Photo by Trey Ratcliff

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Gear Review: The Most Rugged Matches for Camping Trips

I’ve camped in all sorts of conditions, including in snowdrifts in the winter with gale-force winds. And, one of my biggest problems -- aside from staying warm -- is lighting my camp stove. Every match just kept fizzling out. Now I carry mega matches that are four-inches long, burn for up to 25 seconds and, even when they’re submerged in water, they’ll relight. These are meaty matches manufactured by UCO. The Titan Stormproof Match Kit packs a dozen of these matches in a floatable, waterproof case. The floatable spec could come in handy: Once when camping in Michigan's Upper Peninsula (The UP), I woke in the middle of the night to find every small item in my tent floating past my head as a vicious storm rolled through. Sadly, I didn't have the UCO matches.

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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Gear Review: Flashlight Turned Lantern

Whenever I go camping I find that my flashlight may be great when I’m trying to navigate to the restroom in the middle of the night but not so great when I am cooking or setting up my tent in the dark. Sure, I could also bring a lantern for those purposes but I’d rather not since, after all, I’m all about going ultra light. That’s why I like this product made by UCO: the Leschi LED Lantern.

It’s a flashlight that telescopes into a lightweight -- it barely weighs 2 ounces -- lantern. And, because it has a shock cord, I can hang it just about anywhere, whether a tent pole, tree branch, or strap. It’s super bright: 110 Lumens and projects its light almost 110 feet . And it’ll last for four hours -- all on one AA battery -- allowing plenty of time to set up the tent, cook, wash the dishes and read.  But it’s also got a strobe mode just in case I need to send Morse Code in an emergency. (Joking.)

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Saturday, May 13, 2017

Buenos Aires in Pictures

Buenos Aires is a multi-faceted city, where luxe hotels like the Palacio Duhau-Park Hyatt displays contemporary art on the wall of an underground gallery, and where the rough-around-the edges La Boca barrio shows off its surprising street art with sculptures hanging from the colorful facades. Where the city that bustles with non-stop traffic also is home to the Costanera Sur Ecological Reserve where the only sounds are the twittering of birds.  Where neighborhoods are peppered with small art galleries showcasing the myriad works of Argentinian painters as well as museums highlighting the country's vast art heritage. Where one moment you can be dining in a fine sushi restaurant and the next, strolling a verdant Japanese garden -- the biggest outside of Japan -- with venues aplenty that are ideal for meditation. This short YouTube video slideshow provides a window into the Buenos Aires I experienced.

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Sunday, April 30, 2017

How To Travel For A Week With Only A Small Carry-On Bag

Iceland is one of my specialties: I travel there about once a year and have been since before the country suffered that infamous bankruptcy in 2008. I usually fly Icelandair but recently I traveled on WOW air, a budget airline flying from Newark Airport in New Jersey non-stop to Reykjavik. The downside of budget airlines is the carry-on allowance. Since I don’t ever check luggage, this meant I had to find a bag that was no bigger than 17” x 13” x 10” and weighed no more than 22 pounds. The small backpack you see below is what I used to pack everything I’d need for a week.

There are many tricks to packing this small and light:

  • I wear clothes with lots of pockets, including the chic and practical Pocket-Change Vest that I designed -- it has 10 hidden pockets.
  • In addition, I wear clothes in one or two color, usually black and some other neutral color, so there’s lots of mixing and matching.
  • I wear my heaviest dress, sweat and jacket/coat on the plane
  • I pack thin dresses, tops and skirts in Merino wool, such as those sold by SmartWool, Icebreaker and Title Nine.
  • I don’t carry much in the way of toiletries and, those I do bring, include travel or sample-sizes, as well as small leaves/papers impregnated with shampoo, conditioner and body wash. Even the deodorant is tinier than you’d find in the travel size aisle of the drugstore.
  • I only travel with two pair of shoes: I wear the heaviest on the plane and pack the other pair, usually a slim Mary Jane style.

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Friday, April 28, 2017

Where To Safely Carry That Passport

I just returned from a bicycle trip to South Korea where the guide was -- hmm, how should I say this diplomatically -- less than competent. So, imagine everyone’s surprise when we’re about to board a ferry to an island within South Korea and we’re all required to show our passport in order to get our tickets. Sounds odd, for sure, because we’re not crossing a border. And no other form of identification would suffice: it had to be the passport for foreign visitors. Now, I know we’re often told to never travel with the passport once we’ve reached your destination, but I always have my passport safely zipped away in the 7-in-1 micro bag that I designed, the atta-Bag.  (This video shows some of it's features.) I carry it with me because numerous times, whether I’m trying to exchange money, check into a hotel, get a ticket for an event, and so forth, I’m asked for my passport. So in this South Korean situation, I was the only one in the group who had the passport on their person. The others packed the passports away in their luggage -- a common storage place for passports, it turns out -- in the bowels of the car ferry. They now had to race onto the ferry’s cargo hold, and retrieve the passport, and race back onto land as the gang plank was rising. They all almost missed the ferry, and the officials had to hold the ferry for them. Not good all around, except for me who carries all my valuable safely in my micro travel bag that’s so minimal most people don’t even realize I’m carrying it.

Because many people are making summer plans now, I'm offering a 20% discount on my micro travel bag until the end of May. Just use the discount code SpringTravel.

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Monday, April 24, 2017

How To Stay Healthy When Traveling

We all know not to drink the water or eat the raw fruit when traveling. But there's so much more to staying healthy when you're on the road. A couple of days ago, I gave a roundtable presentation at the New York Travel Festival entitled "How to Stay Healthy When Traveling." I revealed a variety of less-known ways to avoid foodborne illness, including avoiding fruit juices that can often be diluted with tap water as well as swearing off buffets because various flying insects that are vectors for disease can alight; what small device you should always pack when visiting developing countries -- it's the Steri-Pen, a UV-light water purifer; why you should take Pepto Bismol before you ever get sick -- if you follow a particular protocol of taking two chewable tabs before each meal and at bedtime it can significantly reduce the risk of traveler's belly; and what device can prevent motion sickness - it's the Relief-Band, a battery-powered device that stimulates the anti-nausea acupressure point on the risk. This private link is an abbreviated list of recommended travel first-aid supplies. For the full-list as well as several free samples/product discount coupons, visit my store where I sell Doc-in-a-Bag, the unique travel first-aid kit organizer.

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Saturday, April 22, 2017

South Korea In Pictures

South Korea recently has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. But this is a country webbed with a sophisticated network of bicycle trails, many that are completely segregated from traffic. I recently bicycled from Damyang, south of Seoul and then took the ferry with my bicycle to Jeju Island. I found South Korea to be a country of lush landscapes, verdant agricultural lands, primeval forests, dense stands of bamboo, and scenic waterfronts where older female divers free dive for abalone and conch and then serve the shellfish raw on a seaside table. This YouTube video slideshow provides a window into my adventures.

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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Art and Architecture in Reykjavik

Reykjavik, Iceland is a city of art. Street murals dot the landscape, both along the main streets as well as in the Grandi neighborhood -- a former industrial fishing area -- that's burgeoning with new shops, and restaurants.

And, for art aficionados, Harpa, the opera house, is not to be missed. It’s stunning, both acoustically and architecturally. Stroll through the interior and you'll see how the hexagon-shaped glass panels perfectly frame the waterfront vistas

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Sunday, March 26, 2017

My Highly Commended Travel Blog for Advice on Iceland

Among all the countries I've visited, Iceland, by far, is right at the top of my favorites list. It has everything I hold dear: pristine landscapes, nature-based activities, a capital that's brimming with culture, young chefs doing very cool things in their restaurants in Reykjavik and elsewhere in the country. Iceland is always listed as one of the top five happiest countries in the world. They do just about everything right: they were the first to take in Syrian refugees. When the government was in financial crisis in 2008, they became the only government to put the bankers responsible in prison. Iceland was the first country to have a democratically-elected female president - and she was in office for 16 years. My list of what's great about Iceland could go on. I often blog about my favorite country here. And, as a result, Asher Fergusson, an Australian with a large following, selected J The Travel Authority from among 700 around the world travel blogs as one that's highly commended for its posts on Iceland.

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