Whether you’re taking a grand journey to the southern hemisphere, or are attempting a road trip around your own nation, there are a few must-pack items that every traveller will need to take. So here are the essential clothes and gadgets that will keep you warm and entertained on your travels!
Those sneakers just aren’t gonna cut it if you’re trekking across the great outdoors. And the range of hiking boots that you can find at the Gore Tex website quickly shows how modern footwear has evolved to a variety of terrain. Although brands like Hi-Tech and L.L. Bean might cost a little more, it’s important to remember that they’ll last many years and won’t let you down halfway across your journey.
Similarly, having a jacket that’s durable and capable of handling variety of weathers is another travel must-have. Respected companies like North Face and Jack Wolfskin have a good selection of styles that will keep you warm whilst staying breathable should the temperatures rise. And these innovative travel jackets could even help you cut down on those airplane luggage costs!
Modern travel requires us to carry around everything from smartphones to travel documents and first-aid products. This is why there’s been a real competition to manufacture the most flexible travel backpack. So make sure that you get one that has enough compartments to keep everything separate, whilst being portable to carry around, and just compact enough to fit in that overhead airplane locker!
Whether it’s using Google Maps to find your hotel, or even an airline’s online check-in app, a smartphone is now an indispensable part of the modern travel experience. And your mobile device can help keep you entertained whilst on the go too. Deezer is a great app for soundtracking your travels, Amazon Prime can add a Hollywood touch to your hotel room, and Lucky Nugget Casino is a suitable app to be in your game folder for its quick and easy table and slots gaming attractions.
And what use are those streaming services and mobile casino games unless your smartphone is charged. Thankfully there’s a great selection of battery packs for Android and iOS devices out there that can not only add serious time to your smartphone, but keep it better protected on your travels too!
In the past, traveling has had its bit of risks and rewards. For the most part the traveler could be confident in their travels so long as he or she had a watchful eye. And while the traditional precautions have not changed, the methodology in which thieves and criminals are taking to obtain personal data, finances, and such has. It is a digital age, filled with 3D models, aps, videos, and as such the smartphone, mobile devices, tablets, and other electronics are being used as the means in which to perform criminal acts. How can you, the traveler, protect yourself? Here are 3 ways.
Have an RFID blocking wallet
Wallets typical are the means in which all of our financial information is carried when we travel. The bad news is that the newer technology, specifically the RFID chip which is located on these cards has your personal and financial information stored within. Even your driver’s license has an RFID chip (usually a silver circle with the state emblem on it). Because the information is right there, and because the RFID is an electronic scan able device, thieves have developed scanners to take data from RFIDs. To protect yourself from such happening (as you would be totally unaware that his is occurring as some scanners can gather the information from quite a distance), have a RFID wallet. Basically, the wallet has a thin sheet of metal constructed into the walls of the wallet which block signals from going in or from coming out. You can tell that a wallet is RFID block (1) by the label which will specifically state that it is a RFID scan block wallet (2) by the thin design of the walls which keep the leather and the metal tight and (3) there will be a slight crinkle when you open and close the wallet from the metal bending. There are several companies online which showcase their RFID wallets, some even including a 3D model of the wallet with customizable features. You are sure to be able to find one that suits your style and needs.
Password Protect all your devices
If you have a computer, laptop, mobile tablet, or phone ensure that you have a password protection set on the device, especially if you are ever planning to leave it in your hotel room. While we do not want to think that a maid, janitor, or maintenance person would use the computer or steal information by accessing it from your computer. It does happen. While in the past one only needed to worry about locking up jewelry and cash in the room’s safe, today we should worry about our assets online and in our digital and electronic devices.
When setting a password, ensure that it is something that you remember, but at the same time make it something which cannot be guessed easily. Try to avoid anniversary dates, birthdays, and social security numbers. If you must use such combine it with something random yet memorable such as (and this is purely made up) RedridinghoodsDragon22982. Note that it is long that it has numbers and letters, and that it is easily remembered as it is unique.
Don’t blog about tomorrow’s plans
The best way to avoid setting yourself up for getting robbed or worse is to keep a level of ambiguity while on your travels. Do not give out information which is not necessary. Where the traveler should know not to give out plans, places, and information to strangers on his or her travels, often this is exactly what occurs just in digital format. A traveler goes onto their blog and they give all the information about where they are going and what they are going to see and do. And while this is all done to build up the anticipation for the next day’s travel blog, it also gives any criminal full access to your schedule. Plus, anyone who follows you at home now knows that you are away from your house and can take advantage of the situation. The best method is to wait until you return. Keep notes in a journal or on a password protected 3d journal and then fill in the information on your blog when you are safely back home.
Above all trust your instincts
When traveling, trust your instincts. They are usually spot on. If something about an area or a person seems off, take note. Have fun when you travel, take pictures, write about your adventures, but be safe. It is a world of wonder, don’t let anyone ruin yours by being unprepared.
We’ve all got our own version of the 100 places to see before we die, and there are certainly locations that fall onto pretty much everyone’s lists. Iconic sites such the Great Wall of China, Taj Mahal, and the Grand Canyon are universally accepted as absolute must visits for any intrepid traveller. However, the globe is littered with absolutely spectacular sites that are perhaps less well known but just as worthwhile. Let’s look at a few mind-blowing places that you might want to consider adding to your personal bucket list:
Phang Nga Bay – Thailand
Rising vertically out of the pristine waters of the bay, the sheer limestone cliffs and karsts of Phang Nga cast eerie shadows over the otherwise sun-drenched seascape. Paddling around these rock formations and mangroves can make you feel like you are in a movie until you realise that nearby James Bond Island was, in fact, one of the primary settings for the “The Man With The Golden Gun”. You can also drop in for lunch and a spot of shopping at Koh Panyee, a village built almost entirely on stilts that rise out of the water. Take note, Phang Nga is not readily accessible to the regular traveller, however, companies such as Travezl offer outstanding tours that will allow you to experience this incredible spot at a reasonable price.
Zion National Park – Utah, USA
While it’s “Grander” cousin in Arizona garners the vast majority of the attention, Zion is truly one of the most breathtaking natural wonders on the planet. The Grand Canton’s vastness makes it a little difficult to fully grasp, even when you are inside it. By contrast, the magnificent sandstone walls of Zion are far more up-close and personal, and will leave you with a feeling of genuine inspiration. It’s worth spending a day there so that you can experience the changing colours of the cliffs as the sun rises and falls.
Blyde River Canyon – South Africa
There is a reason why they call it “G-d’s Window”. The sublime vistas of Blyde will literally leave you breathless. If you ever were to find G-d, this would be the place. If you can tear your eyes away from the the views for long enough, there is some seriously amazing white water rafting for the thrill seekers, as well as more sedate river cruises for the mellow traveller. World-class fishing, hiking, abseiling, horse riding, mountain biking, this little-known diamond of Africa has it all.
Sapporo Ice Festival – Hokkaido, Japan
This annual event in Japan’s northernmost island is an unbelievable spectacle. Every winter, teams from around the world descend on the frigid outpost to create snow and ice sculptures, unlike anything you have ever seen. Typically, there are over 400 individual sculptures to view at 3 main sites. The incredible detail will absolutely blow you away. While in Sapporo, you can feast on the famous and absolutely delicious local version of Ramen noodles, finished off with some of the region’s exceptional ice creams that come in bizarre flavours, such as beer and garlic. They may sound gross, but take it from me, they are beyond divine.
Tikal – Guatemala
The ancient Mayan ruins of Tikal rise out of the lush, green jungle are so beautifully preserved you can almost close your eyes and imagine that they are still populated. Whether due to the relatively remote location, or the political instability, Tikal has never had the high profile of other Mayan archaeological sites such as Chichen Itza, however, it is just as breathtaking, and the smaller number of tourists give it a far more personal, relaxed feeling of tranquility.
Whatever your travel priorities, our world has a wealth of surprises waiting to be discovered. Travel hard and enjoy!
Photo Credit: Giggs Huang
You’ve chosen to travel independently, or you have some time to spare on a trip and want to really understand the place you’ve dreamed about for the last 6 months. As anyone who has been to somewhere like Paris and left unfulfilled would tell you, visitors don’t automatically experience the authentic fun, chat and culture of any place they may find themselves. The obvious answer is to have contacts all around the world and just friend-hop. But this isn’t an option for the majority of us, and even then you would need to know these friends very well, to consider imposing on their time or even home. There are other options though, and most involve the holy grail of pre-planning combined with the blessing of spontaneous enjoyment. Let’s take a look at how to be a true traveler rather than a tourist. Source: chicagogreeter.com
Your Own Personal Tour Guide
Who hasn’t wanted to be shown around a city or beautiful region by a local? It can be risky to accept offers from people you don’t know, no matter how friendly they seem, so booking ahead is the best option. And it really will get you an exciting experience. In US and Australian locations, these guides are known as “Greeters” and often concentrate on specific districts of your chosen city, and this concept has spread around the world. They are knowledgeable and can satisfy your need for history, fascinating insights into the local culture and perhaps the best local burger spot.
Another advantage to this is flexibility – if you need to make a pit-stop of any kind (I’m talking kiddie comfort breaks here) you can just ask your personal guide to take a break! Some of the highlights are Greeters in Marseille focusing on this year’s UEFA tournament, for football fans only. Elsewhere, you can catch a Greeter in Chicago with a past as a city planner, ready to give you the best possible tour of that great city of architecture, all for free. More often than not, these greeters may end up being your new friends. Source: thefuturekept.com
Good Old-Fashioned Research
This may be a little less glamorous than some of our other tips, but good planning really should play a part in every trip you take. The trick to finding information that is up to date and genuine is where you go and what you read. A good place to start is Cereal magazine, a bi-annual travel and style journal you can read online and in print. Their city guides are rightly famous, and feature beautiful photography and correct contact details for the shops, attractions and cafés… Surprisingly, UK clothes labels often have useful guides, especially if you’re visiting London, so a quick search for Whistles or Reiss brands will take you where you need to go. Blogs are also a good idea, if a little hit and miss.
The point is to not only look for attractions, but depending on your time and mood, to find out what locals enjoy doing, in order to really immerse yourself in the culture and lifestyle of the places you’re visiting. Did you know that Bagh Chal is an ancient strategy board game still played in Nepal or that Russians have been playing Gorodki for centuries? Board and card games and their origins may sound a little redundant in the age of technology, but they provide a chance to act like a local for a few hours as well as actually bond with fellow travelers and locals. When looking for a restaurant to have dinner, look for places that seem packed with locals, especially in more touristy locations. They have to be good if people keep coming back. Research is not only about books and guides – ask locals, even if it’s just your hotel’s staff.
A More Immersive Experience
It could be that the “chat” we mentioned earlier is really what you’re looking for. If so, an immersive experience could be the way to go. Questions of safety are a given, so always go with your gut if you’re unsure and err on the side of caution. However, there are a host of Airbnb-style sites out there that can connect you with a local person for a specific experience. Withlocals is a site which works on the Airbnb model, with hosts offering to cook you dinner in their home, or “home restaurant” as the site has it. You can also learn new skills – up-cycling workshop in Bruges, anyone?
Triip works in a similar way, linking you with hosts who have devised tours of their city or region, often combined with photography, eating delicious things or canyoneering (wow). The difference between these guys and a Greeter? They’re definitely not for free. If you’re interested in languages, it’s one of the best ways to experience another culture: try the Scuola Toscana in gorgeous Florence.
Take a Chance on Social Media
This one’s a bit unorthodox for some, but the world of social media can be useful for all sorts of things. It could be as simple as a message to Facebook friends or friends of friends in the country you’re about to visit, or a message on Twitter asking for suggestions for places to eat dinner. This has become quite a phenomenon, as this Twitter-hitch-hiker will attest. According to recent research, 46% of Twitter users use the site to get local information while on holiday – and they’re smart to be doing so.
Once you have a recommendation, it goes without saying that Google Maps will be invaluable (though we find that in London especially, a mini A-Z is more discreet). I would also like to make some suggestions for useful travel apps. If you’re spending time in a new place and something happens, these may be useful to have, especially if you don’t speak the local language. The aforementioned Tripit allows you to plan an itinerary and share it with a group, lessening the chances of losing an overexcited travel companion.
There you have it, the sky really is the limit for your next authentic travel experience, especially if you go canyoneering. Meaningful and truly exciting travel is so available to everyone these days, it would seem a pity not to explore the possibilities, especially now that the internet is connecting the world. Enjoy getting out there, and remember to keep your wits and your phone about you. Feed your curiosity and there’s no doubt you’ll have a great time.