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Budget Travel

The Best Places to Escape the Cold Weather

The height of the cold season is here, and we’re sure that you’re looking for ways to escape the chilly winter weather so that you can make the most of this holiday season – not cooped up inside, but out where the action is. So, here’s a list of some places you can go to for some much-needed escape.

1) Sicily, Italy

Who wouldn’t want to visit this picturesque place? As one of the largest islands in the Mediterranean, it is located at the southern tip of Italy and is home to Mount Etna, the highest active volcano in Europe.

This time of year, the temperature averages around 65 degrees. Daylight here also lasts 7 hours, so you can make the most of the sun’s warmth.

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2) Paxos, Greece

This is one of the smallest of the Ionian islands, but do not be deceived by the size of this place; you can still get swallowed up by the laid-back vibe here.

If you’re looking to escape the party scene, this is the place for you.

Because of Paxos’ small size, one of the best things you can do is explore the beautiful nooks and crannies of this island. The temperatures here are milder, ranging from the mid-50s to the lower 60s.

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3) Alicante, Spain

This is the capital of eastern Spain, Costa Blanca. It gets its name from the rolling sandy beaches in this part of the country. This city is ripe with things to do and explore.

You can explore the beautiful local architecture and history by visiting the different museums that can be found in the city, like the Archeological Museum and the Santa Bárbara Castle.

You can also laze around in the afternoon at the beautiful beaches of Saladar that can be found south of Alicante, or head north to Playa de la Albufereta.

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4) Mozambique

Despite being filled with popular beaches along its coastline, this southern African nation is still not that popular among most travelers. However, this place has a lot to offer, like its beautiful turquoise water that boasts colorful sea creatures and well-preserved corals. You might also enjoy the pounding surf along the country’s southern coast.

This place also hosts beautiful colonial-style architecture and its own flavor of nightlife. However, it’s not easy to get around here; you would do well to bring a measure of patience with you, as getting to your destination often requires long bus rides.

But, for beautiful places like this, it is well worth it.

Mozambique

5) Morocco

This is a North African country that overlooks the Mediterranean and Atlantic oceans. This country offers scenic mountain ranges and deserts as far as your eyes can see, plus ancient cities and diverse cultural influences. It is known as the gateway to Africa.

There are also beaches in this country that you might like to explore.

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6) Dubai, UAE

Located at the southeast coast of the Persian Gulf, this city is the most populous and largest in the United Arab Emirates. It is known for its modern architecture, luxurious shopping, and colorful nightlife.

Some of Dubai’s top tourist attractions are the Burj Khalifa (currently the tallest building in the world), the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, and Dubai Creek. So if you’re looking for a unique (and often grand) experience during the holidays, this is the place to be.

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7) Barbados

An eastern Caribbean island, this is one of the best places to escape during the winter season. It offers a host of beautiful beaches around the island, 17th-century plantation houses, botanical gardens, and the Harrison Cave formation.

The place is best known for its powdery sand beaches and festive nightlife. Barbados is the place to be if you want to experience summer during the winter.

Barbadosvilla

8) Costa Rica

This Central American country features coastlines bordering both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Costa Rica is known for its rich biodiversity, beaches, and volcanoes.

Costa Rica is also a great place to get your surf on. You might also want to go and explore the peaks of the volcanoes in this area, go hiking, explore the area on a bike, or go ziplining.

You’re only limited by your imagination.

Costaricavolcano

9) Phuket, Thailand

This is a mountainous island located in the Andaman Sea. It is also known for its beautiful beaches along its western shore. Phuket has old shophouses, high-end spas, and resorts and restaurants.

It also has bars, clubs, and discos that tourists often frequent when they visit this island. This is the largest island in Thailand.

So if you want to be a beach bum, do some diving, and enjoy a hedonistic lifestyle (especially in the winter), this is where you’ll want to go.

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10) The Maldives

Located in the Indian Ocean, the Maldives is a South Asian archipelago comprising 1,000 coral islands and 26 ring-shaped atolls. It is primarily known for its blue lagoons, reefs, and beaches.

The main island offers shops, restaurants, and a fish market. You can feast on exotic food here. You’ll also enjoy the weather, because the Maldives gets plenty of sunshine, with temperatures usually stable in the 80s.

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11) Kenya

Kenya is an East African country with coastlines located along the Indian Ocean. This beautiful country is not only known for its beautiful beaches, but also for its sprawling safari.

So if you want to experience less human interaction and more of the beauty that nature has to offer, Kenya is an ideal place to go to meet the big five including majestic lions, rhinos, and elephants, to name a few.

Elephants in Africa

12) Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Aside from being the second most populous city in Brazil, it is also known for its Ipanema and Copacabana beaches as well as its 125-foot-tall Christ the Redeemer statue, with cable cars located at the granite peak.

This city has been frequented by tourists for decades because of its annual Carnaval festival. It’s one of the most festive and colorful places to be in the world. So if you’re looking for a warm place to escape to that’s also lively and energetic, this is one that you should include on your list.

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Veggiesandwich
New York

Awesome Eats in New York

Ah, the Big Apple. The Capital of the World. The City That Never Sleeps. Whatever you call it, New York City is one of the world’s most iconic cities, a metropolis that millions of people from around the world visit every year.

In its early days, the city was an entry point for millions of immigrants and, as such, New York has become a melting pot of nationalities and cultures. Today, one of the results of that movement is an eclectic mix of international cuisines from some 24,000 restaurants throughout the city.

Although it’s highly subjective, what are some awesome eats – classic American, exotic international, or unique fusion – that you can find in New York City?

Raoul’s

Raouls Restaurant

Found nestled among Soho’s numerous shops and thick crowds, Raoul’s is a standout French bistro with a Parisian atmosphere to boot. It’s held its spot on Prince Street for over 40 years, and its two-star Michelin rating proves that its dishes are classic as well.

Menu items include steak au poivre, with a side of hand-cut pommes frites; foie gras; frisee salad and poached egg; octopus with chickpea purée; or a cheesecake made from goat cheese for dessert.

Finally, when you’re finished with your meal, feel free to peruse the wine menu. How about sealing the deal with a glass of Bordeaux?

Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop

Ivan Ramen New York

Owner and chef Ivan Orkin started out in Tokyo in 2007 when he opened up his first noodle shop. Today, he spearheads a noodle bar on 11th Avenue between 44th and 45th Street named after him.

Menu items include standard fare like shoyu and shio-style bowls as well as dishes that borrow elements from NYC-style cooking like pastrami buns or a twist on the famous bacon-egg-cheese sandwiches dubbed “breakfast all day ramen”.

What’s also nice is the restaurant’s large food hall style, which means you won’t have to wait for a table.

Roberta’s

Robertas Pizza Brooklyn

Pizza lovers take note!

Open since 2008, Roberta’s Pizza in Bushwick has grown into an extremely popular joint known for creative artisan pizzas served in a dining hall of minimalist yet rustic décor. Try to come early, though – wait times can be an hour or longer later in the evening. But you don’t have to twiddle your thumbs – feel free to treat yourself to some focaccia and an adult drink while waiting to be seated.

When you get a table, menu items include the Famous Original (a 3-cheese pie with tomato and herbs) and the popular Bee Sting (honey, chili oil, and pepperoni). Other offerings make tasty use of other ingredients like crimini mushrooms, cured speck, brussels sprouts, and an assortment of cold cuts and cheeses.

Upland

Upland Restaurant Nyc

Upland is a fusion restaurant that combines Californian cuisine and vegetable-forward cooking – two major recent food movements.

Chef Justin Smillie sources the restaurant’s fresh ingredients from the Union Square Greenmarket, preparing them into refreshing takes on classics like quiche Lorraine, Caesar Salad, bucatini cacio e pepe, or his trademark burger that brings a style reminiscent of In-n-Out to New York.

And you can grab a glass of wine or a pint of beer at the restaurant’s oak-top bar.

Gramercy Tavern

Gramercy Tavern Nyc

20th Street’s Gramercy Tavern has been all about classic American, both in ambiance and in food (and drink) for over 20 years.

Before you even reach the table, a great place to start is at the tavern itself, where you can be served craft beers, like the Kelso Nut Brown or Rushing Duck Bauli Saison, or cocktails like a Roger Fitz Spritz or a classic New York Sour.

Lunch and dinner options are seasonal, but dishes include squid ink Lumache with rock shrimp, mint, and sungold tomatoes; lobster salad; and pasture-raised beef with charred onion, wild rice, and green garlic.

A three-course dinner tasting starts at $129, and there’s no need to tip, as it’s included in the price!

Russ and Daughters Cafe

Having held its current Lower East Side location for over 100 years, the Russ and Daughters cafe is a true relic that remains the premier go-to place for delicious Jewish-style Sunday brunch in 21st century New York.

Come for the classic New York lox bagels and stay for the babka, knishes, latkes, and bialys with endless choices to complement them. Even if you’re not a brunch person, you’re free to come in the evening and indulge in Russ and Daughters’ top-tier cocktail service while enjoying “breakfast for dinner”.

Agern

Agern Nyc

NYC gets a little Scandinavian flavor with Agern, an unassuming restaurant hidden away in one of Grand Central Terminal’s many corridors. Owner Claus Meyer, who found success previously with his Noma restaurant in Copenhagen, just recently (in 2016) opened his restaurant in to serve “New Nordic” Danish-inspired cuisine Stateside.

Agern offers two tasting menus: the Land and Sea menu and the Field and Forest menu, both for $175. Menu items include roasted guinea hen with sunchokes in a Nordic-style BBQ; roasted monkfish with löjrom, apples, and smoked butter; and grilled on-bone halibut. And when you’re done, don’t worry about tipping, either, as it will kindly be declined.

While it’s impossible to cover every single delicious restaurant in NYC, these ones stood out in particular. It’s a combination of factors like style, food quality and presentation, ambiance, service, and history that make restaurants like the ones highlighted here worth the visit.

It doesn’t have to be a prestigious Michelin-starred restaurant, either – delicious food is a universal language that stretches far beyond New York City.

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Budget Travel

Better Places to Spend New Year’s Than a Crowded Bar

The day to usher in the New Year is fast approaching, and while you might not be 100% sure of your plans yet, you know you don’t want to spend your New Year’s Eve in a packed bar (again).

So if you’ve got your mind set on celebrating somewhere else, consider some of our suggestions for awesome places to travel to spend New Year’s; you may just have one of your most memorable New Year’s celebrations yet.

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Edinburgh

Famous for its 3-day celebration which kicks off every 30th of December, the streets of St Giles and South and North Bridge going to Holyrood Part are strewn with people carrying torches. Fireworks light up the night sky as they start the celebration.

The celebration continues on New Year’s Eve, where even more people flock to the streets and sing ‘Auld Lang Syne’ as they welcome the coming year. Imagine, thousands of people singing together!

What a sight to behold! This is truly one that you can put in the book for years to come.

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New York City

Who wouldn’t want to go to the city that never sleeps?

New York belongs to one of the top spots to celebrate the New Year because of the ball drop tradition in Times Square, where many famous musicians perform every year to kick up the party atmosphere. But did you know that you can also witness the fireworks from a not-so-crowded view?

You can go for a ride down the New York Harbor and see the best angle for fireworks.

Now that’s simply amazing!

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The Bahamas

One of the places best known for their beautiful beaches—especially in the summer—The Bahamas is a place that you should want to go to during New Year’s because the festivities here will leave you breathless. They have a Mardi Gras-like celebration that happens on the first day of the year. This is preceded by beach gatherings and parades on the street where different performers and costumes are featured, a sight to behold.

Large properties also host some of their own festive parties that are not just limited to the adults; they are likewise family-friendly.

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Walt Disney World

Now, this is a place that we’re sure the whole family will enjoy. The park stays open until 1 am and there are numerous activities that everyone will enjoy, like the Cirque du Soleil, performances of live entertainers, and the colorful explosion of confetti. There’s also the beautiful light show at Epcot that happens before midnight.

You know why this is one of the places to be on New Year’s Eve? It’ll be less crowded, so you can really enjoy all that the park has to offer.

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Sydney

The land down under hosts a unique celebration of the New Year. They are known to have the world’s biggest fireworks display. Now that is something that you wouldn’t want to miss.

Don’t want to miss out on the action?

You can take a boat ride down the waterfront of the Sydney Harbour Bridge for a front-row seat where the magical display will be showcased for the whole world to see, featuring the beauty of the Sydney Opera House.

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Rio De Janeiro

Want to experience summer in December? This is the place to be. It is said that around this time of year, it is still mid-summer in Rio. But that won’t stop people from flocking to the beaches of Rio to watch the amazing fireworks display. The celebration usually starts at 8 pm, when the live bands play the samba to get the crowd going.

By the way, if you’ve decided to go to Rio and join the party, you ought to wear white—it’s said to bring luck for the whole year. Be prepared for a shower of champagne in the air, as you will definitely be under the spray of the champagne bottles!

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Koh Phangan

Speaking of beach parties, you wouldn’t want to miss spending New Year in this part of the world. Koh Phangan hosts the most famous Full Moon Party and the wildest party in the world. Party in this area starts at the crack of dawn and ends on the afternoon of the following day. Want to party ‘til you drop? This is where all the action is.

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Paris

The City of Lights is not just any nickname for the most romantic city in the world. The dawn of the New Year transforms the Eiffel tower into a majestic light show and fireworks display. Champs-Elysees becomes host to street parties where people greet each other with kisses on the cheek and feast on chocolates wrapped in shiny paper that crackles like that of a firecracker that’s been lit and sumptuous papillotes.

However, if you’re going for something less crowded, you may want to go to Montmarte—which provides a good view of the fireworks—or opt for a ride down the Seinne for a dinner cruise.

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Cape Town

This South African city celebrates New Year’s unlike any other—it goes on for three days! Fireworks displays and concerts happen on New Year’s Eve at the Victoria and Albert Waterfront. There’s also the carnival-themed train and live music to entertain people at the Victoria Falls New Year’s Carnival.

The Cape Town Minstrel Carnival goes around town on New Year’s Day and the following day. But this is not any ordinary parade; this is a tradition that dates back to the 19th century. It boasts 10,000 performers singing and dancing in the streets to the entertainment of the thousands of people that head to the beaches to witness this spectacular show.

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Reykjavik

This picturesque city in the northernmost part of the world experiences only 4 hours of daylight in late December. So you can just imagine how eager the people are to start their New Year’s celebration. They start the celebration by burning their troubles away via community bonfires. There’s also a festive atmosphere as people dance and sing around the campfire while music is being played. This is followed by a dazzling fireworks display. Festivities end at 5 am on the following day.

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Products

Great Travel Gift Ideas Under $100

We’ve only got a few more days before Christmas! Do you already have your gifts lined up for the holidays, or are you still trying to think of the best gift for your travel-loving family and friends? Don’t worry, we’ve got your back.

As a bonus, everything on this list has a price tag under $100 – perfect if you can’t spend too much this holiday season.

Here are some of our top travel gift picks:

  1. Pour-Over Brewer with Travel Mug, $22.95: Perfect for coffee aficionados who love a cup of brewed coffee on the go. It’s BPA-free and comes with a cone-shaped dripper for brewing. It also has an easy-to-close tab to avoid spillage.


  1. Anti-Theft Backpack, $99: This is well-suited for your friends who bring valuable things with them or who just want to be extra sure that they won’t lose their things while traveling. It has hidden zipper closures and is made of cut-proof material and a water-repellent fabric.


  1. World Travel Adapter, $14.15: This gadget is something that your traveling friends might like to have, especially if they carry a lot of gadgets with them that need to be charged. This small but amazing device allows the user to plug their device into any kind of power outlet anywhere, as it has an 8-pin AC socket that can be used with different kinds of plugs all over the world.


  1. Swimmer Bluetooth Speaker, $29.99: This next item is perfect for traveling audiophiles who want to bring their music along on their adventures. Why? You can mount it on your bike and ride with it or take it with you to the pool or ocean when you go out for a swim. It’s shockproof, and you can immerse it in up to 3 feet of water without this baby getting damaged! Amazing, right? Get it for only $29.99.


  1. OutdoorsmanLab Ultralight Sleeping Pad, $37.97: If you know a traveler who is fond of camping or backpacking on their adventures, this is the gift for them. This pad will definitely improve the quality of their sleep, as it allows them to sleep slightly above the ground on a softer base. And it’s portable, packing down into a tiny 8” x 3.5” case.


  1. Collapsible Mug, $14.78: Here’s another convenient item that a traveler can add to their packing list. This collapsible mug is made of silicone, which makes it easy to wash. It’s also microwaveable, which makes it even more convenient and easy to heat up. This cup also comes in different colors, so you can pick out the one that best suits your loved one.


  1. Rescue Tool, $12.95: This nifty gadget comes in handy for emergencies, especially if you get trapped inside a vehicle. It can break through glass windows in cars and can easily cut through a seatbelt. So this might be a good gift idea for your friends who enjoy taking road trips or who otherwise often ride in vehicles. (Warning: it’s not necessarily airplane carry-on safe – bring at your own risk!)


  1. Trekking Towel, $60: This is unlike an ordinary beach towel or your towels at home. This trekking towel was specifically made to make it easy for outdoors people to bring with them and not worry about the weight or space it takes up in their carry-on bag. It is lightweight and very absorbent; not only that, it dries up so fast you might hardly notice it even got wet in the first place. Last but not least, this particular towel offers sun protection (UPF) material.


  1. Compression Socks, $18.99-$24.99: One of the must-haves on our gift list is this pair of compression socks because not only do they protect your feet, they also aid in the circulation of blood in your legs, especially when traveling. This is also recommended for pregnant women and exercise buffs, as they help reduce stress on the legs.


  1. Multi-Tool Kit, $34.46: Would you believe that this handy-dandy item contains the things that you might need to survive in the great outdoors? It has a lid that works as a signal mirror, and it also has a nylon cord and emergency sewing kit. Neat, right? But wait, there’s more! It also includes a stainless steel wire, fishing kit, fire-starter, and compass. It comes equipped with a 100 dB whistle that can be heard over a mile away, too. This is definitely something that you want to give your friends or loved ones this Christmas. (Note: due to the knife, this item is also not carry-on friendly.)


  1. Grundig Mini Radio, $39.95: This mini radio is highly recommended not only because it is made by a well-known brand, but also because you can pick up AM, FM, and SW radio signals. It also comes with its own carrying case.


  1. Swivel Tool, $11.95: As one of the smaller items on our affordable travel gift list, this swivel tool disguises itself as a key. However, as soon as you unfold it, you’ll see that it’s not your typical keychain. It becomes a serrated knife, and when you place it at a 45-degree angle, it also becomes your very own Phillips screwdriver. It comes with a bottle opener, too. (Be wary about taking this one on planes as well.)


  1. Occles Eye Shades, $30: Finally, we’d like to recommend this pair of eye shades for travelers. It makes regular sleeping masks pale in comparison with its ergonomic design. You can use this not just while sleeping, but also while lazing around on the beach. It protects your eyes from harmful sun rays and its design helps prevent the dreaded “raccoon eyes” after a long sleep. The design of these eye shades allows you to keep it looped on your neck because of the flexible support that it has. You can now say goodbye to sleepless nights.


 

If you’re strapped for cash and still trying to think of what to give your traveling friend or family member this Christmas, we hope our suggestions here will help you in your search to find the perfect gift for them.

Happy Holidays to you and everyone on your list this year.

Gifts For Travelers
Products

The Christmas Gifts Wandering Travelers Want – and Need – This Year

The holidays are a time of giving and sharing. They also represent the time of year when we are getting ready to say goodbye to the past and welcome in the new year. With the turn of the calendar always comes some New Year’s resolutions.

One of our favorite resolutions to make get us out and experience more of the world through travel.

These gifts are perfect for the frequent traveler, or someone with such a bad case of wanderlust that you know it is just a matter of time before they take off on their own adventures. Check out our choices for travel gifts we know they’ll love.

Bose QuietComfort 35 Noise Canceling Headphones

Whether your traveler is just looking for a little more peace and quiet, or they need a device them helps them tune out background noise for important calls, these QuietComfort Headphones by Bose are sure to be an appreciated addition to their travel arsenal.

These wireless, noise canceling headphones allow the wearer to adjust the level of cancellation to suit their needs or the environment. And as always, Bose provides exceptional sound quality, making it possible to truly relax and escape into their music.

Buy Here

Sim4Globe Prepaid International SIM Card

Don’t let lack of coverage put a damper on your favorite traveler’s adventures. Give them the gift of mobile coverage in over 190 countries. With this sim card they will automatically be connected to the provider with the best coverage, no matter where in the world they are, with their unlocked GSM phone.

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SOKOO Solar Charger

The very nature of travel and adventure means you never know just where you might end up. This also means sometimes finding yourself in unexpected situations where you might not be able to charge your devices when they run low.

The SOOKAR solar charger is extremely portable, foldable and waterproof, giving a traveler peace of mind wherever they are. It can even be worn on a backpack while biking or on foot. Also, great for camping and hiking adventures where there is a lack of options for plugging in and recharging.

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FOCUSPOWER F10 Mini Bluetooth Earbud

This small, hidden Bluetooth earbud is perfect for the life of travel. It easily connects to two separate mobile devices at one time, is discrete and has one of the longest battery lives of 6-8 hours of talk time.

This gift is perfect for travelers who frequently use Bluetooth technology, but want an earbud that offers extended life and comfort for those extra-long trips.

Buy Here

SteriPen Ultra UV Water Purifier

Water is the most widely consumed beverage in the world, but that doesn’t mean that all of the world has safe, clean water. Many traveler’s “bugs” often start by drinking unpurified water. Even water that looks and smells clean can contain bacteria that the local population has built up a resistance to but can be devastating to a traveler just passing through.

Protect the health and well-being of your favorite traveler with the SteriPen water purifier. Simply stick in a glass of water and destroy 99% of viruses and bacteria.

Buy Here

HYDAWAY Collapsible Pocket-sized Travel Water Bottle

It is important to stay hydrated while traveling, but sometimes carrying around an empty water bottle can be cumbersome. Enter the HYDAWAY collapsible bottle.

This BPA free bottle folds down so compactly when it is empty that it actually slips easily into a pants or coat pocket. Your traveler will love this compact water bottle as an addition to their travel essentials.

Buy Here

Handpresso Outdoor Espresso Set

There are hidden little corners of the earth where you can find great coffee. There are also plenty of corners where that just isn’t an option.

Whether your traveler is heading to a place that isn’t known for its great coffee, or heading to the wilderness and wants to enjoy their morning espresso surrounded by the splendor of nature, the Handpresso Outdoor Espresso Kit is the perfect gift for the traveling coffee lover.

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Foldable Rain Boots

It’s a struggle trying to fit all of the essentials into a reasonable amount of luggage. Any well-seasoned traveler has needed to make sacrifices for the sake of saving luggage space. Now, being equipped for rainy weather doesn’t need to be one of those sacrifices.

These full size, foldable rain boots are a traveler’s dream. Compact, easy to clean, and the perfect accessory for travel days.

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Hidden Pocket Scarf

Give your traveler the ability to keep their belongings safe and secure while being fashionable at the same time. We are pretty sure that the hidden pocket scarf will be more appreciated than a fanny pack.

Stylish and unassuming, this scarf has a hidden pocket large enough to carry all of their necessities, such as a passport, money, phone, medications and hotel key cards. Plus, it carries it all without looking obvious or weighted down.

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Earth Pak Dry Bags

A true traveler never knows exactly where the adventure will take them, so they should always be prepared. This compact, foldable dry bag lets your traveler carry on in the adventure without worrying about dodging the sudden rainstorm or missing out on an impromptu kayak excursion.

Earth Pak bags have the best reputation around for being durable, and truly waterproof. They come in different sizes to suit the needs of your favorite traveler, with the larger ones capable of comfortably holding up to 55 pounds of essential travel gear.

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The Perfect Travel Companions

Merino Travel Kit
What does a traveler need more on a long flight than the comfort of their own blanket and a soft eye mask? The Parachute Marino Travel set is perfect for finding a bit of comfort and coziness when home is far away. Easily folds small enough to fit into carry-on luggage.

Buy Here

This year find the perfect gift that your traveler will love and actually get some use out of. There is a wide world, filled with adventure out there, waiting for each of us. Each of these travel gifts can make the experience of discovery even more enjoyable.

Happy Holidays to you and everyone on your list this year.

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Budget Travel

Top Tips for Stress-Free Christmas Travel

The holidays are fast approaching, and we’re sure that by now, most people are already preparing for their out-of-town holiday and Christmas travel.

Your head may already be spinning with the number of things that need to get done before you head out to parts unknown.

So to help you out, we’ve come up with a list of things that you should keep in mind if you’re traveling during this Christmas season so that you can have a stress-free travel experience.

1) Ship Christmas presents ahead

The first thing to make it on our list is to ship those Christmas presents ahead of you.

It would be ideal to send them out about a week ahead of time to avoid the hassle of bringing them with you to the airport and having to unwrap those gifts in front of the TSA or – even worse – not being able to take them on board. It’s better to avoid the hassle altogether and simply send any gifts beforehand.

While it will cost you some money, it’ll be one less thing for you to worry about.

2) Travel light

Packing everything into just a carry-on bag would ideal, since you won’t have to line up to have any luggage checked in. But if you think that what you’ve packed in your carry-on bag won’t be enough, you again may opt to send some of those things that you will need along with the presents that you will be giving away.

Plus, you will eliminate the chance of having your luggage lost along the way.

3) Avoid booking flights to/from the busiest airports

It saves you the hassle of working your way through the crowds of people in the airport. Plus, it’s cheaper if you’re traveling out of secondary airports. You’re killing two birds with one stone, so to speak; you get to avoid large, crowded airports while also saving on airfare.

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4) Choose a flight that is early in the day or late in the evening

It is always best to get a good head start when you travel because, aside from being able to arrive at your destination early, it also allows you to relax earlier and maximizes your time with family and friends.

Or if you’re traveling late in the evening, it gives you ample time to wrap things up before you leave and check on things that you may otherwise overlook, especially when you are in a hurry to get to the airport.

5) The best time to travel (land or air) is during off-peak days

Why? Because roads are not yet congested with holiday travelers, it makes it more pleasant to take in the sights if you’re driving, and you won’t have to leave early to beat the traffic.

The same goes for air travel; since there are still not many travelers in the airport, you won’t be stressed with the number of people inside the airport. Use Google’s new flight search to aid in your search.

This is especially nice for claustrophobic people.

6) Don’t forget to bring an extra charging device

This is especially advisable for those who need to be connected all the time. It saves you the hassle of trying to find an outlet inside the airport.

Chances are that almost everyone will be looking for an outlet, especially if their electronic device is already running low on power. So to avoid that hassle altogether, make sure you have an extra battery pack or charging kit stashed in your carry-on bag.

7) Bring light snacks

Don’t rely on airplane food – especially if your stomach is already grumbling and you still have a ways to go before you reach your destination.

Better yet, if you are not the type to bring light snacks, make sure that you grab a bite before heading to the airport. If you’re too hungry, you may not be able to think straight or overreact to a minor mishap.

So fuel up your body with enough food, and make sure to stay hydrated too.

8) Find out where and how you can get help

This is especially helpful if, for some reason, your flight gets canceled due to unforeseen events. It’s always good to have the number of your airline handy so that you can make a call if something happens.

It’s also advisable to know the phone numbers and information for other airlines that are leaving for the same destination ahead of time so that you can buy a one-way ticket from them and get to your destination ASAP.

9) Make use of social media

Nowadays, it’s so easy to access information. So since you’re traveling, make the most of your social media to find out if there are roads that are inaccessible, airline flights that have been canceled, which airports are open, cheap deals on hotel accommodation, amenities within the airport, etc.

Who knows, you might also be of help to other travelers in need of information.

PS. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

10) Bring headphones or earplugs

This works if you just want to tune out the noise and people around you and concentrate on enjoying the scenery.

Nice and relaxing music helps you to doze off, especially after a very long, tiring journey. A few minutes or even hours to yourself always feels good.

11) Relax and just breathe

With everything that happens around the Christmas season and the number of things that you want to accomplish to avoid the frenzy, you sometimes forget to just take a load off and breathe.

Remember the reason for the season.

Take the time to just appreciate everybody around you, all the people you’re with, and just savor that moment with them. Breathe. Relax. Smile.

Don’t get swept up in the hustle and bustle. Don’t let the stress get to you. It’s the very reason why you’re traveling to celebrate the holidays with family and friends – to relax and enjoy the good cheer.

Cameraonmap
Products

Travel Gift Guide: Ideal Gifts for the Tech-Savvy Traveler

It’s very fun to have a friend who is tech-savvy and loves to travel. You may have seen some cool gadgets they take with them on their adventures, and you also might have a collection of keychains, fridge magnets, or other trinkets that they’ve given you.

This holiday season, try to return the favor! It’s not that hard to think of a gift for a tech-savvy traveler after all, right? The ideal gift should be useful, reliable, robust, and portable. It’s not really too much to ask for.

…Okay, so it might be a bit hard and complicated. But through this article, we’ll give you ideas about what gifts you can get that your tech-savvy traveling friends or family members will truly appreciate their adventures.

Richo Theta SC 360 Camera

Taking selfies with famous landmarks is nice. 360 pictures? Even better. With this HD 360-degree camera, travelers can immerse their friends and family in the places they’ve been! It’s also very easy to use compared to its competitors in the 360-degree camera market.


GoPro Hero 6 Black

The latest iteration of GoPro’s waterproof action camera has all the bells and whistles. With its sleek and simple design, a built-in 2-inch touch display, and features like voice activation and 240fps 1080p recording capability, GoPro has really dominated the action/sports camera market. These are just a few of several reasons why GoPro has become a household name with thrill seekers and adventurers.


Biolite SolarPanel 5+

Is your traveler going to a jungle? a desert? Without electricity to charge all their devices, their gadgets will be useless. But with a Biolite solar charger, as long as they have the sun above their heads, no electricity won’t be a problem. This Biolite solar charger also comes with an integrated sundial that shows you the most effective way to align it with the sun, and it stores unused electricity in its 2200mAh onboard battery for later use.

Yatra Aquatune 9612 Portable Speaker

If your travelers love both listening to music and going on hardcore adventures, this portable speaker is for them. It’s not just waterproof – it’s also shockproof and dustproof. This device can satisfy any ear, whatever the surrounding conditions are. It also features a nifty hoop to latch it outside a bag or backpack, saving precious internal space for your traveler’s other items.


Sennheiser Momentum Wireless Headphones

Is your traveler in for a long flight? Have they had to put up with unwelcome noises like snoring and screaming babies before? They don’t have to look rude anymore, because these headphones will help them screen out all those noises. Their 22-hour battery life means that they’ll survive the entire flight. They might be a bit pricey, but everyone will agree that serenity is priceless.


Mophie Powerstation XL

With this power bank, you can charge your phone and tablet at the same time. The Mophie Powerstation XL features two USB ports and a lot of juice (10,000mAh) so that you can charge your phone three times over. With a gadget like this, tech-savvy travelers can charge their devices on a day-long outing or prudently save themselves (or their friend) from having to hunt for open power outlets in crowded airports or hostels.


DxO One

Is a DSLR too big to fit in your traveler’s backpack? Maybe they’re not satisfied with the quality of their smartphone’s camera either? No worries, the DxO One camera is the perfect solution. Slightly bigger than a matchbox, this camera has a pro-quality 20.2-megapixel sensor that performs well even in low light. It can be connected to an iPhone via the Lightning port or function as a point-and-shoot standalone camera. Waterproof shells are available for those who are planning on a more adventurous trip.


SAMSUNG Portable SSD T5

Nowadays, we all need flash drives. They’re kind of like a modern digital filing cabinet where we can store not only pictures, but videos, music, and movies as well. But most of the time, flash drives can’t hold that much storage. If you don’t have a cloud backup, you’ll be forced to delete some of your files. The solution: a portable SSD. The SAMSUNG Portable SSD T5’s capacity options range from 250GB to 2TB. It holds quite an unbelievable amount of space for such a small thing. Weighing in at only a few ounces and with a physical size close to that of a business card, it’s a great example of how far technology has come.


Zagg Pocket Keyboard

Imagine a scenario where you’re out traveling with no laptop or nearby computer available, and you suddenly receive an urgent email, maybe from work or from home. But typing out a full email on your phone’s keyboard can be tedious, and you probably hate your phone’s annoying autocorrects just as much as I do. Zagg Pocket Keyboard makes typing on mobile devices a bit easier. Just connect it to your phone and you’ll compose that email in a jiffy.


Travel Tripod

Nowadays, anybody who travels also loves to document their adventures through photos and video, and a good tripod can mean the difference between a decent shot and a spectacular one. However, full-size tripods are bulky and may not fit in a traveler’s bag. Enter the flexible, more portable travel tripod. There are several brands available on the market to choose from, but this ultra-compact GorillaPod from JOBY is a particularly good choice that’s rated highly on Amazon.


If you’re not a serial traveler and/or not really a techie, it can be hard to think of the perfect gift for your tech-savvy traveling friends or family members. But with a little thought, you can pick out the perfect gift by considering what kind of traveler they are and their unique travel needs. We hope that this guide will help you figure out the ideal gift for your techie traveler.

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Products

Ultimate Gift Guide for Solo Travelers

It’s that time of year again when most of us are starting to think about the things we want to give our loved ones, including those friends or family members that are fond of traveling or jetting it from one place to another.

We have to admit that it’s kind of difficult to find that perfect gift, especially if you’re not familiar with what items solo travelers usually bring. But don’t worry! We’ve compiled a list of the perfect gifts for solo travelers.

1) Mobile Food Survival Kit

The first to make it on our list is the Mobile Foodie Survival Kit. This cute but nifty set of containers holds your favorite assorted herbs and spices. This is perfect for solo travelers that cook on their outdoor adventures. The containers are not labeled, so you can reuse them for different spices. Each container can hold up to 1.5 teaspoons of herbs and spices.

2) Scratch-off Map

Another great gift idea is the Scratch-off Map. This is perfect for those solo travelers who go to different parts of the globe. This will allow them to mark off the places they have been to. The beauty is in the unraveling of the different countries as they get scratched off the map.

3) Travel Journal

Here’s another gift solo travelers could make great use of: the Scratch Travel Journal. It is the perfect complement to the aforementioned Scratch-off Map, and it offers your intrepid adventurer a travel planner, checklist, and diary rolled into one.

4) MiniPresso GR Espresso Maker

Does your travel junkie also enjoy coffee? Then this next item is perfect for them. The MiniPresso GR Espresso Maker is a mini espresso machine which comes with its own scoop and cup. It’s efficient, easy to use, and what’s more, you can use any variety of coffee bean and get the same quality result for your cup of coffee. Perfect for a cup of coffee anywhere that your traveling friend chooses to carry this baby.

Products from Amazon.com

5) Packing Cube

Next on our list is the Packing Cube. Packing cubes allow for easy packing and unpacking of clothes, and they can also be used to separate dirty laundry from clean clothes. Plus, it makes it easy for your globetrotting friend to quickly find what they’re looking for inside their suitcase.

6) Parka

If your traveling friend is heading off to cooler climates, then this parka from Uniqlo would be the perfect gift for them this season. It is light, comfortable, and insulated with premium down for superb warmth, especially for long cold nights. It’s not bulky, which makes it easy to pack and store.

7) Emergency Blanket

While we’re on the subject of keeping warm, one other item that you may want to consider giving your travel-savvy friend is an emergency blanket. This amazing item can easily be stored and pulled out for those times when there are sudden drops in temperature. It is lightweight and compact, and you will hardly notice that it’s in the bag.

Dry Sack

Another item that’s ideal for the solo traveler is the dry sack. This item is useful for storing electronics or other items that you want to keep dry or protect from moisture, since this storage bag is waterproof. It’s perfect for those friends who are into water sports or go on travel adventures that expose them to the elements. It also comes in different colors, so you can pick out the one that your solo traveler likes.

9) Multipurpose Shoes

Any traveler knows how much packing space bulky pairs of shoes can take up. This multipurpose shoe is lightweight, with a soft cushioning material that makes it perfect for taking long walks outdoors. It also has breathable material, so that even if it is worn for long periods of time, it will not smell. Multipurpose shoes are available for both men and women.

10) Travel Hammock

Looking for a comfortable way to sleep while enjoying the cool outdoor breeze and the night sky? A travel hammock will do the trick. It is easy to carry because of its lightweight material and can be used for camping, hiking, or simply lounging around the campfire. It is so sturdy that it can carry the weight of two people or up to 400lbs.

11) Travel Pillow

A unique item that makes it on this list is this travel pillow from. This pillow is not your ordinary kind of travel pillow, because when you first see it, it actually looks like a scarf because of its unique ergonomic design. It’s specifically designed to support the neck for those long hours of land or air travel. It’s also easy to store and it easily attaches to your luggage.

12) Filtered Water Bottle

Another must-have for the solo adventurer is the filtered water bottle. It allows your traveler to take a refreshing drink without worrying about the cleanliness of the water that they are drinking outdoors or in an unfamiliar place. This bottle comes equipped with a filtered straw which cleanses out the bacteria and doesn’t leave any aftertaste. Perfect for people who love to camp or hike.

13) Travel Iron

A cute but handy item that you can add to the growing list of choices to give your solo traveler is the iron. This is not your regular kind of iron. It is small and lightweight so it will occupy minimal space in their bag. What’s more, it comes with its own travel bag and measuring cup. This iron can steam clothes and can remove all kinds of wrinkles from all kinds of fabric.

14) Bag Scale

Finally, to ensure that your solo traveler’s baggage does not exceed weight limits, a scale would be the ideal gift for them. It is portable, small enough to easily fit in a pocket. It has an LCD display that shows the weight of the luggage.

So now that we’ve given you the lowdown on some gift ideas for your wandering friends/loved ones this coming holiday, you can be sure that they won’t be lacking anything, whether they’re roughing it in the great outdoors or globetrotting throughout different parts of the world.

Piggybank
Budget Travel

15 Useful Budget Travel Tips and Tricks

For whatever reason, one of the prevailing, persistent misconceptions about traveling is that it’s expensive. While money is an important necessary ingredient in the equation, you don’t need as much as you might think. Many people feel that travel is financially out of their reach because they believe that the best way (or even the only way) to travel is by sparing no expense: flying first-class, staying in luxury resorts, eating in fancy restaurants, and shelling out big bucks for the all-inclusive package.

Not only is that not an authentic way to travel, it can break the bank! How can you enjoy your trip to the fullest if you can’t stop thinking about how much you spent to make it happen? There’s gotta be a better way, folks.

Enter the world of budget travel. The Internet has made it several orders of magnitude easier to learn ways to save money on travel, whether it’s general budget travel wisdom or location-specific advice. The best advice can help anybody who travels; even casual backpackers who are likely already working with a tighter budget can stretch their dollars even further by thinking creatively and exercising self-control.

Where should we start? The most useful budget travel tips are those that focus on the four major expense categories – transportation, food, accommodation, and activities/excursions – so let’s look at those.

Transportation

Moving from one location to the next is the very essence of travel, but transportation can be a difficult category to save a few dollars in. Here are a few ideas:

1. If you’re traveling by air, flight tickets are pretty much a given when it comes to necessary travel expenses. But you can still minimize financial heartache by flying during low seasons, taking advantage of promo fares, flying on no-frills budget airlines, and utilizing travel hacks like credit card points or miles bonuses.

2. Take the scenic route! Slower transportation methods like buses and trains are not only cheaper, they can also be a great way to make new friends or, if you’re traveling overnight, save on a night’s accommodation.

3. Hitchhike. It’s definitely not for everybody, and it requires common sense (and some bravery), but hitchhiking is one of the best ways to get to your destination (or at least closer to it) for free.

Food

I don’t care how long you’ve been traveling, everybody’s gotta eat. It’s easy to go for the most convenient option, especially after an exhausting day of exploration, but a little effort can go a long way towards reducing food costs:

4. Cook your own meals at least occasionally. Eating out every time can become an expensive affair. Make a run to a nearby supermarket to pick up the necessary ingredients, then head back to the hostel kitchen or AirBnb and bring out your inner chef.

5. If you must eat out, do it during breakfast, brunch, or lunchtime, when dishes are cheaper and many places have specials.

6. Stock up on a few cheap snacks at a convenience store before starting the day’s activities so you’re not tempted to eat everything in sight come dinnertime.

7. Try looking for accommodation that offers complimentary breakfast or the like. Then knock out both lunch and dinner with a well-timed trip to a buffet. Boom.

8. Dumpster diving could be the food equivalent of hitchhiking; you rely on others’ kindness in the hope of getting something free. While actually rummaging through commercial dumpsters is cleaner than most people imagine, sometimes all you need to do is ask grocery stores or restaurants if they have any leftover unsold produce/food.

Accommodation

Pricey hotel stays are usually an unnecessary rarity in today’s budget travel realm, replaced by a host of cheap or even free alternatives. Since everybody already knows about hostels, here are a few other great ways to rest your head for free or cheap:

9. Couchsurfing

Quite possibly the biggest player in this game, Couchsurfing is built on the principle of exchanging hospitality; locals in cities across the world open their homes to travelers, where they can stay for free. It’s technically free, but nobody likes a mooch; if you’re hosted, try to give back somehow.

10. Camping

Why not take your bed with you? Bringing a tent along means that not only can you set up shelter and sleep virtually anywhere for free (or the usually cheap campsite fee), you can also wake up to some stunning views of Mother Nature.

11. Housesitting

Often considered the pinnacle of free travel accommodations by many of the travel pros, housesitting combines the appeal of a free place to stay with the comfortable, home-y vibe of an AirBnb rental. Sometimes, when homeowners travel, they ask for volunteers who can come and watch/take care of their house and/or animals while they’re gone. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship in which the homeowner has peace of mind while they’re away and the lucky housesitter gets a free nice place to stay in return.

Activities

Finally, what you do while you’re traveling in a new country also affects how much you’ll spend. Here are some suggestions:

12. Get cheap hobbies. Walking, hiking, swimming, sightseeing, and photographing are all usually free or really cheap ways to enjoy a new location.

13. You can’t do some things, like visiting North Korea, without a guided tour, but 99% of the time, you can save money by skipping the tour group and instead making the necessary preparations and going it alone.

14. Tourist traps are also a thing. You can often find alternative restaurants/attractions/excursions that are cheaper than their touristy counterparts by getting away from the crowds.

15. Other ways to save money could include: drinking in before hitting the bars, hand-washing laundry whenever possible, and using Wi-Fi instead of spending money for a SIM card.

Traveling on a budget takes a little imagination and a lot of discipline, but implementing some of these tips can be a great way to extend your time on the road and likely have more adventurous trips. What other money-saving budget travel tips can you think of?

Catalinaisland
Catalina Island

The Best Dining and Things to Do on Catalina Island

Catalina Island is a secluded piece of paradise just off the southern coast of lovely California. From the mainland, you can get there from four ports – Dana Point, Long Beach, Newport Beach, and San Pedro – all of which provide ferry service to the island about an hour away.

Catalina Island only has one main city, Avalon, which may be short on real estate but is perfect for a day trip or short getaway, offering a few compact blocks full of hotels, water sports activities and, notably, quality dining options, which is what we’ll look at here.

Luau Larry’s

This buzzing, rambunctious tiki bar, conveniently located just a few steps from the beach, can be a nice way to start off your trip in Avalon.

The bar is famous for its tropical mixed drinks, notably the Wiki Wacker (brandy, light rum, orange/pineapple juice, and grenadine). Food options include coconut shrimp, oysters, sloppy joes, and Mexican cócteles.

509 Crescent Ave.; 310-510-1919

Descanso Beach Club

Pass the island’s famous Casino (which actually isn’t a casino) and keep walking to find yourself at the Descanso Beach Club.

Descanso is not only a restaurant, but also a public beach and bar rolled into one. It’s the only public beach in the area where you’re allowed to drink, so you won’t even have to leave your lounging area of choice to be served.

Crowds are packed during the usual beach time, but most people make their way back to their hotels around 5 PM for dinner, so a late afternoon arrival can be the ideal visiting window.

Did we mention that half-price happy hour drinks are also served at that time?

1 St. Catherine Way; 310-510-7410

Lunch at the Mt. Ada

Mt. Ada was named after the wife of William Wrigley, Jr., an investor who developed the island in the 1920s. His mansion, now a luxury inn, overlooks Avalon Bay from the top of the hill. The nearby wrap-around terrace offers a restaurant, also open to those not staying at the inn.

For $48, you’ll get a three-course meal where the choices include dishes like crab salad or Waldorf, lamb or beef burgers, pasta or grilled branzino, and, for dessert, sticky toffee pudding.

A couple things to keep in mind: you’ll need to make a reservation beforehand, so be sure to call the inn, and you’ll need to arrange your own transportation to get there.

398 Wrigley Rd.; 310-510-2030

Avalon Grille

Avalon Grille aims to modernize the otherwise 80s vibe of Catalina island with its décor and function: light brown wood tabletops, wicker furniture, a central bar, and large bay windows that reveal views of Crescent Avenue.

Like many other restaurants on the island, Avalon Grille offers dining options for all three meals of the day. Menu options include salmon with fennel marinated in miso, grass-fed ribeye, sea urchin butter drizzled on grilled halibut, and plenty of sides to complement the main course.

The restaurant also hosts DJ events on weekend nights.

423 Crescent Ave.; 310-510-7494

Maggie’s Blue Rose / Steve’s Steakhouse

Craving Mexican cuisine?

The colorful Maggie’s Blue Rose has you covered for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, with a happy hour every day to boot. Large portions are guaranteed to fill you up every time, with dishes like breakfast burritos filled with cheese, eggs, and chorizo; unique lobster or duck enchiladas, combo meals for two, and bottomless chips and dip.

The restaurant also has an outdoor patio area for scenic al fresco dining.

The owners of Maggie’s Blue Rose offer a second dining option; head upstairs in the same building for longtime favorite Steve’s Steakhouse, a restaurant that serves up cold drinks, fresh local seafood, and steaks cooked to order.

Local favorites include the key lime pie and the Buffalo Milk, a cocktail made with Kahlua, half-and-half, crème de banana and cacao, and vodka. Grab a window seat for nice scenic views of the beach and pier.

Maggie’s Blue Rose: 417B Crescent Ave.; 310-510-3300

Steve’s Steakhouse: 417 Crescent Ave.; 310-510-0333

Bluewater Avalon

With only two other California locations in Newport Beach and Redondo Beach, Bluewater Avalon made it to Catalina island only a few years back, but it’s a prime dining choice for all things seafood.

Selections include fish cooked a variety of ways (blackened, grilled, fried, and more), fresh oysters, and favorites like jumbo prawns, mahi mahi sliders and cedar plank salmon.

306 Crescent Ave.; 310-510-3474

Original Jack’s Country Kitchen

Like down-home cooking?

Original Jack’s Country Kitchen offers delicious classic breakfast dining fare like customizable omelets, fried chicken and waffles, eggs and pork chops (or ham), and Portuguese French toast.

Or if you come after 3 pm, you can grab a cup of Kona coffee and take your pick from delicious baked goods, including pie.

If you’d like to eat here for breakfast, bring a big appetite and a lot of patience, as the line to get a delicious meal here goes out the door and doesn’t get any shorter until mid-afternoon.

118 Catalina Ave.; 310-510-1308

The Marlin Club

The oldest bar on Catalina Island turns a regular old dive bar into a hangout that’s cool and aesthetic, with the décor built to reflect that of a Merchant Marines WW2 boat.

The bar’s colorful characters, reasonably-priced drinks, pool tables, and music in the form of jukebox hits or live shows means that patrons will have a fun time here.

108 Catalina Ave.; 310-510-0044

These are just a few of the varied dining options you can find on Avalon. There are cuisine options available to satisfy every palate – from seafood, to Mexican, to country-style cooking – whether it’s fine dining, casual, or something in between.

This makes Catalina Island a neat little culinary destination that foodies shouldn’t miss.