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12 Amazing Solo Vacations to Take in 2020

Don’t have anyone to travel with in 2020? That’s no reason to stay home. Solo travel is on the rise, and tour operators are expanding their offerings to meet the increasing demand. Below are the 12 best solo vacations for 2020, covering every corner of the globe. Some of these trips made the list because they’re specifically designed for solo travelers; others offer discounted single supplements or roommate matching so you don’t have to pay extra fees for traveling alone.[st_content_ad]

Note that all trips and single supplement discounts were available at the time of publication, but they could sell out at any time. If you’re interested in these solo vacations, it’s best to book early.

Explore Madeira, Portugal, on Foot

Exodus Madeira Portugal Hiking Excursion

Sweeping coastal views, sleepy fishing villages, and sheltered forests await on Exodus Travels’ Walking in Madeira itinerary. The seven-night trip includes leisurely walks of up to nine miles a day along some of Madeira’s most breathtaking hiking trails. The trip ends with free time to explore Funchal, the island’s historic capital. Exodus will match you with a roommate, or you can pay a modest single supplement for your own room. Departures are available every month throughout 2020.

See Morocco from the Mountains to the Desert

Camel Back Ride Sahara Desert Morocco

Overseas Adventure Travel is one of the best tour operators for solo vacations, thanks to free single supplements on most trips. That includes one of its most popular tours, the 14-night Morocco Sahara Odyssey, which takes you through the narrow streets of ancient medinas, over the sand dunes of the Sahara Desert, and through the dramatic peaks of the High Atlas Mountains. Unique experiences include lunch in a Berber home and a couple of nights under the desert sky in a private tented camp. This trip has available departures between April and December 2020.

Explore Northern India’s Icons

Amber Fort Jaipur India.

See the Taj Mahal and much more on this dedicated solo trip to India from Intrepid Travel. The seven-night itinerary starts and ends in bustling Delhi, where you’ll discover the city’s oldest mosque and have free time to explore on your own. Then you’ll head to Jaipur to visit royal palaces and soar above the city in a hot air balloon before visiting the 14th-century village of Karauli and touring the magnificent Taj Mahal. Intrepid will match you with a same-gender roommate so you can avoid paying a single supplement. This trip departs on select dates between April and December 2020.

[st_related]11 Important Taj Mahal Facts to Know Before You Go[/st_related]

Take a Hiking Vacation in Vermont

hiker on long trail vermont.

Escape to the pristine mountains of Vermont on a wellness getaway, hiking each morning and enjoying spa treatments and fitness classes each afternoon. New Life Hiking Spa is the perfect retreat if you need a little R&R, drawing numerous solo travelers (mostly women) of all ages. Small-group hikes, communal meals, and friendly public spaces offer ample opportunity to get to know fellow travelers. New Life’s 2020 season runs from May 14 through October 5 and is held at Killington Mountain Lodge.

Discover Ireland Your Way

cliffs of moher ireland sunset.

Not big on group tours? Consider Great Value Vacations’ Irish B&B Getaway package, which includes airfare, a rental car, and accommodations at bed and breakfasts around Ireland, allowing you to wend your way through the countryside at your own pace. Highlights include dramatic coastal roads, lively villages, and historic castles. The itinerary can be customized for six to nine nights, and you may depart any month of the year.

[st_related]15 Mistakes to Avoid When Traveling Alone[/st_related]

Have an Adventure in Colombia

colombian coffee REI adventures.

REI’s Experience Colombia tour showcases the breadth of the country’s landscapes, from the lush green highlands where world-class coffee is grown to the sandy beaches of the Caribbean coast. This eight-night itinerary starts in Bogota and finishes in Cartagena, with plenty of adventures along the way—like mountain biking through coffee plantations, hiking to a rare tropical glacier, and sea kayaking to a colorful coral reef. If you’d like to avoid a single supplement, REI will pair you with a same-gender roommate. This trip is available between June and December 2020.

Live Like a Local in Nepal

g adventures nepal living like a local.

Get an intimate glimpse of what life is like in rural Nepal on a fascinating six-night journey with G Adventures. After a night in Kathmandu, you’ll travel to the farming village of Panauti to meet your host family. You’ll spend the next few days learning to make dumplings, tasting local wine, hiking to villages and monasteries, and even playing volleyball with the locals. G Adventures will pair solo travelers with a same-gender roommate so you don’t need to pay a single supplement. This trip is available on select dates through December 2020.

Eat Your Way Through Central Mexico

Oaxaca City Street Mexico.

Flash Pack targets solo travelers in their 30s and 40s, matching each person up with a same-gender roommate so you can avoid single supplements. If you love good food and unique culture, give Flash Pack’s Cultural Journey into the Heart of Mexico trip a try. The eight-night itinerary features tequila tasting in Mexico City, a cooking class in Oaxaca, and lunch aboard a vibrantly colored trajinera boat in Xochimilco. You’ll also go swimming in natural thermal pools at the foot of the world’s only petrified waterfall. This trip departs on select dates between April and December 2020.

[st_related]16 of the Greatest Mexico Vacation Destinations[/st_related]

Spot Rare Wildlife in Madagascar

black and white ruffled lemur madagascar.

Keep an eye out for lemurs, chameleons, boa constrictors, and numerous rare birds as you travel with Explore! through Madagascar: The Lost Continent.  In addition to wildlife-watching treks through the island’s national parks, this itinerary also features a walk along a spectacular canyon, a visit to Madagascar’s oldest palace, and a stay in a local community guesthouse. Explore! will match you with a same-gender roommate if you don’t wish to pay a single supplement. This trip has departures between April and November 2020.

Go Off the Beaten Path in Nicaragua

granada cathedral Nicaragua,

Less visited than neighboring Costa Rica, Nicaragua has its own magic to discover. Road Scholar puts some of the nation’s most intriguing spots on display in its seven-night Exploring Nicaragua: Colonial Towns to Countryside package, with highlights such as a visit to a rum factory (complete with tastings), a cooking workshop in Leon, a walk through a cloud forest, and an expert talk on Nicaragua’s history by a former guerilla. Road Scholar is currently offering single rooms at no added cost on this itinerary. This trip has several departures between September and December 2020.

Discover the Best of Tuscany and Umbria, Italy

tuscany italy winding road.

There’s a reason Tuscany and neighboring Umbria are two of Italy’s most beloved regions. Discover them for yourself on Insight Vacations’ Country Roads of Umbria & Tuscany tour, an eight-night voyage to destinations such as Florence, Assisi, Siena, and San Gimignano. You’ll dine in the kitchen of a local chef in Orvieto, then learn about traditional textile weaving in Perugia and visit a family-run olive mill in Assisi. Single supplement discounts up to 90 percent are available on select departure dates between May and October 2020.

[st_related]3 Ways for Solo Travelers to Avoid Single Supplements[/st_related]

Have an Adventure with Fellow Women

woman standing above dubrovnik.

If you, like many female travelers, feel safer and more comfortable in the company of other women, consider booking a trip with Adventure Women, which offers active, women-only tours to destinations around the world. Most of the company’s clients come alone, so you’re sure to find common ground with your fellow travelers. Solo vacations for 2020 with availability at press time include a nine-night Tanzania safari, an eight-night sailing trip around Croatia, a nine-night culture-focused trip to Oman, and more. You can choose to be matched with a roommate or pay a little extra for your own room.

For more ideas, see The Top Travel Destinations for 2020.

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Sarah Schlichter wants to take every one of these solo vacations. Follow her on Twitter @TravelEditor for more travel tips and inspiration.

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Active Travel Adventure Travel Outdoors

10 Best Hidden Hot Springs in North America

Nothing beats a warm soak outside on a crisp day. You’ll have to ramble down dirt roads, hike into canyons, and cross suspension bridges to get to these hidden hot springs. But the effort will make the “ahhh” even sweeter when you finally slip into a steamy bath set in the middle of thick forest or beneath the glittery Milky Way. Here are 10 of our favorite hot springs in the U.S. and Canada.

Chena Hot Springs, Near Fairbanks, Alaska

At McCredie Hot Springs, a little string of hot pools lines the edge of Salt Creek, where you can sit and enjoy a warm soak with the sound of a river rushing by. Here, in the middle of the Willamette National Forest, bathers shift rocks to create just the right mix of warm and cool water in the pools, which can range from 98 to 114 degrees (temperatures can be dangerously hot, so proceed with caution when enjoying the hot springs). In winter, this area, at an elevation of 2,000 feet, is often blanketed in snow, so you can have a roll in the white stuff and then watch it melt off your skin in the hot springs. It’s a great way to spend the afternoon after hitting the slopes in Willamette Pass or snowshoeing at Salt Creek Falls, one of Oregon’s highest waterfalls.

Getting There: From Eugene, follow Highway 58 east for 46 miles. McCredie is between mileposts 46 and 47, just east of Oakridge and near Blue Pool Campground in Willamette National Forest. The springs are about 200 yards from the roadside parking lot. Note that the campgrounds are closed in the winter and operate on a first-come, first-serve basis.

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What to Pack

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Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2014. It has been updated to reflect the most current information.

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11 Underrated Africa Tours for Your Bucket List

If you’ve landed on this page you’ve either seen the Big Five already in South Africa, or you’re after a trip to Africa that’s more “off the beaten path.” But Africa is a vast continent, and finding the right trip here can be overwhelming. That’s why we’ve narrowed down 11 tours to less-traveled African destinations that are worthy of your bucket-list.[st_content_ad]

The Best Africa Tours to Lesser-Known Destinations

Tourism to Africa is rapidly increasing, with over 2,800 hotel rooms added since late 2019 and another 6,600 new rooms coming in the next few years. Plus, new air routes from Ethiopian Airlines, Emirates, Kenya Airways, and Turkish Airlines are opening up the continent to more overseas travelers. These 11 tours and destinations are now more accessible for travelers and will be sure to gain popularity over the next few years.

Get a Taste of Food, Culture, and Coffee in Nairobi

nnairobi kenya food market

Sure, a trip to Kenya and the Masai Mara are already known to most well-versed travelers, but many skip out on the country’s lively capital, Nairobi. It’s one of the most modern cities in Africa, and its stories can be told through food and culture. One of the most underrated things to do here is to take an urban city tour. Airbnb offers a walking tour called Nai Nami, or Our Streets – Our Stories. Travelers have the chance to explore the city via a walking tour led by underprivileged youths. Other off-the-beaten-path tours in Nairobi include food tours, like this authentic Kenyan food tour (from Viator, SmarterTravel’s sister site) or a coffee farm and tasting tour (also on Viator).

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Explore Lesser-Known Senegal and the Gambia

beach in Serrekunda, Gambia.

Most travelers don’t think to visit Western Africa, but the countries of Senegal and the Gambia are building up their infrastructure to be more tourist-friendly. Traveling with a group tour operator to these countries is a reliable way to experience their deep-rooted history, coastal landscapes, and local village life. We recommend G Adventures’ 10-day Classic Senegal & the Gambia tour, as it covers a lot of the region’s highlights with a good balance of guided tours and free time.

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Safari in Tanzania with the Family

REI tanzania tour africa.

The gorgeous landscapes of Tanzania offer just as much, if not more, as the surroundings in South Africa. Plan your next epic family vacation to Tanzania with REI Adventures’ Tanzania Family Adventure & Safari. The nine-day trip takes you through multiple wildlife reserves, cycling on a forest canopy walkway, hiking with Maasai in a local village, and more.

Find Out Why Everyone Is Going to Ethiopia

woman tossing corn gondar ethiopia.

Ethiopia is one of the fastest-growing destinations in Africa, and for good reason. The country offers unparalleled landscapes, delicious food, and unique history. Intrepid Travel’s 13-day Incredible Ethiopia tour covers all this and more. Spend a day in the capital city before heading out to the lakeshore towns of Bahir Dar and Gondar, continuing on to the Simien Mountains, and ending in the town of Lalibela, home to some of the region’s most significant religious sites.

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Go Gorilla Trekking in the Congo

gorilla trekking in congo

Travel to the heart of Africa on this all-inclusive safari and gorilla trekking trip with Deeper Africa. You’ll spend most of your time in Odzala-Kokoua National Park across three different safari camps. Activities include a kayak safari, a boat cruise, forest walks, gorilla trekking, and night walks with the chance to see western lowland gorillas, the guereza colobus mustached monkey, forest buffaloes, and forest elephants.

See Three National Parks on a Luxury Safari in Rwanda

silverback gorilla rainforest.

African Travel’s Discover Rwanda tour explores three national parks over the course of 11 days: Akagera National Park, Nyungwe National Park, and Volcanoes National Park with stays at luxurious accommodations like a One&Only resort. No stone is left unturned with this itinerary, which includes game drives, canopy walks, chimpanzee trekking, hiking, gorilla trekking, and more. Rwanda is home to dozens of animals such as lions, black rhinos, shoebills, buffalo, leopards, elephants, giraffes, spotted hyenas, zebras, elands, chimpanzees, and gorillas.

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Relax with a Beach Escape to Zanzibar

stone town zanzibar.

Looking to chill out on one of the most pristine coastlines in the world? Head to the Tanzanian archipelago of Zanzibar for a few days of pure relaxation. Contiki’s six-day Zanzibar Beach Escape includes five nights on the main island, Ungujain, in a beachfront hotel with plenty of free time to explore. Snorkel, dive, and enjoy watersports for a few days, and then explore the capital, Stone Town, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. You can also attend full moon parties, eat at the Rock Restaurant, and take a day trip to Prison Island.

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Discover Africa by Train on the Rovos Rail

train on journey in south africa

While there aren’t too many ways to explore Africa by rail—yet—Vacations By Rail’s Rovos Rail journey is truly an off-the-beaten-path way to experience multiple countries on the continent. Spend six nights aboard a luxury train, as well as a night in a game lodge in Etosha National Park in Namibia and a night at Soussusvlei Lodge. Along the way you’ll see dramatic landscapes like Big Hole, Fish River Canyon, the Kalahari Desert, the Namib Desert, Walvis Bay, and Etosha National Park. Other stops include the Diamond Mine Museum, Windhoek (Namibia’s capital), and Upington in South Africa.

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[st_related]6 Incredible Train Journeys That Won’t Break Your Travel Budget[/st_related]

Take a Safari-Cruise in Southern Africa

croisieurope boat african dream deck.

CroisiEurope’s Southern Africa Safari-Cruise tour is truly a bucket-list experience in a relatively less crowded region of Africa. The highlights of this tour include the comfortable boat, the African Dream, built by the river cruise company, as well as game drives in Chobe National Park (home to a quarter of the continent’s elephant population). Plus, unadvertised experiences, like seeing the Milky Way every night while sleeping on the largest manmade lake in the world, can’t be beat.

[st_related]5 Reasons Why This River-Cruise Safari Is the Best Way to See Southern Africa[/st_related]

Experience Madagascar a la Jane Goodall

eastern lesser bamboo lemur madagascar.

The 14-day Highlights of Madagascar tour by G Adventures is endorsed by primatologist Jane Goodall, which means the trip not only has a low impact on the environment but also contributes to the protection of wildlife and supports local communities. You’re guaranteed to see amazing animals and landscapes on this itinerary, including lemurs, baobab trees, natural swimming pools, beaches, and rice paddies.

This tour also includes a stay at a local community guesthouse as well as visits to an artisan workshop and a traditional healer.

Spend a Week Sleeping on the Nile River

temple of karnak cairo egypt.

Most travelers visit Egypt for the epic Pyramids and don’t spend much time exploring the rest of the country’s offerings. (Did you know, for instance, that the Aswan High Dam’s reservoir capacity is five times the size of the Hoover Dam?) The 12-day Splendors of Egypt & the Nile tour by Uniworld gives you ample time both in the rising capital city of Cairo and on the famed river. Sailings are set to start in the fall of 2020 and include a full week aboard a brand-new ship, the S.S. Sphinx. Included excursions span from lesser-visited temple visits to bird-watching boat rides, and, yes, visits to the Ancient Memphis sites.

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What to Pack

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Ashley Rossi is always ready for her next trip. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram for travel tips, destination ideas, and off the beaten path spots.

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What to Pack for Hiking: 38 Essentials

Don’t hit the trails without packing these hiking essentials that could save your life, or just your summit attempt.

Hiking Essentials: Gear

Hiking essentials: backpack

[st_content_ad]Backpack: A good backpack is key to a comfortable hiking trip. Pick one that’s lightweight and big enough to hold all your hiking essentials, but not so big that you’re tempted to over pack. The Hyperlite Mountain Gear Daybreak Ultralight Daypack is one of the lightest daypacks out there, weighing in at just 1.26 pounds. The light weight doesn’t mean that important features are skimped on—it still has comfortable padded straps, a hip belt that can be stashed away, a water-resistant exterior, and a padded back panel. Keep your backpack organized with Hyperlite Mountain Gear’s Stuff Sacks  which are equally lightweight. Bonus: All Hyperlite gear is hand-made in Maine.

[st_related]The 11 Best Waterproof Backpacks for Travel[/st_related]

Water Bottle: If you don’t want to carry a ton of water on a long hike, or just want to be prepared in case of an emergency, the Lifestraw Flex is a good choice for a water bottle. The included filter removes bacteria, parasites, and chemicals, so that you can safely and quickly drink from any water source you find. The soft bottle is lightweight, easy to pack, and simple to drink from.

Portable Battery: Don’t be stuck with a dead phone in an emergency. The Sherpa 15 Power Bank won’t take up too much room in your pack, and gives your phone a full charge without needing to pack extra cables. If you get lost, having a charged cell phone is essential.

Trekking Poles: A good set of hiking poles can help save your knees from strain on the descent, and prevent slips and falls on tough terrain or muddy trails. I like the Leki Micro Vario Carbon Trekking Poles, which fold down small to fit in your daypack, and fast thanks to a simple push-button release system. These poles can adjust to fit almost any hiker, and weigh a mere 8.25 ounces.

[st_related]SmarterTravel Shopping Guide[/st_related]

Hiking Essentials: Footwear

Hiking Shoes: Low-top hiking shoes are designed for shorter day hikes. The Keen Terradora Waterproof shoes are designed specifically for women hikers, offering a more narrow fit that’s completely waterproof but still breathable. For men, the Keen Targhee II is a similar choice, with the same breathable waterproofing and lightweight design.

Hiking Boots: Opt for hiking boots over shoes when you’re facing a longer, tougher hike, or for those times when you’ll be carrying a heavier pack—like on an overnight trip. Hiking boots offer more ankle support, as well as additional protection from bites, scrapes, and water. I love the Scarpa Hydrogen Hike GTX, available for both women and men. These boots are waterproof and breathable, and have a Vibram sole that gives traction that’s lightweight. I especially appreciate the understated and stylish design of these hiking boots.

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Hiking Essentials: Clothing

Hiking Tights: Tights are a tempting choice for hikes. You probably already own something similar to these super-flexible leggings in your wardrobe for running or yoga, but a hiking version are designed to withstand the rigors of an intense hiking trail. Fjallraven’s Abisko Trekking Tights are tough enough for hiking thanks to a super durable four-way stretch fabric that has extra reinforcement over the rear and knees to protect your skin when you’re scrambling over rocks or sitting on the ground. Plus, unlike most leggings, these trekking tights come with plenty of pockets and are available in a men’s version as well.

Socks: Good socks are the key to comfortable hiking. They keep your feet dry, prevent blisters, and provide cushioning and warmth. Smartwool’s Hiking Socks are available for both women and men, and use merino wool to wick away moisture, prevent chafing, and help regulate your temperature.

Hiking Pants: For serious backcountry hikes you’ll want some heavy-duty hiking pants, like Arcteryx’s Sabria Pant. These pants are lightweight, durable, and boast 50-plus SPF. The Sabria’s are specially designed for women with a lower adjustable waist and a slim silhouette feminine.

Base Layer: For cold weather hikes, add a layer underneath your hiking pants with lululemon’s Fast & Free 7/8 Tight II, which are made from patented Nulux fabric that’s quick-drying and sweat-wicking, yet designed to feel like you’re not wearing anything at all. For trail running or less-intense hikes that don’t involve scrambling these can be worn alone.

Sunglasses: Enjoying the view at the summit means protecting your eyes with sunglasses like these ones from Maui Jim, which wrap around for full eye protection. The lenses are also scratch-resistant, so you can be tough on them.

Hiking Underwear: Your favorite delicates might be comfortable, but they aren’t immune from the wear of lengthy hiking trips. Look for underwear that’s moisture-wicking and odor-resistant, like these pairs from ExOfficio for both women and men. For women, Patagonia’s Switchback Sports Bra is a soft and supportive option that’s also quick-drying and won’t cause chafing.

Hiking Shirts: If you’re planning on carrying a backpack, opt for a t-shirt over a tank top to prevent any irritation from your backpack straps. Smartwool’s Merino 150 Base Layer Micro Stripe Short Sleeve tops for both women and men can be worn alone or layered for cooler days, and merino wool fabric means it won’t smell, even on a longer backpacking trip. For warmer days, Patagonia Capilene Lightweight T-Shirts for women and men are an ultra-light option that’s moisture-wicking, breathable and features patented Polygiene for odor control.

Hiking Shorts: For hot trail days, Fjallraven’s Abisko Shade Shorts are designed to keep you cool, with ventilation for air circulation. The lightweight fabric is quick-drying and stays cool even as the temperature rises. The shorts are made for hikers, with zippered hand pockets and a loop to secure your gear to.

Jacket: Even if it looks like it’s going to be a warm day, packing a jacket is always a good idea on hikes, especially ones with a summit above the tree line (where it can be significantly colder/windier than it is  at the base). The weather can change quickly: Prepare by bringing along a lightweight jacket like the Patagonia Nano Puff Hoody, available for both women and men, which delivers an impressive amount of warmth and wind-resistance for the weight.

Hat: You’ll want a hat to keep the sun off of your face, but a regular ball caps can get very sweaty after a while. Get a hat that’s made for activities and wicks away moisture, like Fjallraven’s High Coast Vent Cap.

Gloves: On chilly fall hikes or cool summer mornings, a pair of lightweight, waterproof gloves are essential. These picks for both men and women will keep you warm and dry, even in a sudden downpour.

Gaiters: Although not very fashionable, gaiters, waterproof covers that slip on over your boots to protect your ankles and calves from rain and mud, are very practical. I like this pair from Outdoor Research which easily slip on and off.

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Hiking Essentials: Miscellaneous

Snacks: Peanut butter sandwiches, bananas, and trail mix are also good options for packable sustenance.

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Caroline Morse Teel loves to hike, especially in New England. Follow Caroline on Instagram @TravelWithCaroline for photos from the summit.

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REI Launches New Under-35 Millennial Trips

It’s no secret that millennial travel is a huge trend, with many group tour operators offering special budget-conscious trips, or ones with age limits. REI is the latest to join game, with nine new tour offerings across four different geographical areas.

For now, REI is focusing on a few bucket-list-worthy adventure trips. From Colombia off-the-beaten-path (think Medellin, not Cartagena) to camping in the Sonoran Desert, the trips are focused on “prioritizing experiences over things.” All of the options have an emphasis on local and active travel.

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Each trip is crafted with the millennial mindset. “Our team has taken great care to design highly active itineraries with the right balance of downtime, and most importantly that facilitate a community for younger travelers to travel deeply and responsibly with their peers,” said Justin Wood, senior manager of adventure travel at REI, in a press release.

Budget and value are front of mind, with trips offering modest accommodations, cheap meals, and no hidden fees. Prices start at $850 for REI members. And if saving money is on your mind, REI is expanding its used gear and rental programs, so you can save more by renting your active gear through the company’s retail locations.

For fun, I asked some of my SmarterTravel millennial-aged colleagues their thoughts on the matter: Nevin Spearman, who hasn’t been on an organized group tour before says he’d consider an REI trip and, “I like the active offerings, and some in the U.S. mean cheaper airfare.” His top pick is the Great Smoky Mountains – Hops, Hikes & Rapids itinerary.

Cara Sweeney, who has been on an organized group tour with her family about 10 years ago says she’d consider an REI trip and, “[the options] seem really unique and awesome. I would likely want to encourage a friend or two to attend the same trip as me.” Her trip of choice is also the Great Smoky Mountains – Hops, Hikes & Rapids itinerary.

Why the 35 age limit? According to the press release, 20 percent of REI members are in the 21 to 35 age range, but REI’s website says, “we won’t card you.” So if you have the mindset of millennial and these trips are attractive to you, you’ll probably fit right in.

two men white water rafting

Find more information on REI’s Under-35 adventures here, and below.

REI Under 35 Trips:

Latin America

  • Colombia Explorer – Medellin, Lost City Trek, Tayrona Beaches | Under 35
  • Peru Multisport – Machu Picchu to Rainbow Mountain | Under 35

North America

  • Sonoran Desert Stars – Hike, Camp, MTB, Repeat | Under 35
  • Backpacking Joshua Tree | Under 35
  • Great Smoky Mountains – Hops, Hikes & Rapids | Under 35
  • Wild Whistler Backpacking | Under 35

Europe

  • Amalfi Coast & Sicily – Hike, Eat, Summit | Under 35
  • Greek Islands Wanderer – Hike, Feast, Explore | Under 35

Asia

  • Vietnam Multisport – Spectacular Spelunking | Under 35

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The 8 Best New Jersey Beaches to Visit This Summer

Every summer an annual pilgrimage begins: People all over Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York start heading “down the shore.” They’re in search of summer’s simple pleasures—biking on the boardwalk, eating ice cream and funnel cake, and, of course, soaking up the sun. You can do all of the above in dozens of New Jersey beaches up and down the coast, but which one should you choose for your next summer vacation?

Listed in geographical order from south to north, these are the best New Jersey beaches for travelers.

Cape May

cape-may-new-jersey

[st_content_ad]Visiting Cape May, located at the southern tip of New Jersey, feels like stepping into the past. Founded in the mid-18th century, it’s America’s oldest seaside resort and one of the best beaches in New Jersey for history and architecture buffs. Visitors can rent a bike or hop on a trolley to see its colorful Victorian mansions, many now serving as quaint B&Bs. Or savor the sea views during a jog or stroll along the paved promenade, which stretches for nearly two miles along Cape May’s clean, wide beach.

Where to Stay: The Queen Victoria draws numerous repeat visitors who love its individually decorated rooms (some with fireplaces and whirlpool tubs), sprawling front porches, and daily afternoon tea.

The Wildwoods

wildwoods-new-jersey

This collection of three adjacent beach towns offers a little something for everyone. Wildwood has a classic wooden boardwalk, complete with shops, restaurants, and arcades, plus three separate piers of amusement park rides. It’s flanked by North Wildwood and Wildwood Crest, which offer a quieter, more residential experience. While Cape May is known for its stately Victorians, the Wildwoods are all about the 1950s, with fun retro motels and diners scattered around town. The Wildwoods also boast some of the widest beaches in the state, and access is free—no beach tags required.

Where to Stay: The Starlux Boutique Hotel is in the middle of all the action, just a short walk from the beach and boardwalk. Its decor captures the 1950s “Doo Wop” style Wildwood is famous for, and you can even stay in one of two vintage Airstream trailers.

[st_related]10 Fun Things to Do in Wildwood, New Jersey[/st_related]

Ocean City

ocean-city-new-jersey

Ocean City is one of the best beaches in New Jersey for family fun. It’s been a “dry” town since its founding in 1879 by four Methodist ministers, so it attracts less of a young party crowd than some other New Jersey beaches. Visitors flock to its 2.5-mile boardwalk, which is lined with amusement and water parks, mini-golf courses, pizza places, ice cream shops, and arcades. Some of the prettiest beaches are on the southern end of town, where you can go hiking, fishing, or sunbathing on the quiet grounds of Corson’s Inlet State Park.

Where to Stay: The big pink Port-O-Call Hotel is a local landmark, located right on the boardwalk. Rooms overlook either the Atlantic Ocean or Great Egg Harbor Bay.

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Long Beach Island

long-beach-island-new-jersey

This barrier island on the central New Jersey coast stretches from Barnegat Light State Park in the north (with its picturesque lighthouse) to Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in the south, a popular spot for bird watching. In between are a variety of beach towns—some lively, others quiet and laid-back. The heart of the action is Beach Haven, where you’ll find Fantasy Island Amusement Park, the Surflight Theatre, and the Museum of New Jersey Maritime History.

Where to Stay: The 22-room Daddy O Hotel has contemporary rooms and a hip rooftop bar with views of both the ocean and the bay.

Spring Lake

spring-lake-new-jersey

The Jersey Shore isn’t usually associated with genteel elegance, but that’s what you’ll find in the quiet seaside community of Spring Lake, where the streets are lined with gracious Victorian homes. It’s a perfect spot for strolling, from the non-commercial boardwalk along the beach to the downtown shopping district and the leafy park in the center of town.

Where to Stay: Pull up a rocking chair and relax on the front porch of the Spring Lake Inn. Many of the 16 individually decorated guest rooms feature nostalgic touches such as four-poster beds or fireplaces.

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Belmar

belmar-new-jersey

Though it’s just a couple of miles up the coast from Spring Lake, Belmar has a completely different vibe. Popular with college kids and families, Belmar always has something going on during the warmer months, including movies and concerts on the sand. Certain parts of the beach are reserved for boogie boarding, kayaking, or stand-up paddleboarding. And you can breathe easy: Smoking is prohibited on both the beach and the boardwalk.

Where to Stay: The eight-room Tandem Bike Inn offers a homemade breakfast each morning, as well as free bikes for guest use.

Asbury Park

asbury-park-new-jersey

Asbury Park is best known as the city that launched Bruce Springsteen’s career, and it’s still a great place to catch a show—not just at the legendary Stone Pony but also at the Paramount Theatre and Convention Hall, located right on the boardwalk. But there’s a lot more to do in one of the hipper New Jersey beaches, including biking, surfing, fishing, and strolling the boardwalk. You can even bring Fido to the dedicated dog beach at Eighth Avenue or to Yappy Hour, a happy hour for dogs at Wonder Bar. There’s a diverse range of cuisine in Asbury Park, from typical beach fare like seafood and pizza to Korean tacos and vegan wraps. There’s even a distillery producing vodka and gin.

Where to Stay: The Hotel Tides is a boutique option just a few blocks from the beach and boardwalk. There’s a variety of art on show in the lobby.

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Sandy Hook

sandy-hook-new-jersey

Part of Gateway National Recreation Area, Sandy Hook offers several miles of clean, quiet beaches with views of the Manhattan skyline in the distance. Pack your bike or rollerblades and hit the Multi-Use Pathway (MUP), which makes a seven-mile loop around Fort Hancock. Hiking, kayaking, canoeing, and bird watching are also popular activities at this New Jersey beach.

Where to Stay: The 14-room Cedars and Beeches is a friendly B&B located in nearby Long Branch.

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Follow Sarah Schlichter on Twitter @TravelEditor for more travel tips and inspiration.

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Active Travel Adventure Travel Beach Experiential Travel

14 Incredible Cenotes to Discover in Riviera Maya

Cenotes, or natural, water-filled sinkholes, are an important part of Maya history. These natural formations are usually part of a linked, underground cave system found in the Yucatan Peninsula. Believed to be an opening to the underworld by the ancient Maya, cenotes were used for sacrificial offerings. Tucked in the inland jungles of the Riviera Maya, these cenotes are found between Tulum and Cancun, so they make for an easy day trip from all of the best all-inclusive resorts in the Riviera Maya.

The Best Cenotes in Riviera Maya

[st_content_ad]There are over 3,000 cenotes in Mexico, so this is only a small selection of the country’s offerings. They vary in size and activities, and some are more crowded than others, so use this guide to find the perfect cenote in Riviera Maya for your trip.

Make sure to have Mexican pesos on hand when you visit a cenote in Riviera Maya. And if you’re looking to avoid crowds, visit during the week. Another important note: Many cenotes only allow biodegradable sunscreen, or no sunscreen at all, so make sure you pack accordingly. 

Cenote Dos Ojos and El Pit

Known as “Two Eyes,” Dos Ojos is great for snorkeling and diving, and has onsite restrooms. Down the road (about a mile away) is El Pit, which is mainly a dive site but has incredible cavernous overhangs and an adventurous point of entry.

Closest Resort Area: Tulum

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Cenote Cristalino, El Jardin del Eden, and Azul

These three cenotes in Riviera Maya are located about 15 minutes away from Playa del Carmen. Cristalino is home to friendly fish and cliff jumping; El Jardin del Eden is known for its open waters (more like a traditional swimming hole than a cenote since the roof is now underwater); and Azul is great for kids as it’s both shallow and open.

Closest Resort Area: Playa del Carmen

Cenote Kin-Ha and Flora Blanca

 

These two cenotes are located in an adventure park (though you’re free to just  explore the cenotes on your own). A ticket to the ecopark gets you ATV rides, cenote access, and snacks, drinks, life jackets, and a guide. Kin-Ha has an underground playground of sorts and is more enclosed, while Flora Blanca is open with a zip line and diving platform.

Closest Resort Area: Puerto Morelos

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Cenotes Zapote Ecopark

Explore three different cenotes at this park. You can dive, zip line, swim, and jump off platforms at Zapote and Palmas. The third cenote, El Abuelo Che Che, is a closed cavern—you can swim and snorkel inside the caves.

Closest Resort Area: Puerto Morelos 

Chikin-Ha Park

You’ll find not one, but three cenotes here, as well as two caverns. At the park you can dive, snorkel, zip line, and rappel at these natural rock formations. This park provides an easy, family friendly way to discover cenotes in Riviera Maya safely with children.

Closest Resort Area: Playa del Carmen

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Gran Cenote

 

This cenote in Riviera Maya is known for its clear waters–so clear, in fact, that you don’t even need snorkel gear to appreciate it, Lockers and bathrooms are available on site, and you can grab a bite to eat before or after your swim at one of the food stalls located near the entrance.

Closest Resort Area: Tulum

Casa Cenote

 

Casa Cenote is like the lazy river of cenotes, since there is a naturally formed route where you can snorkel that goes into the surrounding mangrove jungle. The shallow waters are incredibly clear, so this cenote is great for snorkeling. 

Closest Resort Area: Tulum 

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Cenote Zacil-Ha and Carwash

 

These two cenotes are about a quarter mile away from each other on the road out of Tulum. Carwash is aptly named as it was once a spot where people used to wash taxis and cars since it’s so close to the road. Carwash has open water and some deeper areas for diving. Zacil-Ha looks the most like a pool because it’s surrounded by platforms and a deck; it’s also shallow and on the smaller side, so it’s great for families.

Closest Resort Area: Tulum

Cenote Calavera

 

Dive right into this cenote via three holes—or use the ladder access point. Cenote Calavera is great for both snorkelers and divers, and is also known as “Temple of Doom” for its Maya artifacts and enclosed nature.

Closest Resort Area: Tulum

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10 Mighty Mountains That (Almost) Anyone Can Summit

The world’s tallest mountain (Everest) is probably out of your reach unless you have mountaineering experience and a cool $50,000 to spare. But you can still summit some pretty impressive peaks around the world with nothing more than willpower and a decent level of fitness.

Famous Mountains That Nearly Anyone Can Summit

Here are nine mountains that most people in reasonable shape can summit—no rock climbing harnesses or ice picks required. (But pack your hiking boots!)

Mount Fuji, Japan

summit

[st_content_ad]Mount Fuji is a picture-perfect vision of a mountain with a snow-capped standalone peak that’s inspired millions of photographers and artists (and nearly as many hikers). Early July through mid-September is considered the official climbing season due to a lack of snow on the mountain and relatively good weather.

How to Summit Mount Fuji: During the official climbing season, you can take public transportation from Tokyo to the base of the mountain. A climb to the top and back takes most people around 10 hours. The trails are well-marked, so it’s easy to do on your own. If that sounds like too long of a day, you can reserve a mountain hut along the way (also a good strategy if you want to see the sunrise).

Where to Stay:  The Fuji Lake Hotel has an outdoor “onsen” (a traditional hot spring bath) with incredible views of Mount Fuji, so you can soak your tired muscles while marveling at the mountain that you just climbed.

Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

summit

Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa, so if you’re looking for some serious bragging rights, this is a good summit to aim for. Although the hike is by no means easy (you’ll be contending with breath-stealing high-altitude and grueling days), it doesn’t require any technical knowledge or rock-climbing experience, which makes it one of the most accessible famous mountains—an estimated 30,000 people attempt the summit every year.

How to Summit Kilimanjaro: It might be tempting to take the shortest route up Kilimanjaro, but why not savor the journey on this bucket-list trip? Exodus Travels offers an eight-day hike up the Lemosho Route, which gives you extra time to acclimatize to the altitude (and a better chance at summit success). As an added benefit, you’ll encounter significantly fewer people than on the more crowded Machame Route.

Where to Stay: The Kaliwa lodge is just a few minutes away from Kilimanjaro National Park’s Machame Gate, and makes an ideal-jumping off point for your trek.

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Mount Whitney, California

summit

Mount Whitney is the tallest summit in the contiguous United States, standing more than 14,500 feet tall. (America’s highest mountain, Denali, is in Alaska and requires some serious mountaineering skills to climb.) The most popular route, called the Mount Whitney Trail, is 22-miles round-trip. Some people opt to do it in a day, but you can split it into two days by camping. Incomparable views of lakes and the Sierras await you around every switchback.

How to summit Mount Whitney: You will need a permit to hike Mount Whitney. Visit the Forest Service’s Mount Whitney Lottery page to learn more on how to apply.

Where to Stay: The Mount Whitney Motel is a basic accommodation near the trail-head if you don’t plan on camping. 

Mount Kosciuszko, Australia

summit

Relatively flat Australia is more known for its deserts than its mountains, and so its highest peak is a fairly easy hike—and your best chance to say you summited the tallest mountain on an entire continent. Mount Kosciuszko stands 7,310 feet above New South Wales and is used as a ski slope in the winter—which means you can take a shortcut and ride the year-round chairlift partway up to make the hike a mere four or five hours round-trip. (If you think that’s cheating, you can take the longer Charlotte Pass summit walk, which takes around seven hours).

How to summit Mount Kosciuszko: The two routes are well signposted and easily accessible from Kosciuszko National Park.

Where to Stay: Rydges Thredbo Alpine Hotel is just a quick walk away from the chairlift.

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Mount Toubkal, Morocco

Morocco is an under-the-radar hiking destination, but Mount Toubkal, the country’s highest peak, deserves a spot on any trekking bucket list. You’ll pass through Berber villages and up rocky gorges, all while enjoying unparalleled views of the Atlas Mountains and even the Sahara.

How to Summit Mount Toubkal: Go with a guide (but not a massive tour group). Naya Traveler offers custom multi-day treks up the mountain, which include stays at refuge and mountain lodges so you don’t have to bring a tent

Where to Stay: Stay at nearby Kasbah Illy, which has great valley views and comfortable rooms.

Mount Katahdin, Maine

summit

If you want to feel inadequate after hiking eight to 12 hours, tackle Maine’s highest point in September, when you’re likely to be joined at the peak of Mount Katahdin by jubilant thru-hikers for whom this summit represents the end of a 2,200-mile journey: the Appalachian Trail. Those without a fear of heights can opt to hike the aptly named Knife Edge trail for just over a mile along the way. It’s a narrow path with lose rocks and steep drop-offs.

How to Summit Mount Katahdin: There are a number of different trails varying in difficulty and length that you can take you to the top of the mountain from Baxter State Park. No guide or permit is required, but parking can be hard to come by during the summer and early fall.

Where to Stay: Baxter Park Inn has a friendly staff and a fairly close proximity to the trailhead.

Mount Temple, Canada

summit

If you’re visiting Banff National Park, it’s impossible to miss the 11,600-foot Mount Temple, which towers over Lake Louise. Be warned that even in July and August, the upper slopes of this behemoth might still be snowy.

How to Summit Mount Temple: The nine-mile out-and-back trail can be completed in a day and draws hundreds of hikers during the summer. Don’t write this off as an easy hike, though. The summit involves a steep and not-well-marked rock scramble.

Where to Stay: Moraine Lake Lodge is a luxury resort near Lake Louise. The lodge is also home to one of Banff National Park’s best restaurants.

Cerro Chirripo, Costa Rica

summit

On a clear day, the summit of Cerro Chirripo, Costa Rica’s highest mountain, rewards tired hikers with views of the Atlantic, the Pacific, and Panama. The views aren’t the only diverse part of this climb: The trails wind through distinct ecological zones, taking you from tundra to rainforest. The 12.4-mile trail to the summit can be done in a day if you’re a motivated and strong hiker, or you can spend the night at one of the basic mountain “refugios” (climbers’ huts) along the way. (Reservations are required.)

How to Summit Cerro Chirripo: You must either make a reservation through Chirripo National Park (available online here) or arrive very early in the day to buy one of the walk-up permits, which can sell out quickly, in order to hike.

Where to Stay: La Rosa del Paseo is a quaint local hotel that’s not too far from the park, which is key if you want to try for a walk-up permit.

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Mauna Kea, Hawaii

summit

Mauna Kea claims the title of the world’s tallest mountain on a technicality—from base to summit, this inactive volcano is about 33,500 feet. More than half of it is submerged below sea level, though, which is why Everest is the tallest mountain above sea level. So you can technically reach the summit of the world’s tallest mountain in about four hours of hiking, although you won’t be starting from anywhere near the actual base.

How to Summit Mauna Kea: The trail to the summit begins at the Maunakea Visitors Center, and it’s recommended that you register here before beginning your hike. Bring a minimum of one to two gallons of water per person, as Maunakea is in a high altitude and dry desert environment.

Where to Stay: Dolphin Bay is a quiet and inexpensive hotel in Hilo, which is a quick drive to the Maunakea Visitors Center.

Snowdonia, Wales

summit

Snowdonia is the highest mountain in Wales and England (just over 3,550 feet). Although the mountain is a huge draw for hikers in the summer, it fortunately has six spread out routes to the top, which means that crowds are dispersed, . Edmund Hillary trained here before he went on to become one of the first climbers to reach the summit of Mount Everest, so you may feel inspired to start saving up for that Everest trip after all…

How to Summit Snowdonia: There’s a shuttle bus that runs around the base, so you don’t have to do a loop hike—you can leave your car at one trailhead and hike down another path instead of going up and down the same trail.

Where to Stay: Continue the Everest theme with a stay at the Pen-y-Gwryd Hotel, which served as the training base for the first successful Everest climbing expedition, and has lots of interesting mountaineering memorabilia on display.

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Caroline Morse Teel is slowly working her way through the New England 4,000 footers. Follow her summits on Instagram @TravelWithCaroline.

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11 Clever Uses for Duct Tape When You Travel

You don’t need to be MacGyver to get creative with how to use duct tape in your travels. Got a busted backpack? Duct tape can help. Is your bottle of sunblock leaking? Slap a little tape on it. Smart uses for duct tape on vacation are almost endless.

Clever Uses for Duct Tape When You Travel

From blocking unwanted light in a hotel room to patching up your tent on a camping trip, these are the top uses for duct tape when you’re on the road.

Fix a Broken Suitcase or Backpack

[st_content_ad]If your bag comes off the luggage carousel with a rip in the side or a damaged handle, use duct tape for a quick repair. This will get you and your bag through the airport—or maybe even the rest of your trip—without your underwear spilling out or the handle breaking off completely.

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Block Unwanted Light

What if the hotel’s blackout curtain doesn’t quite cover every part of the window, or the TV has an annoyingly bright green light even when it’s turned off? You can duct tape the curtain to the wall or stick a little piece of tape over the light to bring full darkness to your room.

Mend Clothing

Oops—a stray branch tore a hole in your rain poncho while hiking through the woods. Stay dry by patching it with a piece of duct tape. Is the hem of your pants starting to unravel? Tape it up from the inside until you can get home and stitch it up yourself.

You can also fix shoes with duct tape. It can cover a hole in the toe from the inside or temporarily seal a sole that’s starting to detach. Duct tape may not be the most fashionable option when it comes to clothes, but it’ll last you until you can get to a store and buy something new.

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Fix Broken Glasses

During the first international trip I ever took with my now husband, he accidentally sat on his glasses and spent the next hour fiddling with tiny screws to ensure they held together until we got home. A quicker solution would’ve been to slap a strip of duct tape on them and call it a day.

Remove Lint from Clothes

Who needs a lint roller when the many different uses for duct tape include peeling unwanted fuzz or pet hair off your clothes? This is particularly useful for business travelers who need to look presentable for meetings or conferences.

Seal a Leaky Bottle

Don’t let shampoo or sunblock seep out into the rest of your bag. If a bottle is leaking, wrap duct tape around the edge of the lid to seal it off.

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Childproof a Hotel Room or Vacation Rental

If your kids are at an age that makes electrical sockets dangerous to their tiny fingers, you can quickly and easily childproof your vacation digs by putting duct tape over any outlet within reach. You can also tape drawers and cabinets closed to keep them safe from prying little hands.

Repair a Tent or Mosquito Net

This one could be a literal lifesaver: In countries where fending off mosquitoes means protecting yourself from malaria or yellow fever, you can use duct tape to mend any tears in your mosquito netting or tent.

Seal Off Smoke

Here’s hoping you never find yourself in a hotel fire, but if you did, duct tape might (again) save your life. You can use duct tape to seal off the door jamb if smoke comes billowing in while you wait for rescue. You can also put duct tape over any air vents that might blow in smoke from other parts of the building.

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Fend Off Clingy Shower Curtains

In some small hotel rooms and cruise ship cabins, the shower stall is so cramped that you can barely turn around without the curtain clinging to one body part or another. Pin it back with a few squares of duct tape, and enjoy your new freedom. (Be sure to do your tape job before things get wet.)

Stabilize Cruise Ship Furniture in High Seas

It’s hard enough to sleep on a rocking cruise ship without hearing the scraping of closet doors and dresser drawers as they slide open and shut. Lock them in place with a strip or two of duct tape as the ship rides out the storm.

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Concerned about packing a hefty roll of tape? Save space in your suitcase by bringing a small roll of travel duct tape like this one from Survive Outdoors Longer.

What other uses for duct tape have you discovered in your travels? Comment below.

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Follow Sarah Schlichter on Twitter @TravelEditor for more travel tips and inspiration.

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Active Travel Adventure Travel Arts & Culture Cities Experiential Travel Family Travel Outdoors Sustainable Travel

True Nature and Adventure in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut

From the sky-high trees and brown bears in British Columbia to the kitchen parties and codfish-kissing in the Maritimes, our toast to Canada offers plenty of reasons to take the trip. For December, we’re exploring a glimpse of the far north with a look at the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

Northwest Territories and Nunavut

[st_content_ad]Canada’s north has long fascinated researchers and explorers alike. Most of the landmass we now think of as Canada was actually once known as the North-Western Territory. Over the years, as provinces developed and grew, the portion reserved as the Territory shrank. Finally, the map seemed settled: Canada had 10 provinces and two territories. And then, in 1999, the map was shaken again. After years of negotiations, the Northwest Territories was split once more. The land to its east would become Nunavut—Canada’s newest and largest territory. The division has allowed both regions to develop distinct identities that make each worth including in your bucket list travels.

The Cities: Yellowknife and Iqaluit

 

Yellowknife, Northwest Territories

There are about 43,000 people who call the Northwest Territories home. Among them you’ll hear 11 official languages, most of which belong to Canada’s First Nations. In the capital city of Yellowknife, you’ll find the majority of the population along with a city as worthy of attention as any across the country. Pop into the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre, walk the Frame Lake Trail, or take a self-guided tour of Old Town.  The mix of skyscrapers and sailboats, and of log-cabins and ice palaces are just the beginning of experiences waiting to be had in this gorgeous corner of the world.

Iqaluit, Nunavut

Nunavut is a hard territory to overlook: It makes up about one fifth of the country’s total landmass and is the size of Western Europe. Despite being the largest of the regions, it remains the least populated with only about 33,000 inhabitants. That’s the equivalent of one person for every 25 square miles.  Getting around isn’t easy: There are no roads that will get you here; you’ll need to rely on air or sea. But what it lacks in ease of access it makes up for in stunning beauty. In the capital city of Iqaluit, you can choose between dog sleds and skis in the winter and incredible hiking options in the summer. Year-round the city—which sits on Baffin Island—is the hub. Everything from politics and local affairs to cultural celebrations and community events are centered here.  Despite the fact that Nunavut makes up the vast majority of Canada’s Arctic Archipelago and is home to the country’s most vast land spaces, Iqualuit remains a friendly, welcoming destination where once-in-a-lifetime opportunities await travelers.

Why December Is the Perfect Time to Go

The Northern Lights: Both territories offer fantastic opportunities to view the Aurora Borealis. Travelers can check in with Astronomy North to get a sense of weather conditions (and the likelihood of glimpsing the lights) on any given night. At Aurora Village, you’re outfitted with warm gear and brought out to heated teepees to take in the night sky. Or book with an outfitter like Blachford Lake Lodge that boasts its own night watch. They’ll wake you up when the lights appear. In Nunavut, try Arctic Haven Wilderness Lodge—a five-star offering on the Arctic tree line.

Winter Fun: Take a turn as a musher on a dog-sled across frozen waters, learn to ice-fish and then dine on your catch … when you live this far north, there’s no escaping the fun that winter can bring. Snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and winter camping are all family-friendly options across the territories. Dress for the weather (temperatures can dip FAR below zero) and you may find winter is your season after all.

Why It’s Great Other Times of Year

 

Out on the Water:  In the Northwest Territories, you can book a private fishing tour of Yellowknife Bay that comes with a local shore lunch, or head out for a cruise of Great Slave Lake. Looking for something a little longer? Consider Adventure Canada’s “The Heart of the Arctic” cruise expedition, which explores Nunavut as well as Quebec’s Nunavik region, Greenland, and the Davis Strait.

Aboriginal Experiences: Who better to show you around the North than members of a 100 percent Aboriginal-owned tour company who’ve long called the area home? North Star Adventures is based in Yellowknife and prides itself on knowing the best spots to catch the Aurora. They’ll also teach you to capture the fast-moving lights on your camera. Join the company’s Aboriginal Culture Tour to take a snow hike out to an Aboriginal culture camp where you’ll learn about the history, traditions, and challenges of keeping their way of life alive and thriving in the modern day.

Catch the Reindeer Migration:  Every year in early spring, “Canada’s greatest reindeer herd” moves from winter grounds to summer digs closer to the Beaufort Sea.

Summer Solstice:  The summer solstice—when long, dark winter nights give way to long periods of daylight—is one of the most festive times of year up north. It’s also a great time to visit as it offers you some of the best opportunities to see the wildlife. Animals ranging from polar bears and musk ox to whales can all be spotted in the area. Best of all, the daylight months are also when most local Nunavut celebrations take place. Traditional Inuit performing arts including storytelling, throat-singing, and drum dancing are well worth seeing. And the annual “Inuit games”—an Olympics of sorts that includes athletic and mental stamina-based competitions—is incredible to behold.

The National Parks

The national parks that make up Canada’s far north aren’t for the novice. Without the right skills, or at least the assistance of a good outfitter and guide, a tourist could find themselves in real trouble.  The rewards, when done right, are memorable: incredible wildlife, once-in-a-lifetime interactions with indigenous people, and access to pristine lands and waters.

Nahanni, NWT

Paddlers love Nahanni. The National Park Reserve is full of mountains, forest and tundra to explore. But it’s the South Nahanni River that gets canoers, kayakers, and rafters drooling. Winding its way through deep caverns and fast rapids, past moose, bear, and caribou, it’s the stuff adventures are made of. The park is best visited between June and August when flood waters have subsided and the weather is warmer. Not a paddler? Then strap on your boots and hike through the mountains, forest and tundra with views of waterfalls and those paddlers being batted around below.

Sirmilik, Nunavut

There’s no question that national parks in the region are remote—it’s both their difficulty and their charm. Sirmilik—“place of glaciers” in Inuktitut (an Inuit language)—is on the northern tip of Baffin Island. You’ll see the most if you visit in the spring or summer (May – September) when you’ll have the benefit of the round-the-clock sun. And if you can take the temperatures, diving adventures await under the sea ice and hold the potential of a beluga whale or narwhal encounter.  Neighboring communities of Pond Inlet and Arctic Bay mean you can also get a sense of the traditions and culture of the local people.

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Heather Greenwood Davis is a lifestyle journalist and a National Geographic Travel columnist. Follow her on Twitter @greenwooddavis or keep up with her family’s adventures on GlobeTrottingMama.com

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Active Travel Outdoors Road Trip Senior Travel Sustainable Travel

National Parks Service Proposes Doubling Entry Fees, Mulls Booking Reservations

The U.S. National Park Service recently proposed doubling entry fees at the 17 most-popular parks, and one park is now considering creating a reservations system for visitors, the Associated Press reports.

Under the new fee structure, the service would charge $70 for non-commercial vehicles, $50 for motorcycles, and $30 per person. The fee hikes would apply to peak-season months only, which the park service defines as the busiest five-month period for each particular park. The park service says “the funds raised are critically needed to improve facilities and infrastructure and to provide an enhanced level of service, all of which would have a direct impact on the visitor.

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These proposed fee hikes come at a time when the parks system is more popular than ever—a record 330 million people visited last year, during the Parks Service centennial. National park visits have grown steadily over the past several years, and the parks being considered for the higher entrance fees have weathered the brunt of that growth: The NPS says the parks included in the proposed fee hike represent 70 percent of the total of all entrance fees throughout the country (only 118 of the system’s 417 sites charge a fee at all.)

While the surge in visitation is mostly a positive thing, it puts great strain on the NPS and the parks themselves, not to mention visitors who encounter traffic jams and other consequences of crowds.

Speaking of traffic jams, Arches National Park is considering a change that, if successful, one can easily see expanding to other parks around the country. The Associated Press reports that park officials think timed reservation slots may alleviate some of the roadway and parking congestion currently plaguing Arches. The proposal would limit entries during “certain three-hour windows between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. over the March-through-October high season.”

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The Salt Lake Tribune adds that the park service has doubled the amount of parking at popular destinations within the park and explored a shuttle system, but nothing has helped the traffic crush. Timed entries will be difficult for visitors who can’t plan ahead, or who simply prefer the freedom of visiting whenever they want. But Park Superintendent Kate Cannon believes the proposal will actually increase visitation by spreading entries evenly throughout the day.

“When [visitors] get in the park, they breathe a sigh of relief, but when they get to where they want to go they can’t find a place to park. They circle, they circle. They go to the next place, they circle,” Cannon told the Tribune. “We want people to come in and enjoy the place but we need to change the way we manage traffic.”

Keep in mind that both the fee hike and revised entry system are still just proposals, and may never see the light of day. But clearly, the NPS is feeling the effect of its record-high visits. If the changes do occur, however, both would have a negative impact on visitors in the short-term. But in the long-term, perhaps these could help preserve the parks for future generations. That’s the idea, right?

The following parks are included in the fee hike proposal:

  • Acadia National Park
  • Arches National Park
  • Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Canyonlands National Park
  • Denali National Park
  • Glacier National Park
  • Grand Canyon National Park
  • Grand Teton National Park
  • Joshua Tree National Park
  • Mount Rainier National Park
  • Rocky Mountain National Park
  • Olympic National Park
  • Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park
  • Shenandoah National Park
  • Yellowstone National Park
  • Yosemite National Park
  • Zion National Park

Readers, have you visited any of these national parks over the past few years? What was your experience? Tell us in the comments below.

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Active Travel Adventure Travel Cities Outdoors Road Trip Sustainable Travel Weekend Getaways

Canada 150: Wild Frontiers and Unforgettable Nature in the Yukon

This year our national neighbors to the north celebrate their 150th anniversary and we’ll be celebrating with them as they do. Each month we’ll focus on one part of their magnificent country and share it with you. From the sky-high trees and brown bears in British Columbia to the kitchen parties and codfish-kissing in the Maritimes, our toast to Canada will give you well over 150 reasons to make this the year you take the trip. This month we’re exploring wildlife highways and creative cocktails in the Yukon.

Canada 150: Yukon

[st_content_ad]Of Canada’s three northern territories, Yukon is the one most likely to suit travelers who are looking for a mix of gold rush fever fun and incredible wildlife adventures. The territory that bridges British Columbia and Alaska has been an American favorite for generations thanks to the iconic Alaska Highway that runs through it, but the Yukon is much more than a drive-through destination. Come see the place where vast forests resemble the ones you’ve seen on Canadian travel posters for generations and where the landscape is both harsh and full of promise.

The Cities: Dawson City and Whitehorse

With a population of about 36,000 people, Yukon is hardly bursting at the seams. The small communities and solitary outposts that dot the vast landscape are made up of memorable characters and four-legged wonders. If what you’re looking for is a bustling city, your best shots will be in Dawson City or Whitehorse, and even there you’ll need to use a bit of imagination.

Relive the days of the Gold rush in Dawson City

Gold was first discovered near the Klondike River in 1896 and once word got out, prospectors began the long hard trip to riches. The trip north wasn’t an easy one and Dawson City was built for much the same purpose that it exists today: to provide travelers with some fun along the route. Not all that fun was legal. Dawson City developed a “you can do anything there” reputation attracting gunslingers, profiteers, and barkeeps alongside the miners themselves.

Today the city retains much of that feel but keeps—for the most part—on the right side of the law. You’ll still find the clapboard buildings, swinging saloon doors, and opportunities to try your luck panning for gold, but more often travelers are families coming through in RVs.  Geocaching, stargazing, informative tours, and interactive experiences can be found at this stop smack dab in the middle of the Dempster Highway—Canada’s only all-weather road across the Arctic circle. Adults looking for fun can pop into the iconic Downtown Hotel where a real human pickled toe at the bottom of a rum-based beverage must touch your lips if you want the honor of being named an honorary local. Or spend an evening at Diamond Tooth Gerties to get a taste of the dance hall saloon life of the past.

Find serenity in art and nature in Whitehorse

Yukon’s capital city sits at the crossing of the Klondike and Alaska highways—the territory’s two most prominent roads—but don’t expect skyscrapers and four-lane traffic. The city is simple and surrounded by a natural paradise. This is the forested Canada you’ve dreamed about.

Within the city limits you’ll find a mix of locals who’ve come from around the world. Locals will tell you: No one ends up in Whitehorse by accident. You choose to come here.

Among those who are here now, are those who were here first: Fourteen First Nations’ communities call the area home and ancestors have been doing so as many as 10,000 years before the gold rushers found it. You can get to know them better through their contributions to many facets of the city, including their art. Totem poles (including the 36-foot-high healing totem meant to assist former Aboriginal Residential school residents) and the exhibits inside the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre are only the beginning.

Ready to see some wildlife? Animal lovers may spot caribou, moose and fox, but to catch them all in one place visit the Yukon Wildlife Preserve.

Why Now is the Perfect Time to Go

The Weather: Yukon’s summer season comes to an end this month, and with the beginning of falling temperatures (expect it to top out at about 69 degrees this month) comes a brilliance in the forests that is well worth the trip.  You can expect about 17 hours of sunlight per day this month—a big difference from the five to six hours per day you’ll find in January.

Nature: By the end of this month, the tundra landscape will be changing colors and everything from bright yellows to deep crimson reds will completely transform the look and feel. Tombstone Territorial Park off the Dempster Highway is one of the many places you can witness the colors, all dramatically set against a black granite backdrop and with the bonus of incredible wildlife viewing.

Alaska Highway 75: 2017 marks the 75th anniversary of the completion of the Alaska Highway. Originally built to help America protect itself during World War II, today the route is a popular holiday drive. Visit and you’ll be impressed with the way communities along this BC/Yukon/Alaska corridor have managed to preserve their history.

Festivals: Both Yukon Discovery Day and Klondike Gold Discovery day are celebrated on the third Monday in August. You’ll find one of the biggest celebrations in Dawson City and can expect fun for all ages.

Miles Canyon: Gold rushers would have had to navigate the winding Yukon River Pass to get to their prize in the Klondike; today you can approach it with less at stake.  A suspension bridge built across the Canyon in 1922 means hikers can take advantage of an extensive network of year-round trails in the area.

Why It’s Great Other Times of Year

The Northern Lights: The darker it gets in the Yukon, the more likely you are to see those shimmering neon lights streaking through the skies above. The rewards are greatest in deep winter, and some great hotels will wake you to make sure you don’t miss it.

Hot springs in cool temps: The Takhini Hotsprings mineral springs are great any time of year; but in the winter, the mineral-rich pools become a sought-after activity by visitors and locals alike. A dip in the pool and a dip in the snow is the thing to do.

Winter done right: When you live in a place where heavy snow and plenty of ice are an annual event, you learn to embrace it. Will it be dogsledding behind a team of trained huskies or snow festivals that have you dancing in the crisp air (Try the Frostbite Music Festival)? Will you give snowshoeing a try, perfect your ice fishing or try fat-tire biking for the first time? Whatever you choose, Yukon locals will teach you how to make the most of the season.

If You Go Don’t Miss …

An aerial view: The territory stretches over a slice of land twice the size of Great Britain. From above—in helicopter or sea plane—you’ll get a deeper appreciation of the serpentine roads that slice through forests of spruce, pine, and fir.

The National Park

Kluane National Park

Kluane National Park is a pristine natural gem with an abundance of bald eagles, caribou, and bears (both black and grizzly). 8,500 square miles of protected land, a snow-capped mountain that rises 19,525 feet above the largest non-polar icefield in the world, and glacial lakes that glisten in the sunlight make it bucket-list worthy. Come to hike, bike, raft, and camp. You’ll find experts at the area’s two visitor centers primed and ready to help you along. A mix of interactive exhibits and hands-on activities mean you can spend an hour or a day. Both are open into September.

Visit Kluane National Park and Reserve Visitor Centre or Thachäl Dhäl Visitor Centre for details.

Remember: National Parks and National Marine Conservation Areas are offering free admission all year as part of the celebration of Canada150. Request your free park pass here.

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Heather Greenwood Davis is a lifestyle journalist and a National Geographic Travel columnist. Follow her on Twitter @greenwooddavis or keep up with her family’s adventures on GlobeTrottingMama.com.

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Active Travel Adventure Travel Arts & Culture Cities Experiential Travel Family Travel Food & Drink Health & Wellness Outdoors Road Trip Romantic Travel Senior Travel Weekend Getaways Women's Travel

9 Best Things to Do in Stowe, Vermont in the Off-Season

Stowe, Vermont is best known as a winter hotspot for skiers and snowboarders, so when I recently visited over the summer, I expected to find a sleepy mountain town. Instead, Stowe was booming—the off-season is really the new “on-season.”

Stowe cherishes its small-town charm, and with warm (but not hot) weather, boutique hotels and resorts, and fresh mountain air, the the best time to visit Stowe is from late spring through early fall. And with Vail Resort’s recent purchase of the mountain, the area could see even more off-season development and new businesses.

The Best Things to Do in Stowe in the Off-Season

Here are the best things to do in Stowe when the snow isn’t falling.

Go for a Day Hike

[st_content_ad]There are dozens of popular trails in Stowe, making a day hike the perfect way to enjoy the weather, views, and, in the fall, foliage. The Stowe Pinnacle Trail is one of the best things to do in Stowe for leap-peeping views, and the steep but manageable hike to the summit is mostly shaded. The trail is about three miles out-and-back, enough of a workout to earn you some brews post-hike.

Another great trail is the Sunset Rock Trail, which starts right in town and can be done in under an hour—yes, the sunset views are amazing. If you’re chasing waterfalls, check out the Moss Glen Falls Trail, a 2.9-mile route that’s suitable for all levels.

Other hiking areas include Smugglers’ Notch State Park and Underhill State Park—where you’ll find Mount Mansfield, the town’s main ski mountain.

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Take a Dip in a Swimming Hole

You’ll find the breathtaking Bingham Falls swimming hole along the Mill Trail, or near a parking lot located just a few minutes’ drive from Topnotch Resort. The waterfall is part of Smugglers’ Notch State Park and can get crowded during the weekends and in nice weather. There are a few different rocks you can use to plunge into the chilly water—just use caution.

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Go Horseback Riding

(Photo: Topnotch Resort)

There are a few horseback trails in Stowe, and Topnotch offers both guided trail rides and riding lessons at its Equestrian Center. The trails in Stowe are flat and scenic, perfect for a first-time rider.

Go on a Brewery Tour

(Photo: TripAdvisor, LLC)

Stowe has one of the best craft brewing scenes in New England, if not the entire Northeast. From the cult favorite (and often sold out) Heady Topper by The Alchemist to the newly opened Von Trapp Bierhall, you could spend a day (or weekend) touring Stowe’s breweries. And that’s exactly what you can do with Rick Sokoloff’s 4 Points brewery tour—with groups of four or more you can customize your stops and leave the driving (and knowledge) up to him.

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Bike

(Photo: TripAdvisor, LLC)

Whether you’re looking for intense mountain biking or a leisurely ride, biking is one of the best things to do in Stowe. The Stowe Recreation Path is a 5.5-mile greenway that runs from Topnotch Resort (the access point is across the street) to Stowe Village. It’s a flat, picturesque path with covered bridges, open farms, and winding creeks. There are a few other access points along the way, but the full-length ride is a leisurely way to spend a morning or afternoon.

Adrenaline junkies can opt for some mountain biking down or around the mountain. 4 Points also offers mountain biking tours and lessons (as well as a popular brewery/mountain biking combo tour—don’t worry, you bike first). With local guides and awesome trails, these tours are suitable for all age and fitness levels.

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Relax at a Spa

(Photo: TripAdvisor, LLC)

After a day of hiking or other outdoor activities, finding a relaxing spa is one of the best things to do in Stowe. Most mountain lodges have their own spa, but you can typically purchase a day pass if you’re not a guest.

Contact these resorts for reservations: The Spa at Stoweflake, The Spa at Stowe Mountain Lodge, Golden Eagle Resort, Trapp Family Lodge, and Topnotch Spa.

Go to the Top of Mt. Mansfield

Whether you hike to the top or cheat and take a gondola or drive, enjoying the highest point in Vermont is one of the best things to do in Stowe in the off-season. Famous for its silhouette shape—locals will be happy to point out the nose, upper lip, lower lip, and chin—there’s tons to do besides skiing on the mountain.

Besides countless hiking trails, the mountain is home to an Adventure Center—known for its zip-line course down the mountain—as well as the Cliff House Restaurant, the Gondola Skyride, biking trails, a visitor’s center, and more.

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Shop for Vermont Specialties

(Photo: Shaws General Store)

Don’t let its size fool you. While Stowe’s Main Street is small, the town is packed with cafes, ice cream parlors, galleries, restaurants, and boutiques. Shaw’s General Store is a must for mountain gear and souvenirs.

And don’t leave town without your Vermont staples; you’ll find plenty of maple syrup, farm-fresh cheese, and cider donuts here, too.

Embrace the Farm-to-Table Concept

(Photo: TripAdvisor, LLC)

With more than 7,000 farms in the state, you’d better take advantage of fresh food and meats while you’re in Stowe. Go full throttle at the local Sunday farmers’ market and bring home your own fresh goods. Or get hands-on and do your own maple sugaring at Nebraska Knoll Sugar Farm.

Don’t worry: If you’re just looking for some locally sourced ingredients at dinner, there are plenty of farm-to-table restaurants in the area. Favorites include Flannel, Plate, and Edison Hill Inn‘s dining spaces.

You can also look for the Vermont Fresh Network logo on a restaurant’s website to ensure it uses local Vermont ingredients.

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Ashley traveled to Stowe, Vermont, courtesy of Topnotch Resort. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter.

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Active Travel Adventure Travel Arts & Culture Experiential Travel Outdoors

7 Reasons Why Anyone Can Hike the Swiss Alps

Hiking the Swiss Alps conjured up daunting images in my mind—facing down towering mountains with an overloaded backpack, having to purchase special gear, and getting lost hiking alone, never to be found again.

Why Anyone Can Hike the Swiss Alps

Turns out that was a bit dramatic, and pretty much anyone, regardless of experience or fitness level, can hike the Swiss Alps (no hiking boots required)

You Can Catch a Ride up or Down

[st_content_ad]Some people may call this cheating, I call it eliminating the worst parts of hiking—much of the Swiss Alps are serviced by a great network of fast and easy-to-use cable cars, gondolas, funiculars, and cog railways that can whisk you up or down the mountain. This is great for people who are short on time but still want to hike the Swiss Alps on a day trip, as you can start from a higher elevation and get right to the great views and good trails.

Or, hike up and take a cable car down, saving your knees/joints and skipping the boring descent after you’ve already summited.

Most cable cars, cog railways, and gondolas are handicapped accessible as well (click here for more information), as are the viewing platforms.

No Gear Required

I usually have my Vibram-soled hiking boots when I attempt any summit at home in New England, but to save suitcase space, I only packed running shoes. Thanks to the well-maintained, mainly dirt trails, I was completely fine, even on the hikes with “medium” and “difficult” ratings. The only essentials you need to hike the Swiss Alps in the summer are: Sunscreen (the sun is stronger at higher altitudes), sneakers, a water bottle, and a jacket (the weather can change quickly and gets cold at higher elevation). That’s it!

No Sad Granola Bars Needed

I’ll admit a squished peanut butter sandwich or granola bar tastes pretty good when it’s the only thing available after a long morning of hiking, but you know what’s even better? A three-course hot meal served with local wine. Since most of the mountains are accessible without hiking, you’ll find amazing restaurants next to many of the trails, so you don’t have to worry about carrying all your fuel with you. Check out these high-elevation restaurants in Zermatt, and you can spend your hike deciding whether to get fondue or rosti when you arrive.

Themed Hikes

Do nature, fresh air, and amazing views bore you? (Or maybe you want to hike the Swiss Alps with a reluctant partner or kid?) Then Switzerland’s Theme Trails are for you. These hikes educate, offer up tastings (hello, wine road) or entertain, as the trails are based around different subjects to hold your interest.

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Easy-to-Follow Trails

If you’ve ever panicked from not seeing a rock cairn for miles, you’ll appreciate the Swiss Alps’ easy-to-follow trails. Most of the day hikes you’ll do in the Swiss Alps are single track paths that have bright yellow signs, which are clearly marked with directions and the amount of time to certain landmarks—so you won’t even need a map.

It’s Free

You don’t have to pay an entrance free before you hop on a trail, as most are on public land.

However, if you’re planning on utilizing one of the transport systems up or down, you’ll have to pay. Note that if you have a Swiss Travel Pass, you’ll get a 50 percent off your ticket on mountain railways and cable cars.

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Well-Maintained Paths

The Swiss have a reputation for being detail-oriented and efficient, which is evident in their hiking trails. A network of volunteers from the Swiss Hiking Trail Federation does an excellent job at keeping the trails in great shape, so you won’t have to fight through overgrowth or worry about a washed-out trail when you’re here.

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Caroline Morse was hosted by Switzerland Tourism on her visit to hike the Swiss Alps. Follow her on Instagram @TravelWithCaroline to see photos from the Swiss Alps and the rest of Switzerland.

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Family Travel Pet Travel Road Trip Travel Etiquette

How to Travel with Your Dog: 8 Hotel Tips and Tricks

If you’re a dog owner who loves to travel, often the most difficult part of a trip is leaving your beloved friend behind. In a recent survey from Nature’s Recipe, almost half of the respondents said they avoid traveling with their dogs because of the inconvenience and that the biggest hurdle is finding a dog-friendly hotel.

How to Travel with Your Dog Overnight at a Hotel

Because figuring out how to travel with your dog requires some extra planning, here are eight tips to help with overnight hotel stays and finding dog-friendly properties.

Understand the Hotel’s Pet Policy and Fees

[st_content_ad]When traveling with your dog, I recommend booking directly with the hotel over the phone. This way you can ask specific questions and understand the hotel’s pet policy.

Before you book, ask if there’s a pet fee, if the fee is per night or a flat rate, if there are breed or weight limitations, if the entire hotel is pet-friendly or if there is a designated floor, if you can leave your dog alone in the room, if there are dog walkers or sitters available for hire, and if there are any charges associated with damages from your pet.

Pro Tip: A $25 to $50 fee for dogs is pretty standard, depending on the hotel. Check for specials from major hotel chains that are dog-friendly or ask a boutique hotel if it runs discounts for pets during the off-season.

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Know Your Dog’s Behavior

You’ll never know how to travel with your dog until you try it, but understanding your dog’s behavior is extremely important when staying overnight with him or her at a hotel. For example, if your dog tends to bark at people walking past a window, ask for a room on a higher floor. Or, if your dog gets nervous in elevators, ask for a room on a lower level so you can take the stairs. Another useful tip is to put the TV on when you leave the room, so your dog won’t hear people coming and going in the hall and get anxious.

Pro Tip: Before you go on a longer trip, do a trial run at a nearby pet-friendly hotel to see how your dog reacts. If things don’t go well, you can easily bring your dog home.

Have a Plan If You Can’t Leave Your Dog Alone

If a hotel’s policy is that you can’t leave your dog alone in the room, make sure you have some resources to call upon if you’re planning on going somewhere that doesn’t allow Fido. Ask if the hotel has a dog walker or sitter for hire; at some pet-friendly hotels, non-scheduled staff members are happy to walk your dog for you as long as you ask ahead of time. Another option is to bring your dog to a groomer, a boarding kennel, or even a doggie spa for the day.

Pro Tip: If you can leave your dog alone in the hotel room, always give the front desk staff a heads up and ask them to call you if there are any noise complaints or issues. 

Research Pet-Friendly Restaurants

If you can’t leave your dog alone in your room per the hotel’s policy, you’re going to want to find restaurants where you can bring your dog for meals. Most hotels can provide a list of nearby restaurants that allow pets, and typically if the hotel is pet-friendly, at least some part of its lobby bar or onsite restaurant will be too.

I’ve also found that most restaurants with outdoor seating will allow dogs as long as they are leashed and stay around the perimeter. However, the weather doesn’t always allow for this, so it’s wise to have a back-up plan—like room service or takeout.

Pro Tip: Check out BringFido for pet-friendly restaurants by city or region.

Pack the Right Gear and Food

Your doggie-packing list will vary based on the length of your stay and mode of transportation. Most hotels will include a dog bed, some treats, and a bowl as part of the pet fee; ask about this ahead of time so you don’t bring anything that’s unnecessary. You can also buy pet food at your destination to save some extra space in your suitcase.

If you’re going to be traveling with your dog often, I recommend purchasing a collapsible water bowl, a travel bed, pee pads, an extra leash, and lots of treats. If I’m packing dog food, I always measure it out ahead of time and put each meal in a separate plastic bag.

Pro Tip: One of the best things I’ve learned about how to travel with your dog is that you should always bring a favorite toy or item from home. Having something with a familiar smell will help make your dog more comfortable in the hotel room. 

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Stick to a Routine

Dogs are creatures of habit, so it’s important to stick to your pet’s routine when you travel. Feed them at the same time, place the dog bed in a similar spot as it is at home, and give them plenty of exercise. One of the first things you should do when you get to the hotel is find a green space for them to go to the bathroom.

Pro Tip: If your dog is used to socializing with other dogs or needs some time off-leash, find a nearby dog park.

Choose the Right Pet-Friendly Hotel

Keep in mind that just because a hotel allows you to travel with your pet, that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily “pet-friendly.” The hotel might have rooms available for your pet but not provide any extra perks or information, for example.

If you’re traveling with a small dog that doesn’t require a lot of exercise, then any standard hotel chain will probably do. But if you have a larger dog that needs lots of attention or you’re traveling on a budget, it may take more research to find a good fit.

Pro Tip: Boutique hotels will often provide more amenities or attention to dogs if they pride themselves on being pet-friendly. Some of my favorite pet-friendly hotels include The Colonnade Hotel in Boston, Topnotch Resort in Stowe, and Hotel Vermont in Burlington.

Kimpton is a great chain-option for dogs since it doesn’t charge any extra fees and even invites dogs (and any other pet) to the nightly, complimentary wine reception the brand is known for.

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Find Dog-Friendly Activities

Some suggested dog-friendly activities while on vacation include hiking, walking along a running or bike path, breweries (call ahead to make sure they’re pet-friendly), markets, beaches, and outdoor parks and monuments. The more tired your pup is, the better they’ll sleep at the hotel.

Pro Tip: BringFido lets you search for events and activities in your destination.

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