Tag Archives | Travel Planning

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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The Checklist: Travel Planning Made Easy

If you hadn’t already noticed, we talk a lot about travel planning. Mostly because, though it isn’t the most glamorous part of traveling, it is absolutely essential to a successful trip. Sometimes, especially for couples or friends who travel together, just planning the planning can be a point of contention because everyone has a different approach.

Justin, for example, isn’t overly excited about planning a trip. He likes to get the basics down, sure, like where he wants to go and why and how best to get there. But beyond that, he likes his spontaneity. He likes to show up at a hostel after arriving and barter for a bed. He likes to ask locals about where he should go rather than book tours before leaving home. While I admit there is an air of charm and adventure to his style, I have a hard time even leaving the house without considering my next meal.

I am a planner, sometimes annoyingly, and we’ve had to work to find a happy medium that would satisfy us both. Because I also like a little bit of spontaneity, we have figured out how to plan practically the bare minimum and then deviate from that where we need to. It makes me feel comfortable knowing that there is plan to follow so that we won’t get stranded anywhere foreign, but it also leaves a little room for what he likes to call the magic.

It works for us, because the truth is that you can’t get very far without planning at least a little bit. You’ll need to know how to get around, what you need to get a phone number, how to get the local currency and whether you need a visa or vaccinations. Perhaps the easiest way to make sure you’ve arranged everything you need, is to create your own personal travel checklist. Consider all the things you need to know before you go, and check them off as you figure them out.

We’ve got a checklist from Storebox to get you started, and we encourage you to continue adding your own items as your planning evolves. That way you’re sure nothing is left unattended and you can simply enjoy yourself on the road!

Travel Planning Checklist

 

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Vacation Planning for Fun

5 Ways to Make Your Vacation an Experience to Remember

A vacation should be an experience you remember for all the right reasons. However, this is not always the case and many individuals and families have a less than ideal time away. With some planning and consideration of the following factors, you will increase the likelihood of having a vacation you will look back on fondly for many years to come.

Certain times of the year are better than others to go on vacation to a particular location. The weather often dictates what activities you can take part in. As well as the weather, certain times of the year are more popular with visitors than others. When there are festivals, holidays and other special occasions, these are the times that most people will want to take a break.

For example, companies like Leisure Time Tours provide Sukkot travel programs for Jewish people who want to celebrate the festival in a different location. In other situations, some visitors may want a quieter vacation and want to avoid the busier times of the year at a certain place.

Using Vacation Planning to Make it Fun

Here are 5 Ways to Make Your Vacation an Experience to Remember:

Online Research

It’s never been as easy as it is now to research almost every vacation destination. Most people are only too willing to share their experiences with other people, give advice and prevent people from making common mistakes while they are away from home.

The internet, in particular, is a mine of information. Travel related websites, blogs, discussion forums and social media pages contain thousands of pages of content about popular vacation destinations. This means there is no excuse not to be properly prepared for your next trip.

Be Prepared

Once you have carried out the appropriate research, it’s time to take action. The more prepared you are for a vacation, the more enjoyable it will be and the less likely it will be that any problems will occur. Using the internet is also helpful in the step, because you can get most of what you need for your travels through online discount stores that offer low prices or rebates on brands that specialize in travel gear and outdoor apparel. Make sure you have access to the local currency, and pack the appropriate clothing. If there are any dangers you need to avoid such as diseases like malaria, make sure you get the proper medication before leaving home.

Local Knowledge

When you travel to an unfamiliar destination, obtaining local knowledge is extremely important. Local inhabitants will tell you what to avoid and many locals usually have a deep knowledge of their city, town or village. To obtain this knowledge, find out where these people hang out online and talk to local people and tourist representatives when you reach the place you will be staying in.

Go Off the Beaten Track

It’s tempting to visit the main tourist traps when you visit a new location. However, the most interesting and exciting places to visit are often located off the beaten track. When you get local knowledge, you can find these tourist gems and have a much more fulfilling vacation. Before you decide to go off the beaten track, make sure it will be a safe place for you and others to spend your time.

The difference between an enjoyable vacation and a forgettable one depends on how well you prepare for your trip away. The five factors above should always be taken into account each time you go on vacation to make sure you can enjoy yourself while you’re away.

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Vacations with Kids: The Five Best Destinations from the U.S.

It’s no secret that I think travel should be a pillar of every child’s education. Taking vacations with kids exposes them to the world’s classroom. By traveling, children learn everything from history and geology to modesty and gratitude.

But it doesn’t have to be expensive or long-term. You can start piquing curiosity with a Lonely Planet Kids book. And there’s plenty to see and do in the United States and nearby countries. For many of us, adventure and education through travel can be found very close to home.

If you’re raising kids in America, here are our picks for five of the best vacations with kids under 10. They include a range of travel experiences from relaxation and education to building savvy travelers and street smarts. These five trips will go a long way towards creating enthusiastic travelers and world citizens for life.

The five best vacations with kids:

Experience Native America Culture at Mesa Verde Colorado

Mesa Verde Colorado is perhaps the most inspiring and educational of all the Native American ancient dwellings. In fact, located in the Southwest corner of Colorado, this archaeological area is one of the best-preserved in the world.

mesa verde with kids

Today, Mesa Verde National Park protects over 4,000 known archeological sites, including a staggering 600 cliff dwellings, and most these are open for viewing and exploring by the public. Kids love Mesa Verde because they can wander through the dwellings, climb down wooden ladders for further exploration and generally have a very hands-on experience.

This fun, outdoor experience is a perfect way to educate kids about our ancient history and is very easily accessible. Plus, they make great climbing shoes for kids who are enthusiastic about the sport.

Spend a Week at the Beach Together in Mexico

This concept behind this travel blog was formed after a magical week at the beach with my family.

Like many families across the United States, my family is extremely busy. My husband and I both have careers we love and our kids stay busy with hectic social and extracurricular schedules. Life is fun, but extremely busy.

Family Beach Travel

Taking vacations with kids to the beach, where you can do nothing but relax, is important not just for the health benefits of relaxing, but for your kids to SEE you in that state. Better yet, get them a durable camera to capture those special moments.

It’s important for kids to realize life isn’t only about making it to soccer practice on time. By enjoying time together in a relaxed state, you will model for them a healthy life balance that can be difficult to attain at home.

As regular readers of this blog know, we love Mexico’s Riviera Maya. It’s easily accessible via quick flights from most U.S. destinations, affordable, has amazing beaches and offers so much for families to do. Plus, heading south of the border provides a great opportunity for kids to practice their Spanish and experience a new culture.

Combine U.S. History with a Great American Road Trip

Small towns, wide-open roads and stunning landscapes make up a large portion of the United States. Packing up the car and driving across the country should be a right of passage for every American child.

As I’ve explored quintessential American communities with my kids over the years, these small towns have started to intrigue me as if I was a foreigner. Or a child.

Destinations like Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota, Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming and Yosemite National Park in California offer fun, age-appropriate education for kids under the age of 10. These sites are intriguing and also an opportunity for kids to understand how forward-thinking our past political leaders were in protecting and preserving significant places.

presidents-on-my-rushmore

Other history-packed destinations like Washington DC, Boston and New York City can be experienced when kids are a bit older, but national parks and other outdoor monuments are a great option for vacations with kids because they can learn about our nation’s history while seeing magnificent regions of the United States. And these fun, scratch-off maps will help your kids track their journeys.

Take your kids to Disney World (Sigh) 

For years, I fought this trip kicking and screaming. With so much to see and do in the world, why would we want to “waste” time at a theme park in Florida?

Well, we went to Disney World and of course the kids had an absolute blast. We spent time together as a family and experienced something new together. Particularly with young children, this emotional connection and experience is as important as the destination itself.

disney travel tips

Kids are kids and should be allowed to have fun. So yes, take your kids to Disney World before they turn 10.

Besides, as children mature and reflect on their travels they will come to understand the poignant differences between a manufactured Disney trip and an authentic travel experience.

Introduce Children to Developing Countries in Central America

Flights to destinations across Central America are only a few hours from most cities across the southern United States. This ease of access makes Central America an excellent, easy opportunity to introduce your children to developing countries and Latin culture.

things to do in granada nicaragua

While countries like Costa Rica have a very well developed tourism infrastructure, other Central American destinations like Nicaragua remain relatively undeveloped and have retained authentic culture and charm.

In Central America you can explore everything from colonial history to jungle ecology together with your kids. Just make sure you pack sunscreen and bug spray!

What other destinations would you add to this list of destinations Americans must visit with kids under 10?

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