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In this article I am going to teach you a technique you can use to become fluent in Spanish in as little as 30 days. I grew up only speaking English. At 28 I am now fluent in Spanish, Portuguese, and Arabic. I am a professional interpreter and translator in all three of the mentioned languages, although the bulk of my work is in Spanish. I have used this technique extensively in learning all three of the foreign languages I speak, and am currently using it to learn French.

My technique will improve your vocabulary, pronunciation, and fluency all at the same time. It can be used to learn any foreign language, but in this article we are going to focus specifically on learning Spanish. With this technique you can rapidly improve your Spanish while studying alone. You don’t have to travel to a Spanish-speaking country, take formal classes with a teacher, or practice with native speakers to become fluent. Of course I don’t want to discourage those things. They will enhance your language learning even further. However regardless of your study options, you need to make a committed effort to self-study in your spare time to become fluent quickly. Even if you have no access to formal classes or native speakers, you can learn Spanish quickly all on your own. This guide will teach you how.

In this guide you will learn:

  • How to begin studying Spanish on the first day
  • The best technique for studying by yourself
  • Which resources you should use
  • When to write down new vocabulary words
  • How often to study
  • How to train your ear to understand Spanish
  • Why you should focus more on vocabulary and less on grammar
  • Along with several additional tips
Where do you begin?

In my opinion, the most difficult day when learning a new language is the first day. You have nothing to build on. Once you begin learning basic phrases, you can add in new vocabulary words that fit the phrases you’ve learned. However on the first day, you may have never heard a single word in Spanish. So where do you begin if you know nothing and are studying on your own? I recommend you find a resource with basic words and phrases in Spanish accompanied by their translation in English. It should also have an audio option so you can hear a native speaker pronounce the words. Here is an example of a site with Basic Spanish Phrases.

On the site, simply click on the Spanish phrases in the left-hand column and you will hear a native speaker pronounce them. The next step is what separates average language learners from those who speak fluently with good pronunciation: repeat each word or phrase out loud after you listen to the audio. Practicing by speaking out loud is the first step in using my technique. I recommend you start speaking on the first day of learning Spanish. Obviously the words and phrases you say will not be very long, and you will not pronounce them the way a native speaker does on your first day. But speaking the new words out loud helps your brain memorize them much faster than simply looking at them and hearing them without saying them. By saying the words and phrases out loud and trying to imitate the native speaker, you begin to naturally improve your pronunciation. With time your pronunciation will become much clearer than that of learners who do not practice by speaking out loud.

There are many resources you can use for your studies. Narrowing it down to one or two would be difficult for me because there are so many options. The site I mentioned above is one of many similar sites that are great for learning the basics of Spanish. There are also many books and videos that can provide you with similar beginner guides. You can learn using any of them. In my experience the most important aspect of learning any new language is your study technique. Soon I’ll show you how the technique can be used as you advance further in your studies. If you’d like a list of resources recommended by an accredited university, check out Stanford University’s Spanish resources list.

Many teachers recommend learning the alphabet before learning any words or phrases. I don’t disagree with the idea, but I don’t think the alphabet necessarily has to be the first thing you learn. When I learned Arabic, for example, I started off by learning Arabic words spelled with English letters, a concept known as transliteration. I learned a lot of Arabic vocabulary this way and later learned the Arabic alphabet. The nice thing about learning Spanish is the Spanish alphabet is almost the same as the English alphabet with just a few different letters. If you are interested in learning the alphabet right away, you can easily find it on the internet. Here is an example of a Spanish alphabet video.

Many people trying to learn a new language tell me they don’t know what order to study in…which words or phrases should I learn first?…what should I study after learning basic greetings?…when should I begin learning grammar and verb conjugations?, etc. The answer I give them is it doesn’t matter that much. If your goal is to become fully fluent in Spanish, you’ll need to learn all the vocabulary and other language parts at some point anyway. So why stress yourself over what to learn first? Obviously it makes more sense to start with basic words and greetings, but if you stumble across a vocabulary list with more advanced words, there’s no harm in learning them right away. You’ll need to learn them at some point either way.

The best advice I can give if you are not sure what to study is study anything that comes to mind or is available. If the next section in the website or book you are using is on Spanish travel vocabulary, practice speaking those words out loud in short sentences. If the next section is about restaurant vocabulary, study those words. The important thing is to keep studying. Keep trying to memorize new words, whatever they may be, and practice your pronunciation and fluency at the same time.

This is where the technique comes in. Regardless of what aspect of the language you are studying, an effective technique is how you memorize words quickly. I advise you to begin by listening to the correct pronunciation of each new vocabulary word and then pronouncing it out loud yourself. Combine the new word with another word or two that you already know and create a short statement or question. Remember to pronounce all the words out loud. As you learn more vocabulary, the sentences and questions you form will become longer and more complex. The most important thing, in my opinion, is to keep speaking out loud every time you study. Speaking the new words out loud helps log them into your memory faster.

Writing new words down is another technique recommended by many. I don’t always write down all the new words I am learning when studying a new language. Usually the resources I use show each word with the letters spelled out. I look at each word while practicing to get a visual in my brain of how it is spelled, and of course speak it out loud in complete sentences. However if you learn a new word only by hearing it and not seeing it spelled out, I highly recommend you write it down as soon as possible before you forget it.

Here is an example of why: I was in Colombia recently with another American who is also fully fluent in Spanish, along with a local Colombian friend. We came across a local word my American friend and I had never heard before. Our Colombian friend explained the meaning to us several times, and my American friend and I both repeated the word out loud several times. Then several hours later, my American friend and I tried to remember the word and neither of us could. We both agreed that had we seen the word spelled out we would have remembered it.

Whether or not you choose to write new words down, I recommend you speak them out loud in complete sentences and questions. This technique is the best way to improve your language skills quickly. It also offers added benefits in addition to memorization. When you practice out loud and in complete sentences, you naturally improve your pronunciation and your fluency. You can use this technique from day one until the day you become fully bilingual.

Benefits of my technique:
  • Vocabulary: Speaking out loud helps you memorize words faster. So does using them in complete sentences, because you are then putting the word into a proper context.
  • Pronunciation: When speaking out loud you are by default practicing your pronunciation. The more you practice the better you become at making sounds that don’t exist in your native language.
  • Fluency: Speaking in complete sentences is the definition of fluency. By practicing this way you learn to speak with more fluency every day.
How often should you study?

Studying more frequently will of course ultimately lead to faster results. However I’d like to give you a few tips regarding the time you spend studying. For another expert opinion see the University of North Carolina second language study tips.

Their article suggests that you should begin by reviewing each new word five times per day, then down to three times per day, and eventually down to once per day to maximize memorization. Following that exact routine may not be necessary, but the point is that practicing each new word various times each day will help you memorize the words faster.

The article also refers to what they call “distributed practice”: the idea that you should spread out your studies into multiple small sessions throughout the day instead of having one long study session. This helps to improve memorization and eliminate the feeling of exhaustion that your brain, ear, and tongue will feel during long study sessions. When studying a language intensively, it is very difficult to maintain the same concentration and effort level for a long time. In my experience, after about half an hour my focus and effort level drops. The exact amount of time might be slightly different for you. As you get further along in your studies, you will find what routine works best for you.

The North Carolina article also suggests that self-testing or “recall” is better for your memory than simply reading notes. You shouldn’t simply read over each list of new words you wrote down or found in a study guide. A more effective way to learn is to quiz yourself at various points of the day on the new words you are learning. You can also incorporate these new words into the sentences and phrases you are speaking during your study sessions. Racking your brain for a word or phrase instead of just seeing it on paper helps boost memory more quickly.

Getting your ear accustomed to Spanish

Listening is arguably the most important aspect of becoming fluent in a foreign language. It makes sense because as children we spend hours and hours listening to our parents speak our native language before we speak a word of it. I recommend you begin listening to native Spanish speakers from day one of your studies. You can use websites with an audio button to hear native speakers pronounce vocabulary words and phrases. Listening to more complex language will benefit you as well. Even if you don’t understand a single word at the beginning, your ear will get accustomed to the sounds, rhythm, and tone of the language.

So what should you listen to? Spanish-language movies? Television shows? Music? News? Radio? The short answer is that you should listen to whatever interests you. That being said, here is a guide to each type of media and the benefits of listening to it:

  • Spanish language movies: learn person-to-person communication, everyday vocabulary, slang terminology, culture, hand gestures and body language used by native speakers.
  • Television shows: similar benefits to movies.
  • Music: colloquial language and culture, some learners find that listening to songs boosts memory.
  • News: formal language spoken by articulate native speakers, political events in the specific country you might visit, more complex and technical vocabulary.
  • Radio: colloquial language specific to the country you plan to visit, as well as events taking place in the country.

I’d like to make a few specific points about listening to radios from a Spanish-speaking country. Many language learners don’t even realize this is a possibility if you aren’t living in one. But if you have a smartphone, you can go to your app store and search (for example) “Radio Mexico” and a list of free apps with different Mexican radio stations will appear. You can browse dozens if not hundreds of radio stations from any country and listen live via your smartphone at any time. I often listen to foreign language radios when I am in my car to keep my skills sharp.

The reason I recommend radios for learning colloquial language is because radio personalities speak less formally than news reporters. Plus, the radio often features local commercials and advertising. These are a great way for you to pick up on colloquial language if planning to travel to a particular country. You also learn more about the culture and events taking place on the ground in the country. When you download a radio app from a foreign country, you are listening live to the exact same broadcast as people who live there.

Of course early on in your studies you will not understand much of what you are listening to. Perhaps the most important aspect of learning any new language is the willingness to keep going when you feel you are making no progress. I can assure you this will happen at times. You will study tons of vocabulary words, then go listen to native speakers, and understand literally nothing when you thought you knew a lot of words. This can happen especially if they are speaking slang. Later on when you consider yourself 50 percent fluent or more, you will listen to certain dialogues and only understand ten percent if the speakers are using slang or speaking very quickly.

The only advice I can give you is to keep studying and not get too frustrated. Learning a new language is a full of ups and downs. Even when practicing your pronunciation you will have good days and bad days. Some days your tongue just might not be able to to roll those Spanish Rs. There will be bad days when you feel you are making no progress, and you’ll ask yourself if it is really worth it to keep studying. If you embrace the challenge and continue studying, you will eventually speak fluently and understand virtually everything native speakers say.

Listening will also help you in other aspects of your language studies. First, it reinforces vocabulary you have recently learned. If you just learned a new word or phrase but still don’t have it logged into your memory, oftentimes hearing the word spoken by a native speaker will ingrain it into your memory permanently. You also may have doubts about how native speakers pronounce some of the words you are learning. When you hear these words spoken over and over by natives as you listen, you will learn the correct pronunciation. As you get more advanced, you will likely even begin picking up new vocabulary words based on the context if you hear them repeatedly. Even if you still aren’t sure what a new word means after hearing it several times, you can quickly look it up and learn. Listening will help you in many more ways than just training your ear.

Taking it to the next level

Okay, let’s say you’re now an intermediate Spanish speaker. You’ve mastered the basics and have a decent amount of vocabulary. Your pronunciation is at least understandable to native speakers. You are also beginning to understand a decent amount when they speak. Where do you go from here? At this point you could probably get by during daily life in a Spanish-speaking country. But how do you reach the level where you can maintain a fast-paced, more complex conversation?

My simple answer is to keep practicing with the technique I explained. Add more vocabulary, and continue listening to native speakers whenever and however possible. There are however several other aspects of language-learning I should mention here, the first of which is grammar. You may have noticed I haven’t mentioned studying grammar up to this point. The reason is because I believe, in general, learning vocabulary is much more important than learning grammar. The experts at UNC agree with me. They explain it based on three aspects of language learning:

  • “Comprehensible input”: being exposed to the language (hearing or reading it)
  • “Comprehensible output”: producing the language (speaking or writing)
  • “Review/feedback”: identifying errors and making changes

Their article says that knowing more words equals more input, which in turn equals more output, which then leads to more opportunities for feedback. My simple explanation is that knowing more words is more important than knowing how to properly conjugate verbs.

Think about the following example: if you were in a Spanish-speaking country and looking to rent an apartment, would you rather have great grammar but limited vocabulary, or a lot of vocabulary but weak grammar? In the first case, you would likely know how to politely say “I would like” along with several key vocabulary words such as apartment. Yet you might not know the difference between the words for buy and rent or subject-specific terms like security deposit. You would have a difficult time expressing your needs to the landlord as well as understanding everything he or she says. In the second case, you’d likely speak broken, improper Spanish. You’d say something that sounds like, “I need rent apartment, six months.” The landlord would obviously know you are not a native speaker, but your message is still understood. Then when he or she begins asking you specific details with more complex terminology, you’d have a better chance at understanding everything and expressing more of your exact needs if you have focused on learning vocabulary.

I don’t want give you the idea that grammar isn’t important at all. If you want to sound like a native speaker or close someday you will of course need to master Spanish grammar. However, in my experience, many language learnings don’t realize that grammar can be acquired without formally studying it (for example, with verb conjugation tables). As you continue listening to native Spanish speakers, you will learn a lot of verb conjugations and grammar items just by listening and imitating them. It’s similar to the way we learn the grammar of our native language. If English is your native language, did your parents ever make you conjugate verb tables in English? I doubt it. In my opinion you should try to learn Spanish in the same natural way you learned English. You should listen to native speakers and imitate what they say.

There are many different opinions on the best way to teach grammar in a foreign language. Here’s a more in-depth article from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

The article suggests that young children may need less structured grammar lessons, and as we grow older we may need more. If your study guide includes verb conjugation tables, I won’t discourage you from studying them. However I recommend you do so with the technique I’ve been preaching: pick words or phrases you already have memorized and use them in complete sentences or questions with the verb conjugations you are studying. You will improve your grammar and at the same time reinforce your vocabulary, pronunciation, and fluency.

If you are an adult learning Spanish, or any other language, you might like this article from the University of California-Santa Cruz. Their research shows that adolescents and adults learn languages better than children under controlled conditions. This runs contrary to popular belief, but I agree with them. I began learning Arabic (which is much more difficult than Spanish) at age 20, and was fluent within one year. Children do not speak their native languages fluently at one year of age. The article suggests that what holds most adolescents and adults back from learning foreign languages is fear of making mistakes and embarrassment. Many adult language learners I’ve spoken to cite this same problem. Children are not affected by it.

The article does suggest that learning correct pronunciation may be more difficult with age. The neurophysiological mechanisms and motor skills needed for correct pronunciation are difficult to change after a certain age. That being said, I know many people who have learned foreign languages as adults and have native or near-native pronunciation. If you want to speak fluent Spanish, fear of making mistakes and embarrassing yourself is probably your biggest obstacle. You will make mistakes. You will embarrass yourself from time to time. The more you embrace those mistakes and embarrassing moments, the faster you will become fluent.

I have many friends who speak various foreign languages fluently. Almost every one of them, when asked how they got so good at the language, says something like, “I just always went for it, kept talking whenever I could, and never worried about making mistakes.” Every time you make a mistake and are corrected by a native speaker, you learn something new and get closer to your ultimate goal of speaking fluently.

From mediocrity to fluency

Once you’ve reached an intermediate level, it’s all downhill from there. Your study technique doesn’t need to change. The only things that change are the vocabulary words and language items you are studying. As you learn more complex vocabulary, keep practicing each new word by speaking it out loud in complete sentences. Enjoy the snowball effect of learning a new language: the more you learn, the number of words and phrases you can incorporate into your practice sessions increases, and speaking becomes easier and easier. For each new word you learn, you now have tons of ways to use it in different examples as you practice. So continue doing just that, and you will be fluent before you know it.

Additional tips
  • Change everything you can into Spanish

The more exposure you get to the language, the quicker you will pick it up. In the modern world, so much of the media we use can be changed into Spanish and a variety of other languages. Change the language of your smartphone, laptop, and other electronic devices into Spanish. Listen to Spanish-language music and radio. Watch Spanish-language television and movies. Read books in Spanish. Do whatever you can to surround yourself with the language every day and you will understand more of it quickly.

  • Find a study partner or group at a level similar to yours

This may seem like a contradictory piece of advice since I’ve been telling you to listen to native speakers as much as possible. However in some cases a non-native study partner can help even more than a native. The experts at the UNC language center suggest that having a non-native speaking partner of your level can help you feel more comfortable when studying. You’re less likely to be afraid or embarrassed because you’ll know your partner is going through the same process. Non-native speakers who are learning the language are also often more patient with you if you don’t speak very fluently. Sometimes native speakers, even friends who are trying to help you, become impatient when you don’t know how to say something they’ve known since they were a child.

  • Don’t be afraid to use Google..
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Japan is one of the most popular destinations globally and there is a good reason why. From its rich culture to the food and highly efficient transportation system, the country has numerous gems to offer. Here are the 100 best things to do in Japan, carefully curated by our resident local expert.

1. Mt. Fuji (Shizuoka)

Mount Fuji is one of Japan’s most iconic landmarks. The mountain is an active volcano that stands 3776 feet. Peak climbing times are in Spring and Autumn, and the mountain takes 2 days to climb. Every new year, thousands flock to the top to see the rising of the new sun.

2. Nara Deer Park (Nara)


This public park is home to hundreds of semi-tame deer. They are considered holy by the residents and wander freely. Buy some deer biscuits from a local vendor and feed them to as many deer as you want! It is a wonderful outing for the whole family.

3. Sapporo Snow Festival (Sapporo)


This snow festival is one of the biggest in Japan. Every year, giant snow statues are built to epic proportions. Be it Godzilla, your favorite cartoon or famous architecture – the variety is endless. The festival takes place during one week in December.

4. Blue Cave (Okinawa)


Situated in the middle of Okinawa’s main island, this cave shines with a beautiful blue light. Sunlight filters through to create a spectacular snorkelling destination. Visit the cave in the summer months for the best experience.

5. Jikokudani Monkey Park (Yamanouchi)


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Backpacking is one of the most popular travel trends today. Young adults taking gap years and retirees looking for adventure are wearing their travel gear and exploring all different parts of the world. These trips aren’t just week-long trips to a resort in the islands either; more young travelers are taking trips that last over two months, with an average length of 58 days.

With longer trips becoming more fashionable, it’s more important to have long-lasting travel gear. Buying a backpack should come with more consideration and thought, especially for travelers who are not looking to buy a new bag after one or two trips (or worse, buy a replacement bag while they are halfway through their journey.) There are many brands and retailers that offer backpacks, but not all backpacks are suitable for every journey.

In order to choose a backpack that will be right for you, do the proper research. Look up different brands and models that are made for the type of travel that you enjoy. Once you’ve narrowed your options down to a handful of backpacks, try them on at a local retailer. You will only know how good a backpack really is once you’ve tried it on and walked around the store with it. Then you can make your final purchase!

Use these tips to buy a backpack that will last a lifetime, and help you make lifetime travel memories.

Types of Backpacks

Some travelers buy backpacks to hike through the Himalayas; others buy backpacks to travel from city to city and the backpack rarely sees the light of day. Make sure that you have the most appropriate backpack for the activities that you are undertaking.

Daypacks: If you are only going on a one- or two-day adventure, you may want to skip oversized bags and just go with a daypack. A daypack is a lightweight backpack that will fit less than 35 liters. Daypacks are less of a load, can be used as carry-on luggage for frequent fliers, and are more versatile. These smaller backpacks may be used for recreational travel, but some models are made for business travel, or to be a fashion statement. Among these bags, you can find flimsy bags that you can throw over your shoulder for a few bucks, or leather bags with designer labels that will cost you hundreds, up to a thousand, dollars. Climbers, hikers, and sightseers may also find themselves looking for specific daypacks that fit their needs, and they certainly exist on the market. When you are looking for a daypack, consider the activities that you will be using the daypack for.

Hydration Packs: These backpacks are typically smaller, holding no more than 10 liters. Cyclists or hikers don’t purchase hydration packs for storage; they purchase them for the 1-3 liters of liquid storage that allows the traveler to drink water on the go. Long-term travelers may consider bringing a hydration pack in addition to their large backpack for day trips and short hikes. Some larger backpacks have compartments that are made for storing a hydration pack, keeping it separate from other items that may be damaged by moisture.

Hiking and Traveling Backpacks (Rucksacks): Larger backpacks are also known as “rucksacks.” These can hold from 40-80 liters, and often are designed with specific travels in mind. It’s common to see pockets that are meant to hold hiking poles or helmets, even if the traveler does not have those items on their packing list. These rucksacks are also used by long-term backpackers who are spending months or years away from home.

Additional backpacks are specially made for activities like skiing, snowboarding, climbing, or hiking. These backpacks have extra pockets or straps designed to hold different types of gear, along with other features that are relevant to the particular sport or activity.

Health Risks With Backpacking

Backpacks are extremely useful for traveling or commuting, but there are dangers present with carrying a backpack. In 2015, over 14,000 Americans went sought medical treatment for backpacking-related injuries. Know the importance of choosing a backpack that distributes weight evenly. A poorly packed backpack, or one that is fit incorrectly, puts you at risk of the following:

Poor Posture – When backpacks are too heavy, the wearer will compensate by leaning forward. Spending too much time in this position will lead to hunched shoulders and poor posture. Proper posture is necessary for keeping the spine aligned and in balance. Once this balance is comprised, muscles have to put in extra effort to keep the body upright and carry heavy items on the back. Muscle strain and fatigue are common symptoms of poor posture. This poor arraignment of the spine may also lead to constriction of the blood vessels, limiting the body’s ability to transport oxygen and nutrients.

Nerve Damage- Even nerves around the shoulder and neck area are at risk. Excess strain on these areas can impair the nerves’ ability to send information from the brain to the muscles. Affected patients in a study from Tel Aviv University reported numbness and tingling in the limbs due to this type of nerve damage. Damage over time can limit a person’s ability to operate machinery or drive.

Aggravating Past Injuries – Poor posture or a heavy load may not cause a herniated or slipped disc, but if you have past injuries, you should be extra careful about carrying a backpack. Even if the injury happened many years ago, adding weight onto your back or slipping into poor posture can bring back old symptoms.

The best way to reduce the risk of these injuries is to choose a proper backpack that fits your body.

Rucksacks: Find The Best Fit

There are a lot of straps, compartments, and buckles on backpacks to make carrying a heavy load comfortable for longer treks and trips. In order to get the best backpack that will allow you to carry the weight you need, you will have to look at the size and suspension of the backpack.

The Right Amount of Space For Your Trip

Do you need a 80 liter bag for a week-long trip? The amount of space in your backpack can be crucial if you are bringing a lot of gear, but can quickly become a hindrance if you allow yourself too much space and end up walking around with a bag that is too heavy for your needs. Before you buy a backpack, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What bulky gear (helmets, tents, sleeping bags) will I need for my travels?
  • How will I be traveling (car, plane, train, bus)?
  • How long will I be traveling for?
  • What is the weather going to be like where I am traveling?

The general rule of thumb for storage is that hikers on a 1-3 day trip will need 40-60 liters; hikers on a 3-7 day trip will need 50-75 liters, and hikers on a trip that lasts longer than a week should consider a bag that holds over 65 liters. Take into consideration that this recommendation is just for hikers; climbers may need more space for additional gear, and travelers hopping from city to city will be fine with less.

If you are taking a plane, consider the size restrictions of the airline. Many rucksacks and larger backpacks will have to be checked underneath the plane, but most daypacks and some rucksacks can be used as a carry-on item. Usually, 45 liters is the largest backpack that will fit in the overhead compartment, but larger backpacks that are not completely full may be carried on as well. Before you carry your backpack onto the plane, fill up the bag with your items and compare the size of your bag to your specific airline restrictions. Different airlines have different requirements, and many charge a fine for bags that are too large to be carry-on bags, so be cautious when you decide what luggage to carry onto the plane.

How Much Weight Will You Need to Carry?

Weight restrictions may only make a difference if you’re boarding an airplane, but for travelers who are carrying your backpack for long periods of time may want to check the weight of their bag for health and safety reasons. Experts recommend carrying no more than 10-20% of your own weight on your back. Carrying less than 10% of your weight considerably reduces your risk of injury, and should be the limit for travelers who use their backpacks solely for day trips.

Consider the weight of your backpack without any items. Most rucksacks will range from 2-3 pounds, and while that doesn’t seem like much on its own, an extra pound or two can make a big difference an hour into your trek. However, going with the lightest pack isn’t always the best option; a lighter pack may be less durable than its heavier counterpart. Know the strength of the material alongside the overall weight and size of the backpack.

If you want to carry a lot of weight, consider how you will pack your backpack. Proper weight distribution is key to maximizing your ability to bring the right amount of gear on your back in a healthy and safe way. Weight distribution is affected by the following factors:

  • The weight of the items in the bag
  • Where the heavier/lighter items are placed throughout the bag
  • The fit and size of the backpack
The Right Size for Your Body

Carrying even a few pounds on your back for a long period of time can put a strain on your entire body. While muscle exercises and periods of rest can help to build strength, the best way to prevent back pain and injuries is to pack light and choose the correct backpack for your body.

Shoulders: Shoulder support is important, although most of your backpack’s weight should rest on your hips. (Your legs are stronger than your arms, and can take more weight for a longer period of time.) Straps should feel comfortable and not too tight. In order to get a good gauge of whether or not the shoulder straps are right for your body, try on a backpack and look at your side in the mirror. If the backpack is hanging off of your body with a lot of space between the pack and your back, you will need to tighten the straps or find a different pack.

Shoulder straps connect the larger straps to your main pack, and can adjust the fit of your straps. Pulling the straps in will bring the pack closer to the body, which is good for proper weight distribution. When you are looking sideways at yourself, these shoulder straps should rest at a 45-degree angle (give or take a few degrees.)

Torso Length: Measure your torso by finding your C7 vertebra (the most prominent bone near the bottom of your neck) and your iliac crest (the top of the shelf between your hips.) This distance is your torso length, and should equal the height of your backpack (from the top of the shoulder strap to the bottom of the bag’s hip belt.) When you are shopping for a backpack, make sure you look carefully for the height of the backpack; some varieties come in different heights.

Hips: A hip belt can help to distribute the weight of your backpack and take pressure off of your shoulders. In order to reduce shoulder strain, over 80% of your backpack’s weight should be held by your hips. Padded hip belts will help to support this weight; the more padding, the more weight your hips will be able to support.

When choosing a backpack, wrap the hip belt around the center of your hips and buckle the belt. Tighten the belt so that the padding feels comfortable but secure on the hips. Measure the space between each section of padding (where the belt is buckled.) If the space is too long or too short, your hip belt will not be able to properly support the weight of your backpack. Hip belt should only have 3-6 inches of space between padding. Belts that are too tight will cut off circulation throughout the body.

Hip belts unfortunately can restrict movement, so more active backpackers should move around and test out backpacks with hip belts before taking the backpack on a climb.

Additional Features to Consider Before Buying a Rucksack

Frame – If you plan on carrying over 10 pounds in your backpack, you will want to carry a backpack that has some sort of internal framing. This framing consists of rods that distribute weight toward the hips. The more rigid and prominent the framing, the more weight it will be able to distribute downward.

Straps – Don’t let the straps and cords on a big rucksack confuse you. All straps are placed on a backpack for specific purposes, and they can help to redistribute weight or make packing a lot easier for speciality travelers. Be sure to go through all of the straps online or with a sales associate in order to learn what your backpack can do for you on your trip.

Compression straps attach from the top of your backpack to the bottom. When tightened, the straps will compress the inside of the bag to reduce the height and condense the backpack’s weight. These will come in handy if you are trying to bring a backpack onto your flight as a carry-on.

Some backpacks also have sternum straps that connect and tighten the shoulder straps. This strap is rather small, but is preferred by backpackers who really enjoy a snug fit.

Additional straps are designed to hold important items rather than compress the bag. Straps on the bottom of the bag may be able to hold a sleeping bag, for example. Keep a list of the items you want to pack with you when choosing a backpack, and look for straps or compartments that will be able to hold some of the most important items.

These straps may be padded, especially ones that sit on the shoulders or close to the body. A wider strap is better for carrying the load of the backpack, and is less likely to break or fray. The padding is typically made out of a foam that will allow air to pass through. Pay attention to the padding of the straps and the edges; if the edges do not look durable, they may fray easily and cause irritation when they come in contact with your body.

Too many unnecessary straps could put your bag at risk of getting caught as you are walking. When you are examining the straps on a bag, learn what each strap is made for and how you can use it while you are traveling. If you cannot find a good use for the strap, make sure it is buckled up and tucked away where it cannot get caught on hooks, doors, or other items.

Air Channels – The part of your backpack that presses against your back should have padding for comfort, but this padding can often leave the wearer sweaty and eventually uncomfortable. Some backpack brands have mesh air channels in this back panel area so air can easily flow as you are hiking or traveling with your backpack. This detail may not seem like a high priority to some, but if you are hiking for long periods of time in high temperatures, air channels may save you some discomfort (and possible damage to your bag.)

Pockets and Organization – Finding the correct backpack for your body isn’t enough to keep you safe on long trips. The organization of your items, heavy and small, can make your backpack feel heavier as you travel. Examine the pockets on your backpack and the potential for organizing your load appropriately on the go. Having more control over where your stuff goes in your backpack will not only lighten the load on your back, but you will also have easier access to important items while you travel.

Even More Factors to Consider Before Purchasing a Backpack

If you still need to narrow down your decision to the perfect backpack, consider the features of the backpack. Even the smallest details, like a whistle on the strap, can make a big difference on your trip. Remember that your backpack is an investment; while some of these additional factors will come with an extra price tag, they may pay off in the long run (and after a few backpacking trips.)

What Is Your Backpack Made Of?

The evolution of backpacks have called for different uses, different users, and different materials necessary to get the job done. Specific fabrics will make a difference in the weight of the overall backpack, its durability, and how easily it can be damaged by moisture or weather.

Cotton Canvas – This material was traditionally used to make backpacks. The material is rather heavy and does not dry easily, although manufacturers typically waterproofed the material with wax. If the material does get wet and was not properly protected, you run a high risk of getting mold on your backpack.

Synthetic Canvas – In order to make the material lighter and less expensive, manufacturers started blending synthetic materials with the traditional canvas fabric. Blended materials are typically not waterproof, and may come in a range of strengths.

Nylon – Nylon is a synthetic material that comes in many different forms. This type of plastic is used in many backpacks, and has become a popular choice due to its waterproof qualities and inexpensive production costs.

Kodra Nylon and Cordura Nylon bags are considered some of the more high-quality materials used for backpacks, and are highly recommended for long-term travelers. Ripstop Nylon is more durable and waterproof than other types of nylon, while still maintaining lightness. Ballistic Nylon was developed originally as a body armor for military personnel. (It has since been replaced by Kevlar.) Ballistic nylon is also typically very durable, and is woven to prevent punctures and other tears.

Polyester – Polyester material is not as durable as nylon, and is not recommended for backpacks that need to carry heavy loads for a long period of time. Polyester backpacks are, however, typically less expensive and more aesthetically pleasing for younger backpackers. Polyester backpacks may also be called “pack cloth” backpacks.

Leather – Travelers who want to look sharp may opt for a leather backpack. Leather backpacks and rucksacks typically don’t come in sizes fit for long-term travelers, but suit many business travelers and people who want to bring a backpack to the workplace. If you are looking to buy a leather backpack, make sure it has been treated properly and will not shrink upon contact with moisture. A high-quality leather backpack is extremely durable and can last for years, but a leather backpack that has been shoddily made will not be worth the price.

How Strong Is Your Backpack?

Different materials guarantee different durability. In order to test and compare the strength of your backpack, you can look at the denier count. This is a unit of measurement used to determine the weight of textiles, and can be applied to clothing, backpacks, or anything else that is made with fabric.

The denier count comes from the weight of 9,000 meters of a specific fabric. 600D nylon is a nylon that weighs 600 grams for every 9,000 meters of material. 1200D nylon is twice as heavy as 600D nylon. Know that the denier count can be compared only to the denier count of the same fabric. 900D nylon and 900D polyester will not withstand the same weight.

Ballistic nylon is, on average, 1050D; Cordura nylon is typically 1000D. This number will change based on the manufacturer of the nylon and what it is being used for.

The denier count doesn’t directly correlate with the strength of the fabric, although lighter materials are typically less durable than heavier ones. Another level of measurement is tenacity, which measures grams per denier. The tenacity of a backpack is how easily it will continue to rip after it has also already been ripped. For example, a backpack may be made out of Type 6 nylon or Type 6,6 nylon (also known as Type 66 nylon.)

Thread count also measures the potential strength of the backpack. The thread count is determined by the number of threads that are woven into one square inch of fabric; a higher thread count is more durable.

The easiest way to find this information, as it pertains to potential backpacks, to look online at the individual make and model of the backpack you want to buy.

Is Your Backpack Safe from Potential Theft?

Unfortunately, many backpackers and travelers run into theft if they travel through cities or other densely populated areas. Over 400,000 incidents of pickpocketing occur across the world every single day. While many of these cases involve a purse or a smaller daypack, thefts can also happen if you are carrying a larger backpack and cannot feel someone touching your bag behind you. If your travel insurance or warranty does not cover theft, you will have to take extra precautions to make sure that your backpack, as well as the contents inside, are secure.

Zippers – If you are not careful, a pickpocket or thief can easily reach into the contents of your bag by unzipping a zipper. Travelers heading to countries with high theft rates should consider buying padlocks and buying a backpack that is compatible with your padlock. Backpacks should have pairs of zippers where you can fit a padlock. Additional hidden zippers also provide extra places for users to hold valuable items that thieves cannot find.

Tip: If you do not have the proper zippers, a waterproofing cover can also provide extra protection against thieves who want to open your backpack as you are walking or traveling.

Slash-Proof Material – Thieves also steal items from backpacks or purses by slashing them open with a knife. This method is usually used on small daypacks in crowded areas. Many backpacks boast anti-theft or anti-slash materials that are more sturdy than normal canvas or cloth backpacks. Reports of bag-slashing aren’t too high that this material should be your number one priority, but it can certainly make a difference if you are deciding between two different backpacks with similar features.

RFID Blocking Technology – Do you want even more protection? Look for a bag with RFID blocking technology. In recent years, thieves have developed an ability to steal personal information through scanning wallets and bags for sensitive information from credit cards, passports, or driver’s licenses. Some backpacks offer RFID blocking panels for an extra layer of protection. Accessories for wallets may also be purchased to protect your information from digital pickpocketing.

In addition to these factors, a backpack with a more unique pattern may deter potential thieves, as it is easier to identify in a police report or on public transportation where you may store your backpack.

Tip: Even if you take all of the proper precautions and choose a bag that protects you against pickpockets, be sure to pack your bag mindfully. Do not bring important documents and large wads of cash out with you; if you have cash, place it in multiple..

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Luggage can make a big difference in your travels. The space in your luggage dictates what clothes and items you will have available during your trip. A broken handle or a bag that is too big to be a carry-on can cause inconveniences every time you have to take a flight.

Before you take your next trip, ask yourself a few questions about how and why you travel. Someone who is always on the go for business and someone who is taking a cross country road trip will have different luggage needs. The answers to the questions will help to create your top priorities when picking out luggage. Once you’ve answered the questions below, look through the list of features to consider and keep them in mind as you are shopping.

Why Are You Traveling?

Business Travel

Organization and professionalism are key for business travelers; important documents and laptops need to be kept safe while moving from place to place. Business travelers are usually on the move every few days, and the cost (and hassle) of checking luggage may get overwhelming. Finding luggage that can fit easily into the overhead compartment allow business travelers to get on and off their flight without waiting for their baggage to be checked or to arrive. Business travelers may use their luggage more often than families who are going on occasional vacations; the luggage must be durable and can withstand different types of roads and sidewalks.

There are many types of business travel, but one factor that separates business travel from any other sort of travel: your suit. Business casual can be folded and organized with the rest of your clothes, but your best suit should be packed in a separate garment bag with hangers.

Backpacking

The word “luggage” may conjure up the mental image of a suitcase, but long-term travelers may also want to consider bringing just a backpack. “Backpacking” commonly refers to outdoor adventures like hiking or camping, but has become a hot trend in traveling. Young people often carry only a backpack as they spend weeks or months on holiday traveling through different countries and cities around the world. Travelers who enjoy camping and other outdoor adventures also prefer backpacks than be carried rather than rolled throughout the desert or jungle.

As backpacking has become a trend, more brands and varieties of backpacks have appeared on the market. Light travelers may benefit from a small 16 liter pack, but bags can reach up to 90 liters for very serious and experienced backpackers. Some of these backpacks can fit as carry-on luggage. If your trip consists of moving every few days from hostel to hostel, and taking buses and trains over cars and planes, you may want to consider a sturdy backpack for your luggage.

Family Vacation

Many parents find it easier to buy smaller suitcases for their children, but consolidate luggage when they are taking a flight. Younger children may get fussy about carrying a suitcase, so being able to fit their luggage inside yours saves the stress of carrying two or three suitcases at a time. When you have to carry luggage for at least three people, organization is key. Look for luggage that has many pockets and built-in organization.

Multiple people can benefit from luggage sets. Some luggage comes in two to five piece sets of matching luggage that look alike and often can be packed within each other for easy storage. Often, buying these sets will save you money over buying individual pieces. If you want to identify luggage easily, find a set that has bright patterns; trying to grab every grey luggage in baggage claim may result in an unfortunate mix-up.

Moving

When your child is heading out to boarding school or college, they will need to move their clothes and belongings into their dorm room or new apartment. Larger suitcases make it easy for all of your child’s clothes, bedding, and decor to be moved in just one trip. If your child is moving across (or out of) the country, consider buying collapsible luggage that is easy to store in a closet for when the child has to move back at the end of the year.

How Long Are You Traveling For?

Buying luggage is stressful enough when you’re at home; buying luggage while you’re on vacation or on a business trip is an unnecessary hassle. Prevent luggage failures by taking the time to find durable luggage that will last you throughout your trip.

Durability is most important if you are consistently moving from place to place. If you plan on staying in one location for a month or longer, your luggage won’t be in use every day. Shorter vacations or business trips will only have to last for a few days – but this does not mean that you should go for the cheapest, flimsiest luggage on the market.

Durability is also key for travelers who are going to places that are more rural. Less access to malls or shops limits your ability to buy high-quality replacements for broken luggage. Ordering a decent backpack or luggage online will also eat up your travel budget, so it is worth buying a decent bag that will last you throughout your travels.

How Are You Traveling?

If you are taking a car, consider the shape of your luggage. You will most likely have to stack other suitcases or important items in your trunk, so a square or rectangular suitcase will provide the most organization and space. While you have more freedom when it comes to the weight of your suitcase, bringing too much luggage for a road trip might weigh down your car and increase risks of a tire blowout or accident. The position of each piece is also important; hard shell luggage may crack if it is placed underneath heavier luggage. Bumpy roads may do some serious damage on your bags.

Taking a bus or train on your trip may require a more durable bag. Luggage is typically stored under a bus, and may be bumped around or get wet throughout the journey. Make sure you have a protective covering to put around your luggage during long or rainy bus rides. Trains usually have designated areas for luggage to sit throughout the ride,

Shape is not as important as size if you are traveling on an airplane.

Many airlines offer free checked baggage, but others will charge for each bag, and charge a steep price if a patron tries to carry a bag that exceeds requirements. Unfortunately, not all airlines have the same size requirements for carry-on bags, although most are very similar. Some airlines allow a carry-on bag and a personal item, which could include a purse or briefcase. Other airlines have weight requirements or each piece that you bring on the flight, and are more strict about these requirements if you are boarding a full flight. Be sure to check the specific requirements of your preferred airline if you plan on purchasing carry-on luggage.

When you are flying, consider the look of your luggage. Typical black suitcases may be easily confused with other suitcases when they are going through baggage claim; they will be harder to pick out, and harder to locate if the luggage is lost or stolen. A unique color or pattern will allow you to point out or describe your luggage without any problems. If you choose luggage with a neutral color, be sure to buy a unique luggage tag or attach a scarf that will help you pick out your luggage at baggage claim. The tag should have your contact number and address visible so that anyone who finds the luggage can contact you. Always take a photo of your luggage before you fly.

One last quick tip about the look of your luggage: since your luggage will be handled by many people with a lot of other luggage, stick to a darker color that will hide any evidence of dirt or dust. Luggage can always be cleaned after your trip, but while you are using it, you want to keep it looking fresh and clean.

What Are You Bringing?

Consider the packing list for your luggage. Will everything you need, including a laptop and electronics, fit in your luggage? Will important items be easy to access as you walk through airport security or in case of an emergency?

A suitcase that will hold prescription medication or other smaller items will need a variety of pockets and other means of separation for storage within the luggage. There are plenty of “hacks” available for organizing a suitcase for short-term travel, but travelers who are constantly on the go will need organization built in with their suitcase.

Delicate items, like mugs or vases, will need extra padding and a more structured suitcase in order to be checked without any damages. Collapsible luggage can be very useful, but poses more risks if you are bringing breakable items. Hard shell luggage helps to create a stronger barrier if items are jostled around.

If you are packing a suit or dress that needs to look crisp and professional throughout your trip, consider buying a garment bag.

What Do Your Peers Have To Say?

There are tons of luggage brands on the market. Before you start shopping or looking online, take some recommendations from friends and colleagues who have gone on similar trips. What luggage do they prefer for their travel? What features make the luggage favorable? What could make the luggage better? These recommendations take the guesswork out of narrowing down brands and hoping that they will work well on your next trip.

Hard or Soft Shell Luggage?

The biggest question you may ask yourself as you pick out luggage is, “hard or soft shell?” The debate rages on over whether which type of luggage is the best for travel.

Soft shell luggage is made out of fabrics like nylon or polyester. Many travelers also put leather luggage in this category. There are more types of soft shell luggage on the market, including duffel bags or travel totes.

Hard shell luggage is made out of plastic, aluminum, or polycarbonate. The size and shape of hard shell luggage won’t change no matter how much you pack it; soft shell luggage is more flexible in how it moves before and after packing your items.

Why do travelers prefer soft or hard shell luggage?

The Argument for Soft Shell Luggage

Flexible: Soft shell luggage made out of fabric is more flexible; collapsible luggage is easier to store and can be easier to pack if you have odd-shaped items and want to fill every inch of your bag. Some soft shell luggage can expand up to 25% if you really need to pack it to the brim. If you are trying to squeeze your bag underneath a bus or in a different compartment, it may be easier to move around and fit into tight spaces than hard shell luggage that is not flexible.

Crack-Resistant: Fabric luggage may appear to be less resilient, but many travelers agree that they should be trusted more than a hard shell, plastic suitcase. Fabric suitcases can certainly rip, but plastic suitcases can crack. Cracks may appear due to falls or heavier luggage being thrown onto the bag. Rapid changes in weather or extreme conditions may also cause the plastic to crack. They also have less grip, and are more likely to slide off smooth surfaces and fall onto the ground. When that ground is the tarmac, your suitcase could be scratched and damaged before you know it.

The Argument for Hard Shell Luggage

Set Size: The set size and shape of hard shell luggage certainly has advantages. If you are worried about fitting your bag on your flight as a carry-on, picking hard shell luggage may be a good strategy. There is no guesswork, even if you fill the suitcase completely. Their rectangular shape is easy to slide underneath your seat or place in the overhead compartment with other rectangular luggage. Hard shell luggage is also easier to stack if you are going on a road trip or need to make room for other luggage on a train or a bus.

Lightweight luggage is typically a hard shell model; travelers with back pain or small children will have to carry less weight just from the luggage itself.

New Plastics Are More Durable Than Ever: Plastic hard shell luggage is notorious for its lack of durability, but other materials, like polycarbonate, are much stronger. Polycarbonate is more flexible and resistant to cracks, even in changing temperatures. Travelers who face rain or snow may want to choose polycarbonate over a fabric luggage; if fabric is not waterproofed or protected, it can mold and smell. Hard shell luggage is also easier to clean between trips.

Look Deeper Than Soft or Hard Shell When Choosing Luggage

Don’t eliminate either option; there is no clear winner as to which luggage reigns supreme. Look closer at the material of the luggage, and other features that are important to you during your trip. Travelers can have successful trips with either soft or hard shell luggage.

Ready to Pick Out Luggage? Know That There Are Different Types of Luggage on the Market

The word “luggage” may make you think of a big suitcase, but suitcases may not be the most appropriate luggage for every flight, vacation, or trip that you take. Expand your search for the best luggage by considering the following types of bags:

Backpacks: Every kind of traveler can benefit from a backpack. Smaller backpacks are easy to carry and allow travelers to stay organized on the go. Many have laptop cases for business travelers who don’t mind wearing their luggage. Rolling backpacks are also available for more ease while traveling, but all the bells and whistles on this type of bag can make it rather heavy. Long-term travelers also opt for a backpack, rather than a suitcase.

Briefcases: Briefcases are only suitable for business travelers; while they provide excellent organization, there is not space available for clothes, cosmetics, or other travel necessities. Briefcases make great carry-on items.

Garment Bags: Garment bags can be purchased individually to fit inside a suitcase or carry-on bag, if you already have luggage that you love. These separate bags are useful if you need to carry your suit or dress without the rest of your luggage, or prefer to keep your garments in the bag when you hang them up in your closets. If you are buying a separate garment bag for your luggage, take a look at the hanger opening. A flimsy opening will let the hanger slip into the bag in transit, wrinkling and possibly puncturing your clothes. Check with your airline to see if hanging bags are allowed to be carried on to your flight.

If you are buying a garment bag that doubles as a suitcase or carry-on bag, make sure that you can easily fold your garments and keep them protected from your other items. Spilled makeup or shampoo can quickly cause a big problem for travelers who need to look professional and sharp.

Duffel Bags: Duffel bags can make packing easy for short trips that require odd shaped gear or other items. These can be slung over the shoulder, and come in sizes that can be checked or carried onto the flight. Outside pockets also provide more compartmentalization than your average suitcase. Rolling duffel bags are also available.

Travel Totes: If you still want to look stylish at the airport or on the go, a travel tote may be your best option. Travel totes keep the busy traveler in mind, and typically have more space than the average purse or handbag without sacrificing the convenience of pockets and organization. Totes may qualify as a “personal item,” allowing you to bring a small suitcase or other piece of luggage on your flight. Totes can also be slung over one shoulder, allowing easy access, but possibly causing strain if the bag is filled and you are standing for a long period of time.

Other Features to Look For While Choosing Luggage

Price

Before you start shopping, figure out your budget. It is easy to get excited about high-quality luggage with all the bells and whistles for travel, but these pieces may eat into your overall travel budget.

Luggage is considered by many to be an investment. Temporary luggage can be bought while you are traveling, but you will save more money in the long run by buying luggage that will last for a few years. If you are looking for a cheaper deal, start your search in the beginning of the year. March is the cheapest time to buy luggage; prices increase as travelers are getting ready for spring and summer travel. Black Friday is also one of the better days to find the best deals on luggage.

Do not be fooled by pricy designer baggage. Brands may increase the price just because a briefcase or suitcase has a particular label on the front. These bags are made for style and fashion rather than durability.

Wheels

Slinging a duffel bag over your shoulder or lifting a briefcase can take its toll in long security lines. Luggage with wheels is much easier to handle; your suitcase can roll behind you with little effort as you walk (or run) to your destination.

Just like there are many factors into choosing luggage, there are many factors that go into choosing the wheels on your luggage. Don’t forget to inspect the wheels on your potential suitcase; just having wheels isn’t enough to make a final decision. Travelers who find themselves rolling their suitcases over gravel or cobblestones will have to get extra durable wheels.

Number of Wheels: Most luggage has two or four wheels. While four wheels give the luggage more mobility, there is more of a chance for the wheels to crack. If you want to buy luggage with four wheels, make sure they are protected by the material of the luggage. Plastic wheels attached to the bottom of luggage are most likely to crack or break off, causing quite the headache while you’re rolling your luggage.

How the Wheels Move: Wheels that only move in one direction will do the trick, and are typically more protected than spinner wheels that move 360 degrees. However, “spinner” wheels (wheels that move 360 degrees) give you more mobility, and are may be easier to maneuver if you are in a hurry or making sharp turns.

How They Are Attached: Wheels that are screwed onto the luggage are more likely to stay on than wheels that are connected by rivets (and they are easier to fix.) The more the wheels are exposed to the outside of the bag, the more likely they are to fall off or crack.

Material: Wheels are typically made from plastic or rubber. The strongest wheel material is polyurethane; it is more flexible and durable than most other plastics.It’s important to look at the material of the luggage handle as well. Bags with wheels should have handles that extend for you to grip and roll your bag. Look at the handle on your bag. Will it be easy to grip and comfortable to hold for a long period of time?

Organization

If you are only packing clothes and bedding in your luggage, you want as much space as possible. When you only have one bag and need to pack smaller items (medications, jewelry, cosmetics, etc.) it helps to have some built-in pockets for organization. When these pockets are see-through, you can find all of these small items without unzipping every pocket that you have.

Look for pockets on the inside and outside of the luggage, and consider the items that you will be carrying. Long, deep pockets on the outside of your luggage may look useful, but when you have a lot of little items to pack, they could easily get lost. Delicate items in outside pockets face a higher risk of damage. Accessibility and protection is key when you are packing your important items.

Locks

The best way to keep valuables safe is to lock up your luggage. Small padlocks come in many varieties, but your lock must be approved by TSA if you are checking your baggage. Security officers have the right to go through your luggage to check for unsafe items; if your bag has a lock that cannot be accessed by TSA keys, the TSA has the right to break open your lock and inspect your bag.

Warranty and Return Policy

Accidents happen. Unfortunately, luggage handlers are not always gentle with your luggage, liquid items may leak during the flight, or your bag may get stolen during your trip. In some cases, you may be able to receive a replacement bag, but only if you have a warranty that covers how your bag was damaged. When picking out luggage, read the brand’s warranty policy very carefully. Warranties will vary; some will last five years, but others will last for a lifetime. Airline damage may or may not be covered in the warranty.

User Reviews

Even if you are looking for luggage in a physical store, you can still find user reviews of different brands and models online. If you know what stores you are visiting to purchase luggage, browse online and read user reviews for some of the top luggage models that are available in the store. Going into a store prepared will prevent you from a salesperson conning you into buying a bag that will break after one or two vacations.

How Luggage Affects Your Carbon Footprint

Travel, especially overseas travel, can drastically increase your carbon footprint. If you are concerned about the impact you are making on the environment, consider buying luggage that is eco-friendly and makes little impact on the environment.

Consider the material of your bag. Even a fabric bag will sit in a landfill for years if it is made of a nonbiodegradable material. Unfortunately, that is the case with many types of luggage on the market. Luggage companies who use eco-friendly materials will usually let you know in their advertisements; for example, there is luggage made from 100% recycled plastic. The ethics of the company behind the luggage may also influence your decision; if the company promotes fair wages, gear swaps, or other environmental initiative, then your purchase is still benefitting the environment.

The best way to lower your carbon footprint with your luggage is to buy a durable bag or suitcase that will last you through many trips. It’s nearly impossible to break down luggage and recycle every piece; most likely, your suitcase will end up in a landfill. Sturdy luggage will stop the cycle of constantly throwing out or buying new bags.

How Much Luggage Are You Bringing?

Travelers might only need a carry-on bag or a suitcase for a week trip, but be realistic about how much space you will need while you travel. Not all travelers can fit their necessary items in one bag, even if it’s rather large. If you think you will need two or three bags with you, consider buying a set that looks alike, and consider how you are going to carry all of these bags. (The stackability of hard shell luggage may be useful for travelers carrying multiple bags.) For many frequent travelers, it is better to buy a set of luggage and not need it all. Leaving luggage at home is much easier than having to scramble for an extra piece of luggage as a trip is approaching.

Accessories

Look for accessories that are made for your luggage. There are hundreds of packing cubes and other organizers on the market, but if they don’t fit well in your suitcase, they will quickly become a nuisance as you travel. Your preferred luggage brand may also sell accessories, like toiletry organizers, packing envelopes, or shoe sleeves.

If your bag is not waterproof, purchase a protective covering that can be slipped on if you are walking through the rain or placing your bag underneath a bus. Make sure you can find a..

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Australia has a wide variety of landscapes, ranging from mountain ranges in the south-eastern and western sections, tropical rainforests in the north-east quarter, with arid and semi-arid desert in the middle. It is the sixth largest nation in the world. The capital city is Canberra.

The country has an extremely diverse way of life and is equally famous for the beautiful beaches, as it is for the rugged outback. Most visitors simply do not realise just how vast the country is!

Each state has different things to offer the tourist. Victoria is widely recognised as the cultural capital, and it is here that you will find the best food and wine. Queensland is mostly tropical, while New South Wales has magnificent beaches. Tasmania is cooler, while the western and northern territories are rugged. Capital Territory prides itself on culture, with many galleries and museums to explore.

1. The Great Barrier Reef

This is located off the coast of Queensland, and is the largest coral reef in the world. It is a huge tourist destination, with cruises and diving boats which offer special expeditions to the reef.
Diving gear is normally available to hire, when you have produced diving documentation, so be sure to take it all with you.
Make sure you book any tours in advance as they are a very popular way to see the reef.

2. Sydney Harbour Bridge

You may also hear of the bridge as ‘the Coathanger’ because of the arch shape. The bridge spans the harbour and carries vehicles, trains, bicycles and foot passengers between the central business district and the North Shore.
The bridge is an iconic feature of the harbour, it was built in 1932 and is the sixth longest spanning bridge in the world. It also ranks as the tallest arch bridge, being 44-feet from the water level to the top.
Plan on spending a day in the area, and make sure you have your camera with you.

3. Uluru

You may have also heard of this as Ayers Rock, which is the more well-known name. It is a huge sandstone rock which can be found in the Northern Territory, 335 km west of Alice Springs.
The rock is sacred to the aboriginal people of the area. The Anangu people often lead walking tours of the rock and surrounding area, and are very informative about the fauna and flora there.
If possible, try to visit at dawn or sunset when the colours are at their most spectacular.
Allow a half day or more, depending on how much exploring you want to do.

4. Sydney Opera House

This ranks as one of the most distinctive and famous of buildings to have been built in the 20th century. It was opened in 1973.
The complex covers the entire Bennelong Point on the harbour, you simply cannot miss it!
There are different venues in the complex, with over 1,500 shows each year. There are three resident companies there, namely Opera Sydney, Sydney Theatre Company, and Sydney Symphony Orchestra.
If you plan to see any show here, you must book in advance. Should you want to stay the night, you will find plenty of hotels in the area.

5. Port Jackson

This is an area, rather than a specific thing. It is where the waters of Sydney Harbour, Middle Harbour, North Harbour, Parramatta River, and Lan Cove all meet. Significantly, it is the spot where the first European settlement in the country took place.
You will remember some events which take place there, namely the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.
The harbour is also famous for the New Year’s Eve firework display.
Spend a full day looking around the area, there are many places where you can get lunch during the day.

6. Cable Beach

This magnificent beach is 6 km west of Broome, and is a 22 km stretch of beautiful white sands.
The waves are very gentle during the season from May to October. After that, there is an influx of jellyfish, so swimming is not advisable.
Take a camel ride along the beach at sunset and sunrise, and look out for the ‘clothing optional’ area, if this appeals to you.
If you head for the southern part of the beach you will find Gantheaume Point where you may be lucky to see whales and dolphins as they migrate.

7. Visit Uluru

This is the heart of the outback and well worth a visit. You will find out how the residents managed with the Royal Flying Doctor Service as their only medical help, and how they coped with fearsome desert creatures.
Be sure to check out the Reptile Park, where you will see some of them!
If you like, you can head out into the West Mac Donnell Range and hike to the top of Anzac Hill.
Make sure you stop at the historic Overland Telegraph Station, which was built in 1872 and was the first communication outpost in the area.

8. Eureka Tower

You will find this skyscraper in the Southbank area of Melbourne. It is the highest public vantage point in any building in the southern hemisphere, measuring 935 feet. The observation deck is on level 88.
This is the second tallest building in the country, and still the tallest to the roof.
On the observation deck you will find 30 viewfinders so you can check out the whole of Melbourne. There are also free binoculars which you can use. If you are brave enough, head for the small outside area called ‘The Terrace’, which fortunately is protected from the winds.
Especially for the brave, try the glass cube called ‘The Edge’, which is a glass box hanging over the edge of the tower, only adding to the experience of height!

9. Great Ocean Road

If you visit Australia, then this should be on your list of things to do! The road runs between Torquay and Allansford, for 243 km along the south-eastern coast.
The road itself is a memorial dedicated to soldiers killed during WWI, and winds over different terrain along the coast. There are several landmarks you will pass along the way such as the Twelve Apostles rock formations.
Warrnambool is the largest city along the route, so you should stop here for supplies if you need them. The road is two lanes, one in each direction, and the speed limit changes, so be aware of this and watch for the road signs.

10. The Shrine of Remembrance

This dedication is found in Melbourne. It was constructed in dedication to those who served in WWI, although bow it is a memorial to all Australians who served in wars.
The shrine is constructed of Tynong granite, containing the marble Stone of Remembrance.
Be sure to check out the engraved words ‘Greater love hath no man’. Of significance here is that once a year, on 11th November at 11am (Remembrance Day), the sun shines through the roof and lights up the word ‘love’.
Look for the crypt below which has a bronze statue of a soldier and his young son. The panels list each unit of the Australian Imperial Force.
Plan to spend a half day here, although longer if you are searching for a name on the panels.

11. Mount Kosciuszko

This mountain is part of the Australian Alps national Parks and reserves, and you will find it on the main range of the Snowy Mountains, in New South Wales.
At 2,228 m above sea level, it is the highest mountain in the country.
You will many outdoor activities here such skiing and snowboarding in the winter months, and great walking in the summertime. There are many trails for mountain biking and bushwacking. You can rent mountain bikes at some of the trails.
This is a great area to take an RV and spend a few days.

12. The Twelve Apostles

You will find this outcrop off the shore of Port Campbell National Park. It is also visible from the Great Ocean Road. This is a very popular tourist attraction.
Originally there were 12 outcrops, but over time, some have eroded and collapsed. Right now, there are only eight, as one collapsed in 2005.
The remaining outcrops are over 50 metres high. Hikers and walkers will enjoy the many trails in the area, and this is a good place to take an RV for a few days. Be aware that you must take all your provisions as there may not be anywhere to stock up on.

13. Darling Harbour

You will find this harbour in Sydney near to the city centre. It is also well-known as a recreational area, with a pedestrian precinct.
There are many attractions to be seen in the area, such as the Chinese Garden of friendship, and the Powerhouse Museum.
Madame Tussauds is there, as is the Sydney Aquarium, so it is a good idea to spend a full day here. Perhaps even book into a hotel and stay longer.

14. Queen Victoria Market

You may also hear this called the ‘Queen Vic’. It is a very well-known landmark, and the largest open-air market in the southern hemisphere. You will find it in Melbourne.
The market has been going strong since the 19th century. There used to be three markets, but the other two closed, leaving the Queen Victoria market as the oldest surviving market.
This is a very popular market, where you can find almost everything you want. It is now part of the Victorian Heritage register. If you plan to spend a full day there, you will not be disappointed.

15. K’gari (Fraser Island)

The whole island is heritage-listed, and you will find it on the south coast. It is the largest sand island in the world, with a variety of microclimates such as sand dunes, lakes, and rainforests.
The island is Queensland’s largest, as well as Australia’s 6th largest island. It is populated by only a handful of people, because tourists go there to walk and hike, before returning to the mainland.
Expect to see an abundance of plants, and a diverse range of animals including the saltwater crocodile!

Plan a day hiking or walking here, and be on the lookout for reptiles and mammals.

16. The Snowy Mountains

These are also known as ‘The Snowies’. They are the highest mountain range in the country. It is here you will find the highest mountain namely Mount Kosciuszko. There are also another five peaks above 2,100 metres high.
Look out for the ‘Mountain Plum Pine’ which is thought to be the world’s oldest living plant, it is a type of conifer.
In winter, the area is very popular with skiers and snowboarders, while in the warmer months, hiking and rambling takes precedent.
Allow yourself plenty of time to explore the area, in the warmer months it is a great place to take an RV for a few days.

17. Kata Tjuta

You will find these amazing rock formations 365 miles southwest of Alice Springs. You may also hear it called ‘The Olgas’. You will know it by the large group of domed formations.
The highest dome is Mount Olga, which is 1,066 metres above sea level.
If you enjoy hiking and walking, then this is a good place to head for. There is also coming in the area, so plan to spend a few days here and explore.

18. Melbourne Aquarium

This is no ordinary aquarium! Not only can you look at sharks – you can dive with them! Grey Nurses, Whaler Sharks, and Seven Kill Sharks, all make up the inhabitants of this complex.
You will take to the water with a fully qualified dive instructor who will ensure that your dive is not only safe but enjoyable.
You do not need any diving experience – a sense of adventure is all that is needed!
You must book your tickets in advance, and the best way to do this is online.

19. Burleigh Heads

This interesting suburb is found in the city of Gold Coast. This is very popular with surfers, and you will find the beaches a great place to barbeque and play a few cricket matches.
On Sundays the town centre is filled with buskers, and local musicians, along with fire-twirlers to keep the kids amused.
In the high street you will find an assortment of delis, cafes, and interesting shops, so it is worth spending a full day here and enjoying the atmosphere.

20. Bay of Fires

The name was given to the bay by Captain Tobias Furneaux in 1773, when he saw the fires of the Aboriginal people on the beach.
You will find that the beaches are wonderfully white, the water incredibly blue, and the outcrops an amazing colour of orange shades.
The northern area is national park, while the southern part is conservation area.
In and around the Bay of Fires there are many outdoor activities for families, such as boating, swimming, and fishing. It is also a great place for bird watching.
There is a campsite, so you can pitch a tent or take an RV and spend some time in this lovely area.

21. Dandenong

This is an area, rather than a single place. It is a suburb of Melbourne,..

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The Breville BOV650XL is our pick for the best toaster oven, which has a quality stainless steel construction and uses 8 settings that can heat up your food depending on the item you place there. It has a broiling option and has a nonstick coating for ease of cleanup.

Our step-up pick is the Cuisinart TOB-260N1 and it is also made with stainless steel plus has a capacity of 0.95 cubic feet. It comes with 15 functions and also has a convection cooking method. It has a large backlit display for your settings.

The budget pick is the Oster TSSTTVVG01 and this one is meant for smaller places due to its size. The timer can be set up to 30 minutes and it has a crumb tray that can be removed. It can fit up to 4 slices of bread and has 2 rack positions.

A Little Background

For pizza, bread and other types of food that need to be heated in an oven, a toaster oven is what you’ll need. Toasters are a great way to heat up pastries and bread food items. They can be used for many occasions when you do not have a pop-up toaster and you want to make toast bread.

It can also be used for your homemade bread or from store bought bread for convenience, and can fir many other items as well. True enough, it is a very useful tool or kitchen equipment or appliance when it comes down to food prep purposes.

It consumes less electricity compared to that of a microwave. They are the ideal option for those who cannot afford a microwave and its monthly expenses. In addition to the fact that microwaves might consume more power, they also cost more when you buy them from the store due to the magnetron.

The heating element of a toasting oven is a lot different and a simpler option if you are just heating food items, especially bread. They are great for those who do not have the budget to buy themselves a microwave, since these toasting machines tend to be the least expensive of the two.

The difference with a pop-up toaster is that it can accommodate all bread sizes and shapes. Unlike pop-up toasters, they can take your baguettes and Spanish bread. They are great for those who do not want to spend time in a pop-up toasting machine and instead have other baked goods that will only fit inside an oven.

You can heat and reheat breads that are irregularly shaped, such as pizza and perhaps other pastries – it’s that simple. Nothing makes really good sandwiches like this kind of toasting machine.

It also helps to eliminate the grease in your food, if you are reheating food. You can also place leftovers like chicken and remove the extra grease by using the grill. To put it this way, it is a kitchen appliance that is not just for bread and baked goods, but also for foods you have previously grilled and cooked in another way.

This makes them much healthier because they are cooked again but with less grease that can harbor fats. This is why reheating in this kind of toasting machine is a lot better than reheating it in the stove with grease again.

If you want an appliance that can reheat food but cannot afford a microwave, this is an ideal choice. It is great for those nights with unwanted leftovers. There is nothing more frustrating with preparing too much for the day and you are stuck with leftover during the night after your dinner.

The fact that you have leftovers for the next day can be a challenge when it comes down to food prep, especially if you are an on the go person. This is why a toasting machine can be beneficial because it can help you reheat foods that are leftover from yesterday.

You can have either dial or digital controls for it, but the former is better and much more preferred, while the latter is mainly found on microwaves. Dial and digital controls have their pros and cons.

The digital ones are most ideal for dry climates. They’re easy to use because you can press the right buttons to set the temperature that you like. It is ideal for when you want a precise temperature for heating your food item.

However, if you live in an area with high humidity then it is recommended to go for a dial control instead. It might not be exact in temperature, but it is easier to operate for those who have seniors in the house or are in a hurry.

The result with this kind of heating appliance is a more tender texture for the bread, compared to when you warm it in a microwave and it becomes rock hard without the moisture. If you don’t like heating your burger buns on microwaves, consider toasting machines instead.

If you are making homemade burgers but you do not have time to grill or to mess with the kitchen a lot, you can go for the tender heating process of the toasting machine, which does not dry out your ingredients and especially your bread. If you also make homemade bread then it will benefit more from the toasting machine.

How we Picked

For your best toaster oven, here are some things you need to know first:

Heat settings: There can be many heat settings in the oven. The heat settings can depend on the type of food that you are trying to cook or heat up or the recipe requirement. Dial controls usually have a number setting and a guide for common foods such as pizza or chicken. Electronic keypad controls have a more precise way of doing things, if you want something that can be set to a specific temperature value for your food.

Capacity inside: The inner capacity is important to consider. You should look into how much food items will be kept there. For most apartment and condo unit models, they will usually be much smaller than the regular sized ones, so they tend to only keep a few food items instead of large ones. It is important that you know how much will fit in to avoid having problems later, such as overstuffing and uneven heating.

Pan and grill quality: The pan and grill should be made with quality materials. This is to make sure that no harsh chemicals get into the food that you cook or heat up inside the appliance. It is also important that the quality is not of low class so that the pan and grill can last for a very long time. The pan is very important for heating foods that might fall off the grill, such as small food items.

Manual or digital controls: Consider whether you are getting manual or digital controls for your oven. Manual controls are the best for ease of use as well as for quick reheating of foods. They cannot set the exact temperature but they can give you approximate settings. If you need accurate temperatures then you can go for a digital control or keypad, but keep in mind that corrosion which leads to electronics failure can ruin the unit’s functionality altogether.

Housing durability: Make sure its housing is sturdy enough to keep the components safe and sound. The housing should be made of quality and durable heat resistant material that can withstand the test of time and keep your food and heating element safe and sound inside. It should also have a decent finish so that it will look good on your kitchen countertop.

Number of slices (for toast bread): If your goal is toast bread, consider how many slices will fit in on the average. Toast bread slots may also be present to make it easier for you to make toasts for your breakfast meal. This is important for making sandwiches, clubhouses and the like, so that you can make bread at the perfect temperature.

Auto shut off feature: Having an auto shut off feature is crucial for safety purposes. This is important for ensuring that the heating element only does its job for the specific time period so as not to cause burning or overheating of your bread or other item in the oven.

Convection heating feature: Convection heating allows you to cook certain foods as well. This type of mechanism is what you should look for if you are also going to use the appliance for making recipes that specifically use this kind of heating process to ensure that it is heated just right. However, this is an optional feature.

Energy consumption: It should not consume too much energy in the long run. You should look for the energy consumption in the label or description. Older models might consume more energy and larger units do as well.

Eco-friendly features: The unit should be eco-friendly and energy saving overall. It should not waste energy when it is not in use so that you do not have to unplug it just to save sufficient energy in the long run at home. They should also be made with materials that do not leak out harsh chemicals not just into food, but also into the environment, especially with the heating element.

Our Pick

As our top pick, the Breville BOV650XL is a compact designed machine that has 8 settings for you to choose from, including broiling foods. It can fit up to 4 slices and other food items and has a nonstick coating for ease of cleanup. It has a broiling rack and can fit up to 12 inches of pizza.

Flaws but Not Dealbrakers

The only small con with the Breville BOV650XL that is not a deal breaker is the fact that it does not have convection heating, but that is only found on much more expensive units, anyway.

Step-up Pick

The Cuisinart TOB-260N1 is our step-up pick, which has up to 15 options for you to choose from and has convection heating. It has an inner capacity of 0.95 cubic feet and it has an interior light for you to see your food clearly.

Budget Pick

The Oster TSSTTVVG01 is our budget pick, which has an easy to use timer up to 30 minutes. The crumb tray can be removed and the inner dimensions are 10 x 7 x 3 inches. You can heat up your food up to 450 degrees F and the broil function also makes it usable plus its baking function. It can take up to 4 slices in one go.

Best Toaster Oven with a Curved Housing

The Hamilton Beach 31337 is a good choice if you want one that has a good housing design. It has a 4 slice capacity and has a broiling feature as well. You can easily keep it clean with its unique design that fits most countertops.

Best Toaster Oven with a Pizza Drawer

The Oster TSSTTVPZDS is good for pizzas and has a convection feature. It allows you to bake items easily and consumes 1,400 watts of power. It has a pizza drawer which is useful if you maintain a pizza business and it can fit any 12-inch pizza with its capacity.

Best Toaster Oven with a Compact Design

The FortheChef Quantum is a model that consumes 1,000 watts only and can be heated from 200 up to 450 degrees F. It has a dual knob control system for easily tweaking the temperature and it can be used for casseroles with its compact design.

Best Toaster Oven with a Baking Tray

The VonShef 26Qt has a total of 3 cooking functions to choose from and has a capacity of 30L. It has many functions such as toasting, grilling, baking and roasting. You can also easily reheat foods with its wire grill rack and 60-minute timer.

Best Toaster Oven for Broiling

The Quantum 1300 Watt is good for broiling needs with its 3-knob control system. It consumes 1,300 watts of power and has a neat grill rack for ease of heating food. The temperatures are adjustable from 200 to 450 degrees F and it is great for toasting and roasting food items like chicken.

Best Toaster Oven with Convection Heating

The Elite Platinum ETO-140C is good for those who are looking for a convection oven with a stay-on function. Its timer can run up to 60 minutes and it has a convection fan for easily heating without cold spots. You can get quick cooking times and temperatures of up to 450 degrees F.

Best Toaster Oven with Infrared Heating

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Connecticut is the third smallest state by area, in the USA, and has the highest per-capita income. The capital city is Hartford. It is also known as Constitution State, the Provisions State, The Nutmeg state, and the Land of steady habits.

The first European settlers were of Dutch origin, although the first major settlement was in the 1630’s by English settlers.

Connecticut has a strong tradition with maritime, having the Connecticut and Thames Rivers, along with many ports along the Long Island Sound.

You will find that the state of Connecticut has within its borders shorelines, forests, historic villages, colonial churches, and modern expressways. Connecticut is certainly a thriving state, with a lot to offer the tourist.

1. Long Island Sound


This tidal estuary is over 21 miles at the widest point. It runs from east to west, from east River in New York to the north shore of Long Island. About 8 million people live on the Sound.
You will find many state parks along the sound, as well as many delightful villages. If you enjoy seafood, then make sure you head for one of the many restaurants along the Sound.
There are many places to stay so you may want to book some accommodation and stay a few days while you explore. Alternatively, take an RV and be your own boss!

2. USS Nautilus


USS Nautilus was the first operational nuclear-powered submarine. Because of this, the sub was able to remain submerged for long periods of time.
The Nautilus was ordered to conduct ‘Operation Sunshine’ and on July 23rd 1958 she became the first ship to cross the North Pole.
The submarine was decommissioned in 1980 and has been preserved as a museum open to the public. You will find the submarine in Groton.
Plan to spend a half day here.

3. Yale University


This university is the third oldest in the USA, and is located in New Haven.
The university is open for guided tours. Be sure to take a walk through the gardens which are immaculately maintained. There are frequent concerts which are open to the public to attend. These must be booked in advance.
The guided tours are a great way to learn about the history of the university, and well worth taking advantage of. You will also be able to stop at the library, and the botanical garden, so allow yourself a full day here.

4. Connecticut State Capitol


You will find the State Capitol in Hartford, just south of Bushnell Park. Originally there was a large statue on the top of the dome, but this was removed after the hurricane which happened in 1938.
Note that at the base of the dome there are 12 statues, in pairs which represent Commerce, Education/Law, Agriculture, War/Force, Science/Justice, and Music.
You can take a self-guided tour through the building, although guided tours are available on the weekdays. Guided tours start at the entrance of the Legislative Office, which is on the west side.
Allow a half day to see the building.

5. Mark Twain House


There is also a museum here. You will find them in Hartford. This was the home of Mark Twain and his family from 1874 – 1891.
The author Samuel Clemens wrote many of his best works here, such as The Prince and the Pauper, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
The building has also been used as a school and a public library, until it was until it was taken over by the Mark Twain Memorial group. It is now a national Historic Landmark.

Allow yourself a half day to see themuseum and the house.

6. New England Air Museum


You will find this at Bradley International Airport, in Windsor Locks. There are three hangars where you will find 66 aircraft, 26 helicopters, ejection seats, missiles, and many other aircraft memorabilia.
You can take a guided tour, or walk around by yourself. The museum does many children’s activities, and often hosts special events.
The visitor’s centre has many books and technical manuals to buy. There is also a library where you can find photographs and microfilms.
Plan to spend most of the day here, especially if you have come for a special event.

7. Foxwoods Resort Casino


You will find this hotel and casino complex on the Mashantucket Pequot Indian reservation. There is a total of six casinos with over 250 gaming tables.
If you like casinos, then you will be happy visiting here as there are blackjack tables, roulette, poker, and craps tables, as well as over 5000 slot machines.
Look out for the Hard Rock Café when you need a bite to eat.
If you plan to stay more than a day, then you can book into one of the hotels. There is a special arcade for children and teens.

8. East Rock

This is to be found in Hamden, and you will be astounded by the magnificent views of New Haven, and Long Island Sound. If hiking is what you like, then you will want to head here.
You can either walk, cycle, or take a car along the route. Once you get to east Rock, be sure to check out the ‘Soldiers and Sailors’ monument which is one of the iconic landmarks of the area. You really cannot miss it as it stands over 110 feet high. It dates back to 1887.
If you visit in the winter months, then you may want to bring snowshoes and cross-country ski in the area.

9. Horace Wells Memorial


Horace Wells was a dentist who first pioneered the use of anaesthetic. The story goes that in 1844 Horace and his wife attended a seminar on laughing gas. Horace decided that this might be the answer to removing teeth without the pain.
On his return home, Horace set up a demonstration with a student, the gas was not administered correctly, and the student cried out in pain. Horace was mortified and finally handed over his practise to another dentist.
Horace eventually ended up taking his own life, and is now buried with his family in Hartford. The epitaph reads ‘The Discoverer of Anaesthesia’.

10. Peabody Museum of Natural History


You will find this at Yale University. It is one of the oldest, and largest natural history museums in the world. George Peabody founded it in 1866.
Possibly the most well-known hall is the ‘Great Hall of Dinosaurs’, which includes a baby Brontosaurus.
Look out for the vertebrate collections which are the most expensive fossil collections in the USA.
Allow yourself a full day to look around here. There is a small café where you can get a snack and refreshments.

11. Lake Compounce


This amusement park is found in Bristol, although the lake lies in Southington. It was opened in 1846 and is the oldest operating amusement park in the USA.
There is a beach and a waterpark which is also available free when you buy your ticket.
A point here is that the Wildcat Rollercoaster is the 14th oldest wooden roller coaster in the world. You will also find newer coasters such as the Boulder Dash which has won the Award for the #1 wooden coaster in the world for five years in a row.
Other things to see are the Haunted House and the ‘dark rides’.

If you are visiting at Christmas, you can see the park lit up with lights. You will find family rides, and a grotto where the kids can meet Santa. Look out for the tree which is over 100 feet tall and the largest in the state.

12. Wadsworth Atheneum


This art museum is found in Hartford, and is well-known for the collection of European art, Egyptian art, classical bronzes, and Impressionist paintings from France and America.
Look out for the furniture exhibits which are early American.
You will recognise the museum by the distinctive building which looks like a castle. It is the largest museum in the state.
Allow yourself a full day here. There is a café where you can buy lunch.

13. US Navy Submarine Force Library and Museum


This is to be found on the Thames River at Groton. You will find many significant submarines here such as the USS Nautilus.
It is a good idea to take the 30-minute self-guided tour, so you can walk around at your own pace.
There are over 33,000 artefacts in the museum, the sail section from the USS George Washington.
There is a library in the museum with over 6,000 books. You will also find the original 1870 copy of Jules Verne’s book 20,000 Leagues under the Sea.
Allow yourself a half day here, although it may take you longer if you want to visit the library.

14. Gillette Castle State Park


The estate lies in the middle of East Haddam and Lyme. Originally it was a private home for William Gillette, famous for his part as Sherlock Holmes on stage.
Be sure to check out the castle and the amazing grounds. The visitor’s centre will direct you to the museum, the hiking trails, and the picnic area.
Watch out for some unique things such as the light switches which are carved in wood, and the built-in couches. Also, find the hand carved bar, which can be opened with a secret latch.

15. Charles W. Morgan


You will find this in the Mystic Seaport Museum. It is an American Whaling ship built in 1841. The ship is the oldest surviving merchant vessel, and the only wooden whaling ship to survive from the American Merchant Fleet.
The ship has been used as a museum since 1940. Allow yourself a half day to see this. There are many places close by where you can get snacks and then explore the rest of the town.

16. Connecticut College Arboretum


You will find this in the towns of New London and Waterford. It covers over 750 acres, and houses the collection of Native Plants.
Look out for the Caroline Black Garden, and the Greenhouse. The College Campus Garden has over 223 types of trees and shrubs including the Franklin Tree, Japanese Pagoda Tree, and a Chinese Witch Hazel.
Make sure you check upcoming events as they have these often.

In the greenhouse you will find a tropical collection, cactus house, and an experimental section.
If you are a plant lover, then you will want to spend the full day here.

17. Harvey Cushing/John Hay Whitney Medical Library


You will find this enormous collection of rare books and manuscripts in New Haven. The library was first opened in 1813 on the Yale university campus, and now holds over 411,000 books and 2,600 medical journals.
You will find illustrations of the first Persian works illustrating the human body here, as well as an extensive collection of medical artefacts.
Be sure to check out the collection of prints – there are over 2,000 of them from over 600 artists.
It will take you a half day to see this, although it may take longer if you are a medical person wanting to research further.

18. Hill Stead Museum


This colonial house is found in Farmington. It is well-known for the stately grounds, architecture, and paintings of the French Impressionist period. The house was designed and built in 1901, by one of the USA’s first female architects.
If you enjoy looking at works of art, then be sure to visit this house, as it has a vast collection of wonderful works collected over the years.
Allow yourself a half day here, although it will take longer to look around the gardens.

19. Yale Centre for British Art


This is to be found in downtown New Haven. It houses the largest collection of British art outside the UK. If you enjoy looking at art from the Elizabethan period, then make sure you visit here.
The collection boasts drawings, paintings, sculptures, and rare books which reflect the period. You will find over 2,000 paintings and 200 sculptures in the centre.
Some of the artists who are on exhibit are Constable, Reynolds, Lawrence, Hepworth, and Epstein, to name a few.
Plan to spend a full day here as there is plenty to see. There is a café where you can buy lunch. The centre is free to the public every day apart from Sunday.

20. Cathedral of St. Joseph


This cathedral could not be more different if it tried! You will find it in Hertford. It was built during the Cold War and is designed in a starkly modern style. It is commonly known as an ‘architectural rebel’.
The original cathedral was damaged in a fire, and then rebuilt on the same site. Be sure to check out the giant frieze of St. Joseph surrounded by people.
While the outside may appear totalitarian, the inside beauty will astound you inside. You will find one of the finest examples of friezes, which was made in Paris.
Make sure you look at the alter, which has behind it the largest ceramic tile mural in the world.
Plan to spend a half day looking around the cathedral.

21. Castle Craig


You will find this on the east side of Hanging Hills. It is 32 feet tall, with a metal staircase where you can go up to the observation point.
Standing at 976 feet above sea level, you will have a magnificent view of Greater Meridian.
If you enjoy hiking then be sure you take your walking shoes, as there are trails up to the tower. One of the most well-known is the Metacomet Trail. You can also take a car to the tower, although be aware that joggers and walker also use the road.
This is a good place to pack a lunch and head out for a long hike to the tower and back, so allow a full day for this.

22. Maritime Aquarium


You will find this in Norwalk. If you have children, then be sure to take them here.
The fish are beautiful, and the complex is designed with ‘little people’ in mind so the exhibits are low enough for small children to look over.
Be sure you take your children to visit the Sea Turtle Nursery,..

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The state of Oregon is known for the diverse landscape. You will find forests, farms, mountains, and beaches within short distances from each other. The capital city is Portland, and you will find the city full of iconic shops and boutiques. Coffee shops abound, and you will be able to sample different beers at the many microbreweries. Farm-to-table restaurants will give you a taste of local cuisine, while art and historic museums will satisfy your knowledge about the past events there.

An interesting fact to note is that the capital, Portland has more breweries than any other city in the world! You will be able to choose from 60 within the city limits.

Known worldwide is the amazing Crater Lake, the deepest lake in the USA. These are just two of the many wonderful things you will find in this diverse state.

1. Mount Hood

While Mount Hood is classed as still active, research has shown that the chances of an eruption in the next 30 years is only 5%, so this is worth seeing. The summit is11,426 feet and it is always snow-covered. This is the highest point in the state. Higher up you will find glaciers and snowfields.
The mountain is about 50 miles southeast of Portland.
This is popular with hikers and walker alike. You can take an RV to one of the many campsites in the vicinity, and stay a few days while you explore the region.

2. Metolius Balancing Rocks

These rocks are to be found near Culver. The amazing balancing rocks were only discovered when there was a forest fire burned all the vegetation.

Head for Cove Palisades State Park, which is near the Deschutes National Forest. The rocks overlook Lake Billy Chinook, and the whole area is very popular with hikers.

The formation is left from a volcanic eruption millions of years ago, with the spires being made in one eruption with the balancing rocks coming from further eruptions.

Once you have seen the rock formation, spend a day or so hiking in the area.

3. The Cascades

The Cascade Mountains contain both volcanic and non-volcanic mountains. The Cascades form a part of the Pacific Ocean’s ‘Ring of Fire’, which was a ring of volcanic mountains millions of years ago. The range stretches from British Columbia, through Washington, Oregon, and up into Northern California.

The area in Oregon is almost entirely devoted to recreation. If outdoor activity is what you enjoy, then head to any one of the many areas along the range to ski, hike, or climb.
There are many driving routes where you can admire the amazing scenery and catch a glimpse of Mount Hood. There are many small towns and villages where you can spend a night or two while you look around.

4. Neahkahnie Mountain

You will find this this trail at Nehalem. It is in Oswald West State Park.

Many superstitions abound about this area, with some people believing that there is buried treasure to be found. Many have tried, but all have failed, and if the treasure is there, it is well hidden. The Tillamook Tribe know it as the ‘Place of the Supreme Deity’. Legend has it that the treasure is guarded by the ghost of a miner killed many years ago. The man was supposedly guarding his treasure and died buried with it.

There are some areas where you can dig and hunt for the treasure, but most places are out of bounds to treasure hunters. The area is well-known for the hiking trail which is over 3 miles in length, and will take you up to an elevation of 900 feet above sea level.

This is a great place to take an RV, stay a few days while you hike the area. Who knows – you may be lucky enough to spot the ghost!

5. Timberline Lodge

The Lodge and ski area are situated high up on the iconic peaks in the area. There is a ski lift to take you up to the summit. You will be stunned by the amazing views. This area is called a ‘high alpine’ area, and beginners will be pleased to note that there is an area specifically for them.

The Lodge itself will afford you comfortable evenings with spectacular views of Mount Hood.
There is free wi-fi in the lodge, as well as hot tubs, restaurants, spas, and a heated pool for relaxing at the end of a day.

Make sure you book accommodation in advance as the Lodge gets busy in the season.

6. Columbia River Gorge

This canyon is up to 4,000 feet deep in places, and runs for over 80 miles. You can visit parts of the river at Roosevelt, Washington, and Arlington. It is a well-known area for water recreation. It is also very popular with walkers and hikers.

Canoes and kayaks are permitted, although as with water anywhere, caution is advised.

Anywhere along this river is suitable to take a picnic basket for the day, or park an RV and stay a few days while you hike around the area.

7. Cape Foulweather

This was the first landing area for James Cook, and you will find it at Depoe Bay. He found this on his way to the Sandwich Islands. The spot is about 500 feet above the coastline and there is a small parking lot at the top of the winding road leading up.

Look out for the Yaquina Head Lighthouse.

There is a campground close by, where you can hire yurts, or hook up your RV. The site has a small store for provisions, and you can access the beach that way.

The campsite is popular because of the great scenery and excellent hiking trails.

8. Paul Bunyan Statue

You will find the statue in Portland. It is dedicated to the statehood of Oregon. You will notice many statues of Paul Bunyan as you travel through Oregon, but none of them match this enormous smiling giant. He was built in 1959, and stands 31 feet high. He was erected to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Statehood.
The statue has been repainted several times to keep it looking bright and happy.
This will only take a short while to look at, although the area merits spending a little longer looking around.

9. Mill Ends Park

This is the smallest park in the world, and it is noted in the Guinness Book of Records. You will find it in the downtown area of Portland, as you approach the esplanade.

The park is just 2 feet across, and the total area is 452 square inches.

The history of the par goes back to when a pole was removed from the street. A gentleman called Dick Fagan waited for the hole to be filled, and when it was not filled in, he took it on himself to make a park for any resident leprechauns.

Over the years the park has seen the addition of a swimming pool, and some small statues to adorn it. A small Ferris Wheel was also added.

It will not take you long to see the park, but you may be lucky to see a leprechaun!

10. Willamette Falls

You will find the falls near Oregon City. They are recognised as the second largest waterfall in the USA. The only other one that is larger is the Niagra Falls. The average flow of water is about a quarter of a million gallons per second.

The falls used to support paper mills on the banks, and you will find one of the oldest water powered plants situated there.

Fishermen love this area as it is abundant in fish of all sorts. Salmon and lamprey eels are two of the most popular attractions here.

Plan to spend at least a day along the shoreline, perhaps longer if you are a fisherman.

11. Evergreen Aviation Museum

Here you will find the home of Howard Hughes’ ‘Spruce Goose’. It is in McMinnville.
The Spruce Goose only ever flew once, when it took off from the water and flew for about one mile.

The plane was built almost entirely from laminated wood, and after the flight it was kept in a hangar for over 33 years. After Hughes passed away, the plane was displayed throughout the world, before returning to the Museum.

There are other planes in the museum such as a replica of the Wright Brothers 1903 Flyer, and an SR-71A Blackbird.

Plan to spend a day exploring the museum as there is plenty to see. There is small café where you can get a bite to eat.

12. Multnomah Falls

You will find this east of Troutdale, along the Columbia River Highway. There are two significant drops in these falls. The upper falls drop 542 feet, and the lower falls drop 69 feet.

These falls are the tallest in the state of Oregon, being 620 feet high.

If you enjoy hiking, walking, or rambling, then this must be on your list of things to do, as the area is spectacular in beauty. While there are no camping facilities, you are able to park an RV at secluded areas and stay a few days.

13. Crater Lake

When you go to Crater Lake be sure to look out for the ‘Old Man of the Lake’. It is in fact a thirty- foot tree stump which has been in the water since it was first seen in 1896. The tree stump is about 2- foot in diameter with 4 feet out of the water. You will notice that the stump has been bleached white by the weather and is splintered.

An interesting point to note is that a moss called Fontinalis which grows at a depth of 395 feet, also grows on the stump. This is the only place where the moss can be found near the surface.
Carbon dating puts the stump at 450 years old.

The ‘Old Man’ can often be seen at different places in the lake, making it seem as if he is moving around, although it has been found that the roots are in fact anchored.

While it may not take you more than an hour to see this, it is a great idea to take a picnic basket and spend a day.

14. Oaks Park

You will find this small amusement park about 4 miles south of Portland. The park is often referred to as the ‘Coney Island’ of Oregon. It is one of the oldest parks in the country which is still operational.

There are about 24 rides which are opened seasonally, and an ice skating rink which is open all the year round.

Be sure to look at the Noah’s Ark Carousel, which is the oldest wooden carousel in the state, constructed in 1912.

There is a delightful picnic area where you can have lunch on warmer days.

15. Hole in the Ground

The exact origin of the enormous crater is not known, although it is thought that it may have been partly due to volcanic eruptions. You will find it in the Fort Rock Basin, in Lake County, and it is thought to be between 13,000 and 100,000 years old.

The sides of the hole reach up to 210 feet above the land base, while the hole is almost 500 feet deep.

A point to note here is that the region is so desolate that the astronauts were taken there to do some of their training in the 1960’s.
There is an information centre at the hole, and a small café where you can get refreshments and drinks.

16. World Forestry Centre

This is located near Oregon Zoo in Portland. It was opened in 1964, with the goal being to inform people of the forests and trees of the world, and the importance of all life.
There are three sections to the centre, namely the Discovery Museum, the Magness Memorial Tree Farm, and the Johnson-Swanson Tree Farm, the latter two being working forests.

Plan to spend a full day here, there is a café where you can get lunch, before walking through the forests, and learning all about their role in conservation.

17. Astoria Pioneer Cemetery

The cemetery is found in the city of Astoria, and is dedicated to the pioneers who settled in the northwest.

You will find the cemetery on the hilltop in the neighbourhood. Because Astoria was a port city, the people who arrived there were of Swedish, Chinese, Finnish, Irish, German, and English origin. The graveyards in the area are filled with burial sites of mixed populations.

You will see the graves of some prominent leaders. Many graves were added to this cemetery as smaller cemeteries were abandoned or used to build on.

Today the cemetery is a haven of peacefulness in the busy town, it is well maintained, and may feel more like a park than a resting place for the deceased.

18. Mount Angel Abbey

You will find this Abbey near the city of Mount Angel. It is an active monastery for Benedictine monks, and was established in 1882. What is interesting is that the Abbey has its own post office, which is a post mark you will not see very often, so be sure to send a card or letter.

There is a university on site for those studying for the priesthood, and regular services, should you wish to participate.

Be sure to visit the Abbey Museum, where you will find some interesting items of taxidermy such as the calf that was born with eight legs, and the head of one of the last American Bison.

19. Kidds Toy Museum

The toy museum is to be found in Portland, right next to the family auto parts business. Frank Kidd opened the museum, to house his collection of antique toys. The museum holds over 15,000 toys, money banks, and transportation artefacts. Many of the toys date back to between 1869 – 1939.
You will find stuffed toys of all kinds from Disney characters to dolls, die cast trains and cap guns. In fact, everything a child could ever want is to be found here!

It is important that you call before arriving because it is quite small and only allows a certain amount of people in each time.

Allow a half day to see this, or longer if you have children with you.

20. Silver Falls State Park

This park is found about 20 miles southeast of Salem. It is very popular with walkers and hikers, due to the 24 miles of trails to walk along, the 14 miles of trails especially for horses, and the 4-mile path dedicated solely to cyclists.

This is the largest park in Oregon, with the Canyon Trail running along the banks of the river, and past the waterfalls.

The falls are worth seeing, as they are shaped like ampitheatres surrounding the falls, with some of the paths winding behind the water.

South Falls is the most visited area, with the fall being 177-foot high.
This is a perfect place to take an RV and stay a few nights while you explore the area.

21. Twin Rocks

These enormous rock outcrops are to be found in Rockaway Beach. They are easily found, as they are 100-foot high. They date back 25 million years and are made of..

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The state of New York is in the north-eastern part of the USA. It is the fourth most populated state in the USA. The largest city is New York City where there is a population of over 8.55 million. You will find a diverse geography here, with mountains and oceans, rivers and lakes.

There are many interesting landmarks throughout the state including some of the most visited places in the world. There are over 200 colleges and universities in the state, some of which have been ranked in the top 40 in the world.

Cuisine is vastly different in every area you visit, depending on the culture of the inhabitants. Be prepared to try different types of food, and explore the many places in the state. Don’t be afraid to ask questions – New Yorkers will gladly tell you all about their state!

1. Central Park

You will find this park in Manhattan. It covers over 843 acres and is the most visited park in the USA, drawing an amazing 40 million visitors each year. It has also been the subject of more movies than any other location in the world.

Pack a picnic lunch, or buy some local cuisine, and spend an afternoon here. Who knows who you will see! You may even get to watch a movie being made!

2. One World Observatory

This observatory is in Manhattan, and you will find it in the tallest building in the western hemisphere. The observatory is on the 100th floor, and can be reached via the ‘Sky Pod’ elevator which will get you up there in just 60 seconds.

There is an interactive tour which is highly recommended. You will be able to see videos of the building of the tower, along with learning about the history of the city.
At the top you will have a 360-degree view of the Manhattan skyline. You will find three cafes for casual snacks, small plates, and cocktails. There is also a restaurant with full dining features, although be sure to make reservations if you want to visit here.

3. 9/11 Memorial

You can visit this relatively new museum to pay tribute to the events of 9/11. The museum is dedicated to all the victims and is full of artefacts, recordings, photographs, and personal accounts of the day.

Be prepared for this to be an emotional visit, although it is one that you may want to make if you visit New York. The visit to the museum will take a half a day, although you may want to take some time to look around the area.

4. Gracie Mansion

This is the official home of the Mayor of New York City. You can take a tour of the mansion only on Tuesdays, and only at the times of 10am, 11am, 2pm, and 3pm.

Look out for the art and architecture as well as the furniture and books which are displayed. All of them reflect an important part of the history of the city.

Allow yourself a half day to do one of the tours, and see the gardens of the mansion. Keep an eye open for the mayor or his family, who do appear from time to time.

5. Empire State Building

You will find this in midtown Manhattan. It is 102 stories high, with the roof being at a height of 1,250 feet. If you include the antennae, the height is 1,454 feet high, making it the fifth tallest completed skyscraper in the USA, and it is also the 28th tallest building in the world.

There are observation decks on level 86 and 102, and these are visited by over 4 million people every year.

The building has been filmed in many movies such as King Kong, which was the first time it was filmed, in 1933. It has also been included as one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Modern World’.
You can buy your ticket online so you avoid the queues.

Plan to spend a whole day in the area, although a visit to one of the decks will only take a half day. The area has plenty to see and do, so enjoy yourself looking around.

6. National September 11 Memorial and Museum

The memorial and the museum are located at the site of the World Trade Centre, where the Twin Towers were.

Take your time looking at the forest of trees and the two square pools in the centre. This is the exact place where the Twin Towers stood. The museum and memorial were opened to the public in 2014. Over a million visitors came during the first three months, and you should be prepared to be moved when you see it.

There are private tours which are often hosted by family members or first responders.

Allow yourself a half day to see the memorial and the museum, then spend some time in the area as there is plenty to see.

7. General Ulysses S. Grant Memorial

You will find this in Morningside heights, Manhattan. It is a memorial and final resting place of General Grant, who was the 18th president of the USA. His wife Julia Dent Grant is buried close by.

There is a very informative Visitor’s Centre where staff will answer any questions you may have.

The Memorial is free to the public, but it is only open on Wednesday to Saturday. It will only take a short while to see the memorial although the area is interesting to explore.

8. Chrysler Building

This building is easily spotted, as it is a very large triangle of Art Deco architecture. It is without a doubt, the most eye-catching skyscraper in NYC.

If possible, try to visit at night time when the windows are ablaze with lights. Notice the giant eagles instead of traditional gargoyles. Look out for the relief sculpture of racing cars and chrome hubcaps.

When it was being built, there was a race for the tallest building in Manhattan. The Chrysler won the race, but was very soon relieved of that crown by the Empire State Building in 1930.

9. One World Trade Centre

You may have heard of this as Freedom Tower. You will find it in Lower Manhattan. This is now the tallest building in the western hemisphere, and the 6th tallest in the world.
The total height is 1,776 feet tall. You may notice that the height in feet (1,776) is also the year of the Declaration of Independence.

Make sure you take a camera as this is an amazing thing to see. Spend a bit of time looking around the centre, take a ride up to the observation deck and enjoy the fantastic views.

10. Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum

This is an American Military and Maritime museum which is to be found in New York City. You will find it on Pier 86 on the west side of Manhattan.

Here you will be able to see exhibits about the USS Intrepid, a Concorde SST, submarine USS Growler, and the Space Shuttle Enterprise.

The museum was opened in 1982, and is very popular with tourists. Plan to spend a full day here. There is a café where you can get lunch or snacks.

11. Statue of Liberty

While you may have seen pictures of this statue, nothing will prepare you for the sheer size of it! The statue, which is made of copper, was presented to the USA by French sculptor Bartholdi in October 1886.

The lady represents Libertas, a roman goddess. She has a torch above her head in her right hand. In her left hand she has a tablet with the date of the Declaration of Independence carved on it. At her feet, note the broken chain.

This is the first sight most immigrants see when they arrive from abroad. You can get onto the island and see the statue by taking a ferry, or one of the many cruises offered in the vicinity.

Buy your tickets online to ensure you get to see it when you want to.

Plan to spend a full day here, and be sure to take your camera!

12. Cycle along the Hudson

If you enjoy cycling, then this is a great way to see the sights along the Hudson river. Head to the west side of Manhattan. You will find cycle docking stations along the way, making it easy for you to rent one, and return it when you are finished.

The cycle path runs from north to south along the river, right at the edge. There are many cafes where you can stop for lunch, or take your own and stop wherever you please.

13. Theatre District

There are over 40 Broadway theatres in New York, and each year 13 million people visit them. Most of the theatres are in the well-known theatre district which is between 41st street and 52nd street.

Each season brings new shows and plays. Sometimes there are reruns of old favourites. The spring and fall seasons are where you will get the best deals, so be sure to check these times out. Most theatres will offer discounts at this time.

Treat yourself to a night in a hotel, then enjoy a show and a meal.

14. Times Square

Many years ago, this area was known for vice and drugs, but it has been changed and become a place where people get together. The most well-known time is New Year’s Eve, where the area comes to life, with a spectacular countdown and firework display.

If being in the midst of huge crowds does not appeal to you, then head for the Visitor’s Centre where you can see the New Year in on a smaller scale, and with a little less noise.

15. African Burial Ground

You will find this in Lower Manhattan. In 1991, at the start of a construction project, a burial ground of slaves was discovered. More than 400 caskets were uncovered, dating back to when New York had more slaves that any other US city.

There is a great Visitor’s Centre where you can learn all about that era of American-African history.

Allow a half day to look around here.

16. Liberty Island

This is the island where you will find the Statue of Liberty. It used to be called Bedloe’s Island but was renamed in 1956.

Most ferry tickets you buy will include a self-guided tour of the island. Most of these tours last about 40 minutes.

Be sure to stop in at the Information centre where you will learn about the statue and its history.

Access to the Crown is limited so if you plan on doing this, you must book in advance. You must also be able to walk up at least 146 steps in a confined space.

Plan to spend most of the day on the island, there are cafes, where you can get refreshments and snacks.

17. Bushwick Street Art

This neighbourhood is in the northern area of NYC and is historically comprised of Germanic immigrants and families. Since the late 20th century this has branched out to include Hispanic families.

If you are interested in street art, then you should plan a visit here. Empty walls seem to cry out for paint on them, and national as well as international artists have put their marks here. Look for names such as Banksy, ROA, Shepard Fairey, and Veng, to name a few.

All the walls are painted with the consent of the owners. The project, which was started by Joe Ficalora in 2012, has grown tremendously. It is called the Bushwick Collective.

Plan to spend a day here. Try to spot as many pictures as you can, and see how many names you recognise.

18. Brooklyn Brewery Tours

The brewery in Brooklyn has been making beer since 1988. They now produce a wide range of beers which you can buy in the shop.

Make sure you try a Brooklyn Summer Ale, and their Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout, which is a new addition to the range.

Make sure you check the opening times and upcoming events.

Take a tour through the brewery – they are free – and learn about how these beers are perfected. Be aware that the tours run only on Saturday and Sunday, on the hour from 1 – 5pm, 1-4 pm on Sunday.

19. Rockefeller Centre

This area is described as one of the greatest projects of the Depression period, and was declared a landmark in 1985, as well as am historical landmark in 1987. Most people associate it with the annual lighting of the Christmas tree.

There are in fact 19 buildings in the complex, which you will find between 48th and 51st street in New York City.

This area is well-known for shopping, dining, and exploring. It is also home to many amazing sculptures and paintings. You may recognise some tv shows which were filmed there such as the Today Show, and Saturday Night live.

If you enjoy ice skating, then head there for a few hours. Plan on spending full day here as there is so much to see and do.

20. City Hall

This has been the home of New York City’s government since 1812. It is the oldest city hall in the USA. An interesting point is that it is still used for the original purpose. You will find it facing the Brooklyn Bridge, in Lower Manhattan.

It is a good idea to take one of the many tours available. This will take you through the marble hall, the governor’s room, and where, for a short while, Abraham Lincoln’s coffin lay in state in 1865.

It is important that you book this tour in advance as they fill up quickly.

21. Roosevelt Island Tramway

The tramway was the first aerial tramway in the USA, having been opened in 1976. It spans The East River, connecting Roosevelt Island and Upper East Side, Manhattan.
This was one of the first..

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Are you ready for an adventure? There are so many different forms of travel: backpacking, cruises, long-term travel, etc. No two trips are the same, and each trip will provide you with unique memories and exciting adventures that you can share with your friends and family back home. Whether you are taking a trip to see family and friends for the holidays, or want to explore new countries across the world, traveling can be an enriching and memorable experience.

We have all spent hours looking at pictures of gorgeous beaches, luxury resorts, and cool road trips. Before you book, know that travel isn’t always Instagram-worthy. Flights may be delayed, you might run into scams, and you may dip into your budget more than you had originally planned. A battle with food poisoning or lost luggage can certainly put a damper on your trip. Luckily, travelers before you have gone through similar experiences and know how to avoid snafus while traveling. Do not worry; with proper planning, and the following travel tips from travel experts, you can make the most out of your travels and experience the vacation or trip of a lifetime.

Enjoy the next 50 tips for traveling, including flying, taking a road trip, traveling with children, and traveling overseas.

Tips for Planning Your Trip and Booking Accommodation
  1. Get the Best Deals on Hotel Rooms

In order to score a great deal on a hotel room, you may have to be patient, be flexible, and do your research. Travelers have many different strategies and tricks for getting the best hotel room for the lowest price. For example, booking 24-48 hours may get you a lower rate, as you’re booking during the hotel’s cancellation time frame. If you sign up ahead of time on websites that alert you of price drops, you will get an instant notification when the hotel is available at the best price. Checking in at the end of the day, and discreetly asking for a corner room, will also give you the best chance of getting an upgrade for the same price.

  1. Make Friends (And Save Money) By Staying in a Hostel

If you are a young solo traveler, staying in a hotel can get lonely. Meet fellow travelers at youth hostels, which offer cheap accommodation in private or dorm rooms. The quality of the rooms or amenities may not match a 5-star resort, but many hostels have communal areas or activities where travelers can mingle and enjoy a drink.

Hostels are (usually) not available for travelers over the age of 50, but solo travelers can meet people through a variety of websites or apps.

  1. Consider Housesitting for Free Accommodation

If you are flexible with travel dates and where you would like to stay, consider house sitting or pet sitting. There are a handful of websites that offer a subscription program in order to search and apply for house sitting jobs. Most of these jobs are in the suburbs, but if you own a car or do not mind taking public transportation, you can get a nice house or apartment with little to no cost.

  1. Check The Dates Of Your Trip For Public Holidays

Different countries have different religions and holidays that may affect your travel plans. In some cases, the rates for accommodation may be higher, or hotels will book up fast. Other holidays may affect the hours of popular tourist sites or local businesses. In some countries, religious holidays may affect the sale of alcohol. On the other hand, visiting a country or city while they celebrate a big holiday can be very enriching and make your trip more special. Plan your trip accordingly, and know what to expect when you arrive during a holiday season.

  1. Read Blogs or Visit Social Media For Inspiration

If you pop your destination into Google, you may find a handful of the same restaurants, sites, and hotels in the first page of results. Dig a little deeper and get recommendations from Bloglovin or other blogging platforms. Bloggers, especially bloggers with smaller followings, are more likely to give accurate and authentic information about what it is like to travel; if they are paid by a tour or company to promote their product, they should disclose that information throughout their blog posts.

You can also use social media to find local gems and hidden spots. Searching through Instagram by specific locations or hashtags will show you pretty sites and great restaurants that you might not find on big travel websites.

Tips for Packing
  1. Know the Weather and Culture of Your Destination Before Packing

In order to properly pack for your destination, do some research about your destination and your itinerary. Check how hot, and also how humid, the weather will be during your trip. If you are traveling during a “rainy season,” you will want to pack more breathable clothes and waterproof shoes. If you are packing for colder weather, you will have to pack layers.

Also consider the culture and dress codes of the area you are visiting. In a country like Thailand or Cambodia, you will need to cover your shoulders and knees in order to visit a temple. Sandals or shorts may also be prohibited if you want to go to a nice restaurant or bar.

  1. Choose Luggage That You Recognize

A square black suitcase can be hard to find at baggage claim, and harder to identify if your luggage gets lost. Bring a unique suitcase or backpack with bright colors or patterns. Take a picture of your suitcase before you check it, just in case it gets lost. If you do need to pack a more common suitcase, add a bright luggage tag or tie a ribbon around the handle to easily identify the bag.

  1. Pack Solid Cosmetics When You Can

If you want to limit your luggage to a carry-on, you will have to limit the amount of liquids you bring with you, including shampoos and shower gels. Purchase solid cosmetics to get through airport security without throwing anything away. If you need to pack smaller liquids, make sure they will comply with the 3-1-1 rule. These liquids should be kept in a Ziploc bag just in case they spill or burst in transit.

  1. Bring Essentials In Your Carry-On

If you are checking a bag, pack an extra outfit and your essentials in your carry-on luggage in case your checked bag gets lost.

No matter whether you are checking or carrying on luggage, don’t forget to pack the following essentials:

  • Sleep mask and ear plugs
  • Deodorant
  • Chargers for your electronics
  • Outlet converter
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug repellant
  • Reusable Water Bottle
  • Pillow case (to separate dirty and clean clothes)
  • Fabric softener sheets (to keep luggage smelling fresh)
Quick Tips: How to Pack Light

A two-week trip can be packed in a carry-on bag, if you pack light and forego unnecessary outfits. Once you have informed yourself of any special clothing items you will need for your trip, you can create your packing list.

  1. Go by the popular 5-4-3-2-1 rule: 5 Tops, 4 Bottoms, 3 Accessories, 2 Pairs of Shoes, 1 Swimsuit
  1. Never pack for more than two weeks at a time. You can always visit a laundromat if you are traveling for over two weeks.
  1. Pack clothes with neutral colors in order to mix and match outfits easily.
  1. Limit all cosmetics to carry-on size. If you are staying a hotel where shampoo, body soap, etc. will be available, leave these items at home.
  1. Leave room for souvenirs!
  1. Roll, rather than fold, your clothes in order to save space in your suitcase.
  1. Put smaller items inside your shoes. Wrap your shoes in a shower cap to prevent other items from getting dirty.
Additional Preparation
  1. Arrange Everything at Home Before You Go

If you and your family are traveling and leaving the house unoccupied, you will need to make certain arrangements to keep your pets and house safe. Alert your neighbors that you will be leaving, and let them know how long you will be gone. Hold mail or newspaper deliveries, or arrange a neighbor to bring in deliveries while you are away. You have many options when it comes to caring for your pets: you can hire a pet sitter, leave them with a trusted friend or neighbor, or drop them off at a kennel. Leave your car(s) in the garage or park them at the airport.

  1. Learn a Few Local Phrases

If English is your native language, you may not have a lot of trouble navigating big cities or popular tourist destinations. Learning a few phrases, like “thank you” or other greetings, will show that you are making an effort to respect the local culture. Learn how to pronounce the name of the street where you will be staying if you need to hop into a taxi outside of the airport or at the end of the day.

Tips for Flying
  1. Get the Best Deal on Your Flight

You may have heard this classic tip: booking your flight six weeks in advance, on a Tuesday afternoon, will give you the best price. In addition to using this time frame, refresh your browser history before you book. When airlines see that you have looked at a flight multiple times, they might jack up prices.

  1. Get to Your Flight Early for Upgrades and Deals

In order to get through airport security, you should arrive at the airport 2-3 hours before your flight boards. The earlier you get to your gate, the more chances you have of getting an upgrade. Flights may overbook and ask for volunteers who will take a later flight in exchange for a flight voucher. Other flights may allow you to checked your bags for free if the flight is fully booked.

If you are comfortable sitting in the emergency exit row, take advantage of the opportunity; you will have more leg room and be more comfortable on your flight.

  1. Prepare For Airport Security

Even if you arrive a few hours before your flight takes off, you will want to zip through airport security as fast as possible. Wear slip-on shoes or sandals that will come off easily before you go through the metal detector. Place your bag of liquids, as well as your laptop and any other electronics, in your front pocket for easy access – these need to be removed while your carry-on is checked. Leave coins at home; they’ll need to be removed too.  

  1. Avoid Jet Lag While Flying

If you are traveling across multiple time zones, you may spend the first few days of your trip with “jet lag.” Jet lag can cause serious fatigue, headaches, or stomach problems. In order to overcome jet lag, you must prepare your body a few days in advance for the time zone change. Travelers heading east should sleep and wake up earlier than normal; travelers heading west should do the opposite. Taking naps during your destination’s nighttime will also help to prepare your body before you hop on a plane. When you fly, bring a sleep mask and earplugs so you can sleep comfortably if you are flying during your destination’s night. (A sleep mask and earplugs are also worth packing if you are just going on a road trip.) Keep yourself hydrated on the flight. Drinking alcohol or caffeine will make your jet lag worse.

If your trip is only a few days long, take naps during the day to prevent jet lag when you go home. If you are traveling long-term, take it easy the first few days of travel to account for possible jet lag symptoms. Spending an extra day or two by the pool relaxing will help you get over jet lag faster, and give you energy for the rest of your trip.

Tips for Road Trips
  1. Take Your Car in For Inspection Before You Go

You’re ready for a big road trip…but is your car? Before you hit the road, take your car to a service station to perform routine maintenance and check to see that the car is running smoothly. Deflated tires, crummy brake pads, or weak batteries will increase the risk of an emergency situation when you’re on the way to your destination. Double check what your auto insurance policy covers, and buy additional travel insurance for your car if necessary.

  1. Pack Safety Gear in Your Trunk or Glove Box

If you are driving long distances, you may run into car troubles. Not all routes have gas stations and help nearby, so having a kit with emergency gear will get you through any tire blowout or stalled car.

Remember to pack the following items:

  • Flashlight
  • First aid kit
  • Blankets
  • Jumper cables
  • Seatbelt cutter
  • Roadside flares
  • Spare tire
  • Toolbox
  • Phone charger
  • Apps designed to help record and report car accidents

Packing for a road trip is different than packing for a flight. Even if you’re crossing state and international borders, you can bring food and drinks with you while you travel. Even if you have two or three drivers ready to take the wheel, having food on hand will keep everyone in the car happy and awake (when they need to be). The best non-perishable snacks for a quick energy boost include:

  • Peanut butter
  • Edamame
  • Almonds and cashews
  • Whole grain cereal
  • Trail mix
  1. Plan Your Route (And Where You Will Be Sleeping)

We all have GPS devices on our phones or in our cars, but it’s still good to be prepared with an old-fashioned map and knowledge of the routes you are taking. While you are planning your route, plan where you will be sleeping each night. Driver fatigue is involved in 100,000 roadside crashes each year in the United States alone. Hotels are available along most highways for a good night’s sleep, but do not let a tight budget deter you from getting some sleep. Campgrounds, rest stops, and some 24-hour convenience stores will allow you to sleep in your car legally, getting a quick rest before hitting the road again.

If you are planning on sleeping in your car, be sure to pack warm blankets or a sleeping bag to keep you warm in all seasons. Window tints or temporary curtains can protect all passengers while you get some shut-eye.

Staying Safe while Traveling
  1. Purchase Insurance

Whether you are traveling within your own country or internationally, travel insurance will give you peace of mind in case of any emergency. Travel insurance may cover cancelled flights, lost luggage, or medical expenses during your trip. Before you purchase insurance from a third party, talk to your current health insurance provider, and check on the warranties and insurance policies of your electronics. Knowing what is covered without travel insurance will save you money when you are picking a policy.

  1. Avoid International Fees With ATM Withdrawal

Before you travel abroad, visit your bank and discuss your upcoming travel plans. If you do not let your bank know that you are traveling, seemingly random charges in a different country will look like identity theft. The bank may shut down your card without warning.

Some cards will charge an additional fee for using your card abroad. In order to avoid these fees, take out a larger sum of money from the ATM when you arrive in the airport. Having cash on hand will help you stay within your budget; you can physically see how much money you are spending, and ration out money throughout your trip. In many countries, credit cards aren’t accepted at local businesses, so it’s smart to have cash on hand anyway.

  1. Check Your Credit Card Statement Throughout Your Trip

If you are using cash, don’t neglect your credit card statement. The longer you go without checking your statement, the longer someone can get away with stealing your information or making unauthorized purchases.

  1. Keep Money in Hidden Places

Having a large sum of cash on hand will help you budget, but may not be safe. Thieves target tourists, especially in big cities. Some of the most notorious cities for pickpockets include:

  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Rome, Italy
  • Prague, Czech Republic
  • Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
  • Phnom Penh, Cambodia
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina

In order to keep your money safe, separate your money and place them in different pockets or parts of your body. The money can go in your shoes, inside pockets, tucked in your bra, wherever you can fit it! (If you are visiting a warmer country, it may help to have a thin wallet or money holder to keep your money from smelling like sweat.)

  1. Wear a Fanny Pack (Bum Bag)

Another way to keep your valuables on your person is to wear a fanny pack. (These are called “bum bags” in England, because the word “fanny” is rather offensive and silly.) A fanny pack can be worn over or under a loose shirt or jacket. In the past, these bags have been regarded as overtly touristy and dorky, but lately, they’ve become almost trendy.

  1. Educate Yourself About Scams Before You Arrive

You will meet many loving and gracious people while you travel, but be aware that some locals may take advantage of you because you’re a tourist. Know common scams where you are heading. In general, be sure to avoid unmetered taxis and haggle for goods wherever it’s appropriate. If a cab driver tells you that your hotel, tour, or a certain tourist attraction is closed or overbooked, be cautious. Only book train or bus tickets online or inside the station, not through cab drivers.

  1. Talk to Female Staff About Traveling as a Woman

If you are a solo female traveler, some cities and countries can be especially daunting. Unfortunately, most countries still harbour a culture that makes women lesser, and women are more likely to face scams or violence if traveling alone. To stay safe, reach out to local women (including hotel staff, tour guides, or waitresses) and ask about different neighborhoods and ways to stay safe as a woman. Join Facebook groups of women travelers for additional tips and tricks; if you ask for women to go out with and travel with, you may just make a few friends. If you are flying, you will be limited in what self-defense weapons you can bring, but you can always buy a discreet form of brass knuckles or pepper spray abroad to keep you safe in case of an emergency.

Traveling With Children
  1. Combine Luggage

Traveling light is even more important when you’re with children. Once one child decides that they don’t want to wear their backpack or carry a suitcase, the domino effect will begin and you will get stuck carrying more than you bargained for. Pack light; fit your children’s day bags in your checked suitcase to consolidate. Checking less baggage will save you money and muscle strain throughout your trip.

  1. Give Them Your Phone Number and Address

If your child gets lost, they should be able to reach you through phone or by telling a stranger or security officer your name. Children who are old enough should be taught this information; children who are younger should have this information on their person. Give your child an index card with your name, phone number, address, and accommodation information so they can be traced back to you if they wander off.

  1. Check for Additional Fees

Traveling with toddlers and infants often means your little ones get free entry to parks or transportation tickets, but not always. Research additional fees that parents may have to pay for a child on your lap or entry into tourist attractions. Your children may also need identification if they are traveling, including a passport or visa.

  1. Bring Extra Activities

Young children may be face-to-face with Mickey Mouse, standing in front of the Eiffel Tower, or dipping their toes in the Pacific Ocean for the first time – and all they want to do is eat a snack or play with their toys. When they get bored during long lines or on a flight, the wait can become unbearable. Pack coloring books, games, or teething toys in your carry-on or day bag to have on hand in an instant.

  1. Take Things Slow, and Be Positive

Traveling with children is not easy, whether they are a newborn or a moody teenager. Plan your itinerary ahead of time and give yourselves extra time at each restaurant or attraction; you never know when your child will have a meltdown or you will have to change plans. Throughout your travels, remember that you will miss these days when your children are grown up. Big families with small children aren’t always treated well by fellow passengers; keep your cool. Positivity is contagious; the more calm and happy you remain around screaming or crying children, the more calm and happy your whole tour group or flight will be.

How to Avoid Getting Sick
  1. Stay Up to Date On Immunizations

If you are entering country, you may risk getting sick from the local food, water, or insects. Before you travel, research recommended immunizations for the countries you are visiting. You may have to get the immunizations two weeks before departure in order for them to work.

  1. Avoid Tap Water

Buy bottled water whenever you can. If you are at a restaurant, ask for your drinks without ice. Typically, ice that is shaped like a doughnut (round with a hole in the middle) is produced by a safe company and is okay to drink, but continue to exercise caution throughout your trip. If you are staying in a country with particularly bad tap water,..

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