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Travel Tips & Trips

Picture%204.png Free travel tips and vacation advice to help you plan for new destinations and new experiences. Bon Voyage!

Travel Tips + Trips Archive

Have a trip or tip to share? I’d love to hear it. Email me*.

*Please type TRAVEL TIP/TRIP in the subject line of your message.

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IS HOSTELING FOR YOU? Myth-Busting Tips and Packing Must-Haves.

I asked my 22-year-old niece, just back from summer travels in Europe, to give us the inside scoop on hosteling. Learn her list of myth-busting tips and packing must-haves.

Painting by Wasfi Akab for Santa Monaca Youth Hostel, Florence, Italy, via Flickr CCL


by Madeleine Clute 

My first foray into hosteling was at the end of high school when some friends and I took a road trip to Quebec, Canada, and it’s been my preferred method of seeing new places since. Most recently, my friend Elizabeth and I traveled on students’ budgets for 30-days in Europe, spanning 10 cities and 8 countries,  primarily staying in hostelsAt this point, while I may not be the world’s greatest hosteling expert, I do feel as if I’ve gotten a good sense of how they work, and what generally to expect. 

For me, hosteling has been a lot of fun. But when I talk to friends about it, they seem apprehensive. The resistance I’ve encountered has ranged from the normal “but I’d be sleeping in a room with strangers!” to the absurd ,“but what if they’re after my organs?!” (this was after said friend watched the movie 2005 horror movie, Hostel, one too many times).

These concerns always make me sad, since I feel like hosteling is a great experience for a lot of people once they try it, so first, I’ll try to put your mind at ease about hosteling, and then, if you’re still reading, give you some tips on what to pack so you can enjoy your stay.



But I’d have to share a room with strangers!

Yes, this is mostly true, and this is what allows hostels to be vastly cheaper than hotels while still maintaining basic standards of cleanliness and safety. I would argue however, that this is much the same as living in a college dormitory, and while some fellow travelers might snore or come back inebriated at undesirable hours of the early morning, they are largely a harmless bunch and are not looking to kill you in your sleep (you survived college after all!). Every hostel I have encountered offers a “female only” dorm option, for women who would prefer to not share a room with men. If this still isn’t your cup of tea, many hostels feature “private rooms” which are basically like hotel rooms within the hostel, and are great for couples or those travelling with children. While more expensive than the dorm rooms, they are still are cheaper than a traditional hotel room. Most hostel websites will have these options/prices listed.

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Can You Be A Homebody and A Nomad? 

I’m going to be honest with you: I would have never guessed that at the age of fifty I’d be a nomad. 

Here’s the thing: I’m a homebody at heart and up until a few years ago I viewed the contentment of home and the thrill of exploration as mutually exclusive destinations.

Then my husband, Hank, and I set off on a multi-year journey with a vague plan of temporarily inhabiting Latin America and the adventure opened my eyes and heart to new truths about myself and the world around me. 

“At home” in Mexico. Photo by Rodrigo de Alba Gonzalez.

In a recent article for Yahoo Travel I share travel-tested tips for navigating a move abroad and why, after three years of home-loose living (having no permanent base) I’ve discovered that:

•  I’m more adaptable than I thought.

•  Kind people are everywhere.

•  Language isn’t a barrier to connection.

•  Living within your comfort zone is overrated.

  A car-free lifestyle is healthy and liberating.

•  That the joy that comes from feeling at home is internal and portable.

Read the full article on Yahoo ▶

What about you? How do you reconcile Home and Away? Use the comment box below to share or join the conversation or on the Yahoo article directly. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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JUST IN: New Craft Beer Theme Cruises Explore Islands and Shoreline of Coastal Washington 

The Pacific Northwest put craft beer on the map and now you can discover some of the region’s best brews on four new craft beer theme cruises with Un-Cruise Adventures.

The Seattle-based adventure cruise line has just announced new fall and spring departures in Washington’s Puget Sound and Salish Sea that bring together local micro-brew experts with adventure while cruising the scenic area from South Hood Canal to Olympic National Park and the San Juan Islands.  

The 60-guest Wilderness Adventurer expedition vessel sails roundtrip Seattle on a weeklong Explore! Olympic Wilderness & San Juan Islands itinerary from September – November and April – May.

Craft beer theme cruises are set for October 4, 2014April 25 and October 3, 2015 and April 30, 2016.

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FOR FOODIES: Top Tips for Budget Bites in Britain

Here’s the truth: The food is GREAT in Britain. Long gone are the days of bland cuisine and mushy peas.

On my last visit I enjoyed fresh, organic produce at local farmers’ markets, dined in cosy gastropubs and globally recognized restaurants and discovered a vibrant scene of fantastic street food. But with recent dollar-to-pound exchange rates it’s not a cheap place to eat.

The British summer brims and bursts with food festivals and markets that will whet any appetite.Are you or a friend headed to the British Isles for vacation? Discover how to eat well while stretching your dollars with these top tips for finding budget bites in Britain. 

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CONSERVATION TRAVEL: Discover the Story of Canada’s Great Bear Rainforest with Canadian Geographic and Maple Leaf Adventures 

For me, the ideal adventure not only introduces me to places of wild beauty - its landscapes, wildlife, cultures and history- but also plays a role in protecting and sustaining it for future generations.

So I was thrilled when Maureen Gordon, co-owner of Maple Leaf Adventures, told me that they had added a second sailing vessel to accommodate interest in an upcoming collaborative conservation expedition with Canadian Geographic into British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest, a vast protected area currently under the environmental threat of a controversial pipeline proposal.  

The SV Maple Leaf in the Gardner Canal, the B.C. coast’s longest fjord in the Great Bear Rainforest. (Photo: Kevin J. Smith/Maple Leaf Adventures) 


This 9-day voyage, June 19-27, 2014, aboard a flotilla of two small, coastal expedition ships, will raise funds for the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, coastal reserach and conservation.

With just seven guests per ship, participants will have the opportunity for in depth conversations with the trip’s experienced captain and guides, including naturalist and artist Robert Bateman and his wife Birgit, an accomplished photographer. The expedition cruise will explore the fjords, rainforest, and islands as well as do bear viewing and whale watching, visit whale researchers and local villages, and explore the area’s history.  

The 6-million hectare Great Bear Rainforest located on the British Columbia coast, boasts deep, granite fjords, a rich whale population, and bears – grizzly and black bears, including the rare, white spirit bear. There are almost no roads, and accessible by water. Since 2006, over a third of the land area has been protected. 

“The Great Bear Rainforest is one of Canada’s globally significant places,” said Kevin Smith, Maple Leaf Adventures’ president, and a geographer whose been involved in the highest level of land use planning for the area.

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