Tag Archives: North America

2020’s Year in Pictures: Past Year Review

What a year it has been! No words can fully describe all the chaos and interesting chain-of-events that took place in 2020. Many of these changes will continue to transform the world forever.

Remote work, telemedicine, political dysfunction, money printing, pandemic control, vaccine production, home schooling (just to name a few massive trends) — 2020 was one of those years where a decade has happened.

From climate change, to systemic racism, to rising wealth inequality to combating a raging pandemic which no one could effectively control in most of the world has taught us many critical lessons. Hopefully, some of these lessons will make our world a better, safer, and fairer place for all.

Okay with that said and as we are all preparing to wrap up the year, we bring you 2020 year-in-pictures.

Australia Forest Fire

Taal Volcano

Taal volcano erupts in the Philippines. From a green oasis to red death. The volcano has had several violent eruptions in the past, causing loss of life on the island and the populated areas surrounding the lake, with the death toll over 6000 as of date.

Covid Outbreak in China

Within months, the virus outbreak went loose and spread across the entire planet. Travel started to slow down and nations-states started to close their borders.

Initially, as the testing rate was low and death rate were high, panic and an impending sense of doom was all over the news. Everyone was taking extra precautions and by March, WHO declared Coronavirus a Pandemic.

Covid Testing

With time covid testing and tracing became humanity’s only chance of hope.

George Floyd

The unfortunate event that led to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis sparked a series of protests around the country and later across the globe around systemic racism, gender inequality, government corruption, police brutality, and other social injustices.

The protests against the police brutality and issues around the police reform led to more cases getting surfaced with either police forces using excessive force or not taking actions at all. This led to month long protests, riots, death, damage, and chaos.

California & West Coast Forest Fires

2020 US Election

This was the most important election in the recent US history. On the one side, it was pro-Trump nationalists with America-First at all cost camp vs the progressive democrats who wanted America take back the global leadership role.

Covid Lockdowns

Once the covid19 cases surpassed a million and continued rising at an alarming rate, the governments around the world had no choice but to start locking down businesses, transportation, and other human activities.

The national lockdowns around the world resulted in millions of small businesses going out of business, millions of people losing their jobs, and causing both a severe economic depression and mental health epidemic. The “real economy” is far from normal no matter what the stock markets might be telling you.

5G Launched

The long awaited 5G (fifth generation) technology finally started getting rolled out and new phone models were launched which are now 5G compatible. 5G will bring Gigabit speed for its users. Furthermore, 5G networks are predicted to reach almost 2 billion subscribers worldwide by 2025.

SpaceX, NASA & ISS

NASA astronauts were launched in a historic test flight to International Space Station (ISS) in SpaceX Dragon. This was a huge deal not just in the field of reusable-Rocket Science, but also because it made America finally independent. Up until now, all commercial launches used to be done by Russia.

Bitcoin as Digital Gold

The year 2017 put Bitcoin into the mainstream news but it was not until this year’s rise in Bitcoin price which validated Bitcoin’s true potential as a digital store of value. With the new all time high price and market cap, Bitcoin continues to lead the digital financial revolution.

Locust Swarm

As if Coronavirus was not already bad enough, the 2020 locust infestation wrecked havoc and threatened the food supply across East Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and the Indian subcontinent. The locust outbreak this year was the worst in 70 years in Kenya, and the worst in 25 years in Ethiopia, Somalia, and India.

Murder Hornets

Speaking of Biblical level plagues, infestation, and disease, 2020 gave us three new species of murder hornets in the Pacific Northwest in North America. These are Asian giant hornets, a species that recently invaded North America.

The bigger problem is that they are a threat to bees and without bees everything else goes down in the food chain beginning with the trees. This is a huge problem that we don’t know how to solve it yet. Only time will tell.

Brexit Finalized

Brexit officially happened on January 31, 2020 and the UK has been in a transition period until the end of 2020. There are plenty of both the doom warnings and good days, but no body knows for sure how this will impact the UK in 10 years. The way things are going in the world, this doesn’t look like a happy ending for the British people.

Healthcare Workers Celebrated as True Heroes

Finally, to end this year end review on a positive note, we would like to thank our healthcare workers and all essential workers who make this world run. Covid19 made us realize that the true heroes are the people who lift up other people’s burden and take care of our sick. They were indeed the angels we needed to survive this pandemic!

If you think we are missing some key events from this year, please comment below and we will make sure to add it to our photo story.

Thanks for reading and we wish you a Happy 2021! This time is different 😉

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Don’t Make These Common Travel Mistakes

Booked your first air ticket? Congratulations, you are soon going to fly at 32,000 ft above the clouds.

Flying for the first time can be both fun and exciting. However, if you have any flying anxiety, before boarding a flight, seek professional help or enroll in an online flying course to ensure a seamless experience.

Mistakes happen and many first-time flyers make blunders that can affect their journey and overall travel experience.

Let’s find out what are the most common travel mistakes and how you can avoid them!

Forgetting to check passport Expiration

There is nothing quite like the stress that comes from booking a flight and learning your passport is expired.

Many first-time flyers often make a mistake of not checking their passport expiration date. Some countries like China and Brazil require 6 months of passport validity. This means such countries will deny you entry if your passport isn’t valid for at least 6 months after your last day of travel.

It’s better to check your passport’s expiration date and, if needed, update it to avoid any problems.

Overpacking

As a first-time flyer, it may be tempting to pack a lot of stuff to make the trip more pleasant.

However, this can make your journey difficult and can boost the chances of you getting charged with potential baggage fines.

It is advised to go through the baggage allowance policies of your airline.

Reaching late at the airport

At the airport, it is a common sight to see people arriving late and many of them end up missing their flight.

For instance, if your plane departs at 2:00 pm, that doesn’t mean you have to reach the airport 20 or 30 minutes before just to find a closed boarding gate or to watch your plane flying away from the terminal.

Procedures like getting the boarding pass, security checks, and reaching terminals can all take much longer than you believe.

So, if you’re a first-time flyer, reach the airport at least 2 to 3 hours before the scheduled departure so that you have spare time to board the flight.

Not opting for web check-in

Whether you are a rookie flyer or an experienced jet setter, web check-in should be your top priority.

By web check-in, you can:

  • avoid standing in a long queue
  • save your precious time
  • choose the desired seat on the plane
  • immediately go through the security checks and then to the boarding

Forgetting to carry in-flight entertainment

This is the most common mistake that first-time flyers make.

Whether it’s a long-haul journey or not, carrying in-flight entertainment like headphones, iPad, e-reader, or smartphone can be a lifesaver on your flight.

Some of the benefits are:

  • Makes the journey enjoyable and fun
  • Calm your flying jitters
  • Time passes quickly
  • Keep you distracted
  • Block unwanted noises

Let’s wrap up

In-advance planning, double-checking your luggage, arriving on time, and avoiding these potential mistakes can make your first flight comfortable.

Above all, don’t’ forget to communicate with your co-passengers and seek help from the crew if you feel uncomfortable.

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Family Gap Year: Visiting All 50 US States

If you’re from the United States, you probably think of it as just “home.” But the US is one of the biggest countries in the world, with incredibly diverse geography, and you could explore it for years without getting bored.

Just as the song says, “from the mountains, to the prairies, to the oceans white with foam…”

Sunrise on South Padre Island, Texas

Many people have the goal of visiting all 50 states, and our family is no exception. In the past two years, our family of six has traveled the US full-time and visited 45 states.

Counting previous trips, we’ve actually been to 49 out of the 50 states (just Alaska left to visit!), so it’s safe to say we are experts on traveling with a family in the United States!

Why Travel the United States

The US contains a vast array of geographical landscapes and cultural experiences. You can enjoy a tropical beach in Florida, explore the deserts of the southwest, visit Hollywood and New York City, see a volcano in Hawaii and a glacier in Montana, ski down a mountain in Colorado, admire the prairie grasslands in Kansas, and so much more.

And it’s all incredibly accessible! When you travel within the continental US, you can reach every area by car or RV. Laws are generally the same from state to state, and you can freely travel across state borders.

When our family decided to move from the southwest US to the east coast, we thought, “Why not take our time getting there?”

Two years later we still haven’t settled down. We are traveling full-time and loving every moment. While we do want to head overseas, the 2020 pandemic delayed those plans, so in the meantime we are just enjoying seeing as much of the beautiful USA as possible.

Devil’s Bridge in Sedona, Arizona

How to take a family gap year

We started with the idea that we’d take one year off to work remotely, homeschool our kids, and travel — what’s become known as a family gap year. Now is the perfect time to take a family gap year, as modern technology has made travel more accessible than ever before.

Many full-time traveling families live in an RV, but we don’t. The six of us travel in our minivan and primarily stay in Airbnbs for four weeks at a time. This lets us take advantage of the hefty discounts that Airbnb owners often offer for long stays, enjoy the physical space of a house or apartment, and really experience each location like locals.

I could write a novel about all the details of how to take a family gap year, but the two major tips are:

1. Sell or rent your house and put your mortgage/rent money toward your lodgings, and

2. Work remotely and homeschool.

If you’re willing to give up the comfort of having a homebase, at least temporarily, and you have a job that you can take on the road, then you have ultimate freedom!

Hot Air Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, New Mexico

How to visit all 50 states

Our route to 45 states in two years has been a little…how should I say this? All over the place! We’ve made three loops across the country so far with a fourth coming up soon.

We like to visit the southern states in the winter and the northern states in the summer (for obvious reasons), and we’ve been alternating exploring new places and revisiting old favorites. We often stay for about a month at each location, but sometimes we visit destinations for just a weekend, in between longer stays.

If you want to be super efficient in your US travels, you might want to check out Randy Olson’s optimal US road trip maps, or TripSavvy’s list of must-see American attractions in an ordered loop you can begin at any point.

However you decide to travel the US, there’s beauty and fun to be found wherever you go!

Glacier National Park, Montana

Must-Visit USA Destinations for Families

Hopefully the information that follows helps you to plan your ultimate USA travels, whether you hit the road full-time or make separate trips over a number of years. We haven’t been everywhere, but we’ve been a lot of places, and these are our favorites!

Pacific Northwest

We began our travels in the Pacific Northwest, an area of the country that we had never visited before. It was like a magical land, always misty with very tall trees and rocky beaches.

Our Airbnb on Whidbey Island even had a family of deer that liked to relax in the yard.

Must-visit destinations in the Pacific Northwest:

Whidbey Island

  • Check out the “disappearing cannons” at Fort Casey
  • Attend the annual Kite Festival

Fly a kite at the Whidbey Island Kite Festival

Friday Harbor

  • Learn about whales at The Whale Museum
  • Go orca watching at Lime Kiln Point

Seattle

  • Go up in the Space Needle
  • Visit Understory at the Amazon Spheres
  • Watch the fish throwers at Pike Place Market
  • Take a boat ride at The Center for Wooden Boats

Ride a wooden boat on Lake Washington

Portland

  • Browse the shelves at Powell’s Books
  • Get a Voodoo Donut
  • Visit the End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center

California

California is a unique state that deserves a category to itself. Spanning almost the whole Pacific coastline, there is much to see from the northern vineyards and redwood trees to the bustle and beaches of southern California.

Must-visit destinations in California:

Northern California

  • Hug a giant redwood tree
  • Visit a Sonoma vineyard

San Francisco

  • Drive across the Golden Gate Bridge
  • Visit Fisherman’s Wharf
  • Have some chocolate at Ghirardelli Square
  • Drive or walk down Lombard Street
  • Ride a cable car

Ride a cable car in San Francisco

Drive the Pacific Coast Highway

View from Pacific Coast Highway

Southern California

  • Walk the Santa Monica Pier
  • Hike to the Hollywood sign
  • Visit Disneyland
  • Learn about space at the Griffith Observatory


Visit Griffith Park for great views of Los Angeles

Southwest USA

We lived in Arizona for 15 years, so we are well-acquainted with the southwest! Growing up in Maine, I never knew the desert could be so beautiful, but the vistas of the southwest are something wonderful to behold.

Just keep an eye out for rattlesnakes, tarantulas, and scorpions, all of which we encountered at one time or another!

Must-visit destinations in the Southwest:

Nevada

  • Walk the Las Vegas Strip

Utah

  • Drive through colorful Zion National Park


Drive through Zion National Park for gorgeous vistas

Arizona

  • Stay at the Wigwam Motel on Route 66
    Drive Gate’s Pass in Tucson for gorgeous desert views
    Watch a gunfight in Tombstone
    Marvel at the Grand Canyon


The Grand Canyon makes every jaw drop

New Mexico

  • Attend the Hot Air Balloon Fiesta

Four Corners

  • Stand in four states at once!

Texas

Another state big enough to have its own category is Texas! As they say, everything is bigger in Texas. There are several major cities with lots to offer, from Austin to Dallas to Houston, and there’s also quite the impressive coastline on the eastern side.

Our favorite Texas cities are San Antonio and South Padre Island.

Must-visit destinations in Texas:

Amarillo

  • Spray paint the cars at Cadillac Ranch


Add your mark on the cars at Cadillac Ranch

San Antonio

  • Tour the Alamo
  • Take a boat ride along the Riverwalk

South Padre Island

  • Ride the go-karts at Gravity Park
  • Visit the rescued sea turtles at Sea Turtle Inc.
  • Take a sandcastle building lesson


Learn how to build the perfect sandcastle on South Padre Island

Florida and the Gulf Coast

We love visiting the Gulf Coast, from the rich history in New Orleans, to the miles of white sandy beaches in southern Mississippi, Alabama, and along the Florida panhandle.

As a family with young kids, we’re no strangers to the theme parks of Orlando, and we love the tropical paradise of Miami and the Keys.

Must-visit destinations in Florida and the Gulf Coast:

New Orleans

  • Visit the French Quarter
  • Listen to some jazz music at Preservation Hall
  • Eat a beignet at Cafe Du Monde and a muffaletta from Central Grocery

Alabama

  • Relax on the perfect sandy beach in Gulf Shores
  • Attend a Mardi Gras parade on Dauphin Island

Florida

  • Visit Disney World
  • People-watch on South Beach in Miami
  • Visit the southernmost point in Key West
  • See the mermaids at Weeki Wachee


These mermaids perform incredible feats underwater!

Southeast USA

There’s so much history, culture, and good food to be found in the south! Visit in the fall or spring for weather that’s “just right”. We fell in love with South Carolina when we visited on our travels and now plan to settle down there and live the beach life!

Must-visit destinations in the Southeast:

North Carolina

  • Walk through the dreamlike UNC botanical gardens in Charlotte


The UNC Botanical Gardens are straight out of a fairytale

South Carolina

  • Try all the flavors of moonshine at the Kentucky Mist Distillery in Myrtle Beach
  • Watch the sunrise from Surfside Beach
  • Take a carriage tour through the streets of Charleston

Tennessee

  • Make some music at the Musician’s Hall of Fame in Nashville
  • Try Nashville Hot Chicken (if you dare)
  • Tour Sun Studios in Memphis

The Mississippi River

  • Take a riverboat cruise on the Mississippi River

Georgia

  • See the Spanish Moss in Savannah
  • Try all the flavors in the World of Coke tasting room in Atlanta

Mid-Atlantic US

The mid-Atlantic is where our country was born! There are lots of historical sites to visit in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and New York, gorgeous beaches along the shore, and of course the one-and-only New York City.

Must-visit destinations in the Mid-Atlantic:

Virginia

  • Stroll the Virginia Beach boardwalk
  • Visit Historic Jamestowne

West Virginia

  • Hike part of the Appalachian Trail


Hike the Appalachian Trail in West Virginia

Washington DC

  • Tour the three branches of government
  • Visit the national monuments
  • Explore the (free!) Smithsonian museums
  • Watch the pandas at the National Zoo


Say hi to the pandas at the National Zoo

Pennsylvania

  • Tour Independence Hall and visit the Liberty Bell

New York

  • See a Broadway show
  • Go up to the crown inside the Statue of Liberty
  • Visit Times Square, Rockefeller Center, and Central Park
  • Visit the 9/11 Memorial and Museum
  • Spend a day at Coney Island


Ride the rides or enjoy the beach at Coney Island, New York

New England

New England will always be home to me! I love the beaches and port towns of Maine and New Hampshire and the rich history of Massachusetts. Visit in the summer for beach weather, in the fall to see the gorgeous leaves, or in the winter if you’re brave!

Must-visit destinations in New England:

Boston, Massachusetts

  • Walk the Freedom Trail
  • Take a Duck Tour
  • Visit Faneuil Hall
  • Watch the fish at the New England Aquarium

Enjoy the picturesque foliage in fall


There’s nothing like the fall foliage in New England

Maine

  • Go shopping in Kennebunkport
  • Have the greatest pizza of your life at Pizza by Alex in Biddeford
  • Eat pier fries in Old Orchard Beach

Midwest USA

We spent four weeks in Louisville, Kentucky, and then explored the rest of the midwest on a whirlwind three-week excursion, hitting all the hot spots. Here are some of our recommendations for a trip through the midwest!

Must-visit destinations in the Midwest:

Louisville, Kentucky

  • Tour Churchill Downs (attend the Kentucky Derby if you get the chance!)
  • Watch baseball bats being made at the Louisville Slugger Factory

Ohio

  • Visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Indiana

  • Go duckpin bowling
  • Drive a racecar with the Indy Racing Experience Driving Program

Detroit, Michigan

  • Sing in Studio A at the Motown Museum
  • Take the Coney Dog Challenge

Chicago, Illinois

  • Take a reflection picture in the Bean
  • Visit the Art Institute of Chicago
  • Put your forehead against the glass at the top of Willis Tower
  • Eat a Chicago-style hotdog and deep-dish pizza

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

  • Visit the Milwaukee Public Market and get something cheesy

St. Louis, Missouri

  • Go up in the Gateway Arch


Look out on the west from 630 feet high at the Gateway Arch

Central USA

I wasn’t sure if we’d ever make it to some of the central states, because we tend to take routes that don’t pass through them. But on our mission to visit as many states as possible, we made sure to head that way! What can you see in the middle of the US?

Must-visit destinations in the Central US:

South Dakota

  • Visit Mount Rushmore

Nebraska

  • See Chimney Rock (remember it from playing Oregon Trail?)


Chimney Rock: even better than the 8-bit version!

Kansas

  • Go 650 feet underground and explore a salt mine

Oklahoma

  • Visit the National Oklahoma City Memorial

Mountain West

The Mountain West region encompasses lots of different terrain, from the Rocky Mountains in mile-high Denver, to Yellowstone’s effervescent springs in Wyoming, and the frozen glaciers in Montana.

Must-visit destinations in the Mountain West:

Idaho

  • Eat baked potato ice cream at Westside Drive In


Looks like a potato, tastes like ice cream!

Glacier National Park, Montana

  • See a glacier
  • Drive the Going-to-the-Sun Road


You’ll never forget the gorgeous views at Glacier National Park

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

  • See Old Faithful erupt
  • Marvel at the Grand Prismatic Spring


Yellowstone is a truly unique geographical experience

Colorado

  • Stand a mile high on the Denver Capitol Building steps
  • Tour the haunted Stanley Hotel
  • Visit Garden of the Gods

Alaska & Hawaii

Alaska is the only state we haven’t visited yet, but it’s in the plans! Hawaii was our honeymoon destination back in 2005, and we hope to visit again someday with the whole family.

Must-visit destinations in Alaska & Hawaii:

Alaska

  • See the Northern Lights

Hawaii

  • Tour a volcano
  • Watch the surfers at the North Shore
  • Attend a luau
  • Walk on a black sand beach

I hope this has given you a ton of great ideas for how you can travel and experience the United States with your family. There is truly so much to see and do, from coast to coast!

Author Bio

Megan Tenney travels full-time with her husband and four children. At Family Gap Year Guide, she teaches regular families how to take life on the road! Grab her free guide on how to afford full-time travel and live your dreams of seeing the world with your family!

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Canadian Prairies: A Photo Gallery

The Canadian Prairies (usually referred to as simply the Prairies in Canada) is a region in Western Canada. It includes the Canadian portion of the Great Plains and the Prairie Provinces, namely:

  • Alberta – a province floating on an underground sea of oil and gas. The Rocky Mountains and foothills on its western flank, two metropolitan cities in the middle, cowboy culture in the south, vast forests to the north, and green farmland in the center and east.
  • Saskatchewan – Canada’s agricultural breadbasket with wide-open skies, thousands of recreational lakes, huge natural parks, and two compact main cities.
  • Manitoba – home to more history and heritage, plus several of the continent’s largest lakes. The south is mostly farmland with some woodlands, and in the north, you have vast forest wilderness leading to tundra, polar bears, and beluga whales along the Hudson Bay coast.

Prairies landscape

Welcome to Canadian Prairies

Map of the Canadian Prairies

Photo by Wikiepedia under CCBYSA 3.0

These provinces are partially covered by grasslands, plains, and lowlands, mostly in the southern regions.

Though the word “prairie” means grassland, this region also contains mountains, hills, lakes, shoreline, and metropolitan cities.

Viaduct Bridge Valley Railroad, Alberta, Canada

Before You Go

Travel to the Prairies is precisely the opposite of an archetypal British “city break” to Spain, Central Europe, etc., with its cheap short-haul flights and railways, compact historic city centers full of castles and churches, and cheap drinks and accommodations.

Watrous, Saskatchewan

Here distances are vast, prices are high, and the architecture is…functional. But what the region does have to offer in spades is the unique freedom that only wide-open space can provide, like a cool climate version of the Australian Outback or American Southwest.

A lightning strike in the Prairies

In fact, the best international equivalents to the Prairies in terms of landscape and climate are the Taiga and Steppes of Russia but here you’ll find a Canadian level of amenities and services, and all in English if you desire.

You can drive for an hour without seeing anyone

How To Get Here

Sunset in Manitoba

International and transcontinental flights go to Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, and to a lesser extent, Regina and Saskatoon.

You can enter from the United States at numerous land crossings. Roads through the Rockies include the Trans-Canada Highway, Yellowhead Highway, and Crowsnest Pass Highway.

Canadian Rockies

From Ontario, the Trans-Canada or a detour through the United States is the only land options.

The Via Rail services from Vancouver and Toronto to Winnipeg, Saskatoon, and Edmonton run twice a week on The Canadian service. Because the service is limited, the train provides more of a sightseeing service and is not practical for day-to-day traveling.

Countryside prairies

Getting Around

 

The best way to travel in the Prairies is by car. The Prairies are served by Highway No 1 and 16 from west to east.

There are also Via Rail services in Winnipeg, Saskatoon, and Edmonton. The Canadian connects these cities twice a week.

Rider Express: Bus service along the Trans-Canada Highway from Vancouver to Calgary, and between Edmonton and Regina via Saskatoon.

Other bus companies provide limited service on some other routes. Transit in the largest cities is good and it is not necessary to have a car, but in other places, it is highly recommended.

Farm life

Sunset in prairies

Day Trips

The most famous day trip in the region is also a north-south route through the Rockies: the Icefields Parkway, which is considered at “must-do” drive between Jasper and Lake Louise.

Jasper National Park, Alberta

If you’d rather see the Rockies on the horizon but drive through the Foothills where cattle ranches predominate, take the Cowboy Trail (Alberta Highway 22). A further extension north from either the Icefield or Cowboy routes this is the so-called “Scenic Route to Alaska” on Alberta Highway 40 leading to Northern Alberta.

Note: Long-distance travel by bicycle, horse, or on foot on these highways is legal but almost impossible for most people because of the distances involved. Try the Trans Canada Trail, instead, but again be mindful of the vast distances involved.

Prairie dogs

Bison in prairies

A bison herd in the prairies

Other Things To See In Canadian Prairies

Photo by Shaund CCBYSA3.0

  • Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park – a hilly island surrounded by a sea of grasslands, straddling the Alberta-Saskatchewan border, as well as the famous Dinosaur Museum at Drumheller, and the World Heritage dig site at Dinosaur Provincial Park near Brooks.

Dinosaur Provincial Park

  • The Alberta Rockies, including Banff National Park the oldest and most popular national park in Canada, famed for stunning mountain scenery such as world-renowned Lake Louise, and Jasper National Park a less crowded alternative to Banff for mountains and wildlife.

Cabin life at Lake Louise

  • Riding Mountain National Park is renowned for its “watchable” wildlife and forms the core of the Riding Mountain Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Wood Buffalo National Park – home to the rare wood bison or “buffalo”, the largest national park in Canada and UNESCO World Heritage Site, mostly inaccessible by road, but great for trekking or canoe camping.

A Bison by the water

  • Churchill – claimed as the Polar Bear and Beluga Whale Watching Capital of World, this is where the cold Arctic waters of Hudson Bay touch the Prairie provinces. Go here for a cold-weather safari.

  • Do a canoeing circuit at Lac La Biche, Alberta.
  • Shop at West Edmonton Mall, North America’s largest which includes an indoor roller coaster and waterside park, cinema, bowling alley, ice rink, shooting rang, go-kart track, and more than 500 shops.
  • Try whitewater rafting in Kananaskis, Alberta.

Kananaskis Lake, Alberta

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Off the Beaten Path Guide to South Carolina

Whether you’re South Carolina is a coastal southern state well known for its delicious food, beautiful beaches, and historic landmarks, making it a perfect choice for your next US-based-trip — and that’s just scratching the surface.

And don’t get us started on all the hidden gems like unique roadside attractions, notable architecture, and roaming wildlife.

We’re certain that as soon as you discover all the wonderful sights, bites, and adventures awaiting you in the Palmetto State (the official nickname for South Carolina referring to the state palmetto tree), you’ll be planning your visit.

Before you book your travel, keep in mind that because of the heat and humidity that states in the Sun Belt Region experience over summer—just like the other southern states—it’s typically recommended that visitors plan their trips in spring (between March and May) or fall (between September and November).

Whether you’re visiting for your annual family trip or are checking out the lay of the land before applying to colleges, you can count on having plenty to do.

Seeking Adventure?

Are you thinking of road-tripping through South Carolina? If so, you’re in luck because there is plenty to see, especially off the beaten path.

Depending on your interests, you can create your own adventure as you travel throughout the state, or even through just one city. To help you find the best interest-based travel recommendations, we’ve broken down activities into several groups:

Camping

If you’re an avid camper, you’ll want to take advantage of the beauty that awaits you in the great outdoors of South Carolina.

Whether you’re seeking out a water-side venue or a mountain view, one of the 47 State Parks will have what you want. From rustic cabins in Table Rock State Park to lakeside villas at Dreher Island State Park, the unique camping experiences that await will win over any nature-lover’s heart.

Historical Landmarks

You probably know about the many famous museums and widely visited historical sites that Charleston is known for, but why not add a few less-crowded stops to your list.

Make time to visit Fort Fremont (which was abandoned and said to be haunted), the Bertha Lee Strickland Cultural Museum (and other sites that are part of The Green Book Tour), and the Colonial Dorchester State Historic Site.

Natural Wonders

Of course, the Angel Oak is on your must-see list, but there are many other natural wonders to make time for.

The “Tunnel of Trees” on Botany Bay Road is something you have to see if you like to bask in the beauty of nature.

And don’t forget to make your way to the Canyon Lake in Devil’s Fork State Park where plenty of hiking trails, waterfalls, and some of the best South Carolina trout fishing in Lake Jocassee await you.

Next stop by at Boneyard Beach, one of the best secret beaches in South Carolina. It’s located near the northern end of a little known South Carolina island called “Bull Island”.

Lastly, visit the ACE Basin, one of the largest undeveloped estuaries along the Atlantic Coast of the United States.

Roadside Stops

Driving through South Carolina, you’ll see there are a variety of attractions that will give you an excuse to pull over and stretch your legs. Nostalgic Station will take you back in time with vintage eats, memorabilia, and more.

Looking for more of a thrill? The Alligator Adventure Animal Park in North Myrtle Beach is worthwhile.

If you’re a fan of House of Cards, don’t forget to stop by the Peachoid in Gaffney.

Then there are the quirky roadside stops that you won’t see anywhere else like the:

  • World’s Smallest Police Station in Ridgeway — roughly the size of a bathroom (in use until 1990)
  • UFO Welcome Center in Bowman — consists of a 42-foot-wide flying saucer built out of wood, fiberglass, & plastic
  • Kazoo Museum in Beaufort — one of the largest collections of kazoos in the world

Side view of the UFO Welcome Center

Eating Out

You know when you go to the South, eating is a major part of your trip, and luckily, South Carolina has plenty of variety. From classics like good southern BBQ and fresh seafood to more modern fare like noteworthy vegan cuisine, you can find a delicious meal wherever you end up.

BBQ Charcoal Grill

Good Southern BBQ

If you’re craving some of the best barbeques in the country, you’re heading to the right place. South Carolina boasts countless BBQ establishments (there are hundreds of them) that are sure to please.

Did you know that South Carolina has a reputation for being the only state to offer all four types of barbeque sauces (mustard, vinegar and pepper, light tomato, and heavy tomato)? If you didn’t even know there were four types, then you’re in for a real treat.

While you may have heard of Lewis Barbecue in Charleston or Swig & Swine in Mount Pleasant, there are plenty of other BBQ spots to explore outside of their popular cities. Seek out smaller roadside establishments like Belly’s Southern Pride in Lexington, Big Bill’s Low Country Bar-B-Que in Georgetown (which is known for its buffet), or Cannon’s BBQ & More in Little Mountain.

Fresh Seafood

Like most coastal states, South Carolina also serves up a delicious plate of fresh seafood. From Po’ boys to Shrimp platters, your tastebuds will be delighted pretty much anywhere you decide to go, but if you want to find some little-known spots that have great reputations, start with these restaurants:

  • Flowers Seafood Co. (Edisto Island)
  • Lee’s Inlet Kitchen (Murrells Inlet)
  • Dave’s Carryout (Charleston)
  • Vegan Cuisine (Greenville)

Fried Shrimp Platter

As you can probably imagine, traveling through the South can be difficult when you have dietary restrictions, so you may have to search a little harder for your food options.

However, if you’re vegan, you’re in luck because we have the scoop on Greenville (also known as G-Vegas) which has become a hot-spot for vegan cuisine. You’re covered for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!

Try a refreshing smoothie at Kuka Juice to start your day, some jackfruit tacos at White Duck Taco for lunch, and end the night with delicious vegan pizza at Sidewall Pizza.

Plan Your Trip to the Palmetto State

In recent years, tourism has been breaking records as visitors flock to this beautiful southern state. According to the Courier and Post, over 7.3 million visitors explored South Carolina in 2018 alone.

Hopefully, these tips for seeing South Carolina off the beaten path have inspired you to add the Palmetto State to your travel bucket list and create an itinerary that’s carefully curated to suit your interests (and taste buds).

Sunset in Charleston

However you choose to spend your time in South Carolina, you can expect to find three things to be true, southern hospitality will follow you wherever you go, the food will be some of the best you’ve had, and the experiences you have will stick with you forever.

Author Bio

Alexis Maness has a Bachelor of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications and is a contributing editor for 365businesstips.com as well as a marketing expert for Undergrads Moving. Alexis specializes in topics related to business, marketing, finance, and hospitality and tourism.

 

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Camper Van: One of the Best Travel Investments

There are many ways to spice up your travels and ensure that you are getting everything out of them in terms of comfort and convenience. And with so many things to consider on the market, making the right choice can be admittedly a bit difficult.

In this blog, we will look at why we believe a Camper Van is one of the best travel investments you can make to improve the quality and comfort of your travels. If you haven’t thought about a van as an option yet, it’s definitely something worth looking at.

6 Benefits of Owning a Camper Van

If you are dreaming of hitting the open road, amid this coronavirus pandemic, then consider a camper van aka motorhome.

Balancing Comfort & Utility

Volkswagen Autosleeper Clubman GL

The best thing about a van is also the main reason for its existence – it combines comfort and utility, and balances them in a great way that gives you the best of both worlds. It’s hard to overstate how useful a van can be when you have a larger family to ride around with, or a lot of luggage to take with you.

And it can also be great for certain special situations, like when an emergency comes up that requires you to rest somewhere on short notice. All in all, a van can cover many of the important bases for traveling efficiently.

Note: Camper vans due ton their smaller size can be parked in your garage or driveway, which eliminates having any additional storage fee.

Affordable to Own

Photo (Dutch Camper Van) by Charles01 CCBYSA3.0

If you haven’t looked into camper vans yet, you may think that these beasts must cost a fortune. But you would be surprised to know that camper vans are affordable for most people who already owns cars, SUVs, or minivans.

Despite the extra space and additional features, the basic models aren’t much more expensive than a standard minivan. With gas prices at all time low and improved fuel utility, this means you’ll be able to hit the road without overspending on gas.

Note: Camper vans are more fuel efficient than larger RVs.

Easy Maintenance, Affordable Insurance

An Old Volkswagen Camper Van

On top of that, your typical van isn’t that difficult to maintain either. It doesn’t take a lot to keep it in a good condition compared to a regular car, and finding a good insurance quote should not be a problem if you look around.

For example, sites like Quotezone (UK) can provide you with a van insurance quote, but do make sure you’re looking for camper van insurance and not commercial vehicle insurance. While Quotezone is primarily aimed at car and van customers, it can be a great starting reference point for your future search.

Great for Couples and Friends

A Talbot AutoSleeper 1991 model

Imagine road-tripping with your significant other. Or, with your best friend. All without having to worry about having a fixed itinerary or hotel bookings. With a camper van or motorhome, you can make plans as you go. Not only this provides you the privacy and freedom, it is also adventurous.

Any Class B Camper Vans are completely self-contained, which means it makes them a popular choice for camp grounds. You  don’t have to worry about pitch a tent, use an outhouse, or cooking outdoors all while battling unpredictable weather or unfamiliar places.

Great for the Sociable Types

Photo (GMC Chevrolet G30) by Daniela Kloth under GNU1.2

Even if you don’t travel with a family, a van can still be a great investment into your trips that can make them much more comfortable and convenient. If you like getting together with new people, this is one of the best options you have, and you can even throw small parties in there from time to time.

Of course, it can be difficult to keep things clean with so many random people coming in and out, so consider that in advance as well. If you can handle that though, a van is definitely something that will be right up your alley.

Lastly, Safety

Photo (VW Classic Camper van) by Paul Palmer CCBY2.5

We can’t talk about anything that weighs over a ton and moves at such high speed with a metal body without considering safety. Safety is a huge priority for us and it should be all of us.

The good news is all newer models are built incredibly sturdy. Plus these days, you get powerful disc braking systems, parking sensors, backup cameras, etc. in almost all standard models, without paying anything in extra.

Conclusion

These factors and more should get you on the right track and should show you the benefits of investing in a good van.

If you’re still not convinced, just talk to some people who’re already using a van regularly, and get their input. You’ll definitely get many positive responses, and will learn a few more reasons for potentially giving this idea a go if you’re still on the fence about it.

Author Bio

Rosana Beechum is a freelance writer who loves to talk about all things lifestyle, including travel, fashion, money-saving hacks, and more. She’s traveled the world and contributes articles that offer practical advice and tried-and-tested tips.

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A Day On The Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina

Like many others, I began 2020 with grand ideas and plans. One of those plans included visiting Switzerland to ski in Zermatt for my first wedding anniversary.

Then the Coronavirus came through and turned everything upside down.

On the morning of our anniversary, it was a crisp spring day in North Carolina. One of those days where the sun rises but that warmth doesn’t quite touch your skin.

Thankfully the sky was a clear baby blue with puffy white clouds scattered to the horizon.

Instead of waking up with a view of the Matterhorn and skiing for the day, we set out for the Blue Ridge Parkway with a picnic basket full of food and a full tank of gas. We started out just over the Virginia line in Galax and headed south.

Blue Ridge Parkway

One of the most beautiful drives in the USA

Rolling fields – used as farmland for years – lined the Parkway until we got into a more wooded area where walls of rhododendrons grow tall. In the summer these really put on a show with their dark pink flowers against the forest green leaves.

With nowhere to be, we pulled off at each overlook and read the signs that the National Park Service have installed.

You can learn all kinds of cool things like how the National Park Service purchased farmland surrounding the Parkway so they could preserve the look for future generations or areas that are best for viewing birds of prey.

Top 7 Spots on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Linville Falls

A series of waterfalls, the upper and lower, are located a short distance off of the Parkway. It’s an easy hike that’s perfect for kids and families, but be sure to watch your kids near the water.

There are some more strenuous routes if you hike to the lower falls and if you explore more of the Linville Gorge Wilderness there are camping options and hikes for all skill levels.

Doughton Park

With abundant interconnecting trails, Doughton Park is a hidden gem when it comes to hiking or backpacking. The park is skipped over by many for Stone Mountain State Park that is located right next door.

Bluff Mountain Trail

Don’t underestimate the options here. And obviously it is the perfect spot for an afternoon picnic.

The further south we went, the more dramatic the overlook views became with the mountains slowly growing taller around us. Just south of Doughton Park (MP 241.1) we stopped at the Alligator Back Overlook and parking area.

Alligator Back Overlook

The view from the overlook was amazing but the real gem is found when you head up the Bluff Mountain Trail. The sign said a 20-minute walk to Bluff Overlook so we grabbed our backpack with food and water and started off.

It wasn’t long until we were out of breath (or maybe that was just me) because of the steep trail and don’t get me started on the stairs. However, the reward was well worth it. After walking through a heavily wooded area, it was like a movie scene where the characters see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Suddenly we stepped out into that light and were greeted with an incredible view of the beautiful mountain tops sprawling into the distance. You could count the peaks for miles.

This provided a magnificent view but the ground was completely made of stone so not the best picnicking spot. We continued on for about 10 minutes until we made it to a shelter with another fantastic view and the perfect spot to sit for lunch.

View from the picnic spot

The sun was shining down making it much warmer than when we began our journey that morning. My ham & cheese sandwich in hand, I drank in every last drop of Vitamin D and relished the view over the Blue Ridge Mountains.

That heart-pounding hike was more than worth the effort.

As we made our way back down, bellies full, and laughing all the way, it wasn’t hard to realize how lucky we were. Lucky that the Blue Ridge is our backyard playground.

Turns out you don’t have to be in another country to have a proper celebration. You can find adventure right outside your back door.

Rough Ridge

In the shadow of Grandfather Mountain, Rough Ridge can be reached by the Tanwha Trail in a parking area directly off of the Parkway.

Once you reach the top there is a beautiful view of the mountain and the Linn Cove Viaduct.

Linn Cove Viaduct

The Linn Cove Viaduct is a long, concrete segmental bridge which snakes around Grandfather Mountain. It was one of the last major construction projects on the Blue Ridge Parkway which runs 469 miles (755 km) linking Shenandoah National Park to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Craggy Gardens

If you love flowers, specifically rhododendrons, then visit here in early June. These beautiful pink blossoms line the hiking trail like you’re in the middle of a romance movie.

Plus it’s an easy one that takes you to breathtaking views. My favorite kind of hike.

Waterrock Knob

At the end of the Blue Ridge Parkway right before you get to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park you’ll find the Waterrock Knob hike. These beautiful views are best enjoyed at sunrise or sunset.

View from Plott Balsams Overlook

Travel Tips for Blue Ridge Parkway

Morning fog

Best Time to Visit

The Parkway can be enjoyed during any season. Spring and summer are best for flowers and great hiking weather.

Fall brings beautiful colors that cloak the trees in red, orange, and yellow as far as you can see.

Fall colors view from the Blue Ridge Parkway

In winter the views are even better if that’s possible. Be sure to check the National Park Service Website for road closures as it is commonly closed due to ice, snow, or other safety hazards like landslides and fallen trees.

Where to Stay

Sunset view in Blue Ridge Mountains

There aren’t many hotels close to the Parkway unless you stay in Cherokee or Asheville on the North Carolina section. You will find many adorable cottages and Bed & Breakfasts though.

Airbnb is a great place to find these or you can check out the Linville Falls Lodge & Cottages, Fire Mountain Inn & Cabins, or the Pisgah Inn.

Where to Eat

You’ll have to make a tiny detour into small towns to pick up food for the most part as there aren’t many restaurants directly on the Parkway but Western North Carolina offers some incredible cuisine.

Many of the Inns also have restaurants like Fire Mountain and Pisgah Inn mentioned above. You can also try interesting places like the Gamekeeper which serves items like bison steak and ostrich sausage or Louise’s Rockhouse which sits on the literal corner of three counties.

Speed Limit

In most areas the speed limit is 45mph. In crowded places, it will go down to 35mph and through pedestrian areas, it will be 25mph.

Resources

The Blue Ridge Parkway website is incredibly helpful to map out your route and find things to do. The National Park Service also provides great technical information about what is open and the Visitor’s Centers.

Author Bio

Anna is a travel blogger based in North Carolina who helps busy women take advantage of every moment given off work. She loves packing as much as she can into a short itinerary and making the most of any vacation. You can find more of her work at her blog, Stuck On The Go, and follow her journey on Instagram.

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Sustainable Tourism: The Future Of Travel Depends On It

With growth comes prosperity. With prosperity comes an increase in travel and tourism. With an increase in travel and tourism comes pollution, ecological damages, and pandemics.

No, this post is not about Coronavirus. This blog is about the future of travel. This blog is also about how you can practice and promote sustainable travel.

Sustainable Tourism

By 2050, with all other economic sectors having greatly reduced their CO2 emissions, tourism is likely to be generating 40% of global carbon emissions.

The main cause is an increase in the average distance traveled by tourists, which for many years has been increasing at a faster rate than the number of trips taken.

In other words, more people are traveling to faraway international destinations than they did in the past.

Travel and tourism is related to traveling for leisure, business, or visiting friends and family. Tourism also involves primary transportation to the general location, local transportation, accommodations, entertainment, recreation, food and dining, and shopping.

Approximately, 72% of tourism’s CO2 emissions come from the transportation aspect of travel (moving from point A to point B), and 24% from accommodations related activities, and roughly 4% from local activities including eating.

Airline travel alone accounts for more than half of all travel-related CO2 emissions. Do whatever you can do to minimize this part.

How To Promote Sustainable Tourism

The world is massive and has endless possibilities. There is so much that we haven’t seen, and if we don’t travel, we aren’t going to either. Looking at Instagram photos and YouTube videos can only do so much for our wanderlust.

Traveling is adventurous, exciting, and stimulating, and I believe that everyone should make an effort to reach out beyond their borders. That said, it is important to be environmentally conscious while you are traveling. Hence, the promotion of sustainable tourism is essential.

In today’s post, I am going to discuss 10 practical ways to promote sustainable tourism.

Sustainable tourism is the concept of visiting somewhere as a tourist and trying to make a positive impact on the environment, society, and economy.

This can be done either by staying at a place longer than a few days and visiting adjacent countries, attractions, cities in a single trip instead of making multiple long-distance round-trip flights.

The future of our planet and climate change is in our hands

When Possible, Take Direct Flights

Planes are responsible for a significant amount of carbon emissions, and they are an essential part of traveling, yet we can start moving on sailboats to avoid these emissions.

So, how can we make our travel more sustainable and decrease the impact we have on the environment.

Did you know? Planes emit most of their carbon emissions during takeoff and landing. This means that connecting flights are more damaging to the environment as compared to direct flights.

Therefore, whenever you have the option, choose a direct flight, these flights maybe a little more expensive than connecting flights. Still, they are more convenient and use less fuel as well, which is also suitable for sustainability.

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Find Sustainable Accommodation

Mykonos, Greece

If you are planning to stay at a hotel or a hostel while you are traveling, make sure that the place you chose is environmentally conscious. This will allow you to decrease your carbon footprint. Moreover, you should try to be sustainability-conscious as well.

For example, try not to waste any energy, water, or food. Make sure that you don’t cause any noise pollution, either.

Finally, you should also try to find accommodation that is locally owned so that you can support the local economy.

Only Use Reusable Stuffs

Reusable coffee cups

While you are traveling, you should try to minimize the use of disposable items such as plastic cups, bottles, and straws.

We know that plastic isn’t good for the environment, therefore, when you are traveling, make sure that you keep some useful accessories with you, like a grocery bag for shopping, a glass water bottle, a travel mug, etc.

Leave the Place As You Found It

A clean beach in Greece

This is an essential rule to follow when you are traveling in nature; for instance, if you are hiking or camping. You should try your best to have no adverse effects on your surroundings.

This means that you shouldn’t damage any local plants or trees and be as eco-friendly as possible. In short, you should leave the place as you found it.

Support the Local Food Vendors

A local fruit seller

If you are a foodie like me, you can appreciate the local cuisine and street food or exotic locations. Whenever I am traveling, I take some time to check out the local street foods, and when I’m visiting a restaurant, I choose one that is locally owned.

Instead of eating at fast-food restaurants owned by global conglomerates, I prefer eating at local establishments so that my travels can benefit the local economy.

Moreover, trying out local foods allows me to experience a whole new array of flavors and cuisines. So, make sure that you give it a try as well.

Pack Light and Smart

Carry only the necessities 

One of the first lessons to becoming a master traveler is to pack light. You should always aim to travel with a single backpack or small trolly case.

If you do have a large bag, then traveling in the local transport will be more difficult for you. You will have to take a taxi or use an online ridesharing app, which can result in extra carbon emissions.

Moreover, this is bad for your budget, and if you are using ridesharing apps like UBER, you are once again benefiting large companies rather than the local economy.

Therefore, pack light, but more importantly, pack smart. This is a skill that you will develop with time, so keep making an effort. For instance, once while traveling, I got a painful ear infection; luckily, I knew how to treat an ear infection at home.

Now I always keep some medications with me, because it can be challenging to find a good doctor sometimes, like when you are on a camping trip.

Volunteer to Help Local Communities

A group of UN Peace Corps Volunteers in Ukraine

One of the best ways to travel on a budget and have a significantly positive impact on the world is to volunteer with organizations like the peace corps. Not only will they fund your travels, but you will get a chance to help communities in need all over the world.

If you don’t want to make a long-term commitment with the peace corps, many other non-profit organizations will allow you to volunteer for a shorter time.

Use Sustainable Transport Wherever Possible

A bike parked in Amsterdam, Holland

When you are visiting another country, you will need to move around. Now, what form of transportation should you choose? Your objective should be to minimize your carbon emissions; therefore, for longer routes, choose public transport vehicles like busses and trains.

You can also use public transport to move around locally, but these days, most big cities have electric scooters that everyone can apply through an app. These are quite affordable and convenient as well. You can also consider renting a bicycle for the day.

Respect the Practices of Local Culture

When you are traveling to a foreign country, you will encounter different religions and cultures. To be a sustainable traveler, it is also essential that you respect the practices of the local people.

This means that you should try to be discreet when people are praying or doing cultural rituals. Also, make sure that you follow the appropriate dress code when you are visiting places of worship.

In short, don’t be insensitive and do some research.

Gondola in Venice / Climate change and its impact on Tourism

Raise Awareness About Sustainable Travel

Lastly, apart from following all the tips mentioned above yourself, you should always try to raise awareness in others.

This can be achieved by sharing your sustainable traveling experience with others through vlogs and your social media accounts. Moreover, you should talk to fellow travelers about sustainable traveling as well.

Author’s Bio

Katherine Joseph writes this article. She has been wearing hearing aids for over twenty years and still is a veteran of the audiology industry. She gives a holistic view of the hearing aid industry and the equipment available at DoctEar.

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Top 10 Best Disney World Attractions

Let us face it! It has been our dream since childhood to visit Disney World at least once in our lifetime. Planning a trip to Walt Disney World puts you in good company. It is the flagship of Disney’s worldwide theme park empire and is, by far, the most popular theme park resort in the world.

Year after year, Disney World has been one the most visited vacation resort in the world, with an astounding number of attendants averaging over 50 million tourists annually. The figure speaks volumes about its out-of-proportion popularity.

Disney World at Nighttime

Though many people around the world want to visit this wonderful entertainment complex in the United States of America, very few, know the marvelous rides and attraction sites this place has to offer.

Long story short, going to Disney World will be an exercise in futility if you miss out on the following 10 top best attractions of the place. Mark them in your checklist and be sure to enjoy them right from the get-go.

Magic Kingdom Park

Magic Kingdom aka Cinderella’s Castle

It is a theme park inspired by a fairy tale castle of a movie made in 1950. It represents the classic story of Cinderella rising from being an orphan to a princess. T As the protocol goes, you will get a chance to be a princess or a knight at its very own salon.

Moreover, you can get to experience fine dining at Cinderella’s Royal Table, which is a once in a lifetime thing. But make sure you reserve a seat for yourself, or you might miss this opportunity.

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Disney Wedding Pavilion

A wedding is unarguably the most important day of an individual’s life. This is one reason why we leave no stone unturned to make it a memorable occurrence. But if there is any place in the world that truly deserves to host your dream wedding, it has to be none other than Disney Wedding Pavilion.

Disney Pavilion

Concerning the wedding ceremony, the Disney Wedding Pavilion is everything you can venture to imagine.

It is based in a dazzling setting, which will charm each one of the guests on your list with spectacular views and romantic archways. In addition to providing aesthetic pleasure, it serves as an ample picture-point for guests. Everything is designed in such a way that they make up for a great background for photography.

Disney’s Boardwalk

Fireworks seen from Disney World Boardwalk

Disney’s boardwalk occupies the area of roughly 90000 square feet. Here, you will witness an endless streak of shops, nightclubs, and restaurants. What could be better than shopping around and munching one of the most delicious foods you will ever have in your life?

Simply put, if you have an appetite for the typical nightlife of a metropolitan, the boardwalk is surely your cup of tea. This attraction is commonly referred to as a village on the water.

As you stroll along, your kids are quite likely to come across street performers. Talking about the most popular sites of this place, they are Atlantic Dance Hall and Jellyrolls.

Note: If you want to view the Disney World from a wheelchair user’s perspective, then read: 17 Reason Why I Love Walt Disney World.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park

Tree of Life in Disney’s Animal Kingdom

The park is a special treat for animal-lovers. Whether you are fond of African, Asian, or species that belong to other vast and varied parts of the world, you can watch them all buying a single ticket. The park is also home to several animals that are almost on the verge of extinction. Rest assured, the experience is bound to cast a spell on your mind.

Speaking of formalities, you can explore the animal kingdom from 9 AM to 5 PM. Therefore, be smart to manage your time, or else you will go end up regretting big time.

Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park

Blizzard Beach Water Park, Disney World

Are you one of those many people who are the victim of poor work-life balance? If yes, then you would be spending only a fraction of your time with the family, and even taking your kids to a local park might seem like an uphill task.

Attractions like Blizzard Beach Water Park allows you to splash into action and have fun with your family that you have been missing all these days.

Ranging from Summit Plummet to Runoff Rapids, it has tens of innovation water slides that will shock you. However, it would be a mistake to assume that the place is all about water. There are also numerous delicacies in Frostbite Freddy’s Frozen Freshments and Lottawatta Lodge. It is hands down one of the very famous attractions in Disney World.

The American Adventure

The whole point of going on a vacation is taking a much-needed break from hectic life. There is no harm in opting for a vacation spot that educates you and your children in a fun way. That is where Disney’s American Adventure swings into action.

The American Adventure at the Disney World

Once you step into this place, you will fall in love with American history, partly because America has a very proud history and partly because of the way this history is illustrated here.

From great depression to the deceleration of independence, many other historical landmarks are recalled during the projection. Those who have already been through this adventure will assure you that no one can walk off from the theatre without getting a deep sense of American history. Guess what, and you do not have to be time-bound for this show. So if you do not make it in time, you can always wait until the next round begins.

ESPN Wide World of Sport Complex

The ESPN Sports Complex is erected on a massive real estate. If you are into sports, this place will facilitate you to compete in nearly 60 top-tier games, taking the factor of age completely out of the equation.

Of course, not all of us are sports-enthusiasts. But if you are, you can choose to be a spectator and cheer for your team.

Awesome Planet

Our planet has been going through wear and tear since the dawn of history. However, in the last few decades, our ecosystem has collapsed like anything, and scientists say that the worse is yet to come. Provided unprecedented threats to our planet, it becomes even more important to visit this attraction.

The Awesome Planet film was made in partnership with Disney Conversation Fund to tell the story of our beloved planet and why it is important to take care of it. It calls upon the people to think and pay attention to global emergencies such as climate change and many others. Awesome Planet will do a world of good to you and your family in terms of igniting civic sense.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Hollywood Studios at Disney World

If you have been a fan of Disney films, you cannot ask for anything better than Disney’s Hollywood Studios. As it turns out, there is a huge fan-following of Disney films because Hollywood tower remains the busiest place in the entire Disney world throughout the year.

Hollywood Studios owes much of its popularity to the recent openings, namely, Stars Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and Toy Story.

Since the opening hours of this attraction keeps on fluctuating, staying on top of the time-management will be the key.

American Heritage Gallery

This list surely cannot come to a close without mentioning the name of the American Heritage Gallery. It showcases the heritage of America by displaying authentic artifacts along with some contemporary works as well. It is a major tourist attraction as it represents the richness of American culture.

Main Street, Disney World

Taking a few pictures here and there and getting to know more about the diversity of the American culture would be a great use of your time at Disney.

The Final Verdict

Undauntedly, every part of Disney World is gold. But if you lack time and other resources to explore all of it, then sticking to the places mentioned above will guarantee not only unlimited fun but also the best return of your investment at the same time.

Enjoy and have a blast!

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Top 5 Free Things To Do In Las Vegas

Las Vegas is the kind of place, where you set your foot and your money gets drained. The glitzy clubs, high-end resorts and not to mention the notorious casinos cost copious amount of money.

Many of us walk on a tightrope while traveling. It comes in handy to know some things which can be done freely. That too in Vegas!

BUT FIRST, WHERE TO STAY

We like Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino. Located adjacent to the Las Vegas Convention Center and just one block away from the Las Vegas Strip, it offers classic entertainment and some of the largest rooms in Las Vegas. For all the accommodation issues, visit link and they will look after you.

FREE CIRCUS SHOW

Circus-Circus is a place where you can watch the show for free. On the compound, acrobats perform stunts and magicians weave their magic. You can take a seat to your liking and get awed by the sheer perfection at performances.

Every day this world’s largest permanent circus gives away a ten minutes free show. The Cirque de Soleil also offers free tours in months of August from 11 am to 11:30 am. Have fun gawking at the massive production house.

VIEW INCREDIBLE ART

Las Vegas is not only for partying. It has got some brilliant artists. You can stroll the city and come across some artsy campuses where you can discover upcoming talents. The City Center campus sports artwork of famous artists.

Image Credit

Inside the mall, you can see Shards of Color – a masterpiece of James Turrell. The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas & P3 studio are places where you can have a tour by yourself, and without the artistic geniuses.

WANDER THE STREETS

On the streets of Vegas Boulevard, you need to have the immense will power to resist the shops. The Grand Bazaar Shops offer you open-air shopping. You can stroll around and do some window shopping.

If hungry, you can dine here as well. From 10 am to 10 pm you can indulge your eyes in drooling over things you want to buy.

If you find something in your budget, you can buy it. There is a multitude of shops to explore in the Strip. You can visit the museum – The Polaroid Fotobar.

There are no entry fees to pay. It has a vast collection of photos from great photographers. Or Click a selfie in front of Swarovski to make your friends jealous!

DEVOUR CHOCOLATE

Hershey’s chocolate world, as well as M&M’s world, are places which are heaven for chocoholics. You can enter here for free.

But be warned the chocolaty delights which will be displayed in front of you are sin incarnate. You will be tempted to buy them.

Chocolate buddha’s By Studio Sarah Lou CC BY 2.0

Ethel M. sweetens the massive cactus garden at Vegas He gives a free tour of his chocolate factory, you can even taste samples. What better way to end your journey than with free chocolate?

GET MARRIED!

Not exactly, “free” but Las Vegas and marriage are best of buddies. There are herds of couples who get married in Vegas.

The dream wedding you will plan might take a bucket load of cash. But here at Fremont Street, there is Denny’s. You can be married at only $ 95.

Instead of lavishly spending your money, say proudly that you married in Vegas in the spur of a moment. That sounds very Las Vegasy!

If getting married is off the charts for you, you can taste the delicious pancakes from evening till late night at the pancake house near the chapel. Happy tastings! 😉

Henry David Thoreau On Travel and Being Present

Henry David Thoreau was an American essayist, poet, and philosopher. A leading transcendentalist, he is best known for his book Walden, a reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings.

Below are some of Thoreau’s thoughts on travel and being present in time. We hope you’ll enjoy this selection just as much we enjoyed compiling it for you.

You Don’t Need Money to Travel

One [of my friend] says to me, “I wonder that you do not lay up money [but yet] you love to travel; you might take the cars and go to Fitchburg today and see the country.”

But I am wiser than that. I have learned that the swiftest traveller is he that goes afoot. I say to my friend, suppose we try who will get there first. The distance is 30 miles; the fare 90 cents. That is almost a day’s wages.

Well, I start now on foot, and get there before night; I have travelled at that rate by the week together. You will in the mean while have earned your fare, and arrive there some time tomorrow, or possibly this evening, if you are lucky enough to get a job in season.

Living Deliberately

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary.

I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.

On Wandering in the Wild

Life consists with wildness. The most alive is the wildest. Not yet subdued to man, its presence refreshes him. One who pressed forward incessantly and never rested from his labors, who grew fast and made infinite demands on life, would always find himself in a new country or wilderness, and surrounded by the raw material of life. He would be climbing over the prostrate stems of primitive forest trees.

I wish to speak a word for Nature, for absolute freedom and wildness, as contrasted with a freedom and culture merely civil — to regard man as an inhabitant, or a part and parcel of Nature, rather than a member of society.

Our Perception Changes

There is hardly anything that shows the short-sightedness or capriciousness of the imagination more than traveling does. With change of place we change our ideas; nay, our opinions and feelings. We can by an effort, indeed, transport ourselves to old and long-forgotten scenes, and then the picture of the mind revives again; but we forget those that we have just left.

It seems that we can think but of one place at a time. The canvas of the fancy is but of a certain extent, and if we paint one set of objects upon it, they immediately efface every other. We cannot enlarge our conceptions, we only shift our point of view.

The landscape bares its bosom to the enraptured eye; we take our fill of it, and seem as if we could form no other image of beauty or grandeur. We pass on, and think no more of it: the horizon that shuts it from our sight also blots it from our memory like a dream.

In traveling through a wild, barren country, I can form no idea of a woody and cultivated one. It appears to me that all the world must be barren, like what I see of it. In the country, we forget the town, and in town we despise the country.

The Pleasure of Traveling

I have all my life delighted in traveling, though I have never enjoyed that pleasure upon a large scale. Wood, water, wilderness itself had an inexpressible charm for me, and I had a dreamy way of going much farther than I intended, so that unconsciously my return was protracted, and my parents had sometimes serious cause of uneasiness.

On Taking Long Walks in Nature

It is true we are but faint-hearted crusaders, even the walkers, nowadays, who undertake no persevering, never-ending enterprises. Our expeditions are but tours, and come round again at evening to the old hearth-side from which we set out. Half the work is but retracing our steps.

We should go forth on the shortest walk, perchance, in the spirit of undying adventure, never to return—prepared to send back our embalmed hearts only as relics to our desolate kingdoms.

If you are ready to leave father and mother, and brother and sister, and wife and child and friends, and never see them again—if you have paid your debts, and made your will, and settled all your affairs, and are a free man, then you are ready for a walk.

I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits unless I spend 4 hours a day at least—and it is commonly more than that—sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields, absolutely free from all worldly engagements.

I, who cannot stay in my chamber for a single day without acquiring some rust, and when sometimes I have stolen forth for a walk at the eleventh hour of four o’clock in the afternoon, too late to redeem the day, when the shades of night were already beginning to be mingled with the daylight, have felt as if I had committed some sin to be atoned for,—I confess that I am astonished at the power of endurance, to say nothing of the moral insensibility, of my neighbors who confine themselves to shops and offices the whole day for weeks and months, ay, and years almost together.

The New World

Sir Francis Head, an English traveller and a Governor-General of Canada, tells us that:

“In both the northern and southern hemispheres of the New World, Nature has not only outlined her words on a larger scale, but has painted the whole picture with brighter and more costly colors than she used in delineating and in beautifying the Old World. The heavens of America appear infinitely higher, the sky is bluer, the air is fresher, the cold is intenser, the moon looks larger, the stars are brighter, the thunder is louder, the lightning is vivider, the wind is stronger, the rain is heavier, the mountains are higher, the rivers longer, the forests bigger, the plains broader.”

The Joy of Nothingness

Sometimes, in a summer morning, having taken my accustomed bath, I sat in my sunny doorway from sunrise till noon, rapt in a revery, amidst the pines and hickories and sumachs, in undisturbed solitude and stillness, while the birds sing around or flitted noiseless through the house, until by the sun falling in at my west window, or the noise of some traveller’s wagon on the distant highway, I was reminded of the lapse of time.

I grew in those seasons like corn in the night, and they were far better than any work of the hands would have been. They were not time subtracted from my life, but so much over and above my usual allowance.

I realized what the Orientals mean by contemplation and the forsaking of works. For the most part, I minded not how the hours went. The day advanced as if to light some work of mine; it was morning, and lo, now it is evening, and nothing memorable is accomplished.

The Cost of Anything

The cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.

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5 Iconic Destinations in the United States

The United States is a carefully woven maze of magic that is exciting to discover. The salty breezes of beaches call to you. Whispering echoes invite you to view the heights of the Grand Canyon.

Colorado River, Grand Canyon

The warm sunshine in winter tempts you to go to the Rockies, to enjoy their favorite past time, skiing. Thrumming Jazz music on the streets makes you dance in tune with the energy of New Orleans.

Like a chariot adorned with sunshine, the Golden Gate Bridge awakens the romantic in you.

From the pristine beauty of Alaska to the eye-popping skyscrapers of New York, America is an incredibly diverse nation, which provides an impressive array of entertainment.

Yukon, Alaska

We have carefully selected the top iconic destinations that define tourism in America. They range from natural to architectural.

THE GRAND CANYON

“I believe in evolution. But I also believe, when I hike the Grand Canyon and see it at sunset, that the hand of God is there also.” ~ John McCain

The majestic magnificence of the Grand Canyon is hard to describe in mere words. It would be a futile attempt to do justice to the 1.2 million acres of exotic beauty.

The Colorado River created this unique structure over the course of centuries. From the river to the rim you will find an ecosystem so rare that it is hard to find anywhere else in the world.

Imagine California Condors flying over the clear blue skies, while the Coyotes sing their song.

You may feel like an expert tracker while looking for wolves throughout the valley. However, you will have no difficulty finding tiny fluffy squirrels that are so cute you will want to take them home.

Your muscles will cramp, sweat will pour, but the epic moment of hiking Grand Canyon will be a lifelong memory. If you want to cool off during the hike, try swimming in the pools of the Mountain Valley.

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK

“In the wilderness, I sense the miracle of life, and behind it, our scientific accomplishments fade to trivia.” ~ Charles A. Lindbergh

Under the blanket of blue sky, Yellowstone National Park is full of every blessing of nature. It is the only place on Earth where you can view the highest number of colorful hot springs.

The highest lake in North America, Yellowstone Lake, is the namesake of the park.

Valleys scattered around the park are home to diverse wildlife. In these valleys, you can spy on grizzly bears and bison. Furthermore, the park occupies a vast area. Consequently, it is split into eight groups for easier access.

The Giant Prismatic Hot Spring looks like it belongs on Mars. The dark blue center fades into orange splashes along the edge. Plus, the beautiful Bridge Creek winds through the vegetation forming a natural bridge.

Gushing streams, graceful basins, roaring streams, and swelling waterfalls are in every corner of the park.

STATUE OF LIBERTY

“The first time I saw America was from my perch on the mast of a Spanish naval ship, where I could spot Statue of Liberty reaching proudly into the open endless American sky.” ~ Jose Andres

A token of freedom given by France to America stands proudly on Liberty Island. Gustave Eiffel, the man who built the Eiffel Tower, also built the Statue of Liberty.

This 305-feet-high statue depicts the Roman Goddess – Libertas. Piercing the skyline of Manhattan, it best symbolizes the character of America.

You need to take a ferry ride to reach Liberty Island from Jersey City. Once you enter the monument, it is free to look around and explore the American masterpiece.

The stairs wind up from the base of the statue to the crown. You must book a reservation ahead of time to have access to the top. This copper enigma is an emblem of peace and freedom for the entire country.

JOHN F.KENNEDY ASSASSINATION SITE

“Things do not happen; Things are made to happen.” ~ John F. Kennedy

America might be a young nation, but the history still runs deep. The assassination of John F. Kennedy occurred in Dealey Plaza in 1963.

The Sixth Floor Museum now stands on the site of the assassination. The museum displays the planning hub of the sniper, which was redesigned and displayed here.

The general aesthetic of Dallas is super-modern. However, Dealey Plaza is a reminder of that time when Mrs. Kennedy was drenched in red blood and the nation suffered a great tragedy.

HANAUMA BAY BEACH

“So that the monotonous fall of waves on the beach, which for the most part beat a measured and soothing tattoo to her thoughts, seemed consolingly to repeat over and over again…” ~ Virginia Woolf

Roads that are often traveled become beaten and boring. Hanauma Bay beach was beaten and boring once, until recently when it was declared a protected area. Every woman envies curves.

The elegant curving shoreline of Hanauma Bay beach in O’ahu Hawaii is no exception. Volcanic eruptions formed this ancient caldera, which eventually eroded to form the bay.

The turquoise blue water has a plethora of coral displayed across the ocean floor. If you do not harm marine life, you are allowed to snorkel in the bay.

The beach closes every Tuesday to replenish the ecosystem since it is a maritime natural preserve.

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Top 5 Stunning Caribbean Beaches

Caribbean beaches are stretches of soft white sands fringed with colorful coral reefs backed by the lush coastline. A day on the beach is a necessity while you are on a trip.

These Caribbean beaches are relaxing escapes from bustling tourist attractions. You can get sunbath under the tropical sun or dive into the crystal blue waters. Here is our collection of stunning Caribbean beaches.

EAGLE BEACH

Eagle Beach is on the most famous beaches in Aruba (and for good reasons). The gorgeous palm trees lining the coast along with Divi-Divi trees make an excellent background.

Ivory white sands sprawl across the beach, fringes of turquoise blue water is in stark contrast to it. It is an irresistibly inviting sight. If you want to get a tan or go jet skiing, you can.

Image Credit

But if you want just to enjoy the warmth of the sun, sit under the thatched roof of palapas made from palm leaves. The beach can be crowded at times. So, you can head to the south of Eagle beach to get your own pleasurable time.

PINK SANDS BEACH

Who doesn’t love the Bahamas? You can’t help but gawk at the pretty unusual pink sand at the shore of Harbor Island, Bahamas.

Do you want to know what gave the naturally white beach sands a unique color? While the beach was in making (naturally), the shells of the coast got crushed. That is the reason you can see a cute pink shade in the soft sands.

                 Pink Sands Beach , Harbour Island BY Mike’s Birds CC BY-SA 2.0

Apart from rolling on the pink bed, you can do a whole lot of things here. There are golf carts available.

You can travel around the island and witness the quaint beauty of small island cottages. There are vibrant coral reefs, along those lines you can do kayaking.

GRACE BAY

In the Turks and Caicos Islands, you will find many Caribbean beaches. But Grace Bay is above all others.

It ticks all boxes of being an excellent beach. The shining white sands are soft against the toes, while you want along the crystal clear blue waters of the shore.

Image Credit

There are many creatures that will greet you, once you are underwater. The cute dolphin Jo-Jo frequents the coast.

Generally speaking, everyone here has a good fate of viewing of Stingrays as well. The swanky resorts and Princess Alexandra Marine Park will top off your experience.

SHOAL BAY

The Caribbean is full of beautiful beaches, but Anguilla’s Shoal Bay stands out from the crowd.

Everyone dreams of having a beach to themselves. It is more of a naughty fantasy when you are traveling as a couple. You can roll off the sands while you make love.

Shoal Bay is a place where you can find very few tourists except you. If you are here on a working season, you can have the beach to yourself.

This beach is 3 km (2 miles) long, which makes it huge. Visitors spread throughout the length. You can just watch the sunset over bright blue waters, while you sit under a coconut tree.

A broad range of water sports can be done here as well. Dive into the cold blue water and say hi to coral gardens beneath the watery surface.

HALF MOON BAY


The unspoiled beauty of Caribbean beaches reminds us of the time when we lived in complete harmony with nature. Half Moon Bay in Antigua is one such beach. The wild plantations growing in proximity to the white sandy beach gives you a remote feeling.

The resort which used to be here is just an abandoned shell. You can explore it. The coral reef lining the waters gives fantastic opportunities for surfing and snorkeling. Grab some snacks from the nearby restaurant and be ready to roll.

The Ultimate Guide to US National Parks Road Trips Across America

If you are like us, chances are you love road trips and you want to visit all the National Parks in the United States. But, the United States is a vast landmass and if you work a full-time job or run a business, you have limited vacation days. Plus, traveling requires planning and money.

In 2019, we finished our quest to visit all 50 US States as “the First non-US born Couple”. During our 5 years long adventure, we made numerous road trips, drove more than 15,000 miles, visited more than 100 US Cities, and explore over 30 National Parks.

We thought, sharing our journey will be a helpful resource for other wanderlusters who are planning a similar adventure.

Death Valley National Park, Nevada

US National Parks Road Trips

Before we jump into the best ways to visit the America’s National Parks and various google maps routes, let’s take a quick step back and reorient ourselves on what is our goal here.

The goal here is to visit most (if not all) of the US National Parks.

There are 61 National Parks in the United States. If you’ll try to drive to all of them in one stretch, it will be more than 15,000 miles of driving and it will easily take you over 3 months. But, we are not going to propose that. Enjoying nature is opposite of rushing!

Therefore, the purpose of this guide is to help you save money and time while enjoying the beauty of the North American continent. It’s not a record making or breaking quest, it’s a carefully thought-out itinerary for anyone who has a busy life and day-to-day responsibilities. Jobs, businesses, family, health concerns, and so on.

Depending on where you live or if you are flying from abroad, you can start anywhere (on any of the loops) and then make your way towards Eastcoast, Westcoast, Midwest, or the South.

West Coast National Parks Road Trips Itinerary

Since California has the most National Parks in the contiguous United States, let’s start here.

Below is the trip we planned for ourselves along with our friends who live in the San Jose area. Please note, we live in Boston (on the opposite coast) and the tickets to San Francisco is usually the cheapest among all California airports. So, we made San Fransisco as our start and end point.

Depending on where you are coming from or if you happen to live in California or Oregon, you can tweak the journey to your liking and whatever best suits your situation.

California National Parks Road Trip Itinerary

Since California has 8 National Parks and it’s one of the largest state, this loop only consists of California National Parks.

Link to open in Google Maps

Yosemite National Park, California

Pacific North-West National Parks Road Trip Itinerary

This loop includes the States of Washington and Oregon on the west-coast, and the states of Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana.

We flew to Seattle from Boston and started south. Portland city should not be missed and there are plenty of scenery near Bend so we added those as out stops. Crater Lake National Park is a short drive from Bend.

Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

In Idaho, we made Boise our night stops and Idaho Falls as a stop for Grand Teton National Park.

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

From the Grand Teton, you head directly north into the Yellowstone National Park and you should give it at least 2 days. There is just too much to see here. Also, note that in terms of the size, Yellowstone is larger than the state of Delaware and Rhode Island combined.

Continuing north, we passed through Choteau and made East Glacier village our pit stop for entry into the Montana’s crown, Glacier National Park. Again, the weather is unpredictable and allow yourself a few extra days so you don’t miss the breathtaking beauty of many green, blue, and turquoise colored glacier-fed lakes.

Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

After that, you can head west and if you want you can explore Spokane on your way. Continue further west to North Cascades National Park, then head south to Seattle. Then explore Olympic National Park and Rainer National Parks.

Visit the Space Needle and the famous fish and farmers marker – Pike Place.

Link to open in Google Maps

Links to open in Google Maps

The above two loops (California loop and Pacific Northwest loop) covers 15 National Parks out of 61 total. Woohoo! You are off to a great start.

You have already achieved almost 25% of your goal.

Denver National Parks Road Trip

We flew from Boston to Denver and this time our eyes were set on the magnificent beauty of Colorado’s Rockies and the reddish desert of Utah.

Link to open in Google Maps

Stone Arch in Arches National Park, Utah

Las Vegas National Parks Road Trip

Next, we flew to Las Vegas from Boston (the tickets are usually cheap to Vegas from almost anywhere in the United States). This time, we focused on the great Canyons of Arizona and the remaining wonders of Utah, including Westworld’s Monument Valley.

Link to open in Google Maps

The above two loops gives 12 National Parks which brings your totals to 27/61. This is getting exciting, isn’t it! You have just made 4 trips from your home base (wherever it may be) and you are already 44% done towards your milestone!

The Narrows in Zion National Park, Utah

Minneapolis National Parks Road Trip

This time we flew from Boston to Minneapolis as the tickets are again usually cheap and it’s the biggest airport for the next 5 National Parks road trip loop.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota is the best place to see wild bisons and wild horses. Whereas Wind Cave and Badlands in South Dakota is a unique geographical wonders.

Bisons in Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota

Minneapolis and Michigan bordering with Canada and surrounded by the Great Lakes is amazing during the summer time.

Link to open in Google Maps

Talk about driving across the entire country from the comfort of your own rental car or RV. After making this 5th trip, you are more than halfway done. Your totals after visiting the above 5 National Parks now stand at 32/61.

Badlands National Park, South Dakota

You have now visited more than half of all National Parks in the United States. Congratulations! 

Let’s shift gears and head to the South now for a long road trip before we continue our journey into the Midwest and Northeast and Atlantic South.

Phoenix or Albuquerque National Parks Road Trip

This last trip will wrap up everything in the South, Pacific Northwest, the Rockies, and the West Coast. And you have two choices in terms of where you want to start and finish your road trip: Phoenix, Arizona or Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Depending on whether you are flying in or driving and whichever city seems to be nearer and cheaper, you can pick either one and do this loop. You have 5 National Parks to cover in this trip:

Petrified Forest National Park, Saguaro National Park, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Guadalupe Mountains National Park, and Big Bend National Park. Two in Arizona, one in New Mexico, and two in Texas. (If you wondering where is Grand Canyon, scroll above to Las Vegas National Parks Road Trip loop.)

Link to open in Google Maps

You have now 37 national parks out of 61 total. 😉 Talk about wandering around!

The Big St. Louis National Parks Road Trip Loop

The goal of this big road trip is to finish everything remaining except the National Parks of Alaska (eight), Hawaii (two), Florida (three), and Maine (one). By doing this almost 3500 miles long loop, you’ll end up with 47 National Parks out of 61 total.

Now, that’s almost near-80% finished! And, you are just 4 trips away from finishing your adventure.

Link to open in Google Maps

In the above loop, you have got two newest National Parks of the United States, the St. Louis Gateway Arch and Indiana Dunes in Indiana. On this trip, you’ll also pass through great cities such as St. Louis, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, and Memphis.

Florida National Parks

Florida has three National Parks. Everyone has heard of Everglades National Park and the gators but did you know, Florida also has two marine area that are protected National Parks: Biscayne and Dry Tortugas.

Alligator in Everglades National Park, Florida

You can fly to Miami and then rent a car and drive to Everglades. Then drive back to Miami and then drive to Biscayne National Park. In the end, head to the Key West and explore Dry Tortugas National Park.

Now you are “50 National Parks visited” kind of person.

Acadia National Park, Maine

Jordan Pond in Acadia National Park, Maine

For your 51st National Park, fly to Boston or Portland, Maine and then drive to Bar Harbor, Maine and enjoy the scenic beauty of Acadia National Park. It’s amazing during the Fall colors.

Since we live in Boston, we have been to Acadia numerous times and in all seasons. Maine has a beautiful coastline and Acadia is the crown jewel.

Woohoo! Congratulations! You have just finished 51/61 and all of the National Parks in the Contiguous United States.

You can pat on your back and take a moment to allow yourself to celebrate. This is quite a milestone! Not many people have seen this beautiful country coast-to-coast and you are among the lucky few!

Alaska National Parks

Fly to Anchorage and rent a car and visit the four national parks near the Anchorage region. These are: Lake Clark National Park, Katmai National Park, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, and Kenai Fjords National Park.

Then head south to Juneau, Alaska to visit Glacier Bay National Park. It’s accessible only by ship or plane.

Next, head north to Denali National Park and then continue further north to the Gates of the Arctic National Park. Upon return, either from Fairbanks or Anchorage, you may want to take a flight to the last remaining national park in Alaska, Kobuk Valley National Park.

Denali National Park, Alaska

Hawaii National Parks

What could be a better a place to finish this epic adventure than in Hawaii. Hawaii was the 50th state of the US and it has 4 major islands that everyone visits to: Oahu, Big Island, Maui, and Kauai.

For the National Parks adventure, you’ll be visiting Maui and the Big Island (also called as Hawaii). In Maui, you have Haleakala National Park, and on the Big Island, you have Hawaii’s Volcanoes National Park.

Congratulations once again, now you have visited all 61 US National Parks! 

If you are wondering what’s next, check out our Ultimate Travel Bucket List page to start new adventures!

Note: The cover photo is of Yellowstone National Park, our favorite national park along with Hawaii’s Volcanoes National Park.

Top 100 Places People Most Want to Travel

Have you ever wondered what are the top 100 places in the world that people most want to travel? Well, we did some research and here we present you a list of awesome destinations that you can turn into an epic bucket list.

These top 100 places are the most desired among travelers from around the globe. (Listed in no particular order for curiosity and surprise.)

In other words, below are the top 100 places to visit before you die. How many of these have you visited so far?

London

Paris

New York City

Singapore

Las Vegas

Los Angeles

Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Bangkok

Bali

Sydney

Cairns

Vancouver

Galapagos Island

Madagascar

Jerusalem

Mecca

Jordan

Agra

Goa

Jaipur

Kerala

Rome

Vatican City

Venice

Switzerland

Hawaii

Bahamas

Bermuda

South Africa

Amazon River and Jungle

Egypt

Iceland

Costa Rica

Belize

Easter Island

Hong Kong

San Francisco

Toronto

Alaska

Grand Canyon

Dead Sea

South Beach, Miami

Tokyo

Madrid

Barcelona

Berlin

Bora Bora

Maldives

Amsterdam

Ibiza

New Zealand

Shanghai

Dubai

Beijing

Salt Flats, Bolivia

Kathmandu

Tibet

Melbourne

Buenos Aires

Mexico City

Cancun

Panamá

Rio de Janeiro

Mykonos

Santorini

Morocco

Istanbul

São Paulo

Seoul

Scotland

The Great Wall of China

Machu Picchu

Tahiti

Bhutan’s Tiger Nest Monastery

Amalfi Coast, Italy

Banff, Canada

Tanzania

 

Kenya

Vietnam

Phuket

Austria

Preikestolen, Norway

Niagara Falls

Stonehenge

Namibia

Tikal, Guatemala

Saint Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow

Iguazu Falls, Brazil-Argentina

Yellowstone National Park

Dolomites, Italy

Khajuraho Temples, India

Patagonia, Argentina

Maasai Mara, Kenya

Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

Alhambra, Spain

Ice Cave, Skaftafell, Iceland

Gobi Desert

12 Apostles, Australia

Bagan, Myanmar

Mt. Everest Base Camp

5 Things To Know Before Going to America

Going to America! The United States exhibits characteristics that make it a unique country. Travelers from around the globe come to discover every nook and corner of this Great Nation.

We encourage every traveler to visit the United States. However, you must know a few important things before you hop on your flight to M’erica.

THE UNITED STATES IS MASSIVE

“ Size is not a grandeur, and territory does not make a nation.” – Thomas Huxley

Territory may not make a nation, and size may not matter. However, the United States is large in every regard, not just land mass.

If you do not already know, the United States has 50 individual states. Traveling through each and every state, which collectively cover 3.8 Million square miles, is a mammoth task. You need to plan carefully, that you do not miss anything during your trip.

However, it will be hard regardless to visit every state during your first voyage. It is advisable to narrow down your journey to a particular region or destination so that you are not overwhelmed.

Check Out: United States Travel Guide

Fun Fact: Different states have radically different cultures. Thus, if you ask for a sandwich, you might get a Hoagie handed to you in Philadelphia or a Po’boy in the South. 

A Hoagie

A Shrimp Po-Boys / Photo by Mark Souther CCBYSA2.0

A regular sandwich

NO METRIC SYSTEM

“I have been struck time and time again by how important measurement is to improve the human condition.” – Bill Gates

America is one of the few countries in the entire world which does not use the metric system. They still live in the age before the invention of the metric system, and thus they use the Imperial System.

You will find it unusual when you ask how high the Grand Canyon is, and you will get the answer 8,000 feet rather than 2,438 meters. The units of measurement for distance are miles and yards rather than kilometers and meters.

No matter how strange it is for you if you are coming from another country you have to be familiar with the units of measurement in order to navigate.

THE TIPPING CULTURE

“I wish we had a system where you are given a bill including service and that people were paid properly so that they didn’t have to rely on tips.” – Murray Walker

You are expected to tip when you are going to dine at any restaurant, or even if you are at a café. There is no official rule that you have to tip. However, it is an unspoken rule of the culture out here.

Because the wages are low, workers depend on tips. From your waiter to the doorman, it is customary to leave tips for those in the ‘service industry.’ You are expected to tip 15%- 20% of your bill. So, stuff your pocket with dollars bills.

A note on Sales Tax: When you are shopping, you need to pay sales tax in most US State. The sales tax varies from state to state and even from county to county. 

TIGHT AIRPORT SECURITY

“At the end of the day, the goals are simple: safety and security.” – Jodi Rell

 

Image Credit

Terror bombings in planes have become an increasing threat to America. Consequently, the TSA (Transportation Security Administration), introduced the use of full body scanners.

You will need to wait in the queue and get scanned before you are allowed to board the plane. The scanned image is private and it is almost like a cartoon.

However, if you think it is an invasion of privacy or you suffer from health problems, you can ask for a pat-down scan. Every passenger boarding a domestic or international flight has to go through this process.

Preparing for Everything When You Travel With Pet

Whether you are going on a trip for the weekend or decide to move to the other country taking a pet with you – these are the tips for traveling with pets that will help make any trip more comfortable.

When planning your vacation, do not forget to take care of your pets. And if you could not leave the animal at home with someone, or want to take it with you, you should investigate all the details of transporting animals in advance.

Traveling with your best friend / The Art of Travel Partners

How to Travel with Pet

To avoid some unpleasant minutes while traveling with your pet, you need to prepare for this journey and here are some useful tips for traveling with pets.

1. Consider whether your Pet is able to Travel

The first and most important thing you need to think about before you go is whether your pet’s condition allows you to travel: if the pet is very young or, on the contrary, elderly, or it has serious health problems, it is better to leave it at home.

For some breeds with flat faces (such as Persian cats, bulldogs or pugs), air travel can be even deadly: they suffer oxygen deficiency and high temperatures more heavily.

If you are in doubt whether you can take the animal with you on a trip, consult your veterinarian – especially if you are traveling for the first time and proceed reading our tips for traveling with pets.

You should also take into account that such trips are never spontaneous: you have to collect documents and prepare your pet in advance.

The transportation of exotic animals is still more difficult:  to take a turtle, snake, monkey or some other unusual animal out of the country, you need to obtain a special permit in accordance with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).