Canada Road Trip: A One Month Suggested Itinerary

Posted By : webmaster/ 297 0


People canoeing on the bright, clear waters of Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada
Posted:

Spanning 9,306km (5,780 miles) and six time zones, Canada is the second-largest country in the world. It’s home to rugged coastlines, vast prairies, dense boreal forests, towering mountain ranges, and upwards of two million lakes.

But what makes Canada special is its people. It’s a place that embraces its diversity and that encourages people to be friendly, caring, and polite.

Due to its large size, though, traveling across Canada can be a little challenging. Domestic flights are prohibitively expensive due to low competition and, outside of the eastern part, trains don’t go many places.

That means if you really want to see Canada, you need to drive.

To help you explore this amazing country, Chris Oldfield, our Canadian team member, helped create this suggested itinerary for a one-month road trip. It’s packed, since you’ve got a lot of ground to cover. However, it’s also not too rushed (though you can easily extend this out to six or eight weeks as well).

(Note: Canada is huge, and there are many routes and itineraries you can take. This one is by no means comprehensive but instead meant to give you a good overview and introduction to the main cities and sights.)
 

Days 1-3: Vancouver, BC

The towering skyline of Vancouver, Canada overlooking the ocean
Kick off your adventure in Vancouver, one of my favorite Canadian cities. It’s tucked between the ocean and the mountains, making it a paradise for anyone who loves the outdoors.

It’s also the third-largest city in Canada, so there’s plenty to see and do while you’re here. There’s an amazing foodie scene here too.

Here are a few suggestions to help you start your trip off right:

  • Visit Granville Island – Granville Island is a shopping district in the middle of the city. It’s also a hub for foodies. Explore the public market, grab a beer at Granville Island Brewing Company, and wander the cool shops. There are also galleries, some performing arts venues, and all kinds of events and festivals held here too!
  • Enjoy the view from Grouse Mountain – Ride the gondola to the top, where you can enjoy the view over the metropolis and mountains. There are lots of trails for hiking in the summer and sections for skiing and snowboarding in the winter. You can also hike to the top (which takes 1.5–2 hours) and then take the gondola down for just $15 CAD.
  • Relax in Stanley Park – Located in the heart of the city, this enormous park (a 400-hectare natural rain forest) is a perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of downtown. Its waterfront path right on the Pacific is a nice place to go for a stroll, swim, or bike ride. There are also sports fields here and over 20km of trails.
  • Walk the Capilano Suspension Bridge – This 450-foot long suspension bridge stands 230 feet high and offers views of the surrounding forests and trails. I don’t love heights, but it’s worth it for the view! Tickets are $54 CAD.

For more suggestions, here’s a detailed list of things to see and do in Vancouver.

Where to Stay

  • Cambie Hostel Gastown – Located in the historic Gastown district, this hostel has comfortable beds, a small common room for hanging out, and access to The Cambie, the hostel’s bar.
  • HI Vancouver Downtown – Tucked into a quieter part of town, HI Vancouver Downtown is in a good location for exploring the popular Granville and Davie Streets, which offer plenty of cafés, bars, clubs, restaurants, and shopping.
  • Samesun Vancouver – With cozy pod beds, clean bathrooms, a fully equipped kitchen, and free breakfast (including eggs and hot cereal), this is my favorite hostel in the city.

Here is my complete hostel list with even more suggestions!
 

Day 4-5: Whistler, BC

A calm lake with a small floating dock near Whistler, BC, Canada
Located 90 minutes from Vancouver, Whistler is home to one of the largest ski resorts in North America. If you’re visiting during the winter, be sure to hit the slopes.

In the summer, there are tons of outdoor activities to enjoy such as hiking, swimming, cycling, zip-lining, and bear watching. There’s also a 4.4km peak-to-peak gondola where you can enjoy the stunning mountain vistas that envelop the region.

Where to Stay
Airbnb and will be your best choices here. Book in advance, as they get booked fast!
 

Days 6-8: Banff National Park, AB

The vivid waters of Moraine Lake in Banff National Park, Alberta
Next, head east to Banff National Park. It’s an 8.5-hour drive, so you can break it up with a stay in Kamloops or just muscle through in one go.

Banff is home to two of Canada’s most picturesque (and most Instagrammed) locations: Moraine Lake and Lake Louise. They are incredibly popular sights, so get there early to beat the crowds.

Beyond snapping some Insta-worthy shots, there is plenty of hiking to enjoy in the surrounding mountains. It’s a beautiful place to relax in a rustic lodge or cabin or go camping (you can rent camping gear if you don’t have any).

Be sure to spend some time in the town of Banff as well. It’s a touristy resort town but it’s also super quaint and charming.

Where to Stay
Airbnb will be your best option if you’re on a budget. If you feel like splurging on a luxury resort or lodge, use Booking.com.

For camping, you can use this government website to book a site in the park.

Note: If you have more than a month for your trip, consider a stop in Jasper National Park before heading to Banff. It’s an extra nine-hour drive from Whistler but the natural beauty here is jaw-dropping (seriously, google “Jasper National Park” — it’s stunning!).
 

Days 9-10: Calgary, AB

The towering skyline of Calgary, Alberta during sunset
Calgary, an often-overlooked destination, is just 90 minutes from Banff and worth spending a couple days in. It’s a cosmopolitan city with a rough and wild cowboy charm to it. There’s plentiful hiking, kayaking, skiing, rafting, and camping all nearby. And the city itself is one of the liveliest in Canada, especially during the Calgary Stampede in July, which attracts tens of thousands of people from around the world.

Here are a few things to see and do during your visit:

  • Attend the Calgary Stampede – The Calgary Stampede is an annual rodeo. Expect chuckwagon races, bull riding, concerts, carnival rides, and endless fair food (deep-fried butter, anyone?). Tickets start at $18 CAD.
  • Visit Fish Creek Provincial Park – Fish Creek sits along the Bow River and is perfect for walking, cycling, and rollerblading. In the summer, people come here to fish, swim, and barbecue. It’s a fun, relaxing place to get some exercise and enjoy the weather.
  • Go brewery-hopping – Calgary has a huge number of brewpubs and small craft breweries. Citizen Brewing Company, Cold Garden Beverage Company, and Big Rock are some of my favorites. You can take brewery tours for around $25 CAD or do a brewery tour for around $90 CAD.
  • Take in the view from Calgary Tower – Built in 1967, the Calgary Tower commemorates Canada’s Centennial. From the top, it offers an uninterrupted view of the Rocky Mountains. The observation deck has a glass floor that adds an extra thrill to your visit (if you like heights, that is). Tickets are $18 CAD.

For more suggestions, check out my comprehensive free guide to Calgary!

Where to Stay

  • HI Calgary City Centre – This is the best hostel in the city. It’s newly renovated, has a full-equipped kitchen, includes towels, and the beds are comfy.

If the hostel is booked, use Airbnb. Be sure to book in advance if you’ll be here for the Stampede.
 

Days 11-12: Regina, SK

The small city of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada in the summer
Located seven hours east of Calgary, Regina, the capital of Saskatchewan, is named after Queen Victoria (regina is Latin for “queen”). The province is incredibly flat and dominated by farmland — which is why it’s often overlooked.

Home to under 240,000 people, Regina is a small city that’s worth a quick visit. Here are some suggested things to see and do while you’re here:

  • Visit the Royal Saskatchewan Museum – This natural history museum was opened in 1906 and is home to the world’s largest T. rex cast as well as an insightful exhibition on Canada’s First Nations. It’s an educational place to visit if you’re traveling with kids.
  • Watch the Roughriders – The CFL (Canada’s answer to the NFL) is popular here as Regina is home to one of the league’s best teams, the Roughriders. If you’re visiting between June and November, catch a game at Mosaic Stadium and get rowdy with the locals! Tickets start at $32 CAD.
  • Tour the Legislative Building – The Saskatchewan Legislative Building was built in 1912. It’s a National Historic Site and Heritage Property and is home to one of the tables used by the Fathers of Confederation when they drew up their plans to create a united Canada. Take a guided tour (they last around 30 minutes) and learn about the province’s history.

Where to Stay
Airbnb and Booking.com will be your best choices here, depending on your budget and what kind of accommodation you’re looking for.
 

Days 13-14: Winnipeg, MB

The city of Winnipeg, Canada during the warm summer months
Winnipeg is one of Canada’s up-and-coming destinations. The capital of Manitoba, it’s located six hours from Regina and is home to a burgeoning food scene. There’s also a growing arts and culture community here too.

While it’s known for its harsh winters, Winnipeg has been working hard to evolve into a world-class city. Slowly but surely, it’s succeeding. Stop by for a day or two and check out some of the city’s best sights:

  • See the Canadian Museum for Human Rights – This museum highlights the crises and evolution of human rights in Canada and around the globe. Opened in 2008, it’s the only national museum outside of Ottawa.
  • Watch the Blue Bombers – For more CFL action, catch a Blue Bombers game. The team was founded in 1930 and is one of the best in the league.
  • Explore the Forks National Historic Site – This urban park is a relaxing place to read or have a picnic. At the intersection of two rivers, it was historically significant for trade between indigenous people and Europeans, with human settlement going back as far as 6,000 years.
  • Visit the Royal Canadian Mint – If you’re a collector or are just curious how coins are made, stop by the mint. It’s made over 55 billion coins for 75 different countries. Over 1,000 coins are made every second here! Tours are $8 CAD.

Where to Stay
If you’re on a budget, try Airbnb first. If you’re looking for a hotel, Booking.com has the best rates.
 

Days 15-16: Thunder Bay, ON

A statue of Canadian hero Terry Fox in Thunder Bay, Ontario
Time to head to Ontario! It’s an eight-hour drive, so you can stop along the way to break up the trip (there are tons of parks, campgrounds, and small towns you can stay in along the way).

Tucked away on the edge of Lake Superior, Thunder Bay is one of the biggest cities in Northern Ontario. It’s just an hour from the US border and is one of the sunniest cities in Eastern Canada.

Here are some things to see and do while you’re here:

  • See the Terry Fox Monument – In 1980, cancer-survivor Terry Fox set out to run across Canada to raise money for cancer research. He did so on just one leg (he lost the other to cancer). He managed to run for 143 days straight (5,373km, or 3,339 miles) before his cancer returned and he had to call off his quest.
  • Go hiking in Sleeping Giant – Sleeping Giant Provincial Park is located on Lake Superior and offers 80km of hiking trails, including both short day hikes and multi-day routes.
  • Visit Fort William Historical Park – This park is where the reconstructed Fort William is located, a fur trading post from 1816. There’s a traditional blacksmith, cooper, and canoe builder, and you can interact with actors playing the various people you would have met here in the 19th century.

Where to Stay
Airbnb doesn’t have many options here, but if you can find one, they start at $45 CAD per night. For hotels and motels, use Booking.com.
 

Days 17-19: Algonquin Provincial Park, ON

A sweeping vista of forests in Algonquin Park in Ontario, Canada
It’s time to get away from it all and spend some time in nature. Algonquin Provincial Park spans a whopping 7,653 square kilometers (2,955 square miles) and is home to black bears, moose, foxes, beavers, wolves, and all kinds of birds and plants.

There are several different campgrounds in the park, dozens of hiking trails, and over 1,500 lakes (it’s massive!). You can also rent canoes and kayaks to explore and go deeper into the park. Multi-day portages are possible too.

Even if you’re a newbie camper and don’t have gear, you’ll be able to rent what you need to have an enjoyable, relaxing getaway for under $50 CAD per day.

Days 20-23: Toronto, ON

The iconic skyline of Toronto, Canada as seen from the island
Perched on the coast of Lake Ontario just a couple hours south of the park, Toronto is often considered the New York of Canada. While it doesn’t have the charm of cities like Vancouver or Montreal, it’s the country’s biggest, most diverse city. In fact, since 50% of the population is foreign-born, it’s considered one of the most diverse cities in the world.

There’s a ton to see and do here. Here are a few suggestions to help you get started:

  • Visit the CN Tower – The iconic CN Tower stands 550m tall and is a fixture of Toronto’s skyline. It offers panoramic views, shopping, and 360-degree dining in its (expensive) restaurant. If the weather is nice (and you have some extra money to spend), you can also walk along the outer edge of the tower. It’s touristy and expensive but fun!
  • Relax on Toronto Island – Spend an inexpensive day at Toronto Island Park and enjoy the beach, play volleyball, have a picnic, and take in the view of the city from the water.
  • Visit the ROM – The Royal Ontario Museum has thousands of artifacts and specimens spread over 20 exhibits. There are displays on dinosaurs, ancient China, indigenous Canadians, medieval Europe, ancient Egypt, and more. It’s the best museum in town and a fun place for kids and adults alike!
  • Hit the beach – The beaches near Lake Ontario are a relaxing way to spend the day during the humid summer. You can stroll along the boardwalk, eat at one of the many restaurants, or rent a boat and head out on the lake. Some of the best beaches are Cherry, Woodbine, and Centre Island.
  • Wander Kensington Market – This bohemian neighborhood offers an eclectic mix of alternative restaurants and shops. It gets quite bustling in the summer, and there are often free concerts too. It’s one of my favorite places to wander around!

For more suggestions as well as money-saving tips, check out my free guide to Toronto!

Where to Stay
Hotels in Toronto are expensive, so use Airbnb if you’re on a budget. If you do want to stay in a hostel, Planet Traveler Hostel is the best in the city.
 

Days 24-26: Ottawa, ON

The Canadian parliament building in Ottawa, Ontario
Next, head east to Canada’s capital. While Ottawa doesn’t get the love that cities like Toronto and Montreal do, it’s definitely still a city worth visiting — especially if you’re a history buff like me!

Located four hours from Toronto, it’s is full of historic buildings and museums, and is just a short walk from Québec (Canada’s French-speaking province).

Here’s what I would focus on in Ottawa during your stay:

  • Wander the Byward Market – This massive market is full of restaurants, shops, and open-air stalls. There is a lot happening all year round, though in the summer it’s bustling with fresh produce and many local artisans. If you’re looking for a souvenir or just want to people-watch, this is the place!
  • Visit the Canadian Museum of Civilization – While technically not in Ottawa (it’s across the river in Québec), this world-class museum is one of the best in all of Canada. It does an amazing job of showcasing Canada’s entire history, including some insightful exhibitions on First Nations. There are lots of kid-friendly exhibits too. This museum shouldn’t be missed!
  • Try a beaver tail – These are not actual beaver tails, don’t worry! They’re delectable desserts resembling a flat donut, made of fried dough and covered in all sorts of sweet toppings. They’re a must!
  • Visit the Canadian War Museum – Canada is known as a peaceful nation, but it’s been involved in its fair share of conflicts too. This museum does an excellent job of highlighting Canada’s military history. It has exhibits on both world wars as well as modern conflicts Canada has been engaged in.
  • Skate on the Rideau Canal – Every winter, the Rideau Canal is frozen over and turned into a massive skating rink that stretches for miles (it’s the longest skating rink in the world). If you’re visiting during the winter, you can rent skates for around $20 CAD if you don’t have your own.

Where to Stay

  • Ottawa Backpackers Hostel – This laid-back hostel has some of the cheapest accommodation in the city. The dorms are spacious, it’s social, and it’s right near the Byward Market.
  • HI Ottawa Jail Hostel – This hostel is located in a former jail. The rooms are small (they’re former cells), but it’s an incredibly unique space — and a little spooky too!

 

Days 27-30: Montreal, QC

The skyline of Montreal, Canada in the summer
Montreal is one of the largest French-speaking cities in the world. Just two hours from Ottawa, it’s located in Canada’s only French-speaking province, Québec.

Personally, I think it’s one of the best cities in Canada. The Old Town looks like something straight out of medieval France, and the French-inspired cuisine and eclectic nightlife (especially the jazz clubs) leave little to dislike.

Here are my suggestions for things to see and do while you’re here:

  • Wander Old Montreal – This is the most attractive part of town. It has cobblestone streets, and its historic gray-stone buildings date back to the 1700s. Some of the city’s finest museums and art galleries (such as the Montreal Museum of Archaeology and History) are here too.
  • Hike Mount Royal – For a view over Montreal, hike up Mount Royal (after which the city is named). You can also jog, picnic, or just people-watch around the park too. It’s a relaxing green space.
  • Visit the Notre-Dame Basilica – This 17th-century Gothic Revival basilica has dual towers that are reminiscent of Notre-Dame in Paris. Its interior is stunning and full of religious paintings, colorful stained glass windows, and gold-leaf decoration. There’s also a 7,000-pipe organ. A 60-minute tour costs $15 CAD.
  • See the Museum of Fine Arts – This huge museum has over 43,000 works of art. There are both permanent galleries and rotating exhibitions, so there’s always something new to see. Admission is $24 CAD.

For more suggestions, as well as money-saving tips, check out my guide to Montreal!

Where to Stay

  • HI Montreal – HI Montreal is just a two-minute walk from the metro, offers both dorms and private rooms, and has a pool table. There’s also free breakfast and daily activities, including bike tours, walks, a pub crawl, and even poutine tastings!
  • Alternative Hostel of Old Montreal – Located in the historic area of town and a short jaunt to the city center, it has an eclectic and artsy vibe. Free breakfast is included, and there are plenty of common areas for relaxing and meeting other travelers.

Here are some other great hostel suggestions too!

***

With a month at your disposal, you’ll be able to experience the majority of Canada’s sights and cities without having to rush. And, with an additional 10-21 days, you can add more of Québec and the Maritimes, Canada’s rugged and picturesque east coast.

Canada is such a massive, diverse landscape. It truly has something for everyone. While this itinerary only covers a portion of Canada, it does give you a peek into just how awesome it is.

Book Your Trip to Canada: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay elsewhere, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

Looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all the ones I use to save money when I travel – and I think will help you too!

Want More Information on Canada?
Be sure to visit our robust destination guide on Canada for even more planning tips!

Photo credit: 8 – Cameron MacMinn

The post Canada Road Trip: A One Month Suggested Itinerary appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





Source link

My Favorite Books of 2020

Posted By : webmaster/ 264 0


A woman in a bookstore looking at books on a ladder
Posted: 11/12/2020 | November 12th, 2020

This year hasn’t been what anyone expected. As COVID has reminded us, you never know what tomorrow will bring. And, this year, it didn’t bring too many great things (especially for folks like myself working in the tourism industry).

However, if there’s been one silver lining, it’s that being home this much has allowed me to supercharge my reading. While this year started off slow, since COVID, I’ve been averaging a book (sometimes two) a week. (I mean, after all, what else am I going to do?) Books that have sat in my bookcase for a long time were finally opened.

So, as I look back on this year as it comes to an end, I can find at least one good thing about it!

And, since it’s been an entire year since I a post about my current favorite reads. (As we head into the holiday season, a book is always a good gift idea!) Here are all the books I’ve read this year that I’ve loved:
 

Looking for Transwonderland, by Noo Saro-Wiwa

Looking for Transworld book coverThis was one of the best travel books I’ve read in recent memory. I absolutely loved it. Author Noo Saro-Wiwa returns to her Nigerian homeland from London to learn more about her heritage, country, and her father. It’s filled with vivid descriptions, engaging prose, and wonderful dialogue that gives a lot of insight into the country and diversity of Nigeria. It’s a must-read.

Buy on Amazon | Buy on Bookshop
 

The Invisible Hook, by Peter Leeson

The Invisible Hook book coverThis book is about the economics of piracy in the 1700s. It’s a fascinating look at how pirates created constitutions, workers’ compensation programs, governed themselves, and used branding to minimize battles. Turns out, everything you think you know about pirates is just flat wrong. You wouldn’t think a book on “the economics of piracy” would be interesting but you’d be wrong on that account too!

Buy on Amazon | Buy on Bookshop
 

Atomic Habits, by James Clear

Atomic Habits book coverThis cultural bombshell of a book teaches us that small changes to our habits can create big results and help us create systems to achieve our goals. It was a good guide to how to structure your life for maximum pleasure (like waking up early to read!). While I do a lot of what he suggests, there were some tidbits that made me rethink my own habits. It’s the most practical habit creation book I’ve read.

Buy on Amazon | Buy on Bookshop
 
 

See You in the Piazza, by Frances Mayes

See You in the Piazza book coverFrances Mayes is famous for sitting under the Tuscan sun, but in this book she and her husband Ed take you off the tourist trail and around thirteen regions in Italy. Just as wonderfully written as Under the Tuscan Sun, this look at Italian food and culture was inspiring and informative, and it will fill you with wanderlust. It makes me want to go to Italy as soon as all this COVID stuff is over.

Buy on Amazon | Buy on Bookshop
 
 

An Arabian Journey, by Levison Wood

An Arabian Journey book coverLevison Wood is a British author who likes to go on long walks. He’s walked the Nile, the Himalayas, and the Americas. In this book, he spends months walking across the Middle East during the height of the Syrian civil war. I’m a big fan of Wood: his engrossing stories are filled with people and interesting facts about places. I found myself devouring this book as quickly as his previous ones.

Buy on Amazon | Buy on Bookshop
 
 

The Great Influenza, John M. Barry

The Great Influenza book cover This is a fascinating look at the 1918 flu pandemic, covering how the flu works, public health measures, and other aspects of what happened during the outbreak. There are a lot of lessons here that we could (re)learn as we battle COVID. Skip the entire first section though: it’s a really boring history about the main scientists and doctors and not needed at all. After that, though, the book really picks up.

Buy on Amazon | Buy on Bookshop
 

Stardust, by Neil Gaiman

Stardust book coverI love the movie Stardust and it was only after listening to Neil Gaiman’s MasterClass did I realize it was based on a book that he wrote! So, I picked it up and devoured it in a few sittings. The story kept me saying, “And then what happened?”, which is what you want any book to do. It’s a very wonderful book that will have you daydreaming about adventure.

Buy on Amazon | Buy on Bookshop
 
 

Meeting Faith, by Faith Adiele

Stardust book coverFaith Adiele is a very talented travel writer and also super nice — one of my favorite humans. This book chronicles her life in Thailand and how she became the first black Buddhist nun in the country. It’s a remarkable book about finding your place in the world.

Buy on Amazon | Buy on Bookshop
 
 

Nerve, by Eva Holland

Nerve book coverWritten by fellow travel writer Eva Holland, this book is on the science of fear. What causes it? How do we get over it? And how does it relate to adventure? Using her desire to get rid of her own fears, she deep dives into the science of fear and what we can do about it. Eva is one of my favorite writers and she knocks it out of the park with her first book.

Buy on Amazon | Buy on Bookshop
 
 

Tracks, by Robyn Davidson

Tracks book coverThis book follows Robyn Davidson as she travels solo across the Australian outback in 1980. It was riveting, and as someone who has visited some of the places she went, I found it to be a super interesting account of what they looked like long before I came through. I was captivated from page one of this thrilling tale of grit and adventure.

Buy on Amazon | Buy on Bookshop
 
 

The Three-Body Problem, by Liu Cixin

The Three-Body Problem book cover Some friends turned me onto this sci-fi trilogy that involves aliens, space exploration, human psychology, and the terrifying concept of “a dark forest” that I haven’t stopped thinking about. The third book is my favorite. It’s perhaps one of the greatest sci-fi trilogies I’ve ever read and I’m super psyched Netflix is making it into a series!

Buy on Amazon | Buy on Bookshop
 
 

The Yellow Envelope, Kim Dinan

The Yellow Envelope book coverThis book by Kim Dinan was an engaging travelogue about a woman who felt uneasy in her marriage and life in Portland. After convincing her husband to travel the world, they head on an adventure that tests their marriage. Along a journey that lasts longer than they thought, Kim finds her place in the world. It’s a stoy found in many travel books but I enjoyed her writing and tales very much.

Buy on Amazon | Buy on Bookshop
 
 

Talking to Strangers, by Malcolm Gladwell

Talking to Strangers book coverThis is probably now my favorite Malcolm Gladwell book. It’s an amazing look at how we (frequently fail to) communicate with each other. It talks about how we default to truth and make assumptions about people’s intentions. We often don’t put ourselves in the other person’s shoes to understand why they are reacting the way they are — and usually fail to ask too.

Buy on Amazon | Buy on Bookshop
 
 

Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman

Neverwhere book coverAfter Stardust, I picked up another Gaiman book. In this fantasy, an everyday Londoner, Richard, gets caught up in “London Below,” a world where the supernatural takes place without people above knowing about it. Incredibly well written and filled with vivid imagery, this is my favorite novel of the year.

Buy on Amazon | Buy on Bookshop
 
 

Ten Years a Nomad, by me!

Ten Years a Nomad book coverAnd, finally, since I haven’t mentioned it in a few months, if you haven’t picked up a copy of my book, now’s a great time to do so. My memoir follows my ten years backpacking the world and talks about the ups and downs of life as a permanent nomad. It’s my treatise on long-term travel and something I poured my heart and soul into. Be sure to come to our December Book Club meeting on it!

Buy on Amazon | Buy on Bookshop
 
***

This has been a great year for reading, and I’ve found some wonderful titles and incredible new authors. COVID may have ruined my travel plans, but I’m an even more devout reader now. If you have any suggestions, drop them in the comments.

(function(d){var s=d.createElement(‘script’);s.type=’text/javascript’;s.src=’https://a.omappapi.com/app/js/api.min.js’;s.async=true;s.dataset.campaign=’rwu0vxsug5jbk3ampkjw’;s.dataset.user=’8268′;d.getElementsByTagName(‘head’)[0].appendChild(s);})(document);

P.S. – If you’re looking to get any of these books and are from the US or the UK, I highly recommend Bookshop. It supports independent booksellers — and still makes sure you get your books fast. The discounts aren’t as big, and obviously, there’s no Kindle, but if you’re still getting hard copies, please support your local bookstore. I know it’s super hard not to use Amazon (I default to it too often), but these small stores need our help!

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay elsewhere, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years.

My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

Looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all the ones I use to save money when I travel — and I think will help you too!

The post My Favorite Books of 2020 appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





Source link

12 Things to See and Do in Bristol

Posted By : webmaster/ 223 0


The colorful buildings along the waterfront in Bristol, UK
Updated: 11/11/20 | November 11th, 2020

While most travelers who visit England only visit London, there are actually a lot of other gems in the country worth exploring.

One such place is Bristol.

“Bristol? There’s not much there.”

That was the standard reply from locals whenever I mentioned I was heading to Bristol.

Needless to say, I had low expectations. But I visited anyway. After all, there’s no such thing as “must-see” — and that means there’s no such thing as “must skip” either.

On arrival, I found a hip college town with amazing eateries, great ethnic food, wonderful things to see, and plenty of green space.

Bristol is like the English version of Seattle. Most travelers seem to use it as a base for trips to Bath, and never fully explore this city, giving it only a brief glance before heading back to London.

This is a mistake.

With a population of around 500,000, Bristol is the largest city in southern England (after London) and is also one of the largest shipping ports in England. It received a royal charter in 1155 and, until the rise of Liverpool, Birmingham, and Manchester during the Industrial Revolution, was one of England’s largest cities.

Bristol suffered extensive bombing during World War II and a subsequent decline in its manufacturing industry. Today, the city is a vibrant college town. The University of Bristol dominates the city and the students provide a lot of income and jobs for the community.

To help you make the most out of your visit, here’s a list of my favorite things to see and do in Bristol:
 

1. Bristol Cathedral

The historic exterior of the Bristol Cathedral in Bristol, UK during sunset
This beautiful cathedral was consecrated in 1148 and was built in the Romanesque style (and has a similar design to Notre Dame in Paris). Originally named St. Augustine’s Abbey, the cathedral stretches over 300 feet and while much of it has been rebuilt, some of the original building remains.

Tours are available on Saturdays at 11:30am and 1:30pm for free, though a donation of 5 GBP is suggested.

College Green, West End, +44 117 926 4879, bristol-cathedral.co.uk. Open Tuesday-Saturday from 9am-4pm and 11:30am-3pm on Sundays. Dress respectfully as this is a place of worship. Admission is free.
 

2. Wander King Street

Originally laid out in 1650, King Street is a fascinating, historical part of Bristol. It used to be where the old sailing barges docked after their journeys from South Wales. Now the area is the heart of the theatrical district and features outstanding bars and restaurants. There are even some pubs from the 17th century that are still standing, such as The Hatchet Inn which was built in 1606!
 

3. See the Clifton Suspension Bridge

Looking out at the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol, UK
This is Bristol’s most famous landmark. Suspended high above the Avon Gorge and River Avon, the bridge opened in 1864 and provides sweeping views of the river and surrounding parks and buildings. It was also where one of the early bungee jumps in the UK was held in the 1970’s. The bridge stretches 1,352ft (412m) and handles almost 10,000 vehicles per day. There’s a small visitor center nearby where you can learn more about the bridge and its history too (it’s open daily from 10am-5pm).
 

4. Check out St. Nicholas Market

This is a lively, bustling market with more shops than you could go through in an afternoon. There seems to be an endless number of farmers’ stalls with amazing local produce, second-hand bookshops, and vintage clothing stores. The market dates back to 1743 and is the perfect place to wander, explore, and people watch.

Corn St, +44 117 922 4014, bristol.gov.uk/web/st-nicholas-markets. Open Monday-Saturday from 9:30am-5pm.
 

5. Visit the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery

The exterior of the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery in Bristol, UK
Established in 1823, this museum covers a little bit of everything — from archaeology to dinosaurs to English history to art. The expansive variety keeps things interesting so even non-history buffs will enjoy it. It’s the area’s largest museum and one of my personal favorites. While there are tens of thousands of items in the museum’s collection, it’s not too overwhelming and easy to see in a few hours. Plus, like all public museums in England, it’s free!

Queens Road, +44 117 922 3571, bristolmuseums.org.uk/bristol-museum-and-art-gallery. Open Tuesday-Sunday from 10am-5pm. Admission is free.
 

6. Take a Walking Tour

Bristol is an old city and has been an important port for almost a thousand years. With so much history, it should come as no surprise that the city has collected its fair share of ghost stories. To hear some of the tales as you explore the city, take a haunted walking tour with Haunted and Hidden Ghost Walks. Their tour lasts 90 minutes and is well worth the 5 GBP!

If haunted walks aren’t your cup of tea, take a street art tour. Bristol is home to several works by Banksy as well as tons of other murals. Tours from Where the Wall last 2 hours and cover the city’s best works of public art. Tours start a 7.50 GBP.
 

7. See the S.S. Great Britain

The deck of the S.S. Great Britain ship docked in Bristol, UK
Located in the harbor, the S.S Great Britain was the world’s first steam-powered passenger liner. It took its maiden voyage in 1845 and was actually the longest ship in the world for almost a decade. (It’s 322 feet long).

Unfortunately, since it was so big it took a long time to build (it took 6 years to complete) and the owners went bankrupt not long after it was launched. It ran aground not long after and was sold for salvage. After being repaired, the ship was used to ferry passengers to Australia from 1852-1881 when the ship was converted to all-sail. It was scuttled and sunk in the Falkland Islands in 1937 where it stayed for 33 years until it was recovered, hauled back to the UK, and turned into a tourist attraction.

Great Western Dockyard, +44 0117 926 0680, ssgreatbritain.org. Open daily from 10am-5pm. Admission is 18 GBP.
 

8. Have Fun at WetheCurious

This science and art center is an educational charity dedicated to cultivating curiosity. Opened in 2000, it’s home to over 250 interactive exhibits, making it a fun and educational place to visit if you’re traveling with kids. They have a planetarium, 3D printers, and exhibits covering the human body, magnets, animation, and more!

1 Millennium Square, +44 0117 915 1000, wethecurious.org. Open Wednesday-Sunday from 10am-5pm. Admission is 14.50 GBP.
 

9. Relax at the Downs

The spacious green fields of The Downs in Bristol, UK
The Downs (Clifton Down and Durdham Down) are a protected parkland on the edge of the city. Spanning over 400 acres, they’re within walking distance of the Clifton Suspension Bridge and the Avon Gorge and make for a nice place to relax, stroll, and watch the locals play sports.
 

10. See Cabot Tower

The tower, which stands 32m (105ft), was built in the 1890s to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the Italian explorer John Cabot’s departure from Bristol and his ultimate “discovery” of North America (he was the first European to visit North America since the Norse Vikings in 1,000 CE). The tower is constructed from sandstone and has a narrow staircase inside that you can climb to take in the sweeping view.

Brandon Hill Park, +44 0117 922 3719, bristol.gov.uk/museums-parks-sports-culture/brandon-hill. Open daily from 8:15am-5:15pm. Admission is free.
 

11. Visit Blaise Castle

The exterior of Blaise Castle ina park in in Bristol, UK
Built in 1798 in the Gothic Revival style, this “castle” is actually a sham — it’s not a real castle but rather a look-alike built by a wealthy family just for the fun of it. It’s essentially an ornamental building, offering sweeping views over the surrounding 650 acres and the Avon Gorge. There is also a nearby historic home that has been converted into a museum where you can learn more about the castle and its quirky history.

Kings Weston Rd, +44 117 922 2000, bristol.gov.uk/museums-parks-sports-culture/blaise-castle-estate. Open daily from 7:30am–7:15pm (5:15pm in the winter). Admission is free.
 

12. Ride the Avon Valley Railway

An old steam engine on the Avon Railway in in Bristol, UK
This railway, which dates back to the 1860s, once connected Bristol to Bath. Today it’s a three-mile heritage railway where you can ride a steam-powered train. There’s also a fully-restored Victorian train station and get a sense of what traveling was like at the turn of the last century. For hiking enthusiasts, there’s a walking trail beside the tracks if you’d rather explore on foot.

Bitton Station, +44 117 932 5538, avonvalleyrailway.org. Open daily from 9:30am-5:15pm. Steam train tickets are 9 GBP while diesel train tickets are 8 GBP.

***

I thought Bristol, with its old industrial-turned-Bohemian charm, made for a great place to spend a few days. There were historic houses to visit, a few good museums, and some wonderful parks. Its image as an industrial center still lingers on in most of England, making it a place few go or want to explore.

But that works out for the rest of us. For while everyone else heads off to Bath, we can have the city of Bristol to ourselves.

I suspect one day the word will get out, but, at least for now, Bristol remains a hidden gem and a city that is well worth a visit.
 

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the largest inventory. If you’re not looking for a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels. I use them all the time.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

Looking for the Best Companies to Save Money With?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all the ones I use to save money when I travel — and I think will help you too!

Want More Information on England?
Be sure to visit our robust destination guide on England for even more planning tips!

Photo credit: 6 – Nilfanion, 9 – Nilfanion, 12 – Graeme Churchard, 12 – velodenz

The post 12 Things to See and Do in Bristol appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





Source link

Should You Travel During COVID-19?

Posted By : webmaster/ 169 0


Nomadic Matt posing for a photo in Hawaii while traveling
Posted: 11/9/2020 | November 9th, 2020

These days, due to COVID-19, the subject of travel elicits very strong reactions from people — and rightly so. Whenever I post travel tips on social media and forget to include the words “at a later date” or “when it’s safe,” a chorus of commenters tell me it’s irresponsible to promote travel during a pandemic, that everyone just needs to stay home, and I should be ashamed of myself (yes, some people really say that).

Many people were being “travel shamed” for traveling over the summer – even if that trip was somewhere remote.

But, as I wrote in my article on flight shaming, shaming doesn’t solve anything. It doesn’t make someone change their behavior; it only makes them dig in deeper, since shaming comes off as an attack on their character. And no one wants to think they’re the bad guy.

And what about those who rely on tourism to live? How do you tell 10% of the world, “I’m sorry, you have to go hungry and become homeless. We can only travel again when there’s a vaccine available for everyone! Good luck!”?

When COVID struck in March, we were told to stay home to “flatten the curve” so we wouldn’t overrun our hospital systems. In many countries, that happened. In others, especially the United States, it didn’t.

And, now, as the pandemic rages to new heights in many parts of Europe and the United States, a lot of people have COVID fatigue and are starting to travel again (not just to relocate somewhere for months but for a short, leisure trip).

But should you? Is it right to travel during COVID?

COVID-19 is very real. I had it. Friends of mine have had it. I know people who have lost relatives to it. The virus is six times deadlier than the flu and spreads much quicker. (And, as we enter flu season in the Northern Hemisphere, we now have to worry about that too.)

But, on the other hand, this isn’t the Middle Ages (or even 1918). We know the best practices for reducing the spread of infectious diseases that many countries in the world have implemented (Vietnam, Taiwan, South Korea, New Zealand, Iceland, and Thailand to name a few).

Doctors and researchers discover treatments and vaccines much quicker than in the past (today, as I publish this, Pfizer just announced very promising vaccine trial results).

Now, I don’t fault anyone for wanting to stay home until there’s a vaccine. I have friends that haven’t left their house since the pandemic began. People have a right to be cautious.

But does that mean we should shame people who don’t stay at home?

As someone who took a summer road trip, I know there are ways to travel while reducing risk.

I think we need to treat the virus and travel like we treat STDs and sex. We can’t pretend people aren’t going to have sex (or in the case of the virus, come in contact with other people), but we can arm them with the best information about practicing safe sex (reducing one’s risk of contracting the virus), wearing protection (masks), and the need to get tested often.

When I started writing this article last month, cases and hospitalizations weren’t rising so rapidly as they are now. I think we should, in part, mostly stay home and away from people. Social distance, wear a mask, and be smart.

But, just because the United States and Europe are a basket cases, doesn’t mean everywhere else is. There’s plenty of places that are just fine – and they want visitors.

I still think there’s a safe way to reduce risk and travel. There are many common sense things you can do to be safe:

  • Get a COVID test before you go
  • Always wear a mask
  • Wash your hands
  • Maintain social distance
  • Avoid large gatherings

Next, follow all the rules. If the state or country you are visiting has strict rules, follow them. A friend recently went to Jamaica, where the government says tourists can only visit certain areas. But he decided to get an Airbnb instead, outside those areas, and I was extremely disappointed to hear that. Two French tourists broke quarantine and caused a second wave in Iceland. Follow the rules wherever you go.

Third, don’t move around a lot. The more places you go, the more you increase your risk of getting (and spreading) it. Wear a mask, practice proper hygiene, social-distance, and avoid crowds. I see too many people going around different countries like it’s all fine. Or complaining when they have to wear a mask. Take the same precautions you would at home — not only to protect yourself but also the people in the destination you’re visiting.

***

When I wrote about my trip to Maine, many people admonished me for going, even though I got tested beforehand and spent most of my time there by myself.

I understand the knee-jerk reaction to traveling right now (“It’s a pandemic!”) but I think it’s important we move past our fear as more is learned about the disease, countries create tourism protocols, testing becomes more widespread, and better therapies are rolled out.

We’re eleven months into this crisis and, while all pandemics end, this one isn’t going to anytime soon. As many doctors have said, this is our new normal for the foreseeable future – and we have to adapt.

I think we’re past the part of this where any travel is 100% irresponsible

If you’re going to be responsible, get tested before you go, know you aren’t bringing the virus, and practice “safe travel” in a destination that is letting you in, I don’t see an ethical issue here.

You definitely shouldn’t travel if you don’t plan to follow the rules like Kira here or can’t get a test before you go. That just makes you a selfish jerk – and the world has enough of those.

As someone who lives in the United States (a hot spot), I’m more on edge about COVID because it’s everywhere here — but every place is different, and there are areas of the world that are safe and that want people to visit.

If you’re not comfortable traveling, that’s fine.

But, as testing is rolled out around the world (even by some airlines), treatments get better, and countries take precautions to reduce the spread, I think travel is possible and, when done responsibly, not unethical to do. Follow the rules. Be safe. Wear a mask.

P.S. – Even having the ability to travel right now is a serious luxury and, as such, it’s all the more important to be extra responsible and a good human being. Take care of the communities you are visiting. With great power, comes great responsibility. Remember how lucky you are to travel. Please remember your privilege and be respectful of local rules.

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay elsewhere, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for over fifteen years.

My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

Looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all the ones I use to save money when I travel — and I think will help you too!

The post Should You Travel During COVID-19? appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





Source link

How to Road Trip the Yukon on a Budget

Posted By : webmaster/ 288 0


Tombstone Territorial Park near the Dempster Highway in Yukon, Canada
Posted: 11/5/2020 | November 5th, 2020

Canada is home to some of the most pristine and unspoiled landscapes in the world. One of the country’s most scenic regions is the Yukon. In this guest post, writer Ethan Jakob Craft shares his tips and advice to help you road trip the region on a budget.

Tucked away in Canada’s northwestern corner is the Yukon Territory, a veritable paradise home to just 35,000 people and endless top-notch wilderness. The Yukon is dominated by thick boreal forest in the south and treeless tundra in the north and dotted with rugged peaks and lakeside beaches in between.

I first visited the territory at age 7 as a half-day shore excursion on an Alaskan cruise (yes, the border really is that close), and didn’t know what to make of it. But returning as an adult, it blew my expectations away.

Due to its sheer size and limited public transit options, I found the Yukon to be an ideal place for a Canadian road trip. Two weeks is perfect for covering the best of what the territory has to offer by car, taking you to both historic towns and untamed wilderness.

With a little bit of northern know-how, I took a summer road trip there on the cheap, and you can too using this handy guide that includes all of the territory’s most famous sights (plus some off-the-beaten-path excitement, too!).
 

Days 1–3: Whitehorse

Miles Canyon near Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada
Almost all travelers start their journey in Whitehorse, which is both the Yukon’s capital and largest city, accounting for roughly 70% of the territory’s total population. All major highways pass through here, most rental car agencies are headquartered here, and its Erik Nielsen International Airport offers direct flights to all over Canada, to Alaska, and even to Frankfurt, Germany.

I’d liken Whitehorse to an Austin or Portland of the North; it’s one of the hippest cities I’ve seen in Western Canada. With three days to enjoy, here are some things to do:

  • Take in some local history — The four-story MacBride Museum of Yukon History downtown covers every aspect of the territory, with exhibits on the region’s wildlife, art, and Indigenous peoples; the Alaska Highway; and the Klondike Gold Rush, to name just a few.
  • Hike Miles Canyon — South of town, the Yukon River has carved a deep canyon that is now home to a network of hiking and biking trails, all anchored by the Miles Canyon Suspension Bridge. According to almost every local I spoke to, the bright blue water here offers the most scenic view in town!
  • Eat at the Fireweed Market — If you’re lucky enough to be visiting on a Thursday evening in the summer, swing by the territory’s largest outdoor market. It’s a delicious mix of food trucks, bakers, local artisans, and buskers that gives the markets in Toronto (my hometown) a run for their money. But get here early — some of the locals’ favorite treats can sell out quickly.
  • Train with Iditarod sled dogs — Dog lovers, rejoice! In winter, head to the outskirts of Whitehorse to find a range of local sled-dog champions who are happy to offer kennel visits and training runs with a team of race-ready huskies. And don’t worry, you can still visit in the summer (just be ready to race in an ATV instead of a sled). I used Alayuk Adventures near Mt. Lorne and have nothing but praise for Marcelle and her dogs.
  • Tour the S.S. Klondike — Now permanently dry-docked next to the river it used to ply, this historic touring ship operated by Parks Canada gives you the run-down on the long and haphazard history of Yukon River paddle wheelers, all while onboard one of the largest ones ever built.

Where to stay

  • Town & Mountain Hotel — Like everything in the Yukon, lodging comes at a premium, though this hotel on Main Street appears to offer a fair deal at all times of the year, as well as free parking and an on-site lounge.
  • Beez Kneez Bakpakers — The only true hostel in Whitehorse, Beez Kneez is full of perks, including free Wi-Fi, free coffee, laundry service, and a full kitchen.

Tip: Get gas before leaving major population centers. Not only can it be up to 50% more expensive at smaller stations in the backcountry, but you don’t want to risk running out of fuel in the Yukon wilderness. In the far north, you can drive hundreds of miles between gas stations, so fill up wherever you can.
 

Days 4–5: Dawson City

The Kissing Buildings in Dawson City, Yukon, Canada
At the height of the Klondike Gold Rush in 1898, Dawson City boasted a population higher than the entire Yukon Territory has today. It’s a textbook boomtown and has preserved its heritage well, maintaining its authentic dirt roads, wood plank sidewalks, and turn-of-the-century buildings.

The drive to Dawson City can be done in as little as five hours from Whitehorse, but that’s without accounting for the numerous viewpoints, roadside hikes, and likely construction delays en route.

Here are a handful of things I’d recommend during your first of two stays in Dawson:

  • Drink the Sourtoe Cocktail — This is the quintessential Dawson City activity. The rules for this drink are simple: head to the Sourdough Saloon, order a shot of Canadian whiskey, and down your drink with a mummified human toe in it. And remember: “You can drink it fast or you can drink it slow, but your lips must touch the toe!”
  • Visit Dredge No. 4 — South of Dawson City lies the largest gold dredge ever built, a floating fortress that now preserves the gold mining history of the Klondike. It’s recommended to reserve a tour in advance, as it can fill up quickly in peak season.
  • Pan for gold — While there are a number of tourist traps throughout the Yukon that offer gold panning in stocked troughs, Claim No. 6 is the real deal. Registered by the government for public use, this stretch of Bonanza Creek near Dredge No. 4 is about as genuine as you can get. I didn’t find any gold nuggets there, but I did snag some gorgeous quartz and polished stones. Be sure to pick up a free gold pan from the Dawson City Visitor Center before you set out!
  • Drive to the Midnight Dome — On a hill above town, travelers can find a scenic overlook providing a sweeping view of Dawson City and the surrounding valley. You have two options to get there: a winding road around the mountain, or a very steep hike from downtown.

Where to stay

  • Downtown Hotel — This property is one of the cheapest in town, and offers perks for guests. When I checked in, I got 2-for-1 drink coupons at its bar (the famed Sourdough Saloon) and a discount at the in-house Jack London Grill.
  • Dawson City River Hostel — Situated in West Dawson, this is the northernmost hostel in Canada! Long a hit with backpackers (especially Europeans), it offers dorms, private rooms, a sauna, and even free bicycle parts. No credit cards.

 

Days 6-8: The Dempster Highway

The Dempster Highway in Yukon, Canada
Now the real adventure begins. You’ll find the start of this 571-mile highway twenty minutes east of Dawson City, taking you all the way from the Yukon’s interior to the Arctic Ocean in the Northwest Territories.

The Yukon portion of the highway runs for about 300 miles (482km) through the Tombstone mountain range and endless pristine wilderness, crossing the Arctic Circle. While the drive was tough on both me and my vehicle, the sights and experiences along the way were worth it:

  • Hike Tombstone Territorial Park — I think the most striking scenery on the Dempster Highway can be found just an hour into the drive, where you can enjoy jagged mountains and snaking rivers in this no-fee, off-trail territorial park. I stopped by the Visitor Center at kilometer 71 for all the information I needed.
  • Stand on the Arctic Circle — There’s no better photo op to prove you experienced the True North than standing on the Arctic Circle, 30 minutes north of Eagle Plains, the only settlement in the area. Soon after, the tree line ends and you’ll be driving through barren tundra.
  • See the Midnight Sun or Northern Lights — Depending on the season, you will likely be far enough north to see either 24-hour darkness and the aurora borealis, or 24-hour daylight when the sun never sets. Bring a flashlight or an eye mask accordingly.
  • Watch wildlife — Black bears, marmots, foxes, moose, eagles, and herds of caribou so dense they darken the tundra are just a handful of the animals you might encounter on the Dempster Highway. Personally, I saw more wildlife on this stretch of road than I did in the rest of the territory combined. Binoculars are encouraged!

Tip: Prep your car! I cannot stress this enough: the Dempster Highway will batter your car, no matter how rugged it is. Axle-snapping potholes, shredded tires, and broken windshields are not uncommon. At best, you’ll get away with a layer of inch-thick mud. Experienced truckers recommend having at least one full-size spare tire, road flares, a satellite phone, and a 4×4 vehicle (though I did it with no issues in a four-door sedan). Check road conditions here.

Where to stay

  • Eagle Plains Motel — This place isn’t cheap, but it is clean, warm — and your only lodging option for 250 miles in either direction.
  • Camping — The Yukon government operates a handful of self-register campsites for both tents and RVs along the Dempster Highway. All government campgrounds are cash-only, but they are inexpensive and operate on the honor system.

Note: If you’re renting a car for your Yukon trip, make sure you are allowed to take it on the Dempster Highway — and any other unpaved roads, for that matter. Due to the route’s rough nature, some rental agencies charge an additional fee for Dempster driving, while others ban it outright.
 

Days 9–10: Dawson City

A wooden sign declaring the Arctic Circle in Yukon, Canada
After a few days on the Dempster Highway, nothing felt better than returning to paved roads. While Dawson City is small by any standard, with just roughly 1,500 residents (it’s not even legally a “city” anymore), there is plenty to do here to occupy four days, broken up into two two-night segments. Upon your return to this historic town, here are some activities to make the most of your stay:

  • Check out the Dawson City Firefighters Museum — Located at the north end of town, this by-donation museum houses more than a hundred years of Dawson City’s firefighting history. It’s overseen by a former local fire chief who gave me a very personal guided tour of the old trucks he once drove and the blazes he put out.
  • Have a drink at Bombay Peggy’s — To celebrate the end of your Dempster Highway adventure, head for Bombay Peggy’s. It’s a fully restored brothel that serves the best mixed drinks and martinis in Dawson, according to every local I spoke with. And see if you can find out how Peggy got her nickname!
  • Explore the “Paddlewheel Graveyard” — Along the riverbank in West Dawson, nearly a dozen paddlewheel ships from the early 1900s have been wrecked on the beach, offering photographers and urban explorers the chance to see some unique Yukon ruins. But don’t make my mistake: bring waterproof shoes if you have a pair.
  • Press your luck at Gertie’s — There’s not a person in Dawson who won’t point you to Diamond Tooth Gertie’s Gambling Hall for a night of fun. Whether your vice is the casino (like me), the bar (like me), or the nightly can-can dance shows, there’s something for everyone under Gertie’s roof.

Where to stay

  • The Bunkhouse — Centrally located, this historic hotel has free parking, the fastest Wi-Fi I used in the Yukon, and, if you’re really on a tight budget, smaller private rooms with shared bathrooms.
  • Camping — Take the free 24-hour ferry over to West Dawson and pitch your tent (or park your RV) at the Yukon River Campground. It’s first-come-first-served, but because the site is one of the largest campgrounds in the territory.

 

Day 11: Faro

A wintery forest and hills near Faro, Yukon, Canada
Due to the sparse layout of highways in the Yukon, road trips here can involve a lot of backtracking. But don’t worry, there’s a little-discussed secondary route that eventually leads back to civilization: the Campbell Highway.

Cutting through some of the most unspoiled scenery in North America, this road is arguably more remote than the Arctic Dempster Highway — and depending on weather conditions, it can be even more of a challenge.

After a long day’s drive in the backcountry, your best choice is to overnight in Faro, a small mining community named after a card game. Here are some things to check out:

  • Visit the Campbell Region Interpretive Centre — There’s no better place to learn the backstory of the Campbell River region and its eponymous explorer than this small-town museum and visitor center, located in the heart of Faro.
  • Golf — Despite a population of just a few hundred residents, the layout of tiny Faro is unique, because there’s a nine-hole golf course running right through the middle of town. For an afternoon of fun, rent a set of clubs and hit the links at the Far North’s quirkiest green.
  • Play the lottery — Once known for its zinc mining, the Faro of the 21st century has a new claim to fame: selling a $25 CAD million winning lotto ticket, the largest lottery win in the history of the territory. Years later, townsfolk were still telling me the story. Visit the Discovery Store, the only shop in town, and cross your fingers for a repeat!

Where to stay

  • Faro Valley View B&B — This B&B’s rates vary with the seasons but never go higher than around $100 CAD in peak season (in winter, rates are about half that). Satellite TV, Wi-Fi, and snacks are all included in the price.
  • Airbnb — While Airbnb hosts are few and far between in this part of the Yukon, I suggest checking out this hidden gem outside of Faro. An off-the-grid cabin situated in true wilderness, this rustic stay offers homemade baked goods, canoe rentals, and even a vegetable garden to eat from.

 

Day 12: Watson Lake

Colorful signs in the Signpost Forest in Yukon, Canada
After conquering the remaining five hours of Campbell Highway between Faro and the Alaska Highway, return to pavement once and for all in Watson Lake, a small settlement just north of the British Columbia border. While this remote shred of civilization is hardly bustling, it’s the ideal place to recharge with a warm bed, decent cell phone reception, and a good meal (like the best Chinese food in the Yukon — trust me, I tried almost all of them). Check out some of these attractions in the region:

  • Cross the Ross River Suspension Bridge — Built in the 1940s to support the ill-fated Canol Pipeline, this wooden suspension bridge towers over one of the only other towns on the Campbell Highway. Here, the only signs of human civilization are the rusting hulks of trucks and cranes once used to build the pipeline. Required listening: “Canol Road” by legendary Canadian folk singer Stan Rogers.
  • Learn about the Northern Lights — In the winter, Watson Lake is one of the most popular places in the territory to view the aurora borealis. But whether or not you’re around to see them in the sky, you can learn about this dazzling phenomenon year-round at the local Northern Lights Centre.
  • Wander the Sign Post Forest — Any local will tell you, this is the town’s best attraction. Started by a homesick soldier who first posted a sign pointing to his hometown in Illinois, this literal forest has grown to include tens of thousands of road signs, license plates, and other markers from around the world. As a world traveler and license plate collector, this was my version of heaven.
  • Add a sign — It’s not just permitted to leave your mark on the Sign Post Forest, it’s encouraged! Whether you bring a souvenir sign from home or create your own at the visitor center’s small sign-making station, travelers passing through are the ones who keep this attraction growing.

Where to stay

  • Air Force Lodge — Located in refurbished World War II barracks, this hotel offers one of the best deals in town, with reasonably priced private rooms (most have shared bathrooms).
  • Stampeder’s B&B — This B&B is located in the heart of town and is within walking distance of all shops, restaurants, and attractions.

 

Days 13–15: Whitehorse

An old airplane at the Museum of Transportation in Yukon, Canada
Following nearly two weeks on the road in the Klondike, it’s now time for one last ride down the winding Alaska Highway and a return to Whitehorse. To complete your northern journey, here are a few things to see on the route and what to do once you’re back in town:

  • Visit the George Johnston Museum — Located on the shores of Teslin Lake, about halfway between Watson Lake and Whitehorse, this small-town museum focuses on the lives of the local Tlingit Indigenous people and is highly informative.
  • Swim in the Takhini Hot Pools — These steaming hot springs have been in operation for over a hundred years, warming locals and tourists alike in chilly Whitehorse. If you visit on a day when the temperature is at least -20°C, be sure to enter the Hair Freezing Contest for a chance to win $2,000 CAD.
  • Take a day trip to Carcross — This is where at age 7 I first laid eyes on the Yukon. With some time to spare, take a trip to this quaint town 45 minutes south of Whitehorse. The terminus of the scenic White Pass & Yukon Railroad that connects to the Alaskan coast, Carcross also lays claim to the oldest store in the Yukon and a patch of sand dunes billed as the world’s northernmost desert.
  • Drink at the Yukon Brewing Company — In the world of craft brews, the Yukon Brewing Company is known as one of the most prolific brands in Canada’s north. Ales, lagers, and IPAs are all on offer at this famous Whitehorse brewery.

Where to stay

  • Four Seasons B&B — In the heart of Whitehorse’s trendy Riverdale neighborhood, this beautiful bed-and-breakfast offers 10% nightly discounts on longer bookings. Note: In the high season, it requires a two-night minimum stay.
  • Hot Springs Hostel — This year-round hostel is located next to the Takhini Hot Pools and guests get 20% off.

***

This two-week itinerary covers almost all the Yukon has to offer in a reasonable amount of time, but, for the true outdoorsman or dedicated explorer, there is much more than can be seen with an additional week: Canada’s highest mountain in Kluane National Park, a perfectly preserved mining town at Keno City, and the scenic White Pass & Yukon Railroad into Alaska, just to name a few.

Yukon is one of the least explored and most underrated parts of Canada. It’s the perfect place for a road trip, to get away from the crowds, and to get closer to nature. Enjoy!

Ethan Jakob Craft is a journalist, dual American-Canadian citizen, and lifelong traveler who visited all 50 U.S. states before he could legally have a beer in any of them. Recent trips have taken him to the Arctic Circle, Mexico, Morocco, and the Azores in his long-term quest to visit every corner of the globe. Ethan is currently based in Toronto, Canada.

Book Your Trip to Canada: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay elsewhere, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

Looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all the ones I use to save money when I travel – and I think will help you too!gho

Want More Information on Canada?
Be sure to visit our robust destination guide on Canada for even more planning tips!

Photo credit: 6 – Susan Drury

The post How to Road Trip the Yukon on a Budget appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





Source link

NEW: Our NEW Monthly Book Club!

Posted By : webmaster/ 131 0


A man looking at a bookshelf in a library
Posted: 11/2/20 | November 2nd, 2020

Hey all! Just a quick post today about some exciting news:

We’re starting a virtual book club!

While we already have a monthly “book club” of sorts in which I send out suggested reads, starting this month, we’re going pick a particular book and then discuss through a virtual event on The Nomadic Network.

But here’s the kicker: the author is going to be part of our discussion!

One of the benefits of being a bad writer is that I know a lot of other writers.

And writers like talking about their books.

So, every month, I’m going to tap my writing network and we’re going to have an hour-long discussion with the author about their book. (The talks will be free but, since the authors are giving an hour of their time, we hope you’ll have bought and read their book!)

And we’ll be giving away signed copies to a few lucky attendees!

The subjects of the books we choose will mostly be about travel but also touch on self-development, psychology, and entrepreneurship.

Our first book of the month kicks off with…..me!

We’re going to be reading Ten Years a Nomad. This book is about my ten years backpacking the world and the lessons I learned along the way. On the discussion call next month, I’ll talk about why I wrote it, the tons of versions it went through, and who I drew inspiration from. I’ll also take your questions on the book.

The talk will be on December 2nd at 12pm EST.

You can click here to register for the event. (It’s free!)

(Going forward, all our book club discussions will be the first Wednesday of every month.)

You can get the book online at the following places:

You can also find the book here:

And in Canada:

And in the UK and Australia:

However, if you are in the United States, I strongly encourage you to get the book from Bookshop, which ensures your book is ordered and shipped from an independent bookstore. Now, more than ever, small bookstores need our support!

The team and I are super excited about this! We’ve already lined up authors for our next three events!!! I think having the authors discussing their books is something unique.

So that’s it!

Grab the book and I’ll see you on December 2nd!

If you have any questions, drop them in the comments.

– Matt

(function(d){var s=d.createElement(‘script’);s.type=’text/javascript’;s.src=’https://a.omappapi.com/app/js/api.min.js’;s.async=true;s.dataset.campaign=’rwu0vxsug5jbk3ampkjw’;s.dataset.user=’8268′;d.getElementsByTagName(‘head’)[0].appendChild(s);})(document);

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay elsewhere, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years.

My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

Looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all the ones I use to save money when I travel — and I think will help you too!

The post NEW: Our NEW Monthly Book Club! appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





Source link

What It’s Like Traveling as a Plus-Sized, Black Solo Female Traveler

Posted By : webmaster/ 141 0


Annette posing near a mural in Penang
Posted: 10/26/2020 | October 26th, 2020

In this guest post, blogger and writer Annette Richmond shares her experiences and reflections as a plus-size black solo female traveler. I’ve known Annette for years and she an incredible person who has spoken at TravelCon on subjects relating to blogging and diversity. She’s one of my favorite humans and I’m stoked to have her writing for us today!

Every day, I learn more about intersectionality and how my identity as a fat Black woman impacts the way I travel. Intersectionality is a framework for conceptualizing a person, group of people, or social problem as affected by multiple forms of oppression. It takes into account people’s overlapping identities (age, race, sex, disability, religion, class, sexuality, appearance, etc.) and experiences in order to understand the complexity of prejudices they face.

We all have barriers to navigate and traveling the world solo has brought me face to face with many of mine. The discrimination I experience depends on where I am. When I’m in Asia, I’m discriminated against because of my size more than anything else while, in my home country of the United States, I’m discriminated against because of the color of my skin more than the size of my body.

I grew up in San Francisco as the oldest of three and only girl in a lower-middle-class, single-parent home. Family vacations weren’t a thing for us, but my best friend and her family would drive down to LA every year to go discount back-to-school shopping. In high school, I buckled up and went with them on the road trip — and I was hooked.

Senior year I was the only one in my group of friends that had saved enough money to go on a snowboarding trip to Bend, Oregon. I worked part-time in the shoe department of a major retailer, which meant commission. I saved up for months for that trip; to me, it was a celebration of my accomplishment as the first person in my family to graduate from high school.

That senior-year snowboarding trip was my first solo adventure. Since my friends decided not to go and it wasn’t planned by our school, I was one of the very few Black people there — it was mostly white teens from affluent families.

I was bunked in a two-bedroom apartment with three other girls. I remember having a great time. I also remember feeling different. Not only because I was Black but because I was bigger than the other girls.

And each of those things that make me me – gender, weight, and ethnicity – have all impacted how I travel.

Traveling alone as a woman can be risky (though not overwhelmingly more dangerous than being solo in San Francisco. Or any other big city for that matter). The reality is we need to be vigilant as we travel.

Annette in the Wadi Rum desert in Jordan

Once, I was walking with a friend one night in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and saw a group of men on mototaxis waiting for customers. I felt them staring at us and heard them joking and giggling. As we passed by, one of the men grabbed my right breast. As I went to grab his hand, he sped off on his motorbike, leaving his friends to stare and laugh. I felt both humiliated and violated.

Another time, a man exposed himself and followed me in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I heard someone making kissing noises behind me, and when I turned to look, an older Asian man was approaching me, asking “How much?” I shook my head no and quickened my pace. Soon I heard the kissy noises again; when I turned back to give him a disapproving look, I saw that he had unzipped his pants and was playing with himself in broad daylight. I was shocked and full of fear, but my first thought was to grab my pepper spray.

As he approached the stoplight, my pepper spray was in hand. I felt him approaching, then he stepped into the intersection and crossed on the red light. I was relieved that things didn’t escalate further and happy that I had brought my blinged-out pepper spray with me.

As a Black woman, there are the added issues that strangers will often come up to me and touch my hair or my skin, which I hate. A child even asked if I was made from chocolate! Some countries are more Black-friendly than others. But, in countries where citizens aren’t as exposed to black people, there’s a fascination that makes me feel like a prop.

For example, I had a group of Asian tourists line up to take photos with me at a pagoda in Myanmar. (Additionally, a European family took photos with me at the Louvre in Paris. They got my attention by yelling “Yo, yo, yo!”)

I generally agree to taking photos with people if I have time, feel cute, and am respected. However, I know it’s not my obligation to take photos with people who’ve never met a Black person before so it’s always interesting when they get upset with me for refusing to do so.

The intersecting lines quickly start to blur when it comes to being a Black woman, especially in Southeast Asia, where I’m thought of as either a celebrity or a prostitute. Walking through markets in Malaysia, Bali, and Bangkok, I’ve been called Nicki Minaj, Beyoncé, and Oprah. (Do you think every old white man is called Trump or Biden while shopping in Asia?)

Then there’s my weight. I refused to wait to lose weight before I gave myself permission to see the world. This is me and I didn’t want to conform to any stereotypes of beauty. Although weight can be a barrier to travel, I’ve been able to come up with creative solutions and find tools to make it more accessible.

The first hurdle is the airplane. As a fat traveler, you have to determine if you’ll need to book one or more seats. If you do need more than one seat, have you budgeted for that? (Right now, the only US airline offering a free second seat for fat travelers is Southwest. Look into its Customer of Size Policy for details.)

I don’t generally need a second seat when flying, but depending on the airline, I might need a seat belt extender. On a flight to Bali, I was fighting to get my seat belt on, in the middle seat no less. The man in the window seat was watching me the entire time, growing more impatient by the second. Finally, he said, “That’s not going to fit,” to which I responded, “Can you please focus on yourself and let me focus on my seat belt?”

Annette posing while holding a hitchhiking sign

Two seconds later the seat belt clicked into place and the man next to me proceeded to take off his shoes and manspread.

Not many people know about the rules of the emergency exit row. One of them is that you’re not allowed to sit there if you’re using a seat belt extender. On a flight from Malaysia to Bangkok, I was given the window seat in an exit row.

As I was getting my headphones out and putting my gum away, I noticed the flight staff looking and pointing at me. Mind you, my seat belt was comfortably buckled without an extender, and my possessions were safely stowed above me. One of the flight attendants told me that it wasn’t safe for me to sit in the exit row and that I would have to move. I immediately knew that he had profiled me and assumed I was too fat to help in case of an emergency. Instead of getting into an argument or challenging his wrong assumption, I just moved to a window seat a few rows back.

As a fat traveler, there are so many more things to consider when planning a trip. If you’re doing water sports, is there a life vest that fits?

Planning on scuba diving? Is there a wetsuit in your size, or do you need to bring your own?

Did you know there’s a weight limit for horseback riding and zip-lining?

What’s the weight limit on the kayak you’re renting for the day?

All of these factors impact fat travelers, and not knowing the answers to these questions can lead to frustration and feelings of humiliation.

Something as simple as sitting down for dinner or eating in public can be anxiety-inducing for a fat traveler. Responses to fatness vary in different places; in Asia, it’s culturally acceptable to point, stare, and laugh at fat people. I don’t have to tell you how dehumanizing it feels to have strangers in a restaurant monitor everything you put in your mouth. It can sometimes be so overwhelming that it feels safer to order room service or get takeout.

On the other hand, one of my most memorable positive experiences was at a small stall-restaurant at Chatuchak Market in Bangkok. As I waited to be seated, the hostess made a hand gesture. She held her hands out wide, which I took as her saying that I was fat. I gave her a thumbs-up and waited to be seated. When she began seating people who had arrived after me, I got annoyed. I was on the verge of jumping ship when she walked over and grabbed a wooden chair that another customer had just gotten up from. She pulled it up to a table, called me over, and made the hand gesture again.

At that moment, I realized that she had waited to get me a more stable chair. She didn’t want me to risk the humiliation of sitting in one of the plastic chairs and breaking it. I will always be grateful for her kindness.

My intersecting identities as a fat Black woman impacts the way I view the world and how the world views me. Each day, I am challenging beliefs and smashing stereotypes, all while being as open and authentic as I can be. I have nothing to prove and no one to impress. Just more layers of my identity to be revealed.

Annette Richmond is an award-winning content creator, writer, advocate, and public speaker. She runs the blog From Annette With Love and is the creator of the body-positive travel community Fat Girls Traveling, the Editor-in-Chief of Fat Girls Guide, and the host of the annual fat positive Fat Camp. She’s also been featured in Conde Nast Traveler, Teen Vogue. NBC, Forbes. O Magazine, and more. You can follow her on Instagram as well.

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay elsewhere, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years.

My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

Looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all the ones I use to save money when I travel — and I think will help you too!

The post What It’s Like Traveling as a Plus-Sized, Black Solo Female Traveler appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





Source link

Retirement Travel: How to Get the Most Out of Senior Travel

Posted By : webmaster/ 207 0


A group of retired seniors hiking in a forest
Posted: 10/22/2020 | October 22, 2020

Today’s guest post is from Kristin Henning. She and her husband Tom Bartel are perpetual travelers and publishers of the blog TravelPast50.com, where they discuss travel for older travelers looking to make the most out of retirement. Kristin is here to give her best tips on retirement travel (since I obviously don’t know much about this subject!).

Many hardworking people dream of the time when they’ll retire from their regular jobs and hit the road. For almost as many, the allure of travel is offset by the stress of planning and packing and leaving home for more than a few days.

Getting started can be especially difficult for senior travelers because of the “baggage” accumulated over a lifetime, including habits, pets, elderly parents, children and grandchildren, medical and other professional support networks, and assorted household stuff. Managing even a couple of months away can be complicated.

We were lucky to start our retirement travel early. We sold our house in 2010 and moved to South America, starting with a brief time teaching English. For the next ten years we traveled in almost every way imaginable: from months overseas to weekend trips in the USA; from road trips to bike trips to walking across Spain; from solo adventures to luxuriating together on a river cruise; from house-sitting to hotel-hopping.

We had no idea when we started out where this journey would take us, but before we knew it, we’d visited more than 70 countries on six continents!

We know such extensive travel isn’t for everyone. But the benefits of travel are available to anyone willing to take the leap and devote a month or two, at least, to exploring with interest and curiosity.

In any case, regarding retirement travel, we want to focus on using time and flexibility to your best advantage. Let’s replace the idea of a fully scheduled holiday — those plans you squeezed into your too-short paid vacation time — with the concept of independent, slower travel, because that’s when discoveries blossom. (Even if you do participate in a package holiday, we encourage you to surround the experience with additional weeks on your own to realize the rewards of independent travel.)
 

Why Seniors Love to Travel — and are Good At It

Tom and Kristin, two retired senior travels posing near a redwood tree
We older travelers have some great advantages. We have time to extend our trips, the freedom to focus on the present instead of a job back home, and a desire to make the most of our time, experiences, and relationships.

Following our noses and personal interests, we can pursue opportunities that pop up along the way. Unrushed, we can stop to ask questions or read a roadside marker; we can add a few days to our travels to detour to an unusual site; we can decide to linger longer in a favorite spot.

So, while acknowledging our logistical barriers — and the need to adapt to new pandemic-related travel protocols — let’s remember why travel still calls. Here’s why we keep on traveling, right into even older age!

1. Natural beauty: Discover diverse scenery and ecosystems
We love moving beyond our Great Plains roots to spend time in the mountains, to explore the deserts, to appreciate oceans and wetlands, and to view geological mysteries. The history of the Earth is long, and our time to witness all its glories and sunsets is short.

2. Historic context: Travelers love to learn
No matter where we travel, we’re likely to start our visit with historic sites and museums to gain perspective on the area’s cultural heritage. These experiences not only add meaning to travel but often steer us to the next destination (or detour!) in order to follow some thread of the story.

3. Healthy lifestyle: Travel for your health
Travel means more fresh air and exercise than we ever manage at home. The best of travel is active travel; walking in cities, hiking through national parks, and enjoying biking or water sports make for healthy bodies and engaged minds. Active travel also means you are that much closer to local people, as opposed to being escorted around by bus. Try it!

4. Food and culture: Find common concerns around the globe
Who can deny the joy of watching a festival, eating the best regional dishes, and enjoying the local wine? These are the windows into the culture of a community, and we travelers are lucky to sample the fare and recognize these common concerns and joys around the world.

A retired senior hiking on a dirt road

5. Increased resilience and patience: Calm down and enjoy the present
Just because our children tell us we’re set in our ways doesn’t mean it’s true! Facing the unknown isn’t easy, but travel teaches patience and adaptability. Handling delays, changes, or adversity calls on us to solve problems and propose solutions. Problem-solving builds confidence, and confidence builds self-reliance, which in turn brings more joy to travel.

It’s also true that senior travelers aren’t afraid to take a day of rest. Sightseeing is most enjoyable at whatever pace one finds manageable.

6. Youthfulness: Surround yourself with all ages
Traveling helps us feel young and energized. Interest in exploration and discovery is ageless, and fellow travelers love to share tips and stories. It’s easy to strike up conversations with all sorts of people when you are abroad. We especially enjoy meeting young travelers and hearing about their homes and travels. Most are interested in hearing about us, too.

7. Simplify your life: Travel light
When you travel for an extended time and pack light, it becomes clear that joy comes from experiences more than things. Appreciate the lightness of living with only a roller bag and backpack for a few months and you’ll be inspired to declutter or downsize once you’re back home.
 

Prepare Now to Enjoy Travel Later

Tom and Kristin, two retired seniors posing near the ocean
With a little preparation, you’ll feel much easier about starting your retirement travels, whether that means several weeks on a road trip or a couple months overseas. Consider these tips to alleviate stress, to ready yourself for leaving home, and for more carefree travels.

1. Take steps to leave your home safe and sound

  • Install a Wi-Fi remote-controlled thermostat.
  • Consider a home security system to alert you of any opened doors or windows.
  • Go paperless: If you haven’t already, eliminate all paper mail, including bank and credit card statements, doctors’ and insurance bills, and Social Security mailings. A good paperless habit now means easier travel preparations to come.
  • Hold or forward mail: The US Postal Service will hold mail for up to 30 days. For longer trips, consider USPS Informed Delivery, or (as we did) forward your mail to a post office box accessible to a trusted family member or friend.
  • Arrange house and/or pet sitters: Relying on friends and family to check in on your house and pets may not be a realistic solution. Look into the array of options, whether boarding your pet, hiring someone to tend to your pet/plants/house regularly, or finding a live-in house sitter. Check out Trusted Housesitters or House Sitters America for example.
  • Sell or park your car: Avoid unnecessary auto expenses by storing your car and removing the insurance (except comprehensive) while it’s not being driven.

2. Prepare your online banking and travel credit cards

  • If you haven’t already switched to online banking, now is the time to free yourself for travel.
  • Check out PayPal and Venmo for settling up with friends, family, and small businesses instantly, from your phone.
  • Find a travel credit card that doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee.
  • Know your credit card benefits. Know in advance, for example, which credit card you want to use to book a rental car so that you will realize built-in insurance benefits.
  • Advise credit card companies of your travel. Otherwise, when they see unusual activity in, say, Bolivia, they may freeze your account.
  • ATMs use debit cards, so know your PIN. Some services also require debit card transactions (versus credit). This is common in rail and metro systems.
  • Leave unnecessary credit cards and jewelry at home.
  • Carry and exchange minimal cash.

A retired couple cycling abroad

3. Tend to your travel health and wellness

  • No matter where you travel, it’s important to start out with a clean bill of health, or at least some knowledge of how to deal with particular health issues.
  • Prescriptions: With cooperation from your doctor and pharmacy, it’s possible to get more than 90 days of prescriptions filled at once.
  • Travel clinics: Visit your doctor or a travel clinic with your specific destination in mind. This is invaluable if immunizations are required for visas or entry, and a huge help for understanding potential diseases and dangers in certain regions of the world. Travel clinics may also help supply first aid items and medicines, such as antidiarrheal or antibiotic pills, or medicine to prevent altitude sickness or seasickness.
  • Pandemic and other global health updates: Do research the current conditions in your intended destination(s).
  • Travel insurance: Check out single-trip coverage or annual plans (if you travel three or more times a year, including domestic trips). A good travel insurance program for seniors will (a) allow the traveler to find an emergency room or medical care provider quickly, (b) provide for emergency evacuation as the medical condition or situation dictates, and (c) offer appropriate coverage with minimal prior approval requirements.

4. Mind your digital records and mobile communications

  • Eliminate headaches and having to put out fires back home by organizing your essential documents in digital format in advance.
  • Scan or photograph your passport and credit cards and know where to access these on your phone or computer (preferably both).
  • Update any travel-related apps, including those you might want in an emergency (banking, travel insurance, maps, and travel planners like TripIt or AAA).
  • Protect your various login usernames and passwords in a secure online place like 1Password.
  • Set up your phone plan according to your destination, time away, and need for connectivity. Options include everything from using Wi-Fi only as available (turning roaming off), getting a SIM card specifically for your destination country (recommended for long stays), or using your US phone plan. We’ve appreciated the ease of T-Mobile’s unlimited data plan, which is good in over 140 countries.

***

The reward for being prepared is great enjoyment of the moment, your travel moment. When we travel, we expect we’ll meet up with various challenges. But many of those challenges are the adventure stories that stick with us the longest. We’re proud of those times when we’ve been able to roll with the punches, adapt to the situation, and continue to enjoy the journey.

Senior travelers, we know, are as qualified as any to launch themselves into the unknown and fully appreciate the benefits of travel. May we all discover that travel experiences are part of our lives and character, not escapes from them.

Kristin Henning and her husband Tom Bartel are perpetual travelers and publishers of the blogs Travel Past 50 and MN Trips. They’re webistes are ruglarly fetured in major media and they often speak at travel events.

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay elsewhere, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years.

My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

Looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all the ones I use to save money when I travel — and I think will help you too!

The post Retirement Travel: How to Get the Most Out of Senior Travel appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





Source link

The Lost Year: What Comes Next?

Posted By : webmaster/ 113 0


A photo of Nomadic Matt alone on a beach
Posted: 10/19/2020 | October 19th, 2020

When you look back at 2020, what do you think you’ll remember most about it?

For me, it will be the lost momentum.

When the year began, it looked like it would be the Year of Matt (take that, “Summer of George”!). TravelCon was gaining a reputation as a “must attend” event in the industry, this website was on track to have its best year yet, and I was finally going to build a life for myself in Austin: I joined social clubs, took cooking classes (and even one on gardening), and signed up for volunteering. I planned to date and was even thinking about buying a house later in the year.

Life was falling into place.

Then, COVID swept through the world and wrecked everything in its path.

Now, as 2020 takes its final lap, I’ve resigned myself to the fact that those plans from the start of the year won’t be realized. The pandemic still rages in America. Many businesses remain shuttered. Companies — especially in the travel space — are closing for good. There’s massive unemployment. Most of the world’s borders are sealed (especially to Americans). Plus, you also have wildfires, racial inequality, a looming Supreme Court battle, and an upcoming election. It’s a mess! This year’s been a shit show.

Unlike other countries that had full lockdowns and strong institutions to control their outbreaks, we had mixed messages from the start (we got 50 states and 50 diffierent policies.) and couldn’t even stay inside long enough to flatten the curve. Masks have become a political lightning rod that people are fighting and killing over (And example 3 and 4 of many).

And I heard “COVID is a hoax” enough on my road trip to make me realize too many this problem is here to stay. (And that was all before Trump got COVID!)

I don’t believe the United States is going to get COVID under control anytime soon. Like a fever that has to burn itself out, there’s nothing that can stop it at this point. It will just be wave after wave until it’s over.

Last month on my drive back to Austin, I began to ponder the remaining months of the year. What would I do with them? Could I salvage any of 2020?

Everything I want to do here in Austin is still closed (as it should be given the virus).

I fault no one for wanting to lock themselves inside until there is a vaccine.

And, when you have a family or are married or retired, it might be easier to stay home. You have others to lean on. Or maybe you have a house and space to spread out. You might even have a backyard!

But what if you live alone? Single? What if you were hoping this was the year you found love? What if you live in an apartment with no outdoor access? What happens when the loneliness becomes too much?

“COVID fatigue” is bound to set in.

And I am fatigued.

I know I have it much better than others. Millions are suffering much worse. I recognize how lucky I am to even have savings to draw upon to continue to support my business and keep my staff employed. I know I’m lucky to even have a job. I don’t have a brick-and-mortar business that requires rent. I was able to get a couple of loans to keep things going, I can still afford my apartment, and I don’t worry about my next meal.

But that doesn’t make my own struggles any less important to me. They don’t cause me less anxiety when I see my savings depleted, business not improving, and my social and dating life ground to a halt.

I mean what happens when the money is gone? What happens if TravelCon can’t take place in April?

The anxiety keeps me up at night.

When so many others refuse to do the right thing, it all seems so futile. Society only works when we work together. And it just feels like this country is coming apart and that all the sacrifices we made were for naught.

Everything feels hopeless right now. I’m just so mentally exhausted.

So, I’ve decided to take action.

Next month, I’m moving to Mexico for the winter. A few of my friends have moved there and I’ve decided to join them after the election.

I know it’s weird to want to move during a pandemic – and Mexico has its own problems – but, in many ways, it’s better than Texas.1 According to my friends, people wear masks more and the virus is taken more seriously.

And, while I still don’t plan to frequent massive gatherings or anything, if I’m going to be confined somewhere, I’d rather be confined in a more tropical setting, closer to the beach and the water.

As I said, I know others have it much worse than me. I count my blessings, but as I watch so much of what I built — professionally and personally — crumble (and as someone already prone to anxiety that once caused panic attacks), I need a mental break.

I don’t know how long I’ll stay there. Heck, by the time I plan to go, the world may have changed again. If 2020 has reinforced anything, it’s that a lot can happen in a day.

But I have a chance to end the year on a high note.

And I’m going to take it.

1 – I’ll get a COVID test before I go and then another after I arrive. I will wear a mask, avoid crowds, wash my hands all the time, and social-distance while there. A number of travel insurance companies now offer medical coverage related to COVID so I’ll be getting a policy that covers that too.

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay elsewhere, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years.

My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

Looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all the ones I use to save money when I travel — and I think will help you too!

The post The Lost Year: What Comes Next? appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





Source link

14 Things to See and Do in Portland, Oregon

Posted By : webmaster/ 108 0


A colorful pink sunset over Portland, Oregon, USA
Posted: 10/17/2020 | October 17th, 2020

Portland, Oregon, is one of America’s most unique cities. While it often gets overshadowed by Seattle to the north, Portland is one of the US’s best and most interesting metropolises. With a world-class food scene, plentiful local breweries, and postcard-perfect scenery, it’s surprising that more people don’t visit this eclectic place.

Nicknamed “the City of Roses” (after roses became a common garden staple in the late 19th century) and “Stumptown” (due to lots of tree stumps remaining after the city expanded and clear-cut the surrounding area in the mid-19th century), Portland is known for its liberal tendencies, its food trucks, and its hipsters (thanks, Portlandia).

My first trip here was back in 2011 for Thanksgiving. While in Spain I made friends who lived in Portland and paid them a visit on my way to Asia. What started as “like” during my first trip turned into love on my second.

And, since then, I’ve visited nearly every year. Portland is on the very tiny list of cities I would actually live in.

What I really love about Portland is the high quality of life. It’s compact and easy to get around, there is good public transportation available, the locals are friendly, it’s environmentally friendly, and, most importantly, the food and beer scene here is killer (so many food trucks).

To help you make the most of your visit, here are my favorite 14 things to see and do in Portland:
 

1. Take a Walking Tour

I always start my visits to a new city with a walking tour. It’s the best way to learn about a destination, get the lay of the land, see the main sights, and have an expert local guide answer all your questions.

Portland Walking Tours offers more than half a dozen different tours around town, focusing on food, the main sights, and Portland’s underground and alternative culture. Tours last a couple hours and cost around $23 USD. They’re a great way to kick off your visit. I really liked the Underground Tour especially, which focuses on a series of tunnels below the city that have been used for all kinds of nefarious purposes.

If you’re on a budget, Secrets of Portlandia is a top-rated free walking tour that will give you a fun and informative intro to the City of Roses (they’re closed until 2021 due to COVID-19 though).
 

2. See Pittock Mansion

The stately Pittock Mansion in Portland, Oregon on a summer day
Built in 1914, this is a stunning French Renaissance–style mansion located in the western part of town. The 46-room estate, originally owned by a wealthy couple from England, is part of the National Register of Historic Places and contains beautiful artwork and furniture collected by the original owners. You can explore the grounds (which span over 40 acres) and buildings by yourself or take a guided tour (the price is the same; however, guided tours are only scheduled when volunteers are available).

3229 NW Pittock Dr, +1 503-823-3623, pittockmansion.org. Open daily 10am–4pm. Admission is $13 USD.
 

3. Hike Forest Park

The lush greenery of Forest Park in Portland, Oregon
Forest Park is one of the nation’s largest urban parks. Covering a sprawling 5,000 acres, it’s home to over 70 miles of hiking and biking trails. There are over 100 species of birds here, as well as 62 different species of mammals. It’s also home to the Witch’s Castle, an abandoned stone building covered in moss. (It has no connection to witches. The name came from students who used to use the site for secret parties in the 1980s).
 

4. Browse at Powell’s City of Books

This is the largest independent and used bookstore in the world, home to over a million books. Established in 1971, it has 3,500 different sections and buys over 3,000 new and used books each and every day. If you’re a book lover like me, you could easily spend a good chunk of time here. There’s also a café (World Cup Coffee and Tea House), so you can grab a coffee or tea and cozy up with your new purchases.

1005 W Burnside St, +1 800-878-7323, powells.com/locations/powells-city-of-books. Open daily 9am–10pm.
 

5. Devour Delicious Donuts

Tasty donuts from Voodoo Doughnut in Portland, Oregon
Portland is known for its donuts. If you Google the city or search for it on social media, donuts will inevitably pop up. Voodoo Doughnut put the city on the map with its weird and wonderful combinations, such as Cap’n Crunch or maple bacon. It also makes cream-filled phallic donuts as well — so you can see why it’s become a quirky staple of the city.

Some locals might argue that Voodoo is for tourists, preferring donuts from Blue Star instead. You can’t go wrong with either choice. Why not try both and see for yourself. You only live once, after all!
 

6. Wander the International Rose Test Garden

Home to over 10,000 rose bushes and 650 varieties, this garden is where many companies test new varieties of roses (some are tested here years before they are commercially available). It’s the oldest rose test garden in the country. It also hosts an annual competition for the city’s best rose. The roses are in bloom between April and October, though there is also an amphitheater here that holds all kinds of events, such as classical music performances and plays. Don’t miss the Shakespeare Garden, which only has types of roses referenced in Shakespeare’s plays.

400 SW Kingston Ave, +1 503-823-3636. Open daily 5am–10pm. Admission is free.
 

7. See the Japanese Garden

A beautiful waterfall in the Japanese Garden in Portland, Oregon
Located near the Rose Test Garden, these Japanese gardens were created in the 1960s as a symbol of peace between World War II adversaries. Today, it’s considered the best Japanese garden outside of Japan. Spanning 12 acres, it contains traditional gazebos, waterfalls, ponds, Zen sand gardens, and lots of walking paths. It’s super relaxing and serene and beautiful all year round, though it’s particularly stunning in the autumn when the leaves are changing. It receives no funding from the city, so it’s not cheap, but if you want to escape the city for a while, then it’s worth every penny.

611 SW Kingston Ave, +1 503-223-1321, japanesegarden.org. Open daily 10am–7pm (12pm–7pm on Mondays). Admission is $18.95 USD
 

8. Visit The Freakybutture Peculiarium and Museum

If you’re looking for something decidedly weird and unconventional during your trip, visit The Peculiarium. This creepy emporium is full of all kinds of weird drawings and souvenirs, gag toys, unknown oddities in jars, and even a giant Bigfoot statue. There are fake severed body parts (which are super lifelike), and they also serve fresh-baked cookies…with bugs, scorpions, and mealworms inside and on them.

The city’s slogan is “Keep Portland Weird.” This place reflects that perfectly.

2234 Northwest Thurman Street, +1 503-227-3164, peculiarium.com. Open Tuesday–Sunday 11am–7pm. Admission is $5 USD. Not suitable for kids.
 

9. Take a Food Tour

If you’re a foodie like me, you can’t visit Portland without taking a food tour. You’ll get to sample some of the city’s best food, learn about its culture and history, and meet other foodie travelers like yourself. It’s the best way to get the culinary lay of the land before you head off on your own to eat your way around town.

Forktown offers a few different food tours focused on different cuisines and regions of the city. It will give you a solid overview of what tasty offerings Stumptown can dish up.

Tours last around three hours and cost $89 USD per person.
 

10. Relax at Laurelhurst Park or Washington Park

Portland has tons of green space to relax in and enjoy. Laurelhurst Park was designed by the same team that designed Central Park in New York. It has a laid-back atmosphere and is popular with locals and visitors alike. There’s a duck pond, bike paths, and the off-leash dog area.

Washington Park is another great choice if you’re looking to lounge with a book and enjoy the weather. The park contains memorials for the Korean and Vietnam Wars, the Holocaust, and the Lewis and Clark expedition, and also offers beautiful vistas of Portland and Mt. Hood.
 

11. Indulge at the Food Trucks

A line of food trucks and street food stalls in Portland, Oregon
One of the most important elements of the Portland food scene is its food trucks. The food trucks are a huge part of the local culture, and you can find pretty much every cuisine and every price point too. There are over 600 food trucks in the city, and they’re usually gathered in small pods so you can sample a few different ones without having to go far.

You can find plenty of tasty options on Fifth Ave, Third Ave, and at the food pods (food truck lots) at Cartopia and Hawthorne Asylum. Some of my favorites are MF Tasty, Burger Stevens, Hapa PDX Ramen, and Desi PDX.
 

12. Visit the Portland Art Museum

Opened in 1892, this is the oldest art museum in the Pacific Northwest. It’s also one of the oldest galleries in the country too (the seventh oldest to be exact). It’s home to over 42,000 items, from contemporary art to Native American works to Asian art and everything in between. There are permanent exhibitions, rotating temporary galleries, and an outdoor sculpture park. There’s a lot of variety here, so be sure to check the website to see what’s on during your visit.

1219 SW Park Ave, +1 503-226-2811, portlandartmuseum.org. Open Tuesday–Sunday 10am–5pm (8pm on Thursdays and Fridays). Admission is $20 USD and free on the first Thursday of the month from 5pm to 8pm.
 

13. Drink Some Beer

Portland is one of the beer capitals of America. There are over 75 microbreweries in the city — more than any other city on earth — and Portlandians take their beer seriously. The craft beer movement started here back in the ’80s, well before it caught on elsewhere. Many breweries have their own tours, as well as their own restaurants, so you can enjoy a pint and a bite to eat. Many offer tours, and there are also multi-brewery tours from companies like City Brew Tours. If you’re a craft beer aficionado, be sure to indulge (responsibly).
 

14. Hike the Columbia River Gorge

A scenic vista overlooking the Columbia River Gorge near Portland, Oregon
If you’re looking to get out of the city and stretch your legs, head to the Columbia River Gorge. Located east of the city, it is home to waterfalls, scenic vistas, and hiking trails. It’s the largest National Scenic Area in the country and makes for a nice place to spend a day. Oregon’s tallest waterfall, Multnomah Falls, can be found here, as well as a hundred-year old observatory that offers up views of the surrounding picturesque landscape.

Some suggested hikes are Dry Creek Falls (easy, 2 hours), Wahkenna Falls Loop (moderate, 3 hours), and Starvation Ridge and Warren Lake (hard, 8 hours). You can reach the gorge with a vehicle in around 30 minutes, but there’s also a daily shuttle for $20 USD (round trip) in case you don’t have a car.

***

Portland is one of my favorite American cities. It’s fun, eclectic, and energetic, and it has a lot to offer (especially if you’re a foodie or craft beer lover). It deserves far more attention than it gets — from domestic and international travelers alike. If you find yourself in the PNW, be sure to spend a few days here. Your tastebuds will thank you!

Book Your Trip to Portland: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines, because they search websites and airlines around the globe, so you always know no stone is being left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld, as it has the largest inventory. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com, as it consistently returns the cheapest rates for guesthouses and hotels.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it, as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

Looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all the ones I use to save money when I travel — and I think they will save you time and money too!

Photo credits: 2 – A.Davey, 4 – jellybeanz, 6 – Jim Choate, 7 – Daderot

The post 14 Things to See and Do in Portland, Oregon appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





Source link