road trip, saving money, travel tips

How I Get Discounted (Or FREE!) Gas Every Time

How would you like to pay less than the posted gas prices every single time you visit the pump? Better yet, how would you like to get some road trip snacks and even the gas for FREE? Yes it’s possible. I would know; I haven’t paid the price that the gas station sign has indicated for a long time! Whether you want to make a road trip less expensive or want to save up for your next goal during your day-to-day commute, here’s how to do it:

Subaru Forester

Note: I typically use Kroger-brand gas stations (known regionally as Fred Meyer, Turkey Hill, etc.) because it turns out to be the cheapest for me locally. If your Kroger gas is for some reason expensive or you don’t live near one of their pumps, don’t worry. You can still apply most of these tips to get a good deal on gas near you!

Look Up Prices

Go to GasBuddy.com or open the GasBuddy app before you decide where you’re going to fill up. This service lists up-to-date gas prices at stations near you. When I’m at home, the cheapest place is typically either Fred Meyer or Costco, which are the only two gas stations I ever use! If you’re on a road trip, it’s helpful to know where you should fill up.

Now that you know where the cheapest pumps are, let’s knock some more money off that gas price…

Become a Member

Go to the customer service desk of Fred Meyer, King Soopers, Ralph’s, Baker’s, or any other store under the Kroger umbrella and ask to get a shopper rewards card. This is free to get and automatically gets you three cents off per gallon at most Kroger-owned gas stations. You can also sign up for a credit card that has a few more perks, but I think that the rewards card is a safer way to go, and if you follow the tips below, could ultimately give you more savings.

The rewards card isn’t just for three cents off. Every grocery store purchase earns you fuel rewards points. If you spend enough at the grocery store (and earn at least 100 points), you can get anywhere between ten cents and a dollar off at the pump! You can also download store coupons right onto this card.

I’m not as familiar with rewards policies for other gas stations, but it’s worth checking out as you can get some great deals. Sometimes, my Costco gas station is cheaper than my Fred Meyer gas station even after the three-cent discount. Since you have to show your membership card to get Costco fuel, that certainly has been worth it!

Use Your Receipt

Almost every Friday, Kroger-owned stores have a “Freebie Friday” coupon that you can download from the digital coupon section of their website. Even if you normally use a different grocery store, make sure to put this on your card and take advantage of the free item (you have three weeks to pick the item up from the store before the coupon expires). You don’t have to buy anything else to get this deal. Just scan the free item, scan your rewards card, and grab your receipt.

Make sure to take a good look at that grocery receipt because it can lead to even more gas savings. My receipt often says that if I go online and fill out a survey about my shopping experience, I will get 50 fuel rewards points. So after just two receipt surveys, I’m getting 10 cents off per gallon, and I didn’t have to pay a cent to do it! You can earn fuel points up to once a week, so get your weekly freebie and fill out its receipt survey to enjoy 20 cents off per gallon.

After following the above steps, you’ll really start to see some savings in your gas budget. For a while, these steps were all I did. But we’re just getting started!

Buy Gift Cards

I recently got involved with buying discounted gift cards online. My favorite website to go for this is Gift Card Granny. It’s basically a search engine for gift cards that shows you where you can get the biggest discount. I can usually get a 2-4% discount on grocery and gas cards. (For more frivolous stores, such as movie theaters and restaurants, the discount is usually more like 10-20% off!)

I normally buy my gas at Fred Meyer stations, but since Fred Meyer is owned by Kroger, I look up other Kroger-owned stores on GiftCardGranny to see what currently has the biggest discount. If you’re using another gas station, find out what other gift cards may also work there. (For example, if you buy gas at Safeway, also look up gift cards for Vons.) Once you receive your gift card, just make sure to use both your gift card and rewards card at every gas station visit.

Special! If you’ve never used Cardpool before, then use this link to get a bonus $5 off your first purchase!

Just in case you’re wondering, most discount gift cards sites verify the cards they sell and have a guarantee for all your purchases. I’ve never had a problem buying discount gift cards.

Once you add this tip to your routine, you should save several bucks on each fill-up. Are you ready to do one more thing to get FREE gas?

Use Your Computer or Smartphone To Make It FREE

If you read money-saving blogs, you’ve probably heard this before. But ever since I started to seriously use Swagbucks, my gasoline budget has become non-existent!

After signing up for Swagbucks, install a couple things onto your browser’s task bar. First, make Swagbucks your primary search engine. You’ll get paid for every few web searches. Also make sure to install the Swagbutton. If your shopping online, the Swagbutton will notify you about any coupon codes or rebates that your purchase qualifies for. These are the best ways to easily earn Swagbucks that won’t affect your daily routine, but if you’re interested, you can also fill out surveys, watch videos, play games, and more to earn Swagbucks!

Get a 300SB bonus when you sign up for Swagbucks here!

You can exchange your Swagbucks for a variety of gift cards. Swagbucks has gift cards to some gas stations, like Safeway, Sunoco, and Chevron. That’s an easy way to get free gas. However, I usually redeem my SB for a $25 or $50 prepaid Visa card. I then go back to GiftCardGranny and pay for my discount gift card with my free prepaid Visa card. You can also do the same thing by cashing out your SB into PayPal, but prepaid Visa cards usually give you more bang for your Swagbucks.

Other Ways to Save Even More On Gas

  • When shopping for a new car, look for one that has better gas mileage than your old vehicle.
  • Coast whenever you go downhill, need to slow down, or approach a stop sign. Basically, the less your foot is on the gas pedal, the better.
  • Can you limit your drives to work by doing something like working double shifts or working partly from home? Last December I changed my commute from 10 miles to one mile by moving closer!
  • Walk or bike when you can. As a bonus, you’ll exercise, get fresh air, and better enjoy the beauty of the route.
  • Try not to drive for just one thing. Combine your trips.5+ Ways to

This blog utilizes affiliate links.

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travel tips

 4 Tips for Staying Well-Fed While Travelling

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Image via Pixabay

 

Quick question; what circumstance can completely ruin your enjoyment of an otherwise excellent vacation, and guarantee that you miss out on a good deal of the joy, energy, and enthusiasm you could have otherwise enjoyed while exploring a new culture?

 

There are, of course, all sorts of things ranging from relatively minor to incredibly severe, which could have this effect. One of the most common problems, however, is simply not managing to stay well-fed throughout the trip, for various different reasons.

 

It may seem like a silly thing to complain about, but not getting your three square meals a day while travelling can really have an immense dampening effect on the entire experience. Don’t underestimate the degree to which food can affect your well-being, not only in the sense of being able to enjoy delicious local cuisine, but also in the sense of just having enough to eat, in general.

 

Here are some tips for staying well-fed while travelling, so that this issue hopefully doesn’t befall you.

 

Setup your home base in an area where all the amenities are easily accessible

 

Hunger while travelling often happens as the result of certain vacation or travel formats, particularly backpacking. If you’re constantly on the move, with few supplies, and only a vague sense of what amenities will be available in the next location you stop at, it should hardly come as a surprise if you find yourself chronically hungry and unable to enjoy reliably timed, filling, and tasty meals.

 

Keeping this in mind, one of the best things you can do in order to ensure that you remain well-fed while on vacation, is to take a more “settled” approach to your trip, meaning that you stay in one central location, and do your day trips and so on from that central location.

 

Setting up your “home base” in an area where all of the amenities are easily accessible both makes it easier for you to grab snacks on the go, but also for you to buy ingredients and do some cooking in your accommodation itself.

 

HDB Tampines is, for example, the largest “HDB” estate in all of Singapore. HDB estates house the vast majority of Singaporeans, and feature shopping and entertainment facilities in addition to the accommodation itself.

 

Staying in an HDB estate, such as the one at Tampines would, therefore, go a long way towards helping you stay properly nourished while enjoying the country.

 

Supplement your restaurant experiences with meals you cook for yourself using local cookbooks

 

This ties in with the previous point, but it may be the case that it’s not financially viable for you to eat at a restaurant three times a day for the entirety of your stay, but nonetheless want to not only stay well fed, but in indulge in delicious local cuisine throughout the duration of your stay, as well.

 

Assuming you are, in fact, staying in accommodation where your own kitchen facilities will be made available to you, in addition to having access to nearby shops, you can supplement your restaurant experiences with meals you cook for yourself, using cookbooks focused around the local cuisine.

 

Needless to say, the skills and insight you acquire from preparing local recipes on your trip, will carry over so that you return home with an expanded knowledge of different delicious cultural dishes to use at your discretion.

 

Don’t only eat the local foods that seem “familiar”, be daring

 

Sometimes, you may be under-eating, or at least, passing up on trying some delicious local delicacies, because you are reluctant to try some of the more “exotic” dishes that are presented to you.

 

It’s natural for people to be reluctant to try foods that are alien to them, and to stick with what feels familiar wherever possible, but there are a few good reasons why you might want to alter your policy towards novel dishes while travelling abroad.

 

The first, and perhaps most obvious reason, is because while you are travelling, you have a unique opportunity to experience the cultures of different places, and should take advantage of the opportunity in as many ways as you reasonably can, including by trying the local cuisine.

 

Of course, it’s also the case that you may find it very difficult to find your usual meal of choice when overseas, and may struggle to stay well-fed if you scorn the local dishes, as a result.

 

Finally, refusing to try the unfamiliar food may rob you of the opportunity to try dishes that you would genuinely find delicious if only you gave them a chance.

 

You should, of course, be mindful of not doing anything which would have a negative effect on your health, or violate your ethical standards, but you should still err in favour of trying the unfamiliar food whenever you can.

 

Research culinary guides to your destination, so that you can be sure that you’ll only dine at worthy establishments

 

There are many great culinary guides on offer which allow you to get a good sense of the kinds of places you should go during your travels to get the best possible meals.

 

Guides can include anything from walking “culinary tours” of a particular city, to a highlight reel of the top cafes in a given area, or a “top 10” of the best cultural dishes to be found in a country, along with some information on where you should go in order to enjoy said dishes.

 

Guides will also frequently include tips on things like where to find the best street food, how to eat well on a budget, and how to stay well-fed in general, all else being equal.

 

As any trip you take into a new country will, for all intents and purposes, be a venture out into the unknown, it will be more than worth your while to investigate the top culinary and travel guides you can identify, research them, and take their advice to heart.

 

After all, food at least as much of a cultural experience as visiting a museum is.

travel tips

Road Trip Vacation First Timer? You Need To Read This

I’m taking a quick break from the summer camping theme to go on two back-to-back camping trips! While I enjoy that, enjoy this post!

PixaBay.com

An epic road trip is, without a doubt, something that every keen traveler should experience at least once. Road trips offer a freedom that few other forms of vacation can provide; you are able to go wherever you want, for as long as you want, at whatever time of day you want. There’s no need to worry about rushing to the airport on time or waiting for a bus to the local historical site; you set your own rules, and travel in the style that suits you and your family only.

Of course, while road trips do offer all the benefits detailed above, they are far from a worry-free choice for a vacation. As well as managing concerns such as preparing your car for the trip and finding a hotel that lines your chosen driving route, you will have to face arguably the biggest road trip problem of all: trying to pack too many items into your vehicle.

Why this is such an issue

Over-packing your car may not sound like the biggest worry a road trip can throw at you – and perhaps, in and of itself, it’s not that much of an issue. However, what over-packing your vehicle does is produce a number of additional problems. These include:

  • Having to spend more on gas than you otherwise would due to the car being overweight

  • Struggling to organize your luggage due to it being crammed into a confined space

  • Spending large amounts of money in the lead-up to the trip on “road trip essential” items… that you never actually use, as you either cannot find them, or they are not actually as “essential” as the manufacturer would have you believe

However…

… the above points are accurate, but they cannot be taken in isolation. Reading through the above, it would be tempting to ensure you don’t overpack, by taking as little as possible; instead, you’d just visit the likes of AromaTech to grab an essential oil air freshener, throw a change of clothes in a bag, pack a tire repair kit, and then you’d hit the open road, a veritable Marie Kondo of traveling.

Unfortunately, this isn’t possible. Road trips require substantial preparation and you will need to ensure you have the essentials you need – but without going overboard!

Five tips to keep in mind when packing for a road trip

  • Weigh every item you are considering packing in your vehicle. If an item weighs more than its usefulness merits, leave it behind.

  • Be realistic about what you will be able to buy on the road. For example, there’s no need to take a spare bottle of shampoo – if you run out, you’ll be able to buy one during your trip.

  • However, don’t rely on being able to buy esoteric items. If an item can’t be bought at your nearest corner store, don’t assume you’ll be able to find it easily on the road.

  • Don’t pack the car to the brim. You will almost certainly want to buy items along the way, so you’ll need space to store these items.

  • If you’re really struggling for space in the trunk, consider a roof rack or even a trailer – though bear in mind both of these options will also increase your fuel consumption.

In conclusion

With the above thoughts and tips in mind, you should be able to ensure that your first road trip experience avoids the usual over/underpacking problems that cause so much stress. This should, in turn, leave you free to enjoy the road trip in style.

travel tips

5 “Travel Different” Ideas For Your Next Trip 

Now, if you’re reading this blog, then you’ll already know that traveling is awesome no matter what form it takes. However, there is sometimes an issue: we end up taking the same kinds of trips. If we’re culture vultures, we make whistle-stop tours of the world’s greatest cities. If we’re the rough and ready type, then we go for off the beaten path, budget destinations, and so on. There’s nothing wrong, necessarily, with this, but it is sometimes a good idea to mix up how we travel from time to time. Below, we take a look at a few ideas that’ll have you doing things a little differently next time you venture forth.

Source: Pexels.com

City v Nature

Most people place themselves on one side of the “city v nature” debate, but there’s no reason to be so absolute. Cities can be a lot of fun, even if you’re normally off swanning around the mountains. Likewise, the great outdoors can work its charms on you even if you’re more of a fine dining and fancy hotel type of person; it’s where we belong, after all! So the next time you’re revisiting one of your popular destinations, think about mixing things and going to the other end of the spectrum. Who knows…you might like it!

A New Activity

It’s a big and beautiful world out there, and there are a million and one things you can do. If you haven’t made an activity the basis for your trip before, then what are you waiting for? There’s much enjoyment to be had by going on a skiing, surfing, or hiking vacation. If you want to try your hand at surfing, book yourself into an Outer Banks oceanfront hotel; the region is highly recommended for watersports. For skiing, it’s about picking a mid-size resort (avoid the gigantic resorts until you have the activity down). And for hiking…pick a beautiful spot, and get out there.

Follow a Theme

If you’re looking to add some structure to your travels, then why not look at following a theme? If you’re a literature fan, you can follow a tour through your fictional or non-fictional heroes footsteps. There’s much to enjoy about retracing Hemingway’s travels through Spain, for instance. If you’re a foodie, then it’s hard to imagine a scenario where traveling through Italy, tasting the fine food (and just a bit of wine), won’t make your heart sing.

Slow Travel

If you have a few weeks to play with your next travel adventure, why not practice the art of slow travel? With this, you’ll spend a few weeks just in one place, soaking up all that it has to offer. You learn much more about a place the longer you stay there! Most people try to cram in as much as possible into their trips, but you might just find that visiting one place very well is better than just passing through several places. Give it a try…it might just change the way you travel for good.

Stay tuned for more “travel different” ways involving camping!

Accommodations, camp, destinations, Foodie, resources, travel tips

Caving, Camping, and Cooking

A few years ago, I took a camp cooking class at my local REI. The class instructor asked everyone what their cooking experience was at camps. As I thought back to the camping I had done, I realize I had mostly gone to restaurants or otherwise eaten cereal or other easy-to-make things. I had to tell him I didn’t really have experience, despite all the camping I had done.

Ever since then, I decided that I wanted to explore different ways I could cook at camp. My most recent camping experience was at Oregon Caves National Monument. While I had hiking, camping, and caving, I also got to enjoy delicious food thanks to Mountain House!

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I arrived at Cave Creek Campground, the rustic campground that is part of the Oregon Caves National Monument, on a Friday. I spent the afternoon setting up camp and enjoying the camp amenities. My campsite was right next to the creek! After a few hours of exploration and relaxation, it was time to start making dinner, which turned out to be relaxing as well!

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I decided to make chicken and rice. Now that sounds like it would be difficult to make at a campsite, but Mountain House made it super easy. Mountain House is a maker of freeze-dried camping food. They’re actually also based in Oregon, so it only felt right to use them on an Oregon camping trip! (Though I’m sure they’d be delicious no matter where you are.) Here’s all I had to do:

Step one: Boil water.

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Step two: Pour some water into the packet.

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Step three: Zip up the packet and wait a few minutes while it “cooks”.

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Step four: Enjoy! While this meal is tasty as-is, it’s also totally customizable. I decided to slice up a tomato and add that to the mix.

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After that, all I had to cook was the mandatory things that you have to cook for every camping trip: s’mores!

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Even the next morning, breakfast was simple, filling, and amazing. Mountain House makes breakfast meals as well, and I had those meals on both Saturday and Sunday morning.

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I spent most of Saturday away from the campground. The main attraction of Oregon Caves National Monument is about four miles uphill from the Cave Creek Campground. I went up there and opened and closed the caves that day! I took the first tour of the day, which told of all the stories about the cave held. And then I took the last tour, which was candlelit!

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In between those two tours, I went hiking, visited the visitor center at the Chalet, and took a guided tour of the Chateau.

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Because there weren’t any fires allowed in this area, I enjoyed some of the snacks I brought, and I got a little meal at the 50s-style diner in the Chateau. However, after the last tour when I went back to camp, I was craving another Mountain House meal!

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As I was camping, I realized that it was a great way to save money. My campsite only cost $10 a night, which is only a fraction of the price of a room at the Chateau! Because of that, I was able to take two tours, and I still had money left over for future adventures. Cooking my own food is something that always saves me money, whether I’m camping or at home. Mountain House made that easy to do even at a basic campsite. All I needed was hot water. (If for some reason you can’t get hot water, I tasted it before it was cooked. Trust me, it’s still good!) Even though I was eager to devour all of the Mountain House meals that I brought, if for some reason I wasn’t able to eat them, no worries. They’re good until 2048!

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(In case it wasn’t obvious, Mountain House provided me samples in order for me to write this post. No other compensation was made.)

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Have you ever camped at a National Park or Monument? Tell me about your experience in the comments below!

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camp, jobs, travel tips, writing

88 Things Every Camp Staff Member Needs to Know

In the last issue of Camp Business Magazine, I shared 88 of the many things I’ve learned while working on staff at several camps. If you’re in the middle of summer camp or considering doing something like this in the future, get a step ahead by learning these tips!

(If you want to read the published article, check out the May/June 2018 of Camp Business here.)

Getting the Job

  1. Camp is a wonderful gateway to a variety of jobs.

  2. You definitely shouldn’t get a camp job just for the money, especially since it’s pretty easy to find better-paying jobs. But since most of your expenses are covered, it’s a good job to work at while saving up for college, travel, or another big expense.

  3. Even if you have a specific position at camp, you may still sometimes find yourself doing things that weren’t mentioned in your job description.

  4. When you work together, eat together, play together, and live together, a sense of community is bound to form.

  5. The work you do can leave an eternal impact.

  6. Lots of camps experience this form of natural staff recruitment: As campers, young people see how fun it is to work at camp and wish they could do all the crazy things that their goofy counselors do. Many decide to apply once they are of age.

  7. Do you know someone who works at a camp? This can be advantageous in so many ways. They can give you tips for how to fill out your application or what to say in your interview. Ask if they could provide you with a reference. Some camps that have difficulty recruiting enough staff offer a refer-a-friend program to current or former workers. They’ll get a gift card or another bonus when you join the team, making this beneficial for both of you.

  8. You can also use traditional job search methods, like Craigslist and job boards, to try to find a camp that’s hiring.

  9. If you’re considering working at a camp, but cringe at the thought of being surrounded by a dozen kids at all hours of the day, don’t worry. There are many hats you can wear while working at camp, and counseling is an optional one.

  10. Working at camp can be advantageous for all ages and all walks of life.

  11. Camp can be a lifelong career!

  12. Plan ahead and apply early.

  13. Some camps are old-fashioned, while others are up-to-date on the latest technology. This means that figuring out how to apply is kind of like a scavenger hunt. You may find an application online, or you may have to snail mail your resume to the camp’s address.

  14. Camp requires sacrifice, and for some it takes more than others.

  15. You might be stuck with roommates you don’t know, which could turn into a positive or negative experience.

  16. Time is a major commitment. Camp takes up most, if not all, of summer, and it’s often more than a 40-hour workweek

  17. You’ll often miss out on sleep, alone time, and even bathroom time.

  18. Camp work is truly not for everyone.

  19. Camps aren’t limited to summer.

Packing

  1. You want to be prepared, because missing even one key item could leave you miserable. You don’t want to face mosquitos without insect repellant, or the sun without sunscreen, or Bible camp without a Bible!

  2. Overpacking will lead to what’s known as “stuffocation”: too much stuff crammed into tight quarters.

  3. Your roommates won’t appreciate your belongings overflowing into their space!

  4. Many camps will mail you a packet of onboarding information. Or, if the camp’s in tune with the 21st century, it can be found online. This packet might go over the camp rules, employee information like how you’ll get paid, and maybe even a map of the camp property. But the most important part of this packet is the packing list.

  5. Who said you had to keep things in a suitcase? Most big-box stores sell dresser-style drawers made entirely of plastic. These are about as lightweight as a suitcase, but so much more organized and better-looking.

  6. Regular bedding is a lot easier to clean than a sleeping bag.

  7. If you think you might get cold at night, flannel sheets are great.

  8. Find out what kind of decorations you’re allowed to have. (You may be limited, since nails, tacks, and adhesives can ruin walls.) Even a simple poster can brighten up a room, provided it’s in good taste.

  9. Camp bathrooms are used by a lot of people, and often don’t have much room to keep your toiletries.

  10. You should make sure to bring kitchen supplies especially if you’re on a special diet that calls for eating differently than what the camp will serve.

  11. If you wear a uniform at camp, you’ll probably only need a couple other shirts to wear while sleeping and on your days off.

  12. Camp clothes should always be practical for the environment.

  13. But be sure to pack at least one nice outfit. You’ll end up in a situation where either you use it, or you wish you brought it!

Child Wrangling

  1. Working at a kids’ camp is about the midpoint between being a babysitter and being a parent.

  2. If you’re a counselor, see if you can get a list of names of all your campers, before camp starts if possible.

  3. Prioritize learning real names over camp names. That’s the name you’ll need in the event of an emergency, as well as the one they’re most likely to respond to when you’re calling them.

  4. Start by learning the troublemakers’ names first. They’re the ones you’ll have to call out the most!

  5. When you’re in charge of campers, you’re really on the clock 24 hours a day. But hopefully you can take at least a few of those hours to sleep.

  6. Night and morning routines help establish a daily rhythm and set the right kind of mood for the time of day.

  7. Homesickness is bound to happen. And like a disease, it can quickly spread to more campers.

  8. Treat campers with special needs like the other campers as much as their disability allows. They are more than their disability.

  9. On the first night at camp, make sure that every clothing tag, toiletry, and book has a first and last name somewhere on it.

  10. Keep your eyes open for former campers when you’re out and about.

All Fun and Games

  1. Games may not seem as important as other aspects of camp. But in reality, games are an excellent skill-building opportunity, can open up conversations and teambuilding with campers, and are even a great marketing technique as campers will tell their friends about the fun they had.

  2. If there is a game or another activity that you don’t like, that’s okay. But campers should never be able to detect a hint of your animosity toward it.

  3. Teamwork is an important part of camp.

  4. If your camp has low ropes, a challenge course, or other teambuilding activities, try to do that with your team as soon as you can.

  5. Just about every activity can be more fun when done in the dark with glow sticks.

  6. Night hikes are a fun, educational, and memorable experience for all ages.

  7. The typical recipe for s’mores includes marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate, but don’t feel limited to that. Get creative with your substitutions and add-ons. The options are limitless.

  8. You can make indoor smores using chocolate syrup and marshmallow crème- this is a good option if you don’t want kids messing with fire.

Work Perks

  1. Camp provides you with an “outdoor education” of sorts. It’s a great time to learn a few nature facts you might have missed in school.

  2. If you have a fear of heights, you’ll probably have several opportunities at camp to challenge this fear.

  3. Camp would be the best place to wait out an apocalypse.

  4. Due to remote locations and other circumstances. the internet connection and cell service aren’t always the greatest, and some camps still don’t offer any connectivity at all.

  5. Going unplugged is good for you. It helps you become more mindful of your surroundings and what you’re doing. You get to live in the present. You get to learn to enjoy the silence.

  6. Camp can energize you by making you feel more useful, but it can zap your energy just as easily.

  7. It can be hard to get enough sleep, but try to the best you can. Be strict about enforcing quiet times, as it’s good both for you and the campers.

  8. You work an active job, so you probably won’t need to get up two hours early to go jogging.

Camp Crushes and Courtships

  1. If you work at a coed camp, a couple crushes are bound to arise among your coworkers, or even involving yourself.

  2. Many camps have adopted the “No Purpling” rule because the pink people at camp and the blue people at camp should not be close enough for their colors to blend. (For the record, the “No Purpling” rule also implies no “hot pinking” or “baby blueing”.)

  3. Although you’re probably sleeping in separate buildings from the opposite gender, you do spend most of your waking hours with your coworkers at camp. Because of this, you may feel closely connected to your coworkers, and at a faster pace than connections like these normally take.

  4. One problem with beginning a relationship outside of your normal environment is that it can be difficult to transfer this new romance back into your normal environment.

  5. If you have a significant other for a camp coworker, it shouldn’t be obvious to your other coworkers. Treat everyone equally, and don’t put anyone in the position of your third wheel.

  6. If you don’t want to deal with guy-girl drama, or you want to avoid the temptation that can come with coed camps, it might be advantageous for you to look for a camp that’s just for your gender.

  7. Camp provides a relationship benefit even for those who don’t end up in a relationship: You have the opportunity to observe the opposite gender act in ways at camp that you may not see in other environments.

Avoiding the Health Center

  1. If you see a safety hazard, either fix it or report it to someone who can.

  2. Make sure to remind your campers to take their meds when they’re supposed to.

  3. If you can handle it, offering to clean up vomit can be a big help. Yes, it’s gross. No, it probably isn’t in your job description.

  4. Make sure water is readily available.

  5. Wearing helmets on the rock wall and not diving in the shallow end applies to everyone, not just kids!

  6. One of the best things you can do is take care of your own health. Set a good example when it comes to wearing sunscreen, drinking water, and staying on trails.

  7. Ideally, all camps should provide all their staff with CPR and first aid training, but if camp doesn’t provide this, you should take it upon yourself to sign up for a course before the camp season.

  8. Traditionally, “camp food” meant cheap, tasteless bulk food. If that’s what you’re picturing, you’ll be glad to know that fewer and fewer camps are dishing up these mystery meals.

  9. If you have any concerns for your own personal health, call ahead of time to see how camp can accommodate you.

  10. It can be difficult to work at camp while simultaneously dealing with a health concern like diabetes, epilepsy, or asthma. But it’s certainly not impossible.

  11. Get to know your camp’s protocols. Follow the rules, even when no one’s looking.

Camp in Real Life

  1. Camps often hire on-call or part-time staff to help in the kitchen or with activities during weekend retreats throughout the year.

  2. Many leadership and office staff work year-round, so you could land a full-time camp job if you want to work through every season.

  3. There are many differences between camp in summer and the rest of the year. It’s typically toned-down, being less of a crazy place and more of a place to find rest and recharge. The atmosphere is definitely different.

  4. Working at camp is no vacation. But it can provide skills that help you enjoy travel more.

  5. You might be able to benefit from employee discounts on camp stays.

  6. Many camps offer staff reunions that allow their seasonal alumni to return in the off season to catch up on life.

  7. Even if your camp doesn’t offer staff reunions, it can still be beneficial to visit your former camps.

  8. Camp provides many positive, happy memories. But these experiences can sometimes bring hurt and heartache as well.

  9. Even in tough times, a camp community will help each through it.

  10. Camp can open doors not only at work, but also in extracurricular and volunteer activities.

  11. Your time at camp will prepare you for a whole slew of opportunities, wherever you go.

  12. Summer ends, the campfire goes out, and campers leave. The turn of the seasons at camp demonstrate how fragile and fleeting life is. But we are working for something far greater than that.

camp, culture, travel tips

5 Things to Know Before You Camp in Europe


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If you’ve been keeping up with my blog recently, you’ll know that I have made the summer 2018 all about camping! You’ll also know that I undertook the most incredible tour of Europe with just my backpack for company, and fell in love with everything the continent had to offer. Yes, Europe has my heart. Because of this, it’s got me thinking… what if I could combine these two travel adventures to create one epic vacation? Camping around Europe is something that is definitely on my bucket list, but I’ve realized that there are a few differences between camping grounds in the United States and camping grounds in Europe. These are the 5 things to know before you camp in Europe…

You don’t have to be in the middle of nowhere

If you’ve ever been camping in the United States, you’ll know that the camping grounds are normally in the middle of National Parks, or secluded in areas that are surrounded by wildlife. Of course, these sites are normally incredibly beautiful, but they can leave you a little out of sorts. One of the best things about the camping grounds in Europe is that you don’t have to be in the middle of nowhere! There are many campsites just a short bus or train journey outside of major cities such as Amsterdam, Venice, Prague, Bruges and more.

You have to be respectful

Every single country is different, and every single culture is different. This means that there are certain dos and don’ts that you have to abide by when you’re traveling across the world – especially in Europe. If you’re planning to camp in Europe, it’s important that you remember to be respectful at all times. One of the main issues travelers come across in Europe is that people in France, Italy and Spain have a different take on alcohol. In their eyes, alcohol is to be savored rather than binged, so you need to ensure that you do not disrupt or offend your neighbors during the evenings.

The prices are a little odd

If you’re a seasoned camper, you will probably know that most campsites offer set prices for their pitches in North America, no matter the number of people in the RV or the camper. However, things are a little different in Europe. Many camping grounds in Europe charge per person, per tent, and even for each vehicle. Because of this, it’s important to research camping grounds before you rock up. If you don’t want to pay a fortune, you might have to reevaluate your destination for the evening!

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It’s all about timings

In Europe, there is a high season and a low season for camping – and I’d recommend that you don’t visit Europe for a camping trip during the low season. The high season normally takes place between June and late August, and visiting a campsite during this time will offer you everything you could possibly need to have the best camping vacation. There will be other campers, restaurants, stores and more, and it will be a hive of activity. However, as soon as the weather starts to turn and Fall starts to etch closer, many campsites shut their doors, close their stores, and seal up their restaurants. Because of this, it’s almost impossible to camp during the winter months.

The sanitation facilities are inclusive

While there are still some camping grounds in Europe that offer both male and female restrooms and shower rooms, many offer facilities that are for both men and women. Many campsites offer cubicles that have a shower and a lavatory in it – you just have to be very careful in the morning, because you don’t want to press ‘the flush’ to realize it’s the ‘ON’ button for the shower!

Camping in Europe is definitely on my agenda in the next few months, and if you’re planning on booking your flights and pitching your tent with me you should probably get yourself up to date with these little differences! Have you been camping in Europe? Share your experience with me in the comments!

travel tips

Announcing the Summer 2018 Theme: Camping!

I am thrilled to announce that this summer, JessicaLippe.com will be tackling a topic that we’ve mentioned before from new angles. I love camping. I love all kinds of camping! If you’re not so sure about camping, stay tuned. Because camp options and the ways you can go about them are so diverse, camping really is a travel activity that everyone can enjoy.

Don’t believe me? Here are some of the possible topics we will cover this summer:

  • Using camp as a money-saving accommodation for a regular vacation.
  • Making camp feel like a faraway, adventurous destination, even if you’re only minutes away from home.
  • “Day camp”- enjoying camp activities while sleeping in your own bed in your own house.
  • “Glamping”- making camp feel fancy.
  • Different camp accommodations like tents, campers, RVs, cars, cabins, and hammocks.
  • A day in the life on your campsite
  • How to pack for a camping trip
  • Doing it yourself vs. Joining a group camp
  • How to save money, and even make money, on a camping trip
  • Camping in adverse weather conditions
  • And of course, personal stories from trips I will be taking this summer!

What camp-related topic would you like me to cover? Let me know in the comment section down below!

PS- If you’re going camping this summer, or on any kind of trip or staycation where you want to catch up on rest, be sure to check out the summer 2018 issue of Girlz 4 Christ Magazine. In addition to its usual fun and meaningful articles, the issue theme is “rest” and filled with ways to relax at home and on the road. Get a free subscription to Girlz 4 Christ just by clicking here!

travel tips

Savannah: The Perfect Setting For Your Next City Break

One of the many gorgeous fountains in Savannah, Georgia. (Credit)

Georgia is home to plenty of delightful cities, but none come close to the serene beauty of Savannah. It’s one of the most underrated places in the US, with big names like NYC, Orlando, Boston, Seattle, and New Orleans all taking the limelight. If you asked someone to name the top ten places they’d like to visit in North America, it probably wouldn’t make their list.

However, this is because hardly anyone knows of the delights that Savannah brings to the table. It’s one of the best places you can go for a quick city break, with something interesting lurking around every corner. To prove this to you, here are some of Savannah’s best highlights:

The Food Is Exceptional

Even if you know nothing about Savannah, you can probably guess the food will be pretty amazing. It’s a Southern city, which means it brings all the best Southern cuisine to the party. There is an absurd amount of great food here; from homecooked fried chicken to strange treats like earl grey cookies; everything is covered. It’s somewhere for foodies to enjoy, and there’s somewhere great to eat for every meal of the day!

It’s An Affordable City

My biggest annoyance with traveling around the US is that so many of the ‘popular’ cities are way too expensive. They capitalize on all the popularity and ramp up prices across the board. Here, things are different. You can find a hotel near Savannah, Georgia for a lot less than you’d probably expect. It’s affordable to stay in this city for a few days – and you can stay in a nice hotel while you’re at it! Food and drink are also very cheap, it’s a great place to go if you want to have fun without worrying about how much you’ll spend.

There’s So Much Beauty

It always helps when you go somewhere that looks beautiful. Partly because it means you can get some great photos for your Instagram page, but mainly because it just puts a smile on your face when you walk around and see so much beauty staring back at you. Savannah has some awesome architecture that will blow you away, along with a selection of gorgeous squares filled with trees, green grass, and stunning statues. There’s no shortage of natural or man-made beauty here, and you’ll love it.

The People Are Friendly

Who wants to travel somewhere and be met with sourfaced locals? Not me! Thankfully, you don’t have this problem in Savannah, as you’re made to feel welcome the moment you arrive. There’s the classic Southern friendliness in the locals, they’re always happy to help point you in the right direction, or suggest somewhere to eat. It makes a massive difference to your overall experience when you’re surrounded by happy and helpful people.

I’m fairly confident most of you had never considered Savannah as a city break destination before today. I’m also optimistic that it will now be firmly in your thoughts! It’s a city with so much to offer, and these were just a few of the many highlights!

travel tips

3 Awesome Travel Destinations For Fashionistas Who Love Animals

We (humankind that is) are not alone on this planet. We share it with a beautiful, expansive and fragile ecosystem made of plants and life forms so diverse and numerous that there’s a good chance we still haven’t discovered them all. Those of a fashion conscious disposition owe a great debt to the beauty and diversity of the natural world. We find inspiration in it all the time, from leafy patterns to animal print to sourcing our clothes from sustainably sourced natural materials. We are also increasingly aware of the impact our fashion has on the natural world and most of us vote for positive chance with our wallets. We eschew fur, suede and leather and opt instead for man made alternatives. We decry fast fashion for its environmental impact and look instead for more sustainable and less wasteful clothing choices. For those who love the natural world and the animals that live therein, there can be no better way to unwind to spend time with some of these glorious creatures from all over the world. Here are some excellent vacation choices for fashionistas who love animals…

Image by Pixabay

See leopards in Tanzania

It seems that fashion will never get over its on again off again affair with leopard print. Perhaps this is because people will never stop wanting to hint at their wild nature while also paying homage to these beautiful, graceful and savagely efficient predators. Yet those who love leopards and other big cats like tigers are often given cause for chagrin when faced with attractions that enable you to pet and interact with (obviously drugged) jungle cats. The only way to see these magnificent creatures without impinging on their lives is in their natural habitat. Check out https://www.leopard-tours.com/ to do exactly that. You’ll get to see these incredible cats in their habitat and on their own terms. Your contributions will also help to conserve and protect their habitat.

Walk with elephants in Thailand

Elephants are gentle giants whose wisdom and grace is all too apparent for those who see them up close and personal. Unfortunately, many of them have also been subject to enormous abuse at the hands of the logging and tourism industries. Fortunately, sanctuaries are popping up around the world where these hard working and often horribly abused creatures can live out their days in happiness and plenty. No longer will they have to carry heavy tourists on their backs or drag carts of logs up hills. Visit a place like Phuket Elephant Sanctuary and you’ll see just how much love, care and attention goes into giving these wonderful animals a safe haven. You’ll even be able to walk with them and feed them too.

See wild coyotes in Rocky Mountain National Park

North America is also home to numerous wonderful indigenous species and many breathtakingly scenic national parks. For our money, though, one of the best has to be Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park. Aside from the incredible topography this is one of the few places where you can see an abundance of the tragically misunderstood coyote. Walk the Coyote Valley Trail and you’ll learn a great deal more about these beautiful and fascinating canines.

Happy trails!