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The first time I solo traveled was to Argentina back in 2014. I had arrived in Buenos Aires faced with the daunting reality that I was in a new country completely alone. There wouldn’t be a welcoming party at the arrivals terminal, there wouldn’t be a companion to watch my bags, there wouldn’t be a gaggle of girlfriends to accompany me on my adventures, there wouldn’t be a boyfriend to hold my hand.

Since that first solo travel adventure in my early twenties, I have found myself wandering alone in countless countries—from Canada to Indonesia—as a seasoned traveler. I have been drawn to the concept of solo traveling, especially as a woman, because of the sheer strength, confidence, and self-reliance that comes from navigating a foreign country sans companions.

While the idea of traveling solo has always existed, in recent years it has reached a fever pitch as women embrace travel and all its intricacies with open arms. According to a 2014 survey from Booking.com, 64 percent of women have traveled without a partner and 72 percent of American women solo travel. Rather than fear strangers and the dangers that may live abroad, women are staying savvy, street-smart and open to the experience of discovering themselves against the backdrop of an exotic locale. Of course, the world we live in is not one without its dangers. There are things to consider when venturing into the world alone for the first time.

Know Your Destination First

I have a love affair with spontaneity when I travel. I love serendipitous encounters, stumbling upon charming cafés and meeting people from around the world. More often than not, the best moments in travel (and life) are the ones we don’t plan for. When flying solo to a new destination, there is a fine line between embracing chance and being unprepared.

When I caught a boat over to Uruguay in my early twenties, the lack of preparation I had done was comical. It wasn’t until my passport was stamped and I was standing on Uruguay soil did I realize I had no idea where to go, no idea where to exchange my money or how to get around. As a first-time solo traveler, it’s good to leave plenty of room on a trip for whirlwind adventures and chance meetings, but you should also be armed with practical information on the destination to which you’re traveling.

Trusting Your Intuition Abroad

It’s said that women have a very keen sense of intuition and an uncanny way to sense danger a mile away. When I was visiting the rough and tumble neighborhood of La Boca in Buenos Aires, I was advised by many to be careful. La Boca is beautiful, colorful and playful, but beyond the two streets that tourists populate, there are dangers to be had.

As I roamed through La Boca with my camera bag hoisted on my shoulders, I noticed a palpable shift in the air as I crossed over a set of train tracks and realized I was no longer in the “tourist friendly” part of town. I felt the change before I saw it and promptly turned around, knowing that nothing good lay ahead. As a first-time solo traveler, my intuition was my greatest asset in throwing up red flags in situations I knew I should potentially avoid.

Be Confident

It may be your first day in a new country, and you may be clinging to a map like a lifeline, but you are savvier and stronger than you give yourself credit for. One of the first things I did when I arrived in Buenos Aires for that first solo trip, was to go to a restaurant to ease into being alone.

Get comfortable in your own skin and let your thoughts wash over you as you explore a new destination and all the intricacies of your personality. Confidence is absolutely key and emanates in how you walk, carry yourself, and talk. Be patient and give yourself time to adapt to this new mode of travel.

Embrace The Good And Lonely Side Of Solo Travel

There were so many beautiful moments of solo traveling that left me smiling deliriously and feeling utterly alive, but there were inevitable moments when loneliness won out overconfidence and trailed me like a debt collector. Solo traveling is an experience that reveals parts of your personality and a full spectrum of emotion. As much as I learned to enjoy the moments and embrace the present, I also learned to pick myself up at times when home felt lightyears away.

The best advice I can offer first-time solo travelers is to expect to get lonely at times and to embrace this feeling as you will every other thought and emotion that washes over you during your trip. There is a real power and simplistic beauty that comes from knowing you have the strength to lift your own chin up when sad, comfort yourself when lonely, and keep moving forward.

Go Off The Grid, But Stay Connected

There is, of course, an appeal to being fully submerged in your solo travel adventure, but when you’re out there alone, it is best to stay connected to friends and family back home. Whether you are uploading photos to Instagram, sharing Facebook updates on your latest passport stamp, or simply messaging via WhatsApp, it is smart to let people know where you are and where you’re headed.
Be Patient with Yourself

Whenever I travel, I joke that it takes a day or two for New York to leave my system. In a city like NYC, life moves quickly; lunches are inhaled, delays are not tolerated and scheduling is a way of life. It isn’t until I’m abroad that I realize just how tightly wound New York can make me. As I eased into solo traveling, I learned to be patient with myself and slow down.

Ask Yourself “What Do I Want To Do?”

During my first solo trip in Argentina, I met a person who left me with a simple piece of advice: Don’t ever do anything you don’t want to do. I’ve mulled these words over in my mind and realized that too often in life, I tend to put myself in situations and circumstances I wish I hadn’t, whether for fear of disappointing someone or a sense of obligation.

Solo traveling offers the refreshing and revolutionary freedom to ask yourself, “What do I want to do today?” Each morning I woke up in Argentina, I asked myself that question. Whether I spent that day writing at my favorite café, catching a last-minute flight to Iguazu or hopping a boat to Uruguay, everything I did on this trip was because I wanted and chose to. In life, we don’t always get the freedom to choose for ourselves, so savor this question, get comfortable with it and relish the endless possibilities of living life on your own terms.

Remember To Enjoy It

There is a favorite quote of mine that reads: “A ship docked in the harbor may be safe, but that’s not why ships are built.” It’s human nature to be cautious, but life truly begins when we step outside of our comfort zones and take a chance on the unknown.

Solo traveling is an experience that inspires, tests and strengthens anyone who ventures into the world alone. Of course, there are dangers to consider and risks to keep in mind, but so long as you’re savvy to the destination, aware of your surroundings and keen to your intuition, the trip has the potential to be life-changing.

Written by Nikki Vargas for Unearth Women, Aug 20, 2018

The post Tips For Women Solo Traveling For The First Time appeared first on Roaming Times.

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We’ve been following new Volkswagen Crafter camper vans since the launch of the second-gen model in 2016. Whether we’re talking Volkswagen itself, a large conversion shop like Westfalia, or a smaller name like NordVan, one thing these Crafter camper vans tend to have in common is a layout with rear bed and central bath and kitchen. German camper van converter, supplier and equipment specialist Reimo has different ideas for the Crafter, swapping the bed and bathroom and carving out the kitchen for a more spacious, versatile travel and adventure space.

Reimo has plenty of experience creating innovative, versatile camping solutions inside vans of every shape and size and supplying equipment for businesses and hobbyists to do the same. At last year’s Düsseldorf Caravan Salon, we were particularly impressed with some of the mini-campervans it built into the likes of the all-electric Nissan e-NV200 and Volkswagen Caddy.

With the 19.7-foot (6-m) Crafter-based StarCamper, Reimo presents one of its larger conversion packages, putting the focus on spaciousness and flexibility. Instead of the separate bed and fixed dinette bench you see in many other Crafter camper vans, Reimo combines those two pieces of equipment into one, installing its Variotech 3000 convertible bench/bed in the center of the van, more like what you might expect to find in smaller VW Transporter-based campers.

The two-seat bench can be used both as passenger seating during the drive and, when combined with the removable table and swivel driver cab seats, as the dining area. At night, it drops down and converts to a 77 x 54-in (195 x 138-cm) double bed. Reimo also has a Crafter sleeper roof in the works for those looking to make the StarCamper a family camper van.

With the bed positioned amidships, the rear of the van is free to host a sizable bathroom that splits the difference between wet and dry bath, combining a small toilet/sink compartment in the driver-side corner with a central shower floor with curtain, and a proper door closing the toilet room off from the shower. A closet on the other side of the shower provides storage space.

The StarCamper’s kitchen block is pushed back toward the rear, rather than extending into the sliding door entryway as is common on camper vans. Its angled counter frees up more space in the center of the van without sacrificing too much worktop. Farther back, camp cooks will find the usual dual-burner stove and sink below a flush lid. A 140-L refrigerator stands on the opposite wall between the bench/bed and bathroom.

We took a quick tour of the StarCamper at the CMT show this past January, and it definitely felt more spacious and easier to maneuver in than other camper vans with more centrally biased fixed-furniture layouts. It’s not the prettiest Crafter camper van interior out there, and the layout does limit rear through-loading when compared with something like the VW Grand California with fold-away rear bed, but it’s an interesting alternative. The spaciousness does decrease when the bench turns over to bed, however.

According to the price sheet that accompanied the StarCamper at CMT, the full van starts at €80,560 (approx. US$90,550). The show model packed numerous optional extras on both the Crafter base van and camper conversion package, including a 175-hp 2.0-liter TDI engine, 8-in touchscreen navigation/infotainment system, outdoor table and chair set, solar power, and the stylish little starlight headliner pictured below. All those options spiked the base price up just under €107,925 ($121,300).

This particular StarCamper had a starlight headliner similar to what we’ve seen in luxury vehicles

The bench includes hidden under-seat storage

The StarCamper has a bathroom with corner toilet/sink and extended shower floor

With the convertible bed and angled kitchen, the StarCamper feels roomier and more open during the day than other camper vans

Fold it flat, and the central bench becomes the double bed

Written by C.C. Weiss for New Atlas, May 13, 2019

The post Reimo Flips The Volkswagen Crafter Camper Van Into A Roomier, More Versatile Base Camp appeared first on Roaming Times.

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Is there anything the conjures up the platonic ideal of a family on the open road more than a slick tow-behind teardrop trailer? There’s something inherently freeing about the idea of packing your bags for a long weekend or undetermined amount of time, and setting off on an epic road trip across America that is defined by your instinct — not where the nearest Best Western is. Want to sleep under the stars? Set up at a national park? A tow-behind teardrop trailer is your ticket. And thanks to an ever-growing array of tricked-out models, the idea more comfortable than ever before. Just pack it with the essentials, hook it up your ride, and in no time you’ve got a portable home base that can follow you virtually anywhere.

Our favorite type of tow-behind is the teardrop trailer. They’re light. They’re streamlined. They’re compact.

And, damn, are they beautiful. Turns out the iconic model is making a big come back. With a diverse range of options on the market, you can find something to fit any size, style, and price point. So whether you’re planning a quick weekend getaway or looking to take a long-haul trip, these models are sure to do the trick (or at least get the wheels turning).

The Mount Massive

Many people (incorrectly) assume that when they settle on purchasing on a teardrop-shaped trailer, they’ll automatically have to sacrifice space. But Colorado Teardrops is here to dispel those ill-informed misconceptions. The Mount Massive is, well, massive. Great for families, the full cabin can house a queen-sized mattress, as well as a set of bunk beds that can convert into a sofa. The galley is also big enough to store a few YETI coolers, a slew of gear, and anything else you’re planning to bring along. Weighing in at less than 1,500 pounds, it’s tough enough for off-road adventures but can still access all of those National Parks on your bucket list.

The Vistabule Teardrop Trailer

Looking for a teardrop option that offers a polished aesthetic, compact design, and handcrafted details? If so, these small-but-mighty models might be the answer to your prayers. Introducing Vistabule. These made-to-order luxury trailers have been turning heads ever since Bert Taylor launched the company six years ago out of St. Paul, Minnesota. Striking the sweet spot between premium amenities and a reasonable price tag, the brand’s popularity has skyrocketed recently. People can’t seem to get enough of Vistabule’s timeless style and thoughtful craftsmanship, which includes a spacious cabin, hatchback-accessible kitchenette, clever storage solutions, lightweight construction, and its signature oversized front-facing window.

The T.E. Lawrence Caravan

Inspired by the legendary figure T.E. Lawrence (better known as Lawrence of Arabia), each of Vintage Overland’s hand-built caravans succeed at capturing that same adventurous spirit. Their largest model measures five feet by eight feet with a total height of six feet. Weighing in at just 900 pounds, the T.E. Lawrence can be towed by just about any vehicle, making the dream of exploring the open road a reality for anyone (not just those with keys to a Ford F-150). According to the brand’s founder, Britton Purser, “It’s not entirely about the vehicle that gets you there, it’s about the journey and what the vehicle represents.” Be sure to check out their smaller models as well: the Tuco ($12,500) and the Great Escape ($15,000).

The Hütte Hut

The aerodynamic Hütte Hut first hit the scene in 2015 to rave reviews. Celebrated for its simple yacht-inspired vibe, it’s a design-lover’s dream (albeit a nightmare for your wallet). With a sturdy aluminum space frame, its interior exudes warmth. The tow-behind is constructed from a combination of Joubert Okoume marine plywood, solid wood trusses, and Baltic Birch floors and fixtures. Its water-repellent cotton canvas canopy also allows a healthy dose of light to flow in, creating a cozy, sundrenched retreat. The company also offers an impressive range of optional add-ons, including expanded storage compartments, custom battery sizes, and various tire sizes to suit your specific needs.

The Limited Edition Polydrop Trailer

With its sharp angles, shiny aluminum facade, and dramatic geometric silhouette, the Polydrop Trailer looks straight out of an episode of The Twilight Zone or Black Mirror. But it’s exactly the type of experimental and boundary-pushing prototype you might expect from Kyung-Hyun Lew, a well-studied architectural designer. With its spaceship-inspired exterior, it offers a whimsical riff on the traditional teardrop style we’ve come to know and love. Hailing from California, this limited edition personal pod is ultra lightweight (760 pounds) and just 12.4 feet long. Built-to-order, each trailer is teeming with practical features, such as an interior lighting system, gull-wing doors on either side, and a heater with its own thermostat for those chilly nights on the road.

Here’s to the teardrop and the tricked-out models and features that will inspire your next adventure.

Redacted by RT; Written by Ian Centrone for Fatherly.com, May 2, 2019

The post New Teardrop Trailers: You And The Open Road appeared first on Roaming Times.

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Is there anything the conjures up the platonic ideal of a family on the open road more than a slick tow-behind teardrop trailer? There’s something inherently freeing about the idea of packing your bags for a long weekend or undetermined amount of time, and setting off on an epic road trip across America that is defined by your instinct — not where the nearest Best Western is. Want to sleep under the stars? Set up at a national park? A tow-behind teardrop trailer is your ticket. And thanks to an ever-growing array of tricked-out models, the idea more comfortable than ever before. Just pack it with the essentials, hook it up your ride, and in no time you’ve got a portable home base that can follow you virtually anywhere.

Our favorite type of tow-behind is the teardrop trailer. They’re light. They’re streamlined. They’re compact.

And, damn, are they beautiful. Turns out the iconic model is making a big come back. With a diverse range of options on the market, you can find something to fit any size, style, and price point. So whether you’re planning a quick weekend getaway or looking to take a long-haul trip, these models are sure to do the trick (or at least get the wheels turning).

The Mount Massive

Many people (incorrectly) assume that when they settle on purchasing on a teardrop-shaped trailer, they’ll automatically have to sacrifice space. But Colorado Teardrops is here to dispel those ill-informed misconceptions. The Mount Massive is, well, massive. Great for families, the full cabin can house a queen-sized mattress, as well as a set of bunk beds that can convert into a sofa. The galley is also big enough to store a few YETI coolers, a slew of gear, and anything else you’re planning to bring along. Weighing in at less than 1,500 pounds, it’s tough enough for off-road adventures but can still access all of those National Parks on your bucket list.

The Vistabule Teardrop Trailer

Looking for a teardrop option that offers a polished aesthetic, compact design, and handcrafted details? If so, these small-but-mighty models might be the answer to your prayers. Introducing Vistabule. These made-to-order luxury trailers have been turning heads ever since Bert Taylor launched the company six years ago out of St. Paul, Minnesota. Striking the sweet spot between premium amenities and a reasonable price tag, the brand’s popularity has skyrocketed recently. People can’t seem to get enough of Vistabule’s timeless style and thoughtful craftsmanship, which includes a spacious cabin, hatchback-accessible kitchenette, clever storage solutions, lightweight construction, and its signature oversized front-facing window.

The T.E. Lawrence Caravan

Inspired by the legendary figure T.E. Lawrence (better known as Lawrence of Arabia), each of Vintage Overland’s hand-built caravans succeed at capturing that same adventurous spirit. Their largest model measures five feet by eight feet with a total height of six feet. Weighing in at just 900 pounds, the T.E. Lawrence can be towed by just about any vehicle, making the dream of exploring the open road a reality for anyone (not just those with keys to a Ford F-150). According to the brand’s founder, Britton Purser, “It’s not entirely about the vehicle that gets you there, it’s about the journey and what the vehicle represents.” Be sure to check out their smaller models as well: the Tuco ($12,500) and the Great Escape ($15,000).

The Hütte Hut

The aerodynamic Hütte Hut first hit the scene in 2015 to rave reviews. Celebrated for its simple yacht-inspired vibe, it’s a design-lover’s dream (albeit a nightmare for your wallet). With a sturdy aluminum space frame, its interior exudes warmth. The tow-behind is constructed from a combination of Joubert Okoume marine plywood, solid wood trusses, and Baltic Birch floors and fixtures. Its water-repellent cotton canvas canopy also allows a healthy dose of light to flow in, creating a cozy, sundrenched retreat. The company also offers an impressive range of optional add-ons, including expanded storage compartments, custom battery sizes, and various tire sizes to suit your specific needs.

The Limited Edition Polydrop Trailer

With its sharp angles, shiny aluminum facade, and dramatic geometric silhouette, the Polydrop Trailer looks straight out of an episode of The Twilight Zone or Black Mirror. But it’s exactly the type of experimental and boundary-pushing prototype you might expect from Kyung-Hyun Lew, a well-studied architectural designer. With its spaceship-inspired exterior, it offers a whimsical riff on the traditional teardrop style we’ve come to know and love. Hailing from California, this limited edition personal pod is ultra lightweight (760 pounds) and just 12.4 feet long. Built-to-order, each trailer is teeming with practical features, such as an interior lighting system, gull-wing doors on either side, and a heater with its own thermostat for those chilly nights on the road.

Here’s to the teardrop and the tricked-out models and features that will inspire your next adventure.

Redacted by RT; Written by Ian Centrone for Fatherly.com, May 2, 2019

The post New Teardrop Trailers: You Will Long For The Open Road appeared first on Roaming Times.

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(CNN) — Visit Caño Cristales during the wet or dry seasons in Colombia, and you’d be forgiven for wondering what all the fuss is about.

However, travel there from June to November, the moderate months between the extremes of the wet and dry seasons, and you’ll witness one of Mother Nature’s crowning glories.

The 62.1 mile-long river is in Colombia’s Serranía de la Macarena national park, in the province of Meta, and is known as the “River of Five Colors.”

This “liquid rainbow” — as it is also called — is one of the South American country’s most spectacular natural wonders, thanks to its vivid colors.

The bed of the river sports bright red, yellow, green, blue and black for the few months that conditions are right. Although the colors can be viewed from as early as mid-May and sometimes into December, they are brightest during June and November.

The colors are produced during the reproductive process of the aquatic plants in the river, which are called Macarenia clavigera, a species of the riverweed family Podostemaceae.

During the wet season, the river runs fast and high, meaning sun cannot hit the riverbed’s plants. During the dry season, there is not enough water to support the plants. The seasons rarely vary, so visitors wanting to catch sight of the spectacle have to head to the national park during those months that the bloom is most visible.

The phenomenon happens nowhere else in the world. The area itself is a hotspot for biodiversity, where the Andes mountains and the Amazon and Orinoco basins converge — and is home to many endemic species.

Preserving The River

Hundreds of thousands of tourists flock to see the spectacle every year, which has raised concerns amongst scientists that the river may be threatened by overtourism.

But Flavia Santoro, head of ProColombia, the country’s tourism board, says measures have been taken to protect the area.

“We have severely restricted development of tourism infrastructure,” Santoro told CNN Travel. “And the tours that are available in the park are exclusively run by local people.”

There are designated swimming areas in the river; however, visitors are not allowed to swim wearing sun lotion or bug spray, as the plants are sensitive to the products’ chemicals. The tourism board has also imposed a cap on tourists visiting the river, with only 200 people allowed in per day, in groups no larger than seven.

ProColombia also specifically promotes environmentally focused accommodation, such as the Wayabero Lodge, which promotes the conservation of the ecosystems and the development of sustainability programs for local communities.

Not only do tourists travel to see the river, but the abundance of wildlife is a draw for the crowds. Turtles, iguanas and aguilas — Colombia’s national bird — are just some of the local species that can be spotted in the Serranía de la Macarena national park, home to more than 400 bird species.

For decades, tourists — even Colombian ones — stayed away from Caño Cristales as it was in a region controlled by FARC guerrillas. However, following the peace accord signed in 2016, the area has opened up to international tourism. The town of La Macarena, and its surrounding areas, is controlled by the military, and is mostly safe for visitors.

Tourism Boom

Colombia is experiencing a boom in tourism, with the country seeing visitor numbers grow by 38% between 2017 and 2018, according to figures from the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism.

More than 15,000 tourists visited Caño Cristales in 2017, and ProColombia expects the number of to continue to grow, meaning ecotourism policies to protect the region are all the more important.

Carlos A. Lasso, senior researcher at the Humboldt Institute, a Colombian body in charge of the nation’s biodiversity, said the growth in tourists was not worrying — yet.

“The challenge will be to not exceed the ecosystem’s capacity for visitors. It is a difficult area to protect, as it is so far from any city. Despite the signing of the peace agreement, there are still some security problems in the area, which add to the issue.”

But threats to the area do not just come from overtourism. A plan in 2017 to drill for oil more than 40 miles away from the site was rejected by then-president Juan Manuel Santos over fears the river would be adversely affected. The battle, between the government and the Texas oil company, has now headed to court.

“Although the government is doing well, there is always room for improvement,” Lasso said. “More park rangers and officials to protect the area, and most importantly, stopping deforestation, which is advancing in the region at an alarming rate.”

Deforestation is one of Colombia’s most pressing problems, with more than 40 soccer fields worth of trees logged every day, and the area of La Macarena is no exception.

Deforestation affects the patterns of rainfall, and the area has seen less rain, meaning the water of Caño Cristales would turn from clear to a murky brown — causing the Macarenia clavigera to become extinct.

However, Lasso is hopeful. “More young Colombians are learning about the environment, and how to preserve it.”

And, Lasso added, as Caño Cristales brings in much needed money to the region, there’s all the more reason to protect it.

If You Go

Although it is possible to visit the river without booking through an agency, you cannot visit without a government-licensed tour guide. Permits to visit the park can be applied for in advance via the National Parks Office. There is a cap on the number of visitors allowed per day, and the majority of the permits are allocated to tour agencies.

It’s much easier to book through an agency. Viator’s three-day tour from Bogotá starts at $750 and includes riverside picnics and airfare, or The Colombian Way is an in-country tour guide with great local knowledge and starts at $635.

Most tours range from two to four days and will take you to other areas of the park, which are well worth seeing. The closest town to Caño Cristales is La Macarena. It’s not possible to camp within the park, so visitors have to “commute” from the town, which has basic accommodations.

Make sure you bring plenty of cash — the town only has one ATM, and it’s temperamental. You’ll need your yellow fever vaccination, as occasionally visitors are asked to show their certificate at La Macarena airport, and don’t forget: you’ll also need to take anti-malaria tablets.

*RT Staff: If you do indeed travel to this spectacular earthly site, remember: leave no footprint. Respect the culture, the ecosystem, and the wildlife.  Enjoy the beauty.

Written by Lucy Sherriff for CNN, May 6, 2019

The post Caño Cristales: Colombia’s Spectacular ‘Liquid Rainbow’ appeared first on Roaming Times.

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Ever dreamed of packing your bags for a solo trip? Now’s the time. Findings from a survey by travel advisor agency Travel Leaders Group reveals 96 percent of Americans are psyched to travel in 2019, with 76 percent planning to book at least two leisure trips throughout the year. Of that group, 36 percent have been gearing up for some sort of solo trip.

While nothing will replace a romantic trip for two, family vacation, or jet setting with friends, the modern traveler’s craving to experience new (or old favorite) places on their own keeps rising.

“The desire to travel among North Americans is stronger than ever with an increasing focus on authentic, memorable experiences,” says Travel Leaders Group CEO Ninan Chacko in the survey press release. “We’re seeing a rise in solo travel…[and] many people are not willing to forgo vacations because they have no one to travel with—or, in many cases, they simply prefer to travel on their own.”

Clearly the itch to fly solo doesn’t always accompany a soulful, Eat, Pray Love–esque journey of self-discovery. Sometimes it’s more practical than that. Andrea Ross, the managing director of tour operator Wild Frontiers, told Newsweek nearly 65 percent of its solo travelers are female between the ages of 30 and 80, and that these women prefer solo adventures for any number of realistic reasons.

“[They may have] friends who have started families and are unable to accompany them,” Ross said. “They may have a significant other who isn’t interested in traveling to an adventurous destination, or just doesn’t want to travel, so rather than stay at home, they’re taking the plunge and traveling solo.”

Solo travel is so prevalent it’s actually shifting the way couples approach their honeymoon plans. Some opt to travel separately before the wedding, also called a “solomoon.” But some nontraditional newlyweds even consider replacing the traditional honeymoon with a solo trip after exchanging vows—a travel trend dubbed the “unimoon.”

You could pin it on anything from all the enviable solo travel photos filling your Instagram feed to a growing, wide-spread spirit of independence, but solo travel—especially among women—has never been so popular.

Inspired to satisfy your own solo wanderlust this year? See the top 10 destinations on solo travelers’ radars for 2019, according to Travel Leaders Group.

The top five U.S. destinations to visit in 2019:

  • Florida
  • California
  • Hawaii
  • New York
  • Alaska

The top five international regions to visit in 2019:

  • Western Europe
  • Caribbean
  • UK/Ireland
  • Eastern Europe
  • Australia

Written by Maggie Seaver for RealSimple, May 3, 2019

The post This Unexpected Travel Trend Is Especially Popular Among Women Right Now appeared first on Roaming Times.

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Heading out on a road trip in a recreational vehicle allows travelers a unique opportunity to explore the nation while enjoying some comforts, too.

“It’s not so much about just getting to where you’re going and stopping when you’re there, but you really get to enjoy the journey,” says Julie Hall, a spokesperson for AAA. “It’s also a cost-effective way to travel, or it can be at least.”

But RV travel still comes with some expenses. Here’s how to keep them in check.

1. Choose a smaller vehicle

RVs range from small campers and towable trailers to grand motor homes over 40 feet long. Whether you rent or buy, the bigger you go, the more it’ll cost.

“People can opt for a big luxury coach and pay thousands of dollars a week, or they can get a small [one] for a fraction of that price,” says Chuck Woodbury, editor for RVtravel.com, who adds that larger vehicles typically offer less fuel efficiency and flexibility. “When you decide you need to get some milk or cereal or want to go out and hit the local tavern, well, you’ve got to move your home to do that.”

For some, a roomier RV may be necessary to accommodate large groups. In that case, save money by splitting the cost with fellow travelers. Try and tow a small car for trips to the grocery store or getting to a destination. The car will clearly cost less in fuel than a large motorhome or travel trailer. Leave that behind, while our gas prices are already high. The average in California, is $4.19/gallon.

2. Use fuel efficiently

Prepare to spend more at the pump; RVs get about 6 to 18 mpg, depending on the size and model, Woodbury says. Cars average about 24 mpg. Hybrids or electric towed cars can give you cost-free trips to your travel end-destinations while you leave your rig behind, cutting fuel costs.

Hall recommends using AAA’s gas cost calculator to estimate the expense upfront. If the total exceeds your fuel budget, try a few saving strategies:

  • -Use an app like GasBuddy to map out gas stations along the route and identify locations with the lowest prices.
  • -Pay with a credit card that offers rewards on gas purchases.
  • -Slow down. “The faster you go, the more you’re going to burn. If you’re not in a big hurry, then go 60 [mph] instead of 70,” Woodbury says.
3. Find free (or cheap) destinations

While you’ll avoid the cost of staying in hotels, you could still face fees for camping plus hooking up to water, sewer and electricity. The good news: There are plenty of affordable campsites. With an RV, you can camp free overnight on U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands and in Walmart parking lots, where allowed.

Ellie Quinlan and Brad Hartland, who have been traveling and living out of their yellow VW van for the past several months, search for free spots on websites like iOverlander.com and FreeCampsites.net.

“They include everything from campsites to free public land to truck stops,” Hartland says. “For each site, there’ll be a review. You can see the last time someone was there and get a sense of what you’re getting yourself into,” Quinlan adds.

You can also save money on RV rentals if you’re willing to drive between certain destinations. For example, Cruise America has “one-way specials,” which discount fees for travelers who pick up and drop off their vehicles in specific cities. Look for other area-based deals online and ask seasoned RV travelers for recommendations via blogs and community groups.

*RT Note: Try searching Boondocking sites. Google Boondocking. This has become so popular, people are listing destinations with boondocking areas for free, stay, enjoy the sites, usually with minimal to no neighbors for that truly open-space wilderness “quiet”. Always: leave it as you find it.

4. Bring your own food

Many, if not most RVs come equipped with refrigerators and cooktops, making real meals possible on the road. Stock up on fresh produce and your favorite fixings for sandwiches, casseroles, tacos, salads, breakfast and lunch burritos, overnight oats, are all fast prep and should be on your list for ingredients to shop ahead for. Cheaper and healthier alternatives to eating at diners and fast-food spots. Meal prep ahead, and store in your RVs freezer and refrigerator for warm-up meals. Huge savings for food and meals can be had this way.

Grocery stores can provide amenities along the way, too. “Trader Joe’s has free coffee and samples, and almost all have private, clean bathrooms,” Quinlan says.

If you want to sprinkle in a few restaurant meals, research your options. Before the trip, plan where you might eat and see if there are discounts available, Hall says.

5. Join a club

Memberships and loyalty programs offer a wide variety of perks. A one-year, $44 membership for the camping club Passport America includes a 50% discount per night on stays throughout its network of RV campgrounds. There may be exclusions, though, often during popular travel times like Fourth of July and Labor Day weekends. Check availability at each location in advance.

“If a park fills up in the summer, they’re not probably going to want to offer half price when they can get full price. But in the offseason, they will gladly take half price,” Woodbury says.

Other memberships can help you save year-round. Find out about rewards-club benefits at places like gas stations, grocery stores and sporting goods stores.

RT Staff: National Parks often have specials. Keep bookmarked or get on email lists when specials come up, often in the off-season. You can get great deals even at the most desired National State Parks, off-season. Plan your trips during those times rather than peak season.

Added Notes by RT Staff, redactions by RT Staff; Written by Lauren Schwahn for Nerd Wallet, May 10, 2019

The post Ways To Save Money On Your RV Road Trip appeared first on Roaming Times.

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Ever dreamed of packing your bags for a solo trip? Now’s the time. Findings from a survey by travel advisor agency Travel Leaders Group reveals 96 percent of Americans are psyched to travel in 2019, with 76 percent planning to book at least two leisure trips throughout the year. Of that group, 36 percent have been gearing up for some sort of solo trip.

While nothing will replace a romantic trip for two, family vacation, or jet setting with friends, the modern traveler’s craving to experience new (or old favorite) places on their own keeps rising.

“The desire to travel among North Americans is stronger than ever with an increasing focus on authentic, memorable experiences,” says Travel Leaders Group CEO Ninan Chacko in the survey press release. “We’re seeing a rise in solo travel…[and] many people are not willing to forgo vacations because they have no one to travel with—or, in many cases, they simply prefer to travel on their own.”

Clearly the itch to fly solo doesn’t always accompany a soulful, Eat, Pray Love–esque journey of self-discovery. Sometimes it’s more practical than that. Andrea Ross, the managing director of tour operator Wild Frontiers, told Newsweek nearly 65 percent of its solo travelers are female between the ages of 30 and 80, and that these women prefer solo adventures for any number of realistic reasons.

“[They may have] friends who have started families and are unable to accompany them,” Ross said. “They may have a significant other who isn’t interested in traveling to an adventurous destination, or just doesn’t want to travel, so rather than stay at home, they’re taking the plunge and traveling solo.”

Solo travel is so prevalent it’s actually shifting the way couples approach their honeymoon plans. Some opt to travel separately before the wedding, also called a “solomoon.” But some nontraditional newlyweds even consider replacing the traditional honeymoon with a solo trip after exchanging vows—a travel trend dubbed the “unimoon.”

You could pin it on anything from all the enviable solo travel photos filling your Instagram feed to a growing, wide-spread spirit of independence, but solo travel—especially among women—has never been so popular.

Inspired to satisfy your own solo wanderlust this year? See the top 10 destinations on solo travelers’ radars for 2019, according to Travel Leaders Group.

The top five U.S. destinations to visit in 2019:

  • Florida
  • California
  • Hawaii
  • New York
  • Alaska

The top five international regions to visit in 2019:

  • Western Europe
  • Caribbean
  • UK/Ireland
  • Eastern Europe
  • Australia

Written by Maggie Seaver for RealSimple, May 3, 2019

The post This Unexpected Travel Trend Is Especially Popular Among Women Right Now appeared first on Roaming Times.

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According to the new survey by the RV Rental Association (RVRA), RV rental revenue will continue upward during the 2019 peak rental season with conventional travel trailers and Class C motorhomes being the most widely available RV product types.

Fifty-two percent of the 109 RV rental operators responding to the survey anticipate taking in more revenue in 2019 than in 2018, and 34 percent believe it will be the same as last year. That growth would follow a strong 2018 when 63 percent of RV rental operators reported higher revenue, versus 2017, including 16 percent who experienced revenue growth of more than 50 percent.

Conventional trailers are expected to account for 52 percent of this year’s rental fleet, up from 51 percent in 2018, while Class C’s will account to 34 percent, up from 32 percent in 2018, according to the survey respondents.

“Because pickup trucks and SUVs capable of towing many travel trailers are some of the most popular vehicles in North America, it’s no surprise that towable RVs are popular with renters,” said Scott Krenek, RVRA chairman and owner of Krenek RV Super Center in Coloma, Mich. “The RV rental market is healthy and has the potential for more growth. That’s why so many RVRA members are looking forward to a great summer.”

The rental operators offering towable RVs stated that most of their customers are “tow & go” renters, since they already own a vehicle that’s able to safely pull an RV trailer. But many operators also report significant portions of their business comes from customers who do not want to tow the trailer they rent, but, instead, want the rental company to deliver it to a campground and set it up for them there.

A smaller but still significant portion of towable RV rental customers want the trailer delivered and set-up at site of outdoor concerts, festivals, sporting events, etc.

Class A motorhomes will account for 5 percent of the rental fleet this year, while Class B motorhomes, fifth wheels, toy haulers and soft-sided pop-ups are each expected to account for 2 percent of the fleet this year.

In recent years, traditional “brick & mortar” RV operators faced new competition from “peer-to-peer” online RV rental platforms, but 47 percent of those who consider themselves to be brick & mortar operators believe peer-to-peer platforms help their business by providing a new marketing channel. Posting rental units on peer-to-peer platforms during the winter months, when the RV rental business is slow, is another way traditional brick-and-mortar operators use the new technology.

Written by RV Pro Staff for RV-Pro.com, May 24, 2019

The post Survey: Travel Trailers And Class C’s Most Popular RV Rentals appeared first on Roaming Times.

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After recently covering a convincing little Toyota Sienna minivan camper from Colorado’s Oasis Campervans, we figured someone out there must be creating gas-electric mini campervans built on the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid. We found one in the Illusion Hybrid from 5 Mars RV. The Quebecois company marries its expertise in creating small, cozy camper vans with hybrid technology, creating a playful but efficient camper van optimized for long-mileage tours.

Truth be told, it wasn’t the 2018-launched 202-inch-long (513-cm) Illusion Hybrid that stirred our interest in 5 Mars. We initially saw a photo of one of its other camper vans, a bright, colorful Ram ProMaster-based Imagine much like the one pictured below, and had to hunt it down for a closer look. In researching the company a bit, we found out it has a full lineup of compact camper vans built on Fiat-Chrysler vehicles like the ProMaster, Pacifica and Dodge Grand Caravan.

With compact minivan packaging, vibrant colors and fairly affordable pricing, 5 Mars vans are some of the coolest little camper vans we’ve seen this side of Europe. And perhaps none is cooler than the Illusion Hybrid, a rare camper van with hybrid powertrain, something we’ve previously seen only on a select few models, like the Eco Explorer.

The 2019 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid features a 3.6-liter V6 engine paired with an electric drive for up to 260 hp of total system output, up to 32 miles (52 km) of pure-electric driving, an EPA-estimated fuel economy of 82 mpg-e, and up to 520 miles (837 km) of total gas/electric range. So you can tiptoe through the city quietly and completely emissions-free, before opening things up and traveling straight to your destination without stopping every 100 or 150 miles (160 or 240 km), as you would have to do with a pure-electric camper van or motorhome.

As far as interiors, 5 Mars specializes in simple, classic VW-inspired pop-top designs. The Illusion Hybrid includes a folding two-seat rear bench next to a compact kitchen block. The bench drops flat into a 42 x 72-in (107 x 183-cm) bed for two, and the kitchen includes a dual-burner stove, stainless steel sink and 37-L refrigerator.

Other standard Illusion Hybrid equipment includes a stowable dining table, swivel passenger seat, dual deep-cycle batteries, 100W solar panel and seven LED lights. The van retails for CA$88,900 (approx. US$66,100), and the base Pacifica Hybrid includes a 7-in infotainment system, SiriusXM satellite radio and rear-view camera.

We know, we know … that’s not quite the affordable pricing we mentioned above, but 5 Mars’ greater lineup starts at CA$46,900 (US$34,875) for the light, kitchen-less Dodge Grand Caravan-based “Weekend” sleeper van, a base price well lower than what we’ve become accustomed to seeing on North American camper vans.

The Illusion Hybrid may not be quite as much an everyday driver as camper vans with removable furniture and rearrangeable seating, but its hybrid powertrain does give it the ability to commute without paying too much of a penalty for being an equipment-loaded camper van. With a permanent bench, it seems like it could be a pretty capable everyday/holiday driver for couples or small families.

The Illusion Hybrid’s spec sheet does not include any mention of a roof bed option, relying on the pop-top more for increased headroom. Those looking for a proper 5 Mars four-sleeper will instead want to check out the ProMaster-based Imagine we mentioned earlier.

Despite its commercial van base, the Imagine is actually shorter than the Illusion Hybrid, measuring 195 in (495 cm) bumper to bumper. It’s also 4 inches (10 cm) wider at 82 in (208 cm), and it packs more sleeping space within those dimensions thanks to the standard 48 x 72-in (122 x 183-cm) roof bed accompanying the power-convertible 54 x 74-in (137 x 188-cm) bed below.


The greater interior is a bit homier with its rear bench with sofa-style armrests, dual swivel driver cab seats, and more fully equipped kitchen with microwave, dual-burner stove and 70-L fridge. There’s also a rear outdoor shower and cable TV hookup, not to mention some seriously vibrant color options, as you can see above.

The Imagine starts at CA$92,900 (US$69,050) with a 280-hp 3.6-liter V6-powered ProMaster, Uconnect infotainment system and rear-view camera.
Since we don’t see any evidence of 5 Mars distribution in the US, we sent the company a message to double-check. We haven’t received a response as of publishing, but we’ll update if we receive a definitive answer.

5 Mars Imagine lower bed

Inside the 5 Mars Illusion Hybrid

The Imagine has a more well-equipped kitchen with larger fridge and microwave

Another very vibrant Imagine interior

Imagine toilet compartment/footrest

5 Mars really breaks out the color palette for the Imagine four-person camper van

This particular 5 Mars Imagine interior looks like a 1950s diner

5 Mars’ Imagine camper van is based on the 280-hp Ram ProMaster

Possible Imagine color combination

Possible Illusion Hybrid color combination

The swiveling passenger seat in the 5 Mars Illusion Hybrid

The 5 Mars Illusion Hybrid has a simple, two-sleeper interior with small kitchen block and convertible bench/bed


Written by C.C. Weiss for New Atlas, April 29, 2019

The post 5 Mars Makes A Colorful, Efficient Mini-Campervan Out Of The Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid appeared first on Roaming Times.

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