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Jon and Jaimie

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Christmasornament
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.

Winterholidaytravel
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.

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Bora Bora

How to Make a Bora Bora Vacation More Affordable

The price of a luxurious getaway to Bora Bora can make most people’s heads spin. The revered French Polynesian pristine island jewel, where an overwater private bungalow can set you back over a thousand dollars a night, is notorious for supposedly being out of most travelers’ financial reach. Bora Bora and French Polynesia will never be cheap on a $20-a-day level. But there are still several ways to dramatically cut expenses and still enjoy life on one of the world’s most beautiful islands.

Getting To Bora Bora

Bora Bora Airport

Unfortunately, there are no cheap or quick ways to get to Bora Bora; with no direct flights, the only gateway is through Papeete’s Faa’a International Airport, on the main island of Tahiti. Your best bet would be to fly out of New Zealand or Australia’s east coast, where one-way flights start at $300. Air New Zealand, Air Tahiti Nui, Air France, LAN and Hawaiian Airlines all fly into Tahiti. If you’re not in Oceania, the next best thing would be to look at where else these airlines fly to/from.

From Papeete, flights to Bora Bora from local carrier Air Tahiti (not the same as Air Tahiti Nui) cost around $200. Air Tahiti does offer an island hopping pass that you should look into picking up, as it will give you a significant discount especially if you plan to explore other islands. Finally, if you have credit card miles or points saved up, use them!

Accommodation in Bora Bora

The eye-watering price tags for luxury accommodation options in Bora Bora can be some of the highest in the world, with prices often noted as being anywhere from “expensive” to “indescribably expensive”. Although most people associate Bora Bora with images of those secluded, pricy resorts that sit atop clear blue Pacific water, you simply don’t have to break the bank to stay in Bora Bora. What else should you consider?

St Regis Bora Bora

 

Budget options

Not every hotel or resort on Bora Bora charges an exorbitant price. A quick Google search will lead you to smaller, no-frills guesthouses or lodges that can be found in the $50 to $100-a-night range. Airbnb is another option, with plenty of short-term rentals under $100 available.

Couchsurfing

Who says you have to stay at a hotel or resort while you’re there? There are over 50 local hosts available on the popular hospitality exchange website Couchsurfing. While staying with a local isn’t as fancy, not only will you not be spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on accommodation, you’ll also get a more local, authentic experience that you would miss out on if you stayed in some secluded resort. Win-win.

Camping

Don’t be afraid to explore some unconventional options as well. For the adventurous types, Bora Bora also has a campsite available where you can pitch a tent for about $15 a night, but reservations must be made over the phone.

Getting Around

Bora Bora Biking

Bora Bora’s airport is situated on a reef island, so you must take Air Tahiti’s complimentary catamaran shuttle service to get to the main island. On the main island, steer clear of taxis and car rentals, as both are quite expensive.

The cheapest option is renting a bicycle, with costs running about $10 to $15 a day in most cases. It’s totally feasible to get around by bike as the island is only about 18 miles in circumference, and bicycles have the added bonuses of giving you a good workout and more scenic views!

Food

Food prices on Bora Bora are a bit higher than surrounding areas, but there are several options for cheap eats. The island is dotted with small stores that sell cheap snacks, and you can pick up reasonably-priced fresh bread and fruit from the local Tiare Market.

Matira also has its own version of food trucks, called “roulettes”, where you can find burgers, fries, beer, chicken, and fish sandwiches all for around $10 a meal. Finally, a good rule of thumb (which really applies anywhere) is to look at what – and where – the locals are eating.

Activities

Girl In Hammock Bora Bora Tahiti

Some of the best things in life are free, and it costs nothing at all to enjoy the sights on the island or take a dip in the beach. If you want to make the most of your South Pacific adventure, activities like lagoon cruises, diving, ocean wildlife tours, and even hiking are available.

However, bear in mind that excursions on Bora Bora are similar to what other islands in the area offer, but will be more expensive compared to them. So if you’re hopping around the Society Islands, many people recommend doing your excursions of choice on one of these other islands to save money, as your experience will be pretty much the same.

All in all, Bora Bora is no different from any other travel destination. There are always ways to cut costs dramatically just by being proactive, researching the options available to you, and sacrificing a bit of comfort and convenience. It’s no secret anymore: it’s entirely possible to enjoy the natural splendor of Bora Bora for a fraction of the cost and make what was once known as an unreachable dream vacation closer to reality for more people.

Chicago Skyline
Chicago

How to Make the Most of a Day In Chicago

Welcome to Chicago, The Windy City!

The major Illinois city, founded in 1833, boasts some unique accomplishments like being the first city to debut an all-color TV station, as well as being the home of the Twinkie.

In more modern times, unfortunately, Chicago has garnered a less-than-stellar reputation as it faces issues such as homelessness, a poor education system, and a high homicide rate. Yes, visiting Chicago may require a bit of discretion and vigilance, but let’s turn the discussion around to the positive.

Despite its problems, Chicago remains a highly-touristed city for its culture, arts, and food, reaching a staggering 54.1 million visitors in 2016.

Whether you find yourself in Chicago on a long layover, or Chicago is one of your bona fide main stops and you want to do as much as you can in a 24-hour period, read on to find out some great things you can do in Chicago in a day.

Start things off with a tour

If you’re unsure where to start, guided tours can be a great way to hit several major sightseeing stops and points of interest in one quick fell swoop. A great way to do this is on a bus tour.

The city offers several options for these, including the Chicago Crime & Mob Bus Tour and the Chicago City Hop-on Hop-off Tour, both of which are highly rated on TripAdvisor.

Helicopter tours are a great way to get a bird’s-eye view of the whole city. Or you can opt for one of Chicago’s boat tours, including perennial favorite Architecture River Cruise, a 75-minute cruise that shares relevant and fascinating tidbits on Chicago’s most prominent architecture.

Choose a landmark to visit

Chicago has well over 350 landmarks, many of which are included with tours like the aforementioned Hop-on Hop-off Tour. You can’t expect to see every single landmark in the city within a day or even a week, but here are some of the can’t-miss major ones to check out:

Millennium Park

Perhaps the most iconic centerpiece of modern Chicago, this 24.5-acre park is admission-free, conveniently located near The Loop (the city’s bustling downtown district), and popular for its live music events, public art displays, and Cloud Gate, the famous bean-shaped mirror.

Concerts and festivals are held at the centrally-located Jay Pritzker Pavilion, and other attractions include the peaceful Lurie Garden, an ice rink, and outdoor dining venue Park Grill. Millennium Park also has walkways that conveniently connect to other attractions like Maggie Daley Park and the Art Institute of Chicago.

The Sky Deck

The Sky Deck of Sears Tower, one of the tallest buildings in North America, is unsurprisingly also one of Chicago’s most visited attractions, attracting one million tourists every year.

The Sky Deck’s rather disconcerting all-glass viewing box means that fearless visitors can quite literally get a top-down, panoramic view of the Chicago skyline. And if the weather permits, visitors can see three additional states from way up there: Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin.

Navy Pier

The city’s historic pier will likely be a hit with the kids, who may be drawn to the pier’s Centennial Ferris Wheel, mini golf course, and other attractions.

The pier also boasts picturesque views, museums, an IMAX theater, and various eateries and performing arts venues.

Lincoln Park Zoo

The Lincoln Park Zoo is known for being one of the few admission-free major zoos in the USA. The 35-acre park houses around 1,200 animals from around the world, and the zoo keeps things fresh with special seasonal events and programs.

Get cultured at one of the city’s many museums

Chicago has no shortage of museums dedicated to art, science, and history. The most popular of these, the Art Institute of Chicago, has the distinction of being the second-largest in the country. The museum features famous pieces like Grant Woods’ American Gothic and works from other well-known artists like Picasso, Dali, Van Gogh, and Monet.

Other notable museums include the aesthetic Chicago Cultural Center; The Field Museum, a natural history museum with artifacts ranging from dinosaur skeletons to gemstones to Egyptian mummies; the National Museum of Mexican Art; and the Museum of Science and Industry, where interactive, thoughtfully-designed exhibits bring history and science together to make learning about both subjects a blast.

Fill up on delicious Chicago-style cuisine

Chicago is famous for its “Chicago-style” interpretations of classic American dishes such as burgers, hot dogs, sausage, sandwiches, seafood, and especially pizza, with famous uniquely-Chicago renditions like deep dish pizza and pizza puffs.

Die-hard foodies might also know that Chicago hosts one of the biggest outdoor food festivals, The Taste Of Chicago, which offers a sampling of the city’s very best dishes. Upwards of one million people visit the event annually.

And, let’s not forget the sports bars which help reinforce Chicago’s reputation as a great sports town!

This is just a small sampling of what’s available to do for a day trip in Chicago. If you’re not into the touristy stuff and want to go off the beaten path, there are still endless activities to do, foods to try, and places to see in the expansive city of Chicago.

Solobackpacker
Products

Items That Should Be on Every Traveler’s Packing List

There are a few staple items that you will probably find in every traveler’s bag until the end of time. A passport. Toiletries. An assortment of clothing. Maybe a journal, laptop, or money belt. But there are a few other items that, while they might not be as ubiquitous as the usual packing list items, can be extremely useful. These often-forgotten packing list items are invaluable for saving you in a pinch or for simply taking your traveling to the next level:

Paracord

Paracord is standard string/twine on steroids. Even the survival prepping community unanimously recommends carrying paracord with you because of how versatile it is; when it comes to possible uses, you’re really only limited by your imagination.

Use it to tie items together, or secure them to the outside of your bag. A long piece of paracord, or even short pieces tied together, makes for a great clothesline to hang your laundry. Some more uses for paracord include, but are definitely not limited to:

  • compressing items like clothing
  • reinforcing a tent or other shelter
  • replacing missing shoelaces or bag straps
  • using as a self-defense tool
  • fashion small items like lanyards or slings
  • using as a clothing accessory, like a belt or bracelet

There are also many uses for the strands within the paracord casing:

  • temporarily sew up holes
  • use it as fishing line
  • stitch up wounds in an emergency
  • make an emergency snare or tripwire
  • even improvise dental floss, if you’re so inclined

Sarong (or similar piece of fabric)

Most seasoned travelers know that clothing takes up the most space in one’s bag. It’s no secret that sarongs are great in that department, being versatile enough to serve as a scarf, shawl, or (if you’re a woman) a skirt or dress.

But what makes sarongs great isn’t just their flexibility as a clothing piece; a sarong can also serve several other useful purposes, such as:

  • a towel for general traveling or a day at the beach
  • a blanket for a picnic
  • an airplane blanket if you’re cold on the flight
  • an emergency bed sheet or blanket for a sketchy hostel bed
  • a privacy screen or curtain
  • a swimsuit wrap
  • a rudimentary bag/daypack
  • in an emergency, an impromptu tourniquet/sling/bandage

So this one’s not only for the ladies; men who travel could find many uses for a sarong as well!

Multi-tool

It’s vital to carefully examine every single item on your packing list since space is at such a premium when you pack your entire life into a bag or backpack for a trip.

What’s one of the best items to pick up to maximize functionality while taking up very little space?

Enter the multi-tool.

These nifty gadgets often sport a small knife, a pair of scissors, pliers, a screwdriver, a bottle opener, and more all rolled up into a compact device that easily fits into your pocket. The combination of versatility and portability with these is practically a godsend for travelers and backpackers, who often find themselves in a host of different situations where multi-tools can prove extremely useful.

Keep in mind that traveling by air with a multi-tool in your carry-on luggage can be an issue, as most airline regulations will treat it as a weapon. There are particular “TSA-approved” or “travel-safe” multi-tools available on the market, but if you’re traveling with one, your best bet would be to put it in a checked bag, just to be sure.

Portable Charger

In the age of electronics, a portable charger that can charge your phone, tablet, or other electronic gear on the go can be another handy item to include in your packing list.

It can give you peace of mind to have a backup power source at the ready if you’re miles from the nearest plug-in. And if you like venturing deep into the great outdoors but still don’t want to go completely off the grid, a solar charger might be something to consider as well.

Small Packing List Extras

Additionally, there are several small, versatile items that may not be absolutely necessary but would be great to bring along regardless, as they can be useful in a variety of situations.

Duct tape can be a great all-around quick-fix. Use it to seal holes in shoes, backpacks, clothing items, or seal up leaky containers. Mark your belongings, use it as a bandage, or use it to prevent your feet from getting blisters. Others have gotten even more creative with duct tape, using it as a rope, clothesline, or even flypaper in buggy dorm rooms.

Carabiner clips can be used as a theft deterrent, holding zippers closed. They’re also great for latching items to the outside of your bag, like a water bottle, shoes, a stuff bag, sleeping bag, or yoga mat.

Rubber bands are ideal for keeping your bag organized, from compressing clothes so they take up less space to wrapping up cords and cables. They’re also useful for keeping containers or bags of food or other items closed up.

Safety pins are great for closing things up and keeping them closed in a pinch, like unexpected holes in your bag or clothing. Clip two zippers together to keep your bag more secure and deter thieves, or use a pin as a zipper pull if it’s fallen off.

Plastic bags are also nice to have. You can use them to store food for later consumption, and larger plastic bags can be used to compress clothing, keep wet or dirty things separate from the rest of your bag’s contents, or keep items dry when you’re around water.

A packing list isn’t just about what to wear or how to maintain your personal hygiene on the road. Including versatile items such as these not only saves space and unnecessary expenses, but it’s also wise in helping ensure that you’re prepared for the variety of situations you’ll face on the road.

Twobedsbedroom
Budget Travel

How to Save Money on Hotel Accommodation While Traveling

While not impossible, traveling for free can be an extremely difficult proposition – you sacrifice convenience and comfort. For the vast majority of us, money is a necessary ingredient if you want to travel. You need money to eat, purchase plane tickets, and get visas or enjoy certain excursions.

Often, the biggest expenses while you travel come from accommodation – finding places to stay can add up! The first choice for many people is often a hotel stay, which can quickly become expensive.

Fortunately, accommodation is also one of the easiest travel categories to save money in, with several cheaper (or even free) alternatives available! What do some of these include?

Affordable Hotel Accommodations

Short-term Rentals

We’ll start with a trend that’s picked up steam a lot in the past few years: short-term or vacation rentals. While prices on short-term rentals are usually on par with or only slightly cheaper than your typical hotel stay, short-term rentals can be a great alternative because they usually are more personalized and comfortable than a hotel room.

Airbnb is leading this charge with properties available worldwide, but other sites like VRBO, TripAdvisor, Tripping, or HomeAway also offer many short-term rental options.

Hostels

Our second item highlights the most well-known budget traveler lodging choice – the humble hostel. Hostels are often the choice of backpackers and vagabonds the world over, and for good reason. The communal nature of the dorm rooms is ideal for meeting fellow travelers and making friends from all over the world, and beds can be found in many developing countries for just a couple dollars a night.

Sites like Hostelworld list exclusively hostels, and other places like Booking.com have a wide selection of budget hostel options.

You can make a hostel stay even cheaper if you’re willing and able to work in exchange for a free bed, which we’ll look at more in the next point:

Work Exchange/Volunteer Work

Whether it’s at a hostel, on a farm, or at a resort halfway across the world, exchanging your labor for free room and board (and occasionally, meals and a small stipend) is a great way to lower your accommodation costs.

Arrangements like these are often requested and worked out in person; however, useful websites like HelpX and WorkAway offer a database of hosts looking for work that you can connect with for a low annual membership fee. Make sure you’re OK with the host’s stipulations, and always look at reviews and references to make sure you’re getting a reasonable (and legitimate) deal.

Volunteering, while similar to work exchanges in that it often includes a few hours a day of unpaid work for a place to stay in return, focuses more on the social and community benefits of said work.

A well-known example is WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms), a program in which volunteers provide 4-6 hours of work per day in exchange for food and accommodation from the host. Or if you’re more into helping conservation efforts, you could even join teams that help endangered turtles.

Camping

Camping is the best option for nature lovers on a budget. It’s usually free, but there are a few instances where you may have to shell out a few dollars to rent a campsite.

Camping is a wonderful way to both save money and have the great outdoors at your doorstep, and it’s easier than ever to do nowadays with all the ultralight tents on the market that you can carry with your baggage without adding too much weight or bulk.

Couchsurfing

Since the dawn of the Internet, people across the globe are now ore connected than ever – and many use the Web as a tool to find unique accommodation opportunities. One prime example of this is Couchsurfing, one of many “hospitality exchange” websites in which locals open up their couches (or rooms, apartments, or homes) to foreign travelers.

Other examples are WarmShowers for traveling cyclists; Trustroots, which targets hitchhikers and nomads; or alternatives like BeWelcome or Staydu, which work similarly to Couchsurfing.

Not only can hospitality exchanges like these be a great way to have a free place to stay, it’s an invaluable resource for connecting to the local life and getting to know a place more authentically.

Just remember to find a way to give back or pay it forward! Free is great, but nobody likes a mooch.

House Sitting

House sitting is considered by many seasoned travelers to be the pinnacle of free accommodations while on the road. Maybe not everybody makes a life out of travel, but the vast majority of people take vacations and have to leave behind a house and perhaps some pets when they go.

That’s where you come in.

It’s common for homeowners to request a house sitter for them while they’re away, which can involve basic cleaning and maintenance work or pet care while you hold down the fort. You can find listings from hosts around the world on websites like HouseCarers, Nomador, and Mind My House, and you can apply to these listings once you’ve paid the low annual membership fee.

Anything else?

There are a few unconventional accommodation options that you may not have thought off right off the bat.

Monasteries and convents often offer shelter and basic meals for transient travelers.

If you’re a homeowner, there are home exchange programs in which you stay in someone else’s home and open up your home for them to stay in in return, all for free.

Yes, it’s possible for anybody to save a few dollars on the road and quite possibly have a more unique travel experience along with it if they’re simply willing to do a little research and perhaps some work.

What’s been the most interesting way you’ve found accommodation on the road?