5 Essential Camping Tips and Tricks For First-Timers

Planning a trip with hotel accommodations can be quite a handful, what more if you’re planning a camping trip for the first time? It may seem overwhelming at first, but don’t worry – with the right approach, the entire trip, from start to finish, will be smooth-sailing. Just remember to enjoy yourself, because it’s not going to be the last.

Here are 5 essential camping tips and tricks for first-timers:

Do as much research as you can beforehand

When choosing your camp site, it is vital that you learn everything about it. Do you need to book in advance? Do they allow pets? Do they have space for camper vans or just tents? What amenities do they offer? It is most ideal to check their website and make a phone call to make sure that all your inquiries are properly answered. It is also a good idea to check out online reviews.

Observe the weather

Check the weather forecasts frequently in the days leading up to your trip. You don’t just want to assume that the weather will be good, plan out your itinerary for the day and find out you can’t do any of it because of the rain. Weather is unpredictable so it’s best to pack extra blankets, more clothing and some rain gear. Also plan out doable activities that can be enjoyed in any type of weather.

Make a check list of essential things to bring

Don’t worry about over packing, it’s your first time after all. You’ll learn how to pack light as your camping experience grows. In the meantime, stick to a check list. Apart from camping gear, food and water, don’t forget important things like toiletries, utensils, medicines etc. Always bring extra everything. Experts also advise trying your gear at home first to make sure everything works fine.

Prepare for the long drive

Aside from the camp grounds, you’ll also be spending a lot of time in the car on your way. It doesn’t have to be a drag, it can also be an enjoyable time. Prepare your favourite music, play games in the car, have food and snacks ready.

Enjoy yourself

The most important thing is to enjoy camping. Don’t stick to a strict itinerary – go with the flow. Things are unpredictable outdoors and you’d just get disappointed if things didn’t go as planned.

These essential camping tips and tricks are ideal for beginners such as yourself!

6 Tips & Essentials for Senior Travelers

As we approach our older years, we should not be holding ourselves back from making new memories. If anything, we should just be making up for lost time, but not without caution of course. To avoid little inconveniences that might hinder your smooth-sailing travels, take note of these six tips:

1. Always make a checklist when packing!

This is especially important because it’s easy to forget the smaller items when packing up suitcases (we have all forgotten toothpaste or a toothbrush at some point). Make sure to begin this checklist at least a few days prior to your departure. This way, after making a list the first time, there’s more time to think of more items to write down later. Throughout the day, notice the items used everyday with extra care to avoid forgetting anything.

2. Pack Light.

Try to bring fewer items to lessen the burden of carrying your items. Be sure to check the weather prior to packing and pick out clothing accordingly. Bring clothing that can be mixed together to maximize efficiency. Be sure to wear your heaviest shoes on the plane to lessen the burden in your bag.

3. Make sure to use trusted websites for travel research.

Take precaution when researching for travel locations. Many websites might be providing false deals with hotels and restaurants to grab your attention. Use trusted websites that you are already familiar with. Some popular examples: Tripadvisor, Expedia and Booking.

4. Get travel insurance.

At an older age, travelers are much more prone to injury or sickness. It is especially important for those who carry medication with them. It’s not uncommon for travelers’ suitcases to be lost in transit, and essential medications could be lost in the process. To avoid running out of medication or face an unexpected injury, paying the extra insurance fee is a small price for the reassurance in return.

5. Consult a physician before leaving for travel.

Travelling to new areas expose our bodies to unfamiliar bacteria and illnesses. Make sure to be aware of all destination-specific risks from your physician and take proper preventative measures. Additionally, be aware of traveller illnesses including altitude sickness and traveler’s diarrhea.

6. Always check out senior discounts.

Upon inquiry, many tourist attractions offer senior discounts. For example, many cruises offer additional cruise discounts for members over 55. Prior to booking, if you know any senior travel website, be sure to do some research on the website for a full listing of the offered discounts.

Safety Thoughts for Open Ocean Windsurfing

Windsurfing is a thrill few get to experience at it’s best. First of all it takes time to learn how to sail at all. It’s a slow and often embarrassing procedure. Experienced sailors can tell you in their words how to do it, but in truth it is a feeling you finally start to get after repeatedly failing. At first you are able to sail a few feet before going down, but soon enough you are able to sail hundreds of yards before the wind puffs or changes and knocks you off balance.

Once you’ve finally got the board going out the next big challenge is to sail back. It feels like you have to learn all over again. Now you’re standing differently and holding on differently. Of course if you don’t figure out how to make it work in this new direction you’ll have a bit of an emergency on your hands. You’ll be stuck out there.

Once you’ve finally mastered the ability to go out and return the sailing becomes a practice exercise each time you go. You can learn to do a jibe turn, sail up or down wind, or how to control your speed. The two big lessons that will change windsurfing for you forever is using the harness and deep water take off. When using the harness, all the weight of the sail pulling you along the water is balance perfectly by your body sitting in this harness. You only steer with your arms, you do not have to hold the wind anymore. This is the only way you can sail is higher wind. The other lesson, deep water take off, allows you to use the wind to lift you out of the water and instantly be sailing. While you are learning you have to stand on the board and lift the sail out of the water which can be very difficult for the back.

Now that we’ve come this far, the open ocean sailing begins. This is like an E ticket at Disneyland. As you sail over the swells of the ocean quickly and quietly it’s easy to come across different sea life. Schools of dolphin will swim right under you insanely close but not hitting the board. You can sail very close to the sea turtles because of how silent it is. The swells are fun to sail up on over but having the swell behind you offers another feeling of power as it pushes the board along and you find yourself sailing and surfing at the same time. There is no question that all the months learning to sail have been worth it.

I have been very fortunate to have experienced this kind of sailing for many years. With this kind of adventure comes the safety aspect. The training I earlier explained offers the most support to be a safe sailor. There are three important safety messages I’d like to share. These safety tips are important to me because I learned them the hard way. Twice I was involved in rescues while windsurfing. I once help rescue a fellow sailor who had a stroke and on another occasion rescued a guy who broke his ankle while windsurfing. These stories brings me to my windsurfing safety tips.

Always wear a life jacket. It feels safe seeing that you’re using a board that floats well and even a harness helps but life and death situations can happen when you need to float face up or help another to stay afloat. Your board could float away.

Wear protection on your hands and feet. You’d like to believe you’ll just be sailing all day but broken equipment might find you standing on a reef or rocks.

If possible, try to always sail with someone. If my friend was sailing alone when he had a stroke he would not have survived. We never know when something odd might happen but we should be as safe as possible out on the water.

Be safe and enjoy the sailing!

Frugal Travel Tips For Cruises

Cruises are one of my favorite ways to see the world. I love falling asleep in one country and waking up in another, not having to pack and unpack. Cruise lines run the range of prices from value to super expensive. For frugal travelers, here are some tips to cut expenses.

Consider All Itineraries

When most people think of cruises, they think of the Caribbean, the Mediterrian, and perhaps Alaska. However, name an ocean port and there is likely a cruise sailing into it. And some of these itineraries can not be only bargains but a pleasant surprise. We once booked a 12 day Baltic cruise from London to St. Petersburg and return for less than the airfare from New York to London. It remains one of our favorite cruises.

Bring Your Own Non-Alcoholic Drinks

Food is normally included in the price of a cruise (except for dining at the exclusive restaurants). However, beverage other than water, coffee, tea, and if lucky iced tea come with an additional cost. So what we do is buy non-alcoholic beverages in ports (allowable – for alcoholic drinks, there is often a corking charge) and then pour them into glasses.

Make Your Own Tour

We’ve been on over a dozen cruises all over the world and have only done one ship organized tour (on our first cruise). They are expensive, move forward at the pace of the slowest traveler, and restrictive. For a well organized traveler, making their own arrangements is preferable.

One trick that we use is to look at the sights the ship tours cover and include those in our “tour.”

Note: Tour Directors will often tell of horror stories about passengers not getting back to the ship on time. The solution? Leave some extra time and do the far away venues first.

Big Breakfast, Late Dinner

For the frugal traveler, maximizing the time in port is a must. That means if possible choosing the late seating at dinner. Also we tend not to eat large lunches (if at all). Instead we eat a large breakfast on the ship (where the breakfast is free), snack on bits and bites of local food while on shore, and then top the day off with a leisurely late dinner.

Cruising is one of the favorite ways for this frugal traveler to see the world. And by using these tips, it is one luxury that can fit into a traveler’s budget.