Daily dose of nerdgasm

Tag archive


How to take better travel photos on your next big trip

in Travel Nerd by

take better travel photos

We’re always on the lookout for ways to take better travel photos. Today’s guest post was written by Mark Condon, the founder of Shotkit, a website dedicated to camera gear and photography. Mark shares a few tips on how to choose the right camera, what photo accessories you should pack, and some tips and tricks for capturing great photos.

How to take better travel photos

It’s often said that the best camera is the one you have with you. For most of us, that means our mobile phones. Modern phones do a decent job taking pictures, but they have limitations.

If you want to get creative with your photography, or get that envious blurred-background look, you’re much better off investing in a ‘real’ camera. By ‘real’ camera, I’m talking about compact cameras, mirrorless cameras or dSLRs.

Today I want to focus on mirrorless cameras.

Mirrorless cameras are a great option for travel. They have more functionality than a standard compact camera and are much lighter and easier to carry than bulky dSLR cameras.

take better travel photos

What is a mirrorless camera?

Whilst a dSLR camera uses a mirror to reflect the scene in front of you back up into the viewfinder, a mirrorless camera uses electronics to replace the mirror. This gives the huge advantage of being able to see your image before you press the shutter button.

With a dSLR or most compact cameras, you’re looking through a piece of glass at your scene. When you alter your camera settings, the scene doesn’t change.

However, the beauty of a mirrorless camera is that it uses something called an EVF (electronic view finder) to project the image into the viewfinder. When you adjust your settings, you can see the change those settings make to the image you’re about to take.

This ‘real-time preview’ is invaluable for learning about your camera and the 3 main components that go into controlling your image – shutter speed, ISO and aperture.

The mirrorless cameras vs dSLR debate is a long running one. In general, I’d recommend an enthusiast photographer invest in the latest technology. In this case, it’s the mirrorless camera.

take better travel photos

Choosing the right Mirrorless Camera for travel

I’ve done a lot of testing to find what I consider to be the best mirrorless cameras. I discuss numerous options on my blog, but today I want to keep things simple by suggesting two of my favourite mirrorless cameras.

These two cameras are small, lightweight and produce great images. They’re also inconspicuous. They look like old fashioned film cameras to the untrained eye, so shouldn’t attract much attention when you travel – at least not as much as a big dSLR and zoom lens would.

One caveat with mirrorless cameras is that the battery life isn’t great. If you want to shoot over 400-ish photos a day, it’s wise to pack a second battery.

Good mirrorless cameras aren’t cheap. But, like most things in life, you get what you pay for.

Olympus OMD-EM10 Mark II

I tested this camera’s big brother, the Olympus OMD-EM5 Mark II, during a 1 month family holiday around Europe.

After completing my review on the Olympus OMD-EM5 Mark II, a smaller, cheaper version was released with very similar functionality and identical image quality.

Here are the main functions of the Olympus OMD-EM10 Mark II:

  • 16MP Four Thirds Live MOS sensor
  • TruePic VII processor
  • 5-axis image stabilization
  • 2.36M-dot OLED EVF
  • Tilting 3″ touchscreen LCD
  • 1080/60p video
  • 4K time-lapse mode
  • Wi-Fi
  • Optional grip

The main benefit of the Olympus OMD-EM10 Mark II is the lightning fast auto focus. When traveling, it’s often necessary to grab a photo of something at a moment’s notice. Having a camera that can lock focus on the subject in milliseconds is a huge benefit, allowing you to quickly get the shot before it disappears.

Another thing I love about this camera is the tilting LCD screen. This function allows you to tap to focus and shoot. Being able to compose and shoot from waist level really is a great feature of the Olympus OMD-EM10 Mark II.

All the lightweight zoom lenses for the Olympus OMD-EM10 Mark II are great for travel. Normally I’d recommend a prime lens (ie. non-zoom), but when traveling, a zoom is more versatile.

Fuji X-T20

Similar to the Olympus, this Fuji mirrorless is a smaller, more affordable version of its big brother – the Fuji X-T2. You can read my review of this camera here.

Unless you absolutely need the functionality found in the X-T2, I’d recommend you consider the Fuji X-T20 for your next travel camera. It’s great value for money and the image quality is even better than the Olympus mentioned above (hence it being more expensive).

Let’s have a quick look at the key features of the Fuji X-T20:

  • 24MP X-Trans CMOS III sensor
  • Up to 325 selectable AF points (169 of which offer phase detection)
  • 2.36M-dot OLED electronic viewfinder
  • 3″ 1.04M-dot tilting touchscreen LCD
  • 4K UHD video at up to 30 fps, with clean output over HDMI
  • 8 fps continuous shooting with AF, 5 fps with live view
  • 2.5mm jack for external microphone or wired remote control
  • Dials for exposure compensation, shutter speed and drive mode

You’ll notice a big jump in mega pixels when compared to the Olympus. One benefit of having more megapixels is the ability to ‘crop’ to zoom your photo when editing. This comes in handy when you’re taking a photo of something in the distance and your zoom lens can’t quite reach it – when you get home, you have more ability to zoom in and crop the photo if you have higher mega-pixels.

The Fuji X-T20 has a flip out LCD screen, so benefits from its ability to be shot discreetly. However, where the Olympus wins this battle is in the speed of shooting via the LCD screen.

Fuji mirrorless cameras are well known for two things: (1) they produce gorgeous images, especially the colours, and (2) there’s a great selection of lenses to choose from.

Unless you have a good lens on your camera, you’re really limiting its performance – it’s like driving a Ferrari with the handbrake on!

Accessories for Travel Photography

Before writing this post, Cam asked that I mention some of the accessories I think are useful for travel photography. Whilst things like filters, tripods, batteries and camera bags serve a purpose, I’d recommend you travel light with your photography gear.

I wrote a post on the best camera bags for 2017, but when traveling with my family, I just wrap my camera in a shirt and throw it in my regular travel bag. There’s usually no need for a dedicated camera bag, especially for backpackers who need to carry so many other things.

An accessory you’ll want to bring is table top tripod or monopod (selfie stick). This item serves both purposes. While tripods are essential for long exposure photography, they can be quite clunky for travel. You can usually find a flat surface to steady your camera, so don’t weigh yourself down with more bulk. Table top tripods are compact and lightweight.

I also recommend a camera strap. I’m a big advocate of having your camera out (ie. not in a bag) and ready to use at a second’s notice. I don’t even use a lens cap. By having your camera on a strap, it will always be right where you need it.

A tip for camera straps – don’t wear it around your neck. Instead, wear it across your body like a messenger bag. That way you’ll be able to tuck the camera out of sight beneath your arm or slightly in front of it (not behind though, that can invite theft).

Finally, get yourself a couple of fast memory cards. As for the capacity, well, unless you’re traveling with a laptop to offload your photos each night, I’d recommend getting the biggest sized card you can afford. If you bring a couple of memory cards you can swap them at night and leave one in your hotel room. That way, in the event your camera is stolen or the card is damaged, you don’t loose all of your photos.

Read next – 15 Photos that will inspire you to visit Belize

Travel Photography Tips

I thought I’d end this post with a few photography tips. Most modern cameras offer the functionality I’m about to describe, but if yours doesn’t, don’t fret – all that matters at the end of the day is that you’re taking photos and documenting your memories.

For more photography tips, head over to my blog where my most recent post should interest those of you who, like Cam and Nicole, travel with the little ones – how to photograph children.


For those of you who don’t know, JPG and RAW are two types of image format. Typically, a camera applies its own ‘styling’ to a JPG file to make it look pretty, whereas a RAW is an unedited version of the picture you took.

There are pros and cons of each format, but if your camera has the functionality, I’d recommend you set it to use both formats at the same time.

With the cameras I recommended above, and many other cameras these days, the JPG quality is very good. As long as you know the basics of taking a good photo, you won’t need to spend time editing your photos at home.

However, by having the RAW file too, you have the option to really dig into the image file to unearth a lot of hidden data. Using a program like Lightroom, you can ‘push and pull’ your RAW files much more than a JPG. This gives you the chance to recover that an image that you ‘under exposed’ (i.e. too dark), or perhaps adjust the white balance to keep skin tones looking natural.

I wrote an ebook on Lightroom Tips for those of you who already have a solid grasp of Lightroom. If you’re not interested in editing your photos, stick to the JPGs and practice getting your photos right ‘in camera’.

take better travel photos

Exposure Bracketing

This is another function that most modern cameras have, where you are able to take a series of photos in quick succession, each with a different ‘exposure’. What this means is, you’ll end up with a series of the same photo, ranging from dark to light.

Just by pressing the shutter button once, you’ll have several images to choose from, meaning you don’t need to waste time trying to find the right exposure. This can be particularly useful for travel photography when you don’t have time to fiddle with your camera settings.

Exposure bracketing is also how to do HDR photography, which can result in powerful images.


Most cameras have Wi-Fi functionality these days. Wi-Fi is most commonly used to transfer images you shoot on your camera to your mobile devices, so you can share on social media.

Whether we like to admit it or not, one of the joys of traveling is sharing our photos with the world. Wi-Fi allows you to take a high quality photos on your camera, then share it easily via your phone or tablet.

However, one under-used functionality of camera Wi-Fi is the ability to take selfies, or group shots, where you also appear in the image. Next time you want to take a photo featuring yourself, try using your camera’s Wi-Fi instead.

To do this, you’ll need to download the corresponding remote app for your camera before you leave home. Then, when you’re ready to take your photo, place your camera on something sturdy and activate the Wi-Fi and the mobile app.

You should be able to see what your camera sees, allowing you to compose a great shot with you in it! I do this all the time when traveling with my family and highly recommend it.

take better travel photos

Bonus tip – set your camera to ‘timer mode’. That way when you press the shutter button on your mobile device, you can hide it away before the photo is taken. Viewers will be none the wiser at your ability to take such candid photos of you and your family.

take better travel photos

I hope you enjoyed this post on how to take better travel photos. I want to thank Cam and Nicole for having me and wish you all safe travels and happy snapping!


This guest post was written by Nottingham wedding photographer Mark Condon. Mark is the founder of Shotkit and author of the Shotkit Books, Lightroom Power User, More Brides and LIT.


Read next – 13 Awesome Photos from Around the World


How to take better travel photos on your next big trip is a post from: Traveling Canucks

Traveling Canucks

Travel by superchinois801 TRANG Gerard

in Photo Nerd by

Travel by superchinois801 TRANG Gerard

Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset

superchinois801 TRANG Gerard: Photos


Travel Back to the Prehistoric Times in Valle de la Prehistoria, Cuba

in Travel Nerd by

You might be bored and want something random to do. Why not head out and go have a fun time at the park? No, not the park where you go for family picnics. Better go to the one in Cuba which is an odd thing to see because the park is not the place where you’d like to relax, but a place where you can warp back to the prehistoric times – complete with dinosaurs. Valle de la Prehistoria is Cuba’s own Jurassic Park.

Photo Source :Halbmastwurf

Photo Source :Halbmastwurf

Valle de la Prehistoria is 11 hectares of prehistoric-themed tourist attraction with over 200 life-sized dinosaurs and cavemen. That’s huge enough to make you feel that you’ve really gone back to the time where everything’s full of vegetation, less urban infrastructures and technology. The area is split up into different areas with geological epoch divisions from Paleozoic to Mesozoic to Cenozoic times, man-made waterfalls, and the green fields populated by 227 statues representing 59 different species like dinosaurs, mammoths, felines, and early cavemen.

Photo Credit: johan van moorhem

Photo Credit: johan van moorhem

Photo Source :Francisco Hechavarría

Photo Source :Francisco Hechavarría

One of the must-sees in Valle de la Prehistoria is the 12-meter-high Cro-magnon that will welcome you once you go in the park’s entrance. Something worth knowing is that all sculptures are made by the inmates of a local prison.

Photo Credit: Lucía Castillo

Photo Credit: Lucía Castillo

Photo Source :Marlene Montoya

Photo Source :Marlene Montoya

Valle de la Prehistoria is located at Cuba’s Baconao Park which is just 20km from Santiago de Cuba. Besides the dinosaur park, Baconao Park also has a collection of 2,500 miniature car models and a museum dedicated to the attack on Moncada. You can even visit Granjita Siboney, the farm known to be the place where Fidel Castro and his rebels planned the July 26th movement.

When On Earth – For People Who Love Travel | RSS Feed

10 Common Family Travel Mistakes (and how to avoid them)

in Travel Nerd by

Family travel mistakes

Family travel trips: Common mistakes and how to avoid them

We’re in full trip planning mode right now. In just a few days we will be traveling to Ireland for the first time. This trip will also be the first time Connor, our youngest, will cross the Atlantic and set foot on European soil. He’s 2.5 years old right now, which is not an ideal age to take a long haul flight, so we’re crossing our fingers everything goes smoothly.

We’ve been mapping out our road trip around the island nation and firming up the 2 week itinerary. We want to limit the number of unexpected surprises, so we’re spending a little extra time researching this trip.

Times have certainly changed. Once upon a time we would just show up to a new destination and let our curiousity guide us.

Those days seem like a lifetime ago.

Family travel mistakes

As we put more thought into this upcoming trip to Europe, we are reminded of the lessons learned while traveling with young children. We’ve taken our boys to quite a few places over the past couple of years and each trip has taught us something new.

In many cases, we’ve learned what NOT to do!

Today, we want to share some of the mistakes we’ve made and the lessons we’ve learned from our travel experiences.

We share most of our travel stories on this blog and our social media channels, which opens the door to plenty of feedback from other traveling families. The big takeaway from these comments, tweets and messages is that we are not alone. Every parent wants to make their family travel experiences enjoyable and memorable, but things don’t always go according to plan.

In an effort to share the learning, here are a few family travel mistakes we’ve made… and how we now avoid these mistakes.

Family travel tips

(1) Don’t try to do everything in one day.

In other words, SLOW DOWN. 

Don’t try to replicate the way you used to travel before having children. Things are different now, so try not to squeeze too many activities or sightseeing into one day. We plan our big activity or adventure in the morning when everyone is fresh and recharged. Then we break up the day and spend quiet time back at the hotel/apartment.

It’s important to accept the fact that you can’t see and do everything on your wish list.

The most enjoyable family travel experiences we’ve had are the ones where we’ve set proper expectations for each day. The worst thing you can do is put yourself in a position where you’re constantly feeling rushed or disappointed because you didn’t check every box on the list.

Why bring unnecessary stress to your vacation? Slow down. Embrace the little moments and set realistic expectations for each day.


(2) Book accommodations with separate sleeping areas.

Consider this, if everyone is piled into a standard hotel room you’ll likely need to go to sleep when your children do. What else are you going to do? You can’t leave the lights on. You can’t watch a movie or have a conversation. If you do, it will be tough for your kids to fall asleep. And you can’t leave them alone in the hotel room by themselves.

To ensure everyone gets a good night’s sleep, it’s best to find accommodations that have separate sleeping areas.

We look for accommodations that have one or two bedroom suites, instead of the standard hotel room that come with two queen-sized beds. You will likely pay a little more for this convenience, but a good night’s sleep is an essential ingredient for successful family travel.

In some cases, you might actually spend less money by staying at an apartment rental. Most apartments come with a kitchen, which is super convenient when traveling with little ones, especially when one has a food allergy. Having access to a fridge, stove and microwave makes a BIG difference.

If you’ve never booked an apartment rental before (and there are a lot of you out there!), a good place to start is AirBnB and VRBO. Give it a try. It’s a great way to travel with kids.

Family travel mistakes

(3) Book your accommodations in a central location.

Building on the above point, it’s always a good idea to be located close to attractions, restaurants, amenities and transportation. We used to book accommodations outside the city center to save money but we’ve learned that’s a big mistake when traveling as a family. When you factor in the cost of taxis, transportation or parking, it doesn’t take long for those savings to evaporate.

You never know how much time you have before your kids burn out.

Being close to the things you want to see and do will increase the amount of time you have to actually explore and have fun. It also gives you more flexibility if things go sideways. If your kids have an accident or need of a nap, it’s nice to be close to your accommodations.

When booking near tourist attractions, be careful not to get sucked into tourist traps. You can save a lot of money on restaurants that are located a few blocks away from the popular attractions.

Read next: Taking a Caribbean Cruise? Here’s what you need to know

Family travel tips

(4) Jet lag is real. Plan for the worst, hope for the best.

Crossing oceans can be tough on little ones. Who am I kidding, it can be tough on big ones too. The first time we traveled overseas with Braydon was a real eye opening experience. Literally. He had his eyes wide open at 3:00 AM. This lasted for 3 nights. Not fun.

Since that trip, we’ve learned to give ourselves a few days to adjust.

We don’t plan any big activities the day after we arrive. Instead, we take it slow and let our moods dictate how the day will play out. We also look for nicer accommodations that have a swimming pool. If no pool is available, we make sure there is at least a bath tub in the room.

Soaking in a swimming pool seems to really help the adjustment period.

It’s okay to do nothing while everyone adjusts. Even if that means watching movies and ordering room service. Don’t put unrealistic expectations on the first 24-48 hours.

Read next: Should San Juan be on your family travel wish list?

Family travel mistakes

(5) Choose your seats at the time of booking.

This is a big one, especially for long haul flights. Don’t risk being seated in separate areas. Most airlines will group families together in the same row, but don’t rely on this. If you don’t choose your seats at the time of booking you might end up sitting on opposite ends of the plane.

We travel as a family of four, so there have been a few times when we’ve been seated in different rows. If you wait until check-in to select your seats it may be too late to find seats that are grouped together.

Flight attendants will usually help when this error occurs, but it means asking other people to move and it creates unnecessary tension during the boarding process. And, if you do have to switch seats, and your luggage is in an overhead compartment that’s behind you, it delays the off-loading experience and can be quite frustrating for everyone.

You may be required to pay extra to reserve your seats, depending on the airline and distance. Yes, it’s an additional expense and it’s super annoying, but we pay the fee to ensure we get the seats we want. Both of our boys love the window seat, so it’s important that we get at least one window seat on every flight.

Travel Tip: Normally when you reserve seats by redeeming Miles or Points, like Aeroplan, the seat assignment fee is included, so there’s no extra charge to select your preferred seats.

On our upcoming 10 hour flight to Dublin, the window row on the plane has only 2 seats, instead of the typical 3 seat row. We booked two window seat rows (4 seats total) that are beside each other, so each boy will get a window seat and we get the aisle. Everybody wins.

Read next: Do you bring your baby car seat when you travel?

Family travel mistakes

(6) Pay more for direct flights, it’s worth it.

Whenever possible, book direct flights. Why put yourself through the agony of connecting flights? 

Now, we completely understand that direct flights are not always an option. But if there is a direct option – take it! Even if it costs more. You will be so glad you did.

On our recent trip to Puerto Rico we had connecting flights in Dallas-Fort Worth. We ended up staying the night at an airport hotel because the connecting flight didn’t arrive in San Juan until 2:00 AM. Not an ideal situation with little ones. This made for an extremely long travel day(s). The same thing happened on the return flight home. It was a painful experience.

In this example, there was no direct flight available from Vancouver to San Juan, but it reminded us to choose destinations that offer direct fights, even if it means paying more.

In fact, that’s one of the reasons why we chose to travel to Ireland this summer.

Family travel tips

(7) Don’t rely on airlines or hotels for entertainment.

We learned this lesson the hard way. Now we always bring a tablet loaded with games and shows. In fact, we always bring 3 tablets now. One for each boy and one for us.

The current state of the airline industry is pretty sad. Gone are the days when service was a big part of the in-flight experience. Nowadays, you get one beverage and, if you’re lucky, the food cart will still have a sandwich available for purchase by the time it makes it to your row.

In-flight entertainment systems are hit and miss these days. 

Personally, I don’t understand why an airline would choose to not provide entertainment to its passengers, especially for flights longer than 3 hours.

We flew to Hawaii on West Jet a few years ago and there was nothing available – no televisions, no tablets to rent, no magazines, no newspapers. And this was a brand new plane! We were unprepared because we made the mistake of assuming that basic entertainment would be provided. That was a very long and very boring 6 hour flight.

Don’t make the mistake of relying on entertainment at hotels either. Believe it or not, there are still some hotels that charge guests for wifi usage. It’s so annoying. At home, we use our tablets to watch Netflix or YouTube. We don’t even think about wifi availability… it just works. The problem with this mindset is that it’s too easy to forget about Plan B. What happens if there’s no wifi available?

We make sure our tablets and phones have a few cartoons saved on each device. That way we aren’t held hostage if the wifi isn’t working or costs too much.

Read next: 13 Tips for Successful Baby Travel

Family travel mistakes

(8) Cheap flights can be deceiving.

Everybody loves a great deal. It’s hard to resist a ridiculously cheap flight. But often times these cheap flights depart and arrive from remote airports that can be located quite far from the actual destination.

This happened to us when we purchased a connecting flight in Paris. We got a cheap flight from Paris to Glasgow on RyanAir, but the departure airport was Orly Airport and we had arrived at Charles de Gaulle Airport. It took us almost 2 hours to get to the other airport and we spend an additional 50 Euros each in train/bus tickets. The airfare savings disappeared quickly.

Now, as a solo traveler, departing from a remote airport might not be a big deal. But when you’re traveling with kids, and all the crap that comes with them, this creates unnecessary stress for everyone. It might actually cost you more when you factor in taxis, buses or parking.

Lesson learned – sometimes it’s worth the extra $ 100 to save a few hours of pain.

Family travel mistakes

(9) Give yourself enough time between connecting flights.

Forgive me for stating the obvious, but it’s worth mentioning that you should always give yourself enough time between connecting flights. If you travel frequently for business or as a solo traveler, you likely try to find the shortest layover time possible. While that strategy may work when traveling solo, it’s not a good idea when traveling with young kids.

Everything takes longer with kids. Going through security, eating at a restaurant, using the bathroom, boarding the plane. It always seems to take twice as long with kids.

It’s wise to give yourself at least 1.5 hours between connecting flights, but we prefer 3 hours. The reason we like a little more time is because we like to eat a real meal at a restaurant and we like to give our boys time to run around the airport.

It also gives us a safe buffer in the event that the flight is delayed.

Read next: 15 Baby travel items we travel with (and you should too)

Family travel mistakes

 (10) Don’t book too late, or too early.

It’s a delicate balance. You want to get the best price so you wait a few days, or weeks, to see if the price will come down. But, in the process, you run the risk of losing seat availability.

Experts say that the best time to purchase flights is between 6 to 8 weeks before the departure date. 

Before kids, we had no problem sacrificing flight availability for price. We would take the cheapest option even if it meant doubling the travel time or leaving a few days later. We were much more flexible back then.

Now that we travel with kids, we want to arrive at our destination as quickly as possible. We avoid connecting flights and we prefer to depart and arrive at reasonable hours (we don’t do 6:00 AM departures anymore).

To secure these ideal flights, we have to book early. The sacrifice is that we sometimes pay more for these desirable flights. We feel it’s a fair trade off.

Of course, you can always wait for last minute deals, but we’ve never found these to be worth the stress of not being able to properly plan. Plus, last minute deals typically have weird departure times and lots of connecting flights.

Read next: There’s MUCH more to Peru than Machu Picchu

Family travel mistakes

Don’t forget the small stuff!

You never know what will happen on your trip so you need to be prepared for everything.

So, when I say small stuff, I’m referring to the less obvious items like nail clippers, liquid dish soap, Children’s Tylenol, band-aids, lolly-pops, zip-lock bags, kid’s sun glasses, sun block, plastic bowls and cups, batteries, etc.

Take the time to make a list of all the things you think you’ll need.

Then, make sure you actually pack these items!

Family travel mistakes

What about you? What family travel mistakes have you made?

Share your family travel tips in the comments section below.


10 Common Family Travel Mistakes (and how to avoid them) is a post from: Traveling Canucks

Traveling Canucks

Travel Expectations vs. Reality

in Design Nerd by

Should you add San Juan to your travel wish list?

in Travel Nerd by

Beach, Isla Verde, San Juan, Puerto Rico

Quick travel guide to San Juan, Puerto Rico

Located on the north-eastern coast of Puerto Rico, San Juan is the capital and largest city on this fascinating Caribbean island. Given it’s prime location in the heart of the Caribbean Sea, it’s no surprise that Puerto Rico is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the Caribbean. 

Aside from its many sandy beaches, San Juan is a city rich with history and culture. It’s a Latin American city with Spanish-based culture mixed with African traditions and Taíno culture. It is the second oldest European-established capital city in the Americas and the oldest under United States jurisdiction.

We did a little research about San Juan prior to visiting, but our research did nothing to prepare us for how much we would fall in love with the walled city of Old San Juan. 

Most of our research highlighted San Juan’s former defensive forts, Fort San Felipe del Morro and Fort San Cristóbal, as the prime tourist attractions in San Juan, but the clear highlight from our time in Puerto Rico was wandering the cobblestone streets of Old San Juan, admiring its colourful buildings and remarkable European-influenced architecture.

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

San Juan, Puerto Rico

Should you travel to San Juan?

If you haven’t visited San Juan (or seen photos of the city) you’ll likely be surprised by the size of it. This is not a quaint Caribbean town on a laid-back tropical island. It’s a metropolis with tall skyscrapers, highways and all of the American brands you’d expect to see in a major US city.

I mention this not to sway you from visiting, but to set proper expectations.

We were quite surprised when we looked out the window of the airplane and saw the size of the city as we approached the airport. We expected to see a small town with a few low rise buildings and tall palm trees, not giant condominiums and bright neon advertisements.

San Juan, Puerto Rico

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

The city is divided into old and new.

The new part of the city includes the business district, thriving seaport, residential neighborhoods and popular beach strips like Isla Verde and El Condado.

The old part of town, founded by Spanish colonists in 1521, is where most tourists will spend their time. The old walled city is filled with cobblestone streets, brightly painted colonial buildings and fortifications that have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Read next: The colourful streets of Old San Juan

While Old San Juan is a monument to the past, new San Juan is a vibrant city that captivates residents and visitors alike with its beaches, nightclubs, casinos, museums and restaurants.

It’s not a cheap destination though, especially if your home currency is not $ US, so you’ll need to adjust your expectations if you think Puerto Rico is a cheap destination like Mexico. It’s more comparable to Miami or Honolulu.

Carnival Cruise ship terminal, Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

San Juan Cruise Port

The Caribbean is the most popular cruising destination in the world and San Juan has one of the busiest cruise ports in the Caribbean. In fact, the San Juan Cruise Port is said to host an estimated 500 cruise ships (approximately 18 different cruise lines), resulting in over 2 million cruise ship passengers per year. That’s a lot of cruisers!

Because San Juan is the anchor for most Eastern and Southern Caribbean cruises, and it’s a turnaround port for many cruise ships, most cruisers will end up in San Juan at some point in their Caribbean travels.

Read next: Taking a Caribbean Cruise? Here’s what you need to know

Don’t make the common mistake of only giving yourself a day before and after your cruise ship experience. There’s so much to see and do in San Juan that you’ll want to allow yourself at least 3-4 days.

We spent 3 days in San Juan prior to our cruise departure and 5 days afterwards, which gave us plenty of time to fully experience the city and spend a few days lounging on the beach.

The most popular areas for tourists stay are Old San Juan, Ocean Park, Isla Verde and Condado. We stayed in both Old San Juan (3 days at the Sheraton Old San Juan) and Isla Verde (5 days at an apartment rental on the beach).

Beach, Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Things to do in San Juan, Puerto Rico

Like most coastal cities, San Juan has a lot to offer beach lovers and water sport enthusiasts. The most popular beaches in San Juan are Condado, Playa Escambron, Ocean Park and Isla Verde (Carolina)

These beaches sit on the northern coast of Puerto Rico and can get quite windy at times, which makes ideal conditions for kite-surfing, wind surfing, body boarding and surfing (you’ll need to ask the locals about where the best surf spots are – surfing just ain’t my thing).

You can rent personal watercrafts (sea doo or jet ski) at most of the city beaches. There were a few different vendors near our apartment on Playa de Isla Verde. The going rate was approx US$ 80 for 30 minutes. It’s not cheap, especially with the way the $ CDN is valued these days, but they looked like powerful machines.

You can also book snorkeling, scuba diving, deep sea fishing, whale watching and catamaran tours from most tour operators and hotels. Basically, whatever you want to do, San Juan has you covered.

Fort San Juan Puerto Rico

San Felipe del Morro Fort, San Juan, Puerto Rico

Sightseeing in Old San Juan

If you’re on a cruise and you only have a few hours in San Juan, sightseeing in Old San Juan should be at the top of your list. The old city is a relatively small area so it’s easy to do a self guided tour. Put away the map and let your curiousity take over. Wandering the streets and getting lost is the best way to discover its hidden alleyways and authentic restaurants and shops.

Note: It’s quite hilly in some areas and the roads are mostly cobblestone, so it’s not the best terrain for a baby stroller. You can take a free trolley service – see below for details.

The must visit attractions in San Juan are the fortification of La Fortaleza and the San Juan National Historic Site, which includes the three forts of San Felipe del Morro, San Cristóbal and San Juan de la Cruz and a large portion of the City Wall. These historical sights are designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Church in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Other points of interest in Old San Juan:

  • Plaza de Armas – one of the main squares in San Juan
  • Cathedral of San Juan Bautista (pictured above)
  • Parque de las Palomas
  • Puerta de San Juan or San Juan Gate
  • Fortaleza Street – shopping and restaurants
  • Plaza de Ballaja (also referred as Ballajá Barracks)
  • Plaza San Juan Bautista
  • Museums – Casa de la Familia and Museo de la Farmacia

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

If you have time, check out Paseo de la Princesa, a 19th-century esplanade that wraps around the ancient city walls. The walkway ends at the stunning Raíces Fountain, which symbolizes the island’s cultural roots (pictured above). We began our walking tour here and it was nice that is has plenty of shade to escape the hot mid-day sun.

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Free Trolley transportation around Old San Juan

There are 4 routes to choose from with 26 marked stops throughout Old San Juan (similar to a bus stop). There are two types of trolleys – an open-aired trolley that looks like a train of over-sized golf carts and another trolley that looks like a small bus.

The longest route takes about 30 minutes to complete. The circuit passes most of the popular attractions on the way, so you can hop on and off as you please. It’s not a tour and there are no tour guides giving you information, but it’s a great way to see the sights, especially when you’re traveling with two little ones.

Bio-bay kayaking tour, Puerto Rico

Bioluminescent Kayak Tour in Fajardo

There are plenty of things to do in Puerto Rico but there is one adventure that stands out from the rest – night kayaking to Laguna Grande to witness the amazing bioluminescent phenomenon.

There are only a few places in the world that offer such an opportunity, so we made it a priority to include this kayaking adventure during our visit to San Juan.

Read about our tour here: Bioluminescent Kayak Tour in Fajardo

Pirate ship, Caribbean, San Juan, Puerto Rico

Pirate ship, Caribbean, San Juan, Puerto Rico

Explore a real Pirate Ship in the Caribbean

Docked beside the cruise ship port on Calle Marina, across the street from the Sheraton Old San Juan hotel, is a beautiful wood pirate ship. Okay, so it’s not actually a real pirate ship, but it’s a pretty awesome replica, and your kids won’t know the difference! Our boys saw it and immediately wanted to check it out.

We’re not sure how often the boat is docked there, but if you see it there, it’s worth checking out. It cost $ 10 per adult and $ 5 per child over 5 years old. You only need 15-30 minutes to see it all, so it’s a fun activity for younger children.

Bacardi Rum Distillery Tour

If you love rum, a visit to the largest premium rum distillery in the world is a must. You can book a tour or catch the ferry from Old San Juan to the Bacardi Distillery. The ferry is only $ 0.50 per person. When you arrive in Catano, take a short taxi to the factory for approx $ 3.00 per person.

More details on its website – http://www.visitcasabacardi.com/

El Yunque Rain Forest 

El Yunque National Forest, formerly known as the Luquillo National Forest, is the only tropical rain forest in the United States National Forest system. It’s one of the most biologically diverse national forests in the US, hosting hundreds of animal and plant species, some of which are endemic to Puerto Rico.

Start your visit at the El Portal Rain Forest Center to get familiar with the park. You don’t need a guided tour but there are many available. Highlights of the park are its many hiking trails, the Yokahu Observation Tower, Coca Falls and La Mina Falls.

Fort, San Juan, Puerto Rico

Rent a car and explore surrounding areas

Another fun thing to do is rent a car and explore San Juan and its surrounding area. There are some great lookout spots and quiet beaches just outside the city that are too far to reach by transit, so renting a car is a fairly cheap way to experience these spots. Driving is similar to what you would expect in Canada or the US.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking San Juan is a cheaper destination, like Cuba or the Domincan Republic. Prices are similar to the United States, if not a little more pricey given that it’s a touristy destination. There are large banks and ATM’s around town that dispense US dollars.

Playa Isla Verde, San Juan, Puerto Rico

Playa Isla Verde, San Juan, Puerto Rico

Playa Isla Verde, San Juan, Puerto Rico

How’s the beach in San Juan?

The beaches in San Juan were quite nice. We found the sand to be silky, soft and (mostly) clean. The beaches play a big role in San Juan’s culture, so they can get quite busy during the day. We spent most of our time at Playa Isla Verde, which tends to see a mixed blend of locals, expats and tourists.  

There are plenty of palm trees on the beach so we always had shade available, which is essential with little ones. You can also rent beach chairs and umbrellas directly on the beach. The going rate was about $ 20 for a chair and umbrella for the day.

Some hotels include beach equipment for its guests. Our apartment rental came with fold up beach chairs that we brought down to the beach.

We purchased some cheap shovels and pails for the kids at the Walgreens store that is located across the street from our apartment rental, so our boys were able to play in the sand for hours.

We didn’t end up swimming in the ocean because our boys are still too small and we worried about the waves and strong undertow. But, we did play in the waves that crashed on the shore.

Police Buggy, Playa Isla Verde, San Juan, Puerto Rico

Is San Juan safe?

Yes, San Juan is safe and friendly. The tourist zones in Puerto Rico are safe and a police presence is visible, particularly in Old San Juan and in the resort areas of Isla Verde and Condado.

Of course, common sense and basic safety measures should always be practiced. Don’t get stupid drunk and flash your cash, don’t wander the dark streets or beaches alone at night, don’t get into stranger’s cars, etc. You get the idea. 

It’s a big city, so it has all of the typical big city problems, like opportunistic crimes, drugs, gangs, etc.

I found this quote on TripAdvisor: “The realistic tourist should know that San Juan’s crime rate is comprable to New Orleans and Detroit, a little more than 9 times that of New York City and 7 times the rate in Los Angeles. Caution is important, but paranoia is overdoing it. Old San Juan, Isla Verde and Condado are generally considered to be almost crime-free.”[source]

Tourism drives the local economy, so residents are very welcoming and English is widely spoken understood. 

Isla Verde Beach, San Juan, Puerto Rico

What about the food in San Juan?

The food scene in San Juan is great, especially in the tourist areas. Like the people of Puerto Rico, the food is quite diverse and influenced by generations past. We love that many of the restaurants have an outdoor space, either along a sidewalk or on a patio.

We even found a few restaurants right on the beach, so we were able put our toes in the sand while eating lunch. This is a huge win when dining out with little ones. We enjoyed a couple of cold cervezas while our boys ran around in the sand – everybody wins!


Here are a few recommendations for restaurants in San Juan:

  • Palio – Located in the Sheraton Old San Juan. It has the best patio for happy hour beers. The view is outstanding and the beers are served in a frosty cold cup. 
  • The Boutique Cafe & Lounge – Best for tapas and small plates. Located in the Condado area, it is best to go for brunch. 
  • José Enrique – Serves up Latin American & Puerto Rican cuisine. Try the traditional PR dishes, they are excellent. 
  • Casita Miramar – Great spot for authentic Puerto Rican food. During the week they are mainly only open for dinner, but have longer hours on the weekend. 
  • Punto de Vista Restaurant – Located in Old San Juan. They serve up delicious Puerto Rican and Latin American food. It’s good for both lunch and dinner. 
  • Verde Mesa – Go for the Caribbean, Vegan and Vegetarian options. Located in Old San Juan, it’s great for dinner. 
  • El Jibarito – Serving up Latin American and Puerto Rican, it’s great for lunch or dinner. You must try the mofongo, it is so good! 
  • Molinis Cafe and Restaurant – Located in Condado, it serves Latin American food. The menu changes daily based on the availability of local ingredients. It’s great for both lunch or dinner. 
  • Ropa Vieja Grill – Located in the Condado area, it serves up Cuban and Latin American cuisine. The black bean risotto and the canoas is the recommended dish. It’s best to go here for dinner.
  • St Germain Bistro and Cafe – Get the basil mojito. Here you’ll find salads and sandwiches. It’s best for lunch. 
  • Intercontinental in Isla Verde – The restaurant on the beach was a great place for beers, views and pub style food. The portions were huge. 

Note: San Juan has all of the typical American food brands available, including Chillis, McDonalds, Taco Bell, Subway, Senor Frogs, etc. If you’re not feeling adventurous you can always default to a familiar dining experience. 

Sheraton Old San Juan Hotel, Puerto Rico

Where to stay in San Juan?

Puerto Rico has plenty of accommodation options that fit every lifestyle, budget and timeline. Thanks to foreign investment, hundreds of beautiful vacation properties have been built over the past ten years. Most of these are available for rent on websites like VRBO, AirBnB (save $ 27 here) and VacationRentals.

We spent 3 days in Old San Juan and 5 days at Playa Isla Verde. 

We stayed at at the Sheraton Old San Juan Hotel (pictured above) for two nights before our Caribbean cruise. The hotel was in the perfect location for cruise ship travelers. It’s conveniently located directly across the street from the cruise ship terminal and it’s within walking distance to all of the Old San Juan tourist attractions.

The rooms are a good size and we had no problem getting a standard crib for Connor. The hotel has a rooftop pool that offers outstanding views of San Juan Bay. 

Apartment rental on Isla Verde Beach, San Juan, Puerto Rico

Rainbow views from our apartment balcony.

For the second part of our stay, we rented a spacious 2 bedroom apartment located in the Isla Verde area (pictured above). It was directly on the beach and had a nice pool.

There are several restaurants within walking distance, both on the beach and on the main road. There are also a few big casinos in the neighborhood.

It’s a nice area to spend a few days lounging on the beach, which is precisely what we were looking for.

Isla Verde Beach Hotel, San Juan

We spent an afternoon on the beach in front of the nearby InterContinental San Juan Hotel. We checked out the pool area and captured the above photo. Not a bad place to spend the day!

Isla Verde Beach, San Juan, Puerto Rico

When is the best time to visit San Juan?

The most popular time to visit is during the winter and cruise ship season, from November to April. San Juan has a tropical monsoon climate and enjoys an average temperature of 81.0 °F (27.2 °C) year round.

In the winter, temperatures can drop to around 60 °F (16 °C). In the summer, temperatures can climb to 90 °F (32 °C) or higher. We visited at the beginning of January, in peak season, and it was warm. Some days got to over 30 degree Celsius. 

San Juan gets very busy during winter, so accommodation prices are higher and availability is limited. We noticed a big jump in prices starting January 1st vs earlier in December.

But let’s get serious, there’s never a bad time to visit Puerto Rico!

San Juan Puerto Rico

How to get to San Juan?

The tourist areas are conveniently located close to San Juan Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport. Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States, which makes it very easy for Americans to visit. Flights departing from the United States and arriving in San Juan are not treated any differently than domestic flights for US citizens. This means that Americans don’t need to have a passport in order to visit this Caribbean island.

Note: some United States airlines/airports may classify San Juan, Puerto Rico as a domestic flight, while others will classify it as an international flight. Make sure you confirm your departure terminal ahead of time – don’t make assumptions. 

Old San Juan Puerto Rico

Old San Juan Puerto Rico

We booked our flights online and used our Aeroplan miles, which helped make this trip more affordable. In the past we had to book using a computer internet browser, however Aeroplan recently announced that members can now use the new Aeroplan app to book flights. Flight Reward bookings can be made for both roundtrip and one-way flight rewards. 

The most convenient way to get around San Juan is to take a taxi or rent a car. It shouldn’t cost more than $ 40 USD for a taxi (on the high end) from the airport to Old Town, Condado, or Isla Verde, but make sure you confirm with the taxi stand before you leave. Most taxis charge extra per bag.

We took a taxi from the airport to the Sheraton Old San Juan hotel and it cost US$ 30 for a private 7-passenger van that was able to take all of us (4 adults, 2 kids) and our luggage. These large 7-person taxi vans are common place in San Juan, which made traveling with a large group very easy and stress free.

Palm trees on Isla Verde Beach, San Juan, Puerto Rico

Should you add San Juan to your travel list?

San Juan is an interesting and diverse city that has a lot to offer its visitors. It deserves to be a stand alone destination, not just a travel hub for cruise ship passengers.

Sure, it has fantastic white sandy beaches and tall palm trees, but you’d expect that from a Caribbean island. It also has lush rain forests, rugged mountain peaks and exotic coastlines. Again, that’s what we would expect from a Caribbean island.

But what really makes this city special is its fusion of past and present. 

From the European-influenced colonial buildings and cobblestone streets of Old San Juan to the lavish resorts, stylish restaurants and trendy nightclubs on Playa Isla Verde, San Juan has all the ingredients for a perfect vacation. It’s safe, friendly and accessible, and it’s oozing with culture, creativity and Caribbean sizzle.

Yes, you should definitely add San Juan to your travel wish list – but only if you like visiting awesome paces.


Have you visited San Juan? What did you think? 

Share your feedback and travel tips in the comments section below!

Should you add San Juan to your travel wish list? is a post from: Traveling Canucks

Traveling Canucks

Epiphone Mo’Baby. A travel sized version of the Gibson Moderne

in Guitar Nerd by


I’ve always regarded the Gibson Moderne as an important piece of guitar history and Gibson lore. From it’s early days as a Gibson that basically didn’t really exist, to the reissues with varying headstock designs, it certainly holds a place in the pantheon of electric guitar. 
But, I don’t really like it. 
Here we have another reissue under the Epiphone flag that turns the Moderne into a smaller travel sized offering. This somehow makes more sense to me as a concept even if branding it “Mo’Baby” is a tad ridiculous.
I wonder if there is the option of keeping the built in speaker on while playing through an outboard amp as well. And if it would offer any string response or feedback to do so. Has anyone tried this wit speaker equipped electric guitars?
R.W. Haller

© 2015, Guitarz – The Original Guitar Blog – the blog that goes all the way to 11

Please read our photo and content policy.

Guitar Blog

Human Takes His Dog On Epic Adventures, Proves That Dogs Are The Best Travel Buddies

in Design Nerd by

This is Aspen, a Golden Retriever from Colorado who proves that not only are dogs man’s best friends, they also make the best travelling buddies.

Aspen lives in Colorado with Hunter Lawrence, his owner and personal photographer, and whether he’s kayaking, hiking, swimming in crystal clear mountain lakes or cruising around in a VW Camper, Aspen loves nothing more than getting back to nature. Except for posing for pictures that is.

Hunter and his wife adopted Aspen when he was just six-weeks old, and since then he’s traveled to eight different states. His enviable adventures have earned him a sizable following on Instagram (almost 95 thousand and counting), but he allows his owner to run his account for him so he can spend more time doing what he does best: exploring the Colorado wilderness.

More info: Instagram | Facebook | Hunter Lawrence




















Bored Panda

Realest Air Travel Terms You’ve Probably Experienced When Flying

in Travel Nerd by

Traveling is fun but only if you’re at your destination, already doing the usual stuff like sightseeing and munching on some street food you’re so unsure about. The word “traveling” looks so luxurious but for those who’ve done this for many times, you’ll know it’s not that fun at all. Remember when you’re in the airport waiting for your flight? Think about that and the other things you expect to go after, something like boarding on the plane, looking for your seat, and just sit for hours until you land. These – to be all honest – don’t belong to the things you’re excited about every time you fly.

And maybe that’s why words to describe every airport and flight experience are invented. Have you ever encountered or felt one of these?

Photo Credit: Mashablea

Photo Credit: Mashablea

Photo Credit: Mashablea

Photo Credit: Mashablea

Photo Credit: Mashablea

Photo Credit: Mashablea

Photo Credit: Mashablea

Photo Credit: Mashablea

Photo Credit: Mashablea

Photo Credit: Mashablea

Photo Credit: Mashablea

Photo Credit: Mashablea


That’s not all, friends! For more of Mashable’s funny air travel terms, click here. If you’ve got your own original entry for this visual dictionary, then share it with us!

When On Earth – For People Who Love Travel | RSS Feed

A look back at the 5 best travel experiences in 2015

in Travel Nerd by

Wonderful little cities like Bergamo and Mantua, the enchanting lake Garda and lake Como, fantastic festivals like the Sagra dei Crotti in pretty Chiavenna, a lovely food celebration, or the Festa dei Fiori in Monte Isola, on the little known Iseo Lake.

The Lombardy region has so much to offer!

Learning to appreciate Milan

If I were to choose between a big city and a smaller town or nature, I would usually have no doubts. It would be the second option.

Milan, Piazza del Carmine

After growing up in a village in Switzerland, coming back to Italy and Milan was hard. It was not my environment and I felt uncomfortable. I tried to appreciate Milan, but although I lived there for a very long time I was not really able to do so. Truth is that over the last few years I tried to spend “at home” (in brackets, because I never really felt Milan as “home”) as little time as possible. I loved my house, the one filled with my memories, but that was it.

However, working on the above-mentioned #InLombardy project for the Lombardy region (in connection with the Emilia Romagna Tourism Board), I happened to spend more time in Milan that I would have done, had it been a deliberate choice.

I thus found myself in the position to look at the city where I’m based (although I do spend only a little time here) with different eyes. For the first time, I had to look at Milan through the eyes of a visitor. Not only, since I was supposed to promote the city and, therefore, find a number of reasons Milan can be attractive. It was indeed a fantastic discovery, first of all for me. For the first time, I was poised to look at the place where I’m based in a different fashion. And the outcome was surprising.

EXPO2015 certainly played a relevant role in transforming the city, perhaps not always for the better but with a number of noteworthy improvements, from the very good bike and car sharing services to the redeveloping of interesting neighborhoods, like the Isola district, where I discovered that Milan is more than just a business and shopping city.

Fun on the snow with my disabled wonderful nephew

I’m a solo, independent female traveler. Kids and family travel are somehow a kind of abstraction to me. I’m also blessed for being so far in good health and immensely grateful for that.

I do, however, have a nephew, who I love more that I could say in words. Ludovico has the Down syndrome, he is now in his early ’20s and is a wonderful boy, often surprising me with his wisdom. He loves snow and for years asked me to teach him skiing. At first, I was puzzled, not sure of it was a good idea, if I would be able to take him with me on the slopes and if he could manage it once the dream would become true.

Powered By WizardRSS.com | Full Text RSS Feed

Wild About Travel

25 Epic Adventures by Travel Bloggers in 2015

in Travel Nerd by

Lake Louise Ski Resort, Alberta

25 Epic Adventures by Travel Bloggers in 2015

As we reflect on the year that was, we’d like to take a moment to highlight some of the epic adventures that fellow travel bloggers experienced in 2015. This is the 4th year doing this annual round-up, so make sure you check out the epic adventures from years past:

There are literally hundreds of awesome travel blogs out there, so we couldn’t possibly include every one in our annual round-up. If you are a travel blogger that had a memorable adventure in 2015, please share your experience in the comments section below – I’m sure our readers will want to read about your adventures just as much as we do!

Perhaps these adventures will inspire your travels in 2016?

Epic Adventures by Travel Bloggers in 2015

Driving the Skeleton Coast in Namibia

We kick off this year’s list with our friend’s Pete and Dalene Heck from Hecktic TravelsThese fellow Canadians had an epic year of adventures, traveling from Southern Africa to New Zealand to the Faroe Islands, so it was hard to pick just one. However, one adventure that stood out to us was their road trip along the Skeleton Coast in Namibia.

“The Skeleton Coast is as menacing as its name suggests. Borne of a book written in the 1940s to chronicle one of dozens of shipwrecks near its shores, the name is now even used on maps to depict a large chunk of the Namibian coastline.

We took turns down several different side roads, once to see the Zelia, a ship stranded in August 2008 when it came loose from its towing line and ran aground.

There were no markers to indicate where we had been or which way back to the main road. We felt completely at mercy to the elements around us, like the ground could open up and swallow us. No one would have known the difference.”

Read more: Salt Roads and Skeletons – Driving along Skeleton Coast, Namibia

Epic Adventures by Travel Bloggers in 2015

Trekking the Arctic Circle Trail in Greenland

Matthew Karsten from Expert Vagabond tackled one of the most remote and isolated treks on the planet – the Arctic Circle Trail in Greenland. The photo above does a great job showcasing the stunning scenery found in this special part of the world.

“Greenland’s Arctic Circle Trail is often listed as one of the best long-distance hikes in the world. The trail stretches up to 200 kilometers (124 miles) from the edge of the ice cap to the fishing town of Sisimiut on the West coast.

Only 300 people hike the trail every year, so while you may run into other hikers, it’s possible to go days without seeing a fellow human. Standing alone on Greenland’s barren ice cap in complete silence, you’re hit with the reality of how remote this place is.”

Read more: Trekking the Arctic Circle Trail in Greenland

Epic Adventures by Travel Bloggers in 2015

Exploring the Kingdom of Bhutan

Matt Gibson from Xpat Matt traveled to The Kingdom of Bhutan, also known as the Land of the Thunder Dragon. Matt writes, “Although Bhutan is very high on a lot of travelers’ wish lists, the number of people who visit the country is actually quite low. The main reasons are Bhutan’s reputation for difficult-to-obtain visas and high travel prices. Both reputations are grossly overstated and the Tourism Council has been working hard to change these misperceptions.”

“Bhutan is generally seen as a culturally protected and isolationist nation. It has perhaps the best natural conservation program in the world and — having replaced Gross National Product with Gross National Happiness as their national indicator of success — is also often referred to as “The Last Shangri-La”.

I feel the above image captures the strongly spiritual, whimsical, and carefree outlook of the Bhutanese. They seem to dance softly to the rhythm of the world around them with no ambition other than maintaining harmony with themselves, their surroundings, and each blissful moment.

Read more: Photos of a Mystical and Misunderstood Country

Epic Adventures by Travel Bloggers in 2015

Arctic Expedition to Wrangel Island (Russia)

Sherry Ott from Ottsworld has had some epic adventures over the past several years and 2015 was no different. She recently boarded a small ship that traveled through the Bering Strait to the Arctic Ocean and set foot on Wrangel Island in Eastern Russia. Only 150 people get the opportunity to set foot on Wrangel Island each year, which makes this epic adventure all the more extraordinary.

“My last two weeks were spent on the Spirit of Enderby Polar ship cruising around Wrangel Island, passing through the Bering Straight, and soaking in the Chukotka culture of Russia’s Far East. 

I had two weeks of uninterrupted observation; feeling the cold wind on my face, tasting the salt water, examining my footsteps on the tundra, rolling with the Arctic ocean, clearing my mind, and falling into deep dream-filled sleep without worrying what was happening below the Arctic Circle.”

Read more: Wrangel Island Photography

Epic Adventures by Travel Bloggers in 2015

Wildlife Safari in Phinda, South Africa

Keith Jenkins from Velvet Escape traveled to South Africa to explore the Phinda Private Game Reserve, a 170 square kilometer game reserve situated in KwaZulu-Natal, between the Mkuze Game Reserve and the Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park. Within minutes of passing through the park entrance he witnessed a cheetah! And if the wildlife wasn’t enough, check out his luxurious accommodationon the reserve.

“Due to regular rainfall, the Phinda Private Game Reserve has a lush green environment that contains seven distinct ecosystems. As I soon discovered, spotting the Big Five (elephant, leopard, lion, buffalo and rhino) is almost a certainty but there are opportunities here to spot other amazing African animals like the cheetah and a great variety of antelope species.”

Read more: The magic of Phinda

Epic Adventures by Travel Bloggers in 2015

The Magic of Uluru in Australia

Caz and Craig Makepeace from yTravelBlog.com recently completed an 18 month road trip around Australia with their two girls. They had so many memorable adventures on their trip but one that stands out is their time at Uluru, or Ayers Rock, located in the heart of the Northern Territory’s Red Centre desert.

“You’ve probably seen hundreds of photos and postcards of Uluru, but it’s a place you have to see, and feel, for yourself. Made of arkosic sandstone, Uluru stands 348 metres high and is taller than the Eiffel Tower and 2.5 times the height of Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Uluru has been a very spiritual place to the Anangu people, the traditional owners, for thousands of years. Ask most people who visit and spiritual experience is the word often use to describe it.”

Read more: 9 Ways to Experience the Magic of Uluru

Epic Adventures by Travel Bloggers in 2015

Mountain Trekking in Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro

Dan and Audrey from Uncorned Market completed the Peaks of the Balkans trek, an epic 200-kilometer hike through the hills of Albania, Montenegro and Kosovo. The trek took 14 days to complete, with 12 days on the trail, one day transfer at the beginning and one rest day.

“The Peaks of the Balkans region features a rich history and is currently in the process of figuring out ways to share that history with others. Armed with the right information, you can have a transformative experience and take in some of the most surprising experiential landscape that the Balkans — and Europe — have to offer.

Read more: Mountain Trekking in Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro

Epic Adventures by Travel Bloggers in 2015

Walking with Polar Bears in Churchill, Manitoba

Next up is fellow Canadian travel bloggers Dave and Deb from The Plantet D. In 2015 they traveled to the far north of Manitoba to join an Arctic Safari that included walking near wild polar bears. Yes, you read that correctly. Walking! Don’t you want to give that cute bear a big hug?

“It was late summer and the perfect time to spot polar bears in the coastal region of Manitoba. Nanuk Lodge is situated smack dab in the middle of a denning area for polar bears, where mothers and cubs spend their summers.

During our flight to the lodge, we saw at least a dozen polar bears walking on the tundra. During our safari we saw 4 polar bears at close proximity during our walking safaris, with at least another half a dozen in the distance. It was truly mesmerizing.”

Read more: Walking with Polar Bears – The Greatest Arctic Safari

Epic Adventures by Travel Bloggers in 2015

Discovering Albania

Kate from Adventurous Kate had an epic year of travel that included visiting 21 countries (read her 2015 recap here), so I was somewhat surprised when she said that one of her most memorable experiences in 2015 was traveling to Albania. However, after reading about her trip to Albania, I’ve become intrigued about this often overlooked Balkan nation. Especially Berat and Saranda.

“Like the rest of the Balkans and much of the Mediterranean, cafe culture rules and so does the evening stroll. As soon as the sun begins to set and temperatures turn livable again, it seems like everyone comes out for the evening to stroll down the street and sit at cafes. No matter how old or young you are, you’re there.

I don’t expect Albania to grow into a major tourist destination in the next decade, but things are absolutely going to change as the country continues developing. 

If Montenegro was lauded as the new Croatia, Albania could very well become the new Montenegro.”

Read more: What’s it Like to Travel in Albania?

Epic Adventures by Travel Bloggers in 2015

Hiking Trolltunga in Norway

Michael Turtle from Time Travel Turtle strapped on his hiking boots and completed the famous Trolltunga hike in southwestern Norway. You’ve likely seen images of Trolltunga but didn’t know where it was located or how to get there. Fortunately, Micheal has included some helpful information about the hike here.

“The destination for the hike is a rock called Trolltunga, which is Norwegian for Troll’s Tongue. The name is fairly obvious when you see the rock for yourself – it looks like a long pointy tongue, jutting out from a cliff face into the air. Beneath this rock is nothing – just emptiness – for about 700 metres until the ground. And on the ground is a large and dramatic fjord.

As far as hikes go, this is one of the most epic I’ve ever done. It’s an all day round trip – up muddy hills, across rocky slopes, through snowfields and along cliff edges. And at the end of the route is the ultimate payoff. The Troll’s Tongue!

It is difficult, it is long, and it is spectacular. It’s one of the best ways to experience the stunning landscapes of this country.”

Read more: Is this the most epic hike in Europe?

Epic Adventures by Travel Bloggers in 2015

Sleeping under the stars on the Great Barrier Reef

Matt Long from Landlopers.com had a truly unique travel experience when he was in Australia earlier this year. Not only did he get to explore the world famous Great Barrier Reer, he spent the night sleeping under the stars while on a permanently moored pontoon called Reefworld. How cool is that?

“Guests sleep under those very stars in what Australians call swags, an interesting hybrid of tent and sleeping bag that are actually the perfect way to enjoy the experience. If I’m going to sleep alongside the Great Barrier Reef, I want to feel like I’m actually sleeping next to the Great Barrier Reef, and being outdoors is the only way to accomplish that.

If the Great Barrier Reef is on your bucket list, consider spending a little bit more money (it’s not much more actually) and enjoy a full two days and one night learning all you can about this amazing treasure. It’s not a place you are likely to visit often, and going on a Reefsleep adventure guarantees you’ll enjoy it in the very best way possible.

Read more: The Most Unique Way To Experience The Great Barrier Reef

Epic Adventures by Travel Bloggers in 2015

Bird watching on the Galapagos Islands

Jen Miner from The Vacation Gals visited the treasured Galapagos Islands earlier this year and witnessed an abundance of wildlife and endemic species. Reading her post and looking at her photos instantly brought me back to our time spent in this truly unique part of the world. It’s a special destination that should be on everyone’s travel wish list.

“The wildlife of the Galapagos is its biggest draw, and while Ecuador has made moves to limit tourism there due to resulting environmental degradation, it’s a guarantee that every tourist who travels to the Galapagos islands has a keen interest in nature and wildlife.

What especially amazed me — and I mean this in the purest, most literal sense — was how relaxed the birds of the Galapagos were while my family and I slowly walked, hiked, snorkeled and slogged near them.”

Read more: Birds of the Galapagos Islands

Epic Adventures by Travel Bloggers in 2015

Hitchhiking around the Land of Fire and Ice

Matt Kepnes from Nomadic Matt returned to the mythical lands of Iceland in 2015. During his visit, he pushed his comfort zone while attempting to hitchhike around the beautiful island nation. What he found on this trip was much more than cascading waterfalls and dramatic volcanic landscapes.

“I was defeated and hungry. When I had hitched Iceland’s main ring road, rides were abundant, but here they were nonexistent.

I was ready to give up, trudge back to the ferry building, and wait for the bus, but then, like an Icelandic angel descending from heaven in a gigantic steel cage, Stefan stopped his SUV and picked me up.

Around me were melting glaciers, with rivers of clear blue water cutting into the snow. To my left were huge valleys where waterfalls fell down mountains into rivers and snow disappeared under the summer sun, leaving the growing grass a bright green.”

Read more: A lesson in kindness while hitchhiking through Iceland

Epic Adventures by Travel Bloggers in 2015

Hiking the Lycian Way: One of the World’s Great Walks

Leigh McAdam from HikeBikeTravel.com traveled from Canada to Turkey to hike a section of the historical Lycian Way. The Lycian Way is a long-distance footpath that stretches approximately 540 km along the Mediterranean on Turkey’s southern coast.

“For over a decade I have contemplated hiking Turkey’s Lycian Way – truly one of the world’s great walks. Years ago, well before the internet when you looked at books for inspiration, I bought one called The Top Treks of the World. I remember being in awe of the landscape on the Lycian Way and thinking this is one hike I really want to do.

Fast forward to late October 2015 and I can now say that I’ve had a taste of the Lycian Way. Our group of four spent six days hiking it – starting at Gul Mountain Hotel, 30 kilometres south of Antalya and finishing at Melanippe Beach near the Gelidonya Lighthouse.

It is an outstanding trek – truly world-class but make no mistake – it’s a challenge.”

Read more: Hiking the Lycian Way – One of the World’s Great Walks

Epic Adventures by Travel Bloggers in 2015

Heli-tour and Walking on a Glacier in Alaska

Erin and Josh Bender from Travel with Bender have been traveling around the world with their two kids for over 3 years, so they’ve had a lot of epic adventures worthy of this annual list. One highlight from 2015 was landing on the Meade Glacier while on a once-in-a-lifetime helicopter tour from Skagway, Alaska. The walked on the massive (but melting) glacier and even drank some fresh glacier water right from the source.

“I’ve seen my fair share of landscapes but nothing has quite compared to Alaska. A land teeming with magic, carved by the invisible hand of nature like a patient master craftsman. An immaculate wilderness, whose vastness is only surpassed by its diversity. A land which needs to be seen to be believed.

What made this visit to Meade Glacier even more special was realizing how little time is left to experience it. Glaciers like this one in Southeast Alaska (which are up to 2000 years old) are quickly disappearing, losing over 1 foot in depth each week – 2 feet in the summer. The ice will be completely gone in 15 years.”

Read more: Skagway Helicopter Tour: Meade Glacier

Epic Adventures by Travel Bloggers in 2015

Walking in the footsteps of Vincent Van Gogh

Kash from Budget Traveller had a very unique adventure in 2015. Well, it’s actually more of a quest. To celebrate his 36th birthday, Kash decided to follow in the footsteps of Vincent Van Gogh and visit many of the locations that inspired his life’s work. 

2015 marked the 125th anniversary of Vincent Van Gogh’s death (July 30, 1890). Coincidentally, Vincent died when he was 37 years old, which puts his life’s journey into perspective. What he accomplished in such a short life is quite remarkable. 

Kash went beyond the Vincent Van Gogh Museum, which is an essential piece of the story, and visited several locations and attractions that are depicted in Vincent Van Gogh’s artwork and life. Kash’s quest began in Amsterdam and concluded at the Notre Dame D’Auvers cemetery located north of Paris, which is where Van Gogh is buried.

While I’m not much of an art or history buff, I appreciate this unique approach to creating an original travel itinerary. It’s such a cool way to connect the story to reality.

Read more: Vincent Van Gogh, in 40 Pictures

Epic Adventures by Travel Bloggers in 2015

Kayaking with Whales in the Johnstone Strait

Christy Woodrow from Ordinary Traveler traveled to the remote community of Telegraph Cove, located on the east side of northern Vancouver Island in British Columbia, to go on an overnight kayaking adventure in search of Orca Whales.

“As I boarded the tiny plane headed for Port Hardy, British Columbia, I had to tell myself to breathe. I was on a solo journey to kayak with Orcas in Telegraph Cove — just an hour north of Port Hardy.

During the months of July through September, the Johnstone Strait has the largest population of Orcas (killer whales) in North America.”

Read more: Kayaking With Whales in Johnstone Strait

Epic Adventures by Travel Bloggers in 2015

Abseiling the Devil’s Gorge (Teufelsklamm) in Austria

Melvin from Travel Dudes had many adrenaline pumping adventures in Austria this year, but the one that stands out is when he abseiled down a river canyon named the Devil’s Gorge. Check out this fun video to see what it looks like to shoot down a canyon with ropes and ziplines.

“The complete route is very diverse. You will slide down rocks, always through water, sometimes with the help of a rope. Be prepared for the zipline part, half through water and surrounded by spectacular rocks. It’s amazing to be in the middle of that gorge and see what nature created with the power of water.”

Read more: Abseiling the Devil’s Gorge (Teufelsklamm)

Epic Adventures by Travel Bloggers in 2015

Partying at Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany

Earlier this year, Erik van Erp from Around the Globe attended the world’s biggest beer festival – Oktoberfest! The above photo was captured at The Hofbräu Festzelt, which comes highly recommended by Erik.

It’s said that over 6 million people attend Oktoberfest each year. Think about that for a moment. That’s more than the entire population of Ireland! Now, think about putting all of Ireland’s population at a beer festival. Good times indeed.

As many of you know, we love all things beer. If you’re a new reader of blog, make sure you check out our series “Memorable Moments Drinking Beer Around the World“.

While many of these epic adventures involve climbing mountains or reaching far corners of the earth, attending the annual Oktoberfest in Munich is high on our travel wish list.

Read more: Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany

Erik’s website is written in German but you can right click on his blog posts and click “translate to English”. Gotta love the internet! 

Epic Adventures by Travel Bloggers in 2015

Learning to fly in Wanaka, New Zealand

Like most travel bloggers on this list, Liz from Young Adventuress had a lot of adventures in 2015, making it hard to choose just one. She’s made New Zealand her home base, so she has an endless supply of adventure at her fingertips. The best way to witness the spectacular landscapes of New Zealand is from the sky, so Liz jumped on a scenic flight over Wanaka that also allowed her to take over the wheel and pilot the plane.

“Scrambling up the wing, I plonked over the side into the tiny cockpit. I felt like I was a WWII bomber pilot. But you know, in a dress.

Tucking my camera away between my knees, I pulled the headset over my ears and tried to pay attention as the pilot began explain all of the bobs and levers and buttons in front of me, which I promptly forgot.

My jaw literally dropped open as we circled Mt. Aspiring and I am pretty sure I mumbled “holy shit” directly into the headset.”

Read more: Learning to fly in Wanaka

Epic Adventures by Travel Bloggers in 2015

Discovering Belgrade and the new Serbia

Becki Enright from Borders of Adventure traveled to Belgrade, Serbia and found a city, and country, that has proudly moved past its tragic history to become a stylish, multicultural city that belongs in the conversation of Europe’s finest.

“Belgrade shatters the preconception of Balkan backwardness and slow progress. Its attractiveness puts it on par with its western European neighbouring capitals, yet packs way more of a punch.

Why? It has to work harder to prove it, and while still rebuilding and repairing (there are some damaged structures from the Yugoslav War that Serbia was involved in between 1991 and 1999), its modern face shows a fun and artistic personality.

Read more: Defiant Belgrade. The heart of a new Serbia.

Epic Adventures by Travel Bloggers in 2015

River rafting in Baños de Agua Santa, Ecuador

Canadian travel photographer and blogger Brendan van Son, from Brendans Adventures, has had some unbelievable adventures over the past few years. He bounced around the globe again in 2015 and spent a good chunk of time in South America focusing on his travel photography and hosting photography tours in Peru and Bolivia (check out his YouTube channel for some great tutorials and shooting guides).

One adventure that got his heart pounding was river rafting down class 4 rapids in Baños, Ecuador.

“I’ve wanted to get back in a raft for a while.  I missed out the chance of rafting the Zambezi in Livingstone and I’ve been itching to do it again for a while. This trip into the river with GeoTours was fantastic. We did a half day on the class 4 rapids, and had a tonne of fun.”

Read more: Adventure in Baños de Agua Santa

Epic Adventures by Travel Bloggers in 2015

Muay Thai Boxing in Bangkok

Lola Akinmade Åkerström woke up at the crack of dawn to endure an ass-kicking at legendary boxing gym Banchamek Gym in Bangkok, Thailand. The gym is owned and run by world champion Muay Thai boxer Buakaw Banchamek.

“Muay Thai is a combat sport that originated in Thailand and its records date as far back as the 15-16th century, though the artform is much likely older.”

“Three hours later, fully drenched in sweat, I was in love with the feeling. Of strength and accomplishment. Of a renewed love for kickboxing brewing once again. Trying to catch my panting breath, joy welled up within me. Why wasn’t I doing more of this?”

Read more: That time I tried Muay Thai Boxing in Bangkok

Epic Adventures by Travel Bloggers in 2015

Facing the Mystery of the Moai, Easter Island

Juno Kim from Runaway Juno visited the mysterious island of Rapa Nui (aka Easter Island), famed for its unique stone statues called Moai. Having visited this special Polynesian island several years ago, we instantly connected with her story. It’s one of the most memorable and interesting places we’ve ever visited. She captured some wonderful photos from her trip – you can see them here.

“Moai statues are known to be made within 1250 and 1400 AD. Although there have been a lot of studies about the statues and the Rapa Nui culture, the exact story behind these magnificent statues is still not clear. With or without the facts, these statues speak in silence.”

Read more: Facing the Modern Mystery: Moai of Rapa Nui

Epic Adventures by Travel Bloggers in 2015

What was our most epic adventure in 2015?

The clear winner for us was returning to the Canadian Rockies during the winter. We’ve visited western Alberta a few times during the summer but never during the winter, so this visit was filled with firsts. The first time we went on a trip without our boys, the first time snowboarding in the Canadian Rockies, first time snowshoeing on a frozen lake, first time dogsledding, first time doing a night icewalk at Johnston Canyon, and first time walking on Lake Louise to name a few.

We love winter adventures that include cozy log cabins with wood burning fireplaces, so this trip to Banff and Lake Louise in the Canadian Rockies was a dream come true in so many ways.

Read more from our winter trip to the Canadian Rockies:

Epic Adventures by Travel Bloggers in 2015

Well, there you have it! Some pretty epic adventures by travel bloggers this year. If you’re still searching for more adventure inspiration, reminder to check out these posts from previous years:

Your turn! What was YOUR most Epic Adventure in 2015?

Share your experience in the comments section below. Feel free to leave links, we’d love to read about your epic adventure!

25 Epic Adventures by Travel Bloggers in 2015 is a post from: Traveling Canucks

Traveling Canucks

Convert your travel rewards into hope for Syrian Refugees

in Travel Nerd by


Convert your Aeroplan Miles into hope for Syrian Refugees

This holiday season, when searching for an impactful way to capture the spirit of the season, why not consider making a donation to a cause that is changing lives?

We consider ourselves to be very fortunate and privileged. We have a healthy family, a cozy home, an education and the opportunity to travel the world regularly. We are lucky to live in a wonderful country that values freedom and human rights. For this, we are eternally thankful and grateful.

Sadly, there are many people in this world that aren’t as fortunate.

Many people wake up every day living in fear, ripped from their homes because of war and death. It feels like every morning the newspaper brings more news of tragedy.

I’m still haunted by the heartbreaking image of Alan Kurdi, the young Syrian boy found lying face-down on a beach in Turkey, drowned while trying to escape the war torn region for a better life.

It still creates a lump in my throat when I look at the image. As a parent, I can’t even imagine. I can’t even write the words.

We are encouraged by the new Canadian government’s pledge to welcome 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada over the next few months (the current deadline is March). We strongly believe that it is our duty as humans to help one another in times of crisis. We can always do more.

Lifeline Syria

Today, we want to draw your attention to a Canadian charity called Lifeline Syria.

It is a community engagement initiative which will recruit, train and assist sponsor groups to welcome and support 1,000 Syrian Refugees coming to Canada over the next 2 years.

We learned of Lifeline Syria through our partnership with Aeroplan. The charity is one of hundreds of charities supported by the Beyond Miles program, Aeroplan’s Charitable Pooling Program that focuses on supporting organizations and individuals who want to improve the lives of people in their local communities.

The Beyond Miles program allows Aeroplan members to donate some of their Aeroplan Miles to important initiatives like Lifeline Syria.

Lifeline Syria’s community engagement initiative will:

  • Enrich Canada as every other refugee movement has in the past
  • Enhance Canada’s refugee resettlement commitment
  • Provide opportunities for ordinary people to respond to a humanitarian crisis
  • Assist Syrian families in the Greater Toronto Area to be reunited with friends & family
  • Give refugees an opportunity to restart their lives in Canada

We’ve donated some of our Aeroplan Miles and we encourage you to do the same. Every little bit helps. Your donations will make a difference in the lives of Syrian refugees seeking a better life.

Donate your Aeroplan Miles to Lifeline Syria here:


It’s really easy to donate. Simply login to your Aeroplan account and visit the Beyond Miles page. Lifeline Syria is one of over 560 active charities that have partnered with Beyond Miles.

Once you’ve logged into your account, search for a charity you wish to help. Click on the orange ‘Donate’ button, then select the amount of Aeroplan Miles you wish to donate. The miles are automatically deducted from your account and you receive a confirmation email with details.

You can also donate on behalf of someone else. So, you can donate your miles in the name of your friend or family member. Just print the confirmation and put it in a card.

It’s a very thoughtful gift idea that truly captures the spirit of the season.


Convert your travel rewards into hope for Syrian Refugees is a post from: Traveling Canucks

Traveling Canucks

Travel Around Mexico for a Moment with “Fotogramas”

in Travel Nerd by

Wanna travel around Mexico for 3 minutes and 27 seconds? Watch Erick Flores Garnelo’s “Fotogramas”, a collection of real-life bits around Mexico. The first thing you’ll love about the video is the creative quick “swipe-like” transition coming from all directions in each scene – as if you’re actually traveling, moving your eyes and turning your head around to see every happening. The video was shot in several Mexican locations including Guadalajara, Veracruz, Chihuahua, Mexico City, Cancún, Tijuana, Santa María del Oro, Melaque, and Mazamitla. Every frame shows you the dull to fun moments you’d probably see in Mexico such as beautiful lakes, towering churches, street dancing, old people people-watching, statues, friends diving, the beach, the sunset, and every little thing that makes us realize how traveling gives us a unique memorable experience every time we step in a new area or in a place we’ve already seen a few times. It won’t be surprising to feel like going to Mexico after watching, isn’t it?

Want more? Go here if you want to see more of Garnelo’s works.

When On Earth – For People Who Love Travel | RSS Feed

Holiday Travel Etiquette and Safety Tips

in Car Nerd by


The holidays bring forth increased travel. It’s often thought the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after are the heaviest travel days, but the National Household Travel Survey states otherwise. When personal trips are combined with the masses at airports, bus stops, and train stations, Thanksgiving Day is actually the busiest.

Last year, AAA estimated 46.3 million Americans traveled 50 miles plus from home and concludes almost 90 percent of Americans will travel this year for Thanksgiving. That matches the United States Department of Transportation, citing during the 6-day Thanksgiving travel period, trips 50 miles or more, increased 54 percent.

The average Thanksgiving trip is 214 miles.

To help ease holiday travel, Ford Motor Company and The Emily Post Institute collaborated on simple, yet effective etiquette and safety tips. Emily Post is considered America’s foremost etiquette expert and in 1949, addressed etiquette and safety as it related to an ever growing automotive culture.

Daniel Post Senning, Emily Posts’ great-great-grandson, is following her footsteps today with similar fashion. Here are our favorite holiday travel etiquette and safety tips, courtesy of Ford and The Emily Post Institute.

Drivers Are Hosts

Just as you would invite a friend or family member to your house, your vehicle is similar. For the duration of the trip, they are in your personal space so make them feel welcome. Every vehicle these days has keyless entry so unlock the door before they reach the car. Better yet, open the door for them and then close it once they sit down.

If you have a remote start, use that to your advantage and get your car warmed up ahead of time. Remote starts have a universal appeal and will be well received by your travel companions.

Once inside, before taking off, give your guests a grand tour of your car. Seriously, this works wonders. When I give a business associate, potential client, or trusted friend a ride in my Ford Fusion, I point out the My Ford Touch screen. I let them know how to activate the heated/cooled seats and change climate settings according to their comfort.

It is always appreciated by my passengers.

These days, smartphones are common and it’s likely somebody forgot a charger. Invest in something like a Nomad RoadTrip to accommodate passengers who may not have their charger with them. Many cars these days have USB ports too. If you know you are riding with your guitar shredding brother to Thanksgiving dinner, surprise him with a flash drive full of hard rock and alternative grunge.

While music is awesome and podcasts are informative, there is no substitute for good, old fashioned conversation. Be sure, as the driver and host, to interact with your passengers in a genuine and authentic way.

A Passenger’s Part

Nobody likes a freeloader so if you are a passenger, chip in for gas and grub. Help load the vehicle with suitcases and bags. If you are in the front seat, run the navigation duties and serve as a second set of eyes. If you anticipate going through areas of limited cell service, look at a map beforehand to have an idea of where to go in case your driver needs help.

With The Kids

We know the dreaded “are we there yet,” over and over again. When traveling with little ones, create a fun trip itinerary they can follow along with. It can point out anything from food and rest stops to historic places and national parks. This will pass time for not only kids, but adults too.


One of the biggest factors now in auto accidents is distracted driving. Ford studies show American’s can be conflicted on in-car entertainment. As a driver, be gracious and let everybody hear their favorite song or podcast but keep the noise level moderate.

If you need to send a text, ask a passenger to do it or use your vehicle’s voice activation system, if equipped.

Try to avoid traveling after a big Thanksgiving meal too. Be it driver or passenger, everybody is going to be more likely to fall asleep, thanks to the turkey’s tryptophan. Studies have shown driving while sleepy is equal to driving under the influence.


When everybody is looking for a parking space it becomes frustrating. It may seem obvious but park inside the lines and don’t hog two spaces. When you turn into a spot, only to see a car over the line, it can be irritating.

Don’t be that person.

If your vehicle has a parking assistance system, use that to guide you between the lines in a packed parking lot.

What holiday driving etiquette and safety tips do you have? Share them with us here.

*Carl Anthony is Managing Editor of Automoblog.net and resides in Detroit, Michigan. driving-etiquette

Categories:: Cool StuffDrivingInfographic

Powered By WizardRSS.com | Full Text RSS Feed


GIVEAWAY: Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2016

in Travel Nerd by

Lonely Planet Best in Travel 2016

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2016

Our friends at Raincoast Books are giving one of our readers a free copy of the newly released Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2016.

This highly anticipated travel guide highlights the top countries, regions and cities Lonely Planet is recommending for 2016. It also has a variety of top travel lists, including best value destinations and the world’s most extraordinary sleepovers.

I know one can find an abundance of travel info on the internet, but there’s something about cracking open a hard copy book. In my humble opinion, a hard copy guide book trumps digital content every time.

I received a copy of the book last week, so I brought it with me on my trip to Orlando earlier this week. It’s a fun read with some interesting travel recommendations for 2016. I was somewhat surprised by some of the destinations that made the final list – like Kotor, Montenegro being the top city to visit – but that’s what makes the book a worthwhile read.

Needless to say, my head is spinning with new trip ideas!


How can you win this Lonely Planet book?

We’ve made this giveaway super easy for you to enter.

All you have to do is head over to our Facebook page and leave a comment under the photo of the book cover (here’s the link) telling us where you want to travel in 2016.

That’s it! Once you leave a comment, you’re entered into the giveaway.

Don’t have Facebook? No problem. Just leave a comment below telling us where you want to travel in 2016.


A few things about the giveaway:

  • Giveaway ends on Saturday, November 28, 2015 at 12:00 PM PDT.
  • Giveaway is only open to Canadian residents.
  • Winner will be randomly selected.
  • Winner will be notified via Facebook. At that time, we will require your address to ship the book to you.

Good luck!

GIVEAWAY: Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2016 is a post from: Traveling Canucks

Traveling Canucks

deepflight creates a new class of personal water travel with dragon submersible

in Design Nerd by

the submersible offers a proprietary technology that monitors and manages critical functions, allowing users to pilot the submarine with minimal training.

The post deepflight creates a new class of personal water travel with dragon submersible appeared first on designboom | architecture & design magazine.

designboom | architecture & design magazine

3 Iconic Journeys Changed by Modern Travel

in Car Nerd by

Airport Sunrise

My work in the automotive industry requires frequent travel.  Sometimes, for months on end, I will be navigating the country, going city to city.  Airports, hotel shuttles, and rental cars are often a way of life for me.

Travel has changed greatly over the last 100 years, from automobiles to airplanes.  When I examine modern travel, I find it much safer.

Cars have incorporated everything from seat belts to forward collision cameras in the interest of safety.  Planes can utilize valuable tools like an auxiliary power unit (see Miracle on the Hudson) while seat cushions are self-extinguishing and cabin walls are laced with fire retardant insulation.

Extensive pilot and crew training combines with air traffic control protocol on the ground that keeps planes from intersecting during take off and landing.

In addition to safety, traveling this day in age is faster.

Take Off

One thing for sure: I know what cities have the nicest airports, best restaurants, most efficient taxi systems, and even the friendliest people.  Okay, to be honest: every city I visit has kind people but bonus points are awarded to Alabama residents.

Although, in the travel options of yesteryear, a trip to Alabama (or whatever place you deem to have wonderful people) would have taken much longer.

Our friends at Watches2u provided us with this fantastic infographic.  It’s a contrasting look certain iconic journeys around the world and how modern travel has changed them.

From hitting Route 66 to navigating Japan, keep track of the hours you save with your new, brand name timepiece from Watches2u.

Happy Trails!


Categories:: ComparisonCool SitesCool StuffEditorialsInfographic

Powered By WizardRSS.com | Full Text RSS Feed


10 Ways to Travel the World with Mindfulness

in Travel Nerd by

Travelling the world is something that many people dream about but few people manage to realise. Trying to juggle our busy work and home lives people can’t always go on a long holiday to some exotic destination, like Thailand or Mexico. So, they choose the next best thing; a shorter trip, like a last minute holidays weekend in an exciting city closer to home. Whether that be sunning yourself in a Spanish Costa, or sitting with an espresso in one of Italy’s many Piazza’s, the list of options is endless.


This is a great way to see the world, but shorter trips give the traveller less time to explore and with so little time, they forget how to travel with mindfulness. But why does mindfulness matter? Here are a few reasons.

Allow yourself to experience new things

It’s tempting when travelling to seek out the familiar; food from a chain restaurant, booking a room in a well-known hotel, but going to another country should mean that you try something new too.

So, eat something weird, stay in a local hostel; get yourself out of your bubble.

Have a meaningful conversation with a stranger

If you’re travelling alone, talking to strangers will become part of your everyday life, but if you’re in a group, it can be very tempting to talk amongst yourselves. If you find yourself at a loose end, sit down, and start talking and then listen, really listen to what others have to say.

Think like a local

Where do the locals go? Where is good to go on what day? Where can you try a specific dish and which clubs have the best music? Ask around and then seek these places out.

Barcelona - Tapas Bar

Look up

Don’t spend your trip with your nose in the guidebook, or staring at your smartphone; leave them in your bag. Look up, look around and find something new.

Shop local

As with restaurants, seek out the shops that the locals go to, you’ll see a difference in price and experience.

Be respectful

Different cultures have different customs, so before you go, research what is considered polite and what could be seen as a faux pas. You are a guest in another country, be polite, be courteous, be respectful.

Cut down on waste

If you have rubbish, throw it in the bin. Pack lightly, so you’re not bringing too much waste into the country and minimise the impact of your stay by recycling and using reusable bottles.

Be an ambassador

When you travel, you are representing your country, so act in the way that you would like to be treated, be aware of how the things you say and do can be received and adjust your behaviour accordingly.

Get lost

Sometimes, it is best to take the road less travelled and start at a random point and just wander through the city you are staying in. Find where you want to go and then take the path of least resistance to get there. You could find yourself on an adventure along the way.


When you smile, everything suddenly seems different, so try to maintain a positive outlook as you travel. It’ll help you and your travelling companions keep their spirits up too.


Author Bio – After conquering the financial world Bob decided to take early retirement and travel the world. It is his ambition to visit every continent before the time he’s 50 (he’s only got one left to go!). When he’s not living out of his suitcase Bob enjoys spending time with family, which more often than not these days consists of his niece telling him how severely uncool he is.

Powered By WizardRSS.com | Full Text RSS Feed

Wild About Travel

17 Classic Travel Books To Spark your Wanderlust

in Travel Nerd by

Traveling as a lifestyle certainly goes against the grain of what most people consider a “normal life”. And while nobody clamors for a life that is just normal, long-term travelers do start to question whether the choice they’ve made is the right one. As it is nearly impossible to tune out talk of kids, careers, or getting a 3.5% interest on a mortgage, just remember that there are plenty of voices out there that will support your choice to ditch the daily grind and be a nomad. Every traveler needs occasional inspiration or a shining light to guide them through the insecurities and uncertainties of travel. Below, we list 17 classic literary wonders that are sure to remind you why travel is an irreplaceable experience.

1. THE ODYSSEY, by Homer


There’s not much left to be said about The Odyssey, really. Probably the first adventure story, this epic poem tells the contretemps and events Ulysses has to go through to get back to his kingdom, the island of Ithaca, after the ten years of the Trojan War.

Captured by the Cyclops, fought the cannibalistic Laestrygonians, trapped by the witch-goddess Circe, passed by the six-head monster Scylla and some more adventures, Odissey (as it was known by the Greeks) gets to his land, where with the aid of his son finally kills all the suitors who tried to take over his reign.

A historical, unmissable book, and the most important given its antiquity: a very enjoyable read.

[See The Odyssey on Amazon.]



If you are a traveller and not a tourist, the reading of this book will give you even more reasons to be so, if you are not yet convinced about your nomad life. Steinbeck writes down the real spirit of travel. By himself (well, with the companion of his dog Charlie), he tries to answer that question the traveller has always in his mind: What is the world like? In this case, Steinbeck’s world is America. A great, impressive try of explaining what is America through its landscapes, people and cultures. And, of course, written with Nobel Prize quality.

[Find Travel with Charlie in Search of America on Amazon here.]

3. THE GRAPES OF WRATH, by John Steinbeck


More by the Californian writer and thinker. The Grapes of Wrath is the story of a trip of a family from Oklahoma (the Joad’s) hounded by poverty, drought and natural disasters, to the the Western promised lands of California. Not only an inspirational book about traveling, but an exact and precise historical tale about the building of a nation.

[Find the Grapes of Wrath on Amazon here.]

4. FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS, by Hunter S. Thompson


Keeping it on the West Coast. Surely, 95% of the readers of this article will think of Johnny Depp when reading the title of this book, but Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a book too. And a good one, by the way.

This one is a sacred book of the movement born in America known as the “New Journalist”, this Hunter S. Thompson’s book shows the searching for an unexpected American Dream, lost in the maelstrom of Las Vegas, the extreme consumerism of North American society and, of course, a suitcase full of drugs. A real trip, in all the possible meanings of the word.

[Find Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas on Amazon.]



Published in 1968, three years before Hunter S. Thompson’s seminal book, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test is a earlier piece of that American style known as the New Journalism. In this essay Tom Wolfe describes the writing master he is through his trip with the psychedelic band Merry Pranksters on their tour around the USA.

A tale about the Summer of Love, the Hippie Movement and all the American counterculture movement created afterwards, the book is a carefully painted portrait of one of the most mythologized parts of contemporary history.

Besides, characters as the Grateful Dead and the Hells Angels show up in parts of the book. What else do you want?

[Find The Electric Kool-aid Acid Test on Amazon.]



In this novel, the sequel of “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer”, Mark Twain gives a master and enjoyable classic about the history of the other America: the South, the slavery, the sugar plantations. Everything meanwhile you can enjoy the Adventures (with capital letter) of the kid Huckelberry and the black slave Jim running away from their owners. A lot of laughing, a lot of history, a lot of good writing… a lot of Mark Twain in this book.

[Read the reviews on Amazon.]



In this book, Twain puts on the essayist clothes to (of course) humorously describes the experiences of an American traveling to Europe. The best-selling book of the writer from Missouri. Enough said. Read until you have to stop because of so much laughing. A portrait of the ridiculous side of traveling.

[Read the reviews on Amazon]

8. HOW TO BE A BRIT, by George Mikes


It’s not as famous as some of the other books on the list, but that makes it even better, a hidden treasure for a lot of people. In a similar way as Mark Twain does, Mikes describes as a foreigner (born in Hungary) the British society and way of being in the most hilarious way ever. Read it if you are traveling to the British Islands and I assure you won’t be able to stop laughing at every minute of your stay when you realize that everything Mikes tells is absolutely true.

Find it on Amazon.

9. IN SEARCH OF CAPTAIN ZERO, by Allan Weisbecker


Allan Weisbecker was, besides a writer, a surfer and this book is actually a huge must-read for any surfer in the world who likes to travel. Just its subtitle says it all: A Surfer’s Road Trip Beyond the End of the Road. An adventure on the road who any person who feels attracted by the subtitle is just gonna envy so much that is gonna think about buying a van himfself.

[See it on Amazon.]

10. WALDEN, by Henry David Thoreau


This book was first published as “Walden; or, Life in the Woods”. If you’re into wilderness and experiencing the nature very deeply, Walden is going to be the go-to existential reference for your lifetime on the road. Thoreau, one of the intellectual pillars of the occidental thinking in so many ways, relates in this book his experience of two years, two months and two days isolated in a cabin in the woods. Tempting, huh?

See it on Amazon.

11. ON THE ROAD, by Jack Kerouac


What else can be said about this book? The Bible of the Beat Generation and its thinking, the individual freedom and the seeking for constant experiences and adventures with the road as a church. Countless people attribute Kerouac’s master piece as the book that sparked their desire to leave everything and hit the road.

[Check it ou on Amazon.]

12. INTO THE WILD, by Jon Krakauer


This book is one of the cases where the film became much more known than the original book. Nevertheless, this doesn’t make the Krakauer piece not interesting. At all. The text relates the trip of Christopher Johnson McCandless from Virginia hitchhiking all the way up to Alaska, running away from basically modern life. A sad tale and, at the same time, an eternal seeking for freedom.

[Check out Into the Wild on Amazon]

13. THE KING OF HAVANA, by Pedro Juan Gutiérrez


Even though this is not a book about travel, the book itself is a visit to one of the most mystic cities in the world, unknown for so many and still stuck in the first half of the 20th century in terms of information from and to the exterior. If this book doesn’t impress on you the curiosity of what is Cuba, Havana and the Cuban people, then nothing will do.

Rush, because in some point Cuba may lose its uniqueness and then, one of the only ways to travel to the old Cuba is gonna be through Gutiérrez books… and you’ll regret so much of not have seen that he’s talking about.

[Check it out here]

14. THE PLAIN IN FLAMES, by Juan Rulfo


We keep ourselves in Latin America with one of the most vibrant books ever written in Mexico. A collection of short stories about bandits, nomads, fugitives and outlaws through the life of the dessert. It can be very, very inspiring for those looking forward for an existential travel, for solitude…for a real adventure.

[See The Plain in Flames on Amazon]



If The King of Havana was a trip to Cuba, Eduardo Galeano’s book is a trip through all of Latin America. An essay written as a novel, or a novel with the content of an essay or a history book, The Open Veins of Latin American is the book to keep in your backpack when traveling anywhere south of the American border with Mexico. This way, you’ll understand everything you see much easier.

[Read the review here]

16. THE SHADOW OF THE SUN, by Ryszard Kapuscinski


Probably the best book ever written about Africa, that whole different world from everything which surrounds it. Kapuscinski is one of the modern journalists more recognized in the world and in this book he basically explains why. Years and years of experiences in the black continent played out in a few hundred of pages which became the most vivid signal of what somebody got to call “Magic Journalism”.

[Read the reviews here]

17. A COLLECTION OF ESSAYS, by George Orwell


One of the greatest essayist ever as well as one of the finest fiction writers, Orwell was called the “Consciousness of his time”. Now mix those three capacities and all the places this man lived in, all the experiences he got to live, and you have this book, just unmissable for anybody interested in…interested in the world and interested in the human being.

[See the reviews here]

We’re definitely sure we’re missed more than a couple great travel books on this list. Got any other suggestions to help your fellow travelers. Suggest them in the comments below.

When On Earth – For People Who Love Travel | RSS Feed

What we’ve been up to lately… Vegas, Tough Mudder and future travel plans

in Travel Nerd by

The update – June edition

Well, it’s been a fun-filled couple of weeks in our world. I’ve tried my best to keep up with my writing but it’s been quite challenging this past month. Lately, it feels like we’re always on the go, so writing and blogging has unfortunately taken a back seat. The realities of raising two young boys, I suppose.

The weather in Vancouver has also been outstanding, making it very difficult to spend the day indoors hunched over a laptop when the sunshine is calling.

So, today I find myself compelled to write an update on what’s been happening around here and what’s on the travel agenda for July.

The month began with a return to our happy place – Whistler

While on the drive up to our favourite Canadian mountain resort, we made a stop at British Columbia’s newest outdoor attraction – the Sea to Sky Gondola.

Located in the town of Squamish, about half way between Vancouver and Whistler, the gondola takes visitors up 885 metres above sea level to the Summit Lodge. The lodge has a massive patio and viewing deck that overlooks Howe Sound and the Squamish Valley.

Here are some photos from the Sea to Sky Gondola.

Our time in Whistler was exactly what we needed. We spent our days swimming in the pool, wandering around the village and enjoying some quality time with our boys. They constantly amaze us and remind us that the best things in life are the simple moments shared with loved ones, like throwing rocks in the river or staying up late to eat popcorn and watch cartoons (okay, maybe I can live without the cartoons).


Next up – a return visit to Sin City

This trip to Las Vegas was unlike previous visits. This time, I was attending a Bachelor Party, so the agenda revolved around excessive partying and debauchery. Surprisingly, this is easy to come by in Vegas… who knew?

I’ve always wanted to attend a Bachelor Party in Vegas, so it was an easy decision when my oldest bestest bud said his brother wanted to do Vegas for his bachelor festivities.

Because this was a fairly unexpected trip, I had to work my magic to make it affordable. I was able to do Vegas on the cheap by redeeming loyalty points for both my flights and hotel. All in, I think I paid about $ 150 in taxes and fees. Not bad, eh?

I ended up booking my accommodations at the Holiday Inn located near the Mandalay Bay, but barely spent any time at that hotel aside from a little shut eye. The group I was with had a large suite at the Mandalay Bay, which was a quick $ 8 taxi ride from my hotel, so I spent most of my time partying with the them at the Mandalay Bay and its casino. It’s a pretty nice hotel with an awesome outdoor pool (though I didn’t end up spending any time at the pool). The Sports Book is one of the best on the Strip. We enjoyed watching the Stanley Cup Finals there.

Now, I’m not going to get into the details of the trip because apparently what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. And, well, some things are better left unsaid, especially in the public domain.

Let’s just say that we rarely saw sunlight over the 3 days.


Next up – competing in Tough Mudder in Whistler!

I returned to Whistler for a second time in three weeks to compete in the annual Tough Mudder event. For those unfamiliar with Tough Mudder, here’s how it’s describe on its website:

Tough Mudder is a team-oriented 10-12 mile (18-20 km) obstacle course designed to test physical strength and mental grit. Tough Mudder puts camaraderie over finisher rankings and is not a timed race but a team challenge that allows participants to experience exhilarating, yet safe, world-class obstacles they won’t find anywhere else.

The Whistler course is labeled as one of the toughest on its circuit because of its rocky mountain terrain and unpredictable weather. This was my first attempt at completing Tough Mudder, so I have nothing to compare it to. I’m not a runner and I don’t compete in physical events like this – so this event was quite the challenge for me.

I had been training for the event for a few months, so I was feeling pretty good until the aforementioned trip to Las Vegas. That definitely took me back a few steps.

As you can see from the above photo, we had the largest group competing at the Whistler event. There was 60 of us in total, separated into 4 groups of 15 people.

When the event started, the weather was cool and overcast. This was an ideal temperature, given that Whistler had received plenty of sunshine the previous few weeks. The last thing we wanted was to run and tackle obstacles in the scorching hot sunshine. I sunburn very easily, so I was a tad concerned I’d get heat stroke.

Well, be careful what you wish for! About 2 hours into the event it started pouring rain. I don’t mean light misty sprinkles, I’m talking full on down pour of torrential rain. Many of the obstacles require you to jump into cold water pools or wade through wet mud, so we were already chilled to the bone. The rain shook us to the core and pushed us to our limits, both physically and mentally. It got the point where some participants had to pull out of the race due to hypothermia.

I’m super proud of myself and my team for completing the grueling course. We climbed over walls, crawled through a tear gas chamber, jumped off a plank into freezing cold water, scaled the side of a mountain and got electrocuted as we pushed past the finish line. It took us 5.5 hours from start to finish. I’m not sure if I’ll do it again, but I’m stoked to have completed it at least once in my life.

I’ll leave you with a Tough Mudder quote that I really like: “When was the last time you did something for the first time?”

letsgoNB Facebook

Next up – #LetsGONB trip to New Brunswick!

As I sit here typing away, I just received an email with the final itinerary for our upcoming adventure. Next week, from July 12th to 18th, we will be joining a group of 8 family travel bloggers in New Brunswick. We’ll be bouncing around the province showing you the family friendly side of this treasured part of Atlantic Canada.

We’ve never been to New Brunswick so this will be a trip filled with firsts. Stay tuned…. we’ll be revealing our itinerary in an upcoming blog post.


Well, that’s a wrap. Time to go outside and enjoy the rest of this gorgeous summer day in the Pacific Northwest!

Happy Canada Day to our fellow Canadians… and Happy 4th of July to our American friends!

Sea to Sky Gondola, Squamish

What we’ve been up to lately… Vegas, Tough Mudder and future travel plans is a post from: Traveling Canucks

Traveling Canucks

1 2 3
Go to Top