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5 Ways to “Get Away” when you can’t Actually Get Away

September 20, 2016 in Travel Tips / Uncategorized

Sure, buying a plane ticket and escaping to somewhere AMAZING sounds fantastic, but let’s be real – we can’t all do that!  Sometimes we just need to put our day to day routines on pause and find a change of scenery in order to recharge our batteries a little.  If you can’t make a grand escape somewhere exotic, here are a few ways to shake things up a little and get away without actually getting away.


Camping
1.  Go Camping

Camping is a GREAT way to recharge!  One, because chances are, you have campground close by.  Two, it’s an inexpensive way to escape reality and Three, it’s an easy weekend trip.  ReserveAmerica.com is a handy resource to find places to camp.  Just decide what part of the world you would like to camp, and find campgrounds in and around that area.
We did this last minute on labor day weekend.  We found a site in a campground nearby and went for a night.  While it would have been nice to stay longer, it was still a lot of fun and a nice change of pace!

Hiking through Glacier NP - Montana

2.  Take a Hike

Hiking is a fun way to get out of the house and enjoy the outdoors.  A quick google search or alltrails.com will help you find a hike nearby (or wherever you prefer to go) that suits your needs.

3.  Explore Towns that Surround You

The internet makes finding cool new places a really simple task.  All you need to do is search!  Find areas that are around you within a reasonable distance that you haven’t been.  Sometimes the best places really are closer than you think.  Make it a day trip!

4.  Discover Unique Shops Nearby

This might sound weird, but I get really excited when I find a really cool coffee shop.  Why?  I just love a good latte.  Maybe you do too.  Or maybe you prefer a neat antique shop.  Take a walk and see what local shops you may have missed.

5.  Utilize TripAdvisor

I’m not getting any sort of compensation for talking about TripAdvisor.  I just plain love utilizing them to find great new places!  Look up the top places in your area.  Or, look up the top places in a town close by.

 

Have any other ideas?  Feel free to comment below!

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7 Tips for Safer Travels

June 9, 2015 in Everything Else / Travel Tips

COLORADO HIKING

I received an e-mail recently about a story that was in the news over the last few years.  You may or may not have heard about it; I can honestly say that I hadn’t up until this e-mail came through.  I promised the sender of this e-mail that I wouldn’t blast those involved with the company, but I would instead help bring awareness to travel safety.  First, I’ll give you some background on what was supposed to be a great experience for one teenager and how it went horribly wrong.  I have NO affiliation with the tour company involved or the Madoff family.

Tyler Madoff was a teenager from New York. He was on a trip to Hawaii with a teen adventure tour group. According to the articles that I have read, Tyler was hiking along a cliff side by the ocean with the tour group.  Although under supervision, he and another boy in the group were swept out to sea, and unfortunately, Tyler was ultimately never recovered.  You can take a look at some of the articles by clicking here, however, remember that the media isn’t always 100% factual so I’m only going on what the media has written and the letter I read, written by Tyler’s father.

I can’t even begin to imagine the pain the Madoff family has endured.  I’d think they’ve been experiencing insurmountable sadness, anger, and frustration.  I can’t say exactly what happened or why Tyler couldn’t be saved that day, however, it just so happens that I spent about a year living in Hawaii (Oahu) and I spent a “vacation” on the Big Island in that time frame.  Hawaii is gorgeous, but it is wild.  By that I mean there are tons of natural phenomenon that people on the main land may not be adjusted to.  I know I wasn’t prepared for it when my family and I left Maryland to live there.  We learned quickly that it was a VERY unique environment.

So instead of speculating about what could have gone wrong in this specific event, I thought I would put up a few safety tips for people planning to travel.

1.  DO YOUR RESEARCH – KNOW WHERE YOU’RE GOING!

Of course you’ll know where you are going, but make sure you really KNOW where you’re going!  A place like Hawaii, for example, can be deceiving.  It is incredibly beautiful but it can also be dangerous if you aren’t careful.  As most people know, the surf can be dangerous around any ocean, but in Hawaii you have to worry about things such as high/jagged cliffs and powerful waves.  Not only that, but the wildlife is very different in a tropical environment.  It’s best to know what you are getting yourself into and what to look out for.

2.  IF YOU’RE GOING WITH A TOUR COMPANY, INVESTIGATE THEM.  

Find out beforehand what kind of things you’ll be doing, what safety equipment will be provided, etc.  It’s best to know what you’ll be experiencing ahead of time so you can properly prepare yourself.  If they have a policy that makes you uncomfortable, you can find out in advance.  Find out if the company is knowledgable about the areas they will be taking you.  Do they have proper training? Certifications?  etc.

3.  COMMUNICATE!

Let people know what you’ll be doing.  Call a loved one at home beforehand and share your itinerary with them.  Better yet, give them a time frame that they can expect to hear from you again.  If they don’t hear from you around that time, they will know to be concerned.

4.  LEAVE A TRAIL.

Make sure plenty of people at home have the proper contact info.  If you’re with a tour group, leave phone numbers for the company, leaders, etc.  If you’re traveling alone, leave friends and family your cell number, hotel name, phone number, etc.  The more who know your itinerary, the better.

5.  USE COMMON SENSE.

This goes without saying, but common sense is key.  If something seems unsafe, it probably is.  Use your gut and know when to avoid a potentially harmful situation.  Unfortunately, you can’t know everything that is going to happen, but if something doesn’t feel right, speak up or avoid it completely.

6.  PACK WISELY.

Every place will require different things to pack.  Knowing the environment you’re getting into will help with this.  Always leave with a cell phone.  Going somewhere alone?  Bring a map.  Going hiking?  Bring the proper shoes, food, etc.  Little things like this will help you along your travels.

7. BE SELF SUFFICIENT.

While someone may have some degree of responsibility over you, there is no promise they will be able to help when disaster strikes.  Preparation is key.  You can’t always predict a dangerous situation, but you can prepare for the possibility.

This post is no in no way intended to be the perfect guide to a safe travel experience.  There are risks associated with everything, and when you go somewhere that you aren’t familiar with, you’re maximizing that risk.  The best way to be safe is to research, research, research!
That being said, I would also like to send my condolences out to the Madoff family.  No one should have to bury their child and they’ve had to endure a parent’s worst nightmare.  Hopefully these tips can help prevent future mishaps for adventurers of all ages.

 

Brooklyn Bridge

5 Tips for Taking Better Travel Photos

April 14, 2015 in Everything Else / Travel Tips

Chances are that if you’re an avid traveler, you’re also photographing your adventures.  The great thing about photography is that it’s subjective.  Whether you’re taking photos to create art or simply document your journey, there are ways to make sure you’re capturing the essence of your experiences.

1.  Don’t limit yourself to daylight.

One of the biggest mistakes you can do is limit your photos to bright daylight.  While this may be the most convenient time of day, it isn’t necessarily the best.  Try photographing in the early morning or during sunset.  Hell, if you have a tripod, take photos in the dark of night if you have interesting lighting to work with!  Long exposure shots are beautiful and way more interesting.

Pigeon Point Lighthouse

Pigeon Point Lighthouse

2.  Find details that have meaning.

Sometimes, you will find details that are particularly impactful for one reason or another.  It could be something really simple, but sometimes it’s the little things that will end up being the most memorable to you.  Make sure to capture those details!  These are the things that really help tell your story.

“Many need your love”

 3.  Pay attention to the locals.

Don’t awkwardly stare or tick anyone off, but depending on where you are there will likely be locals who emit clear characteristics very specific to the place.  You can’t have subject matter more interesting than people.

Santa Cruz Surfer

Santa Cruz Surfer

4.  Capture the scene.

Scenery is so obvious and yet so vital to photographing your travels!  It’s all around you – make sure to capture wide shots displaying the environment.  You want someone else who is looking at your photos to feel like they’re there.  What makes this place so special?  What makes it interesting?  Capture all of that.

The Grand Canyon, AZ

Sun setting at the Grand Canyon

 5.  ALWAYS have a camera!

Whether it’s an SLR, a point-and-shoot, or your cell phone, don’t leave without a camera!  You don’t want to miss a photo opportunity that could come your way.  You might not always want to lug around an SLR – and that’s OK.  But you never know what you will find in unfamiliar places.

Skyline Drive - Virginia

Skyline Drive – Virginia

Vegas lights

THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOUR FIRST TRIP TO VEGAS

August 27, 2014 in Everything Else / Travel Tips / Trips in Western United States

Vegas is a CRAZY place!  It has a lot to offer, but it is not for everyone.  If you’re a Vegas virgin and are getting ready to make the trip, read on to see just what you’re getting into:

Vegas Martini

1.  BE PREPARED FOR A LOT OF……LITTER…..?

You will quickly find little pieces of paper cluttering the ground on the strip.  No, these aren’t old lottery tickets, these are, er, women being advertised!  People will be handing these out to you like candy there.

2.  IF YOU AREN’T BROKE YET, THERE’S A GOOD CHANCE YOU WILL BE AFTER YOUR TRIP IS OVER

If you’re a drinker than the chances of leaving broke are even better.  Everywhere you go there is someone who wants your money.  And of course, gambling.  Lots and lots of gambling.

3.  WEDDING CHAPELS ARE EVERYWHERE

You’ve heard the songs and seen the movies about people drunkenly marrying in Vegas.  Well, there really are chapels all over the place.  So watch what you drink….

4.  FREMONT IS FABULOUS

I don’t know why, but I was a much bigger fan of the Fremont area in Vegas and not the strip.  The giant screen on the ceiling made for unique entertainment!  I also had my first zip line experience in Fremont, flying over the heads of Vegas tourists.  I believe the zip lines are no longer there though.  I heard they were removed shortly after my trip 2 years ago.

5.  PAWN STARS IS OVERRATED

Ok so I always liked the show and found it pretty entertaining.  Well, after stopping at the real pawn shop, I was a bit disappointed.  I’m not sure what I expected, but the shop consisted primarily of cheesy gifts with faces of the cast members plastered all over them.  Of course it’s a big act so they weren’t there during the time the show wasn’t being taped.  If you can’t make it there, you really aren’t missing much.

6.  THERE IS A LOT OF WAY OVERPRICED FOOD

When we ate in the casinos, there were a few places with cafeteria-style food that cost WAY more than it should have.

7.  ENTERTAINMENT IS ENDLESS

Wherever you go there will be a million things to do!  From stand up comedy to concerts and more, you can’t get bored there – even if you don’t drink or gamble!

 

 

Vegas Lights

30 SONGS TO TAKE ON YOUR NEXT ROADTRIP

August 26, 2014 in Everything Else / Travel Tips

There are a ton of amazing songs out there that are perfect for roadtripping!  Here are 30 great songs you should consider taking with you next time:

 

1. Lord Huron – Ends of the Earth

2. Lord Huron – She Lit a Fire

3. Ben Howard – Old Pine

4. Jose Gonzalez – Step Out

5. Jose Gonzalez – Stay Alive

6. Rogue Wave – The Wolves and the Ravens

7. Augustana – Boston

8.  Dierks Bentley – Drunk on a Plane

9. Parmalee – Carolina

10. Arcade Fire – Wake Up

11. Kenny Chesney – Summertime

12. Kenny Chesney – California

13. Eve 6 – Open Road Song

14. Dan + Shay – 19 You & Me

15. Dan + Shay – Stop, Drop and Roll

16. Dan + Shay – Somewhere Only We Know

 17. Bootstraps – Guiltfree

18. Don Henley (or the Ataris version) – Boys of Summer

19.John Mayer -Queen of California

20. Tom Cochrane – Life is a Highway

21. The Eagles – Take it Easy

22. John Mayer – Route 66 (cover)

23. Fleetwood Mac – Go Your Own Way

24. Billy Bragg / Wilco – California Stars

25. Stereo 360 – California

26. John Denver – Take Me Home, Country Roads

27. Chuck Berry – No Particular Place to Go

28. Foghat – Slow Ride

29. The Rolling Stones – Start Me Up

30. Death Cab for Cutie – Bixby Canyon Bridge

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Have a great song that should be added to this list?  Comment below!

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