Archive | Travel Tips

RHA MA390 Travel-friendly headphones

Travel-friendly Headphones: RHA MA390 Wireless Earbud Review

Good headphones are essential, especially for travelers. Whether they’re for running, taking work calls, or drowning out airport noise, travel-friendly headphones are easily a must-have item on any trip.

In fact, I always have headphones within reach, even when I’m staying local. Because I work remotely, I need to be able to take a call or narrow my focus wherever I am. So regardless of whether I’m working at home, on the plane, or a noisy coffee shop, I find a good pair of travel-friendly headphones are worth the investment.

Man on public transport with wireless headphones

Of course there are different kinds. Justin has a pair of noise-cancelling, over-ear, bluetooth headphones from Samsung that he loves so much he even uses them for naps. But I personally find them to be too big. They take up almost an entire pocket in his backpack, which can be critical space when you’re traveling.

And while I have a pair of trusty UrbanEars, I recently got my hands on a pair of RHA bluetooth® in-ear headphones. These are admittedly my first pair of wireless headphones because I’ve always been worried about having to charge another device.

RHA MA390 wireless headphones for travel

Here’s why the RHA MA390 earbuds are travel-friendly headphones:

  1. They fit comfortably around your neck without an annoying cord to get caught or tangled
  2. The bluetooth connects to the phone display and shows you how much battery is left
  3. They’re lightweight, compact, and flexible, with a magnet that closes the loop for extra security
  4. They come with different size earbud covers so you can easily find one that fits you best
  5. They charge quickly and have long-lasting playback (up to eight hours on a full charge)
  6. They’re sweat-resistant and have easy-to-reach controls for when your phone is tucked away

Awesome as they are, they’re unfortunately not quite perfect as travel-friendly headphones. Despite high sound quality overall, I noticed some crackling when the treble gets higher than usual. And charging is still one more thing to think about and keep handy when traveling. However, the price makes the RHA MA390 earbuds a good bargain for solid headphones.

Do you have a favorite pair of travel-friendly headphones? Tell us about them in the comments!

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Camping tent overlooking fog on a mountain

3 Camping Tips for Maximum Outdoor Comfort

Some camping tips can be over the top. When really heading to the hills on a camping trip is all about getting back to basics; leaving the strain of the modern world behind and decompressing among Mother Nature’s glorious bounty. No screens, no deadlines, no 24-hour news cycle. Just you, your friends, your backpacks, and the wilderness. Pure simplicity. That’s why we love it.

That said, there’s a lot of unnecessary machismo around camping. Some people seem to think that camping has to involve at least a little bit of suffering. And if it doesn’t, you’re not doing it right. But I, for one, don’t subscribe to these theory. I love getting back to basics, I love being one with nature but I also love being comfortable, warm, and safe. And what do you know? It is possible to have it all.

Orange camping tent lit up at night in the dark wilderness

Here 3 camping tips for maintaining maximum comfort

(without breaking the bank or spoiling the adventure):

1. Don’t skimp on your gear

Even if you’re sleeping on a Caribbean beach, the key to camping is all about being prepared for the conditions. When you’re out in the hills and the sun falls below the trees, the night can get cold quickly. That’s why the first of our camping tips is about investing in good gear.

I know camping can seem like an expensive hobby, but that’s only true when you take a short-term approach. A good multi-season sleeping bag might cost you well over $100, which sounds expensive. But if you look after it well there is absolutely no reason it won’t last you for years and years.

And if having a comfortable sleeping bag means you spend more nights camping on your holiday than sleeping in hotels, then return on investment is a easy to see. You will easily make that money back in a night or two.

View looking at the woods from inside a tent with a sleeping bag

The same goes for a solid, well-made tent. Obviously a tent fit for purpose is going to cost a little bit more initially compared to a festival tent you might find in the bargain bin at a gas station. But when it comes to longevity there is no competition. I’ve had tents that have lasted longer than some marriages!

Camping is definitely one of those pastimes where spending a little more initially can pay big dividends down the road. And in most cases we’re only talking about a little bit more money for better quality. The difference between a standard sleeping bag and a good one is pretty much the cost of a meal out. Stay in this weekend, have a sandwich, and spend the savings on good gear that can go with you practically anywhere.

2. Think of your sleep

Nothing can ruin a camping trip quite like a sleepless night spent tossing and turning. Not only will that evening be spoiled but so will the following day. You’ll have bags under your eyes bigger than a sleeping bag and likely be so grumpy that fellow campers will secretly hope you become a bear snack! More important, when you’re tired you’re more prone to make mistakes, lose your footing, or get injured.

So getting sufficient sleep in the woods is not only for the benefit of your enjoyment, it’s also a health and safety issue. Fortunately, I have camping tips for that too. And the good news is there are a heap of things you can do to improve your odds of getting a good night’s rest when camping. I recommend you start by bringing something comfortable to sleep on.

Sleeping bag and pad next to a tent at sunrise

It sounds completely obvious but you’d be surprised by how many first timers show up with a wimpy grocery store roll mat. You’re sure to impress no one, least of all your back, by sleeping on one of those underwhelming pads. Camping technology has come along way, and now you can find lightweight roll mats and air beds to match any style of camping, from extreme backcountry to glamping.

If you already have an inflatable bed and find that’s not the most comfortable, then have a look at this handy guide on what you can do to primp it up before you pump it up.

3. Always stay dry

This is possibly the most important of my camping tips. Can you imagine being more uncomfortable than when you’re deep in the woods, realizing every single piece of clothing you have is wet? It might not be a problem during the day when  sunshine and body heat is working in your favor but when you lay down at night, however, things are going to get cold quick.

The solution is to always have an extra pair of dry clothes to change into at night. But don’t just trust that your backpack will keep clothes dry either. Most backpacks are not 100% waterproof, so you’ll be in trouble if the heavens open or you somehow drop your bag in the creek. It happens. More than you think.

Person crossing a clear river in their camping gear

Instead dry sack or even just a sturdy reusable bag to protect the clothes you’re not wearing. And always, always, change for bed. Even if your clothes don’t feel damp, they usually hold at least a little bit of your own sweat. As night falls, this moisture will evaporate and your body temperature can plummet. It’s definitely worth the extra effort to bring a change of clothes to make sure you stay dry and warm!

And there you have it, camping fans–three camping tips to improve your comfort and safety during your next camping trip. Remember the woods are fun, but they also demand our respect. Conditions can change quickly, and it’s up to you to be prepared. All you need is good gear and a sensible head on your shoulders.

What are your favorite camping tips for enjoying the great outdoors?


About the Author: Sarah Cummings is a freelance writer. When she’s not writing about sleep or practising yoga on the beach, you can find her hiking to new camping spots. She and her family are definitely adrenalin junkies who love nothing more than spending time in the Great Outdoors!

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Soccer in Malawi

Travel in (Dis)Comfort

“…Physical discomfort is important only when the mood is wrong. Then you fasten on to whatever thing is uncomfortable and call that the cause. But if the mood is right, then physical discomfort doesn’t mean much.”

– Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

This, to me, sums up the experience of travel – and life – perfectly.

It reminds me of my first trip to Malawi; the one in which I handed over my heart to Africa.

Suddenly, I remember it all.  14 adults, four babies, and three chickens, all of us packed into a 30-year-old minibus built to carry nine people. It’s no use trying to get comfortable. We’re on a three-hour journey that spans the entire 75 miles across Northeast Malawi in the summer heat.

An iron bar jutting through the dilapidated seat cushion nudges my tailbone every time the worn suspension faces off with another rut in the road. And I can’t move. As with most of the transportation on this continent, I don’t fit—I’m literally twice as big as most Malawians.

I’d heard this road was supposed to have been paved. Amid all this discomfort, I should be miserable. I should be annoyed the conductor tried to charge me Mzungu (white person) prices.

But I’m not. Nothing can wipe the stupid grin off my face.

Malawi Minibus

I take it all in; the breeze I catch when the road curves just right. The small towns we pass, each with businesses painted as advertisements in either red (for mobile carrier Airtel) or green (for arch-rival MTN). The vendors selling groundnuts through the window at each stop. The music blaring through blown-out speakers—hip hop today instead of gospel. Thank God.

I’m aware of everything around me. Curious where the mother and her two babies in the second row are going. Wondering if the young boy sitting in the conductor’s seat (while the conductor hangs out the window) makes this commute to and from school every day.

I wonder what it’s like to be from here. What are the hopes and dreams of the people I’m pressed against? This country had Uber Pool figured out years ago.

But now… now I’m on the second flight of the morning out of San Diego. I’m heading north to Oakland to work for the week. The entire commute is seamless and efficient. Almost too easy.

From home, a Lyft driver picks me up three minutes after I tap the button on my phone. TSA pre-check has me through security in under five minutes (with shoes still on). Everyone on this business-travel-heavy Southwest flight knows when to line up. We depart on schedule. I’m startled awake when the plane touches down. I open Lyft to get a ride to the office. Within moments of walking outside the airport I’m in a car.

I make the whole commute from my door in San Diego to the office door in the East Bay in less time than it would take to drive from San Diego to Los Angeles in normal traffic.

I should be in awe at the efficiency of it all. It’s so smooth I barely need to speak if I’m not in the mood. But that’s the problem. My mood is all wrong.

Instead of bumping against a broken-down seat, I’m banging against the walls of my own head: Shouldn’t this Lyft driver pay better attention to his map? What is this person doing in the wrong security line? It says pre-check. No, go ahead, you take the armrest. Why is the line at starbucks so long? They burn their coffee. Everyone’s on their phone too much. Fuck. I’m on my phone too much.

I need to get out. On this trip, what should be comfortable travel is anything but. It’s torture compared to suffering through numb limbs in a hot, African minibus.

Africa Travel

It’s the difference between traveling where you have to versus traveling where you want to. And it can change everything you think you know about comfort.

That’s the beauty of travel. It has taught me that I’m happiest when I’m uncomfortable. Not because I don’t like ease. But because I know that discomfort is growth.

If you find yourself uncomfortable, examine your mood instead of your surroundings. What is it you’re bumping up against?

Is it something tangible in your environment? Or is it in your head?

Would your mood be different if you were having the same experience somewhere else?

Examine everything.  And heed the advice of yet another Pirsig quote:

“The place to improve the world is first in one’s own heart and head and hands, and then work outward from there.”

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Beach Vacations that Aren’t in Florida

4 Beach Vacations that Aren’t in Florida

Don’t take it personally, Florida. There is no end to the number of adventures to be had in the sunshine state, from the picturesque to the unusual. But when it comes to beach vacations and ocean view destinations, Florida does not have the monopoly that people think it has. Far from it, in fact! If you are planning to soak up the sun this summer, whether with your family or on a private getaway, it’s time to branch out and experience something else besides Epcot. Take a look at four of the most phenomenal beach vacations that have a little more culture and flair than Orlando.

4 Beach Vacations Outside Florida

1. Samana, Dominican Republic

If you are a beach vacation aficionado, you might not even need to read the rest of this article. Samana is perfectly situated for quick access to not one, not two, but three world class beaches. Soak up all the sun you need and enjoy the best ocean views in the world in Samana Bay. There are lots of activities to keep you occupied if you can manage to peel yourself away from the stunning white sand beaches.

There are waterfall hikes and zipline excursions for the adventurous members of your party. Deep sea fishing excursions can be arranged for the sportsmen and women out there. Still craving more beach time? Take a horseback tour of the Samana peninsula and drink it all in. When you are ready for a quick bite or a major meal, Samana boasts a variety of fine dining options. You can find everything here from local Dominican specialties to Thai and French cuisine that will have you returning night after night.

Two people sitting on a beach bluff in Negril Jamaica

2. Negril, Jamaica

Jamaica is renown for its vibrant culture, music, food, and style. The nightlife in cities and towns across the country can make for a memorable vacation, but what Jamaica does best is beach life. Negril offers a number of exciting activities and attractions that are related to its prime beachfront location.

You can hit surf on a boogie board, sailboat, or anything in between. Go for a long walk on the aptly named Seven Mile Beach and check out the amazing natural formations of the Negril Cliffs. Get a private glass-bottom boat tour of the bay or dive off the coast to find dolphins and exotic reef life. Once you’ve had your fun in the sun, maybe you are ready to put on your dancing shoes and see if Jamaican nightlife is worth all the hype (it is).

You can find everything from classic beach bars to pulsing nightclubs in Negril. There are even services that offer bar crawls after the sun sets. One Love Bus Bar Crawl might be just the thing you are looking for to get acquainted with party culture on the island.

3. Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

Puerto Plata is an idyllic beach getaway for those who want the very best of the best amenities, excursions, and comfort. The numerous luxury resorts will entertain and pamper you like royalty. You can explore the famous Paradise Island by your desired mode of transportation: sleek speedboat or catamaran.

Amber Cove is a popular docking point for cruise ships, and rightfully so. From there you can access restaurants and cafes with authentic local flavor, or take a quick hike to stunning waterfalls and lush jungle ecosystems.

If you want the experience of a lifetime, set up a dolphin encounter at Ocean World Park! You can swim with the well trained dolphins before watching their exciting stunt-filled show! Puerto Plata will also appeal to the foodie in you. There are a ton of fine dining options in the area, especially elegant takes on Caribbean and creole cuisine.

Aerial view of the clear blue waters surrounding Turks and Caicos

4. Turks and Caicos

For the ultimate beach vacation, you have to find your way to the tiny caribbean island country of Turks and Caicos. This destination is far off the beaten path and you can find pristine beaches that you can lounge on all by yourself. And what beaches they are! Check out Half Moon Bay and Grace Bay for ocean view sunsets that will change your life.

Dive just offshore to untouched reefs teeming with shimmering tropical life. Better yet, enjoy the most remote, jaw dropping snorkeling while on a private catamaran cruise around the island. Would you rather eat what you see out there? Charter a fishing boat for a half day or full day of deep sea fishing and eat your catch that evening!

The Caicos Conch Farm is definitely worth a visit for a totally unique and informative afternoon. When you are done, mingle with locals in Providenciales every thursday at the weekly Thursday Night Fish Fry. There are plenty of all inclusive packages available to make beach vacations in Turks and Caicos an unforgettable experience!

Conclusion

Move over, Florida. You are still beautiful in your own way, but there is no questioning the appeal of these superb locations.  We hoped you enjoyed reading about  Beach Vacations that Aren’t in Florida.

Was this article helpful and informative? Leave us a comment with your thoughts in the section below.

 

 

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A menstrual cup among other travel essentials

3 Reasons Female Travelers Should Use Menstrual Cups

I’ll preface this by saying I understand that menstrual cups can be a sensitive topic. Not everyone wants to have an open chat about the details of menstruation. If you’re among those people, I’d ask you kindly move along. For the rest of you, I promise not to get too graphic.

But let’s face it: periods are an essential and annoying part of life for most women (apologies if you don’t fit into this generalization). I got mine at 11 years old—yikes!—and I took to wearing tampons almost immediately. Of course there are other options, like pads, sponges, and, now, absorbent underwear.

Up until three years ago, I’d officially been wearing tampons for more than 15 years. Fif. Teen. Years. Now let’s think about that for a minute. That means, if I follow the recommended usage, I’m using somewhere between 18 and 36 tampons EVERY MONTH.

This Huffington Post article actually suggests that a woman who uses tampons will spend, on average, almost $2,000 dollars on them over her lifetime. And we haven’t even gotten into the environmental implications of cotton production and plastic packaging.

chart showing how menstrual cups can save women money

3 Reasons Female Travelers Should Use Menstrual Cups:

I bought my first menstrual cup three years ago, and I’ve never once regretted it. And while I was already motivated by cost and waste, the thing that finally sold me was travel.

Of course I’d traveled plenty of times on my period before and survived. But this time I was getting ready to take my first extended backpacking trip through a few African countries. I’d be gone a total of nine weeks, which meant at least two periods.

I had two major concerns. The first was that I wasn’t sure how easily I’d be able to get feminine products in some of the more rural areas. The second was that there was no guarantee I’d have access to a bathroom every four hours (I’ve been on some very long, cozy bus rides). In addition to cost and waste, convenience was what finally sold me.

Diva Cup menstrual cup for periods

1. You can keep cups in for longer periods (hah!) of time

Doing my research, I learned that you can keep menstrual cups in for up to 12 hours. The difference between every four hours and every 12 hours is huge. That’s twice a day versus six times a day. And no worries about leaving it in overnight, or on absurdly long bus rides.

2. Menstrual cups will ultimately save you heaps of money

Like a lot of money. I opted for the Diva Cup, simply because I could find it in a store nearby. And at $30, I’ll admit that there was a bit of sticker shock at first. But then I realized I’d make my money back in about three months by giving up tampons. I mean, duh. At this point I’ve probably saved around $300 in just the last three years.

3. Menstrual cups are better for your body and the environment

Most are made of high-grade silicone, which means there’s a lower risk for allergic (latex) reactions or toxic shock syndrome. Plus, they’re reusable. That means less cotton and plastic consumption and way fewer chemicals. Little wins for you and the environment! I can’t even imagine all the waste I’ve saved by skipping tampons.

Person holding a menstrual cup

Still need convincing? I get it. The thought of using menstrual cups can be gross and intimidating at first. It’s bigger than a tampon, for sure. But they make smaller ones with softer walls, and even variations for women who have already given birth. And there are lots of tutorials and reviews out there to help you find the right one.

Despite being three years old, my cup is still in perfect working condition. I just clean it every few cycles in a hydrogen peroxide bath, and voila—it’s good as new. On the extremely rare occasions my menstrual cup has leaked, it was only because I waited more than 12 hours on a heavy day. And since then I’ve learned a lot about the proper placement.

In the end, dealing with the ickiness was a small sacrifice compared to benefits. I wear it regularly, and I’d encourage women who don’t travel to get one, too. But I can’t stress enough how much easier it makes life on the road. Because even when your adventure cup runneth over, your menstrual cup won’t.

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