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So you’ve decided to go on a trip — awesome! The decision to spread your wings and discover a new destination is exciting, but with so much to consider, the trip planning process can quickly get overwhelming. To manage it, I find that breaking the process down into concrete steps goes a long way in keeping it fun and stress-free.

To keep you from tackling everything all at once, here are nine easy steps to guide you through the trip planning process.

 

How to Plan a Trip in 9 Easy Steps

 

Step 1. Decide on a Destination

Deciding on a destination is the most important aspect of planning a trip, but with a world of options, picking just one place can be tough. First, consider your budget and the number of days you can spend. Is planning a big international trip in the realm of possibility or does sticking a little closer to home make more sense?

Also, some destinations are more expensive than others. Do a little research on a few destinations that interest you and find out what the average daily costs are.

Read more: 15 Affordable Tropical Destinations (For Every Budget)

 

Step 2. Get Inspired

Doing all the other legwork will be so much easier when you’re inspired and motivated! To help keep your interest up, use Pinterest, Instagram, or blogs to find beautiful photographs and facts about your destination. This will give you ideas for specific locations where you’d like to visit or stay.

During this step, I love creating Pinterest boards and excel Google Docs to help keep all my ideas organized and in one place.

 

Step 3. Decide When to Go

Destinations often have high seasons and low seasons. High seasons tend to have the best weather and offer the most attractions and accommodations. However, it also means crowds and often higher prices. Low seasons can give you more privacy and be more budget-friendly, but many hotels and restaurants close during that time, the weather may be less favorable, and you may miss out on seasonal events.

It depends on the destination, but I often try and book trips in the shoulder season when hotels and attractions are still open but the crowds have yet to arrive.

 

Step 4. Research Your Costs

Plan out a budget ahead of time, including possible costs for visas and required vaccinations. You can find out a lot online about prices for transportation (car rentals, buses, etc.), fares for cultural sites and nature preserves, and menu prices for restaurants you might like to visit. Once you know your financial range, you’ll be able to book and plan everything else more confidently.

You can find out more about vaccination requirements here and visa requirements here.

Read more: 25 Best Honeymoon Destinations In The World (And Where To Stay)

 

Step 5. Book Your Flight

Sites like Momondo or Airfarewatchdog let you search for the best times and prices across airlines. You can even set up fare alerts to be notified when prices for your searched flights have dropped.

In booking flights, be sure to research prices to and from both your direct destination and the surrounding area. Flights from different size airports, even if they’re close to one another, can greatly vary in price.

 

Step 6. Book Accommodation

Like the flight finders, Booking.com lets you quickly find the lowest prices and compare between accommodations to suit your needs. Airbnb is similar, though all the lodgings are owned by hosts who sign their property up to be rented by travelers, which can give it a unique and personal feel.

 

Step 7. Plan Your Activities

Now that you’ve got a way there and a place to stay, create an itinerary of what to do! You can look at sites like TripAdvisor or blogs to get ideas. Then, decide on what to do each day based on distance/travel time and level of intensity. Of course, don’t feel obligated to cram in every activity possible — time to just relax or wander is important, too!

Read more: 10 Of The Most Spiritual Places On Earth

 

Step 8. Buy Travel Insurance

Many people don’t know much about travel insurance, but it can be a lifesaver. It will cover cancellation fees, so if there’s an emergency and you can’t make your trip, you’ll recoup most of your expenses in booking your airfare and lodgings. Some plans can even help you with emergency medical expenses.

 

Step 9. Start Saving Money

Now that everything else is squared away start setting aside money with whatever method works for you, be it a savings account or a jar of cash. If you’re mindful of your spending habits and know your budget goals, you’ll be well on your way to financial security for the trip–and that much more stress-free!

If you find it difficult to mindfully save, then I recommend setting up your bank account to automatically transfer a designated amount to a savings account every two weeks or month. That way, you can save without even thinking about it!

 

Plan Your Trip

After traveling consistently for over 10 years, we’ve come to trust and rely on a few websites to help us find the best deals on flights and accommodation.

Flights: Momondo is the first place we check when searching for cheap flights. It searches hundreds of sites for the best fare and includes both standard and budget airlines. The calendar feature shows the cheapest days to fly in your preferred month of travel.

Accommodation: Booking.com offers savings on hotels, apartments, and villas in 80,000 destinations worldwide. You can browse hotel reviews and find the guaranteed best price on hotels for all budgets.

Travel Insurance: We never travel without a travel insurance policy because it’s not worth the risk! We use and trust World Nomads, which we’ve used for the past 8 years.

The post How to Plan a Trip in 9 EASY STEPS appeared first on Ordinary Traveler.

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These 20 must-read travel photography tips will ensure you take plenty of beautiful, professional-looking photos on your next vacation!

Taking great travel photos is an art that can only be honed with patience and practice. Great photos combine knowledge of composition, preparation, and an understanding of your camera, but by far the most effective elements in taking eye-catching images are creativity and putting your personality into your art.

Having been a professional travel photographer for over a decade, I’ve been in a million situations where I’ve had to draw on technical, personal, and logistical photography knowledge. Over the years, I’ve learned that a photographer’s style is constantly evolving and that sharpening skills take time and experience.

Drawing on my experience as a photographer, these are 20 travel photography tips you need to know!

 

20 Travel Photography Tips You Need to Know

 

1. Know Your Camera

Knowing the in’s and out’s of your camera and how to properly use it is incredibly important in taking great travel photos. If you have a new camera, I recommend watching some online videos about it, understanding the settings, and doing some low-stakes photoshoots at home before taking it out on the road.

Read more: How to Choose the Best Travel Camera

 

2. Scout Photo Locations

Figuring out where you want to shoot before you leave home will not only save you time on the road, but it will also be essential in getting you some great shots. To stay organized with this, I always quickly jot down the address of each location, the distance from my hotel, and a quick note about what to expect at each location.

 

3. Pack Light

Packing light for travel photography means knowing the equipment you’re going to use and making the most of each piece. While it may seem enticing to bring many lens choices and all the gadgets with you, in reality, you’ll probably only use a few key pieces of gear. Not to mention, lugging around extra heavy equipment is never fun.

Read more: The Best Compact Camera [Complete Buying Guide]

 

4. Choose the Right Lenses

Before you leave on your trip, think about the kind of situations in which you’ll be shooting. Will you be taking a lot of landscape shots? Will you need to take detailed shots from afar? Or are you more interested in street photography?

Knowing the style of photos you want to take will be essential in choosing the right lenses for your trip, and will save you from lugging around tons of lenses you’ll never use.

 

5. Shoot in the Right Mode

While using the icon modes on your camera can seem easy, in reality, shooting on modes such as sports, portraits, landscape, etc. will be limiting to your creativity.

Instead, shoot in modes such as Program (P), Aperture Priority (A), Shutter Priority (S), and Manual (M). Aperture priority mode is probably the most common of the modes among professional travel photographers, with the camera automatically setting the shutter speed, allowing you to just focus on the ISO and f-stop. From there, play around with the modes and see which one is most intuitive to you.

 

6. Don’t Overbook Yourself

Such as with traveling in general, you don’t want to overbook yourself as a travel photographer. Give yourself extra time in locations where you know you want to get great shots, and always account for lighting fluctuations, weather situations, and the timing of sunrise and sunset.

 

7. Bring a Tripod and Intervalometer

Traveling with a compact tripod and intervalometer are key components of taking photos with movement, night photography, and getting yourself in the shots. With these tools, you’ll be able to control the frame as well as how often and how many shots are taken without touching or moving your camera.

Read more: The Ultimate Packing Guide for Travel Photographers

 

8. Get Up Before Sunrise

Sunrise is my favorite time of day for photography. Waking up early will give you great light and you’ll likely have your chosen location more or less to yourself. Just remember, if you’re not a morning person, be sure to give yourself lots of time to get up and out the door.

 

9. Plan Your Dinners Around Sunset

While generally a more busy time for photography than sunrise, I recommend planning your dinners around sunset — this will give you some beautiful shots with excellent lighting.

Look up when the golden hour will be in your location, and have your photography spot picked out and ready ahead of time. If you’re worried about crowds being in your photos, then research some off-the-radar locations.

 

10. Think Outside the Box

Just because you’ve done your research about the best photo locations in your destination doesn’t mean you have to stick to the photo styles you see online. Be creative with your photos, shoot from unique vantage points, and experiment with depth of field and lighting.

 

11. Be Considerate of Locals and Private Property

Before you go on any travel shoots, think about how your presence and photography ideas will affect locals and their property. If a shooting location you’re interested in is on private property, always ask permission before you begin, and while it may be legal to take photos of people on the street if you want a specific shot of a person, it’s best to ask them first.

For the most part, I’ve found locals to be very welcoming and helpful in allowing me to take photos on their property, and asking beforehand shows respect.

Read more: The Best Cameras for Hiking and Backpacking

 

12. Back-Up Your Photos

Having a system to back-up and file your photos is super important. Personally, I back up my photos every single night after I’m done shooting for the day. I make separate folders on my computer for each of my trips and then back them up on an external hard drive.

You don’t want to risk an entire trip’s worth of photos just because of a corrupt card or a damaged hard drive.

 

13. Experiment with Different Angles

One of the easiest things you can do to create interesting images is to experiment with angles. Most photos are taken from eye level, but either getting high up or low down are quick ways to make your photos more interesting. To do this, find unique vantage points from which to take photos — get down on the ground and shoot from there, use a drone to shoot from above, and find and use guiding lines to draw the viewer’s eye.

 

14. Allow for Spontaneity

Planning out your travel photography locations in advance is a great way to ensure some great shots, but leaving room for spontaneous adventures and photos will keep your photography fun and unique.

A tip that goes hand-in-hand with not overbooking yourself, experimenting with your photography and keeping your schedule and shots spontaneous will make taking photos fun, and your trip stress-free.

 

15. Learn How to Edit

If you want to take your photos to the next level and make them look professional, then learning how to properly edit will be a game-changer.

There are many programs out there to edit photos with, but no matter which one you use you will, at the very least, want to make sure your horizon lines are straight, your colors and exposure are balanced, and that you assess your composition.

Read more: How to Take Great Travel Photos as a Solo Traveler

 

16. Choose Hotels Based on Location

As mentioned earlier, before every trip I make note of the addresses of each of the top photography locations I want to visit, and then I map out where each of them is. The easiest way to hit up all these places in the shortest amount of time is to choose a centrally-located hotel based on these locations.

I book my accommodation either through booking.com or Airbnb

 

17. Get Local Tips

While doing research to find the best photography spots beforehand is a great idea, asking the locals while you’re in your destination will give you a perspective that you wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. Locals often know the best photography spots in their hometown and they can give you tips on how to avoid the crowds.

 

18. Compose Your Shot

While there are no hard and fast rules for how you should be composing your photos, keeping in mind a few key elements will take your photography to the next level. A few ideas to consider are to follow the rule of thirds, give your photo a focal point of interest, consider symmetry, create foreground interest, and use guiding lines.

 

19. Add a Human Element

Whether you love to include yourself in your shots or take photos of other people in the area, adding a human element will keep your photos personal and relatable.

Not to mention, getting home and realizing you don’t have any photos of you on your trip can be a huge disappointment!

 

20. Be Patient

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat and waited for the weather to clear, crowds to disperse, and for conditions to get just right. Remember that sometimes the best shots take time and that it’s always worth wait.

 

 

The post 20 Travel Photography Tips You NEED TO KNOW appeared first on Ordinary Traveler.

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This guide to the 12 best small beach towns in California covers where to stay in each town, the top things to see and more!

With over 800 miles of beautiful coastline, California has its fair share of quintessential sun-soaked beach towns. Having lived in California for all of my life, I’ve had the pleasure to travel up and down this magnificent coast, visiting many of these cute towns along the way.

Most California beach towns are similar in that they have warm, inviting spirits, with friendly locals and great ocean views, but they’re all different in things to do and general atmosphere. Here are the 12 best beach towns in The Golden State!

12 Best Small Beach Towns in California (And Where to Stay) Laguna Beach

Located in Orange County, halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego, Laguna Beach is seven miles of coves and beaches that lay claim to tide pools, boardwalks, and bluffs. The town itself is known as being an art haven, with plenty of galleries and boutiques to check out.

Aside from the beach, Laguna Beach is home to upwards of 20,000 acres of pristine wilderness, which you can check out via mountain biking and hiking trails.

Where to Stay in Laguna Beach

For a budget stay in Laguna Beach, check out The Tides. It’s just a 10-minute walk from the town center and has an outdoor saltwater pool for use.

For a great mid-range option, check out Laguna Brisas Hotel. This hotel is right down the street from the beach itself and offers an outdoor pool and views of Catalina Island.

If you’re looking for something a little more upscale, the Surf and Sand Resort is for you. This hotel overlooks the ocean, gives guests private beach access, and is located in central Laguna Beach.

Read more: The Best Photography Locations in California

Capitola

Capitola is one of the oldest resort towns in California and is situated in Santa Cruz County on the coast of Monterey Bay. The town itself is incredibly picturesque with idyllic beaches and colorful buildings and is full of eclectic boutiques and restaurants.

I love visiting Capitola no matter the time of year – in the winter, it tends to be a relaxing and quiet escape, while in the summer it gets busy and has a classic California beach town vibe.

Where to Stay in Capitola

Quality Inn & Suites Capitola is a budget motel just 10 minutes from the beach. The property features free WiFi and a seasonal swimming pool

Fairfield Inn & Suites Santa Cruz – Capitola is a mid-range hotel that offers an outdoor pool and spacious suites.

Inn at Depot Hill is a beautiful 4-star B&B that’s walking distance from Capitola Beach and Wharf and features an evening wine reception and a full breakfast.

Avila Beach

A community in San Luis Obispo County, Avila Beach is a great California getaway for the whole family. In the summer, the beach welcomes concerts of all sizes, farmers markets, wine tastings, and so much more. Meanwhile, on the San Luis Pier, Fishermen haul in their daily catch – giving you the freshest seafood experience in the local restaurants.

Not to mention, the waters themselves are perfect for watersports. Because of the calm conditions, renting a kayak or paddleboard for an afternoon is super easy to do. With your kayak, definitely make a point to head to the historic Point San Luis Lighthouse!

Where to Stay in Avila Beach

Avila Village Inn is an adults-only mid-range property that offers free bike use, an outdoor swimming pool, and a gym.

Avila La Fonda Hotel is a luxury property that is home to a spa bath, fireplaces in every room, and free WiFi.

Cayucos

Located on the central California Coast on the colorful Estero Bay, Cayucos is a resort town only 30 minutes away from Hearst Castle. The town is full of Americana, and makes you feel like you’ve stepped into the Wild West, but with a beach setting. Saloons and antique shops are aplenty!

Calm waters make Cayucos an ideal spot for water sports, including swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding, and diving. If you’re into fishing, head over to Cass Wharf – a great public fishing pier.

Where to Stay in Cayucos

Dolphin Inn Cayucos is a great budget hotel less than a mile away from Cayucos State Beach.

Shoreline Inn is a mid-range property located right on the beach and offers a continental breakfast and an afternoon biscuit reception.

Pier View Suites is a boutique hotel adjacent to the beach. This is a great place to stay if you want a breezy, bungalow-style place to stay.

Read more: 15 Best Weekend Getaways in California (And Where to Stay!)

Carpinteria

Carpinteria is a small city just east of Santa Barbara that lays claim to having the world’s safest beach – Carpinteria State Beach — and to being an all-around family-friendly destination. The waves at Carpinteria are small, so while it’s not great for catching a wave, they are great for splashing around in. That said, if you are looking for a great surfing spot, one of the state’s best surfing beaches, Rincon, is just three miles southeast.

The town itself is fairly easy-going, offering many casual dining options, mom-and-pop shops, and small bars.

Where to Stay in Carpinteria

Sandyland Reef Inn is a budget-friendly stay less than a ten-minute drive from Carpinteria State Beach.

Cliff House Inn is a mid-range property offering private beach access, on-site dining, and an outdoor pool.

Fort Bragg

Located on the northern Mendocino coast, Fort Bragg, California has lived many lives. Originally a military garrison and later a lumber town, Fort Bragg is now one of the top beach destinations in the state, and for good reason. Not only is the area home to a beach full of glistening sea glass, but it also has a striking, craggy, coastline that will sweep you off your feet.

The town itself is full of cool museums – logging, train history, tattoo culture, sea glass, and marine science, to name a few – as well as great farmers markets and boutique shops.

Where to Stay in Fort Bragg

Seabird Lodge is a trusted budget option that offers an indoor pool.

Emerald Dolphin Inn & Mini Golf is a great mid-range stay in Fort Bragg. The Inn features an 18-hole mini golf course, arcade, and it’s just 1 mile away from Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens.

North Cliff Hotel is more of an upscale stay that offers a hot breakfast buffet and great views of the ocean and Noyo Bay.

Cambria

Whether you have just a couple days or a week to spend in a California beach town, Cambria and its many attractions will be sure to keep you occupied. Located halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, Cambria is home to Moonstone Beach (that’s full of glittery gemstones of all colors), wineries, the incredible Hearst Castle, a cute downtown area, coastal bluff trails, and elephant seals.

So many of these places are incredibly photogenic too, so be sure to bring your camera!

Where to Stay in Cambria

Cambria Palms Motel is a budget stay in Cambria that is less than a 10-minute walk from downtown Cambria and offers BBQ facilities.

El Colibri Hotel & Spa is a central mid-range property that is walking distance to Moonstone Beach and offers a full-service spa and wine bar.

A little more upscale, Pelican Inn & Suites features a seasonal outdoor pool and unique room décor.

Read more: Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip Guide – Everything You Need to Know

La Jolla

Nicknamed “the jewel” of San Diego, La Jolla is everything from luxury hotels and upscale shopping to casual beach vibes and gorgeous scenery. The town itself is filled with one-of-a-kind shops, fine dining restaurants, and great museums, while the beach gives way to dramatic coastline and hiking trails up to the cliffs.

La Jolla is one of the most popular beach destinations in the world and is a must on any trip to San Diego.

Where to Stay in La Jolla

The Shoal Hotel La Jolla Beach is a budget stay that features an outdoor pool and is only an 8-minute walk from Windansea Beach.

Empress Hotel is a mid-range boutique hotel that is just a 10-minute walk to the beach and is home to an Italian restaurant.

La Valencia Hotel is a luxury property that is close to the beach and provides modern rooms with an old-charm feel.

Carmel-by-the Sea

Carmel-by-the-Sea is a picturesque little town that looks as though it popped straight out of a fairy tale. Located in Monterey, the town is one-square-mile big and is full of charming restaurants, boutiques, and cafes – there are no fast food chain restaurants here.

While in Carmel, head down to Carmel Beach and stroll the scenic road, go wine tasting (the village has almost 20 wine tasting rooms!), pay a visit to the Carmel Mission, and catch some live music at Sunset Center.

Fun fact, Clint Eastwood was once the mayor and now has a restaurant here!

Where to Stay in Carmel-by-the-Sea

Carmel Oaks is a budget stay in Carmel that has free continental breakfast delivery, and is close to many shops and sites.

Hotel Carmel is a mid-range hotel right in the heart of Carmel. The hotel serves a daily continental breakfast and features a hot tub.

The Vagabond’s House Boutique Inn & Spa Studio is a 4-star property just 1-mile from Carmel Beach City Park. The hotel features a stone courtyard and unique décor in every room.

Bodega Bay

A town of roughly 1,000 people in Sonoma County, Bodega Bay is home to fishermen, shopkeepers, and creative types of all kinds. Within and surrounding the town, you’ll find fresh seafood eateries, spas, and wineries, as well as great hiking, fishing, and whale-watching spots.

Bodega Bay tends to be rather quiet and is the perfect place to go if you want to unplug and relax.

Where to Stay in Bodega Bay

Bodega Bay Inn is a mid-budget property less than a 5-minute walk to Bodega Bay and offers free WiFi.

Bodega Bay Lodge is a 4-star hotel with beautiful views of Doran Regional Park and the ocean.

Read more: 15 Best Things to Do in San Diego, California

Morro Bay

Also known as “the Gibraltar of the Pacific”, Morro Bay in San Luis Obispo County is home to an extinct volcanic peak (that juts out 567 feet above the ocean), over six miles of sandy beaches, and an eclectic array of photogenic shops and restaurants.

Morro Bay has all the elements that make a beach town spectacular, but what makes it even more so is that it tends to be much more affordable than many of the surrounding towns. It’s easy on the eyes and on the wallet!

Where to Stay in Morro Bay

Harbor House Inn is just two blocks from the waterfront and is a great budget stay in Morro.

Masterpiece Hotel is a mid-range stay just 5 minutes away from Morro Rock. This Andalusian-style motel features an indoor hot tub and a daily wine reception.

Shelter Cove

A Humboldt County hamlet, Shelter Cove is known as being the gateway to California’s Lost Coast. From Shelter Cove, you can visit Black Sands Beach, stroll the Lost Coast Hiking Trail, visit the Cape Mendocino Lighthouse, whale watch, go diving, or fish.

Of course, while there are many activities to do, rest and relaxation should also be on the menu for things to do in Shelter Cove. The town and surrounding area are so peaceful, it’s an ideal situation to unplug and be present.

Where to Stay in Shelter Cove

The Oceanfront Inn is a mid-range property offering a private beach area.

Inn of the Lost Coast is another mid-range stay located right on the beachfront and offers a hot tub and karaoke nights.

Read more: Where to Stay in San Francisco (And The Best Hotels in Each Area)

Plan Your Trip to California

After traveling consistently for over 10 years, we’ve come to trust and rely on a few websites to help us find the best deals on flights and accommodation.

Flights: Momondo is the first place we check when searching for cheap flights. It searches hundreds of sites for the best fare and includes both standard and budget airlines. The calendar feature shows the cheapest days to fly in your preferred month of travel.

Accommodation: Booking.com offers savings on hotels, apartments, and villas in 80,000 destinations worldwide. You can browse hotel reviews and find the guaranteed best price on hotels for all budgets.

Travel Insurance: We never travel without a travel insurance policy because it’s not worth the risk! We use and trust World Nomads, which we’ve used for the past 8 years.

The post 12 Best Small Beach Towns in California (And Where to Stay) appeared first on Ordinary Traveler.

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Wondering where to stay in Kauai? This detailed guide covers the top areas to stay (depending on what you want to see) and the best hotels in each one!

Choosing the best area to stay in Kauai, Hawaii completely depends on the vibe you’re looking for. While the whole island is revered for its great scenery, the South and West coasts tend to have more amenities than the lush North and East coasts, and you’ll get different atmospheres and activity options depending on where you stay.

It’s also worth noting that Kauai is also known as “the Garden Isle”, and is a lush oasis just 25 miles long and 33 miles wide, meaning you can cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time. The island is known for having some of the best, and most secluded, beaches in the state, as well as some of the most unreal views.

For every Hawaiian taste, here are the best spots to stay in Kauai!

Where To Stay In Kauai: A Guide To The Best Areas & Hotels Koloa (South Shore)

Famed for its picturesque beaches and luxe resorts, the town of Koloa is where to go if you want the ease of a resort with a historic twist. Koloa is loaded with restaurants, boutique shops, points of interest, and hotels, so if you’re looking for a place on Kauai with all the amenities within grasp, then this is for you.

While in Koloa, be sure to check out Old Koloa Town, a charming village where you can learn all about the Island’s plantation and sugar production past.

Where to Stay in Koloa

Koloa Landing Resort at Po’ipu is an Autograph Collection Hotel that offers a fitness center, floor-to-ceiling windows in the suite, and a continental breakfast. The landscape of this hotel is gorgeous!

The Lodge at Kukui’ula is a five-star property located just 4 miles from Spouting Horn and features water sports facilities and a spa center.

Read more: How to Travel Kauai on a Budget

Poipu (South Shore)

Also known as “the sunny south side”, Poipu is right next door to Koloa and is home to a string of perfect beaches with mild waters, making it the perfect place to go relax on the beach, swim, surf, snorkel, and scuba dive.

Poipu is also home to a 4-mile coastal trail that will take you straight to Mahaulepu beach. This is a must while on Kauai!

Where to Stay in Poipu

Sheraton Kauai Resort is a great mid-range option that is situated on 20 acres and features two outdoor pools.

Poipu Bed and Breakfast Inn is a highly rated spot that features an array of on-site activities, including fishing.

Shipwreck Beach (South Shore)

The shipwreck for which the beach is named may be long gone, but Shipwreck Beach’s notoriety for being one of the best beaches in Hawaii remains. The waters here are strong, so swimming isn’t encouraged, although this is a top spot for surf enthusiasts.

However, surfer or not, Shipwreck Beach is worth it for the views alone.

Where to Stay Near Shipwreck Beach

The Grand Hyatt Resort & Spa is a luxury spot that is right on Shipwreck Beach. This property features a golf course, seven restaurants to choose from, and a spa.

The Koa Kea Hotel & Resort is a boutique resort that offers furnished balconies, free Wi-Fi, and an onsite spa.

Hanapepe (Southwest Coast)

Hanapepe Town, located just west of Koloa, is the art capital of Kauai and is brimming with mid-century architecture. When you think of small-town Hawaii, Hanapepe may just come to mind, as it has been used as the backdrop to many movies, which is where it gained its fame.

Every Thursday starting at 3 pm, the town of Hanapepe hosts a farmer’s market in which local artists of all sorts open their galleries to visitors. It’s a total must when in the town.

Where to Stay Near Hanapepe

The West Inn Kauai is a few miles from the center of Hanapepe but is one of the best budget options around. This friendly hotel features barbecue facilities, and bright, colorful rooms.

Wailua (East Side)

A popular destination on the Coconut Coast, Wailua is most known for being near the Wailua River, Wailua Falls, Opaekaa Falls, and Fern Grotto. The town also has amenities such as restaurants and shops but is mostly used as starting off point to get to nearby attractions, as opposed to being an attraction in itself.

Wailua is also close to The Great Sacred Wailua (also known as the Wailua Complex), a National Landmark located along the Wailua River. This site features many sacred sites, including petroglyphs, a bellstone, and a birthstone.

Where to Stay in Wailua

The Kaha Lani Resort features fully furnished homes with private pools, sea views, and full kitchens. If you’re looking for a home away from home experience, this is the perfect spot.

Read more: How to Choose the Best Hawaiian Island for Your Vacation

Na Pali Coast (Northwest Coast)

Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park lies on the northwest edge of Kauai and is known for its sea cliffs, valleys, and waterfalls. This area may be remote, but it’s one of the most magical places in all of Hawaii. The coastline is 17 miles of beautiful shoreline and is accessible by water, foot (via the Kalalau Trail), or even helicopter.

While exploring the Na Pali Coast, you’re going to want to check out Open Ceiling Sea Cave and Waiahuakua stream, both of which are beyond beautiful.

Where to Stay on Na Pali Coast

The Princeville Resort is a luxury property set right along the Na Pali Coast that offers direct access to the beach, golf courses, a spa, and gourmet dining.

The Wyndham Bali Hai is a mid-budget condo option close to Bali Hai Beach. Each apartment has a fully equipped kitchen and living room.

Read more: The Best Way to See Kauai’s Na Pali Coast

Kapaa (East Coast)

Centrally located, the historic town of Kapaa is great if you want a local feel but still have access to a choice of shops and restaurants. In Kapaa, you’ll definitely want to hit up Coconut marketplace – a fun market full of Hawaiian souvenirs, art, jewelry, and more.

If you want to explore the great outdoors while in Kapaa, then Ho’opi’I Falls, Kealia Beach, and Kapa’a Beach Park are all great destinations. As far as accommodation goes, the area is home to many condos and vacation rentals.

Where to Stay in Kapaa

Aston Islander On the Beach is a mid-range option that features its own white sand beach, oceanfront pool, and on-site barbeque facilities. They even provide a complimentary welcome drink and live music at the pool bar!

Hanalei (North Shore)

Hanalei Town is a peaceful little town set on Kauai’s North Shore and is full of historic buildings and art galleries. While here, you’ll definitely want to head to Hanalei Pier – built in 1892, this spot is where local residents go fishing, swim, and hang out on Hanalei Bay.

Also worth checking out in Hanalei is Queens Bath, a tide pool/sinkhole surrounded by lava rock – it’s a great photo op!

Where to Stay in Hanalei

The Hale Ho’o Maha Bed and Breakfast is a highly-rated mid-budget spot just steps from the beach. This boutique B&B boasts a hot tub and a full breakfast.

Princeville (North Shore)

Located on Hawaii’s North Shore, Princeville is, at first glance, a town full of condo’s, vacation rentals, and hotels. But dig a little deeper, and you’ll find one of the most culturally-rich places on Kauai.

Princeville is home to fabulous shopping, authentic cuisine, and scenic views. For an easy stroll, check out the Princeville Path which starts at the mall and goes down Ka Haku Road – it’s only about 2 miles one way and offers great views of Namolokama Mountain and the stunning waterfalls.

Also, Princeville is arguably one of the best spots from which to view the sunset on Kauai.

Where to Stay in Princeville

The Wyndham Ka ‘Eo Kai is a mid-budget property featuring an outdoor pool, tennis courts, on-site business center, and is less than 1 mile away from the Woods Nine Golf Course.

Read more: 10 Best Places To Visit In Hawaii (And Where to Stay!)

Lihue (East Side)

Lihue is the biggest city on Kauai and is the commercial center of the island. Not only is the town home to the island’s airport, but it also has Kauai’s major commercial shopping center (Nawiliwili Harbor), Kalapaki beach, water sports, and the Wailua waterfalls.

Where to Stay in Lihue

The Kauai Inn is a great budget-friendly property that offers an outdoor pool and stunning views of the nearby Hula’eia Mountains.

Kauai Beach Resort is a 25-acre beachfront mid-budget option that features four restaurants, four swimming pools, and a waterslide.

Plan Your Trip to Kauai

After traveling consistently for over 10 years, we’ve come to trust and rely on a few websites to help us find the best deals on flights and accommodation.

Flights: Momondo is the first place we check when searching for cheap flights. It searches hundreds of sites for the best fare and includes both standard and budget airlines. The calendar feature shows the cheapest days to fly in your preferred month of travel.

Accommodation: Booking.com offers savings on hotels, apartments, and villas in 80,000 destinations worldwide. You can browse hotel reviews and find the guaranteed best price on hotels for all budgets.

Travel Insurance: We never travel without a travel insurance policy because it’s not worth the risk! We use and trust World Nomads, which we’ve used for the past 8 years.

The post Where To Stay In Kauai: A Guide To The Best Areas & Hotels appeared first on Ordinary Traveler.

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This detailed guide to the best camping and backpacking tents covers it all — waterproof tents, tents for families, couples, solo travelers and more!

Choosing the best camping or backpacking tent for your needs is crucial in keeping you safe and comfortable in the great outdoors. Qualities of a great tent, no matter the circumstance, are durability, easy pitching, and smart use of living space. These qualities should be non-negotiable in your search for a tent.

Whether you’re heading out on the hiking trail or camping for a weekend with friends and family, we’ve compiled the best camping and backpacking tents on the market.

Best Camping & Backpacking Tents 2019 Best Waterproof Tents

 
Night Cat Waterproof Camping Tent

Featuring waterproof oxford fabric, waterproof tape on the seams, and a waterproof tarp on the bottom, the Night Cat tent is one of the most rain and condensation-proof options on the market. Not to mention, the fiberglass poles, pegs, and strong ropes keep this tent stable in heavy winds.

This tent is roomy for two adults, and its hydraulic pressure system means that you can put it up in less than a minute.

 
NTK Arizona GT

A roomy tent that can fit a family, the NTK Arizona GT is also incredibly waterproof. The tent features a full-coverage rainfly, double layer laminated polyester, and large mesh vents for added ventilation.

Additionally, the heavy-duty floor material is bathtub-style and anti-fungal, meaning you’ll stay dry and clean throughout even the dewiest of nights.

 
Bessport Camping Tent

A two-person tent, the Bessport tent’s seam-taped construction, welded floor design, and full-coverage rainfly means that not a drop of water will be able to seep inside.

This freestanding tent is also very breathable, with ventilating mesh walls, large bug-proof windows, and zippered micro-mesh doors.

Read more: 20 Genius Camping Hacks Every Camper Should Know

Best One-Person Tents

 
Paria Bryce Ultralight Tent

With a weight of only 2lbs, 15 oz., the Bryce Ultralight Tent is a great one-person option. The tent comes fully-featured with two-way inner and outer zippers, a rainfly, three stuff sacks, mesh pockets, a back ventilation system, a pole repair splint, taped seams, and waterproofing.

 
ALPS Mountaineering Lynx 1-Person Tent

The highly-rated Alps Mountaineering Lynx single person tent is perfect for those who want an easy-setup and lots of pockets. The tent is freestanding, has mesh walls for ventilation, and the fly and seams are sealed to keep moisture out.

Not to mention, it’s one of the most affordable single-person tents you can buy!

 
Winterial Single Person Bivy Tent

Another extremely lightweight tent, the Winterial Bivy Tent weighs only 3lbs, 3oz., comes with roof mesh for ventilation and a zippered door for easy access. This single-person option also has pre-sealed seams for extra waterproofing, three bundles of cord, and 14 heavy-duty stakes.

Read more: The Best Cameras for Hiking and Backpacking

Best Tents for Couples

 
Paria Zion Lightweight Tent

An affordable ultralight option, the Paria Zion 2 Person tent is durable with mesh vents, vestibules, and packs down very small. It comes with its own footprint and gear loft, and altogether the configuration weighs in at a little over 4 lbs.

 
Mountainsmith Morrison 2

A highly rated camping tent option, the Mountainsmith Morrison 2 is a two-door, three-season, two-person tent with attached vestibules for storage. The interior space comes in at 35 square feet, while the vestibule adds on an additional 17 square feet.

The tent has a freestanding design with a color-coded system for easy setup, durable shock-corded aluminum poles, and mesh end walls and fly windows for ventilation.

 
Kelty Grand Mesa

With two to six person size options, the Kelty Grand Mesa is an excellent three-season affordable tent. With one door, one vestibule, and two aluminum poles, the tent still comes in at less than 5lbs for the four-person option.

The tent also features a freestanding design, internal storage pockets, gear loft loops, a D-shaped door, and compact folding poles. The tent’s mesh body makes for great ventilation, and the 7000 series aluminum poles are highly durable.

Read more: The Ultimate Camping Packing List

Best Tents for Families

 
Coleman Weathermaster Tent

A great family camping tent, the Coleman Weathermaster is a great mid-budget option with six or ten person sizes. The tent features a screened porch to use for either relaxing or additional space, a rainfly and meshed roof, snag-free poles, and a strong steel frame.

 
The North Face Wawona 6

With room for six people, high ceilings, and great ventilation, the North Face Wawona 6 is perfect if you prioritize comfort and are looking for a home away from home. The tent is regarded as being very easy to set up and take down, very durable, and especially waterproof.

In addition to interior pockets for additional storage, the tent comes with a massive porch that will easily fit two adult chairs and a small table.

 
CORE 9P Instant Cabin Tent

An all-around great tent, the CORE Instant Cabin tent features a no-fuss instant setup – meaning you can spend more time enjoying your surroundings and less time worrying about pitching your tent.

The tent is also perfect for families or large groups, as it sleeps nine people and features a room divider, wall storage pockets, a rain fly, tent stakes, and an electrical cord access port. Not to mention, the tent is waterproof and the unique adjustable venting system circulates warm, damp air out of the tent to keep you and your belongings dry.

Read more: 10 Best Free Campgrounds in Northern California

Best Backpacking Tents

 
River Country Trekker 2

Whether you’re using the tent to shelter one or two people, the River County Trekker Tent 2 is a highly-rated, ultralight tent weighing in at just 2lbs, 12 oz. A great 3-season tent, it is easy and quick to set up is highly compact (it packs down to about the size of a football), and comes with eight ultra light aluminum stakes. The tent also features a two-layer door with an interior mesh layer to provide ventilation.

However, keep in mind that while the tent doesn’t come with trekking poles, it can be set-up with almost any stick that is over 42 inches or can be tied between two trees.

 
Naturehike Cloud-Up

The Naturehike Cloud-Up is a very lightweight, affordable tent with one, two, and three-person options, The tent is made with anti-scratch nylon mesh, has a water-resistant guarantee, is free-standing, and 4-season.

 
Nemo Hornet Ultralight

A great tent for extreme minimalists, the Nemo Hornet Ultralight comes with light, but durable, poles, a tub floor construction, and light pockets on the ceiling to use with your headlamp.

This one person, three-season tent also features a large door, two vestibules, color-coded guylines, stakes, and a repair kit.

Read more: Best Places to Camp in Big Sur – Big Sur Camping Guide & Local Tips

What to Look for in a Tent

Ventilation

Ventilation is important whether you’re camping or backpacking, but especially so when you’re sharing the tent space with another person. Having mesh atop your tent is great for ventilation, but be sure to take note of what kind of ventilation is equipped within your rain fly.

Living Space

When looking for a camping tent, living space is an important aspect to consider. Space within tents is generally hard to measure, as pole angling and tent construction play such big factors in the overall room, but when considering floor space, you’ll want at least 25 inches of width and 80 inches of length per person.

  Durability

There’s nothing like heading out on a trip and finding that your tent has a rip or snag. Make sure that the materials of the tent are strong, the poles are made of tough aluminum, and that the seams are tight.

Canvas and cotton tents are always safe bets as they insulate well, but it’s also important to keep the brand reputation and reviews in mind.

  Doors

If you’ll be sharing a tent with someone else or even multiple people, then purchasing a tent with more than one door is something to consider. In backpacking tents, more than one door generally equates to more weight, but when weight isn’t an issue as in most camping situations, more than one door will keep you and your tentmates from crawling over each other every time you need to leave the tent.

  Footprints

Footprints add a waterproof layer between the bottom of your tent and the ground, so if you want to keep your tent in good condition and have it for years to come, make sure to either choose a tent that comes with a footprint, or buy one separately.

Weight

For anyone carrying the weight of their belongings entirely on their back, having gear that is lightweight is super important. For backpackers, every ounce counts – from food and utensils to tents and sleeping bags. Ultralight tents tend to be more expensive than regular tents, but this style packs more punch when it comes to comfort.

  Storage

Storage is important when considering a backpacking tent. Many tents come with either indoor or outdoor vestibules that will allow you to stash away your backpack for a night, so try to get one with this feature. Additionally, make sure these vestibules come in the right size for your gear.

  Seasonality

Another factor to consider is how many seasons your tent is useful for. Many tents are usable for three seasons, but if you’re interested in camping during winter, then definitely invest in a tent that is built for that specifically.

The post Best Camping & Backpacking Tents in 2019 (In-Depth Buying Guide) appeared first on Ordinary Traveler.

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Whether you stay in Oia or Imerovigli on the island of Santorini depends on what you want to get out of your visit. Here are pros and cons of both towns!

The Greek island of Santorini is one of the most beautiful destinations in the world, and also one of the most popular. One of the Cyclades Islands set in the Aegean Sea, Santorini is about 28 square miles in size and has a local population of roughly 15,000 spread out over multiple towns and villages — most notably Fira, Imerovigli, Oia, Emporia, Pyrgos, and Perissa.

During my time on Santorini, I had the opportunity to stay in both Imerovigli and Oia, two of the most iconic and picturesque towns on the island. Oia, located at the northwestern tip of the island, and Imerovigli, just south of Oia across a small bay, are similar in that they’re historic and set along the rim of the crater (the caldera), yet they have very distinct personalities.

After spending time in both towns, I learned the pros and cons of staying in both Oia and Imerovigli. My personal favorite of the two towns is Imerovigli, but I’ll let you decide based on the pros and cons of each. Here’s what you need to know before you go!

Where to Stay in Santorini: Oia or Imerovigli? Imerovigli

Located only two kilometers away from the capital of Fira, Imerovigli is the perfect oasis if you want a peaceful and relaxing vacation spot. The town is home to just 500 locals and is at the highest and most central part of the caldera, offering unreal views of the Aegean Sea below.

During my time in Imerovigli, I stayed at Iconic Santorini – a stunning boutique cave hotel that is perfect for a romantic getaway. The luxury hotel, like so many buildings in the area, is carved directly into the hillside and provides a serene, welcoming setting.

Pros of Staying in Imerovigli Easy Access to Both Sides of the Island

Due to its relatively central location, if you’re looking for a great spot from which to check out both sides of the island, Imerovigli is the place to be. Getting from the west to the east side of the island makes for a great day hike or, if you want to explore a little further than that, ATV’s and scooters are easily rentable.

Amazing View

Without a doubt, Imerovigli is home to the most unreal views of the caldera and some of the best photography spots on the island. Not to mention, its high elevation and west-facing facade mean it’s one of the best locations on the island from which to watch the sunset (it’s my personal favorite).

Read more: Best Compact Cameras (A Complete Buying Guide)

Peaceful Atmosphere

Compared to the bustling nature of Oia, Imerovigli is a quiet, peaceful getaway. I found it to be a great place to relax and recharge my batteries while still having tons of sites to see and things to do.

Staying at Iconic Santorini is right on the cliff so it feels remote, even with the other cliffside hotels nearby. Each room at Iconic Santorini has its own private outdoor area where they serve a gorgeous breakfast every morning and where I spent the bulk of my time. Most rooms have their own private outdoor plunge pool. My room had its own cave pool INSIDE my room, which felt like the ultimate luxury.

The best part about Iconic is that they rarely, if ever, allow the hotel to book at full capacity because they really want people to feel like they have the place to themselves — which I often did.

Perfect For a Couples Getaway

Due to its chill atmosphere, Imerovigli is well-known as being the perfect place for a romantic getaway on Santorini. Think long strolls through town, peaceful hikes, sipping on wine, and luxurious spa treatments.

Read more: The Most Romantic Places To Propose in the World (And Where to Stay!)

Greek Hospitality

I found the Greek Hospitality to be much more pronounced in Imerovigli than in Oia, perhaps somewhat due to the much lower number of tourists found there. The meals at Iconic Santorini felt like I was welcomed into someone’s home, rather than a hotel restaurant. They literally cater to your every need.

Cons of Staying in Imerovigli Less Entertainment Options

Due to Imerovigli being the quieter location of the two, there is less of a selection of local performances and nightlife spots. That said, Imerovigli is super close to Fira, which has a ton of entertainment options from which to choose.

Read more: 25 Best Honeymoon Destinations In The World (And Where To Stay)

Not As Social

In line with the lack of entertainment options, if you’re looking to meet other travelers and have a social experience, you might have more difficulty in Imerovigli than in Oia. That’s not to say you won’t have genuine experiences with locals and see other travelers in Imerovigli, it’s just that Oia attracts more people and has a more outgoing environment.

Oia

Located on the northwestern edge of Santorini, Oia extends along the edge of the caldera and is famed for its blue and white houses. The homes and businesses in the town are built into the steep slope of the hill, and narrow passages guide the way throughout.

Oia is also one of Santorini’s biggest tourist hotspots, and the paths of the town tend to get very busy during the main and shoulder tourism seasons. I have to say, despite thinking Oia would be my favorite spot on the Island, I found the crowds to be a bit much at times – so definitely take this into consideration if you travel there during tourism high times.

Pros of Staying in Oia More Shops and Restaurants

Oia is home to a ton of shops and restaurants from which to choose, so if you want to try out different styles of cuisine and do some shopping, Oia is your best bet.

More Hotel Options

Whether you’re looking for a boutique hotel or a cute bed and breakfast, you’ll have tons of options to choose from in Oia. That said, Oia does tend to be more expensive than elsewhere on Santorini, so if you want to stay in Oia on a budget, I recommend looking at hotels just a little outside the main town.

Read more: The Most Durable Checked Luggage [Buying Guide]

Iconic Photo Spots

When people think of Santorini, they’re probably conjuring up an image of Oia in their minds due to the iconic photography locations there. For some great shots, head to Oia Castle at sunset, head to the three blue domes, and spend some time wandering around.

Good Nightlife

If you’re looking to take in some performances or experience the local nightlife, then Oia is the place to be (next to Fira, that is). Whether you’re into romantic bars or beach hangouts, there’s a nightlife spot for you.

Cons of Staying in Oia Congestion

As mentioned above, before I went to Santorini I thought Oia was going to be my favorite village on the island. Don’t get me wrong, Oia is indeed an incredibly beautiful place, but I found the crowds of tourists to be overwhelming and it took away from my overall experience.

If you plan on staying in Oia, I recommend going during the off-season or simply brace yourself for the mayhem.

Read more: 10 Of The Most Spiritual Places On Earth

More Expensive

Due to the tourist rush that Oia often experiences the prices are generally higher than those in Imerovigli. While there are ways to stretch your budget in Oia, know that you’ll have to shell out a bit more than if you stayed elsewhere.

Plan Your Trip to Santorini

After traveling consistently for over 10 years, we’ve come to trust and rely on a few websites to help us find the best deals on flights and accommodation.

Flights: Momondo is the first place we check when searching for cheap flights. It searches hundreds of sites for the best fare and includes both standard and budget airlines. The calendar feature shows the cheapest days to fly in your preferred month of travel.

Accommodation: Booking.com offers savings on hotels, apartments, and villas in 80,000 destinations worldwide. You can browse hotel reviews and find the guaranteed best price on hotels for all budgets.

Travel Insurance: We never travel without a travel insurance policy because it’s not worth the risk! We use and trust World Nomads, which we’ve used for the past 8 years.

The post Where to Stay in Santorini: Oia or Imerovigli? appeared first on Ordinary Traveler.

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These 10 must-read tips will tell you everything you need to know about driving in New Zealand along with important rental car booking tips!

Renting a car and going on a road trip is the ultimate way to experience New Zealand. Not only will hiring a car allow you to step away from the well-worn path of bus routes, but it will also allow you to explore on your own time and in your own style.

To rent a car in New Zealand, all you’ll have to do is hold a valid English-language drivers license (or an international one depending on what country you’re from) and be at least 21 years old. From there, the highway is the limit!

Renting a Car in New Zealand: 10 Tips You Need to Know Book in Advance

Booking in advance is highly recommended if you want guaranteed availability, your choice of vehicle, and the best possible rate. Discovercarhire.com has many options for car types and rates, and securing your booking in advance will ensure that you get a great deal.

Also, remember that car rental prices are often based on demand, so if you travel to New Zealand during peak season (December through February) booking ahead is a must. Then, once you have your car booked, think about what gadgets you’ll want to bring with you on your road trip. Personally, I always have a car adapter and a car charger for my phone with me.

Drive on the Left

If you’re used to driving on the right-hand side of the road, then the thought of driving on the left can be stressful. This is definitely something that will take a while to get used to, but there are some key things you can do to make the drive easier.

Get an Automatic Transmission

Even if you’re comfortable driving a standard transmission vehicle back home, I recommend renting an automatic car abroad. Not having to think about shifting will help you to stay alert in other areas.

Do a Test Run

If possible, don’t jump right from the rental lot into city driving – take it slow and head out to some back roads or practice driving in a large parking lot first. This will help orient you with your vehicle and get a feel for it before you hit the streets.

Remember the Roundabouts

If you’re not used to them, roundabouts can be stressful, and more so when you’re driving on the other side of the road. When entering a roundabout, take your time and remember to enter it clockwise.

Read more: The Most Durable Checked Luggage Buying Guide

The Roads Are Narrow & Windy

When considering the size of your rental, keep in mind that the roads in New Zealand tend to be narrow and windy. Due to this, I recommend booking a smaller vehicle that you feel comfortable controlling – just make sure it’ll fit your luggage!

Get Insurance

Car insurance is a must when renting a vehicle, and especially so when you’re renting out of country. Discovercarhire.com offers a standard collision damage waiver included in all rentals as well as the option for full coverage – meaning you can breathe easy knowing you’re fully covered in case something happens.

The full coverage option comes at an affordable price, covers towing expenses, and is fully refundable in case you decide to cancel your trip. Full coverage is a great option for those who want peace of mind during their vacation. It’s less expensive than insurance provided by a supplier and it’s easy to place a claim.

Read more: New Zealand Travel Tips

Stay Aware of Speed Limits

Due to the narrow and windy nature of the roads in New Zealand, the speed limits tend to change often. Even if you start to feel confident with your driving over time, it’s much better to just go slow and let people pass you.

The scenery here is so beautiful anyway, you won’t want to be in a hurry and try to cover too much distance in one day!

Read more: 25 Best Honeymoon Destinations In The World (And Where To Stay)

Watch for Animals on the Road

A lot of New Zealand is wild, unbridled territory, and so the chances of encountering animals on the road such as possums, sheep, birds, rabbits, and cows are pretty high. Plus, they tend to jump on the road at the last minute.

Stay alert for animals, especially the larger ones, and keep a speed in which you feel comfortable and in control of your car in case one of them darts out.

One Way Signs on Bridges

Some bridges in New Zealand are single lane and, at these bridges, vehicles traveling in one direction will have to yield to vehicles traveling in the other. All bridges that have one-lane roads will have a yellow diamond-shaped warning sign to let you know the situation, as well as a sign underneath letting you know if you have the right of way or not.

If you see a circular sign with a red border with “give way” beneath, it means the other vehicles have the right of way, while if you see a blue square sign with a white arrow pointing forward and a red one pointing back, it means that you have the right of way.

Just make sure there isn’t already a vehicle coming towards you on the bridge before you drive forward!

Use of Cell Phones is Illegal

Whether you’re at home or abroad, never use your cell phone while driving. The use of one not only puts you and others at risk for an accident, but it’s illegal to use them and will result in a fine and demerit points.

For the wellbeing of yourself and others, stash the phone or give it to your passenger.

Read more: How to Be a More Responsible & Eco-Friendly Traveler

The Weather Can Change in an Instant

The weather in New Zealand is notoriously fickle, and knowing how to drive in different environments will help you a lot on your road trip. Be ready for all types of weather on the road, especially in southern New Zealand where the conditions can change on a dime.

Also, make sure to download a weather app on your phone and know what conditions you’re heading into before you start to drive.

Use Offline Maps

To save you from worrying about cell service or using up all your data, download maps of the areas in which you’ll be traveling beforehand. To do this from Google Maps, make sure you have WiFi, then simply open the app, open “offline maps” in the search menu, and download either a local or a custom map.

Of course, you can always pick up a paper map for your road trip as well – they double as souvenirs!

Plan Your Trip to New Zealand

After traveling consistently for over 10 years, we’ve come to trust and rely on a few websites to help us find the best deals on flights and accommodation.

Flights: Momondo is the first place we check when searching for cheap flights. It searches hundreds of sites for the best fare and includes both standard and budget airlines. The calendar feature shows the cheapest days to fly in your preferred month of travel.

Accommodation: Booking.com offers savings on hotels, apartments, and villas in 80,000 destinations worldwide. You can browse hotel reviews and find the guaranteed best price on hotels for all budgets.

Travel Insurance: We never travel without a travel insurance policy because it’s not worth the risk! We use and trust World Nomads, which we’ve used for the past 8 years.

Pin it!

The post Renting a Car in New Zealand: 10 Tips You Need to Know appeared first on Ordinary Traveler.

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Make self-care and holistic wellness practices a priority on your travels with these ten simple must-read tips and tricks!

Travel is an awesome form of self-care and wellness. Not only can it be an opportunity for relaxation, travel gets you out of your comfort zone and trying new things, it exposes you to different ways of life, and it helps you rediscover your adventurous self.

However, just because travel can be a form of self-care doesn’t mean that it doesn’t come without stress and chaotic moments. Sometimes, because of all the new experiences and being on the go, sticking to a wellness and self-care routine takes extra effort.

So far on my wellness journey, I have discovered a few things that help keep me healthy in body, mind, and soul. Here are my best tips for practicing wellness and self-care while traveling!

10 Wellness and Self-Care Tips for Travelers Bring a First Aid Kit

Traveling with at least a basic first aid kit is a must to keep you physically healthy on the road. However, in addition to the standard bandages and creams found in any first aid kit off the shelf, I recommend carrying along some alternative items as well.

I always have a pack of activated charcoal tablets in case of any digestion issues, small bottles of handy essential oils (such as lavender for sleeping, eucalyptus for headaches, and tea tree oil for any cuts or scrapes), and Vitamin C and ginger to fend off sickness.

Meditate

Travel can be hectic, and it’s common to feel overwhelmed by the constant stimulation and alertness that it often brings. Even a quick ten minute meditation a day will help you to feel grounded and energized for adventures to come.

The beauty of meditation is that you do it almost everywhere — from airplanes, to hotel rooms, to hikes, and beyond. Just grab a pair of noise-cancelling headphones, download a few of your favorite guided meditations or nature sounds, and enter the zen.

Read more: How Ayahuasca Changed My Life

Take Probiotics

To help avoid any stomach issues on the road, I recommend regularly taking a probiotic before and during your trip. In a nutshell, probiotics provide your gut with healthy bacteria that guard against imbalances commonly caused by travel, changes in diet, and stress.

While there are probiotics in foods such as yogurt and kefir, for a more travel-friendly solution you can also find them in tablet form.

Stay Active

The benefits of exercise on both mental and physical health are well known, but depending on the type of trip you’re on, making a point to stay fit on the road tends to take some extra effort. Whether you take a walk around your destination, go on a hike, use your hotel’s gym facilities or pool, or try out a fun new activity, make sure that you get in some movement every single day.

Spend Time in Nature

I find that being engaged in nature, whether I’m at home or traveling, helps keep me happy and energized in ways that spending a lot of time indoors or in big cities do not. No matter where I go, I always try to make time to do a nature-based activity such as taking a walk, kayaking, or just sitting and breathing.

For added zen, take off your shoes and dig your toes into the dirt — this will help you feel instantly connected to your location and the earth.

Read more: The Best Travel Backpacks (For Every Budget)

Journal

Keeping a journal on the road is something I find not only beneficial to remembering details about my trip, but also awesome as a form of emotional release. When I write out my daily thoughts related to my trip, I work through how I really feel about situations, and come out stronger and more centered because of it.

If you’re not into writing, then use time in the day to do some other non-digital creative activity that you love, such as drawing, playing a small instrument, or knitting.

Pack Healthy Snacks

No matter where I’m headed, I always make sure to pack some healthy snacks in my bag before I depart. I do this not only because going long stretches of time without eating is uncomfortable and unhealthy, but because grabbing a sugar-packed muffin (or similar) at the airport or continental breakfast ends up making me crash.

Healthy snacks fuel your body, keeping you energized and on the go.

Drink Plenty of Water

Not only does not drinking enough water wreak havoc on your skin and energy levels, it can set you up for dehydration — which feels pretty terrible and will stick a wrench into your travel plans.

If you’re traveling to a place that doesn’t have drinkable fresh-water, then grab a reusable water bottle and a small water filtration device, and drink on the go.

Read more: Top 12 Vegan-Friendly Travel Destinations

Keep a Routine

By its very nature, travel will upset whatever routines you have set for yourself at home, but that doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate at least some of it into your travel schedule. Making a point to stick to some of your favorite routine elements will help keep you balanced and feeling better to tackle the day.

If your home routine involves having a solitary cup of coffee or tea in the morning before you start your day, then do that. Or, if you often take ten minutes in the afternoon to sit back and read, then there is no reason you can’t do that while traveling too.

Get Pampered

Just because you’re traveling doesn’t mean you can’t carve out some time for a little TLC. Book yourself in for a manicure and pedicure, spend a day at a spa, or treat yourself to a massage. Depending on where you go, you might just find these services are a lot less expensive than they are at home!

Wellness Travel Packing Essentials

Essential Oils: This essential oil starter pack is awesome to prepare yourself with the basics.

Water Bottle: In order to stay hydrated on the road, I always pack my Nalgene water bottle, and if i’m heading somewhere without drinkable tap water, a water filter as well.

Yoga Mat: A travel yoga mat is awesome for doing yoga, meditating, or simply stretching. Plus, they pack small!

Medications: In addition to a first aid kitGinger Root, Vitamin C, Probiotics, and Activated Charcoal tablets are great for keeping yourself healthy on the go.

The post 10 Important Wellness and Self-Care Tips for Travelers appeared first on Ordinary Traveler.

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These expert packing tips will have you choosing the best luggage, packing for more than one climate, keeping your bag as light as possible, and more!

There is an art to efficiently packing a suitcase. Personally, after years of travel wins and mishaps, I’ve nailed down a routine and have discovered the best packing techniques for all scenarios.

All of this trial and error has taught me how to deal with, and avoid, broken luggage, disorganized compartments, and accidentally leaving key items at home. My years on the road have also taught me how to travel super light; both by going carry-on only and by packing just the essentials.

Packing Tips Every Traveler Needs To Know – How To Pack Like a Pro Choosing Your Bag

The first step in packing like a pro is to choose the perfect bag. What kind of luggage to bring is a decision that depends not only on the length of your trip but also the type of trip. For example, business travelers might prefer a small, sleek bag that they can easily shove into a carry-on compartment, while long-term travelers might go for a large, heavy-duty backpack.

Also, if you’re someone who tends to overpack or who likes to buy souvenirs, then I suggest purchasing either a soft shell bag or a hard shell with expandable features. Conversely, if you want to ensure that your belongings stay safe and that you stick to a small number of items, then a standard hard shell is the way to go.

Read More About Choosing The Perfect Bag:

The Best Carry-On Luggage For Every Budget

The Most Durable Checked Luggage in 2019 [Buying Guide]

The Best Luggage Brands and Tips For Choosing the Right One

The Best Travel Backpacks for Every Budget

Always Start With a Packing List

No matter where you’re headed, starting your packing with an informed list is a great way to keep yourself organized. Every destination and situation requires a unique packing job, and using lists will make sure you pack destination-specific items that you might not have otherwise thought to bring. Even after all my travel experience, I still use packing lists for peace of mind.

Check Out Some of Our Packing Lists:

Ski Trip Packing List (Must-Have Essentials!)

The Ultimate Packing List for Campers

The Ultimate Road Trip Packing List

Women’s Packing List for Europe

What to Pack for a Winter Trip to Canada

How to Pack for a Sailing Trip

Tips for Packing Light

Choose a Smaller Bag

The key to packing as light as possible is to limit your space. Choosing a smaller bag will not only ensure you have less stuff to keep track of, but it will also help keep the luggage weight to a minimum.

Buy a Travel Scale

If you tend to go overboard with weight restrictions, then I highly recommend a cheap travel scale. I can’t tell you how many times having a scale with me has saved me from overweight baggage fees.

Wear Your Heaviest Items

If you’re concerned about overweight baggage fees then put on your heaviest bulky items for the plane ride. Planes tend to be chilly anyway, so wear your sweaters and bulky shoes.

Don’t Pack Full-Sized Toiletries

Unless you’re headed on a multi-month long trip, chances are you won’t use the bulk of your toiletries. Instead of bringing them along (and risking a leak in your bag), put your shampoo, conditioner, and body wash into smaller, reusable containers (we love these ones).

Alternatively, try out the solid form of your favorite products. Not only will bringing along solid shampoo, conditioner, and toothpaste save you from accidental spills, they’ll last you a lot longer as well.

I should also note that if you’re traveling through Europe or the United Kingdom with a carry-on only, make sure you have their specific ziplock bag sizing for liquids. Many airports in Europe can be very strict and you don’t want to end up throwing away your favorite (and often expensive) hair care and lotion items.

Choose a Color Theme

If you want to get high versatility with a limited amount of clothing, then I suggest picking a color palette and only bringing clothes in that theme. This way, you can mix and match your clothing without worrying about the colors clashing.

Read More About Packing Light:

Packing Light: How To Pack For Carry-On Only


 

How to Pack for 2 (Or More) Climates in One Bag

Be Strategic with Layers

Layers will be your best friend when packing for more than one climate. Make sure to bring tank-tops, t-shirts, light cardigans, and leggings or tights that you can easily take off or layer on when the climate changes.

Avoid Bulk

If you’ll be going from a warm climate to a cold one, then, if possible, I’d suggest leaving the bulky sweaters at home. Sticking to light, yet warm, fabrics (such as thermals) will help you save space in your bag and will give you more outfit options. Additionally, if you need to bring a warm winter jacket on your trip, try to find one that is packable and that compresses down to a small size.

Bring Versatile Items

In keeping your item list to a minimum, it’s smart to pack things that can be used in more than one scenario. For example, bring a scarf along with you that can act as a neck warmer, light shawl, blanket, or accessory.

Additionally, take stock of the shoes you plan on wearing. Do you have a pair that will take you from a warmer climate straight into a colder one? If you do, then bring those, but if not, then I suggest packing one pair for the warmer climate, and one for the colder.

Packing In Advance

Every time I pack for a trip, I start thinking about my packing list about a week in advance. Then, I take out my bag, and over the week leading up to my trip, I slowly put things in it that I know I don’t want to leave behind. That said, I do the final clothing pack in the final two days before my departure.

If it’s a longer trip, or if you know that there are things you don’t want to forget to bring, then packing a few days ahead of time is the way to go.

How to Keep Your Luggage Organized

Use Packing Cubes

Packing cubes are a total suitcase organization game changer. They compartmentalize all your clothes into their own spaces, keeping your items separate and easy to find.

Roll Your Clothes

Within the packing cubes, I highly recommend rolling, instead of folding, your clothes. Rolling your clothes makes finding a specific item a breeze and cuts down on space.

Keep Toiletries Within Reach

Whenever I take a larger bag on a trip, I always make sure to keep my toiletry bag on top and within easy reach. Doing this gives me easy access to the items that will help me feel refreshed after a long flight, such as my toothbrush and cleanser.

Have a Bag for Laundry

Is there anything worse than having your dirty clothes rolling around with your clean ones in your luggage? Having a designated laundry bag (this inexpensive packing cube kit comes with a laundry bag) is essential in keeping your clean clothes fresh, and knowing where your dirty ones are when it comes time for laundry day.

Essential Items I Bring On Every Trip

Electronics: I always make sure to pack my travel adapter, noise-canceling headphones, and luggage scale

Toiletries: Apart from the usual suspects, I always make sure to travel with antibacterial wipes (especially for on the plane), a tube of ultra-hydrating lotion, sunscreen and lip balm, and activated charcoal tablets.

Accessories: I never go on a trip without a trusty pair of sunglasses, my packing cubes, and one of my favorite pashminas.

Eco-Friendly Products: For easy use on the go, and to cut down on single-use plastic, I always have a reusable water bottle, and small cutlery set.

Read More About Carry-On Luggage:

6 Must-Have Items for Your Carry-On Bag

Carry-On Packing Guide for Airplane Travel

Plan Your Next Trip
After traveling consistently for over 10 years, we’ve come to trust and rely on a few websites to help us find the best deals on flights and accommodation.
 
Flights: Momondo is the first place we check when searching for cheap flights. It searches hundreds of sites for the best fare and includes both standard and budget airlines. The calendar feature shows the cheapest days to fly in your preferred month of travel.
 
Accommodation: Booking.com offers savings on hotels, apartments, and villas in 80,000 destinations worldwide. You can browse hotel reviews and find the guaranteed best price on hotels for all budgets.
 
Travel Insurance: We never travel without a travel insurance policy because it’s not worth the risk! We use and trust World Nomads, which we’ve used for the past 8 years.

The post Packing Tips Every Traveler Needs To Know – How to Pack Like a Pro appeared first on Ordinary Traveler.

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This South Pacific cruise packing list covers all of the essentials you absolutely need for both shore excursions and activities on the ship!

Packing for a cruise in the South Pacific requires some planning. You’re going to want to bring items suitable for outdoor adventures when the ship is docked, as well as items that will keep you comfortable while aboard.

I recently went on a cruise in the South Pacific with Holland America, during which time we stopped in ports throughout Australia, New Zealand, New Caledonia, Fiji, and Vanuatu. I started packing for this trip a few days in advance knowing that there were definitely going to be things I didn’t want to leave behind; things that kept me prepared for every situation.

Here’s everything to put in your suitcase for a cruise through the South Pacific!

South Pacific Cruise Packing List (Must-Have Essentials!) Toiletries

Being out on a ship with limited access to everyday medications means you’re going to want to bring some along for just in case. I recommend packing some real-deal Dramamine tablets as well as some ginger pills in case you’re struck by sea-sickness, as well as a bottle of activated charcoal to ward off any stomach issues.

Additionally, I always bring a travel-sized bottle of bug spray with me when I know I’m going to be spending a lot of time in nature. On this particular South Pacific trip, New Caledonia had a Dengue Fever warning, so I definitely recommend bringing it alone just in case. From hiking to the beach, bug spray will save you from mosquitos, sand flies, and no-see-ums.

Read more: 17 Days in the South Pacific With Holland America

Sun Protection

A cruise through the South Pacific is the perfect sunny vacation, and as such, you’re going to want ample sun protection. I recommend bringing along reef-safe sunscreen (please protect the reefs!) and some aloe vera gel for when you just can’t apply the sunscreen fast enough (it’s also great for minor cuts and scrapes).

You’ll also want to bring along a couple solid pairs of sunglasses, a sun hat (this one is foldable), and a long-sleeved rash guard. Not only will a rash guard protect you from the sun, but it’ll also protect you from the small stinging jellies.

Clothing

A swimsuit is a given when cruising through the South Pacific, but I recommend bringing along several options so you always have a dry one and don’t have to put on a wetsuit. A swimsuit cover-up is also a good idea for lounging around on the beach – I really love this lacy one!

For when you’re aboard the ship, I found having a few long dresses come in really handy. While some restaurants on your ship will definitely be more relaxed, any of the more high-end ones will have a dinnertime dress code to keep in mind. Enter the long dress. Along with that, bring a jean jacket — not only is it the perfect pairing for a long dress, but it will help keep you warm for when the ship blasts the AC.

Speaking of keeping indoor areas of the ship cold, for those times you want a little extra warmth, I recommend bringing along some long-sleeved shirts and a pair of light pants. I love these wide-legged palazzo pants for both lounging around the ship and hitting the beach. They’re lightweight, breathable and, best of all, they won’t wrinkle in your luggage.

Read more: How to Pack for a Sailing Trip

Shoes

Packing three pairs of shoes will be perfect for a cruise through the South Pacific. I brought one pair of comfortable sneakers for hiking and hitting the gym, a pair of sandals for when we hit the beach, as well as a pair of flats for walking around the ship and having something classy, yet subtle, to wear for dinners aboard.

Electronics

To ensure you can use your electronics with the power source in your room, you’re going to need a universal power adapter. In addition to that, I recommend bringing along a portable power bank in order to keep your many gadgets charged. A power bank has saved me from having battery-related meltdowns loads of times.

Additionally, if you plan on doing any underwater photography or you don’t want to risk getting your regular camera wet or full of sand while on the beach, I’d suggest bringing along an underwater camera such as the GoPro Hero 7. A sturdy tripod is also a great idea for group shots.

Read more: The Ultimate Packing Guide for Travel Photographers

Miscellaneous

I always carry my Nalgene water bottle with me when I travel as not only are they eco-friendly, they carry a lot of water. Fill it up on the ship, and then you’re good to go for a few hours out exploring. Speaking of days out exploring, I recommend bringing along a day pack such as a zippered backpack or tote — preferably one that keeps out sand.

Plan Your Trip to the South Pacific

After traveling consistently for over 10 years, we’ve come to trust and rely on a few websites to help us find the best deals on flights and accommodation.

Flights: Momondo is the first place we check when searching for cheap flights. It searches hundreds of sites for the best fare and includes both standard and budget airlines. The calendar feature shows the cheapest days to fly in your preferred month of travel.

Accommodation: Booking.com offers savings on hotels, apartments, and villas in 80,000 destinations worldwide. You can browse hotel reviews and find the guaranteed best price on hotels for all budgets.

Travel Insurance: We never travel without a travel insurance policy because it’s not worth the risk! We use and trust World Nomads, which we’ve used for the past 8 years.

The post South Pacific Cruise Packing List (Must-Have Essentials!) appeared first on Ordinary Traveler.

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