Travelling On Foot: What You Need To Bring On Your Camping Adventure

Posted in camp, camping, camping tips, outdoor activity, outdoors
on July 3, 2017

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If you plan on venturing off into the wild and camping for a while – here’s what you’ll need to bring.

Clothes

It’s not a fashion show, so you don’t need to bring your favourite pair of heels and that expensive dress. Go back to basics and take what you need. This means a few different t-shirts, shorts, long trousers, jumpers and a jacket. You want a general mix as you can never be too sure of what the weather is going to do. So bring things that will keep your warm, cool and dry when need be. And don’t forget to bring a swimming costume in case you decide to take a dip in the lake or river, along with some sunglasses and a hat to protect you from the sun. You can find more information about the clothes you need on www.livestrong.com.

 

Food and appliances

Depending on how long you camp for will determine how much food you will need. It may be wise to keep within a close distance from somewhere you can restock for food and water, unless you plan on salvaging it yourself.

You will also need a way to cook and heat up your food. A fire is obvious, but it’s a good idea to have at least one aluminum container or tub to cook your things inside. They heat up quickly and won’t smash if you drop them, making them the best thing to take with you. Plus they aren’t heavy either, so you can carry them around with ease.

 

Sleeping arrangements

You want to feel safe when sleeping in the outdoors – especially when it comes to all the creepy crawlies that tend to get a little too friendly at times. You can ensure this doesn’t become a problem thanks to sites like TentsAndCampGear.com that sell the top of the range tents and equipment to make sure you’re protected not only from the bugs, but from the different sorts of weather conditions that you may face on the way. What’s the point in having a tent if the moment it starts to rain you get wet?

You will also want a sleeping bag that can hold in enough of your body temperature to keep you going through the night, even if it’s freezing cold (or under.) Just make sure you look at the label as most sleeping bags come in all different sizes nowadays, so you’ll want to be sure it fits first before buying.

 

Hygiene

Just because you’re camping doesn’t mean you have to smell. Of course, you don’t want to take up valuable packing space for your perfume set – that would be silly. But go to the shops (or online) and look at all the travel sized things you can buy, like mini deodorant and tiny tubes of toothpaste. Not only are they efficient, but they are super cute too.

It is also worth investing in some bug spray or cream repellant to lower your chances of getting bitten. It will most likely still happen, but the repellent will definitely help. And don’t forget suncream to protect you from getting burnt under the sun.

 

The Four Seasons of Canada

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It doesn’t seem that controversial to call Canada one of the most beloved countries in the world. Sure, it’s not the perfect haven that a lot of people make it out to be. But there’s no doubt that it’s an incredible place, especially when you’re looking at it in the context of geography, events, and general vacationing.

One of the greatest things about Canada is that there isn’t really a bad time to visit. Sure, there are times where it will get bitterly cold during the winter in certain places, but winter in Canada opens up so many possibilities when it comes to activities! It’s an absolutely breathtaking country, a place that needs to be seen at several points throughout the year if you really want to appreciate its beauty and breadth of things to do.

 

 

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We’re going to take a quick look at Canada across all four seasons. This isn’t a competition, mind you; we’re not here to pick the best season in which to go. More than anything, this article highlights that there basically isn’t a bad time to head up to Canada. Let’s start with our current season!

 

Summer

Summer is the most popular time to visit Canada – which seems to be true of pretty much any vacation spot on Earth! One of the reasons that summer is particularly attractive is the wealth of outdoors activities that Canada offers. June, July, and August might be a more expensive time to travel, and you’ll certainly have to deal with a lot of fellow travelers pretty much anywhere you may choose to go. But that shouldn’t sully the experience too much!

 

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Urban locations remain popular throughout the summer, and Toronto is no exception. The average peak temperature in July is about 80°F, or 24°C. So it’s pretty warm, but you’re certainly less likely to get the punishing heatwaves that other urban environments across the world see, including London and New York City.

It remains comfortably warm for most of the season, rarely getting scorching – in fact, the temperatures are perfect for festivals and other outdoor events, of which there are loads in Toronto. You can read more about some of the most popular ones at http://bloor-yorkville.com/annual-events/. If you don’t fancy throngs of people and music, then you should consider hitting up one of the national parks in the area. As with national parks in other Canada locations, they’ll all be free to visit in 2017! You just need to ensure you get yourself a pass.

 

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Montreal has its fair share of incredible summer events, too. The largest pyrotechnics competition in the world takes place throughout July and some of August – the Montreal International Fireworks Competition. Beginning in the mid-80s, the competition has become one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city. There’s also the Montreal Fringe Festival to consider. As its name suggests, its a festival specializing in ‘fringe’ entertainment and performance. You can read more about it at https://montrealfringe.ca/. In short, its a festival of performances in which randomly selected applicants are allowed to perform what they want on stage, censorship-free. Obviously, this means that it can sometimes be very child-unfriendly – it also occasionally means you’ll see something both baffling and terrible. Still, it’s worth a look!

 

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Autumn

When it comes to vacationing, autumn is probably the most underappreciated season. You’ll hear more people talking about vacationing specifically in the other seasons than in autumn. But considering the unique visual beauty that autumn brings, as well as its perfect temperatures for those who don’t like it too hot or too cold, it’s no wonder that autumn is pretty much the perfect time to travel – especially when you consider the fact that prices are often lower in these months.

If you want to see something truly incredible in Canada during autumn, then perhaps the best place to see is Yukon. Yukon has the smallest population of any territory in Canada, which might be one of the reasons you may not have heard much about it when looking up locations to visit in Canada. But Yukon has incredibly pristine nature that has to be seen to believed at any time of the year – but especially in autumn, when a fuller variety of color can be observed. You can read more about the various activities available in Yukon at http://yukonhiking.ca/. Hiking, skiing, snowboarding, kayaking – it’s all here. Autumn is the perfect time to catch a glimpse of aurora borealis from Yukon, too.

 

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Montreal is a particularly popular destination for autumn travelers. One of its greatest attractions is the annual Magic of Lanterns event, which takes place of the Montreal Botanical Garden. You can read more about it over at http://provincequebec.com/montreal/magie-of-lanterns/. Anyone with even a passing interest in Chinese culture and art should definitely check it out. It’s a perfect destination if you’re going with your family, but the sheer number of brightly colored Chinese lanterns that light up the night sky at the event will wow people of any age.

 

Winter

A lot of people already have a fairly good idea of the plethora of things available for them to do when it comes to Canadian winters. Many others will have a slightly more parochial take on the whole thing – they’ll think only of skiing! And, of course, there are few, in any, countries out there with better ski seasons that Canada. The skiing resorts in Quebec have to be experienced first-hand. Perhaps the most notable are the facilities of Mont-Tremblant, which you can read more about over at https://www.tremblant.ca/things-to-do/skiing. Some of the best skiing slopes in North America – perhaps even the world – are housed right here.

 

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Ottawa, the capital city of Canada (Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario, a province in Canada – some people get the two confused, which is made easier by the confusing fact that Ottawa is also in Ontario!), is an essential winter visit. The first three weekends of February are home to the annual Winterlude celebration, which features performances, elaborate ice sculptures, and ice skating. In fact, Winterlude features the Rideau Canal Skateway – the world’s largest skating rink! You can read more about Winterlude over at https://www.ottawatourism.ca/ottawa-insider/winterlude/. However, if you’re in Quebec for the Mont-Tremblant skiing, then you may be able to make your way to the Gatineau version of Winterlude!

Of course, if you’re going to Canada in winter, then you need to be prepared for the cold. Summer may be milder here than in many other places, but winter is a bitter beast. Territories like British Columbia have more moderate winter temperatures, but even that place will probably be a little colder than you’re used to! So make sure you and your fellow travelers come prepared.

 

Spring

Is there a country on Earth that doesn’t have a beautiful spring? You’re basically going to have an overwhelming amount of choice when it comes to picking a place with overwhelming natural spring beauty in Canada, but we can get the ball rolling with a suggestion in Vancouver. Vancouver has some incredible foliage, and its cherry blossoms definitely beat the cherry blossoms you’ll see in France and the U.S. (As for the ones in Japan, we’re not so confident about that!) In fact, there’s the annual Cherry Blossom Festival for those who want to behold the true power of the Canadian springtime. https://montrealfringe.ca/ has more information about this beautiful event.

 

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Back in Ottawa, one of Canada’s most pleasing spring visual feasts comes in the form of the Ottawa Tulip Festival. There are few things that are more ‘spring’ than tulips – and if you’ve got millions of them in the same place, how could you resist giving them a look? You can read more about the festival at http://www.tulipfestival.ca/. There’s fireworks at night, live music, and parades to enjoy – though, with all of those tulips across such a wide area, you won’t have trouble finding a place that isn’t quite so busy and noisy if you’re not in the mood for such festivities!

Toronto in spring means many things, but perhaps the best place to visit during the spring is Niagara Falls. Okay, so technically it’s outside Toronto, but if you’re visiting Toronto then getting to Niagara Falls is very easy, as it’s pretty close by. If you need a break on the drive, however, there’s Royal Botanical Gardens. This place features some of the best green space in the entire country – and it should go without saying that it’s particularly stunning when spring really comes into bloom as May starts turning to June.

 

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While spring doesn’t touch the brutal chill that winter can bring, it can still be fairly chilly, especially during March. The average temperature seems to hover around 32°F (or 0°C!). So you probably shouldn’t expect to be able to spend a lot of time just wearing a t-shirt when you’re outdoors – leave that for the summer months and bring a jacket with you during the spring!

 

Eking Out A Travel Budget That Little Bit Longer

Posted in budget, travel, travel tips
on June 28, 2017

Image credited to flickr

 

Travelling is amazing, but there is a hitch: it’s expensive. Even worse, your earning potential isn’t very high while you are on a glorified holiday. So, even though it isn’t nice to hear, once the money is gone, the trip is over.

However, that doesn’t mean your budget has to disappear into the ether within weeks. The fact is you can make any amount last a long time if you are frugal. All you need are a few tips to help you scrimp and save along the way. Luckily, this post has more than a few!

 

No Monthly Payments

Just because you aren’t in the country doesn’t mean you don’t have responsibilities. The fact is that they still exist even when you jet off to a foreign land and leave your troubles behind. As a result, it’s pretty important that you keep up with the repayments, which takes a significant amount of your budget. The trick, which is easier said, is to cut out any monthly payments before you leave. Do you have a car? Sell it or park it on private land so it doesn’t need tax or insurance. What about a phone bill? Pay it off in advance or come to an arrangement with the supplier.

 

Be Flexible

Dreams are dreams, and that means they are not realistic. Flying to the Caribbean may be the ultimate goal, yet it may also be too expensive. If this is the case, don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. Instead, find another place to travel in the meantime. Central America, for example, is very affordable on a small budget, so you can still have a good time. And, because they are close, it isn’t uncommon to find cheap flights to and from the islands. All in all, it’s a much more inexpensive method when the cost is not in your favor.

 

Cut Down On ‘Little’ Costs

As the saying goes, every little helps. Even though some costs seem insignificant, they play a huge part in your budget. Indeed, they can decimate it after a while, which is what you want to avoid. The key is to cut down on them with cost cutting hacks. Consider changing currency for a moment. Lots of people do it in-country and lose money thanks to transaction fees. With a multi currency travel money card in your pocket, the expenses are much lower. Sometimes, they don’t charge any money whatsoever. Other alternatives are to use buses instead of planes and cooking meals rather than going to a restaurant.

 

Get A Job

Although it isn’t the point of traveling, it is an excellent way to stretch a budget. Some places don’t pay workers, yet it still helps save cash. As long as they don’t charge for accommodation and pay for your meals, it is a no-brainer. Plus, it helps add a sense of structure to your life, and also passes the time.

 

Don’t tell anyone, but life as a traveler can get boring, and working fills a void.

A Gaijin Friendly Guide to Tokyo

Tokyo is one of the most spectacular cities in the world. It’s the city of bullet trains, skyscrapers, fashion, street food and fun, where the traditional meets the contemporary and the bizarre meets the brilliant.

 

It’s also notoriously difficult to navigate for tourists.

While in many ways it’s a city at the bleeding edge of business, technology and couture there’s an almost impenetrable sense of etiquette and complex tradition that can bamboozle most gaijin (foreigners). In this kind of culture it’s important to know the right way to behave and the most tourist-friendly places to visit to help you get the most out of your visit without falling afoul of the difficulties some tourists tend to encounter.

 

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Cheap flights to Tokyo are getting easier to come by, so a Japanese holiday may well be more affordable and accessible than you’d previously thought. Before you start packing, though, here are some useful tips for a gaijin in Tokyo.

  • A little Japanese goes a long way. Most Japanese people haven’t spoken English since their schooldays. Showing some willingness to attempt their language will be very ingratiating.
  • Remember that ‘gaijin’ is not an insult, it’s a far more nuanced version of the English ‘foreigner’. If someone refers to you this way, smile and be polite. Chances are they’re not trying to offend you.
  • Learn the local etiquette. There’s WAY too much to learn here but always removing your shoes before going indoors, purifying yourself on the way to a shrine, never blowing your nose in public, never pointing with chopsticks and never ever tipping your waiter (it’s considered an insult) are a good place to start.

 

A note for vegetarians and vegans

It’s surprisingly hard to subsist on a plant-based diet in Tokyo. While you’ll find plenty of items on your menu that seem perfectly safe but beware of dashi, a fish stock that finds its way into most soups and sauces. Vegetarianism and veganism are unusual concepts to many asian cultures so be sure to explicitly mention that you don’t eat meat of fish including dashi.

 

Essential locations

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There’s so much to see and do in Tokyo it’s difficult to know where to begin. Shinjuku is no doubt at the top of your list and the thriving skyscraper lined district really is spectacular to behold with its ultra-chic department stores and legendary nightlife but this district really is just the tip of the iceberg.

 

You should also make these essential stops on your itinerary. All of them encounter tourists on a regular basis so will likely be friendly and welcoming (so long as you observe the customs and etiquette).

  • The Imperial Palace– A must for anyone with an interest in Japanese history. The walled palace is surrounded by walls and moats and is lined with beautiful 17th century parks.
  • Senso-ji Temple– The city’s most famous temple is thronged by shops selling traditional handmade carvings, masks and kimonos. Built in 645 AD its appearance has remained unchanged despite it having been rebuilt numerous times. While the pagoda itself is currently closed for renovations it reopens to tourists in September 2017.
  • Ueno Park– The quintessential Japanese park, Ueno is a gorgeous oasis in the bustling centre of Tokyo. The cherry blossom lined gravel paths lead to a huge range of attractions including the reed fringed Shinobazu pond with its Bentendo temple, 17th century Toshogu Shrine and the Tokyo National Museum.

 

Image by Pixabay

It’s A Wild Ride Going Up And Down The Colorado Mountains

Colorado is state of total natural beauty. The countryside differs so much from its southerly neighbors; you’d think you were in Canada. But perish the thought, because if you’re from Colorado that might seen as blasphemous. However, there’s no denying it, the mountainous passes, the fast-flowing and still lakes and rivers, are prime spots for sports fishing. Colorado’s landscape is perfect for going hiking, camping, kayaking, rock climbing and just about any natural activity you can think of. There’s only so much you can do on holiday before the time runs out. So here are some of the most popular things to do, if you want an unforgettable adventure, in the state that’s song, is ‘Rocky Mountain High.’

 

Snowbound

Vail Mountain Resort is great for a family trip or individuals looking to for an adrenaline fix; The mountain is distinctive in the fact that, rather than other skiing trips, the further south you go, the higher the peaks are. The town up north from the snowy peaks is like a miniature city, with every single thing relating to skiing and snowboarding being catered for. The great thing about so many small businesses offering you the best in safety and sporting equipment is that you don’t need to bring anything with you. VistaBahn Ski Rentals have greatly streamlined skis for the advanced, and wide, short skis for beginners. If you book in advance, you get a 20% discount and better still if you bring along your own boots, you’ll save a further $7. There’s are adult, kids, performance, sports and demo packages to choose from, and the minimum amount of time required before your discount is valid is a 24-hour booking in advance.

 

Image credit – Wesley Fryer

 

Flowing down the mountain

Departing from Durango, you will be guided north of the town where you’ll be standing at the lower part of Animas River. You’ll go through the safety precautions along with a first aid kit and how to use the items in it should something go wrong, and your guide will teach you how to paddle and how to sense which way the raft is heading. You’ll flow down class II and III+ style of rock formation, swerves, dips and slow and rapid flowing sections. You only need to be four years of age, and above to participate, so it’s great fun for the family or a group of friends. Halfway through the 4-hour course, you’ll stop off for a rest and a light picnic in the serene nature that surrounds you. Then it’s quickly back on the horse, and you’ll flow down towards the beautiful reservation lands of Southern Ute and returning to Durango.

 

Photo source – RobertKane123

 

Zip-line if you dare

Many zip-line tours in the world have a beginning and an end line fixed to a man-made platform. However, this particular zip-line is fixed to a 6500 feet high cliff, that peers over the vast dark green woodland. Somewhere in those trees, is the finish where you’ll whip past the leaves and branches and end up on a massive tree stump as your landing zone. Obviously, this isn’t for the faint of heart, but the local guides are there for support and will help to calm your nerves long enough to get fixed into the harness. It’s initially quite bizarre when you think of traveling over the landscape at almost 30mph after a 1.5-hour tour, but in the end, it’s an incredibly rewarding.

 

The Importance of Checking Your GPS Setting

Posted in driving tips, road trip, travel tips, travel woes
on June 22, 2017

Hubby and I, along with my best buddy, went on a road trip from Virginia to New York City. What was supposed to be just 4-5 hours drive (with very few and short pit stops in between) turned into more than 7 hours drive through Pennsylvania! And yes, we had our GPS. It was working perfectly. Hubby charged it before leaving Virginia. Hubby even made sure the address of our destination is entered correctly. You might ask, how did it take around 7 hours to reach New York City? The answer is this, we did not double check the “filters” in the setting.

 

So, the GPS pointed us away from major interstates and tollgates as per the filter that we missed before leaving Tysons Corner in Virginia. We were supposed to take the public bus but decided to just drop the rental car top New York near Battery Park.

We were really puzzled to see the time to destination to read as 23:00 and that is 11 pm! So, we went to a small gasoline station and I asked the attendant inside how far we were to New York City. Well, let’s just say that the “deer-on-headlights” look assured us we were too far.

(I remember passing through these towns in Pennsylvania. We really took a circuitous route!)

 

We passed by back alleys, beautiful, undulating roads lined with trees. We even saw Amish people in their carriage! And that was a first for all of us. So, the 4-5 hours drive to NYC took us longer than usual. Good thing, I asked because we knew we were really getting lost. It was already 10:30 a.m and we were still inside Pennsylvania. I can’t remember the names of the towns anymore but I do remember passing through Hershey.

 

Finally, after traversing many back roads and finding out way back to the hi-way by 11:00 a.m., we were already heading to New Jersey on our way to New York City.

 

We reached the Holland Tunnel in New Jersey past past 1:00 p.m.  We were on the road for almost 8 hours! If we had taken the fastest route (and if we had checked the settings before leaving Tysons Corner), we could have been in NYC hours earlier.

(This is just an illustration. The ideal route that we should have set should look like this.)

Remember, if you are taking a road trip in the US or anywhere in the world, please always do the following to ensure you arrive on time.

  1. Put the correct address of your destination
  2. Ensure your GPS is well charged and plugged properly
  3. Ensure the GPS system is updated
  4. Check the preference before going on the road like click on the fastest route even if that means you had to pass through several toll gates