Monthly Archives: December 2016

Female Safe Destinations

The truth is, solo traveling to another country as a woman is actually not as threatening as it may seem. While there are some countries where a woman traveling alone will certainly draw more attention, in general a willingness to respect local customs and a cautious awareness of your surroundings will see you through.

Sometimes, though, it’s easier not to worry about extreme culture differences. Sometimes you just want to have fun. In these ten destinations, it’s not uncommon to see women traveling alone, so you can feel free to relax without standing out.

 

Wales

This country in the west of the United Kingdom has an amazing landscape and an even more amazing cultural history. If you’re interested in the King Arthur mythology, you’ll find a number of important sites from those texts. If you’re into outdoor sports, try a solo hike on the Pembrokeshire coast. Cardiff, the capitol, also offers a number of theaters (including the famous Millennium Center), museums, sports arenas, and shopping centers.

 

Canada

Almost all of my trips to Canada have been solo journeys and I’ve always felt extremely safe. In Quebec, you’ll find a huge cinematic and television culture like the Festival of International Short Film, as well as the famous winter Carnavale in Quebec City. Ontario houses the country’s largest city, Toronto, whose theater, music, and comedy venues are comparable in both quality and number to those in New York City.

The number of national parks, from Niagara Falls to Mount Revelstoke’s 1,000-year old forest, will give you plenty opportunities to hike, camp, ski, surf, and star-gaze. Wildlife lovers, like myself, often find Canada to be one of the best places to head out into the wilderness.

From spending the day with wild grizzly bears and getting up-close and personal with puffins to kayaking and snorkeling with whales, I’ve had some of my most magical solo (and non-solo) wildlife experiences in Canada. There’s plenty of tour operators who provide amazing outdoor experiences in this country, so you don’t need to worry about being completely alone in the wild.

 

Costa Rica

This country is excellent for ecotourists and those looking to learn more about sustainability — also, those looking to enjoy some aquatic fun! Watch and help sea turtles at their nesting grounds in Tortugero National Park or surf amazing waves at Playa Bonita. Costa Rica is also quickly becoming known for its large number of thermal spas, hot springs, and yoga retreats. What’s better than a solo yoga retreat?

Best Shoes for Travel

Packing appropriate clothing is crucial for any trip, but many people fail to realize the importance of choosing the right shoes! Taking care of your feet during your travels can be stylish and also safeguard from blisters and sore feet.

Here are our best tips for choosing shoes that are fashionable yet practical for any kind of trip!

Unless you’re embarking on an extreme hiking or mountain climbing challenge, you’ll probably want to skip packing traditional hiking boots. I’ve found a great alternative to bulky hiking shoes for trips where I know I’ll be hiking, but also have limited luggage space. These lightweight hiking shoes are perfect for even the most intense outdoor adventures and I usually end up wearing them on the plane to save space.

For a more lightweight option that will condense down in your suitcase easily, these Cross Trainers are comfortable and provide ample support for most hiking and outdoor activities.

For those outdoor trips that involve snow and ice, I find Sorrel boots extremely comfortable and they keep my feet warm no matter how cold it is outside.

 

The Lively Party-Goer

Some people revel in the daylight, and others really let loose at night; for those of you who choose to spend your vacations sleeping in and enjoying the local nightlife, choosing shoes appropriate for dress codes (but that also won’t kill your feet) can be a challenge.

My solution? A convertible day-to-night shoe, that can easily be dressed up or dressed down depending on the atmosphere. I typically choose block heel sandals or mules, preferably with a rubber sole for shock absorption. Keep the stilettos at home!

 

The Budget Traveler

Budget travelers will own up to cram-packing a single carry-on, just to avoid a checked baggage fee. I’ve found that when I have limited suitcase space, bringing one pair of all-in-one shoes will suffice for an entire trip.

Choose a pair that you can wear all day and night, to any activity (within reason), and with any outfit. With this, I’d recommend short/no heels but nothing overly casual; I’ve found ankle booties like these go with any outfit in any season. Soft suede and rubber sole are very forgiving on your feet, while a simple style and neutral color make them easy to pair with jeans, skirts, or even leggings!

I also have numerous pairs of inexpensive elastic sandals that in recent years have become my favorite because while they may be cheap in price, the thick elastic lasts forever and makes for super comfy traveling shoes.

How to Avoid Travel Mistakes

Whether it’s your first trip abroad or you travel several times a year, we all make mistakes that can cause headaches or possibly even ruin your trip. The good news is that with a little planning, it’s easy enough to avoid some of the most common travel mistakes so you can spend your time enjoying your vacation.

 

1. Overpacking

It’s tempting to bring outfits for every possible occasion, but it makes it difficult to haul your luggage around, and you may get stuck with high baggage fees for accidentally exceeding the weight limit. Instead, pack your bag as usual, then take out half the clothes you originally planned. You won’t wear all of them, you don’t have to sacrifice style, and you can always do some laundry on the road.

 

2. Not Checking Your Cell Phone Plan

It’s important to know what your plan covers to avoid data roaming fees. Not covered? Turn off your data before you get on the plane and leave your phone in airplane mode (you’ll still be able to connect to wi-fi). If data is important to you, look into buying an international plan or buying a local SIM card once you arrive.

Alternatively, for Americans, consider T-Mobile as your carrier. We now get free data in 200 countries and it has literally changed the way we travel. (Note: We have no affiliation with T-Mobile and we pay for our own monthly plans.)

 

3. Not Booking Enough Time in Between Flights

Flight conditions can be unpredictable. If one gets delayed, you might be forced to rush through an unfamiliar airport to make your connecting flight, and you might not make it in time. It’s best to book them with a safe buffer in between. If you are traveling through Heathrow in London, plan for at least a two-hour layover here since you have to go through security just to get from one flight to another.

 

4. Not Grabbing Some Local Currency at the Airport

As soon as you leave the airport, you’ll need local currency to take public transportation or cab rides in many countries. Taking out money from the airport’s ATMs gives you better exchange rates, so get what you need there, and maybe a little extra for emergencies.

We use our credit card whenever possible, but we always keep cash on hand. Visiting local markets is a must when we travel — and many of these places don’t accept credit cards.

Iceland Road Trip Itinerary

Most people want to drive the entire Ring Road during a trip to Iceland, but what are your options if you only have 5-6 days on the island? While you could technically drive the Ring Road in 6 days, you’d be spending most of your time behind the wheel instead of exploring the outdoors!

We spent a lot of time hiking and taking photos, so we spread this itinerary out over 6 full days. If you’re short on time, it can easily be done in 5 days. I would, however, recommend giving yourself at least 6 days if you are visiting Iceland during the winter because the days are shorter and road conditions can be unpredictable.

I cannot stress this enough. Check the weather report once you arrive in Iceland to determine which direction to head first! If there’s a particular spot you absolutely want to see, plan your route based on the weather.

The roads were closed in the south of the island during a large portion of our trip and we were forced to cut that part of our itinerary short in order to avoid getting stuck driving all the way around the island with very limited time. You either have to wait out the storm (in our case it was 3 days) or you have to drive all the way around the island to get back to Reykjavík.

The road in the south of Iceland — from about Selfoss to Jökulsárlón — has very little protection from the elements, so a windstorm can wreak havoc on this area. They do close this road in extremely high winds for the safety of drivers.

The day we arrived, we picked up our Happy Campers campervan and spent the night in an AirBnb in Reykjavík to shower and get a full night’s rest. This isn’t completely necessary if you already have a campervan, but it’s well worth your sanity before you embark on your road trip.

A slightly cheaper option would be to stay at a campground in Reykjavík that has showers available. We found an AirBnb for about $100 USD so we felt our comfort was worth a little extra money.

Besides showering and getting some sleep, you’ll want to grab some groceries for the week. Reykjavík has the largest selection of grocery stores in Iceland. You’ll have more food options and the ability to get a few things cheaper than if you were to pick up items at gas stations or restaurants along the way.

If you book with Happy Campers, they have an awesome “Free Zone” where other travelers have left the food items they didn’t use. We picked up some items here before heading to the store!