Just because you left your hometown does not mean you traveled. If you went somewhere with you family, stayed with your family, talked only with your family, and moved between places with only your family, you have not traveled. If you went to an all-inclusive, sat on the beach by yourself, had someone bring you everything, you have not traveled. If you go back to the same place every year, with the same people, and did the same thing, you have not traveled. You went on a vacation. (more…)
This past weekend David and I crossed off a couple items from our bucket list. We took a train for the first time, stayed in a Bed and Breakfast for the first time, and biked from Pittsburgh to Washington D.C. along the Great Allegheny Passage and the C&O Towpath. We covered 350 miles in 3.5 days. It was an amazing, scenic journey that I can’t wait to tell you about. But first, a side story. (more…)
We all love souvenirs. Seemingly irresistable while traveling, we are convinced that our trip memories will all be lost unless immortalized by that overpriced turtle made of seashells (I had a particular weakness for those growing up). Over the past few years, my souvenirs have become less seashell turtles and more house items (I guess I really am getting older…). In any case, I love decorating our home with items from around the world that remind me of adventures. That table runner from Guatemala, the framed papyrus from Egypt, the swinging chairs from Ecuador, the napkin rings from South Africa… Admittedly, I just returned from the Bahamas with a magnet of a colorful lobster. Old habits die hard. Mom, if you are reading this, I really DO love it. Thanks again!
Of course, in the end, my favorite souvenirs are the pictures that we take. Nothing brings back that flood of memories quite like a candid photo. The biggest fear my husband and I have while traveling is that we will lose our camera memory card. We carry multiple cameras and have seriously considered putting stickers on them that say, ” If found or stolen, please keep the camera and enjoy. But if you could, kindly send the memory card to…” (more…)
Ziplock bags are absolutely indispensable to my packing for any outdoor excursion. Why? Ziplock bags are water-resistant, lightweight, and see-through. Items are easily compartmentalized and organized. Bag space frees itself after compressing the air out of clothing contained in each Ziplock. Without having to dig through your entire pack you can quickly find the bag holding your desired clothing. On top of it all, Ziplock bags are relatively cheap and disposable. Here is how I organize my packing:
- Lay out all items to pack in one location.
- Divide toiletries between three bags. In one bag pack the daily hygiene items that are likely to get wet (toothbrush, soap, shower items). In the other bag pack dry toiletries, such as medicines, which aren’t used as frequently. When you bathe you only need to grab the first bag, which should be packed in an easily accessible location. The second bag stays dry and out of the way. Pack a third bag containing sunscreen and bug spray.
- If you have a set or two of ‘city’ clothes, pack those items together in one Ziplock. They are now protected by a moisture and smell barrier from impending nasty hiking clothes.
- Pack outfits in day sets (pants, shirt, underwear, socks).
- Before sealing or resealing, compress the air out of each bag. Push, squash, flatten bags using your body weight (elbows or knees are helpful) to remove the air and significantly decrease the needed bag real estate.
Pack wallet and cell phone together in one bag.
- Pack your camera in a separate bag.
- Food gets its own bag. If possible, arranged by meal.
- Utensils/cookware are organized in their own bag.
- Pack several extra Ziplock bags for dirty clothing or a just-in-case scenario.
- Clothing bags are stacked vertically in my pack so that I can quickly see which bag I need from the side access of my Osprey pack. ‘City’ clothes are on the very bottom of the stack.
- Food is packed on the side of my clothing, closest to the side access.
- Utensils and cookware are in the compartment on top of the pack.
- Toiletries are packed on top of the clothing and food and are accessed from the top of the pack.
- Wallet and cell phone go in the zippered compartment on top of the pack, along with the extra Ziplocks. Camera either joins the wallet and cell phone or stays near my pocket.
My gear is now organized, compressed, and relatively protected from rain and streams. Happy trails!
Videos to get your hiking juices flowing:
Do you pack with Ziplock bags? What items are indispensable to your packing? Comment below!
There are few books that I have been more upset to finish than Rowing to Latitude: Journeys Along the Artic’s Edge. Jill Fredston eloquently relates her story of fortitude and endurance as she ROWS (in an ocean-rowing shell) over 20,000 miles with her husband (in an ocean kayak) through the Artic and Sub-Artic, traveling from Seattle past Juneau, the length of the Yukon to Nome, the length of the Mackenzie and the entire northern coast of Alaska, around Spitzenberg, the coast of Norway, the western coast of Greenland, the entire coast of Labrador. These Alaskan avalanche experts, researchers and rescue trainers spend their entire summers at sea, covering impressive distances.
Although there is plenty of adventure, Rowing to Latitude almost lacks the human-vs.-nature vibe due in large part to Jill Fredston’s writing style, which seamlessly transitions from heartfelt to frank to witty to poetic. Both descriptive and introspective, Jill details her journeys over rugged landscapes while relating the lessons that she learns on the way. “By the time I had reached the sea, I knew that I could do far worse than to live life like the Yukon: Keep moving but find places to slow down. Don’t go straight at the expense of meandering. Nurture others; accommodate both change and tradition. Savor the element of surprise. Be gracious, accepting, resilient.”
This book is fit for armchair travelers, rowers, kayakers, married couples, adventure seekers, and anyone who gains self-knowledge by experiencing nature.
Have you read this book? What books have inspired you? Comment Below!