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We may not be expert babymooners, and there’s a great chance that we didn’t babymoon like anyone else, but we sure did have an amazing time during our recent trip to Portugal.

Today on the podcast, we’re focusing our content on the babymoon: the planning and considerations that went into it, our favorite babymoon-related activities we did, and tips we learned along the way that could make any babymoon successful.

Listen here for all things babymooning:

#63: The Art of Babymooning - SoundCloud
(2574 secs long, 1116 plays)Play in SoundCloud

Show notes:

  • 5:14 – What is a babymoon?
  • 8:47 – Planning & considerations for a babymoon
  • 17:59 – Favorite babymoon activities
  • 28:52 – Tried and true tips for babymooning
  • 40:19 – Next week’s topic

Links:

Thank you for checking out Switchbacks today! We hope you enjoyed the episode. If you have any questions or comments, please leave a voicemail below about anything related to travel or the national parks — favorite hikes, your questions for us, or tips you have for our listeners — to be potentially featured on a future podcast.

If you enjoyed the podcast, we’d love for you to share us with a friend, give us a rating on iTunes, find us on FacebookInstagram, or Twitter.

And you can always get more National Parks videos, posts, guides and more by perusing our website. Start here if you’re new.

(If you choose to leave a voice message, you have 60 seconds. Please include your first name!)

 

Thanks for listening to Switchbacks! We’ll be back next month talking all about the details of our trip to the Azores and mainland Portugal.  

The post Podcast Episode #63: The Art of Babymooning appeared first on Switchback Kids.

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If Ireland and Hawaii had a baby, they would name it Azores and plop it right in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

The Azores, an autonomous region of Portugal, is a 9-island archipelago located about 850 miles off the coast of mainland Portugal. We had first heard about this travel destination a couple years ago, when some bigger travel websites were naming it as an up-and-coming travel destination for outdoor lovers, comparing the Azores to places like New Zealand and Iceland. We knew right away it was a trip we would make someday, and the more we kept hearing about it, the more it seemed like we should go sooner rather than later.

Hiking to Miradouro do Boca do Inferno, Sao Miguel
View of Pico Mountain, Sao Jorge

Sooner came in March when we visited the Azores for 9 days as part of our 18-day Portugal babymoon. Planning and executing our Azores trip was not as straightforward as some of our other trips, so we thought we’d share our experiences for anyone out there planning a similar trip. In this post, we’ll cover:

  • Planning & transportation logistics
  • Accommodations
  • Activities
  • Budgeting
  • Our reflections & tips
Parque Natural da Ribeira dos Caldeiros, Sao Miguel
Early morning drive to Lagoa do Fogo, Sao Miguel
Vigia da Baleia, Sao Jorge Planning & logistics

The first step in planning our Azores trip was hashing out the logistics of when, where, and how.

  • When: Because we were planning a babymoon, our timeline was more impacted by that schedule than anything else. We highly enjoyed visiting mid-March due to the pleasant weather (cloudy, but consistently 60-70 degrees) and very low crowds. We have heard it gets a bit crowded in the summer, especially in August when many Europeans go on holiday.
  • Where: Deciding which island, or islands, to visit during our trip was another significant hurdle. This article overviews the nine islands and some of their highlights. After reading as much as we could about the islands, and exploring options for linking the islands, we decided on three: Sao Miguel, Sao Jorge, and Pico (in that order). Our decision was affected by the experiences we wanted to have, but also by their connections. We wanted to island hop, but we didn’t want to spend too much time or money on flights or ferries. Our route allowed us to maximize our island count and minimize our travel.
  • How: Flying is the only way to reach the islands, but traveling between them is possible with flights and sometimes ferries. When we visited, only shorter ferries were running, so we had to carefully piece together our route.

Knowing we had nine days on the islands, here is the route we landed on. We based our route on flight prices, ferry availabilities, and prioritizing our time on certain islands. This gave us five nights on Sao Miguel, two nights on Sao Jorge, and two nights on Pico.

  • Day 0: Overnight direct flight from Boston to Ponta Delgada
  • Days 1-5: Sao Miguel Island
  • Day 6: Fly from Sao Miguel Island to Sao Jorge Island
  • Day 7: Sao Jorge Island
  • Day 8: Ferry from Sao Jorge Island to Pico Island
  • Day 9: Pico Island
  • Day 10: Ferry from Pico Island to Faial Island and head straight to the airport to fly from Faial Island to Lisbon
Sete Cidades from Miradouro do Rei, Sao Miguel Hiking to Miradouro da Boca do Inferno, Sao Miguel Accommodations

We typically stay in budget-to-midrange accommodations when we travel, trying to get the best bang for our buck. On our last trip through parts of central and eastern Europe, we traveled for six weeks on just $35/night. This time, our budget was a bit higher — it was our babymoon — but we still ended up averaging just $54.50 per night. Not bad for some of the lovely places we found! We are still huge advocates for AirBNB, but on the Azores, we were not as successful finding good AirBNBs. We had much more luck with the site Booking. (Funny, it was opposite in Lisbon & Porto!) Here is a quick rundown of where we slept and what we thought. Keep in mind, these prices were for the off-season (March 2019) and included all taxes and fees:

  • Sao Miguel (Part I): Our first accommodations on Sao Miguel were thwarted by our missed flight connection from Boston, so, arriving a day late, we booked a last-minute room in a guesthouse called Vila Laura, located near Ribeira Grande. This ended up being an amazing value, with a private double room with a continental breakfast for just $37. The location was also ideal, as we were centrally located and a quick drive from the Lagoa do Fogo area, which we explored before breakfast on our second day.
  • Sao Miguel (Part II): Enter the luxurious babymoon phase of our trip. Our three nights at the next hotel, Pedra do Mar Resort & Spa, were probably most luxurious days Cole and I have spent traveling. (And at just $80/night, it didn’t really break the bank too much). The bed was amazing, the indoor pool and steam room were relaxing, and the included breakfast was exceptional. We had no complaints. Plus, I was able to book a prenatal massage at the hotel spa. Is this how adults travel all the time? We felt like kings.
  • Sao Jorge: On Sao Jorge, we knew we would be busy spending our days hiking and driving so we booked a simple, but lovely, apartment in the town of Topo called Vigia do Ilheu. I had never seen a 9.9 review score on Booking before, so it didn’t take much convincing me to choose this place, especially since it was just $45.50/night. The apartment’s porch had an amazing view to the north, and we enjoyed breakfasts there each morning before heading off for the day. This place was great for two nights, as the town was somewhat far away from other attractions around the island.
  • Pico: In the off season, I feel like we had our pick of accommodations on both Sao Jorge and Pico. Our find here was central (located in Sao Roque do Pico), had a view of Pico (in theory – it was too cloudy for us to see it) and the ocean, and had great reviews. The apartment is called Casa do Canto and at just $34/night, it was a great value. The place was large (with two bedrooms) and comfortable, with a great kitchen and outdoor space for enjoying meals. Our host even brought us fresh fruit, eggs, and wine when we arrived!
Sunset at our apartment, Pico Miradouro da Ponta do Sossego, Sao Miguel Natural pools at Faja do Ouivador, Sao Jorge Hiking in Faja dos Vimes, Sao Jorge Activities

Now for my favorite part. I like just about everything about planning a trip, but I especially love creating a plan full of experiences I know Cole and I will enjoy. I love finding must-dos, free activities, and hidden gems, while allowing time for relaxing, exploring, and flexibility.

The Azores were no different. When we arrived to each island, we headed straight for the tourist information center, verified our plans, and got all of our questions clarified. We looked at each day we had on the island, factored in the weather forecast, and organized our activities geographically. Not everything went smoothly. Weather and unexpected closures affected our plans at times, but we were very happy with our days in the Azores. Our very favorite activities below are in bold.

Sao Miguel (5 days – “Miradouros,” calderas, and volcanoes) – The first Portuguese word you should learn when visiting the Azores is “miradouro,” meaning “overlook” or “viewpoint.” The Azores do overlooks right. Their miradouros are full of flowers and scenic picnic tables, and look out over beautiful blue water and steep cliffs. They are located all over the island, usually well-marked, and worth the stop. We stopped at all the miradouros we could find, but we listed our favorites below. We also outlined the other activities we did each day on Sao Miguel:

  • Day 1: Ponta Delgada & Ribeira Grande areas
    • Ponta Delgada city center – Tourist information center, city arches, and pastries at a cafe
    • Gruta do Carvao (Coal Caves) lava tube tour
    • Ananases Santo Antonio (St. Anthony’s Pinapples) plantation visit
    • (Next, we checked into Vila Laura and took a red-eye recovery nap)
    • Miradouro de Santa Iria
    • Gorreana Tea Factory + 2-mile Cha Gorreana loop trail
  • Day 2: Central & West areas
    • Lagoa do Fogo
    • 3.4-mile Rocha da Relva trail (we did only about half of it)
    • Miradouro do Rei + abandoned hotel
    • 1.5-mile trail to Canary Lagoon and Miradouro da Boca do Inferno
    • Ferraria natural pool
    • Sunset at Ponta dos Mosteiros
  • Day 3: Furnas area
    • Vila Franco do Campo and view of the islet
    • Our Lady of Peace Chapel
    • Lagoa das Furnas hotsprings
    • Caldeiras das Furnas
    • Terra Nostra for cozida, botanical gardens, and thermal pool
    • Miradouro do Pico do Ferro
  • Day 4: East areas
    • 2.7-mile trail Faial da Terra to Salto do Prego waterfall
    • Miradouro da Ponta do Sossego
    • Farol do Arnel (lighthouse)
    • Town of Nordeste
    • Parque Natural da Ribeira dos Caldeiroes
    • Prenatal massage for me!

Sao Jorge (2 days – “Fajas,” hiking, and cheese) – Our short time on Sao Jorge was defined by scenic drives and one big hike. We quickly learned what a “faja” is – a flat land formation formed from lava flow that juts out like a peninsula at the base of the steep island cliffs. On most of these fajas, there are small towns, accessible by steep, switchbacking roads for cars or (in some cases) only ATVs and walking. Visiting one or more of these fajas is a must for visiting Sao Jorge – as are many of our other activities:

  • Day 1: South side
    • Vigia da Baleia and Parque Florestal das Sete Fontes
    • Faja dos Vimes and Cafe Nunes
  • Day 2: North side
    • Finisterra Cheese Factory in Santo Antao
    • Faja do Ouvidor and the natural pools
    • 6-mile hike to Faja do Santo Cristo and Faja dos Cubres (and a taxi back to our car)

Pico (2 days – mountain, whales, and wine) – We also didn’t plan too much time on Pico (and in hindsight, we would have planned this segment differently. More on that in our reflections below). Pico’s activities seems to be centered around the giant Pico mountain that dominates the island, the whales that define much of the island’s history, and the unique wine region that the island houses. All three of those icons were somewhat thwarted by pregnancy, wind, and clouds, but we still managed a great two days on Pico:

  • Day 1: West & north areas
    • Attempt at an afternoon whale watching tour (failed)
    • Drive through the wine fields around Santa Luzia
  • Day 2: Island circuit
    • Museu dos Baleeiros
    • Gruta dos Torres cave tour
Parque Natural da Ribeira dos Caldeiros, Sao Miguel Hiking down from Salto do Prego, Sao Miguel Budgeting

As with any trip we take, Cole and I took meticulous notes about how much money we spent on this trip. We like to travel a lot (have you noticed?) and a long time ago, we figured out that if we prioritize our money and aim to spend less, we can travel more and more. It’s magic!

During our 9 full days on the Azores, we spent a grand total of $1,355 (not including flights to the islands, which were $356 for both. Flights are highly variable, so we separated this cost to give you a better idea of what you should expect to spend on the islands). That’s just $150.56 per day, for both of us, making it quite affordable.

This $1,355 comes from five main categories: transportation (flights and ferries between the islands, rental cars, gas), accommodations, activities, food and drinks (restaurants, groceries), and miscellaneous (souvenirs, ATM fees).

Here’s a breakdown of where our daily money went:

You can see where our priorities..

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It’s no secret that we had an amazing experience in Africa in July-September of last year. We’ve been talking about it for awhile.

A few months ago, we broke it all down for you: how we decided to travel there, where we went, exactly how much money we spent. Then, in February, we began chatting more about the specifics on our Podcast. We shared our top five game drive (safari) experiences through eight countries in southern Africa.

Today, we’re back to share even more about our time in the Motherland. Africa is extremely diverse, but most people know just about the animals. (And we don’t blame them, because you can’t exactly ignore a hunting lion). But Africa is so much more!

One of our favorite parts about traveling across the entire bottom portion of the continent is that we saw such diversity of landscape. From the island of Zanzibar to the Western Cape, we experienced some of the best views and outdoor experiences of our travel lives.

Here’s the scoop:

#62: Traveling to Africa, Part II: Our Top 5 Natural Landmarks - SoundCloud
(3918 secs long, 10 plays)Play in SoundCloud

Show Notes:

  • 2:07 – Our babymoon-athon
  • 7:52 – Traveling to Africa, Part I (Podcast #60)
  • 10:47 – #5
  • 19:45 – #4
  • 26:11 – #3
  • 31:38 – #2
  • 40:34 – #1
  • 53:36 – Honorable Mentions
  • 58:09 – Our still-to-do list for Africa

Thank you for checking out Switchbacks today! We hope you enjoyed the episode. If you have any questions or comments, please leave a voicemail below about anything related to travel or the national parks — favorite hikes, your questions for us, or tips you have for our listeners — to be potentially featured on a future podcast.

If you enjoyed the podcast, we’d love for you to share us with a friend, give us a rating on iTunes, find us on FacebookInstagram, or Twitter.

And you can always get more National Parks videos, posts, guides and more by perusing our website. Start here if you’re new.

(If you choose to leave a voice message, you have 60 seconds. Please include your first name!)

 

Thanks for listening to Switchbacks! We’ll be back next month talking all about our favorite destinations in southern Africa for outdoors-minded travelers like us. 

The post Podcast Episode #62: Traveling to Africa, Part II: Our Top 5 Natural Landmarks appeared first on Switchback Kids.

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Front desk at Women’s Rights National Historical Park. Retrieved from NPGallery.

It’s International Women’s Day!

Today we celebrate the women who, despite unequal opportunities and mistreatment in the national park system, persisted to make significant contributions to the preservation of our nation’s treasured natural, cultural, and historical areas. May we learn from them, seek inspiration from them, and continue to share their stories and fight for equality even when it isn’t International Women’s Day.

It should come as no shock that women have not always been a welcomed presence in the historically male-dominated National Park Service. The first female park rangers (called “rangerettes”) were only temporary, filling in for men serving in World War I. For decades, there was much debate over what female employees in the national parks should wear, and not until 1978 were women given the official go-ahead to wear the same gray and green, as well as the same hats and accessories, as their male counterparts. As recently as 1964, wives of national park rangers were cautioned that “the job is his, not yours. Don’t intrude into official duties” in the official Wives and Women Employees Handbook. It was clearly stated that the women’s role in the National Park Service was in support of their important men.

Today, women in the national parks are still fighting. In 2016, reports were released showing widespread, systematic sexual harassment and gender discrimination among park employees. Employees said that the park service was slow to take action on complaints, and that the reporting system was inefficient.

Since the creation of the National Park Service in 1916, its been a tough road for women.

Still, women have fought. They have worked their way into national park history by trailblazing paths never meant for them. Here are some of my favorite women involved in the original protection, ongoing preservation, and continuing advocacy for our country’s most important areas.

The park service’s first females Herma Baggley, the first female park naturalist. Retrieved from NPGallery.

First, we celebrate women who served as the first in their field.

Clare Marie Hodges, the park service’s first female park ranger, paved the way for other women at Yosemite National Park in 1918 when she filled in for men serving in WWI. At the time, female employees completed “softer” clerical work in the parks, but Hodges completed the same duties as her fellow male employees. Unfortunately, her park ranger position was only served a temporary need, and female employment in the parks didn’t really pick up until the 1960s.

Some relatively forward-thinking parks did recognize the worth of female contributions, and Herma Baggley became the first permanent female naturalist at Yellowstone National Park in 1929. She used her advanced education to guide her contributions to botany studies at Yellowstone, and co-authored the guide Plants of Yellowstone National Park, still used in the park today.

In 1940, Gertrude S. Cooper became the first female park superintendent in the National Park Service, overseeing Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site. She ran the park site for five years and set the tone for other women through the following decades to manage our national parks.

The National Park Service protects many areas of importance to the history, conflicts, inequality, and struggles of Native Americans, but it wasn’t until 1991 that a female Native American, Barbara Booher, was in charge of a park. Booher served as superintendent of Custer National Monument, now known as Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument.

Finally, the highest position in the park service — Director — was filled by a woman in 2001 when Fran P. Mainella was appointed as the 16th Director of the National Parks. Since then, only one other woman, Mary Bomar, following Mainella in 2006, has held that highest position.

Women who created parks
Minerva Hoyt, advocate for Joshua Tree National Park. Retrieved from NPS.

Several of our nation’s parks can credit their existence to the women who advocated and fought to protect them. These are women who founded organizations to preserve land, lobbied for the protection of ecosystems, and spread the word about beautiful and important natural areas. Without their persistence, many of these parks would not exist today.

Minerva Hoyt always comes to mind first, because her story is a powerful one. After losing her infant son and her husband in separate incidents, she found comfort in the desert landscape of southern California. She created the International Deserts Conservation League and advocated for the protection of this fragile ecosystem. Her efforts would prove successful in 1936 with the creation of Joshua Tree National Monument, now a highly popular national park.

In a similar vein, Virginia McClurg was so moved by her 1882 visit to what is now Mesa Verde National Park that she began her fight to protect the area and other surrounding cliff dwellings. She founded the Colorado Cliff Dwellings Association, lectured and personally led tours to Mesa Verde. The Colorado Cliff Dwellings Association is largely responsible for the creation of Mesa Verde National Park in 1906.

Several women, notably Jean Corlett and Myrtle Woods, who were involved in a local chapter of the Philanthropic Educational Organization, played a large role in protected our country’s tallest sand dunes. The PEO lobbied state and federal government agencies about the importance of Colorado’s sand dunes until Great Sand Dunes National Monument was created in 1932.

Sue Kunitomi Embrey used her very personal connection to lead the efforts in designating Manzanar National Historic Site. She was a prisoner at Manzanar, a Japanese internment camp in California, along with 10,000 other people of Japanese descent, during World War II, and later returned to fight for its preservation as a National Historic Site. Her story was instrumental in its eventual creation in 1992.

Decades and hundreds of park units since the park service’s early days, women are still creating new parks. Roxanne Quimby, co-founder of Burt’s Bees, purchased large areas of land in Maine with the intention of donating it to the National Park Service. Today, parts of this land make up Katahdid Woods & Waters National Monument, created just in 2016.

Women are also responsible for the spread of information about our parks. Susan Priscilla Thew contributed to the expansion of Sequoia National Park by navigating rough terrain and carefully photographing corners of the High Sierra that were not yet protected. She advocated for expansion through her book “The Proposed Roosevelt-Sequoia National Park” and in 1926, the park’s acreage tripled in size.

Marjory Douglas‘s book The Everglades: River of Grass detailed the delicate Everglades ecosystem and is still used today to understand the importance of the Everglades, especially the uninterrupted flow of water through the region. Rangers still mention her work today in what they call the “Everglades Effect,” a shift in the National Park Service’s protection of more subtly beautiful, but just as important, natural areas. She continued her work supporting the park through the creation of Friends of the Everglades in 1970.

Parks that tell women’s stories Betty Reid Soskin, the NPS’s oldest park ranger. Retrieved from NPGallery

National parks have a solid history of telling men’s stories. From war generals to presidents, to explorers and artists, dozens of men’s legacies are preserved in the parks. By my quick scan, there are 67 national park units that have men’s names in their title. In my count, I included historic sites, historical parks, and national memorials that were dedicated to a man. (I didn’t even include forts and battlefields named after men).

I’m sure you can tell where I’m going here. In contrast, only ten parks today are singularly focused on women’s history and stories. These include:

  • Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument – 2016
  • Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park – 2000
  • Clara Barton National Historic Site – 1974
  • Mary McLeod Bethune Council House National Historic Site – 1994
  • Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site – 1977
  • Maggie L Walker National Historic Site – 1978
  • First Ladies National Historic Site – 2000
  • Harriet Tubman National Historical Park – 2014
  • Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument – 2013
  • Women’s Rights National Historical Park – 1980

Although many had been previously preserved as National Landmarks, none of these sites were added to the national park system until the 1970s, and almost half were not created until the 2000s.

The National Park Service, in its second century of existence, now aims to tell the stories of all Americans through natural, cultural, and historical preservation. But it has a long way to go to achieve the gender equality it now actively supports.

Betty Reid Soskin is one of my favorite females in the National Park Service. She is currently 97, and serves as a park ranger at Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park in California. As the oldest park ranger and a woman of color, she often speaks about the adversity (as a women and a person of color) she has experienced through her time in the park service.

She summarized my point nicely when she spoke about always wearing her park uniform, even when not on duty.

I wear my uniform at all times; because when I’m on the streets or on an escalator or elevator, I am making every little girl of color aware of a career choice she may not have known she had. That’s important. The pride is evident in their eyes, and the opportunities get announced very subtly to those who’ve lived outside the circle of full acceptance.

Betty Reid Soskin, in a 2015 interview.

If we look to the female leaders in the national parks, we will probably see struggle. We will see disparity and injustice. But we will also see resistance. We will see fight. And that is the exact kind of International Women’s Day inspiration we should be looking for today.

References & further reading:

The post Women in the National Parks appeared first on Switchback Kids.

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If you missed the big news out of the National Park Service a few weeks ago, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore was renamed Indiana Dunes National Park, making it the U.S.’s 61st national park.

The naming of a new national park doesn’t happen often. In fact, it has only happened three times in the last ten years (Indiana Dunes, Gateway Arch, and Pinnacles), and seven times in the last twenty years (with the additions of Great Sand Dunes, Congaree, Cuyahoga Valley, and Black Canyon of the Gunnison). So naturally, national park nuts like us are talking about it. A lot.

In today’s episode of Switchbacks, we go into detail about what Indiana Dunes is all about, the best ways to visit, and how it very much deserves its new national park status.

Throughout the episode, we include clips from a recent interview with Kailey Capuano from Indiana Dunes Tourism. She reiterates the importance of the dunes to the ecosystem and gives additional advice for what visitors can experience at the newest national park.

We also share about a backpack that was recently sent to us from Huru, a company that creates super high-quality backpacks perfect for travel. You can get one for 7% off using the code switchback kids at checkout.

To listen to today’s episode, you can subscribe to Switchbacks on the Apple podcast app or Stitcher. You can also listen right here:

Show notes:

  • 1:16 – Our proudest travel-related accomplishment this year
  • 8:54 – Indiana Dunes facts & figures: history, location, geography
  • 14:01 – Visiting the dunes: beaches, hiking, and the surrounding area
  • 25:37 – Incredible biodiversity
  • 27:25 – History of protecting the area
  • 31:11 – Other reasons why the park deserves its status
  • 42:06 – What we’ll be talking about next month

Thank you for checking out Switchbacks today! We hope you enjoyed the episode. If you have any questions or comments, please leave a voicemail below about anything related to travel or the national parks — favorite hikes, your questions for us, or tips you have for our listeners — to be potentially featured on a future podcast.

If you enjoyed the podcast, we’d love for you to share us with a friend, give us a rating on iTunes, find us on FacebookInstagram, or Twitter.

And you can always get more National Parks videos, posts, guides and more by perusing our website. Start here if you’re new.

(If you choose to leave a voice message, you have 60 seconds. Please include your first name!)

 

Thanks for listening to Switchbacks! We’ll be back next month talking all about our favorite destinations in southern Africa for outdoors-minded travelers like us. 

The post Podcast episode #61: Indiana Dunes, our 61st National Park appeared first on Switchback Kids.

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On February 15 Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore became Indiana Dunes National Park, after 103 years of waiting. The 61st National Park in the U.S. It’s a big deal, especially for Park Nuts like us to get a new addition to that designation to join the illustrious ranks of parks like Yellowstone and Yosemite. So of course, it has to come with some controversy.

The legislation to immediately add the “Park” to the name of Indiana Dunes and thus change the designation was included in the broader border security bill President Trump signed on 2/15. Indiana congressional leaders had been pushing for the designation change to gain greater recognition for Indiana Dunes and boost tourism from people who look to visit National Parks.

“This action provides our shoreline with the recognition it deserves,” said U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Merrillville, “and I hope further builds momentum to improve open and public access to all of our region’s environmental wonders.”  


“I’m thrilled that the Indiana Dunes will be our state’s first National Park,” said U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski. “The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore has long been a treasured place for Hoosiers to relax, explore, and enjoy all that nature has to offer, as well as a strong driver of our local economy. The Indiana Dunes National Park will draw even more visitors from across the country, strengthening Indiana’s economy and boosting the outdoor recreation industry that is so vital to our region.”

South Bend Tribune

So far, this new designation does not change funding, area or anything besides the name. This has a some of the public understandably scratching their heads and a few park purists disapproving the so-called degrading and devaluing the National Parks and exploiting nature for tourism (because that doesn’t happen in any of our existing National Parks!).

We haven’t been afraid to call out a National Park designation when we think it’s undeserving (even if it’s in our hometown, like National Park #60). However, we have been to Indiana Dunes twice (see posts on adventure in the dunes and our couples weekend) and argue that it fully deserved the title National Lakeshore and it FULLY deserves the title of National Park (see reasons below).

And we find all of the arguments against the name change unconvincing (see reasons below below).


First, here’s a reminder of the vague, unhelpful definitions we’re taking about taken straight from the NPS Designations page

National Park – These are generally large natural places having a wide variety of attributes, at times including significant historic assets. Hunting, mining and consumptive activities are not authorized.

National Lakeshore – National Lakeshores, all on the Great Lakes, closely parallel the seashores in character and use. (Since that is not helpful, here’s the National Seashores definition – Ten national seashores have been established on the Atlantic, Gulf and Pacific coasts; some are developed and some relatively primitive. Hunting is allowed at many of these sites.


And a reminder that the goal of having any NPS units under any designation is protection of public lands…

Mission: The National Park Service preserves unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the national park system for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations.

https://www.nps.gov/aboutus/index.htm

The National Park designation gives a unit the highest possible level of PROTECTION because it categorically prohibits so many commercial and recreational human activities that could prove harmful to the nature and wildlife. It also provides the unit with the highest possible level of RECOGNITION. A byproduct of this recognition is additional protection on top of other designations because any commercial, municipal or private interests (of which there are plenty on Indiana Dunes’ doorstep) who might seek to infringe on the nature and wildlife in or near a more regionally known Lakeshore would be more hesitant to do the same to one of the nation’s elite National Parks. And in my opinion, the perceived statuses of existing National Parks are not diluted at all with each added National Park, but rather the status of the new National Park is elevated to the unshakable reverence our nation has for all National Parks. 

Why is Indiana Dunes a National Park? It deserves the fullest protection and thus deserves to be the 61st National Park for the following reasons (in order if importance)….

  1. World-class Biodiversity – 8th highest plant biodiversity out of all 419 National Parks. It is among the most diverse National Park Service properties with more than 1,100 native plants and a wide variety of other species – fish (71), butterflies (60), dragonflies and damselflies (60), mammals (46), reptiles (23), and amphibians (18) and 350 bird species (resident and migratory have been identified. Biological diversity was a primary reason for the creation of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Because the national lakeshore is located in several ecological transition zones, the diversity is many times greater than most areas its size. Remnant species from past climatic changes have managed to survive in sheltered habitats. https://www.nps.gov/indu/learn/nature/index.htm, https://www.nps.gov/indu/learn/nature/animals.htm 
  2. Crucial Bird Migration –   Located at the southern tip of Lake Michigan, the national lakeshore is an important feeding and resting area for migrating birds. Lake Michigan influences the migration patterns of bird species. During the fall migration, southbound birds follow the north-south shoreline and are funneled into the Indiana Dunes. The large expanse of open water and miles of shoreline also attract large numbers of wintering birds. https://www.nps.gov/indu/learn/nature/birds.htm 
  3. Historical Intent – Mather was planning to designate it as a National Park in 1916 until WWI broke out and stalled those plans. On October 30, 1916, only one month after the National Park Service itself was established (August 25, 1916), Stephen Mather, the Service’s first Director, (shown at the far left in the adjacent photo leading a tour of park advocates in the dunes in 1916) held hearings in Chicago to gauge public sentiment on a “Sand Dunes National Park”. Four hundred people attended and 42 people, including Henry Cowles, spoke in favor of the park proposal; there were no opponents.The battle for a national park was crippled, however, when the United States entered the First World War. National priorities changed and revenues were targeted for national defense, not the development of a national park. The popular slogan “Save the Dunes!” became “First Save the Country, Then Save the Dunes!” As the nation went from a world war into a depression, hopes to save the dunes began to fade. https://www.nps.gov/indu/learn/historyculture/index.htm 
  4. Geologic Rarity – The national lakeshore preserves an important remnant of a once vast and unique environment, resulting from the retreat of the last great continental glacier some 14,000 years ago. The park landscape represents at least four major successive stages of historic Lake Michigan shorelines, making it one of the most extensive geologic records of one of the world’s largest, fresh water bodies. https://www.nps.gov/indu/learn/nature/index.htm
  5. Natural and Geographic Diversity of National Parks – How many National Parks do we currently have centered around mountains vs. dunes as their main attraction? 11 for mountains (and 9 have mountains in the name) vs. 1 for dunes (2 if you count Kobuk Valley where dunes are arguably just one of many features).  Mountains may be more amazing to look at and fun to hike in, but are they really that much more valuable? How many National Parks within the NPS regional system are in the 5-state Pacific West Region vs. the 8-state Intermountain Region vs. the 13-state Midwest Region? 14 vs. 16 vs. 7. It is Indiana’s first National Park Our bias for “spectacular” scenery and the availability of large swaths of sparsely populated federal land has caused our park system to favor the western half of the U.S. for the NPS’s top designation over natural areas in the Midwest/East that are just as important.
  6. Surprising Popularity– Together with Indiana Dunes State Park (which it encompasses), the two had 3.6M visitors in 2018, which would make it the 7th most-visited of the 61 National Parks (comparing it with the latest 2017 visitation data) ahead of Acadia, Olympic and Grand Teton.  The 2.2M visitors for the Lakeshore along a year before in 2017 would still put it 14th on the new list of the 61 National Parks ahead of Arches, Shenandoah, Mount Rainier, Sequoia, etc. Indiana Dunes visitation stacks up well against National Park peers, but also signifies a need for future support According to  https://irma.nps.gov/Stats/   
  7. Beautiful scenery- This is purely subjective, but after two visits I think Indiana Dunes more than checks this box.


The arguments against Indiana Dunes National Park status don’t hold up

  1. It’s only a marketing ploy for tourism – True, leaders in Congress and the Indiana Dunes Tourism office have been quoted saying they hope the new name boosts tourism and attracts more people to the park. Because that’s their job, their incentive and what their constituents care about. It doesn’t make any of the reasons above untrue. 
  2. It isn’t beautiful or spectacular enough – Is it the most beautiful park we’ve been to out of the 150+ units (including 60 current National Parks we’ve been to)? Definitely not. First, you can’t compare it to the “Crown Jewels” of Yosemite, Grand Canyon and Yellowstone because if that was the standard we would have about 6 National Parks ever. It has a much more quiet beauty and crucial ecological importance similar to Everglades. Second, spectacular beauty is not a criteria for National Parks, although that is often what we associate them with.
  3. It Isn’t big enough – Although it is the 5th smallest at 15,067 acres, it is bigger than Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Hot Springs and Gateway Arch are smaller. Also, it has several location disadvantages that made it small and prohibit its expansion. It is a skinny park protecting 15 miles of lake shore that is pinned in by the lake (obviously) on one half side and I-94 (after a bit of a buffer) on the other half side and book-ended by towns of Michigan City and Gary. It is in a fairly populated area with the Port of Indiana and Indiana Dunes State Park also prohibiting it from procuring more acreage. In our opinion, all the more reason why this limited naturally important area needs the highest level of protection.
  4. It degrades the whole system – This sounds quite exclusionary. There are never going to be anymore “Crown Jewels” discovered in the U.S. Are we not able to add anymore National Parks then? Since 2000, 5 other parks have been added: Cuyahoga Valley, Congaree, Great Sand Dunes, Pinnacles and Gateway Arch. With the exception of GSDNP, are all understated in spectacular-ness and and in size (all are under 35K acres). I believe we need to accept that we are in a new era of land protection and new National Parks will fit a different mold. As stated above, the perceived statuses of existing National Parks are not diluted at all with each added National Park, but rather the status of the new National Park is elevated to the unshakable reverence our nation has for all National Parks. 


Why do we always have to turn everything into a controversy? Why can’t we all celebrate what should be the least controversial thing the government has done in a long time? I think we should all love the fact we have a new joiner to the highest level of our protected lands. But maybe that’s not how we’re built these days.

The post 61st National Park controversy: Why is Indiana Dunes a National Park? appeared first on Switchback Kids.

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When it comes to backpacking on a budget through a giant region, Southern Africa is no Southeast Asia. It doesn’t have the extensive travel infrastructure, the digital nomads, or the shoestring-budget travel possibilities. But as a travel destination, Africa called to us.

Sunrise in Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

We began researching for our trip through Southern Africa about a year and a half ago, and it was daunting. We even heard a podcast telling us that for a moderately-priced safari, we should plan to budget about $600 per night per person. Yikes.

Knowing there had to be an alternative to the all-inclusive bush-plane safari packages, we kept searching and talking to travelers. We (relatively easily) found an incredible solution, began planning, and executed an amazing 66-day trip through some of Africa’s greatest highlights.

We saw Victoria Falls, the Serengeti, the Namib Desert, the Big Five, and so many more things from our original must-see list. More subtly (but importantly), we saw small quiet villages, large buzzing cities, zebras crossing the highway, surprising landscapes, and the darkest night skies you can imagine.

Recently, we published a lengthy blog post all about this same trip. You can read it here. But on today’s episode of the podcast, we’re going into more detail about our rationale for choosing Africa as a destination, our start-to-finish planning process, things we learned, and — hopefully, helpfully — our top 5 safari experiences during those two months in the motherland.

We hope you find it helpful! Happy listening!

#60: Traveling to Africa: Planning & Executing our Dream Safari Trip (+ Our Top 5 Game Drives) - SoundCloud
(4465 secs long, 868 plays)Play in SoundCloud

We’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment or voicemail below about anything national parks related — favorite hikes, your questions for us, or tips you have for our listeners — to be featured on a future podcast. If we use your question or comment, we’ll send you a free 5×7 national parks print!

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If you’ve never been to Africa, we hope our Africa Overland Trip Report will give you some motivation and means to make it happen! You can read our reasons why we chose Africa (and Eastern Europe) for our 3.5 months of no-limits jet setting in our Easter Europe Trip Report, but basically those areas were cheaper for long travel, harder to access in shorter vacations and less future kid friendly.

CONTENTS
  1. Overview
  2. Video
  3. Prep: Finding an Overland Tour
  4. Itinerary
  5. Highlights
  6. Things We’d Skip
  7. Budget
  8. National Parks Visited
  9. Animals Seen


OVERVIEW:

Our 9 weeks traveling across eastern and southern Africa was unlike any travel we’ve ever done for a couple reasons. Of course the wildlife is unlike anything anywhere else on the planet. But the other reason our Africa trip was so foreign is because it was almost entirely one long tour with a bunch of other people. Fortunately the meticulously planned tour schedule was a welcome break from our traditional trip planning and the eclectic travel entourage was one of the most fun and surprising highlights of our trip.


Here’s our video highlights throughout all 10 countries…

Africa Overland Tour Highlights - Nairobi to Cape Town - YouTube

And now a few trip stats (all expenses are for BOTH of us)… #NerdinOut

*This includes all expenses before/during/after the 59-day overland tour for add-on excursions, DIY activities, food, lodging, tips, supplies, alcohol, souvenirs, wifi, etc. Our total all-in cost (including plane tickets and overland tour base price) for 66 days in Africa was $13,185 for both of us together.
**Includes the semi-autonomous island state of Zanzibar and the $521 over 5 days spent there.

This graph shows amount of money we spent per day in a country did not strongly correlate to how much we enjoyed our time in the country (the trend line is nearly flat).


PREP: FINDING AN OVERLAND TOUR

I had never heard of “overlanding” before this, but it really is the ideal way to see Africa with its spread out sights, challenging/expensive travel infrastructure and involved border crossings. Choosing an Africa overland tour company can feel overwhelming with the wealth of options and high monetary and time stakes, but we were never disappointed in our Absolute Africa overland tour. And fortunately this is one decision we didn’t think too hard about. In fact, looking back I’m surprised we made it so quickly. There were a few factors that immediately made us confident in Absolute Africa as the first company we found and made it unnecessary to go much deeper in our research.

  • It’s the cheapest. This is because it is a “participatory” tour where you split up the cooking and cleaning and set up/ break down your tents. And it’s because there are only a dozen or so items included and there are many other add-on excursions that you can purchase. We did most of them and almost all were worth it.
  • It’s route was convenient as far as timing and went to certain must-see destinations like Namibia or Victoria Falls.
  • It has good online reviews and a friend of ours had recently done the trip and raved about it.
  • It is very flexible as far as crafting your own jump-on and jump-off points to suit your schedule. Some people just go Nairobi to Zanzibar (Days 1-17), some just go until Victoria Falls (Days 1-38), or any other combination of starting/leaving points.
  • It had good customer service and communication before the trip.


ITINERARY

The 59-day “Classic Safari” tour option from Nairobi to Cape Town (map below with major way-points) with Absolute Africa has an incredibly detailed itinerary here, and a summary is below (just remember that no plans are written in stone when you’re traveling through the bush).

We bookended our tour with a little extra travel.

Beforehand we squeezed out three extra days en route.

Day 1: We flew in overnight from Athens and spent one full day on a layover in Cairo where we booked a specific “layover tour” through Viator that included the Pyramid, Sphinx, papyrus demonstration, perfumery, bazaar and Egyptian National Museum.

Day 2: Then we flew overnight again and spent a second full day layover in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where we crashed for a few hours in the free hotel provided by Ethiopian Airlines and then did a DIY excursion into the capital to primarily visit the Ethiopia National Museum and the famous 4 million year-old humanoid skeleton named Lucy.

Day 3: On our last day before the tour we created our own walking tour around Nairobi to rooftop views from the Kenyatta Conference Center, the Peace Memorial Museum at the American Embassy and more.

After the tour we ended in Cape Town and spent 4 extra days exploring the area.

Day 1: Hike up Table Mountain on the adventurous India Venster Trail; Historic Cape Town free walking tour; Dinner and a show at The Crypt jazz club under St. George’s Cathedral.

Day 2: Day trip with rental car to Cape of Good Hope and Boulder Beach.

Day 3: Day trip with rental car to shark cage diving excursion and whale watching stops from the coast;

Day 4: Explore Old Biscuit Mill and street art in Woodstock neighborhood. Lunch and stroll at V&A Waterfront; Visit District Six Museum; Bo Kaap painted houses neighborhood free walking tour.


BUDGET (here’s where we let the $$ talk)
  • 13,185 total for ALL EXPENSES of 66 days in Africa. Remember all #s are what it cost for BOTH of us together. That means $6,593 per person.
    • $6,480 pre-trip payment  for 59-day Absolute Africa Classic Safari
      • $2,340 Safari Price (x2) +
      • $900 Local Payment (x2)
    • $6,275 for intra-trip miscellaneous in-country and add-on excursion expenses
      • $3,768 for all add-on excursions (includes $1,250 for 3-day tour in Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater, does not include tips) +
      • $610 for visas +
      • $120 for tips on excursions and tours (a bit underreported because some tips we recorded within the excursion expense itself) +
      • $793 for non-Absolute-Africa-promoted excursions, tours and entrance fees (before, during and after 59-day Classic Safari) +
      • $984 for food (groceries for lunch and miscellaneous meals out), tips, alcohol, souvenirs, clothes, wifi, haircut, etc.  
      • *See table for breakdown by country
    •  $430 for pre-trip miscellaneous
      • $150 foreign ATM fees and currency exchange fees +
      • $240 vaccinations and malaria meds +
      • $40 in taxes for flights – flights from Athens were free (except some taxes) because we used points through United
  • Africa is not cheap to travel through relative to other developing regions. We spent $200 per day for both of us together on the 66-day trip. Again, Absolute Africa’s base safari price +local payment was the cheapest tour company. We think we got the most adventure for our $, and the expenses we regret are negligible(see REGRETS section).
  • We did not hold back and did most add-on excursions. However, we made several omissions after always carefully weighing options (e.g. micro-lite flight and  Angels pool at Vic Falls, Zanzibar excursion, horseback riding, Living Desert Tour, etc.).
  • We saved money on never taking the option to upgrade to a hostel/hotel/cabin room from our tour-provided tent sites. We also seemed to save money by eating leftovers from the tour-provided dinners for non-tour-provided lunches  and by drinking significantly less alcohol than most people on the tour, haha.
  • Almost everything had to be paid in cash and constantly exchanging currencies as we crossed borders was a chore.
  • We tracked all expenses big and small as we went.

(For our top budget travel tips listen to Switchbacks podcast episode #56.)


HIGHLIGHTS (here’s where we gush)

I mentioned the friends we made were really the biggest highlight of our Africa trip. Our group had all kinds of characters from a rabble rousing Irishman to a Spanish studying Oklahoma grad and an obscenity-prone Dutch teacher to a posh English lawyer. But what we got to experience alongside them was really special as well…

We spent the most time in Namibia, Kenya, South Africa and Zimbabwe and so they also landed as our top 4 favorite countries of the 10 we visited in that very order. While you can watch clips from those 3 dominate our video, I figured I’d spread the highlights a bit more evenly with our favorite from each country below. 

  1. Egypt: The layover tour was so convenient and had lots of stops, including the Pyramids and Sphinx. But the most fascinating was the Egyptian National Museum with seemingly infinite Egyptian artifacts like the burial mask of King Tut.
  2. Ethiopia: Our stop in Ethiopia centered around a visit to the Ethiopian National Museum including ancient humanoid remains like Lucy. But my favorite part was a quick stop to drink authentic Ethiopian coffee made in front of us by a street vendor.
  3. Kenya: This country was loaded with amazing experiences as the first leg of our tour. The best was our second game drive in the morning at Maasai Mara where we saw a cheetah hunting and later guarding its kill, a hidden sleepy leopard, pools of splashing hippos, a family of five cheetahs relaxing in the shade and a few male and female lions slinking into the trees for a nap.
  4. Tanzania: I was a bit underwhelmed by Serengeti given the lofty reputation that preceded it, but our excursions on the island of Zanzibar really delivered. The more unique experience was following on of our lodge staff to their local village festival. They celebrate their New Year with an annual day of “airing grievances” by beating each other with banana stalks.
  5. Malawi: Massive Lake Malawi was the focus of our route through this country and the most educational part was our village walk where local guides gave us a view into the homes, clinic, school and dance competitions of the people. Also, I think Malawians as a whole were the most friendly and respectful people we met in Africa.
  6. Zambia: Our short, 2-day ride through Zambia was highlighted by the full lunar eclipse we saw from one of our campsites. I loved experimenting with nighttime photography on our new mirrorless camera.
  7. Zimbabwe: As our trip was in Africa’s winter, Victoria Falls was gushing and gorgeous when we visited, but the high water made for less insane white water rafting below the falls. Otherwise, that might have been the highlight for an adrenaline junkie like me. As it was, I have to go with my favorite tour of the whole continent: a walking trek to see white rhinos in the morning and an anthropological tour to Cecil Rhodes burial site and amazing millennia-old pictographs in the afternoon. What made this experience was not that jaw-dropping wildlife or breathtaking views, but the incredibly interesting content of a captivating tour guide. Until then we had been quite disappointed by the level of interpretation and knowledge sharing from guides, but Ian Harmer from African Wanderer Safaris more than satisfied our pent up appetite for context, fun facts and conservation lessons.   
  8. Botswana: By the time we got to Botswana I am ashamed to admit we had gone on so many game drives that we were very hard to impress with the regular safari stand-bys. We also made the mistake (in hindsight) of foregoing a short boat trip and overnight in the Okavango Delta for a gamble to see wild dogs in Moremi Game Reserve (the solid land part of the Delta) with a regrettably mismanaged and entirely frustrating game drive (never use Afro Trek Safaris unless you want to get picked up 1 hour late, crash in the jeep, and get a flat tire so you either are too late for or scare off all the animals). Anyway, the best part of Botswana was our amazing hour-long scenic flight over the Okavango Delta where we got such a different perspective of the rambling herds wading through the braids of water below. Plus, we were the only 2 passengers in the 4-seater plane!
  9. Namibia: Because it’s our favorite country on our whole Euro/Afro journey, I have to sneak in two highlights for Namibia. As the adrenaline junkie of our marriage, I was so excited to finally go sky diving! What’s more it was over the incredible coastal dunes of Namib-Naukluft National Park near Swakopmund. Plus, I was so proud of Elizabeth for conquering her fear and tumbling out of a plane from 10k feet up. Elizabeth’s favorite part (and my close second) was the Okaukuejo Waterhole in Etosha National Park. We watched and whispered excitedly until well after midnight as animal after animal (rhinos, lions, giraffes, elephants, etc.) wandered up to take a drink 50-100 feet away from us on the other side of a fence.    
  10. South Africa: Like Zimbabwe, on at any other visit the cage diving with Great White Sharks could have won the prize. But as we had a surprisingly slow shark day in a usually high traffic month (I was one of only 4 to see a big Copper Shark from the cage), our favorite part was hiking and scrambling the adventurous and breathtaking trails up to both Table Mountain and Lion’s Head. The legendary wineries weren’t too bad either ;).

(For our 18 travel highlights of 2018, including 6 from Africa, listen to Switchbacks podcast episode #59.)


THINGS WE’D SKIP (here’s where we get whiny ;))
  1. Addis Ababa – Other areas of Ethiopia looked very interesting, but if we didn’t have a forced 14-hour layover in the capital, we would not have needed a stop there. There is not many sights or much convenient tourism/transit infrastructure.
  2. Carnivore restaurant in Nairobi – This is the definition of a tourist trap. Our guide said many of his tours enjoy this all-you-can-eat meat buffet in a trendy atmosphere with unusual meats like crocodile and ostrich, so we gave it a go. It’s one of the few expenses I definitely regret because it was very expensive for Africa ($36/plate), the meat was average, they didn’t offer sides and they were out of all desert except fruit cups! Plus, the next day Elizabeth was so sick from all the iffy quality meat that she threw up on the tour bus we’d be riding in for the next month!
  3. Serengeti? – Elizabeth and I still debate whether we would spend the hefty $625 per person price for our 3-day Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater tour if we could do it over with what we know now. The drive there was long, the animals in Serengeti were underwhelming compared to our previous stop in Maasai Mara and the biggest disappointment was we didn’t travel far enough into the National Park to see the massive herds of the Great Migration getting ready to cross the Mara River. Ngorongoro Crater was amazing though by itself. And we have heard that when the Great Migration is in accessible areas of the park at other points of the year it is completely stunning. So we would definitely go in other months. For us it is still worth it, but if you are super cost conscious you may rethink a mid-July visit
  4. Afro Trek Safari in Moremi Game Reserve – As I mentioned above, this is the one tour/experience we were really dissatisfied with and I recommend people not patronize. In short, they arrived to pick us up 1-hour later than promised (which is a big deal when all the best game viewing is in early morning). Then they noticed a problem with their trucktire, but decided not to fill it up because they were guilty about being late and it quickly busted on our route. Then they were speeding trying to make up more time and hit a huge pothole that sent us all (riding on bench seats without seatbelts in an open-air truck) flying and caused a friend to dislocate her knee and damage her camera. Then the two tucks in our group got lost because they didn’t stick together and didn’t have radios and one spent most of the afternoon looking for the other.
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2018 was goooood to us, especially to our travel hearts. Even though we took an entire year off to visit the 59 national parks in 2015, we still consider 2018 our best travel year ever.

That’s because we traveled further and more dynamically than ever. I made it to two continents I’d never been to before (Europe and Africa) and 23 new countries. (Cole hit 24 new countries, and 26 total!)

Beyond the number of countries we ticked off, we experienced some amazing moments that we just needed to document. Some of these were huge bucket list items that we’d been dreaming about, but more of these experiences fell into the category of stumbled-upon-and-completely-blew-us-away.

So enjoy our top 18 travel experiences of 2018. Let’s see if 2019 can top it!

Happy listening!

#59: Our Top 18 Travel Experiences of 2018 (+ An Announcement!) - SoundCloud
(4336 secs long, 699 plays)Play in SoundCloud

We’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment or voicemail below about anything national parks related — favorite hikes, your questions for us, or tips you have for our listeners — to be featured on a future podcast.

If you enjoyed the podcast, we’d love for you to share us with a friend, give us a rating on iTunes, find us on FacebookInstagram, or Twitter.

And you can always get more National Parks videos, posts, guides and more by perusing our website. Start here if you’re new.

(If you choose to leave a voice message, you have 60 seconds. Please include your first name!)

 

Thanks for listening to Switchbacks!

The post Podcast Episode #59: Our Top 18 Travel Experiences of 2018 (+ An Announcement!) appeared first on Switchback Kids.

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In the spirit of our recent Thanksgiving holiday, this episode covers a smorgasbord* of topics… all from you! We picked out some great questions and comments from our listeners over the past 6 months since we ended the first season of the podcast and started our 3-month traveling hiatus.

Travel vs debt – Should I spend on a dream trip or accelerating debt payments?

The app that donates to charity when you log exercise.

How do you afford to take 3 months off?

Why Gateway Arch National Park is a sham.

What’s the best Africa overland tour company?

How do I get on The Price is Right?

AND MORE!

Thanks to all who contributed their questions (voicemail and email) and made this such an interesting episode. We hope our answers are at least mildly insightful.

*Definitely had to look up that spelling and definitely pronounced it way wrong on the episode, ha!

#58 - Listener Questions: travel vs. debt, affording Alaska, new National Park, TPIR and more! - SoundCloud
(3983 secs long, 282 plays)Play in SoundCloud

The post Podcast Episode #58 – Listener Questions: travel vs. debt, affording Alaska, new National Park, TPIR and more! appeared first on Switchback Kids.

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