 days on the two islands, never once did I regret the time, money and energy we expended to explore New Zealand’s north and south islands. One of our first stops was Cathedral Cove, a very worthwhile stop! Each mile and dollar was worth it to soak up the sun rays, dig my toes into the powder sand, and shiver when realizing the turquoise water was a tad but cooler than the Caribbean Ocean.

Prior to hiking to Cathedral Cove we sea kayaked around cliffs and corners and through caves. We battled winds and waves and each other, because double kayaks will do that to even the best of couples! Cathedral Cove Kayaks took us on a great adventure.

Cathedral Cove Kayaking

But after 3 hours out of the water we wanted to relax. The only thing between us and that relaxation was a “short” little hike. The hike out to Cathedral Cove is no Tongariro Trail, but it is not a short little jaunt either. And don’t be the person who takes a boat here. If you want the views, do the work. (Rant over.)

Pack a small bag with a few beach necessities, snacks and water and then start hiking in Hahei. The path is wide and even. There are rougher off-shoots that you can take down to other small patches of sand or view points. They’re pretty, but we just wanted to sit and swim and sip our libations, so we kept walking.

The walk itself is 30-45 minutes based on your level of fitness and pace. Once there, do not expect to have the place to yourself. It is a favorite for a reason! However, when you finally sink into the sand and see the boat drop off a “boat load” of people you will instantly be angry that more people are in your “secret spot.” You’ll get over it quickly though; Cathedral Cove is too spectacular to let anyone ruin it for you! (OK, now my rant is over.)

You can easily spend any entire day near and around Hahei as we did. On land, in the water or on water, Coromandel and the surrounding peninsula are worth every mile, penny and ounce of energy it takes to get there.

Wine Tasting in Gibbston Valley, New Zealand

Wine tasting is our thing. We love drinking it, we love touring a vineyard and we love meeting other enthusiasts in the tasting room. That being said, we are not experts on all wine, just those we like. We are most familiar with Napa reds and thus gravitate towards Cabernet Sauvignon and this rule of thumb has worked for us around the world … until Gibbston Valley, New Zealand.

Our first week in New Zealand we must’ve tried 4 or 5 different Cabs and Red Zins that we didn’t love. Then, we spent just one day learning about and tasting New Zealand wines and figured out why! Pinor Noir is the way to go … as is making a day trip to Wanaka and Gibbston Valley while you are in Queenstown, New Zealand.

Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel grapes do not like the hot dry summers – but Pinot Noir does. In fact, 70% of the grapes grown in the Gibbston Valley region are Pinot. Once we knew this, our wine selection and experiences were immensely better!

The scenery of the region varies from rolling hills to mountains, lakes and rushing rivers. Almost all of the water is bright blue – as one comes to expect in New Zealand. While each tasting room and vineyard has its own flare, a few really stuck out to us – and all for different reasons.

Rippon, Wanaka – Rippon’s wines were refreshing, but to be honest, the view is why we visited. The tastings are free and the help is friendly – both strong qualities and very important. But, in my opinion – Rippon should be enjoyed outside. Lupins overlook green fields of vines which melt into turquoise waters which is then met by rugged mountains. It is breathtaking.

Wild Earth, Gibbston Valley – Wild Earth is tucked into the hillside and is located at an old gold mine. To enter you have to cross a metal foot bridge to get to the tasting room – pretty awesome! However, a better description of tasting room is likely “restaurant.” Come here hungry and thirsty! Mike and I are big eaters and I left almost uncomfortably full. The 6 wines you taste are paired with deliciously prepared meats and vegetables. The pairings ranged from chicken, beef, venison and lamb. There were points when I forgot to sip my wine because I was all about the food. It is a must taste kinda place!

Gibbston Valley Winery, Gibbston Valley – Chances are if you taste in this region, you will end up here. The caves are neat, and unique to the area. While impressive, the caves are not the biggest, longest or deepest, rather, just the only in the region. Gibbston Valley Winery also has a cheesery  … yes please! You can’t miss stopping here and sampling the yumminess. Or, better yet, buy some, and a bottle and picnic in their beautiful gardens; it is an experience for sure!

I don’t think I realized this until writing this post, but Gibbston Valley was a tasting experience, but not for wine, but food too – a total win-win if you ask me! From this point on, which, was actually Day 9 of 14 days, we loved every local wine we tried. It is amazing what you can learn if you seek out the information, and the goods!

Hiking the Napali Coast in Kauai, Hawaii

There is hiking. And, then, there is hiking the Kalalau Trail along the Napali Coast in Kauai.

As hiking trails go – there are smooth, flat lanes all the way to rugged, steep and rocky pathways. There are hikes along river beds and valleys, and those along mountain crests with 360 degrees views.

The Kalalau Trail in Kauai is popular and scenic, so we assumed it would be an easy, smooth hike. WRONG!

The trail is rugged. The trail is rocky. The trail is up and down.

That being said, I did the hike in Chaco sandals and Mike was prepared enough to have both, Chacos and his shoes. I wish I had closed toes, but I was thankful for sturdy Vibram soles. Mike liked the protection from pebbles in his shoes, but hated that be slipped around. Put our shoes together and we would be golden. Put our shoes together and you’ve got a decent pair of hiking shoes … go figure!

Even though you are at the beach and in a tropical paradise, pack and wear your hiking boots/shoes. The trail can get muddy, so slipping is a concern. The trail is rocky, so twisting your ankle is a concern. The trail has loose gravel in places, so small stones in your shoes is a concern. The terrain’s elevation often undulated and uneven, so blisters are a concern.

Pack plenty of food and water as the trail is long – even to the first major stopping point. If you’re on the trail, you might as well hike to Hanakapi’ia beach. Mike and I stopped here, drank water, ate our snacks, swam and then headed back. This took us almost 6 hours. It is a long day; be ready with nutrition and hydration.

Plan for a hike that takes the entire day. The earlier you arrive the better for a few reasons. First, you might find a parking spot. Parking is extremely scarce, so arrive before the sun comes up to make sure your spot. The trail runs along the western coast of the island which means it is in the shade until noon. The afternoons are brutally hot and little shade is found along the trail certain times of year. Bring hat, sunglasses and sunscreen, for sure!

Our hike time was not the best given our poor shoe choice and 500 stops for photos (it is that scenic), but we were not in a rush. Hiking Kalalau was one of our favorite adventures while on Kauai. In fact, I’d like to return to hike the entire trail, camping and everything. I know, I know. You probably don’t believe me. I barely believe me.Who knows, maybe they have a glamping option! 🙂

Tips for Saving Money on Food While on Vacation

You know my feelings about saving money for travel whenever you can, however you can and as much as you can! My brain is always thinking about another destination, another experience, another plane ride. Saving for a trip is “easy” if it is a priority. I do not mean that it is literally easy, I know most people work hard to pay bills each month and save for retirement; saving for a vacation can almost seem frivolous. I mean saving for a trip is “easy” if it is a priority in that making sacrifices to save is almost fun because you know a vacation will come to fruition if you save long enough.

Saving Money on food and drink while on Vacation

OK, a little tangent already. My bad! The focus on this post is not about saving money before and after a trip. The purpose of this post is helping you save money while you travel, specifically on food and beverages.

You bought the flights and booked the hotel rooms. You’ve (efficiently) packed your suitcase(s)! You are ready to have fun and unwind. A word of caution: Do not go crazy with vacation spending! So many splurge on first class flights or an upgraded hotel room. That is so awesome! If you can do it, you should! But, if you are looking to reign in your spending – but still have fun – here are my tips for saving money on food and drink while on vacation.

Packing a cooler saves money and time on road trips and driving vacations. Pack up any food you might have left over in your fridge before heading out of town. Use up that loaf of bread for sandwiches. Do not throw those peaches away. Take them with you! Plus, you can eat and drive (safely!) and get to your destination faster.

Buy a Steripen if you do not like to waste money on bottled water. I’ve written about the Steripen before, but it is worth mentioning again. A Steripen sterlizes tap water so that it is safe to drink anywhere in the world. Use it for drinking and brushing your teeth and your international water bill will drastically decrease! Saving money on water while on vacation will add up quickly.

Sterpien Handheld

BYOB works for vacation too! We save money on drinks while on vacation by bringing (or buying) our own. Going out for a bottle of wine and you are looking at $50+ bucks plus a tip. That same bottle while sitting on the balcony or with your toes in the sand at the beach is half the price if bought a liquor store or grocery store. It is easy to save money on food and drink while on vacation, just think outside of the box.

Speaking of grocery stores, use them more often while of vacation! We buy food for picnics all the time. We buy protein bars for breakfast replacements and fruit for healthy, cheap snacks while on vacation. Utilize the local markets and stores; you do not always have to eat out.

If you do go out, look at the restaurant’s portion sizes and consider splitting an entree. We do this often and we do not leave with too full bellies or too empty wallets.

Rye Bread baked using geothermal heat

And if you reeaally want to tick your server off, order water! Just remember to tip well because he or she is still doing the same amount of work for one entree and water.

Most restaurants also run Happy Hour specials that will save you money while traveling. Two for Ones and percentages off food and drinks is always a great way to save some serious cash.

Traveling does not have to break the bank. It is very easy to become absorbed in the “I’m on vacation” mentality. It happens to us to often too! But, if you consider budgeting your money wisely for food and beverages while on vacation you might be able stretch your overall budget and take that paddle boarding excursion or snorkeling trip. Happy Saving!

Chamonix: The Best Resort For Insane Ski Weekend Adventures

Are you looking for the best places where breathtaking scenery meet exciting winter sports? Whether you are looking for views that make your heart skip a beat, festivals, and events in the middle of nature or simply enjoying sports, Chamonix is the best place to do all that.

Photo: pexels.com

Chamonix is located in the Haute-Savoie region, in France and is one of the places with the highest reputation in the world. Its famous landmark is Mont Blanc itself (it’s pretty hard to beat that, right?)

Chamonix is such a favorite skiing destination that not only millions of tourists visit every year, but even instructors come here to provide their worth. The reason everybody loves this French Alps destination so much is the extensive system of adrenaline-pumping ski runs.

Don’t worry, though. You can still pick Chamonix for a ski getaway even if you are a beginner. It will be something you’ll count as an achievement for the rest of your life.

With that said, book your ticket, choose the right clothes, pack your bags, and let’s get ready for a wild weekend adventure.

What Makes Skiing in Chamonix an Insane Adventure?

Chamonix Valley has eight ski areas and resorts which vary in difficulty. However, regardless of whether you choose the most challenging slopes of the least complicated ones, you can expect the same level of quality on each one. That’s one of the reasons Chamonix is such a beloved destination for both pros and amateur skiers.

One of the top ski runs is Les Grands Montets. Keep in mind that this slope is only for the experienced skiers – the angle makes the route extremely tough, even though the snow is exceptional. It’s also one of the most crowded ones, for obvious reasons. Its altitude is around 3300m, and the 2000m vertical drop to Argentière can be any pro skiers’ ambition.

Le Domaine de Balme is another great option. This ski run is best suited for those who want to sweep through different levels. It’s a great place to practice your newly or older acquired skiing skills.

Les Houches is another excellent option, mainly known for the fact that the Kandahar World Cup is held here. So, if you’re looking for some motivation from some of the best skiers in the world, then maybe you should attend the cup when you’re not enjoying yourself on the slopes.

If You Want a Great Ski Getaway, Plan in Advance

The great thing about Chamonix is that there is something here to please any need and preference – from providing the necessary fun to offering life-changing challenges to those who are bold and experienced enough to accept them. Moreover, due to its great location, you can easily explore other areas in the French Alps, as well as crossing the border to Italy or Switzerland.

In case you get tired after all this skiing, you can always recharge your batteries by visiting around or just relaxing with a cup of hot tea in a nearby place. You’ll find everything you need in the blink of an eye.

My recommendation would be to hire a mountain guide if you feel like the options are too abundant and you don’t know what to choose. It’s easy to think that you’ve got everything under control when you’re planning your trip. But, once you get there, it can be pretty hard to decide where to start and what to do.

Another excellent idea would be to plan your trip with the help of an active holiday specialist, such as AlpineElements to ensure that you’ll have the best ski holiday of your life.

Photo Credit : pexel.com

Endless Fun on and Off the Pistes

Going on the most challenging routes, in a place well known for the quality of the snow and the challenges you might face is what makes any ski trip in Chamonix one of the craziest adventures you could ever take. If you’re up for it, you can always start planning right now.

However, if you are one of those people who are not very interested in skiing, you have to know that skiing is not the only thing you can do in Chamonix. This French Alps resort has a reputation for being as a massive playground for those who are looking for relaxation, fun and good memories, and for a good reason.

So, what can you do in a place that is best known as the epicenter of skiing in Europe (if not the world)?

Well, while skiing is, without a doubt, a top activity, there are plenty of other options for those who aren’t into this sport or just don’t know how to enjoy their apres-ski time.

Here are just a few ways you can turn your Chamonix holiday into a fun adventure.

  • Parapenting

You probably fell in love with the sight of Mont Blanc and snow covered mountains. How about a change of perspective?

With some courage, you could end up taking a leap from the top of the mountains and jump right into the dense clouds on top of Chamonix. Nothing can compare to the thrills of enjoying this gorgeous view from above.

  • Rock Climbing

Maybe you’re more interested in knowing the mountains up close. If rock climbing is what you prefer, then Chamonix is the best destination for exploring your passion. Keep in mind that the slopes are very abrupt, so it is as hard to climb them as it is to ski on them.

  • Rafting

River Arve has a strong current that will pull you through the tunnels of Mont Blanc. It will be full of thrill, excitement and a lot of water getting splashed around. If you’re more into water sports than winter sports, you are lucky – you can enjoy this throughout the year. Moreover, it’s not at all as crowded as the ski slopes.

  • Via Ferrata

If you want something that’s similar to rock climbing only less complicated, then via Ferrata should be your pick. Don’t let the idea of “protected route climbing” fool you. Not only that this activity is challenging and provides a healthy dose of an adrenaline rush, but the beauty of the scenery can leave you speechless.

Being on the side of the mountain at such an altitude can make you feel overwhelmed, so make sure you’re ready for it before you jump in.

  • Treetop Adventure

If you’re taking your family with you and you’re looking for a way to have fun, but without the extra dangers, this one is a safe option. Not only will you enjoy climbing around, but the whole network of ropes, nets, swings and bridges will make this a constant path of surprises and new challenges.

No matter if you’re a winter sports lover or you’re simply looking for a way to make your weekend memorable, you should visit Chamonix.

It’s going to make you look at skiing with different eyes and not only – you might have a hard time deciding which activity you like best.

A Note from Diane : Tim Baker is a freelance writer and author of this guest post. If you are interested in contacting Tim to learn more about his awesome travel adventures or writing, please email him at tim_bakers@hotmail.com.

Beaches in Kauai, Hawaii

Going to the beach is an obvious activity in Hawaii. But, all beaches have ups and downs – and not just the waves and tides. Here are our favorites of Kauai and why (or why not).

Polihale Beach – I’ll start with this beach because it was my absolute favorite on the island. It is secluded and picturesque and the perfect venue to watch the sun sink into the water. It is secluded and a local favorite because you MUST have 4 wheel drive to access this beach. The roads leading into the beach and state park are sugar sand, or very deep sand, that a car with front wheel drive only just cannot make it through. Michael and I even helped a car who took the risk (and failed). We helped the couple to push their car out of sand. Meanwhile, the locals drove past and shook their heads. You can’t blame them though; there are signs posted in multiple locations along the road; so proceed at your own risk. Not to mention that they’ve likely helped their fair share of clueless tourists. So, the need for a 4-wheel drive vehicle is both a blessing and a curse, depending on how you look at it for this beach. A pitfall of Polihale Beach are that the waters are very rough. Polihale Beach is not a swimming beach, but the fact that it is not busy and so scenic made it our favorite.

Brennecke’s Beach – Brennecke’s Beach is the opposite of Polihale in that it is very busy and easy to get to from a busy road in Poipu. But, on the flip side, you can easily swim. Another plus is that you have the chance to see turtles nesting. This is a common occurrence on other beaches on the island, but this is the only place we saw a turtle on the beach while on Kauai. You also have the option of sipping a cocktail at Brennecke’s Beach Bar while watching the waves if you want. This kind of option is always good when you’re fed up with other tourists stepping over you and screaming children. Sorry! (Not really!)

Shipwreck’s Beach – Like Polihale, Shipwreck’s Beach is not good for swimming, but it is great for watching surfers and boggy boarders. The waves crash violently at the shore, making for dramatic wipe outs and impressive rides. Parking is also very close. The beach is next to a large resort, so you will not have the place to yourself, but it was not as busy as Brennecke’s when we were there around sunset.

Tunnels Beach– Tunnels beach is a long, curved shoreline, offering beach goers space to spread out and feel like you have a place to relax without hearing other’s conversations or music. It is also great for snorkeling, a long stroll on the beach and shell/rock hunting. The large black lava rocks against the bright turquoise water make for a beautiful view when on land too. We also saw a monk seal bathing on the beach, the only sighting during our week on the island.

Ke’e Beach – Ke’e Beach is known for its snorkeling, calm waters and sunset views. We experienced all 3 and agree with its reputation. The biggest downfall of this beach is the parking problem, and it is a problem. The beach is also at the trail head for the Hanakapi’ai Trail; the most popular trail on the island. Arrive early, or wait until just before sunset and hope you find a spot. Expect to walk at least a half a mile once parked. It’s a hike; before the hike.

Hanakapi’ai Beach – Speaking of hiking, Hanakapi’ai Beach is only accessible by boat or a couple of hours of hiking. But, oh man! It is so worth it! Pack plenty of water, hiking boots and snacks and enjoy a pristine beach while eating, re-hydrating and cooling off in the water. But, again, parking is an issue as you park in the same area for this hike and beach as you do for Ke’e Beach. So, again, get there early, really early.

All beaches are not created equally, but Kauai’s beaches are known around the world for a reason. Kauai is the perfect destination for beach lovers and for outdoor lovers in general. 

Top Tips for Avoiding Scams on Holiday

Holidays should be fun. You’re supposed to de-stress by taking some time out of your normal routine. The last thing you want is to be scammed abroad – but it happens. When people are on holiday, they tend to forget how easily they can become targets for fraudsters looking for tourists who don’t know the area well. To make sure it doesn’t happen to you, check out our five top tips for avoiding scams on holiday:

Ditch the obvious signs you’re a tourist – Don’t make it easy for con artists to pick you out. They’ll know what to look for, and target people who they think are tourists off their guard. To help you blend in a bit better, listen to this advice:

  • Ditch the travel wallet
  • Don’t stare at a map for ages
  • Try and master a few key phrases in the local language

Source: The Secret Traveller

Know where you’re going – As briefly mentioned, nothing marks you out like a clueless tourist more than staring at a map. Instead, plan where you’d like to go or use a smart phone subtly. It’s also beneficial to research the dodgy areas of where you’re going – every place has them. Don’t just wander around and end up in the bad parts of town. Find out where you want to go.

(image credit to: https://www.flickr.com/photos/tabsinthe/)

Avoid getting too drunk – You are on holiday – by all means, have a few drinks and relax. But if you’re planning on being out and about after dark, make sure you can still handle yourself. It would be a terrible hangover ifyou woke up to realise you’d been tricked into handing over your valuables.

Find out what the local scams are – The old broken meter in a cab happens in numerous countries worldwide, but some places are known for specific scams. Throwing a baby at you is a classic Roman scam, for example. Whilst you try and save what you think is a real child, someone will come along and take all your belongings.

It’s worth researching your destination to see if there’s anything you need to watch out for. Check out this infographic for more scams.

(image credit to: https://www.flickr.com/photos/arvindgrover/)

Don’t carry around excessive valuables – In the comments on Travel Blogs, one contributor makes the perfect point – if you can’t afford to lose something or don’t have the right insurance, you should really leave it at home, or locked securely at the hotel. This rule goes for any cash or valuables, such as jewellery, you might have.

How do you avoid petty crime abroad? Share your tips with us in the comments below.

A Note from Diane : Jessica Kelly is a freelance writer and author of this guest post. If you are interested in contacting Jessica to learn more about her awesome travel adventures or writing, please email her at Kelly Media, kellymediaconsultancy@zoho.com

Waimea Canyon – Kauai, HI

We spent a day at the Western Rim of the Grand Canyon during a whirlwind road trip from San Diego to Las Vegas. It was an out of the way “pit stop” and made us realize canyons are dramatic, colorful and beautiful land forms to explore and adore. We treated Waimea Canyon in Kauai with more “respect” and admired her from more than one angle!

waimea-canyon-kauai

Waimea Canyon is located on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. It is an easy day trip from Lihue or Poipu and lives up to its name “The Grand Canyon of the Pacific.” It is not quite as big as The Grand Canyon, but seeing the canyon from as many different angles as you can is bound to satisfy your thirst for nature and beauty, adventure and exploration.

We drove the rim and flew over; both were a great way to experience a canyon. We also hiked, some, but saved our energy for hiking the Napali Coastline Trail a few days later.

Our first day on the island started with a helicopter ride around the island, focusing on the canyon. What an incredible way to start our trip. We flew with Mauna Loa and splurged for the private “doors off” tour.

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One might balk at the price ($287 USD per person). However, after reading reviews that mentioned middle seats and horrible views on the larger helicopter, we agreed the money was well worth it. We were so right! Mike and I had unobstructed views the entire time. The wind hitting your skin and the sound of the routers and propeller, coupled with the views, was an incredible visceral experience.

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Two days later we found ourselves back at Waimea Canyon, but this time we were on solid ground. The place is just as beautiful though!

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We drove, stopped for photo ops and even hiked at Kalalau Lookout. Although there wasn’t much of a view as the peak was heavily shrouded in a dense cloud. It was an eerie feeling to not be able to see more than about a hundred meters ahead, even though you should have been able to see for miles!

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From up above or ground level, either way you look at it (pun intended), Waimea Canyon is impressive. Thousands of years of wind and water have carved pathways through rock. Our world is an amazing place. I’m so happy I was able to explore this little corner of it.