photography, Recap

Where Did 2017 Go?

This past year seemed simultaneously both long and short. As it’s become my tradition to recap the adventures of the past year through photos and provide encouragement for the coming year, let’s get started on the good, the bad, and the ugly of 2017!

year 2017


January 2017 snow

The year started off with snow, a rare occurrence in these parts! I began the year with a hike up Roxy Ann Peak, and continued enjoying the snow by volunteering in the mountains at Wilderness Trails. I also had the opportunity to interview Sadie Robertson for this year’s spring issue of Girlz 4 Christ Magazine, which was the start of more growth with this project.


February 2017 Trees of Mystery

The highlight of February was taking a day trip to Trees of Mystery in Klamath, California. I had given my family tickets as a Christmas present, and it was a fun trip together. Since the New Year is during February in China, I went to the Chinese New Year festival in Jacksonville, Oregon. I also drove my friends out to Gold Beach where we hunted for glass floats, but unfortunately we didn’t find any.



This month focused more on local outdoor adventures. Since I was doing the On Foot series on this blog, my goal was to discover trails and walking paths. I even discovered new tiny towns like Wimer, Oregon and its covered bridge. I took several day trips to Ashland, Rogue River, and Jacksonville, and I hiked Table Rock.


April 2017 Susie Shellenberger

April’s adventures started out a lot like May’s. I joined in Ashland’s First Friday Art Walk, which I hadn’t done since college. I also hiked in Jacksonville and went on a few country drives. But then I found out that one of my favorite speakers and writers, Susie Shellenberger, was going to be speaking in Brookings, which is a town on the Southern Oregon Coast. Although I had short notice, I planned a wonderful weekend road trip around her speaking schedule where I got to see beautiful portions of the Pacific Coastline. I even stayed in my first AirBnB… on a boat!


May 2017 Redding

This was the hardest month for me. Although I tried to jazz up the year by taking trips and going on adventures, for the most part they were there to cover up some struggles. I applied to several jobs this year, all of which resulted in rejection. My current jobs have gone through some rough patches. I knew a few people who died in car crashes. But it really hit home when I got hit myself. Just three days after my birthday, I was driving some girls home from a Mothers Day event on a Friday night when another car ran a red light and hit us in the intersection. For the most part, we were fine. However, I did have to spend the rest of the year going to chiropractic appointments, and dealing with the insurance companies is still a hassle. But since I got a rental car, I decided to take a road trip the very next weekend, kind of as a way to kick fear in the face. Because I made plans the same day I left, I considered several destinations until I found one that was both affordable and available. I had a nice time exploring several attractions in Redding, California.


June 2017 Golden Ghost Town

I drove three different cars this month: a rental from my insurance company, a rental from the other insurance company, and finally, a new car for me! Since June was continued stress of dealing with the aftermath of the car crash, I wasn’t in the mood to travel much. I did take a day trip to the ghost town of Golden, Oregon and nearby Grants Pass. After bidding good-bye to my totaled car, I picked out one that was almost exactly like it, except a year newer. I didn’t get it until the end of the month, but managed a trip to the movie theater the night I bought it to see Cars 3.


July 2017: Thor's Well

It was time to really break in my new car. I started off the month with a weekend road trip. I spent the first day and night in Eugene, walking along the river and staying at the hostel. Then I headed out to the Central Oregon Coast. Since that area has been largely unexplored by me, I got to enjoy attractions like Thor’s Well and the Sea Lion Caves for the first time, not to mention beaches and lighthouses. I then re-explored the coastal towns I had driven through in April. The rest of the month was spent relaxing at home, doing things like hammocking, biking, and even fixing up my old tent so I could go backyard camping.


August 2017: Lion Sleepover at Wildlife Safari

I’m glad my tent was repaired the previous month, because it allowed me to have one of the most exciting adventures of the year! Although it took place only an hour and a half from home, Wildlife Safari had a sleepover event where guests could camp out next to the lions! We also had encounters with several of the other resident animals, like the bears and cheetahs. The way back home took much longer than an hour and a half, since I stopped to see the Myrtle Creek covered bridges and take my time going through the Applegate Trail Museum. The next weekend, I was out again! I spent the first night once again in Redding, California, where I went to WaterWorks and Bethel. The next day I met my friend Kylie (who I had only ever seen via the internet before), and we explored little Placerville together. I spent the final day of that trip in Tahoe, but this tri-state trip wasn’t the last one of the month! The next weekend, I went on two separate day trips: one I went to Lava Beds National Monument with the kids I babysat, and the other allowed me to explore Bend with a friend.


September 2017: Anita Renfroe

After all of August’s adventures, I was spent, both physically and financially. Although wanderlust was still knocking at my door, I planned to explore the local area instead by going on hikes, using my hammock, geocaching, and attending a free retreat. My “No-Spend September Staycation” did allow me one out-of-town trip, though, when I won a ticket to see Anita Renfroe’s comedy show in Klamath Falls.


October 2017: Table Rock

October continued the slower pace that September set. I took kids to the pumpkin patch a couple of times. I spent a long day hiking up and around Table Rock. And though I had taken a summer break from Wilderness Trails due to my injured back as well as scheduling conflicts, I jumped back in full-force this month. First there was the organization’s 50th anniversary celebration dinner, followed by two weekend camps.


November 2017: Crater Lake Snowshoeing

Although I didn’t do anything to celebrate Halloween, I seemed to make up for it early in November. After joining Ashland’s First Friday Art Walk (where many of the refreshments included leftover candy), I joined Southern Oregon University’s ghost tour. Then came two more Wilderness Trails weekends, the second one introducing snow! The snow fun continued on Thanksgiving. My family decided to burn off some calories before consuming even more of them by snowshoeing at Crater Lake National Park.


December 2017: Christmas Eve Church Tour

Since I’ve lived with my immediate family the past few years, I no longer travel much in December, partly because this month’s travel expenses are so high, and partly because there’s so much to do locally for Christmas and other celebrations. Still, there were yet another two Wilderness Trails retreats. The first one was a tree-cutting camp, so I got to cut down a Christmas tree for the first time ever. My family had already set up the fake tree, but it worked out because a few days later, I moved into my own apartment. It’s a “tiny home” of 300 square feet, and it’s walking distance to most places I usually go anyway. So I’ve been enjoying the local mini-adventures of setting up my new home and walking the town even when it’s freezing outside. In fact, what was probably my most cultural experience of the year happened within my new city’s limits! I decided to end 2017 by going to seven different churches for their Christmas Eve services. Some I was familiar with, and other provided a whole new kind of experience.

What About This Blog?

It was a record year for Here were some of your favorite posts and stats:

Most Read Post: Hostelling International: Is It Worth the Membership?

Most Popular Post Written This Year: Fall Foto Fun

My Personal Favorite Post: 11 Travel Hacks that Don’t Require Credit Cards

Top Ten Countries Readers are From: 1. United States, 2. United Kingdom, 3. Canada, 4. Germany, 5. Australia, 6. Philippines, 7. India, 8. France, 9. Netherlands, 10. Italy


Now that we’re up to speed, we are on the cusp of 2018. This year I will be ringing it in at work, of all places! (It seems to be the only place where I can stay up past midnight!) Then, I’m starting a two-month adventure called grand jury duty. Since this involves weekly involvement, I’m not sure how much travel I will be able to fit in for January and February, but I do have a few Wilderness Trails weekends, and my other weekends are mostly open. After that, I’ll be able to use the airline tickets I was given for Christmas to go to Maui, Hawaii!

After that, I’m not sure exactly where life will take me. I’m not even sure if I’ll stay in the area, although I like it here and don’t currently know of any opportunities to move elsewhere. I’m still entering contests in hopes that one will provide me with a free trip. I’d like to travel more, but I have more important non-travel goals.

I’m starting off 2018 with 21 days of no sugar. I’m not sure if you can call it a New Year’s Resolution since I know it won’t last all year, but it’s an effort to get healthier. I’m also committed to getting more serious about writing, and hope to make it a more substantial part of my year. I’m even going to get more motivated about getting a book published. I’ve gone through this process several times before but have always given up before getting accepted by a traditional publisher, so hopefully all this work can finally come to fruition in the year ahead.

Now that you know what I’ve done and what I’ll do, I want to hear from you! What was your highlight of 2017? What do you hope to accomplish in 2018?

travel tips

5 Must-Do Activities On A Jaunt To Georgia

The possibilities are endless when it comes to planning a classic Southern trip. Whether you’re wanting to relax or spend some fun time with the family there are so many things that Georgia has to offer. Pack your bags and get ready for the journey of a lifetime, because Georgia is bursting with Southern charm which is bound to keep every member of the family entertained.

1. Super Sports and Things To Thrill

In Georgia the combination of water and excitement are a common pairing. Experience some of the greatest water parks and marine activities like swimming, kayaking and even white water rafting. Visit the Island Dive centre, where you can receive professional scuba and snorkelling training. View the local sea life in their natural habitats once you’ve got the hang of your snorkel!

If you’d rather stay out of the water you could visit the most popular hang gliding resort in the whole of the US! Lookout Mountain Hang Gliding allows you to fly up to 2,000 feet in the air, with a fully trained instructor within touching distance. If you’re feeling brave you can even go solo, whilst under close supervision from the expert staff.

2. Health & Wellness

If you prefer to travel and feel healthy and relaxed you could treat yourself to a little Southern indulgence. There are several spas scattered across Georgia which can offer you a variety of different treatments, depending on what you’re looking for. If you want an overnight stay then Crossing Creeks is perfectly situated for a calm and quaint weekend of spa treatments. You will be surrounded by nature and feel at ease with the local environment.

There are also plenty of day spas if you just fancy a quick and calming treatment. Many places offer couples massages, facials and hot stone treatments to rid you off the stresses that may have built up in the recent weeks. Treat yourself to a tantalizing treatment and you’ll be grateful you visited Georgia.

3. Fab and Foody

The best place to fill an empty stomach is most definitely Georgia. With an array of dining options you’re sure to find the right food for you. Take a trip to Gainesville where you can experience live music at 37 Main. Tuck into some classic Southern dishes, like fried chicken and macaroni cheese. Experience the true cuisine of Georgia and you’ll leave with a full belly and a smile on your face.

Cooked Leg Chicken With Green Vegetable Leaf

Image: Pixabay

4. Shop Till You Drop

Try out wide variety of shopping from the quaint boutiques to rustic flea markets. Sample the local Georgia grown products from resident farmers. If you’re looking for a bargain, Pendergrass Flea Market has over 500 booths of wares for you to check out. If you’re into antiques then you can check out The Victorian tea room in Jewell, where you will find exclusive pieces designed from resident artist Denis Coard.

5. Arts and Entertainment

Georgia is home to an abundance of museums, galleries and theatres, where you can make magical memories with all of the family. Enjoy a local concert in The Springer, which is the State Theatre of Georgia. Whether it is music or art that makes you click, you’re bound to find the entertaining place for you.

Don’t delay; make your trip to Georgia today!


Winter Trips and Pics

In years past, I’ve commonly thought of this season as a time to take a long winter’s nap, certainly not an ideal time to travel. I could go to a local Christmas event or two, but save the real adventures for warmer weather. But so far over the past month, I’ve been surprisingly proven wrong! This could very well become my best winter yet. 

Here’s what I’ve done…

My family went snowshoeing at Crater Lake National Park on Thanksgiving morning to burn off the calories before we even consumed them!

I have gone to several camps with Wilderness Trails. The snowy mountains are fun to enjoy, and one camp, everyone got to cut their own Christmas tree!

This is in addition to the usual Christmas and winter festivities, on top of moving earlier this month! Although I only moved 10 miles away (which is actually closer to work, church, and other places I typically frequent), I am excited for the new adventures to be had in this neighborhood. And I will admit that I am also planning a late- winter trip to a warmer destination. 
Season’s greetings and merry Christmas!


Splurge On Exotic Vacations Without Breaking The Bank

Looking out of the window to see rain lashing the panes, frost kissing the roofs of houses and cars and hearing those winds howling can be depressing. Winter may bring the holidays and the festive season along with all the delicious comfort foods you could want, but having to brave harsh weather while you shop? Not so fun! Daydreaming about far-flung locations full of white-sugar beaches, crashing oceans and sunbeams that tan your skin to perfection is the favoured past time for most people. You may well have been to some of the most tropical locations across the globe. You may well have jostled for position in front of the Mona Lisa to get the best selfie. The thing is, that wanderlust that once dragged you around on your gap year hasn’t gone away. It’s very much there and yet heading to exotic locations full of beautiful sights and even tastier food is harder when you’re on a tight budget.

You want to book vacations in great locations but you want the best value for your money at the same time. Often, the best and brightest vacation ideas with the clearest oceans and softest sand are expensive. Long-haul vacations are always more expensive than short-haul, and the reason for this is purely distance. The further you travel, the pricier it’ll be to get there. Sure, you could save your cash and recreate your own exotic vacation from home, complete with a seafood order from to get those fresh flavours you so crave. You could put in a tanning bulb and stick your feet in a bucket of sand while playing wave sounds – but it’s just not quite the same! This won’t get rid of the desperate need to travel and see new places, breathe new air. So, the trick is to find the best destinations with the cheapest price tag – and we’ve got some of those for you below.

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Puerto Escondido, Mexico

There is so much more to Mexico than the places that are splashed across the travel brochures. Sure, you’re looking for the beaches and the food and the culture, but going to the tourist traps often just gets you the same food in a different place, with a little sunshine on top. Puerto Escondido is a town that was populated by surfers and the prices you will find reflect the reality of life in Mexico, rather than the completely over-inflated tourist version you find online. There are plenty of places to stay on a budget, and the authentic Mexican tacos can be found inexpensively. There’s no need to go to a tourist trap to enjoy a Mexican experience!

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Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria

Bulgaria is a beautiful country that is well-known for its city break popularity. It’s one of the least expensive places to visit in Europe, and because of this it is vastly underrated. People bypass the cobblestoned charm and the tall, towering castles full of history and culture for the islands of Greece or the cities of Italy. Veliko Tarnovo, however, has so much to offer. Hiking for the adventure seekers in the hilly terrains edging the town, and there are places to see in the town itself that offer food and drink at amazingly cheap rates. There is so much history steeped here, that those looking for something more than just a beach and an ocean will find it. Nightly light shows that light up the ruins of a medieval stronghold would usually be expensive and really bust your budget. Not here. Not in Veliko Tarnovo.

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Goa, India

The place to visit to find oneself has always been Goa. Popular for tourists, hippies and those looking to find their inner calm, Goa has grown up significantly over the past twenty years. The attraction of the area hasn’t changed, and neither has the rock bottom prices on offer here. However, you can still see the Arabian Sea in all its calm glory. You can still choose between ancient temples, casinos and beaches full of soft white sand. Nobody misses out when it comes to visiting Goa. You don’t have to be draped in sarongs and get high off of life to enjoy yourself – come as you are, everyone is invited.

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Transylvania, Romania

You’ve heard the stories of vampires and Dracula, but Transylvania is so much more than its stories. Ruins that date back for hundreds of years, hiking trails that are on offer to all those looking for a challenge and vineyards full of white wine that will literally have your taste buds dancing. Transylvania is a place for those who want authenticity, exotic food choices and something off the beaten track. It’s not somewhere that is thrust in your face when you are looking for a break, but it’s somewhere you should consider when you want a change. Not to mention, Transylvania is excellent value for money, meaning you can squeeze a lot of what you fancy into a vacation that won’t cost the earth.

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Selva Negra, Northern Nicaragua

If you haven’t heard of the cloud forest, you need to start doing your research. Selva Negra is a 300-acre nature reserve that is perfect for hiking. Unplug from life and start your vacation hiking the steep hills to the top to see the blanket of moist cloud laying just beneath you. There is a coffee plantation right at the edge of the forest, and that combined with getting stuck into nature are a brilliant way to simply unwind from the working week. You won’t have to pay through the nose for accommodation, either, with options at the Ecolodge starting low.

Getting away somewhere unheard of isn’t the difficult bit – coming home is. Once you get a taste of places that are new and budget-friendly, it’s hard not to be bitten by the travel bug all over again. Don’t worry though, with places being so cheap, you’ll want to be bitten so that you can get a different perspective of the world – wherever you choose to go.

travel tips

Traveling Mistakes To Avoid In Asia

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Without a doubt, Asia is the most popular destination for travelers from all around the globe. Even Asian nationals love to jet off to the likes of Thailand and Cambodia to recharge their batteries! However, popular tourist traps are both a gift and a curse. Sure, it may be a continent which speaks English as a second language and welcomes tourists, but it also lures people into a false sense of security. From security issues to walking the beaten track, travelers often make schoolboy errors as soon as they land.

Here are the most common errors to avoid.


Places such as Laos and Myanmar are incredibly cheap, as is Asia and most of the Middle East. So, it isn’t hard to see why people splash out on arrival. From four to five-star hotels and gourmet food, rookie travelers love to live a lifestyle they can’t afford back home. While it’s great at the time, you have to enjoy it while it lasts because it doesn’t last very long. Before you know it, the budget is in tatters and you have to beg your parents to buy you a return flight home. Once at home, you’ll wonder, “why on earth did I blast my savings?!” After all, a couple of grand can go far in Asia, especially if you are frugal.

Staying On The Beaten Track

There are four or five countries in Southeast Asia which travelers adore. They are Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Malaysia. Yes, these five places are well worth a visit and should be on everyone’s bucket list. But, it’s essential to remember that Asia has more than one circuit available to tourists who are willing to venture out of their comfort zone. Hong Kong, for example, is a hub of culture with sights, sounds and tastes which are out of this world. Just book Lan Kwai Fong hotel and find out. Japan is another country which shouldn’t be missed, as is Indonesian Sumatra, Jakarta and Kalimantan.

Expecting Pristine Beaches

Like all land masses, Asia has its fair share of coastline and some are exquisite. Still, it’s worth remembering that cultures aboard are different to the one at home, and India is a prime example. Due to the sanitation issue and poverty, lots of families either fly-tip or burn their garbage by the side of the street. As a result, any beaches nearby often take the brunt of the pressure and end up covered in filth and soot. Elsewhere, the beaches that are in a healthy state may not be sunbather or swimmer-friendly, so it pays to do your research.

Guys And Girls On Tour

A tour is an easy way to see a town or city without much hassle. Plus, Asia is cheap and it won’t set you back from a money point of view. But, it’s best to keep in mind that the almighty dollar is king in a lot of Asian countries. So long as you have the money, locals will accommodate you and go the extra mile. Then, that island which is inaccessible without a tour becomes accessible when a local fisherman offers his services. The same goes for the tuk-tuk and rickshaw drivers, too.

Once you avoid the rookie mistakes, you can have the time of your life.

travel tips

Keeping Your Kids Safe Over the Holidays


It’s Christmas time and the next month will be filled with school events, community gatherings, and a whole lot of socializing. For many parents, this can be a nice change of pace and gives you the opportunity to catch up with other parents and share craft and recipe ideas for the festive season.

But with all of this excitement in moving around and dragging often-unwilling children from function to function, it does have the potential to get a bit much. There is often a hundred and one things to get done, while also ensuring that your children remain safe over the course of the festive season. How are you to possibly keep an eye on everything?


The number one rule for any parent of young children is vigilance. That is, keep an eye on everything at all times. If you are unable to make sure they don’t get into trouble, delegating responsibility to a trusted, responsible adult is another solution to ensuring your children stay out of danger.

This is true both at home and in public. Keep a tight grasp of your child’s hand (even if it embarrasses them) if you’re out and about, especially at Christmas Markets or school productions. If you’re at home, make sure to blow out any candles and avoid gifting anything with super small parts.


After so many years of doing the same thing and having nothing go wrong, it is understandable to develop complacency when it comes to checking everything is as it should be. This can range from checking they’ve washed their hands after playing outside, to making sure to fasten their seatbelts.

The holiday season can bring out both the best and the worse in people. This is particularly true when completing cross-country travels, and especially true if the roads are less than ideal. It is crucial to take extra special care when undertaking long drives, particularly with children in the car. If you do suffer an accident on your travels to granny and grandpa, firms such as Powers McCartan can offer advice regarding the correct steps to take moving forward.


If you’re making Christmas Cookies, baking cakes or preparing Christmas dinner, your kids might just want to lend you a helping hand. While it’s cute of them to offer to help, keep in mind that children are not as strong as you. In the case of younger ones, they do not yet have fully fine-tuned motor skills.

With this considered, you want to try and involve the kids in fun Christmas kitchen activities – it might even inspire them to take up cooking in the future – but you need to give them tasks that suit their age and abilities. That is, keep them away from the hot stove, and instead give them jobs such as sprinkling cake decorations or taking charge of the mixing bowl. Not only will they feel involved, but also teaching them about potential dangers will allow them to behave in future situations.

Christmas is all about family and having fun. But there’s nothing fun about an unfortunate incident happening over the festive months. Keep smart, and keep in mind your child’s safety, and there shouldn’t be any problems.

travel tips

Holidays For Hobbyists: Trips To Take To Fuel Your Pastime Passion

When you think of travel or going on vacation, what immediately comes to mind? Do you think of heading off to a secluded beach surrounded by picture-perfect views, or maybe to a stunning cosmopolitan city completely full of life? Either way, many of our ideals of travel can often be a bit cliche. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But, it might spark some excitement in you to realize that there’s a lot more on offer out there than just your basic vacation packages. In particular, if you have a special interest, then you could actually combine this with your need for a trip and come up with a break away that’s really something special indeed. Forget backpacking or all-inclusive resorts, if you want something special, then one of these holidays for hobbyists are going to go down a treat.

Animal Lovers

First up, it’s one or two for the animal lovers out there. Because can you really call yourself a die-hard animal lover if you’ve not been on an African safari? Perhaps not. If you really love all living things, then you’re going to want to get out there and see them in their natural habitat. If your love is of marine life, then you could consider diving instead. Because there’s nothing quite like getting up close and personal with the species you love the most.


Food and travel go hand in hand. So if you are a foodie, then it’s highly likely that your love for good food drives your desire to travel. If not, shame on you! Although there’s a wealth of incredible places out there just waiting to be explored, there’s one that trumps the lot. Italy! It’s a foodie paradise. From fine dining restaurants to street stalls, your stomach will be kept full and your heart happy whenever you’re on Italian soil.

Thrill Seekers

Maybe you’re a bit of a thrill seeker at heart? If you most promising pastimes include the likes of snowboarding or mountain biking, then you may want to get a little more adventurous with your vacation choices. These listed on are going to be well matched for you. From skywalking to cliff diving, your adrenaline-chasing self will feel completely at home.


Finally, if you have a soft spot for trainspotting, you’re going to lap up this list of train tips that have pulled together. Because why would you want to see the same old styles on home turf when you can jet off to the Swiss Alps or Machu Picchu and ride something spectacular yourself.

travel tips

What to Expect on Your First Time Out of the Country

Whether you are heading off on a short family vacation or planning a massive trip around the world, vacations abroad can be amazing. Traveling to other countries gives you a chance to explore new cultures, learn about different ways of life and civilizations. It gives you a chance to meet new people, gain new experiences and see some truly breath-taking sights. It can be nothing short of amazing.

Seasoned travelers think nothing of hopping on a plane and taking their next great trip. Excited about what lies ahead and exhilarated by the mere idea of taking their next journey. But, even for these people, that first time out of the country may have been daunting. Leaving the country can be scary. You don’t know what to expect, you may be afraid of the flying or overwhelmed by the idea of navigating airport security. Simply the idea of traveling to a new country can terrify people that much that they put off even posting their passport application for years, missing out on what the world has to offer.

If you are planning to leave the country for the first time in the new year, here is what you can expect from your trip.

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Getting a Passport Might be Harder Than You Think

If you’ve never had a passport before, you may not realize how hard they can be to get. Over the last 20 years, international security has become much tighter, and valid passports are our first line of defense. There are strict rules on how your photo must look and what supporting documents you must send. If you don’t have the right ID, you may have to jump through a few hoops to prove you are who you say you are, perhaps even having to attend an interview. You should check online for current wait times, but it can take up to 12 weeks, and that’s if you fill the form incorrectly on your first try. If you’ve left it a little late or need to make an unplanned trip, read up on how to get a passport fast to hurry your application.

Airport Security is Tough

Airport security can be intimidating if you’ve never seen it before. You’ll see police patrols, sniffer dogs, security officers and maybe even armed force officers and they will all be armed. You’ll also have to pass through scans and multiple security checks.

It’s important to remember that this is all for your own safety and that as long as you stick to the rules, you have nothing to worry about.  

You Won’t Feel the Plane Move

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During take-off, you can feel the plane moving and the pressure changing quite dramatically. When it comes to landing, you’ll feel large drops, and you may feel some turbulence along the way. But, if your flight is smooth and the weather conditions are good, while you are in the air you won’t feel a thing. You’ll be able to sleep, read a book, watch a movie or even go for a walk in relative comfort.

Foreign Airports Aren’t That Different

Many first-time travelers expect to leave the airplane and immediately find themselves in a totally different world. However, unless you are traveling to somewhere incredibly remote, the airport won’t be too different. Security and checks will be similar, the layout will be similar, and it may even have some of the same shops and displays.

But They Are Hot

One thing you may notice the second you step off the plane is the temperature. If you are traveling to somewhere with a different climate and have just spend a few hours in a pressurized plane with an artificial atmosphere, you will be met by a wall of heat. Traveling in thin, light layers is a great way to be prepared for anything.

It’s Ok to Trust the Locals

You can always tell a first-time traveler from the way they walk around clutching their belongings and avoiding eye contact with anyone. We’ve all heard horror stories about things that have happened to travelers and foreign scams that people have fell victim to. But, to be fair, the same dangers surround us at home.

Keep your belongings safe by keeping your bag close and close and trust your instincts. But, don’t panic. Make eye contact, say hello and ask the locals for advice on places to eat or sights to visit. Chat with people and get to know them. You’ll probably be very pleased to find that places all around the world are filled with friendly local’s keen to show off their businesses or hometowns to equally friendly travelers.

Guidebooks Aren’t Always Right

In the day of the internet and TripAdvisor, we rely on guidebooks much less than previous generations may have. But it’s still important to realize that they’re not always right. Things change and move, businesses close down, people move away, and sometimes the author of the book may just have a differing opinion to you. Read books, look at guides online to prepare, but don’t take it as gospel. Leave room for change and spontaneity.

Not Everyone Speaks English

In the modern world, it’s fair to say that a lot of people speak English. You can probably find someone that knows at least basic English somewhere. But, that doesn’t mean everyone will speak fluent English, as much as we often arrogantly assume they will. It’s always a good idea to learn a little language for anywhere you go.

Money is Different

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That one might sound obvious. Different places have different currency. You know that, right? But, it’s not that simple. There are also exchange rates and rates of inflation to think about. You may find that something that’s worth $10 at home may be vastly more or less in another country. This can make it hard to know how much money you need before you arrive and you could easily find yourself hugely overspending.

Do some research online before you go, and try to set yourself a strict budget, remembering that travel doesn’t need to be expensive. If prices are different when you arrive, take another look at your budget and make some changes.

travel tips

Tips on Traveling with a Baby

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Going on holiday with your baby sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? Travelling can be difficult at the best of times, but when you have a baby travelling with you, it gets even tougher. The key is to be prepared. Here are some tips that will help to make the process a whole lot easier:

Travel light – While it can be tempting to pack endless supplies – after all, you never know what your little one is going to need – it is important to travel light. There are a number of clever changes you can make to reduce the amount of luggage you’re going to be taking with you. For example, consider a travel light crib rather than taking your standard one. You can see an example of one of these cribs here. Also, only take a small amount of the things you will be able to buy as soon as you get there.

Schedule your trip around your child’s sleep time – Of course, this will not be possible in some cases, especially if you are travelling by plane. However, whenever you can, you should try to schedule trip around your child’s sleep time, so your child can get into his or her pajamas and go straight to sleep. Sheer bliss!

Try not to take trips that are longer than six hours – If you are visiting family, this may not be possible. But if you are going away for a vacation simply for some fun and relaxation, try to choose somewhere that is closer to home. It’s not ideal to have your baby confined to a seated position for hours and hours.

Bring your child’s favourite toy, as well as items your baby associates with sleep – When choosing toys for your baby, make sure you choose only soft items. Safety is even more important when travelling, as there can be jolts or turbulence. You should also bring any items that your baby associates with sleep, for example, their favourite pillow and blanket. This will be a good way to encourage your little one to nod off when they are in an environment they are not familiar with.

Bring extra diapers and clothing – While you should travel as light as possible, one area where you shouldn’t cut back too much is with regards to baby clothing and diapers. It is always a good idea to dress your baby in layers if you are travelling by plane. You can easily take these layers off if your baby is too hot, but the last thing you want is for your baby to get too cold. After all, a cold baby is a crying baby!

So there you have it: some top tips for travelling with your baby. Use the suggestions and life should be a lot easier for you when going on vacation. Of course, it’s impossible to prevent a few hiccups that occur along the way, but you can take care of most of them with the advice mentioned above.

backpack, travel tips

6 Things Every Backpacker Needs to Pack

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Backpacking is easily one of the greatest and most fulfilling ways to travel; hitting the open road with the wind in your hair and all your worldly possessions for the trip in one bundle slung over your shoulder.

Of course, knowing you should actually put in your pack is pretty important, as it’ll be your lifeline for the duration of the trip, and you won’t have space to spare for all the usual luxuries of home life.

So, to get you started, here’s a checklist of some of the essentials that you should load up on before heading out.

Research and print out location reviews in advance

Although a big part of the pleasure of backpacking is that it allows you to be spontaneous and hit the road as and when you like, and in any direction, it’s still a good idea to have a sense of the areas you’ll be travelling through as well as a more in depth understanding of the big towns or sights you want to check off.

Many exploitative establishments exist in tourist-frequented areas, and rely on the fact that many visitors will be uninformed and so are likely to drop by.

Whether you’re researching something specific such as Lana Thai Villa 5 stars B&B, or something more general about the layout of a particular area, it’s a good idea to print your maps and reviews off and keep them with you as you travel. You can’t rely on your memory for everything, and wifi may not be too easy to come across at certain points along the way.

Pack your own medical supplies

Basic first aid equipment is an absolute must-have addition to your rucksack, as cuts, scrapes, motion sickness, and even food poisoning are all very real possibilities when you’re backpacking through a new country.

Most of the minor injuries and upsets you might experience can be dealt with quickly and easily with an antibacterial gel and an anti-inflammatory, but if you don’t have these basic medical supplies at hand you might find yourself coming down with a bad fever and having to try and navigate the local health system, or find the nearest open pharmacy that sells what you’re after.

Pack your first aid kit as if you were expecting to really need to use it, though, of course you hopefully won’t.

Bring a camera, not a phone, for photos

In the age of advanced camera phones, it can be tempting to try and go the minimalist route and just rely on your phone for all your basic photography needs as you’re hopping from one exciting new locale to the next.

The issue with that is, of course, that phone batteries run out much faster when you’re using them for photography, and you might actually need your phone in order to make an important call at some point during your adventures.

Add to that the fact that you might not always be around a convenient charging port, and the benefits of having a proper camera with you are pretty clear.

Keep some spare cash on you at all times

When you’re travelling light, as all backpackers are in the grand scheme of things, you’ll find yourself needing to pull out your wallet quite often to pay for things ranging from food, to transport, or even just the admission fees which are charged by different historical sites or at various cultural landmarks.

Depending on where you’re travelling to, it’s entirely likely you won’t be able to reach for your credit card every time an expense comes up, and ATMs can be few and far between, or prone to running out of money on certain days or at certain times.

Every backpacker should keep a decent amount of cash on them, plus a hidden bit of emergency cash in case of being pickpocketed or just needing extra funds for an emergency.

Keep an eye mask and earplugs within easy reach

As a backpacker, you can enjoy the luxury of travelling between idyllic mountain glades and bustling party capitals as the mood takes you. Of course, that means that you might not always be able to count on a quiet, dark environment to get a good night’s sleep in.

Sleep is important at the best of times, but especially when you’re out and about, experiencing new things and trying to get the most out of your trip, you don’t want to find yourself feeling like a zombie all day just because there was a bright street light outside your window in the hotel.

Something as straightforward as keeping an an eye mask and a pair of foam earplugs in your bag can allow you to shut the world out when you need to, and get the sleep you’ll need for another packed day.

Pack a notebook and start a travel journal

While a picture may be worth a thousand words, words are still one of the best ways of capturing the finer details of your experiences, and preserving them for years to come.

Packing a sturdy notepad and pen, and keeping a travel journal, is something that every backpacker should try at least once.

Not only does ending each day with a paragraph or two about your experiences help to store away the memories, it also gives you the perfect way of clearing your mind, collecting your thoughts, reflecting on your experiences, and preparing to meet the next day head on.

Don’t feel put off trying a travel journal if you’re not a natural with the written word. Think of it as something you’re doing strictly for yourself, as a way of deepening your appreciation of the trip.

Even if your notes are pretty vague, you’ll catch yourself smiling whenever you look back on them after the trip.