Category Archives: Travel More

Odds and ends on how to travel (more) with a career!

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

How to Choose the Clothing for a Short Break in La Plagne, France

I have always liked the mountains better than the sea. The air is fresher, and the view is more inspiring. But, there is one problem: finding the right clothes to wear can be a challenge. It seems easier to do that when the weather is really hot. After all, you just need a dress and a pair of comfy sandals.

But what happens when it’s freezing outside and you want to go skiing?

Photo Credit : pexel.com

Say you have planned a short ski break in La Plagne, a resort with over 50 years of fame. You bought the tickets, you know where you’re staying, but do you know what to wear? If you don’t, do not worry, you are about to find out soon.

Picking your equipment is essential if you want to enjoy skiing rather than struggle with it. And to make the most of it, what you should remember is this: keep warm and stay dry.

It is what you should keep in mind, whatever piece of clothing you plan to wear while skiing.

But let’s focus on the main things you should wear:

  • First and foremost, you need a base layer. It is extremely un-absorbent and actively transfers water away from your skin, experts say;
  • You should also buy a comfortable jacket that lets you breathe and move properly. But, before buying one, pay attention to the details: the added features of the jacket can make a world of difference.
  • Of course, don’t forget about the trousers. They should also be breathable and waterproof, as well as the jacket. So, avoid wearing jeans, for instance. They get wet and are inflexible, especially when it’s really cold outside.
  • Socks are as important as all of the above. Trust me; you don’t want your feet to freeze. From my experience, it hurts so bad that you can’t focus on anything else, except the fact that you want to feel warm again. So, while skiing, you should wear socks made of wool or silk, for example. These are materials known for their heat retention;
  • Remember the gloves! It’s the same thing as with the socks. Both hands and feet are extremities, and it’s important to keep them warm because if they are, your whole body is. On the contrary, if your hands and feet are freezing, it doesn’t matter what else you’re wearing, because it seems like your whole body is freezing;
  • And last, but not least, you need a hat and a helmet: the first one will keep your head warm, while the other will protect you from getting injured;

Photo Credit: RomGuig at English Wikipedia

Ok, enough about the main clothing. What about other accessories?

  • Goggles may prove to be useful, especially if it’s a really snowy or sunny one. You need to see where you’re going if you want to stay safe and enjoy the view. So, make sure you pick a pair that fits you properly and doesn’t fog up;
  • Sun cream may also be a good idea. I know, it might sound surprising, but the sun may hurt not only your eyes but also your face, even if you might think it cannot be as intense as if you were laying on the beach, in high season;
  • You will also need a backpack, in case you want to spend all day skiing. You need something to carry supplies, such as water or food. As I’ve said before, make sure that the backpack is not too heavy.

All in all, make sure you organize well, before leaving on your ski break. That is if you want a stress-free vacation on the slopes in La Plagne. Otherwise, it would be such a shame, don’t you think?

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.

Alternatives to Riding Elephants in Thailand

I grew up loving and riding horses. I cleaned stalls, bathed horses and swept barns at 12 years old in exchange for riding lessons. I loved being around the animals and others who loved the clip-clop of hooves and smell of hay.

During my many hours in the barn I watched young horses become accustomed to having humans touch them, place saddles on their backs and eventually, have those humans climb into the saddle. Most resisted at first, but all horses came to trust the humans. Trainers gained the horse’s trust through positive reinforcement – treats, head scratches and kind words. There is a stark contrast between this process and the process used on elephants.

Alternatives to Riding Elephants in Thailand

We spent 7 days in Thailand. Elephants were on my “to-do” list while in the country. Initially, I assumed I would ride one; it sounds amazing actually. I loved riding horses, why wouldn’t I love riding an elephant and feeling close to it. Just one hour of research while planning the trip changed my mind, immediately.

Some elephants work in forests, helping to drag trees for lumber production while others live their lives with tourists climbing onto their backs. Neither of these “jobs” are particularly horrible at first glance; but there is more than meets the eye.

There are host of reasons not to ride an elephant in Thailand, or elsewhere. Here are my reasons:

  1. Harsh and cruel methods are used in order to “break” an elephant so they can be “saddled” and ridden. “The crush” is the method used on baby elephants. The calves are taken too soon from their mothers, kept in a solitary place too small for them to move and then, they’re beaten by humans. The process is called “the crush” because the purpose is to crush, or break, their spirit. The goal is to force them into submission through starvation, seclusion, physical punishment and fear.
  2. The mistreatment does not end after the elephant is “broken in.” Bull hooks are still used to control the animals as they age.
  3. Asian elephants are endangered species. Some experts believe there are only 2000 wild elephants left. Illegal capturing and trade for tourism purposes happens far too often to meet the demand of tourists and therefore further diminishes these numbers.
  4. Spine injuries are common among elephants that are ridden.

Thankfully, tourists have alternatives to riding elephants.

An Alternative to Riding Elephants in ThailandThese alternatives can lead to much more positive interactions between humans and elephants and honestly, a much more “close up” encounter with the beauties. These alternatives are healthy and sustainable options for the elephants, mahoots (elephants handlers) and tourists.

These alternatives come in the form of rehabilitation or retirement centers. These centers offer visitors close up and personal experiences with the animals. There are safety parameters, but visitors are allowed to feed, wash and in some instances, touch the animals. Positive reinforcement (food) is used by the mahoots, and the animals are free to roam large areas of land. There are not any cages or bull horns in sight. Luckily, no matter where you are traveling in Thailand, you are likely near one of these great facilities and have an alternative to riding and elephant.

Notable centers in Thailand include:

  1. Elephant Nature Park – Chiang Mai
  2. Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary – Sukhothai
  3. Elephant’s World – Kanchanaburi
  4. Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand – Petchaburi

Elephant Rescue Centers in Thailand

Elephants are working animals in Thailand, and other countries in the region. I see nothing wrong with an animal working; I do think it is one of the reasons animals exist. That being said, humane treatment of animals is paramount. Can humans ride elephants in Thailand? Yes. Should they? I think the answer is no based on the methods of “breaking” the animals and the health risks associated with riding elephants. Humans should never wield their power without regard to the animals’ physical and emotional well-being. Sadly, this is the case for many elephants in Thailand. Choose an alternative to riding elephants when in Thailand; there are plenty to choose from!

A Beginner’s Guide to Planning a Road Trip

Hitting the road to explore a new, or familiar, area is our favorite way to travel. We might fly to a region, but then we are back in a car to explore. We’ve investigated Iceland, navigated Namibia, searched Switzerland and plowed down the Pacific Coast Highway in California. We loved renting a car, or using our own, to see, do, taste and experience the world around us.

How to plan a road trip

If you are leery about driving around while on vacation, or driving as a vacation, here are tips for planning a road trip. This is your guide, as a beginner or seasoned traveler, to making it an easy planning process and a wonderful vacation.

This is first, because it is the most important to any road trip: Pick your car wisely. This car will be your home away from home, your constant and your home base for the duration of your road trip. Here are some guidelines:

  • Pick a car that has room for you and your luggage.
  • Pick a car that you are comfortable driving. Can’t drive a manual? Do not think saving a few bucks will make ii worth it, pay for the automatic.
  • Pick a car with decent gas mileage.
  • Make sure to go with a reputable rental car company.
  • Splurge when and if you can. For example, you HAVE to rent a convertible when driving the PCH, it’s a non-negotiable.

Tahoe Rental Car

Budget your MONEY for a few more details than you typically would when staying in a small area. Road trips tend to be a little more spontaneous. Gas stops turn in to snack stops. Random signs that point to a waterfall require 20 mile detours and muddy back roads might warrant a car wash.

  • Gas
  • On the road snacks
  • Car washes
  • Spontaneous stops at random road side attractions

Budget your TIME with more flexibility. As mentioned above, road trips are about spontaneity.

  • Spontaneous stops are a given. You will stop more than you expect. You will drive less than you expect. Plan accordingly.
  • Hotels can be a factor too. If you book your hotels ahead of time, make sure that they are not entirely too far apart. The last thing you want is to miss a great coffee shop, hike or town square because you have to make it to your bed and breakfast that is 100 miles away before they close.

PCH Road Trip in a Convertible

Navigating the trip can be fun, but also stressful. Having a rough idea of your route will help in picking hotels, stopping points and points of interest.

  • Map apps are great for road trips.
  • Good ol’ paper maps still work and can be fun to use for navigating.
  • Use road signs more than maps. There were more times than I can count when we’ve gotten out of sticky situations just by following the highway signs instead of the map.
  • If you are a party of two, the “co-captain” should use clear language. I can’t tell you how many arguments I have had with Mr. Wife with Baggage because I say things like “turn here.” I am learning to say “you will turn right in 1 mile.” Then, “turn right at this stop sign.” “Now we are looking for Saltwater Lagoon Road.” Seriously! I am like Google Maps navigating us through foreign roads … I was not always this thorough, but 27 fights later, I am learning! 🙂
{Note: Mike and I turn off cell service when traveling abroad and rely on paper maps to navigate. It is sometimes scary, but hugely beneficial to our overall communication and connection throughout the vacation. You should try it too; but that is just my two cents!}

Plan for physical activity throughout your day. Sitting in a car all day can cause lower back pain, stiffness and lethargy. Plan to move around at a few points each day.

  • Whether it is a stroll down to the beach, around a park, down city sidewalks or even at a rest stop, make sure you move around a little bit each day.
  • Stretch, walk, even get in some push ups. Keep your blood pumping and muscles relaxed.

Stay comfortable. Road trips do require sitting, a lot of sitting. 

  • Wear comfy clothes; nothing too tight or restrictive.
  • Wear shoes that you can slip on and off for quick exits at the random places you pull off to see.
  • Consider packing an ice pack if you know you will experience pain.
  • Consider packing nausea remedies if you get motion sickness.

Beautiful Deserts in Namibia

Stay fueled – you and your car.

  • Consider packing a cooler in your car with water and healthy snacks.
  • If your route takes you through desolate areas, buy a gasoline can that  you can fill with gain case the worst happens and you run out of gas during your road trip.
  • Use apps to locate the closest gas stations in your areas.
  • Fill up before leaving a populated area, even if you are not close to being empty.

Stay entertained.

  • Create playlists for when the radio signals fade
  • Download audio books.
  • Write a list of 10 questions or conversation starters to use throughout the road trip.
  • Play games such as the license plate game, I spy or others to pass the time.
  • Look out the window, not at your phone. (This one is hard for me! But what is the point if you aren’t looking at what you’re passing?)

Stay safe by asking yourself these questions:

  • What side of the road do people drive on?
  • Can I drive on the opposite side of the road?
  • Does the car have a spare tire, and tire changing tools?
  • Do I need to have an international drivers license to rent a car here?
  • Is this a safe place to drive?
  • Can I drive in city traffic? snow? mountainous areas?
  • Can I parallel park?
  • Do I know this country’s driving laws? Can I read their road signs?

Why Traveling to Washington DC is on Top of My Wish List?

Today’s article is a guest post from Frank Lee of Artful Club. We “met” via the internet after he featured Wife with Baggage on his website as travel blog to follow. He obviously knows his stuff, so I jumped at the chance to feature some of his writing! This guest post is written by Frank Lee, he works at Rebates Zone, and you can follow him on Twitter at @franklee84.

Founded in 1791, Washington DC is the capital city of the United States. The city is named after George Washington, one of the founding fathers and the first president of the United States so it should come as no surprise to anyone that the city is mired in history. The area is under federal jurisdiction so it is not a part of any state of the United States. Owing to the delicate mix of history and government, Washington is a great place to visit throughout the year.

Travel Wishlist The White House DC

Apart from being a place of history, Washington DC is also a great place of culture and learning. There is so much more to the city than what meets the eye. There are different reasons why anyone would want to visit the city of Washington DC; this is my list of why it is on top of my list.

United States Capitol – The Capitol is recognized as the symbol of United States Democracy for others all around the world. This beautiful white structure with a high dome holds the sessions of the United States House of Representatives and the Senate. All 540 rooms are connected by a swarm of hallways and tunnels. You can also the house or the senate in action by getting a pass, US citizens can directly get a gallery pass by contacting their representative or the senator, though. More than viewing a session, it is the building itself which is worthy of the visit. The Hall of Statues has a great sense of grandeur attached to it.

Library of Congress – The library of Congress is the best place on earth for any bookworm. This largest library in the world holds more than 150 million items in its vaults, though most of which are not accessible to the general public but some of the important documents have been put on the display for the visitors such as one of the original copies of the Gutenberg Bible of which only three are known to be in existence in their original condition.

Library of Congress Visit in DC

National Archives – Any bookworm or a lover of history who has visited the Library of Congress must head to the National Archives. From the outside, it is a pompous monster – an example of neoclassical architecture which hides great truths behind its majestic façade. The importance of National Archives is that it is the place where all documents related to the American history are collected at one place. Three of the most important documents, in the history of mankind, which furthered the cause of democracy more than anything else, are housed in this building – Magna Carta, Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States.

Georgetown – Georgetown is one of the areas of the city which predates the city of Washington itself. The area is filled with high-quality restaurants and handsome Victorian houses made of red bricks have a distinct look of their own. The refined atmosphere of the area makes it particularly stand out from the usual destinations. There are some amazing places for shopping in the area. Wisconsin Avenue is one of the most visited areas as it houses many classy boutiques. It is a great place for a sunny afternoon stroll. Groupon can provide you with great discounts at many of these fantastic locations.

Visit Georgetown near DC

The Smithsonian Museums – In 1829, a British scientist with the name of James Smithsonian left his estate for the establishment of an institution which would serve the purpose of diffusion of knowledge among the masses. This happened nearly two centuries ago but the Smithsonian has been growing ever since its creation and every year millions of people enter the gates of 19 museums of the Smithsonian Institution, without any fee, and learn about the world’s history, culture, arts, and the sciences.

DC’s Spring – Visiting Washington DC during spring is a great sight to behold. The city, especially the Tidal Basin, turns pink during springtime. The reason behind this change of color is the Japanese gift of 3000 cherry trees they gave to the US in 1912. When the springtime comes, all 3000 of these cherry trees blossom in all their glory and warm the hearts of the onlookers. This window of around two weeks between March and April is often celebrated like a festival which makes it the best time to visit the great city of Washington.

Spring in DC

The White House – No visit to Washington can be complete without mentioning the White House. 1600 Pennsylvania Street is arguably the most famous address in the world. Even though the White House doesn’t look as huge in real life but it is every bit as impressive as it looks on the television or the movies. The visits to the inside of the White House have become difficult ever since the 9/11 took place but visitors can stare from the gates. The White House visitor center is a great place to know about the history of the place and the changes different presidents made.

Frank has piqued my interest for Washington, D.C. I know I’ve always wanted to go back after spending one day here during a family vacation as a small child. Frank is right, the ideal time of year is spring, when those famed cherry blossoms are in full bloom. At least now I have a game plan of what to see, and why, after I’ve taken one million pictures and walked under those blooms!

My All American Travel Wish List

Happy July 4th! If you are an American (or even if you aren’t!) I hope that you are celebrating the fact that we are free to blog, protest, fight, love, pray, not pray and VOTE in this crazy country of ours.

All American Travel Wish List

Traveling the world feels like a need to me. I would like to think of it a nice little hobby, but I am inexplicably drawn to getting out of my comfort zone and seeing the beauty of this entire world. I get a high from learning, tasting, seeing, experiencing and touching the scary, the fascinating, the beautiful and the uncomfortable.

That being said, my own country is part of this amazing world. My vacations in America might not have the same “edgy” feel of international travel, but let’s be honest, that is sometimes nice. It is nice to drive and know the driving laws or eat at a restaurant and know the tipping amount. It is nice to not have to research the heck out of a place to feel like you fit in – or to at least not stick out!

Different from our Travel Bucket List of experiences, this wish list does have specific places to see, as well as general experiences to have. But, like our Travel Bucket List, this list is meant to inspire, ignite and inform! So, get out there and explore the world – your own backyard included!

The Grand Canyon – While we drove through The Grand Canyon when we drove in a zigzag from San Diego to Las Vegas, we did not truly experienced the canyon. I want to raft down the Colorado River, admire the layers of colored dirt and even (maybe, possibly, kind of) camp until the midnight stars. If anything, I’ll gaze at them for a while then head back to my comfy hotel room!

Grand Canyon American Bucketlist travel!

Ice Fishing – I am not sure why I want sit in the freezing staring at ice and holding a pole, but it sounds so completely different that what I know, that I am so curious. Fishing to me is a boat, sunscreen and as little clothing as possible. The fish we catch in Florida are colorful. None of this is true of ice fishing. I imagine there are belly warmer drinks too, which are always fun too!

Walk out on to a Skydeck (Sears Tower or The Grand Canyon) – While the views are drastically different, this item is more about getting over the fear of heights and walking out onto a ledge that is very (very!) high up. I plan to look down and then, most likely, weep with fear. I’m sure my legs will shake and I’ll need reminders to breath, but I want to do it!

Yellowstone National Park – Because why not? The geysers, hot springs, rainbow colored pools, roaming bison and more!

Explore Big Sur California (More!) – We drove from San Francisco to San Diego a few summers ago. Our vacation was filled to the brim with wine tasting, photo ops, hiking and lots of driving. We pulled to the shoulder of the 101 many times while driving through Big Sur because every turns offers a million dollar view. What we did not do, and what I want to do, is to explore more! I want to go to the water’s edge and into the forests. I want to take in a sunset over the Pacific and stay in an uber expensive hotel deep within in Big Sur. I want to do it the “right way”

PCH Road Trip Through Big Sur

Cherry Blossoms in Washington, D.C. – This might be the end-all-be-all is “All American” wish list items. The country’s capitol in all of its spring time grandeur. I’ve seen photos of DC while the trees are at their peak of blooming and it is spectacular. Can you imagine it in real life?

Skagit Valley Tulip Field – Speaking of flowers in bloom. If you are not sure why I want to see this just simply Google “Skagit Valley Tulip Field.” If you are not blown away and tempted to book your flight we cannot be friends. Just kidding. Kind of.

“All of Utah” – We’ve hiked The Canyonlands and Arches National Parks and skiied Park City, but there is So. Much. More! The Wave, Horseshoe Bend, Heber Valley, Monument Valley, Antelope Canyon Zion, Bryce, Salt Lake City. UGH! There are so many places I’d like to see in Utah. Yea, I need to book that ticket now!

Mt Timp by Mark Anderson

Crater Lake, Oregon – I learned about this place in the 4th grade. More than two decades later and I still am curious. It is a lake at the top of a mountain, in a crater. Pictures of the lake look beautiful, but it has just always been a point of interest I would like to explore more.

Camp in Yosemite – In case we’re just meeting. I don’t camp. I will glamp; I do not camp. But, for Yosemite, I will make an exception. The non-humid air, ruggedness and relative ease of camping in a national park make me less apprehensive, and even a little excited, about the possibility!

One Tank Trip San Fran Yosemite National Park

America has a stigma of greed, ignorance and Disney World-obsessed people, but it is home. Yes, those are good descriptors, but I KNOW that we are more. We are canyons, rivers, oceans, lakes, cities, small towns, river walks and city side walks. We are home town charm, city grit, a rainbow of colors, ideals, faiths and opinions. We are not perfect, but we are the UNITED States of America.