Monthly Archives: August 2016

What to Pack on a Road Trip

Ready to take a road trip? This packing guide will help you prepare and double-check so you can hit the road with confidence.

Use duffle bags for most of your luggage—it’s easier to stack and squeeze soft bags into any car arrangement that you need. If you’re stopping overnight, pack one bag with sleep essentials and next-day clothes so it’s compact and ready to go. You can use a soft, wheeled suitcase for this if you have a lot of people. Finally, each person can keep a small bag — like a tote or backpack — next to their own seats for easily-accessible snacks and activities.

  • We use this duffle bag on our road trips–it’s compact, has several pockets for easy organization, and it’s even slash-proof. This slightly larger duffle bag is great for longer trips or two people who like to keep it simple and share one bag.
  • This insulated tote bag doubles as an ice chest and it folds up nicely when not in use.
  • Daypacks are a must if you want to get out and hike during your journey. We use this small daypack which has an internal padded sleeve for a 3L hydration bladder.

Wear clothes that are loose and breathable, and that you’re comfortable being seen in at stops. Dark colors hide dirt, stains, and wrinkles better. Even for long trips, you only need two bottoms and a few tops, especially if you can do laundry at hotels or your destination.

  • A drawstring laundry bag works if you do need to store dirty garments.
  • This portable laundry system wash bag is perfect for doing laundry on the road!
  • Make sure to take weather into account—if it’s often rainy, keep some waterproof items — like travel umbrellas and backpack rain covers — in easy reach, and light layers if it might get cold. (In Norway, be prepared for anything–even snow in the summer!!)

The Royal Suites Yucatan is Best For Your Accomodation

The adults-only, all inclusive resort is a smaller 130-suite exclusive area of the larger Grand Palladium Resort, but allows complete access to the full resort’s 5-star amenities.

The privacy and VIP treatment at The Royal Suites Yucatán by Palladium is all any peace-seeking adult could ask for on a vacation. With everything this resort includes — a private beach with Bali beds, first-class spa, exclusive bars and restaurants — it’s not hard to see why this is paradise on the Yucatán.

 

The Rooms

The rooms at The Royal Suites are quite literally “the height of luxury.” A private terrace with a jacuzzi soaking tub is standard in each room with the option to upgrade to the Mayan Suites, which are right on the water with lush, green terrace views. In these separate indoor/outdoor suites, the additional outdoor shower and hammock are an added bonus.

 

The Restaurants

There is no shortage of dining options here, with 14 restaurants and buffets and a whopping 27 bars scattered throughout the grounds. Two of the restaurants and bars are exclusive to Royal Suites guests, which I recommend taking advantage of for the sake of comfort and convenience.

The a la carte Japanese restaurant is wonderful, but the outdoor ocean-side cabana restaurant really embraces the luxury beach resort atmosphere. Helpful tip: be sure to make a reservation for the individual restaurants a day or two in advance.

Also, be sure not to miss the swim-up bar at the La Laguna pool; this is one treat you won’t be able to enjoy at home.

 

Activities

With the variety of activities available both on and off the resort, it’s likely you’ll want to spend more than a little of your time out and about. You’ll have the chance to get out on the water to snorkel, scuba dive, and windsurf, or you can hang back for a game of beach volleyball or — my personal favorite — yoga on the beach. Live music and entertainers every night, with the occasional karaoke contest, are sure to keep you entertained once the sun goes down.

Tips After 10 Years of Traveling the World

After over ten years of consistent travel, I’ve definitely learned my fair share of lessons. Like the time I was robbed on a train because I let my guard down or the time Scott and I showed up at the Bozeman Airport only to find that we no longer had a car rental.

Some of these travel mishaps can be avoided and some of them are just a part of traveling. You simply cannot plan for everything. However, keeping a few important things in mind will make your travels much easier.

 

Be Flexible

We always plan for delays and try not to get upset when things inevitably go wrong. Patience is extremely important when traveling!

 

Make a List

About a week or so before each trip, I make a mental list of items I don’t want to forget — which I WILL forget if I don’t write them down. I’ve learned that when I think of something, I need to write it down.

 

Learn Common Phrases of the Local Language

A simple “Please,” “Thank you,” and “I’m sorry” in the local language goes a long way. I also like to learn the word for beer, but that’s just me.

 

Don’t Forget an Extra Camera Battery (or Two)

Have you ever gotten to that epic sunset photo spot and realized your camera battery is dead and you don’t have a back up? I try to bring at least three camera batteries on all of our trips so that we don’t miss out on that perfect shot.

 

Always Bring a Sarong

Sarongs can be used as a wrap when you are cold, a towel, a curtain, or a piece of clothing that can be worn dozens of different ways. Solid colors are great, but if you want something that stands out, I love this sarong.

A regional guide to Europe

Packed with ancient history, sophisticated cities, cultural treasures, fine food and even finer art, Europe has an embarrassment of riches and is a dream for all kinds of travellers. And with landscapes boasting rugged coastlines, rolling country fields and mighty mountains (to name but a few), this is a region that suits road-tripping down to a T.

These nine diverse and dynamic countries – all featured in our Europe’s Best Trips guide – represent some of the top spots to hit the road in Europe. Discover what makes them so special and kick your trip planning into gear with our recommended road trips.

 

Italy

Few countries can rival Italy’s wealth of riches. Its historic cities boast iconic monuments and masterpieces at every turn, its food is imitated the world over and its landscape is a majestic patchwork of snowcapped peaks, plunging coastlines, lakes and remote valleys. And with many thrilling roads to explore, it offers plenty of epic driving.

 

From Rome to Venice, this tour of Unesco World Heritage Sites takes in some of Italy’s greatest hits, including the Colosseum and the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and some lesser-known treasures.

 

France

Iconic monuments, fabulous food, world-class wines – there are so many reasons to plan your very own French voyage. Whether you’re planning on cruising the corniches of the French Riviera, getting lost among the snowcapped mountains or tasting your way around Champagne’s hallowed vineyards, this is a nation that’s full of unforgettable routes that will plunge you straight into France’s heart and soul. There’s a trip for everyone here: family travellers, history buffs, culinary connoisseurs and outdoors adventurers. Buckle up and bon voyage – you’re in for quite a ride.

 

Great Britain

Great Britain overflows with unforgettable experiences and spectacular sights. There’s the grandeur of Scotland’s mountains, England’s quaint villages and country lanes, and the haunting beauty of the Welsh coast. You’ll also find wild northern moors, the exquisite university colleges of Oxford and Cambridge, and a string of vibrant cities boasting everything from Georgian architecture to 21st-century art.

Hidden gardens of Washington

Japanese cherry trees are the stars of spring in Washington, DC, when thousands of visitors flock to the Tidal Basin to stroll beneath billowy branches of pink and white blooms. But it’s not all about the cherries. Washingtonians have long prided themselves on their spring gardens, a tradition that stems back to colonial days, when homegrown fruits and vegetables – and a handful of decorative blooms for your windowsill – were a necessity of life. For those looking to soak in natural beauty without the crowds, here are some of Washington’s most inviting spring gardens.

Famous landscape architect Beatrix Farrand designed this botanical panorama in northern Georgetown. At Dumbarton Oaks, each sweet-smelling garden is more beautiful than the next. Be sure to check the website (www.doaks.org) before your visit to see what’s in bloom, but must-sees include the Orangery, where the climbing ficus dates from the 1860s; the rose garden, arranged by color; the Prunus Walk with its flowering plums; and the Pebble Garden, best viewed from the terrace above to take in the intricate, swirling neo-baroque designs of grey and white stones. It’s a shame that picnicking isn’t permitted on the grounds.

Did George Washington ever wander past the centuries-old Osage orange tree that dominates River Farm’s Garden Calm? It’s possible. The first president owned these 25 park-like acres along the Potomac River just south of DC, and the story goes that the tree was a gift from Thomas Jefferson to the Washington family. Among the pocket gardens here, you’ll find a grove of Franklin trees (extinct in the wild), an orchard of pear, apple and plum trees, and an azalea garden with a rainbow of different species. The American Horticultural Society (www.ahsgardening.org)  now resides in the restored estate house and hosts such popular events as the Spring Garden Market in April.

The 13 acres of magnificent floral gardens surrounding cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post’s gracious manse give visitors a taste of how the one percent might live. Each formal garden is designed as an outdoor “room,” with a progression leading from the rose garden, to the French parterre, to the Friendship Walk and so on. The gardens put on a spectacular, ever-changing show throughout the year, though spring is naturally the most breathtaking. Join a seasonal tour, or take in the blooms from the café terrace.

 

US National Arboretum

Some of the best cherry trees beyond the Tidal Basin reside at the US National Arboretum, where 446 acres of gardens offer a full dose of spring and very few tourists. Pick up a brochure at the arboretum and go on a self-guided tour to discover such diverse varieties as the early flowering “Dream Catcher,” the mid-season flowering “Pendula” (aka the weeping cherry), and the Yoshino, cultivated from cuttings from the original Tidal Basin beauties. Take the 40-minute tram tour for an overview.

 

Great ideas for next holiday

Newfoundland in its entirety is impossible to experience in one trip, so it’s best to instead focus on one area and enjoy everything it has to offer.

Eastern Newfoundland’s rich history, culture and scenery have plenty to see and do in the span of a week or two, so pack your bags (and your jacket) and set off for the youngest and most colorful province in Canada!

 

The Best Time to Visit Eastern Newfoundland

The simple answer? Summer. While it’s usually easy to reason that off-season might be fairly less expensive and attract less tourists, there’s really no better time to see this Canadian island than in the summer months from June to August.

Visiting in the summer gives you the chance to see the best that Newfoundland has to offer: lively festivals, wildlife watching of puffins and whales, colorful scenery and pastel wildflowers. The eastern coast is also known for a belt of massive icebergs known as Iceberg Alley, best viewed in May and June.

 

Flights

Standard US/Canadian airlines like Delta and Air Canada fly into St. John’s international airport on a regular basis; I’ve found Kayak’s comparison site to have the cheapest prices on round-trip airfare.

Since you can expect a relatively long flight (depending on where you’re departing from) and at least one or two layovers, take advantage of them! Toronto and Vancouver are the most common stops before heading to St. John’s — use this time to explore two of Canada’s largest and most diverse cities before setting off for Newfoundland! Oftentimes, longer layovers offer cheaper airfare as well.

 

Climate in Eastern Newfoundland

Average summer temperatures hover around a mild 60˚F (16˚C) but can reach the low 70’s, while winters are much colder at freezing or below freezing temperatures! The general weather changes drastically during any given day, week, or season, so “expect the unexpected” and be prepared for unexpected fog or showers!

While no weather is really predictable in Newfoundland, there is typically a bit of rainfall in fall and spring months with plenty of snow in winter. Summer months  — from late June through August — are pleasant, but can be chilly in the evenings so always pack warm layers.

Packing Checklist for Campers

Thinking of taking an adventure in the great outdoors? While specific gear will depend on climate, terrain, whether you’re car camping or backpacking, and your camp setup (e.g. tent or RV), these packing tips will help you cover all of the necessities — with specific recommendations on the gear we use on all of our camping trips.

Be sure to start compiling your own specific item list well ahead of time so you know you’ll have everything when the time comes!

Tent: If you’re packing a car, pack your tent last so it’s the first thing you’re able to set up. Double-check you have all your poles and stakes, a mallet, and your rain-fly (if applicable). We use this lightweight Marmot tent.

Sleeping Bags: Down or down-substitute sleeping bags are the lightest and easiest to compress.
Sleeping Pads: These Therm-a-Rest compact sleeping pads give you cushion and help radiate heat back to your body.
Tarp: An extra tarp for the tent’s floor will keep you warmer and dryer at night, and if you get one with some extra length, you can use it to wipe shoes off outside.
Clothesline: If there’s a chance you’ll get wet, bring an adjustable bungee clothesline and clothespins for drying.
Hammock: Hammocks are a great addition for relaxing if you have the space. This one is under $20!
Games: Be sure to bring some games like dice or cards.

 
Firewood: Collecting firewood is not allowed in some areas, so be sure to bring your own. Don’t forget a lighter and kindling!
Headlamp: Bring a headlamp for each person in your group and a few extra batteries.