5 Tips For The Perfect Destination Proposal

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Perfect Destination Proposal – There are a ton of steps that go into planning any sort of trip.

From hotel rooms to flights and making sure you hit all of the instagram worthy spots, a trip alone can be a lot to handle.

Not to mention, if you’re planning on a destination proposal, it makes your planning a bit more detailed.

We’ve put together a few helpful tips to make sure your vacation doesn’t just result in a lot of image likes, but with a fiance!
Tips For The Perfect Destination Proposal

Tips For The Perfect Destination Proposal

Set a budget

A proposal can be costly on its own, but adding a trip could make even the most frugal of people get a bit uneasy.

Setting a budget for your trip, engagement ring and proposal essentials is the perfect place to start.

Like anything else in life, there’s always a way to save a pretty penny…you just have to have the right information.

When it comes to the ring, there’s a super easy way to save 20-30%….money that could then be put towards the trip.

Lab-created diamonds have a shorter supply chain than mined diamonds, allowing companies like Clean Origin the ability to price their diamonds at extremely competitive rates.

With an end result that’s the exact same as a diamond grown in the earth, man-made diamonds are the absolute best way to save big bucks on an engagement ring.

Sites like kayak and Priceline have been in the business of helping travelers save money for years, but Hopper is the new online booking site/app that’s trending amongst millennial’s.

As opposed to some of the other sites that just find the best current deals, Hopper analyzes your trip details to inform you if you should book now or wait to book (since they know a better price is coming).

Oh, and it’s free!

Plan, plan, plan

The only thing we can think of that you’ll need to plan more for than a trip or a proposal is well… a wedding.

So combine the first two together and you’ll quickly be whipping out the calendar that you bought from Target 8 months ago that never got used.

From the very beginning, it’s important to always have your end goal top of mind: proposing to the love of your life.

But, in order for that to happen, a lot of other things must take place.

For starters, you’ll want to make sure that a good amount of people in the destination where you’re going to propose know about your plans.

Call the hotel directly and inform them of this momentous occasion.

Not only could they be a potential lifesaver if something goes awry, but who knows, maybe they’ll throw in a bottle of champagne for free!

Have the day of your proposal down to a ‘T’.

Make sure you know exactly when, where and how you’re going to propose.

Being flustered in this moment in a foreign place will make it somewhat obvious to your significant other that something is up.

Keep your cool, take a sip of that champagne and stick with the plan.

But if that plan does happen to fall through…make sure you have a Plan B (and maybe C and D).

Flights could be canceled, trains could have delays and getting lost in a new city (more on this in a minute) is all too familiar to all of us.

Having a few options in mind will reduce any unnecessary stress.

Know the language…or at least a bit

If you’re going to a city where you don’t speak the language, it’s always smart to try and learn the basics before you board the plane.

Not only is this just a conscientious thing to do when you’re visiting another place, but it could really save you in the event of a proposal emergency.

Think about some phrases that you might really need to know, like “where is the closest florist” or “what direction is that really popular waterfall?”

This could also be helpful if you’re in need of a favor from a local.

It’s common for locals to give you much more respect when you take the time to talk with them in their language (or at least try).

If you want that insta-worthy picture by the blue, green waterfall, you’ll be able to ask someone from the area.

Not to mention it will probably really impress your significant other and show the level of commitment and planning that you put into this trip.

Carry the ring with you as much as possible

Now we’re definitely not suggesting that you need it on you at all times during your vacation, but such a small, expensive piece of jewelry should be carefully (and secretively) taken care of.

For starters, keep it on the plane with you on the flight over.

The worst thing that could happen is that you pack the ring in your carry on and it doesn’t make it to your location at the same time you do.

If you have it safely stowed in your carry-on, you’ll know exactly where it is at all times.

When you’re doing your epic planning, make sure to ask your hotel room if they have a safe in the room.

This would be the absolute best case scenario for storing the ring on the days before the proposal.

If they don’t provide a safe, consider bringing a suitcase with a lock on it.

Although this won’t reduce the chance of it being taken 100%, it can help to put you at ease knowing that the ring is locked up.

Make sure she’s camera ready

If you take away anything from this article, make sure it’s this.

She wants to look good in her ‘I just got engaged pictures’!

Make sure you pamper her all day before these big-life-event pictures (in the least obvious way possible, of course).

Have her get a manicure, get her hair done, tell her you’re going somewhere nice, make sure she’s in something comfortable but cute.

Although she might be somewhat curious that you’re now all of a sudden realizing that she changed her hair color 6 months ago, she will thank you for it in the end.

So, if you’ve already set your mind on proposing in France on top of the Eiffel Tower, just remember these 5 easy tips before you head overseas.

They just might save you from a Parisian disaster.

What is Eco Fashion?

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What is Eco Fashion – Every time we turn around it seems there is a new word popping into our collective vocabulary.

This is especially true when it comes to the green movement.

The term for environmentally-friendly clothing or fashion design, for instance, is eco-fashion.
What is Eco Fashion

What is Eco-Fashion? Defining Eco-Fashion

The “official” definition of eco-fashion is a focus on clothing that takes into account not only the environment, but the health of the consumers who will be wearing the clothes and the working conditions of the people involved with making the clothes.

More specifically, eco-fashion encompasses:

  • Clothes made using raw materials such as cotton grown without the use of pesticides or silk made from worms raised on organic vegetation.
  • Garments and clothing made from recycled textiles, including creative use of materials such as recycled plastic.
  • Articles designed to be more durable so they last longer.
  • Clothes made without the use of certain harmful chemicals, dyes or bleaches.
  • Accessories and clothing made under conditions where workers are treated fairly and paid a fair wadge for their efforts. Eco-fashion incorporates some human rights elements, specifically how workers who make the fashion items are treated.

Fabrics made from organic fibers are grown without toxic pesticides.

In addition, farmers may rotate crops, weed by hand, and plant different crops together.

Vegan clothing is also considered eco-fashion.

Eco-friendly vegan clothing means it’s free from any type of animal products.

It’s only made with plant and man-made fibers.

These are typically sustainable as well.

Embracing a Rising Trend of Eco-Fashion

Once upon a time, eco-fashion focused more on practical items.

It was characterized by solid, neutral designs.

There were organic tee shirts and skirts as well as linen pants and other everyday items.

Thanks to the creative vision of up-and-coming designers, eco-fashion is now perceived as a hot, rising trend.

Using safe dyes, there are brighter colors and unique patterns.

It took a long time to overcome the initial reaction to eco-friendly fashion as a novel concept.

Now, eco-fashion clothing and accessories are attracting a wider range of consumers.

Crush Your To-Do List with the Erin Condren LifePlanner
eco fashion clothing

Eco-Friendly Designers

Some of the big names in the fashion industry began to realize the potential for going green when it comes to the clothes we wear.

Anne Salvatore Epstein was one of the first designers to embrace the idea of eco-friendly fashion when she was pregnant.

Epstein wanted to embrace a more organic lifestyle for the sake of her child.

Epstein collaborated with Marc Jacobs to figure out a way to make organic fashion trendy.

Organic cotton, bamboo and recycled leather trims were incorporated into existing fashion lines to ease into the trend.

Making Eco-Friendly Designs Fashionable

Birkenstocks and hemp bracelets have been replaced by attractive organic blends.

Sworn Virgins introduced a line that is 100% biodegradable, consisting mostly of dresses and knit tops.

Linda Loudermilk has expanded the line of eco-designs to include dresses, shirts, suits and even jeans.

Loudermilk has been credited with making eoc-fashion more sexy and cutting edge.

Stella McCartney has created a line of high-end eco-fashions including everything from laid-back tops to chunky sweaters.

Expanding the Definition of Eco-friendly Materials

The material used in a garment does not necessarily have to organic to be considered eco-fashion.

As long as the materials used are considered sustainable, a particular design fits the accepted definition of eco.

A sustainable material is material that comes from a crop that can be regrown or replanted once it is harvested for use in making garments. Bamboo is one example.

Cotton can also fit this definition, even if some chemicals are used during the processing stage.

Hippy Feet is a Minneapolis-based company who employs homeless youth for their embroidery, screen-printing and packaging.

They make socks, shirts and caps with eco-friendly materials, including recycled cotton.

In addition, some of their socks include recycled cotton and recycled polyester.

The company, Marc Skid, uses organic Pima cotton to make their eco-underwear. In addition, each pair uses one recyclable water bottle in the elastic.

They donate $4 from every undergarment they sell to one of nine non-profits (you can choose from three of them, depending on the product you purchase).

Animal-based materials such as wool and cashmere can also be considered eco-friendly, as long the animals were not harmed in the gathering process.

Use of Natural Dyes in Eco-Fashion

Clothing with color is one of the biggest changes.

Plant-based dyes are acceptable to provide coloration to eco-friendly materials.

An additional benefit for consumers is less irritation from natural plant-based dyes and a reduced exposure to certain toxins.
eco bags

Saving a Little Green

At a time when many people are cutting expense, many eco-friendly fashions are very affordable.

Best Travel Pants for Women

Sure, there are some high-end eco-fashion lines, but you’ll find that anywhere in the fashion industry.

Many manufactures are looking to cut costs and offer lower-priced alternatives to consumers focused on economizing.

Add to that the growing awareness of the importance of natural resources, and it’s easy to see why eco-fashion is so appealing.

Eco-fashion has evolved to the point where you really can’t tell the difference between ecologically-friendly fashions and traditional fashion pieces.

The big difference is knowing that what you’re wearing was manufactured by methods acceptable to Mother Nature.

Not only will you feel better about wearing such apparel, you’ll look good too!

Best Travel Accessories for Women
World’s Cheapest Shopping Destinations

10 Top Travel Hacks from Experienced Travelers

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Travel Hacks from Experienced Travelers – Traveling can be one of the great joys of life, but it can also be a stressful event, as well.

A few good travel hacks really do go a long way.

Read on for 10 expert travel hacks that will make your worldwide travels a bit easier, a bit more fun, and help set the stage for truly great experiences while traveling.
Travel Hacks from Experienced Travelers

Travel Hacks from Experienced Travelers

Pre-Trip Switch to “Private Browsing”

If you’re going to be price shopping online (and you should be), make sure to switch your browser to privacy or private browsing before looking around.

The cookies websites use to determine your location are also used by popular travel sites to raise prices.

The more times you re-visit a site, the more the price rises.

If you’re in privacy mode, you’ll actually get the best available pricing.

E-mail Picture of Passport

This is precautionary.

Whether you take a detailed picture with your smartphone or scan it in, e-mail yourself that picture.

If something happens and you lose it or get it stolen (rare, but you have to take precautions) then you’ll be happy to have that backup picture of it to fall back on and to prove you are who you are.

Buy A Comfortable Travel Hat

Whether keeping the rain or snow out of your eyes or the sunlight from pounding down on your face and head, a good travel hat seems like a minor thing but truth be told, it does a lot of work.

Most basic hiking hats are more than enough and combined with a pair of sun glasses can help make sure you can move around in comfort.

Always Carry A Water Bottle

One, you should never pay airport prices for bottled water.

Two, a filter water bottle allows you to stay hydrated no matter how hot it is.

This also allows you to check out impromptu hiking trails or walk a bit further when off on an adventure.

Staying hydrated is not only good for health but it also helps prevent headaches.

Nothing ruins travel like a persistent pounding head because you’re dehydrated.

Our Filtered Water Bottle Review

Roll & Pack Method

Most people fold their clothes when packing.

When traveling, rolling up clothes into a really tight tube actually ends up being a space saver in most cases.

This means you can downsize your travel bags, pack more, or sometimes both and this is the type of tip that comes from a truly experienced traveler whether going solo or packing for a family.

Pack Loose Dryer Sheets

Loose dryer sheets can help absorb odors.

This keeps your clothes smelling fresher, and if you’re in the middle of a long-term trip they can be a life saver when you need to catch another plane before washing all of your socks from the past week.

While this isn’t a replacement for doing actual laundry, they can absorb a lot of the used clothes smells and sweat stains so your washed clothes don’t pick up these unpleasant scents.

Consider A Dummy Wallet

This is an area-situational one but in many really amazing tourist destinations pick pockets can be a problem.

Hiding your actual wallet well while carrying a fake dummy wallet in your pocket can be an extra layer of protection.

You can even have some fun with it by having a note in the wallet with a face with a tongue sticking out or a rude comment in the native language, if that’s your style.

Minimize Your Packing

Don’t overpack.

Needing to locally find toothpaste, a nice shirt, or shaving accessories can result in talking to locals, finding local resources, and finding neat little hole in the wall places you might otherwise never have found or had any experience with.

Over-packing is one of the most common mistakes even experienced travelers make but you will see more and meet more people by packing just a little bit less!

Take A Cooking Or Craft Class

Why do this?

Because by learning how to cook some favorite local dishes or create a local craft, you will have the skills to do something interesting, and whether weaving a basket or cooking a four dish foreign meal, you’ll be able to remember everything you enjoyed about the vacation as familiar smells, sights, or actions combine to bring back memories of that trip months or even years down the line.

Plus who doesn’t like learning a new skill or dish?

Ask For Extras

This doesn’t mean be a jerk or a pushy demanding tourist, but polite inquiries will often get you more than you would imagine.

There are many cultures which are extremely service oriented, and in these cultures it’s not only acceptable form to politely ask for something, but often times when done respectfully people are extremely happy to be able to make a great impression by helping you to get your perfect vacation visit.

Best of Bellingham Washington

Earth Day Gardening Bellingham Washington

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Traveling to Bellingham Washington, Ferndale, Blaine, Birch Bay, or Lynden for vacation?

There are so many different ways to explore this beautiful area in Whatcom County.

This area is an outdoor wonderland with much to do.

The scenery is amazing.

You may want to plan time to visit Mount Baker and Vancouver Canada as well.

You can explore Bellingham Bay in different locations, and experience tide pools, marine life, and water activities.

Earth Day Gardening Bellingham Washington

Best of Bellingham Washington

Things to do at Mount Baker — A classic year-round destination

I grew up in the Midwest and while I have traveled extensively throughout the United States, I never made it to Washington state.

My first time there was when I moved to Bellingham, WA.

With mountains and Bellingham Bay as my backdrop, I packed up my house and toddlers and off we went.

I hadn’t realized Mount Baker was so close to where we would be living.

Mount Baker is the third-highest mountain in Washington State and one of the highest in the Cascade Range.

On clear days, it graces the skyline of Victoria, Vancouver, Seattle, and Tacoma.

In winter, it can be one of the snowiest places in the world and draws skiers and snowboarders from around the world to the slopes of its ski area.

Mount Baker is much more than a winter destination:

It offers dazzling scenic views and year-round attractions for everyone from families with small children to seasoned outdoor adventurers.

Mount Baker
Mount Baker

Views at Mount Baker

It is possible to enjoy the Mount Baker wilderness without even getting out of the car.

The highways and byways that traverse the forests surrounding Mt. Baker meander through meadows of heather and huckleberry bushes, past pristine lakes and ancient lava formations, and into shady stands of centuries-old mountain hemlocks.

Low-impact options for enjoying the wilderness include picnicking or renting a cabin.

There are campgrounds at multiple elevations and terrains, and one unique option in mid-to-late summer is to rent an old lookout building for overnight use.

A steep trail leads up to the Evergreen lookout; the facilities are rustic but the views are unsurpassed.

And some of the best and most scenic motorcycle rides on the planet, so grab your Harley.

Mount Baker Highway

Things to do at Mount Baker

One benefit of staying in the National Forest is that hiking and biking trails are literally at your doorstep.

With 1,500 miles of trails in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, there is a perfect hike for all levels of ability.

It is even possible to hike a portion of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail from Snoqualmie Pass, which leads to views of Mount Rainier and the South Cascades.

It is also possible to explore the trails by mountain bike or by horseback.

Small-game hunting is permitted in some areas of the forest, and fishing opportunities abound in the park’s many lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams.

Sockeye salmon season opens as early as July, and draws serious anglers to Mount Baker Lake.

Kayak and canoeing are also popular ways to explore the natural wonders of the forest, and several local companies outfit and guide rafting adventures on the Skagit and Skykomish rivers.

There are also several popular swimming holes, conveniently located next to campgrounds.

Mount Baker skiing

Mount Baker is famous as a top winter ski destination, but it draws crowds year round with its rugged scenery and abundance of outdoor activities.

From its picturesque drives, informative visitors centers and charming picnic spots, to strenuous backpacking trails and serious mountain climbing spots in the North Cascades, aka the “American Alps,” Mt. Baker truly has something to offer every visitor.

Lots of snow at Mt Baker

I was surprised to learn that at an average of 641 inches (50+ feet) a year, Mt Baker has the unofficial record for having the highest annual average snowfall out of all the resorts in the world.

Driving up to Mt. Baker was a must-do when visitors came to town.

We have enjoyed snowball fights in August!

We could sled in May and June!

The best part is that it wasn’t that cold and often went in our tennis shoes and sweatshirts.

How to Drive in Snow and Ice

Skiing and snowboarding

The ski and snowboard season is always a great time.

You need chains for your car or truck but even better if you have tweens and teens is to check out the buses that drive up the mountain for the day.

There are several based in Bellingham that go.

Mount Baker skiing and snowboarding never seems to get too crowded.

You can take beginner lessons or ones to refresh your skills.

There are day passes or season passes which always make for a great gift idea.

A popular activity with tweens and teens in Bellingham is to ride the bus up to Mount Baker with their peers.

They can enjoy skiing or snowboarding for the day.

There isn’t a posh resort at the top which is another benefit to skiing at Mount Baker.

It’s for skiing, and it’s affordable, not luxury.

Artist Point at Mt. Baker

If you can time your trip right, between August and September, you may have the chance to go to the top to see the view from Artist Point.

Pack a lunch and drive up for an unbeatable view.

There are picnic tables and lookout points and easy parking.

The road is blocked for most of the year due to the snow and unsafe driving conditions so it’s worth going by early September.

There are lots of trails as well, and they are usually all open but check ahead of time of you are wanting to do a certain one.

Hiking at Mt Baker is not to be missed.

There are so many things to do at Mount Baker, whatever the season.

Bellingham, WA

Hike the abundant trails or spend time at Lake Whatcom, Lake Padden or Lake Samish.

You can bike ride or enjoy the fests and farmers’ markets.

There is an eclectic downtown area filled with local, longtime favorites, including Mallard’s for ice cream, The Bagelry for bagels, and Rocket Donuts for donuts.

There is the historic Mount Baker Theater which has performances.

You can enjoy the Whatcom Museum which also includes a small children’s museum.

There’s the SPARK Museum of Electrical Invention.

When my kids loved trains, we spent many hours at the Bellingham Railway Museum.

Your kids will love seeing the running Lionel and American Flyer layouts.

You will typically be able to find parking in downtown Bellingham by meter. Some areas have small lots.

Fairhaven

Fairhaven is a section of Bellingham.

It has it’s own downtown area.

You will love strolling the streets and visiting interesting shops and local restaurants.

Many nights there are movies and events. It’s a nice place to grab a gelato and walk around, enjoying music and a charming downtown.

Ferndale, WA

Ferndale boasts fantastic parks, lush trails and lots of farms.

Berry picking in Ferndale is one of our favorite things to do. It’s green recreation at its best.

Green recreation abounds in this area. One of our favorite things to do is to go berry picking.

While there are many choices to u-pick in the area, our favorite is Barbie’s Berries in Ferndale, WA.

Berry picking at Barbie’s Berries

When we lived in Bellingham, we made it our summer tradition to pick berries. We would go at least twice a summer.

We enjoyed bringing out of town family there as well.

My kids were young and always enjoyed it.

We went to Barbie’s Berries often when we lived in Bellingham, Washington.

We moved far from the area five years ago, and on our trip back, we made a point to fit in an afternoon to enjoy our once-favorite tradition.

Even when we settled into our rental property and went grocery shopping, we purposely didn’t buy any berries because we knew we would load up on fresh berries that we would pick ourselves.

Barbie’s Berries, Ferndale, WA

We went back for the first time in over five years.

My kids, now 11 and 12 years old, still loved it, including my son who refuses to eat berries of any kind!

We went in July, and we had the opportunity to pick blueberries, including the massive Chandler blueberries; raspberries; blackberries; and marion berries.

There were rows and rows of all of these beauties.

Being it was mid-July when we went, we weren’t sure what to expect; however, the bushes were full, even in the beginning of the rows.

We were there for two hours and enjoyed the perfect sunny weather, no crowds, and rows of abundant fruit.

We didn’t have to hunt for berries in any of the areas we looked.

Depending on when you go, you will have different choices.

We lucked out when we were in town and were able to pick four types.

Bellingham Berry Picking Pricing

We’ve been there in years past where they charged a minimal entrance fee.

This time, we were pleased to see they only had a two pound per person minimum.

They have their prices posted in their covered area.

It’s also easily accessible online.

We love that the u-pick prices are so affordable.

Not only do we enjoy ourselves picking them, it’s a great family fun activity.

And you get to leave with fresh, local fruit to enjoy at home.

It’s a fun tradition to start with your kids if you live in the area.

Barbie’s Berries address is 7655 Melody Lane, Ferndale, WA 98264.

During the summer, you can pick during the following times:

Monday – Saturday: 9 am – 6 pm

Sunday: 10 am – 4 pm

Always check the website or call before you go to see what they have available to pick.

Like all growers and farms, their season is dependent on the weather was.

We love outdoor activities, and there’s no shortage of them in delightful Whatcom County, especially in the summer.

Lynden

My kids’ favorite thing to do in Lynden was to visit Million Smiles Park.

This is an outdoor wonderland filled with a very tall slide even adults will want to climb.

It’s a large park. Your child will have fun exploring and adventuring here.

Birch Bay

You will want to make the drive out to Birch Bay to spend a few hours on the beach.

It’s a quaint town; however, all we experienced when we lived in Bellingham was visiting Birch Bay for the incredible tide pools.

When the tide is out, you can walk a mile out on the flats.

Exploring Birch Bay is an incredible experience.

And even better, in the 10+ times we’ve been there, it was never crowded.

My kids enjoyed playing in the sand.

We also brought small rafts which they enjoyed.

You can usually find parking easily.

Afterwards, take the kids to The C Shop.

This is a long-standing ice cream and candy shop in Birch Bay.

It’s the perfect way to end your day at the beach.

Blaine

Located in Whatcom County like Bellingham, Blaine is on the border of Canada.

There is lots do do in Blaine.

We’ve spent time exploring Blaine before crossing over the border to Canada.

Plover Ferry

If you have kids with you — and even if you don’t — be sure to visit Blaine on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday so you can take the iconic Plover Ferry.

You can pick it up from either Drayton Harbor Maritime in Blaine or at the Semiahmoo Spit.

The Plover Ferry is a refurbished historic ferry.

It was originally in use to ferry workers to the salmon cannery at the Semiahmoo Spit.

It runs now for tourists and locals during the summer months.

You can pay a minimal fee to ride the ferry.

The Plover taxis between Drayton Harbor Maritime and Semiahmoo Spit.

You can board at either location.

It picks up on the hour in Blaine and on the half hour at the Plover Dock at Semiahmoo.

While you have to depart the ferry when it stops, you can board again for the return trip for a round trip experience.

This will take approximately one hour.

Or you can choose to exit the boat and explore the area.

Something fun is to pack beach towels and toys and ride from Drayton Harbor to Semiahmoo.

Play in the water and walk over to the Semiahmoo Resort to enjoy the views.

Then take the Plover Ferry back to Blaine.

On the way from Semiahmoo to Drayton Harbor you will likely see seals lounging on rocks.

The ride is approximately 25 – 30 minutes each way.

Plover Ferry holds a maximum of 17 passengers.

Be sure to line up early in the busier summer weekends.

This historical water taxi runs from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend.

When my kids were young, we did this at least twice a summer and especially when our family came to visit from the Midwest.

Seeing seals is always a highlight!

Vancouver, British Columbia

Host of the 2010 Winter Olympics, Vancouver thrives in terms of visitors wanting to ski, although the city is also conveniently located on the sea.

Thus Vancouver offers you the opportunity of going for a walk on the coast and racing down a snowy slope on the very same day.

With its laid back attitude and unique beauty, Vancouver charms every casual visitor as well as every expat who moves there permanently.

With such a diverse nature surrounding Vancouver, it’s not a mystery why the city is all about sports and the outdoors!

Vancouverites spend all their free time skiing on Grouse Mountain, surfing at Wreck Beach and kayaking in English Bay.

If they can’t leave the city, there is always Stanley Park, a 400-acre park which is the city’s pride and joy.
Going to Canada for a little bit longer?

Why not take the lovely drive across the country from coast to coast?

This way, you will not only be able to see other wonderful cities like Quebec City, Winnipeg, or Calgary, but also its gorgeous scenery, which makes Canada such a special place.

Vancouver in 2 Eco-Friendly Days

If you’re only in Vancouver for a weekend, fear not.

Vancouver is known for its commitment to being environmentally friendly, so you can squeeze plenty of local food and low-impact activities into two days.

Consider if the weather is nice that you might not even need to take public transportation.

Vancouver is an incredibly walkable city.

If you’re flying into Vancouver International Airport, you will be able to enjoy Vancouver right away.

If you are driving across the border from Washington State, you may want to enjoy some sights en route to Vancouver.

Even if you have an hour to spare, you can explore the area.

Border crossing from Blaine to British Columbia

There are two ways to cross over to British Columbia from Blaine:

  • Douglas Crossing also known as the Peach Arch crossing
  • Pacific Highway Crossing, also known as Trucker’s Crossing (SR-543)

Try to make time to explore the quaint city of Blaine, WA.

If not, be sure to take advantage of the technology which will alert you to the border crossing times and information.

If you note the line is long, you may want to consider parking and to take some time first.

You will likely easily find parking at the beautiful, 19-acre Peace Arch Park at the Douglas Crossing.

What’s unique about this park is the United States owns the southern half and Canada owns the northern half of the park.

Whether you get out to walk around this lush, well-groomed park or not, you will still be able to see the Peace Arch Monument and the Canadian flag and United States flag, both of which are made with flowers, from your car.

These highlights are right in between the driving lanes to cross over and back from Blaine and British Columbia.

Certainly, it’s better to plan for some time at the park and walk around, but if not, at least you can see some of it while waiting to cross the border.

Peace Arch Park also hosts the International Arts and Music Festival each June.

Once you are through the border and on your way to Vancouver, you may want to make a stop at White Rock, BC and explore the beach areas.

Eco-friendly practices in Vancouver

Once you are in Vancouver, you will be astounded at the ways the City of Vancouver and Metro Vancouver inspires it’s residents and visitors to be green.

One way is that residents have separate out their food waste for city composting.

It is illegal to put food in the garbage. This is also true for restaurants and grocers.

Look for eco-friendly ways while you are enjoying the progressive city that is Vancouver.

Vancouver Day 1: The West End, Robson Street, and Stanley Park

Start your day off right with brunch of wild pacific smoked salmon scramble or blueberry banana pancakes with Canadian maple syrup at O’Doul’s Restaurant & Bar in the West End.

O’Doul’s is “committed to sustainability and local suppliers by sourcing ethically produced goods that are locally sourced and organic whenever possible.”

Then walk down Robson Street and find a spot where you can observe consumerism at its best as passersby shop at stores like Armani Exchange and Tommy Hilfiger.

If you have a sweet tooth, get in touch with the terroir side of your traveling locavore diet, and pick up some mint truffles or maple chocolates from Daniel Le Chocolat Belge.

All chocolate at Daniel is from a single Belgian chocolate manufacturer and preservative free, with “no artificial coloring and flavors, no hydrogenated, vegetable and tropical fats.”

Head over to Davie Street and swing by a local market like to pick up picnic fare like fresh cheese and croissants.

Then walk up Denman Street to a bike rental shop, and bike through Stanley Park.

Stanley Park in Vancouver
Stanley Park in Vancouver

Vancouver Day 2: Yaletown, Chinatown, Gastown, and Granville Island

Munch on a vegetarian breakfast tortilla wrap while you sip artistically-designed organic espresso at Caffe Artigiano on Hornby St., then cross over to Vancouver Art Gallery and browse the collection of nearly 10,000 artworks by Canadian and international artists.

Hop over to the Public Library, which was erected in 1993.

Take in the interesting architecture and peruse the library’s collection of local and alternative newspapers.

Take a stroll through Yaletown, where you’ll see abandoned warehouses converted into art galleries and restaurants.

If you’re into clubs, head back to this neighborhood after dark.

Walk or bus to Vancouver’s Chinatown, which is the oldest Chinatown in Canada.

Stop for lunch at Hon’s Wun-Tun House on Keefer Street.

Or visit Foo’s Ho Ho Restaurant on E Pender and support local business.

Warning: We learned the hard way that you should avoid W Hastings Street.

After lunch, head to Gastown.

There you’ll find Cobblestone Streets and the famous Steam Clock at Cambie and Water Streets.

Poke your head in some of the local shops.

Afterwards, watch the float planes take off while sipping local brew at Steamworks Brewing Company.

Next, you can hop on the bus and head to Granville Island Public Market.

Here, you can browse local artists’ goods and buy local vegetables, meats, and baked goods.

Pick your favorite of the food selection, find a table, and dine while you listen to the music of Vancouverite street musicians.

If you’re in the mood to sample more of Vancouver’s beer offerings, cross over to Granville Island Brewery, where brews include Kitsilano Maple Cream Ale, Robson Street Hefeweizen, and Gastown Amber Ale.

Photos from the Road: Driving Vancouver to Lake Louise

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Biking in Stanley Park: Vancouver, BC

One minute, I was walking my bike across busy West Georgia Street.

The next, I was cruising past totem poles with the ocean breeze in my hair.

With its 1,000 acres of luscious grass, giant trees, goose-filled lakes, and gorgeous ocean views, Stanley Park is a green haven in a metropolitan city.

And if you’re lucky enough to visit Vancouver on a sunny day, rent a bike and ride around Stanley Park.

It’s a must.

Even on a cloudy day, the loop around the park provides amazing views of the city.

You won’t get these views anywhere else.

It houses gardens, wildlife, playgrounds, restaurants, and even arts events.

You can even volunteer with the Stanley Park Ecological Society – just be sure to contact them in advance.

On our trek, we saw a huge Pileated woodpecker, goslings and geese, swans, ducks, and even a raccoon.

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Biking in Stanley Park, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Head to Denman Street in the West End and rent a bike from Spokes Bicycle Rentals or Bayshore Bike Rentals for as little as $8/hour (with a helmet).

Stop by a local market on your way to grab bread and cheese or your favorite picnic food.

Then take a break on the shore of Beaver Lake, Lost Lagoon, or English Bay to eat and people watch.

The entire loop takes about an hour at a relaxed pace with a few short stops.

Elizabeth and I were able to steal away for a relaxing ride around Stanley Park the day before the wedding.

The laid-back alone time helped me stay sane through the next day.

Vancouver, BC Canada: First Impressions

Royal BC Museum in Victoria was our favorite about Vancouver.

We’re traveling around Alaska and Western Canada, will focus on environmentally-friendly travel, food, and activities in those areas.

I had high expectations for Vancouver.

I’d never been to British Columbia, but I had heard great things about it; it’s green (literally – tons of trees), the people are friendly and eco-conscious, and it’s on the water and the mountains so it’s gorgeous.

We were only in Vancouver for 24 hours before we hopped on the cruise ship, so I’m still on the fence about it.

We’ll be back next week and stay for four more days, so I’ll be able to form a fuller opinion then.

In the meantime, here are my first impressions of Vancouver, BC.

Pabst Mansion in Milwaukee

So far, here’s what I like about Vancouver:

Abundance of locally-owned delis, restaurants, and markets

Diversity of food – you can find everything from Himalayan and Mexican to Japanese and Indian on the same block

Independent, non-conformist vibe – kind of like Seattle or Portland

Everyone rides bikes and there are lots of bike lanes

You can walk a block off of a busy, vibrant street and be in a quiet, tree-lined neighborhood

People are incredibly friendly – a welcome change from Washington, DC

You can walk to the mountains or the ocean

There’s a ginormous park (Stanley Park) in the city

Recycling bins everywhere – they’re easier to find than trash cans are on some streets

Very walkable

Good public transportation, specifically the buses

Diversity of the people – it’s a very international city

And here’s what I don’t like about Vancouver

Tall buildings – it doesn’t feel as claustrophobic as New York City, but it’s still too tall for my taste; the short buildings in DC are one of my favorite things about it

McDonald’s, Cinnabon, Safeway, Subway, American Eagle – American brands everywhere (I know, I know – it’s inescapable, but I still don’t like it)

Too much concrete, especially near the water front; the buildings and street weren’t as pretty as I expected them to be

West Hastings Street near Chinatown – unless you’re looking for prostitutes, drugs, or really enjoy the smell of urine, you should avoid it (long story about how we ended up here)

No easy way to get from the airport to downtown via public transportation; right now you have to switch buses, but they’re building a SkyTrain that will link the two areas

When we decided to expand our recent Vancouver trip to include Victoria on nearby Vancouver Island, the Royal BC Museum jumped to the top of my “things to do” list.

I’ll admit, what won me over were the photos on the museum’s website of the natural history collections — there’s a special place in my heart for ancient, extinct creatures — but there’s so much more to the museum than that.

There are so many fascinating things to see that even my 18-month-old son was entertained for an hour and a half.

The bottom line: If you’re in Victoria, Canada, you should definitely plan a stop at the Royal BC Museum. Here’s why.

Royal BC Museum in Victoria

As I mentioned above, I love natural history museums and the the natural history section of the Royal BC Museum did not disappoint.

It’s full of fossils, stuffed mammals and birds, and live fish.

My favorite specimens on display were a woolly mammoth and a gigantic sea lion.

My son enjoyed the touch-and-feel animal footprint and egg replicas.

Human History of BC: Totem Poles and Ninja Turtles

I wasn’t sure exactly what I would find in the Human History collections at the Royal BC Museum, so I was thrilled when I discovered everything from First Nations totem poles and masks to a display of clothes over the decades.

These collections walk you through the history of BC, starting with First Nations cultural artifacts and ending in the 1990s (with Ninja Turtles, among other things).

The First Nations section has examples of baskets, tools, ceremonial clothes, and even a traditional house that’s been moved into the museum.

The Modern History section reminds me a bit of the American History Museum in Washington, DC (which I also love).

You can see the cabins in a boat, walk into a 1920’s movie theater, and learn about BC’s gold rush.

Race to the End of the Earth: Antarctic Expedition

The Race to the End of the Earth exhibition tells the story of two exploration teams, one British and one Norwegian, as they attempt to beat each other to the South Pole in 1911-1912.

It’s a dramatic tale that involves extreme freezing temperatures, unimaginable hardships, many deaths… and eating dogs and ponies.

The exhibition features journal entries, photos, and artifacts from the explorations and is truly fascinating.

In fact, I think I’m going to buy a book about it so I can learn more.

This traveling exhibition will only be at the Royal BC Museum until October 2013, so be sure you catch it while it’s there.

And after this expedition is gone, I’m sure an equally fascinating one will take its place.

The Royal BC Museum in Victoria, BC is one of the best museums I’ve been to lately.

It has something for everyone — from a woolly mammoth to dresses from the 1940’s.

If you go to Victoria, visit the Royal BC Museum.

A bonus: You’re sure to pick up a few fascinating facts that you can share at your next dinner party.

Reasons to See Vancouver Island, BC

While planning a trip to British Columbia, Canada, many visitors neglect to include a Vancouver Island itinerary in their travels.

Yes, it’s out of the way (you’ll need to access Vancouver Island by ferry or float plane from Vancouver, BC , Seattle, or the San Juan Islands), but visitors who make the trek are rewarded with what’s possibly the most beautiful “detour” in the Northern Hemisphere.

This 12,000 square mile island is visually stunning and teaming with wildlife (and very few of the pesky human variety).

Have you been to Vancouver Island, BC?

What was your favorite sight to see?

What were your best Vancouver Island photos?

Vancouver Island with Kids

When people ask me why we choose to visit Vancouver Island, BC with our kids, I answer with the following travel anecdote: within minutes on a Tofino, Vancouver Island beach, my son Calvin spotted a bright pink, five-legged sea star clinging to a rocky tide pool.

Amazed with his find, he turned around to tell me about it, and spotted another one.

And another.

That first day, he endeavored to discover 100 sea stars before he left Vancouver Island.

By the time we took the ferry home, his running total had topped 700.

You may go to Vancouver Island for the natural beauty, but I guarantee you’ll remember most the stunning abundance of protected wildlife.

There’s so much uninhabited space on Vancouver Island (which is over 12,000 square miles in size), visitors need at least two weeks to reach the remote northern port towns along the Inside Passage.

But if you only have five days to explore the island, you can still cover a lot of (incredibly gorgeous) ground.

Day 1: Vancouver BC to Ucluelet, BC

Getting to Vancouver Island: There are only a few ways to arrive on the island, and you can bet that all of them involve water.

We launched our trip from the city of Vancouver, BC on a Vancouver Island ferry, as ferry passage is limited in Seattle.

Alternatively, float planes fly from both Vancouver and Seattle, but be advised that you’ll need to rent a car on the other side.

From Vancouver, book a morning passage on a BC Ferry for Nanaimo, BC.

Ferry schedules are straightforward, but you’ll want to be at the ferry terminal at Horseshoe Bay (20 minutes from downtown Vancouver) at least 1 hour prior to your passage.

Once in Nanaimo, drive north on BC-19 to Parksville, BC (30 minutes), then head inland on BC-4 for Port Alberni.

A must-stop pit stop is the Coombs Country Market just outside Parksville: you’ll know it by the goats grazing on the roof.

Yes, you read that right.

Pick up some makings for a picnic, then drive a little farther to Cathedral Grove, a BC state park with picnic areas amid a temperate rain forest setting.

Continue west on BC-4 past Port Alberni to your first west coast overnight stop of Ucluelet, BC.

Approximately 2 hours drive time — you won’t mind, though, as this is beautiful scenery through the island’s mountains.

A working-class fishing and logging town, Ucluelet only recently appeared on tourist maps: its harbor is ideal for kayaking, and its proximity to the Broken Group Islands makes it a great starting point for multi-day excursions.

After a long travel day, treat yourself to some nice digs at Black Rock Resort, located at the end of the Ucluelet peninsula on a dramatic rocky shore.

Soak in their oceanfront hot tubs and have a nice dinner at Fetch, their premiere restaurant.

While Black Rock Resort doesn’t have much in the way of beach access for kids, the pool will keep them entertained.

Day 2: Kayaking in Ucluelet Harbor

Wake up to the sea crashing on the rocks on the other side of your Black Rock floor-to-ceiling windows, then drive two minutes to the far end of the Ucluelet peninsula to Majestic Ocean Kayaking tours.

We opted for a half-day harbor tour because we have young kids, but if you have kids over age 12 or are without children, you may want to reserve a full day open ocean excursion.

Our guide, Jeremy, was professional and fun, and in our 2 1/2 hour tour of the harbor, we learned about the area’s history, the intertidal inhabitants, and kayaking technique.

Within minutes of our tour, we’d spotted bald eagles, harbor seals, and our first (aforementioned) sea stars.

After kayaking, drive the short distance up BC-4 toward Tofino BC, stopping en route to explore Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.

Easily accessed from the highway, the park’s main section, Long Beach, spans along several wide-open, driftwood-laden surfing beaches and includes many coastal hiking options.

For kids, a stop at the K’isitis Visitor Centre is very informative.

Upon arriving in Tofino, check in at MacKenzie Beach Resort, directly on beautiful MacKenzie Beach.

The oldest resort in the Tofino area, MacKenzie Beach Resort is showing some wear, but its location cannot be beat, and its no-frills beach side cottages include all you need: kitchens and BBQs, wood-burning stoves, and incredible views.

Day 3: Whale Watching and Island Hiking with Remote Passages

Head into the town of Tofino, BC and park all the way at the water on Wharf Street to join Remote Passages for a morning whale watch.

The guides here actually call it a “whale watch plus” and it’s easy to see why: during our half-day tour on one of their 12-passenger Zodiac boats, we saw not only gray and humpback whales, but seals, sea lions, sea otters, puffins, jelly fish, and more.

The small boat size made for incredible 360 degree views, and I loved that our captain and guide Tyson took us on both the open water and in-between the many small islands hugging the coastline.

Of note: throw a stone, and you’ll hit a tour operator wanting to show you whales in Tofino.

What sets Remote Passages apart is their customer service and professionalism.

We were treated royally throughout our adventure, and everyone was very knowledgeable and passionate about the area’s wildlife.

remote passages

Picnic in the friendly town square of Tofino, or grab a lunch at Big Daddy’s for traditional fish and chips, poutine, or burgers.

Head back to Remote Passages in the afternoon to catch a ride to nearby Meares Island.

This First Nations protected island sports a cedar plank boardwalk visitors can take approximately 1/4 a mile into the dense tangle of the coastal rain forest, where they can view some of the oldest cedar trees in the region.

It’s a beautiful walk, and a fun way to experience the Zodiac boat even if a whale watch is out of your budget.

When you return to your lodgings at MacKenzie Beach, be sure to explore the tide pools at low tide.

Families can build small fires on the beach: perfect for roasting marshmallows while waiting for a stunning Tofino sunset.

Day 4: Tofino BC to Parksville BC

After experiencing the wild, remote stretches of Vancouver Island’s west coast, returning to the east coast’s milder coastline and warmer weather is a shock, albeit a pleasant one at this stage in the journey.

Once back in Parksville, check in at Tigh-Na-Mara Beach Resort and Spa, Parksville’s most full-amenity resort.

Families can choose from private log cabins tucked into the woods surrounding the resort’s recreation space, or oceanfront units overlooking the long, wide beaches for which Parksville is known.

This is a place to relax after so much touring: kids can join the Tigh-Na-Mara kids’ club activities at no extra charge, or check out tennis rackets or ping-pong paddles.

There’s a basketball court and an indoor pool, and beach access is just a few steps away.

If you’re still looking for more to do, Tigh-Na-Mara has a wonderful array of family excursions available for an extra charge: our kids tried their Twilight Golf lesson with a local pro and their tide pool exploration with a local marine biologist.

Both were well-run. While the kids are busy, consider purchasing a day pass to the Grotto Spa to enjoy BC’s most famous mineral pools for less than the cost of a spa treatment.

Day 5: Parksville to Victoria or Sidney, BC

To leave the island by ferry, visitors must either drive north back to Nanaimo or farther south down the east coast to Victoria (to return to Vancouver) or to Sidney (to return directly the US via the San Juan Islands and Anacortes).

Not surprisingly, the drive toward Victoria is scenic — though less so than the drive across the island to the west coast — and below LadySmith, BC Ferries offers the “most scenic shortcut in Canada,” a 25 minute ferry ride from Mill Bay to Brentwood Bay, which cuts off a good deal of time.

Reservations cannot be made, and ferries run back and forth all day.

On the other side, you’ll find famous Butchart Gardens, which is a good place to wait for your US-bound ferry since the Washington State ferry terminal at Sidney, BC is less than 20 minutes away.

If you’re sailing out of Victoria, continue another 20 minutes in the opposite direction, and take high English tea at the Empress Fairmont Victoria before departing back for Vancouver.

Have you been to Vancouver Island? What were your favorite activities there?

Visiting Bellingham and surrounding area

Make time to travel to the glorious Pacific Northwest. Bellingham is a gem as is the area surrounding it.

You will find interesting things to do in Ferndale, Lummi Island, Lynden, Birch Bay, and Blaine. During your stay, make time to cross over to Vancouver, British Columbia as well.

There is so much beauty and outside recreation all around Bellingham and this lush area. It’s the ultimate destination for a green vacation.

Seattle with Kids ~ 12 Things to Do in Seattle

Seattle is one of our favorite cities to explore as a family.

Urban, vibrant, and chock-full of character, Seattle for kids does not run short on things to do, rain or shine.

Stay in an eco-friendly hotel and enjoy all Seattle has to offer.

Even in just two days, families can hit the best museums, city sights, and eateries, getting a good feel for the city.

Here are things to do in Seattle with kids in 48 hours.

Things to Do in Seattle Day 1:

12 pm- 5 pm: Museum of Flight

Arrive in Seattle mid-day, and stop before you reach downtown at the Museum of Flight.

This sprawling museum lies on I-5 near the airport, making it an easy stop en route to the city center, and you’ll want to spend the bulk of a day here.

Kids can sit in the cockpit of fighter jets in the museum’s main gallery, ride simulators, and learn about the history of flight in the Red Barn and Personal Courage Wing.

My kids also loved the flight tower and outdoor airpark, where you can walk aboard a retired Air Force One.

If you have space fans, the Lear Gallery teaches about the Apollo 17 mission.

For serious aviation enthusiasts, consider taking a Boeing Factory Tour instead, but keep in mind that kids must be at least 4 feet tall to attend.

5 pm- 7 pm: Arrive downtown and check into your hotel

From the Museum of Flight, downtown can be reached within minutes.

We enjoy staying at the Hyatt at Olive 8, the first LEED certified hotel in Seattle.

It is located just a few blocks from the convention center, Pike Place market, and the Space Needle.

The Hyatt at Olive 8 is more affordable than its ‘big sister’ the Grand Hyatt (across the street), greener, and boasts a great indoor pool and hot tub.

Get settled in your room or suite (they all have family-friendly amenities like mini-fridges and tubs), take a swim, and get ready for dinner out.

7 pm-8 pm: Dinner at Blue C Sushi

Cross the street to the Grand Hyatt, and walk through its cavernous lobby to Blue C Sushi, a Seattle sushi restaurant chain that’s kid-friendly.

Sushi comes by customers on a conveyor belt: pick what you want, eat, and press a button for service to check out.

It’s fun and casual and a great way to introduce even picky eaters to sushi.

If seafood isn’t your style, there’s also noodle dishes and grilled chicken, tofu, and the like.

Things to Do in Seattle Day 2:

9 am – 12 pm: Explore Pike Place Market

The famous Pike Place marketplace is best toured in the morning so kids can see the many farm-fresh produce stands and artisan foods at their best.

Walking through the many booths is a visual and sensory adventure, and samples are always out for kids to try.

Look for stalls selling homemade toys and games as well.

Downstairs, find a fun magic shop and Seattle souvenirs.

It is open seven days a week.

Make sure you bring some gum for the kiddos when you see the Market Place Gum Wall.

It is a must-see attraction, and your kids will think it’s great.

12 pm – 1 pm: Picnic by the market

Select some foods from the stalls to make a picnic, and eat outside by the water, in view of the Seattle Great Wheel.

Look for street entertainers, and watch for cruise ships coming into the harbor.

Stop in at the original Starbucks across the street from Pike Place.

1 pm- 4 pm: Experience the Downtown Waterfront

Only a matter of blocks from Pike Place, the Downtown Waterfront includes the Great Wheel and the Seattle Aquarium, both worthy of a visit.

The Wheel’s compartments are enclosed, so don’t let poor weather deter you, though in pouring rain, the views won’t be quite as spectacular.

Every ride includes three full revolutions on the wheel, and can range in time between 10 – 20 minutes per ride, depending on the season and how busy it is.

For both the Great Wheel and the Seattle Aquarium, children ages 0 – 3 years are free.

4 pm – 6 pm: Play outside or inside

If the weather is nice, hit Seattle’s largest park, Discovery Park, aptly named with seven miles of walking trails and swimming areas along Lake Washington.

If it’s raining, go to Seattle Children’s Museum instead, to spend the afternoon in imaginative play spaces.

6 pm-8 pm: Dinner at Olive 8:

Head back to Hyatt at Olive 8 to rest up, swim, and soak in the hot tub.

Eat dinner at the award-winning restaurant on-site, Urbane.

It features a farm-to-table menu and a unique ‘For Kids, by Kids’ program which offers fun menu items that are healthy and organic for kids.

Urbane is a great place to eat dinner or a filling breakfast.

Things to Do in Seattle Day 3:

9 am-noon: Head to the Seattle Center and Space Needle

Worried we wouldn’t get to the Space Needle?

The Seattle Center is an easy drive or longish walk from the Hyatt, and features several museums, street entertainers, and events in the summer.

While a trip up the Space Needle is expensive and can be crowded, the view is great from the ground as well; we usually just stare up and marvel.

Depending on how much time you have, you may want to spend your morning instead at the Pacific Science Center.

There are several floors of hands-on science exhibits for kids, including a dinosaur hall, IMAX, and temporary exhibits.

If you already have a membership to another science type museum, check the reciprocity listing online to see if you will qualify for a discount to the Pacific Science Center.

12 pm: Head home!

48 hours won’t feel like enough time in Seattle, but it’s a great first visit!

Enjoying Seattle with Kids for a Longer Visit?

If you are able to stay for a longer period of time, seriously consider buying a Seattle CityPass.

The passes are good for nine consecutive days, starting with the first day of use.

Passes offer big discounts to children and adults.

They enable access to the following attractions: Space Needle (two visits); Seattle Aquarium; Argosy Cruises Harbor Tour; EMP Museum or Woodland Park Zoo; and Pacific Science Center or The Museum of Flight.

How do you spend time in Seattle with kids?

What would you add to a 48-hour itinerary?

Going Green Vacation Siesta Key and Venice Florida

Going Green Vacation Siesta Key White Sand Beaches

Updated:

Going Green Vacation – Four years ago, my aunt gave my sons tee shirts from Venice Beach in Florida.

She told them all about the shark teeth right on the beach there.

Another friend saw them wear the shirts and also raved about the shark teeth hunting and beautiful beaches.

From then on, they always wanted to go to look for shark teeth along Venice Beach in Venice, Florida.

At long last, we were going!

My boys, now 7 and 8 years old, were thrilled.

We booked flights to arrive in Tampa on a Tuesday, and we left Sunday at noon.
Going Green Vacation Siesta Key White Sand Beaches

Where to Stay While Going Green Vacation to Florida?

We looked online for places to stay.

We wanted easy access to Venice, Florida and also wanted to stay as close as possible to the water in case someone wanted to go back to the room and someone wanted to stay at the beach.

I am usually a name-brand-hotel-person…I like to know what I am getting.

From my online search, I wasn’t able to find exactly what I was looking for in Venice, so I looked a little farther north and learned about the fantastic location of Sarasota – close to Tampa and close to Venice.

And it boasted Siesta Key which is known for its beautiful white sand beaches.
156 Steps to Siesta Key White Sand Beach
We found an amazing villa in Sarasota on Siesta Key in a complex called Casa Blanca – C14 Villa Siesta Key.

We contacted the owner Teri Evans (262.385.2359 or raccoonbear@aol.com) who was easy and a pleasure to work with.

We highly recommend and thank Teri and her Villa C14 for an awesome Going Green Vacation.

From what we could tell online — it was decorated so vibrantly with a beach theme — we just had to give it a try.

We are so glad we did!

Villa C14 was fantastic!

My husband and I loved it, and my sons were absolutely elated with the décor…especially the bunk beds.

For days, they continued to be excited about interesting things in each of the rooms.

On beach-front property, they counted 156 steps from our Villa 14C to the amazing white sand in Siesta Key on Crescent Beach.
Villa C14 Living Room
This villa was perfect for our family for so many reasons.

Yes, it was decorated so nicely which really made us feel like we were on vacation.

It also gave us the convenience we were looking for being it was so close to the beach.

It was nice to be able to park right outside our covered patio for the times we left to go explore other beaches and to go to town: to buy shark tooth necklaces and get ice cream.

There was an updated and modern clubhouse with a television, couches and computer.

We went there a few times just to get out of the sun to play billiards and ping pong.

Adjacent to the clubhouse was their amazing swimming pool.

It was much larger than we expected.

We only had time to swim in it once but it was wonderful.

I was surprised it was so very clean.

I didn’t even see any sand on the bottom!

We all enjoyed it.

Villa C14 Breakfast Nook

Why a Villa is Better Than Hotel For a Going Green Vacation

My husband remarked about how much better it was staying in a villa than staying in a hotel would have been.

Can you just imagine all of our swimsuits and beach towels hanging to dry?

Where would we hang them?

Can you imagine all of that sand getting into the carpet and everywhere?

In our villa, aka “our house,” we hung our swimsuits in our two full bathrooms and the towels on the drying rack, out of the way in the enclosed patio.

We were able to sweep up the sand from the decorative tile floors.
Going Green Vacation
And because we had a full-size kitchen, we were able to create less waste, eat healthier, save money (my husband’s favorite ‘going green’), and enjoy the convenience of eating “at home” instead of going out to restaurants all week.

It has two bedrooms which would comfortably sleep five people on the beds.

There were clean sheets, soap, ample towels and lots of dresser drawers.

In addition, the PRIVACY!

No shared hotel hallways, elevators or lobbies.

No noises above, below or next your room.

No housekeeping staff (this is my husbands not mine).

Multiple rooms so we can spread out, read, rest, or just have a few alone minutes.
Villa C14 Bunk Beds

How to Have a Go Green Vacation?

Even though it is more difficult when traveling, we try to “go green” every chance we get.

We packed our stainless steel water bottles (NO plastic or BPA) for the trip, so we would always be hydrated and not have to buy throw-away plastic water bottles.

We brought them to the airport empty, and filled them up at a water fountain after passing security and again after landing.

Once in our villa, we filled them with the ready-made ice in our freezer, water from our tap (sometimes we mixed in lemonade, tea or freshly sliced fruit) and had wonderfully cold drinks, wherever we went.

My husband is a big fan of fruit infused water and wants us all to migrate from stainless steel water bottles to fruit infused water bottles.

We tried to bring whatever we could from home so we wouldn’t have to buy it and leave it in Sarasota.

Because we were able to check our luggage for free (Thanks Southwest Airlines), we brought deflated rafts and swim rings, a bucket and two metal hand shovels for the beach.

We brought beach towels from home.

We brought our sunglasses, hats, swim shirts, sunscreen lotion (Up & Up Target brand is our preferred sunscreen) and everything else we would need that we already owned instead of buying it while on vacation and then throwing it away afterwards.

We returned with all our items as well.

The Villa also has a selection of beach items for guest usage as well.

Because we stayed in this villa instead of a hotel, we were able to buy our own groceries.

We ate a lot healthier and saved a lot of waste from the landfills.

Think of the “free breakfasts” at hotels with all of the polystyrene plates, plastic drinking cups, plastic cutlery and paper napkins.

Everything gets thrown away!

By buying our food at a grocery store at the beginning of our trip – even before we stepped foot in our villa – we saved gas by not having to drive to all of the restaurants each day.

We ate just two meals in restaurants the entire trip and one was on the last day at the airport.

We recycled everything we could in unit’s convenient bin right outside our door.

We left it at the curb, and the maintenance staff emptied it daily.

We even managed to save some water by rinsing out our swimsuits, towels and sandals a few of the times it rained.

We just hung them on the drying rack and left them outside for a few minutes during a downpour!

The unit has a washer/dryer but we did not use the washer and had no need for the dryer because of the screened covered porch.

We brought library books instead of buying new books.

The clubhouse even had a nice selection of books to share, borrow and return.

Don’t bring library books to the beach; however, because sand sticks around!

Other going green vacation things, but obvious ones: We ate snacks on the beach once and carried all of our trash back with us.

We didn’t feed any seagulls or other wildlife.

We didn’t pick up or disturb any marine life we saw.

Finally, in our quest to be going green vacation, and because we wanted to maximize our time at the beach, we didn’t go to any commercial tourist attractions.

This was a “nature only” trip, and we all loved it.

More About the Food

Another reason this villa worked so well for us, my boys are very picky eaters.

We also deal with milk, egg and tomato allergies.

It is often a hassle to get ready to go out to eat, much less going 2-3 times a day.

When we stayed in villa 14C, we were able to buy healthy choices for our kids and only buy in the quantity we could and realistically would eat.

The owners had everything we needed in the kitchen to prepare everything we bought to eat.

We were also able to reduce waste by washing our own plates, cutlery and glasses.
Villa C14 Kitchen

Gorgeous Siesta Key

We loved every 156 glorious step to Crescent Beach on Siesta Key!

What a convenience to not have to drive and find a parking spot to enjoy this picture-perfect, white, clean sand.

The sand is not made from coral, as most beaches are, but from quartz so it’s always cool to walk on…never HOT!

It was easy to walk on because while there were lots of beautiful shells, they were not crushed up and rough on your feet like at other beaches.

The sand was cool to the touch and enjoyable to walk on.

I love how everyone left their shoes right on top in the grass by the stairs before walking onto the lush sand.

There was a tall shower and a foot shower by the exit.

It was perfect for rinsing off the sand and salt water.

I really loved how the showers turned off immediately when you let go of the button.

No wasted water!

Casa Blanca also had a lot of lounge and upright chairs for the residents and guests to enjoy at the beach.

I didn’t see a lot of garbage, but I did meet a nice older gentleman picking up trash along the shore.

“Beach-combing,” he called it.

But instead of treasures, I saw he had a bag of garbage.

He did this almost everyday as doing his “part for this beautiful community”… and get some exercise.
Casperson Beach

How to Find Shark Teeth

We also loved looking for shark teeth (or as my boys and husband kept calling it “Shark Teeth Hunting” in funny Cajun accents).

We went to Casperson Beach and also to Venice Beach.

Each time, we found at least 10 -20 shark teeth and/or tips.

Sometimes it was easier than others, depending on the tide and how fast the waves pushed them up onto the shore.

At the end of each day, the boys would clean, dry off and organize the days shark teeth and other finds.

The boys would spend hours every evening studying and discussing their finds and try to determine what it was, what it came from and/or shark kind of shark the teeth were from.
Going Green Vacation Shark Teeth
We had our best luck looking without the sifters and shovels.

We did rent the ‘sifter shovel’ one day from the bait shop on the pier by Sharky’s.

My husband got the last one when we got there around 4 pm.

We found three teeth right away using it, then nothing the rest of the evening.

We had the most luck just walking the shore and looking in the washed up piles of crushed shells.

(When we arrived home we realized maybe instead of sifting with the shovel in the water – sometimes difficult with strong waves – we should have scooped up the sand a little farther out, and then dumped it onshore to look through.)

At Casperson Beach, many people were finding them along the big rocks that lined the shore.

We were unsuccessful finding them there and had our best at the beach just north and south of Sharky’s By The Pier.
Sharky's Pier

Shark Teeth Sharky's Pier

2 Tips to Find Shark Teeth

Know what you are looking for.

Sure, we know what shark teeth are supposed to look like but it really helped us to actually see them.

So, after about an hour of not finding any, we asked a few people to see what they found.

It helped us immensely to see what we were looking for!

Right after that, we started finding them ourselves.

It was helpful to see both the shark teeth and the shark tooth tips.

Train your eye. I read before coming to Venice Beach and Casperson Beach about “training your eye” to only look for the black.

It really helped to filter out the seaweed, rocks and shells, and we found the shark & barracuda teeth, tips and stingray barbs much faster.
Train Your Eyes to Find Shark Teeth
It was addicting looking for them!

It was so nice to see how fun it was for everyone – young and old.

Our Wonderful Going Green Vacation Had to End

We had a fantastic time on our Florida vacation and cannot wait to return.

We would do the exact same thing again, including staying at Casa Blanca, villa 14C.

It was a vacation home which offered us exactly what we were hoping for and more.

We have had fun looking at our shark teeth, measuring them, organizing them by type and trying to figure out what kind of sharks they are from.

What wonderful memories my sons will have whenever they look at their prized shark teeth.

And they learned about and enjoyed really simple ways to having a Going Green Vacation and live green even while on vacation.

Casa Blanca Villa C14 Contact Info:
Teri Evans – (262) 385-2359
raccoonbear@aol.com
6154 Midnight Pass Rd, Villa C14
Sarasota, FL

Travel Green On Your Next Vacation to Reduce Impact

We thoroughly enjoyed hunting for shark teeth and can’t wait to go back.

Be sure to read about how we hunted for fossils and hunted for diamonds too.

Best Places For Green Consumers To Buy Vacation Homes

There are few more universal traditions in America than an annual family vacation.

For eco-minded consumers, vacations can be a difficult situation.

We all want some time away from work and commitments at home, yet we hate to let our recreation create too much cost to the planet.

Hotels, in particular, are unappealing to environmentalists, because they create more waste, use more utilities, and contribute to urban sprawl and traffic.

For the eco-minded consumer, then, a beach home represents a far more appealing option.

But just buying a beach home isn’t enough.

In the right parts of the country, the value of avoiding hotels can be compounded by other factors.

Here are some to consider.

Best Places To Buy Vacation Homes With Sustainability in Mind

Buy Vacation Homes in Low-Overhead Markets

It’s important to think about several areas of overhead when you consider a vacation site.

For example, how much cost–both financial and ecological–will be associated with getting there?

If the trip to your vacation home requires too many miles on the road, it’s not a good choice.

Then there’s the matter of traditional overhead, things like utilities.

While the house itself will play a big part in its power consumption, its location will as well.

Since beach houses are all located in areas where it gets hot, you can’t hedge with climate.

So that leaves the utility market.

In an area like Galveston Beach, these factors come together.

Texas has a deregulated electrical market, which means your place at the beach can be powered by an electric company in Houston, one that you can choose based on their rates and their environmental responsibility.

As for travel, it’s cheaper in Galveston, too, since you can fly into Houston and reduce your driving.

Buy Vacation Homes in Uncrowded Markets

The most popular vacation destinations are typically crowded. If you love hustle and bustle, they’re just the place for you.

But for people who prefer a more sedate vacation, the quieter locales are more appealing.

Beach homes are typically situated in the less-crowded areas.

After all, the beaches with the highest traffic are typically armored with high-rise hotels on property far too valuable for single homes.

A good example of one in the middle is Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina.

The area has enough restaurants, festivals, and shopping to cover your rainy days, yet its beaches are free from excessive crowds.

It makes for a safer, quieter vacation.

Is it green?

Absolutely.

Remember that traffic is an archenemy of fuel economy.

If you’re stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic just to go a couple miles for dinner, you’re burning far more gas than you would with less congestion–or with restaurants in walking distance.

In Recovering Markets

In 2010, an oil spill from an offshore drilling rig coated much of the Gulf Coast with a thick layer of crude oil.

While remarkable progress has been made in the cleanup, the impact on animals and plants is still going on.

It may seem illogical to suggest a damaged area like the Gulf as a prime destination for eco-minded travelers, but it actually makes sense.

The market is still soft, as many of the homes have been on the market for a long time.

And there are environmentalists involved in every part of the recovery, assuring you that a healed Gulf will be perhaps the best-managed beach, in environmental terms, in the entire country.

And your investment will help.

If the community is seeing revenue come in as a payoff on their efforts to become greener, their determination to remain green will persist.

And there may even be volunteer opportunities while you’re in town.

There’s no question that travel creates an impact on the environment.

But just as we can reduce our carbon footprint in other parts of our life, we can reduce the environmental damage that can be attributed to our travel.

Buying a beach home is a great start, but buying a beach home in the right place is even better.

Here are some great things to do for your Family Adventure Miami

Miami is a southern city in Florida known for gorgeous weather, awesome beaches, diverse cultures and exciting attractions.

It is an outstanding place to take a Family Adventure Miami.

If you are looking for some great cheap family friendly hostels in Miami.

Here are a few places to visit when traveling to Miami…
Family Adventure Miami

Zoo Miami

The Miami zoo is home to more than 2,000 exciting animals, including tigers, elephants, kangaroos, rhinos and lions.

The zoo also features a gorgeous assortment of flowers and plants.

Strollers can be rented, or you can ride throughout the zoo on the monorail.

While taking a tour of Asia and Africa, you can enjoy a tram ride.

You can see feedings of the animals, and you can have the opportunity to meet the zookeeper.

It is open every day of the year, and a favorite among children.

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden

You will be amazed at the beauty of these breath-taking gardens.

You can ride the tram and learn interesting facts about the gardens.

The kids will love the butterfly garden where they can see huge butterflies flying around the garden.

These creatures will just land on your shoulders, and they are fascinating to watch.

You can take pictures of birds, lakes, plants, art and crocodiles.

In addition, you can wander through the rain forest and view cascading waterfalls, tropical trees and gorgeous plants.

The gardens are open throughout the year except Christmas, so bring your family to enjoy this stunning site.

Vizcaya Museum and Gardens

This amazing museum features an excellent collection of artwork and historical artifacts.

This palace, located near the ocean, contains exquisite architecture and unmatched beauty.

You can visit this majestic museum anytime of the year, and it will be an unforgettable experience.

Beaches

You cannot visit Miami without taking your family to one of the gorgeous beaches.

The Miami Beach, the Hallandale Beach and the Niki Beach offer numerous activities along the magnificent Atlantic Ocean.

You can swim, build sandcastles, eat or just enjoy the scenery.

The atmosphere is breath-taking. January through April is the best time of the year to visit the beaches in Miami.

The Miami Seaquarium

Situated on Biscayne Bay, this fascinating place is home to giant sea turtles, manatees, killer whales, dolphins and coral reefs.

You can see amazing dolphin and killer whale shows, and you can even swim with the dolphins.

It is open every day of the year, and reservations can be made to experience the animal encounters.

The whole family will enjoy this tropical paradise.

Everglades Safari Park

Miami is famous for its gators, so your family will have a blast while visiting this interesting park.

You can see birds, turtles and alligators.

The air boat ride is amazing, and you can even hold a small alligator.

It will be an enjoyable experience.

Jungle Island

This exciting theme park allows you to experience unique animal encounters.

You can see orangutans, snakes, lizards, frogs, kangaroos and more.

You can visit the park any time of the year.

Miami Children’s Museum

This hands-on museum is great for kids.

They can operate on a fake animal, get to be a dentist, see a fire department and visit a police department.

Children can explore a television studio, or they can visit a supermarket and bank.

They can also visit the cruise ship area.

Kids can rock climb, dress up like a fire-fighter and learn about the Olympics.

The museum features a great view of the port of Miami.

It is open year-round with the exception of Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Best Travel Accessories for Women

Travel Accessories for Women

Updated:

Traveling as a woman can have its ups and downs.

Depending on what part of the world you will be visiting, it’s important to be prepared for everything you will experience on your travels.

These travel accessories for women will make your journey a little easier and a lot more fun.

Best Travel Skirts for Women
Best Travel Pants for Women

FitnessWalker Walking Stick by Brazos Walking Sticks

If you haven’t discovered the joys of walking for fitness yet, then it’s time that you do.

After years of leading a sedentary lifestyle, I’d had enough.

My doctor wanted me to drop some weight, and I wanted to feel better and have more energy so that I could keep up with my kids.

Does that sound familiar to you?

You’re not alone if it does.

Most of us could stand to get some more exercise, but we don’t always know where to start.

Too often, we think that getting in shape means joining an expensive gym, signing up for complicated classes or enduring sessions with a too-enthusiastic trainer.

Your fitness journey might include some or all of those things at some point, but I’m here to tell you that all you really need is the ability to put one foot in front of the other.

Walking is fantastic exercise, and if you’ve spent a long time being sedentary, then it’s the single best way to start getting active again.

No memberships are required.

Neither is any expensive equipment.

All you really need is a good pair of shoes.

Actually, I’ve come to feel like there is one other piece of equipment that is essential to any fitness walking regimen.

Brazos Hiking Stick – This Hickory Walking Stick ROCKS!

FitnessWalker Walking Stick

It’s the FitnessWalker Walking Stick by Brazos Walking Sticks.

Maybe you’re like I was and think that walking sticks are only for people who truly need them.

However, I’ve discovered that that is simply not the truth.

I love my FitnessWalker Walking Stick!

It has helped me to cover more miles in less time than I ever thought possible.

When I first began walking to get into shape a few months ago, it was tough.

Just getting around the neighborhood was pretty challenging.

I stuck to it because my doctor had made it clear to me how essential it was that I start getting active.

Even more importantly, I recognized my own need to feel better, have more energy and to really participate in my kids’ lives.

I also made my efforts a family affair.

When I went for a walk, the kids went with me.

That really did away with the whole “I don’t have time to exercise” or “my kids keep me too busy to exercise” excuses.

Before long, the kids expected to go for a daily walk.

They loved it, and they helped to hold me accountable to my goal.

Still, even with the encouragement of my kids, the going could get pretty rough.

If it wasn’t for a new friend that I made at the park, I might have been tempted to give up.

My new friend is about the same age as me, and we kept meeting up at the neighborhood park.

I noticed that she always had a stick for walking with her.

Additionally, she had a smile on her face, like there was nothing she’d rather be doing.

I finally asked her about her stick one day.

She told me that it was the FitnessWalker Walking Stick and that it had helped her to get into the best shape of her life.

Mentioning things like stability and going up and down hills, she shared why she believed that her walking stick was an essential part of her healthy lifestyle.

Perhaps most importantly, she let me take her walking stick for a spin around the park.

That was all it took to convert me.

I went home that day and ordered one for myself.

My FitnessWalker is absolutely beautiful, and it’s sized exactly to fit me.

I chose to personalize my FitnessWalker with my initial, but the only accessory I ordered was a nylon case that I can store it in.

The whole thing was crafted by Brazos Walking Sticks in Brazos, Texas.

I couldn’t believe that this was an actual made-in-the-USA product.

What’s more, my walking stick is a one-of-a-kind work of art.

I get tons of compliments whenever I’m out and about with it.

When I tell people what I paid, they’re always surprised by how affordable my purchase was.

This single purchase has genuinely changed my life.

Once restricted to level streets, sidewalks and parks, I now have the confidence that I needed to tackle hills.

It’s still challenging, but my stick really takes the pressure off of my knees.

I’m even planning to go on a hiking adventure pretty soon.

My stick will definitely come in handy on that trip, just like it will for all of my future wanderings.

Travel Accessories for Women
Young beautiful female traveler – Travel Accessories for Women

Here are the Most Useful Travel Accessories for Women

A Comfortable Sweater

Every woman should pack a sweater for their travels.

The climate varies depending on where you will be going, but it is always better to pack layers.

Even warm regions can get cool at night, and you want to be prepared.

Plus, a sweater can serve as something to rest your head on during a long flight, bus trip, or train ride.

A sweater can also be useful if you need to cover up in more conservative regions of the world.

First Aid Kit

Pack a first aid kit with the necessary medicines and bandages in case of emergency.

It is not easy to get medical aid in some parts of the world, and even minor ailments need caring for.

A first aid kit is a convenient way to ensure that any minor injuries can be taken care of quickly, so you aren’t held back during your travels.

You should make sure that your kit contains pain relievers, antacids, anti-bacterial ointments, and bandages.

Travel Adapters

Adapters are essential travel accessories for women if they want to stay connected.

Coming prepared with a travel adapter is the best way to ensure that all your electronics will be charged and ready for use.

Each region has different plug point configurations, so it is better to purchase an all-in-one adapter if you can.

If you have to purchase a separate adapter for the region you will be traveling to, make sure it is made to handle the amount of voltage you will be utilizing.

Some electronics or appliances require a high voltage adapter, and they may not work if you do not take this into consideration.

Carrying Case

A sturdy, versatile carrying case is essential for any traveling woman.

The best carrying cases will have multiple pockets that can be zipped closed.

You can even purchase locks for more security.

Designed to fit in a suitcase, your carrying case can be used for important documents such as passports, driver’s licenses, or permits.

You can also use it to hold electronics or cash.

High-Quality Camera

It is essential that you document your travel experiences with high-quality photos.

Many people just opt to take photos with their phones, but a lot of phones have mediocre cameras.

Unless your phone camera is especially sophisticated, you should consider investing in a camera that takes more professional looking photos.

After all, you don’t want the best moments of your life to be blurry.

Travel Mug

Bring a travel mug that is suitable for both hot and cold drinks.

These mugs or insulated water bottles (for hot and cold) can be especially useful if you will be undertaking any outdoor excursions.

It is always important to stay hydrated while you are traveling.

Packing your own travel mug can also be a great way to save money and keep your trip under budget.

If you are in an area with safe drinking water, check out public spaces with water fountains and get hydrated for free.

Go-to Outfit

If you are going on a long trip, it will be difficult for you to pack a lot of clothes.

Because of this, you want to be prepared with an outfit you look good in, feel good in, and can wear for a variety of different social settings.

Along with active wear and casual wear, try to pack a dress that is as appropriate for a classy dinner as it is for a night out on the town.

Being prepared with the right outfit ensures that you’ll be able to look your best without having to pack a variety of different types of clothing.

Top Green Hotels For Honeymoon

Smart Watch

Smart watches are a must-have for travelers, especially those who travel frequently.

A smart watch allows you to track weather reports, make purchases, get emergency information, and better plan your travel schedule.

A smart watch can also be a safer, more discreet alternative than using a cell phone, especially in crowded urban areas or when taking public transit.

E-Reader

Having a good book to accompany your travels is a fantastic idea.

You may face long periods of transit where you don’t have access to any charging outlets or the internet.

However, traveling with bulky books is definitely not recommended.

And if you are an avid reader, you will likely get through a single book quickly.

E-readers solve this problem in a sleek, stylish way.

Depending on which model you purchase, your e-reader may be able to hold hundreds of books.

Most of them also come with backlights for nighttime reading.

Packing an e-reader is a great way to ensure that you can entertain yourself in between adventures during your trip.

The Right Shoes

Taking the right pair of shoes with you while traveling is absolutely necessary to ensure that you have a good trip.

Good shoes are perhaps the most important travel accessory for women, but choosing the right ones comes down to where you will be traveling.

If you are going to be relaxing on the beach, make sure you pack a pair of sandals for maximum comfort in the hot weather.

If you will be taking a trek through the mountains, it’s imperative that you pack a sturdy pair of boots.

Above all, you should wear shoes that are comfortable and conducive to long walks.

But that doesn’t mean they can’t look good!

Best travel accessories for women

Whether you are visiting an exotic city or hiking through nature, traveling can be extremely exciting.

But you want to make sure that you are prepared for any surprises.

These travel accessories for women will ensure that you stay safe and healthy during the course of your travels.

Best Travel Bags for Women Work Travel

There is never the time like the present for weekend getaways or a fun-filled vacations with family and friends.

As you make your plans, check out these best travel bags for women sure to make your travel tension-free.

Whether your job has you traveling to different cities or just down the street, bring along the things that you need in comfort and style with the Rolling Laptop Portfolio Case from SOLO’s Classic Collection.

The traditional black styling says you mean business and the inline skate wheels make it easy to pull behind you on the streets of the city or the terminal at the airport.

An accordion file in one pocket provides a great way to organize files and paperwork and an accessory organizer with special pockets for pens, business cards, and keys will help keep you on top of everything no matter where you are.

The main compartment will hold most laptops up to 17” and provides a padded pocket for safekeeping.

This bag received top rankings and is reasonably priced, Weighing in at barely a pound, this bag is the perfect companion for any type of business travel.

Travel Bags for a Weekend Away

If taking a long weekend requires you to also take some work along with you, the Contour Balance Notebook Roller Bag from Kensington provides a sporty and stylish alternative to the more traditional laptop roller bags.

It’s super cute and it has a unique cushioning system that uses a quilted pocket specifically designed to protect laptops up to 15.4 inches.

This bag, made from water-resistant material, is designed for comfort, portability, and ease of use.

Lightweight and easy to maneuver into small spaces on planes, trains and automobiles, it is equipped with an external pocket to store accessories and paperwork.

The hidden wheels and contour grip handles make this bag the perfect partner for a weekend away.

Plus, it’s less with free shipping.

Travel Bags for Everyday and Everything

Looking for a great bag that is spacious enough to stow all your carry-on items in but still stylish enough to make a statement?

The Saltbox GEO Getaway Bag – Tote from SaltboxGEO Getaway Bag from Saltbox is the perfect mix of form and function.

Designed to look like a slouch bag, the roomy interior converts to a flat tote and has more than a foot square of interior storage space.

Voted Best of the Best on eBags.com, this bag comes in three colors pool (blue), lychee (pink), and kiwi (green) and can be found on the site.

To maximize functionality, the GEO has straps that can be reconfigured based on how you are using it.

It is constructed of heavy weight canvas that is both water and stain resistant, making it perfect for a trip to the beach or to Bali.

Travel Bags for Long Stays

For longer trips and for those times when packing light is not an option, the Athalon 15-Pocket 34″ Wheeling Duffel from Athalon offers a roomy interior, rugged construction, and three in-line skate wheels to help with even the heaviest loads.

Nearly 3’ long, this bag is built for durability from water-resistant polyester and includes several features to reinforce the structure of the bag and protect your belongings.

Another Best of the Best bag, the Athalon duffel got high marks from customers in every category.

This carry-all is accessibly and the distinctive rust color makes a statement without needing any words.

Money Belt Reviews for Every Traveler

Top Travel Wallet for Women and Men

A travel wallet, for women and men, needs to provide a few important features.

It needs to be lightweight, so that you can take it with you just about anywhere you go.

It needs to provide you with some way to carry the things you need – such as a zipper case or just a secure closure.

It also needs to provide you with enough room to carry the identification and payment types you plan to use.

You can find a travel wallet that can do this for you.

The key is to know what your options are including a great money belt.

When buying a travel wallet, realize most are going to be unisex, meaning that either men or women can use it with ease.

There are a few important features to look for, based on what your needs are. Here are some to seek out.

Travel Wallet Size

Do you plan to tuck it into a pants pocket so you can free up your hands?

A lightweight, small wallet is all you need, in most cases.

Travel Wallet Use

Some people want to wear a wallet around their waist.

If you are looking for a style that allows you to store all of your important documents, but also has a band to wrap around your waist or your arm, you do have several options.

Travel Wallet Display

What type of identification do you need to have on you?

If you are traveling internationally, it is a good idea to choose a wallet that offers the right options to display your passport.

Top Travel Wallet

There are a number of great options on the market, but with so many different options in travel wallets, you will need to compare several types to find the right one for your needs.

Here are some of the most recommended travel wallets for men and women.

Civilian Lab CLIP Tri Fold Security Wallet

Here you have a Kevlar wallet that folds up. It will help to provide the most overall protection.

After all, Kevlar is what body armor is made of. Use this for the storage of credit cards and cash, as well as card identifications.

Swiss Army Wenger

This leather travel wallet is great for holding all of your identification and other travel needs in one place.

It is stylish and durable, but it is not the smallest of wallets.

Customers like the numerous items they can store in it for easy access.

Secure Shoulder Travel Wallet

The Travel Accessories product called Secure Shoulder Travel Wallet fits under or on top of your clothing.

It gives you easy access to all of your valuables and has is comfortable to wear under your clothing against your skin.

This creates the ideal way to protect your belongings when traveling.

As you consider your options in travel wallets, remember that security and organizations are the two most important things to look for.

These options are the perfect fit for just about any activity you plan to take on.

Travel Jewelry Case: Jewelry Cases for Travel

Whether you are heading to a five-star resort or to hike the Himalayas, investing in a good travel jewelry case to hold your jewelry while you travel is a wise decision.

This type of case is designed to protect watches, rings, necklaces, pendants, and other adornments from loss or damage while you are in transit.

It provides a single place for storage which also makes it easy to protect your valuables once you arrive at your destination.

Just slip the case into the hotel safe and you will never have to worry about this bracelet or that watch being left on the bathroom sink and disappearing into someone’s pocket.

Best Travel Jewelry Case

A good jewelry case for traveling will provide different types of storage for the variety of items you decide to bring.

For ease of use once you arrive at your destination, look for a case that provides see-through pockets and pouches so you can see all of your items without having to dig through each pocket to find what you want.

Travel Jewelry Portable Roll Case from Household Essentials

The Travel Jewelry Portable Roll Case from Household Essentials, the best selling travel jewelry case on Amazon.com, is a great example of this type of case.

ATJ’s Anti-Tarnish Jewelry Roll

You also want to look for a case that is built from a durable material and offers custom storage for the jewelry you travel with the most often.

ATJ’s Anti-Tarnish Jewelry Roll offers a soft padded home for your precious jewelry including a secure strip for earrings, pouches for housing necklaces and a ring roll that detaches at one end.

Silk Brocade Jewelry Roll from Red Blossom

If you are looking for something a little more luxurious, the Silk Brocade Jewelry Roll from Red Blossom is made from soft silk and rayon brocade fabric and provides several pouches for storage and a roll carrier for rings.

You might also like the Silk Brocade Coin Pouch Set from Dahlia which features a set of 10 small oriental fan shaped pouches perfect for storing jewelry at home or while traveling.

Because they are separate pouches, they make packing a breeze, just select the items you want and they are pre-packed in their own pouch.

Red Travel Jewelry Box

If space is not an issue and you want something more solid, there are several jewelry cases that might suit your needs.

The Red Travel Jewelry Box from Richards Homewares features a red faux leather exterior filled with a soft cream bed for all your valuables.

A make-up mirror in the lid provides the perfect place for putting in earrings or applying lipstick.

Jewelry Portfolio

Another great option for long vacations, business trips, honeymoons, and those embarking on a cruise is theJewelry Portfolio from PreZerve.

With capacity to hold hundreds of items and the ability to add additional inserts, this case provides optimum protection and storage your all valuable pieces.

Zippered pouches keep jewelry in place during travel and see through pockets and pouches make it easy to locate what you need.

Jewelry Travel Case by Travel Case

If you are looking for a little extra added security, the Jewelry Travel Case by Travel Case may be just what you are looking for.

It provides multiple snap fixtures for securing chains and necklaces, space for 24 rings, and a built-in combination lock allowing you to lock the case and keep your valuables secure while your luggage is out of your control.

With a faux leather exterior, this case is durable enough to weather your most extreme adventures.

Never spend another minute of vacation trying to untangle the jumble of necklaces or searching for the other earring that matches your dress.

By investing in the right jewelry travel case, you can protect, store, and secure your bracelets, earrings, and rings no matter where your travels take you.

Note: This post on travel jewelry case contains affiliate links.

When you click on the links in this post and make a purchase, Go Green Travel Green receives a portion of the proceeds, which allows us to continue producing high-quality, free content.

Weekender Bags: Best for a Weekend Getaway

When it comes to a weekend away, packing should be the least of your concerns.

Take a few tips from the pros and start your getaway stress-free.

First, don’t bring too much.

Over-packing is very common and only leads to more stress and more stuff.

Think about what you need to take with you, add a few things you want to bring, and then try and cut the end result by one third.

Second, don’t over-schedule.

Make sure that your getaway is actually a time that you can get away from the demands, pressure, and stress of your normal life.

Put the blackberry away and make your laptop part of the third you decide not to bring.

Lastly, take a great bag.

Only shoes have a more immediate and positive effect on how carefree and fantastic we feel.

To help you find just the right one, here is a breakdown of the highest rated weekender bags.
Vera Bradley Weekender Bags

Vera Bradley Weekender Bags

Part of the infinitely popular line of Vera Bradley bags, this weekender comes in a gorgeous colors and patterns.

With a large interior space that opens wide for easy packing, this bag can easily hold everything you need for a weekend away from home.

A variety of interior pockets provide places to stash the little bits and bobs you don’t want to lose and the removal strap makes it easy to carry, no matter how much you pack.

Voted a Best of the Best selection, this weekender has just enough space and just enough flair to get your getaway off to a great start.

The North Face Isla Weekender Bag

Available in black/white plaid, fuchsia, and straight black, this bag provides more than 2000 cubic inches in available packing space, which should be sufficient for any weekend away.

Another of the Best of the Best recipients, the North Face weekender is made in part from recycled poly and offers zippered pockets inside and out to keep you organized throughout your trip.

The bag has standard carry-handles and a detachable strap making it easy to grab and go when it’s time to get out of town.

As part of eBags.com “Pick Pink” campaign, when you purchase this bag a 10% donation is made to the Susan G. Komen for a Cure Foundation.

The Sak Artist Circle Convertible Weekender Bag

Trendier in appearance than the other bags, this weekender looks like it belongs on the streets of New York City, perched on the shoulder of someone beautiful who is heading off to the Hamptons.

Constructed of nylon and available in four color/pattern combinations, it has about the same capacity as the North Face bag with the personality and flair of the Vera Bradley.

Loaded with pockets and zippered pouches, you won’t have a problem finding a place for everything in this Best of the Best bag as you head out of town, Sak Artist Circle Convertible Weekender Bag.
Sak Artist Circle Convertible Weekender Bag

Alla Leather Art Tarantella Weekender Shoulder Bag

This gorgeous leather shoulder bag looks more like a fashionista’s purse than everything she might need for a weekend away.

Available in a variety of colors, it won’t fit quite as much as the other bags, but who needs more clothes when you have such a great bag.

Nooks and crannies for storing your odds and ends are featured throughout the bag and it’s Best of the Best list.

As if style and leather weren’t enough, there is also a special pocket just for sunglasses ensuring you won’t get away without them.
Alla Leather Art Tarantella Weekender Shoulder BagMoney Belt Reviews for Every Traveler

Essential Travel Accessories for Men

Updated:

Essential Travel Accessories for Men – When men talk about their life goals, traveling and seeing the world always comes up.

Not only do vacations reduce stress and boost creativity, but planning a trip makes people happier!

Before you hop on an airplane and explore new lands, there are items that you need to make your life easier.

To help make the most of the experience, here are nine travel accessories for men that you should take with you!

Travel Accessories for Men
Top view of modern collection for travel on wooden background. Autumn mood concept

Travel Accessories for Men

Nice Rolling Luggage

You will need something that will protect your belongings and be easy to handle.

The first thing to look for in luggage is a combination lock to secure important items.

You don’t want a curious maid or a street thief to have easy access to your documents.

Polycarbonate is recommended because of its ability to handle impacts.

If you are traveling, your luggage will get banged up, but this material will maintain its original shape and help hide scratches.

Ice Mate Cool Towel

If you are planning a summer expedition, this item will be a life saver.

These towels are easy to use; just put them in water, and then drape them around your neck to stay cool in the sun!

You can also place them in the fridge for a moment after you wet them.

The fabric is designed to maintain softness after it dries, even if it’s chilled.

This towel is one of the most underrated travel accessories for men.

Travel Pillows

Whether you travel by plane, train, or automobile, a good pillow will make your trip easier.

Many foreign countries have cramped transportation methods, so you might have to sit in awkward positions.

Using a pillow as a barrier between your head and a bus window will make the ride bearable.

If you are shopping for travel accessories for men, this is a great gift idea.

Portable Charger

Having a backup power supply for your phone isn’t just a matter of convenience.

Your phone is a lifeline if you find yourself in a precarious situation, whether you’re in another country or a different state.

If you are out exploring at night and get lost, it will be impossible to call for help without your phone.

This problem will be made worse by language barriers.

Look for a rapid charger with around 6000 MaH to ensure that you have plenty of battery life.

Portable Water Purifier

If you are traveling from North America or Europe to another continent, you will need to adjust to the drinking water.

Different filtration processes and bacterial levels in water can have unpleasant side effects.

Instead of spending your trip sick in a hotel room, take a water purifier with you.

It’s better than drinking out of a disposable plastic bottle and will save money as well.

This is one of the travel accessories for men that is both practical and healthy.

When camping, this is one of the best travel accessories for men.

There is no guarantee that you will be able to find a campsite with a water source.

Good Shower Kit

No matter where you are in the world, most hotels offer cheap bathing essentials.

If you have sensitive skin or just want to enjoy your shower after a long day of exploring, you will need to provide for yourself with a good shower kit.

Take some quality soap or shower gel.

If you go the gel route, carry it in containers that are travel-friendly, and make sure you check airport regulations.

If you show up with a bottle of gel that doesn’t meet their standards, they will make you throw the bottle away.

Don’t forget the face wash and shampoo!

Some hotels don’t provide these two things.

You will be outdoors a lot, and your face will bear the brunt of the elements.

It’s important to protect your skin on vacation.

Grooming Travel Accessories for Men

One of the main reasons to travel is to meet new people.

Keeping up with your hygiene is important if you plan to make some new friends.

A good shaving kit might be hard to find depending on where you are going.

Plan ahead, especially on razors.

Traveling to an island doesn’t mean you have to look like Tom Hanks in Castaway.

You should consider taking your own toothpaste as well.

Different countries have different types, and some of them are less than ideal.

Having some cologne and anti-deodorant is also essential.

Nothing is worse than wondering what a smell is and realizing it’s your shirt!

Power Converters

If you are going from North America to Europe or vice versa, many of your electronics won’t plug into the wall without an adapter – Power Converters.

These adapters can be hard to find in certain parts of both continents, so make sure you take them with you.

Action Camera

Traveling is all about memories.

Taking a good action camera will help capture and share your experiences.

The Veho VCC-003 Muvi Micro DV Camcorder is an excellent option.

It’s small enough to carry anywhere and has an acceptable picture quality for the price you will pay.

Unless you are a professional and are hoping to sell your footage to the Travel Channel, this camera will work fine.

Make sure you take backup memory with you.

Almost everyone that is traveling for the first time ends up taking more footage than they thought.

You don’t want to miss out on anything because you have to find an electronics store somewhere.

Get Out There and Travel!

We know what it’s like when the urge to travel hits.

It’s an all consuming force that takes over, and before you know it you’re sitting in an airport in Istanbul wondering how you got there.

Okay, maybe that’s just us.

We are pretty passionate about travel, and we are just getting started!

Whether you are looking for information about where to go next or shopping for travel accessories for men, we have the information you need.

Check out our reviews for the best travel gear, and start planning your journey today!

Bring Your Own Water Bottle!

Bring your own water bottle

Updated:

Bring your own water bottle – On average Americans buy 36.5 gallons of bottled water each year.

If we multiply this number with the number of American population it’s easy to see that we consume an incredible amount of bottled water each year.

According to the Beverage Marketing Corporation, total bottled water volume continues to grow.

It increased from 11.8 billion gallons in 2015 to 12.8 billion gallons in 2016.

That’s an increase of 9%! Despite people bringing their own reusable water bottles with them, consumption grows each year.

Bring your own water bottle

While drinking a lot of water is a good thing, we have to pay attention to what type of water we actually drink.

Buying a bottle of water might be convenient at some times but we shouldn’t make it a habit.

Each bottle of water we buy we harms our environment.

There are so many excellent water bottles available.

It’s easy to bring one with you.

It’s also convenient to have cold water whenever you want it.

The insulated water bottles keep water cold for up to 24 hours.

The packaging

The main issue with bottled water is the packaging.

Most bottled waters are sold in plastic (PET) bottles which have an alarming characteristic.

Once they are produced, they’re here to stay.

Through the production process, the components of plastic become unrecognizable.

This makes plastic non-biodegradable.

In the U.S. alone, we generate 79 million plastic bottles each day.

The majority of them end up in landfills, incinerators or even worse, in the ocean.

Why recycling is not the solution

Although recycling is the best waste management option, it is still not a solution.

During recycling, plastic is made into a new product.

It is reused but this process also requires a lot of resources.

Also, usually during the recycling process, plastic is down-cycled.

This means it can only be reused as a lower grade plastic than it was originally.

If we really do want to live a more sustainable lifestyle our only option is to reduce our plastic consumption.

What you can do

Living a totally plastic-free life is possible.

It will take some effort and determination.

On the other hand, we can still significantly reduce the plastic we use.

The first step should be stop buying bottled water.

Drink more tap water.

You can filter it if you need to.

You will be helping the environment and also save a lot of money.

While it is inexpensive in a case, bottled water can cost 2,000 times more than tap water!

Want to know more?

Take a look at the following infographic to learn more about how using your own water bottle and drinking tap water can benefit everyone.

Bring your own water bottle
Simply decide to bring your own water bottle with you. You will be creating an easy habit that will reap immediate rewards each and every time you use it instead of a disposable water bottle.

Brincatti Travel Bottles Review

I’m always in the market for gear that makes green travel — and green living — easier.

The folks at Brincatti were kind enough to send me their travel bottle kit and a refillable spray bottle to try out.

So far, I’ve loved them both.

Here’s why I enjoyed using the Brincatti Travel Bottles.

Brincatti Travel Bottle Kit: Green Traveling Made Easy

It’s so wasteful to use the tiny bottles of shampoo that hotels supply, so I always want to bring my own.

Unfortunately, I’m usually reusing the tiny hotel bottles, which are difficult to fill up and end up making a mess.

Plus, they don’t hold enough shampoo for a long trip.

The bottles in Brincatti’s travel bottle kit are much bigger at 3 oz. each and have wider mouths, which makes filling them a breeze.

They even come with adhesive labels that you can add to each bottle for shampoo, condition, lotion, sunscreen, etc.

Each kit contains four bottles, three of which have flip caps and one of which has a spray top.

The kit comes with a TSA-approved plastic carrier, too.

The only downside to the plastic carrier is that there’s no room for other liquids, so if you want to bring toothpaste or deodorant, you’ll need to bring a different TSA-approved plastic bag that can hold everything.

These days, I have been using regular Zip-lock bags instead of buying a special clear travel bag.

Overall, though, Brincatti’s travel bottle kit is great.

You can buy one for less than a bottle of shampoo.

Brincatti Travel Bottles

Refillable Spray Bottle: Green Living at Home

Next, we tried Brincatti’s refillable spray bottle.

If you make your own cleaning products, you’ll love Brincatti’s refillable spray bottle.

Unlike many spray bottles, this one has a wide-mouth opening that makes filling it up simple and mess-free.

I love using it around the house.

It is 22 ounces.

I use cloth diapers for my 10-month-old son and had been looking for a way to make using cloth wipes easy.

I ordered handmade wipes from Etsy, but needed a simple way to get them wet right before I used them.

The Brincatti refillable spray bottle is the perfect solution.

I made a homemade cloth diaper wipe solution and was able to mix it right in the bottle.

And because of its wide-mouth feature, it is very easy to refill without having spills.

The bottle would also be great for homemade household cleaners, vinegar, or even a marinade for meat or veggies.

At under $5, the refillable spray bottle is a worthwhile investment for green living at home.

Brincatti Refillable Spray Bottle

These Brincatti Travel Bottles are an easy way of going green while traveling and while at home.

You will conserve and save on plastic bottle waste.

When you use the refillable spray bottle, you can be helping your own environment by filling it with earth-friendly cleaning products that you can make yourself.

Or you can buy in bulk and dispense it yourself.

Either way, by bringing your own toiletries on vacation with TSA approved bottles and by refilling bottles at home, you will become more economical and be earth-friendly at the same time.

Best Places to WWOOF and How to Select a WWOOF Host

Updated:

Best places to WWOOF – WWOOFing has grown a lot since the movement began in the 1970s in the UK.

The organization is now spread worldwide and anyone can do volunteer work on farms for days or weeks at a time.

If you’re looking for the best places to WWOOF, this guide can help you. We will also offer tips for first-time WWOOFers, how to select a host, WWOOF reviews and more.

There are over 88 WWOOFing locations around the world with more than 6,000 hosts so you won’t be lacking in choices.

Each country has great hosts and offers a unique experience. Indeed, your experience with WWOOF hosts in the same country can vary considerably. Some countries do provide more exciting opportunities for various reasons.

Here are the best places to WWOOF. Great Travel Guide to Portugal for First Timers

best places to WWOOF
best places to WWOOF

Best Places to WWOOF ~ Top Countries for WWOOFing

WWOOF in New Zealand

This is a popular choice for a lot of volunteers because of the stunning locations and the number of different opportunities available.

While WWOOFing is volunteer work, the New Zealand immigration authorities consider it a work exchange, so have your visa ready.

Aside from the beautiful locations, it is fun to volunteer in the country because demand is usually high during the growing season.

You can still do volunteer work during the winter season.

WWOOFing is a popular way to travel the world for free accommodation and food.

If you haven’t heard about this before, I highly recommend checking out the website – WWOOFing = Willing Working On Organic Farms and sounds like a great idea, but we wanted to know about this thing from someone who had actually experienced it. How to stay safe while volunteering abroad

Eleanor, a twenty-one year old WWOOFer in New Zealand and a close friend of mine from Sweden, shares her experience of WWOOFing around New Zealand for a few months and how it really works. – So how does WWOOFing work?

Eleanor: It’s an organization that is dependent on cooperation.

WWOOF stands for “Willing Workers On Organic Farms” and that is the attitude you should have if you’re planning to do some WWOOFing while you are traveling.

What you do is that you sign up on their web page and pay the fee for a year’s membership (about 50 NZ Dollars).

After you’ve done that you get your own account where you add your personal details and can start to look for hosts all around the country

(Sofia’s Note: every country has it’s own website and organization, so when you sign up you can only work in that country.

And you do the same for every country you wish to work in.) Tips for Traveling with Your Dog

Is every place the same?

E: Not at all, you get to experience so many different traditions and see how it’s like on a farm or in an ordinary city home.

You can spend one week walking around picking some weed in a garden eating exclusively vegan food and the next week you’re off to a cattle farm where they celebrate your arrival with a big meat dinner.

Are the working hours the same everywhere?

E: Usually they are, you’re supposed to do about four hours a day for food and accommodation and then have time off to explore the area.

But you should be prepared to work eight hour days sometimes, there are some who do not follow the (4hr a day) WWOOFing code.

So all hosts don’t follow the rules?

E: No, unfortunately there are those who abuse the system, but it’s not very often you meet them and when you do you are free to leave whenever you want.

Have you been exposed to any danger when WWOOFing or had to do something that would normally require a professional specialist to do?

E: Not really, there has been some ladder-climbing on windy days that’s always a bit scary but apart from that they generally give you secure jobs.

Sometimes you can find that it’s handy to have some sort of professional skill at some places, it’s always appreciated when a builder comes to your home.

What should you expect to experience with WWOOFing?

E: Hard work, a lot of outdoor activities, some cooking and household work.

A lot of weeding.

Some people call WWOOFing – Willing Weeders on Organic Farms. haha.

Is WWOOFing safe?

E: Yes, it’s all a voluntary work and the hosts pay money to the organization to get WWOOFers so they are usually very serious about the work and everything.

Has it been easy finding hosts/farms?

E: It depends a lot on the time of year and where you are going, some places are more popular than others so they can be harder to get a place to stay.

But as long as you keep trying there will always be someone who can take care of you.

Has it been worth it?

E: I’d say so! You meet some really nice people and make a lot of friends.

Is WWOOFing something you would recommend to others?

E: Oh yes, I’m already doing it! It’s something everyone should try! I love WWOOFing in New Zealand.

What will you remember from this experience?

E: All the people I’ve met and the relaxed lifestyle the New Zealanders have. 

Travel Interview WWOOFing in New Zealand
Travel Interview WWOOFing in New Zealand

WWOOF in Costa Rica

If you’re looking for something more than the typical farm, the rain forests of Costa Rica may suit your style.

The reviews and feedback from volunteers is positive, and the Environmental Performance Index placed Costa Rica at the top, indicating how important farming and the environment are to them.

Among all the countries in South America, Costa Rica has some of the highest ratings when it comes to organic farming.

You have the chance to work with tropical species you won’t find anywhere else.

WWOOF in Portugal

There are more than 100 hosts in Portugal and many of these farms have people who can speak and understand English, making communication easier.

The people here are friendly and you get the chance to learn about sustainable farming practices, composting, permaculture design and other facets of farming.

Why Choose to WWOOF?
Why Choose to WWOOF?

WWOOF in Australia

A lot of volunteers love Australia, and that is hardly a surprise as it is one of the best in terms of showing you how to farm.

More than 20% of the hosts are permaculture buffs and commercial producers, and many of the farmers are involved in biodynamic techniques.

The average working hours are 4 to 6 per day with a wide range of tasks that you can perform.

WWOOF in Nepal

If you’re looking for a country that truly offers something different, try Nepal.

When people mention Nepal the first thing that comes to mind is the Himalayas, but there are a lot of farming opportunities here, plus permaculture has really taken off here.

Other great WWOOF destinations

great WWOOF destinations
great WWOOF destinations

WWOOF in Europe

There are a lot of exciting locations for WWOOFing in Europe, but when it comes to biologic agriculture and living the alternative lifestyle, France is the best option.

Italy meanwhile, is the top destination for biodynamic farming and if you’re interested in volunteering for commercial hosts.

If you are more interested in traditional farming and caring for sheep, tending pig pens, fruit farms and other tasks, consider going to Ireland as the country has much to offer in this regard.

If your goal is to be as organized as possible in your volunteer work, head out to Spain as the country is well-known for this.

WWOOF in North America

North America offers plenty for the budding volunteer as well. Both the USA and Canada offer several hosts, guidelines, support and information for first timers.

There are literally thousands of hosts all around these countries who are looking for volunteers eager to learn about organic farming and perform different types of work.

Volunteer in Africa: What to Know Before You Go
Volunteer in Uganda ~ My Life-Changing Trip with Shanti Uganda
Volunteering in SE Asia: Getting Your Foot on the NGO Ladder

WWOOF in a vineyard

So far we have talked about farming in general, but if you’re looking to do volunteer work and WWOOF at a vineyard, there are specific places you need to check out.

all about WWOOF compost bin earth day
all about WWOOF compost bin

WWOOF at a vineyard in Europe

WWOOF in France

France has some of the best vineyard WWOOFing in the world, and the best region is the Bordeaux.

The harvest season is from August to October so that is the ideal time to go there as demand for volunteer work is high.

The Bordeaux is separated in smaller regions with their own types of soil and climate, and this determines the type of grapes that grow there.

Competition for spots here is tough, but if you land a volunteer job, it’s the experience of a lifetime.

WWOOF in Italy

The vineyards are in Tuscany and like France, the harvest time is in October.

While wine is grown all over Italy, it is here in Tuscany where you’ll find the best WWOOFing experience.

There are guidelines on how grapes are taken care of here, but one of the nice things about volunteering here is you get to work with vineyards and see how they experiment with different wines.

WWOOF at a vineyard in South America

The demand for South American wine continues to grow every year, and now is the perfect time to experience all of these firsthand.

If you’ve been to the vineyards in Europe and Australia and looking for something very different, Chile and Argentina should be on your itinerary.

WWOOF in Chile & Argentina
WWOOF in Chile & Argentina

The volunteer work you do here varies and is as engaging as those in Europe, but the difference is the environment, plus you will be planting and nurturing other types of grapes.

While there are already a lot of volunteers in European vineyards, the demand in South American countries is still high so there’s a good chance you will find a host quickly.

WWOOF in Chile and Argentina

The best vineyards in Chile are in the Colchagua Valley while in Argentina it is in Mendoza.

Whichever of the two you choose, the harvest time is from February to May, and with both 3,000 feet above sea level, the vineyard experience is completely different from the typical ones you see in the Mediterranean.

WWOOFing at a vineyard in Africa

Where is the best place to WWOOF in Africa if you want to work at a vineyard?

South Africa should be the top of your list.

WWOOF in South Africa

The top vineyard region here is West Cape and the harvest season is from February to April.

When people think of South Africa the first thing that comes to mind are the wildlife, but this is actually a good place to go WWOOFing, and there are some good vineyards here too.

The winelands in South Africa is just one of the attractions here, as you also get to meet and work with people that are genuinely interested in winemaking and farming.

Expectations when WWOOFing
Expectations when WWOOFing

How to Select a WWOOF Host

First you need to decide where you want to go WWOOFing.

Once you have made up your mind, contact that country’s WWOOF organization, and they will guide you through the membership process.

If there is a specific farm you want to volunteer at, contact the farm (contact details will be provided by your country’s WWOOF).

You can then send an email or call the host and see if you can work out a schedule.

If you plan on applying to different countries, you need to join each country’s WWOOF.

What to email a potential WWOOF host

Popular WWOOF hosts get a lot of applications, so yours needs to stand out from the rest.

Your email needs to be well written and contain the following:

You are looking at the possibility of volunteering on their farm for X days from X date to X date. If you are more flexible, even better, tell them.

Include some information about who you are and why you are interested in WWOOFing. State why you are interested in the host’s farm and what tasks you are looking forward to.

Write a short paragraph explaining what types of skills you possess. Make sure to mention any building, gardening or planting skills.

If you are hard-working, take direction well and like to do a good job, mention that too.

Other things to know

Send your email at least two months early. It’s likely you will need to send emails earlier so you can make flight arrangements. The earlier the better!

Send emails by the order of the host farm you are interested in, and if you’re accepted, send a note to the other hosts that you are thankful for their acceptance but you are now committed to a host.

Once you have found a host, you need to get in touch with them and make certain you both have a clear understanding of what will take place.

What to ask a potential WWOOF host

Your WWOOF host may not spend a lot of time online, so it’s smart to list your questions in one email, in your order of importance.

Here are some things to consider asking.

How WWOOFing Works
How WWOOFing Works

Working Arrangements

Talk with your host regarding the working arrangements such as how many hours per day you will work, the time of day you will start, when your day off is and the flexibility of the schedule.

While the average is 4 to 6 hours a day, this can vary.

Type of Work

Ask what kind of tasks you will be doing. The tasks can range from caring for animals to weeding, cooking, harvesting, collecting fruits, building fences and so on.

Hosts usually expect the volunteer to prepare dinner even for just one occasion, so be prepared to do so.

Sleeping Arrangements

Ask your host where you will be sleeping so you can prepare beforehand. You might get your own room, sleep in a camper van, etc.

Also inquire about the weather conditions so you’ll know what type of apparel to bring during the night when you sleep.

Living Conditions

Your host may have WWOOFers on a regular basis or every once in a while. Also keep in mind that hosts work in different ways.

Some like to spend time with their volunteers, eat meals together and work with them in the field.

Other hosts expect you to work independently, make your own meals and just get together after the day’s work is done.

Communications

Since these farms are far from populated cities, don’t expect reliable Internet connections or even phone coverage.

Before you volunteer, inquire about the communications situation and where you can go in case you need to make a call.

If the farm doesn’t have reliable communication, ask the host for alternative options.

Length of Stay

We mentioned earlier that two weeks is ideal, but talk to the host so there’s no misunderstanding later.

If your task involves creating fences or renovation, it might take more than just a couple of weeks, so work it out beforehand.

Food

Some farmers eat only vegetables while others have no limitations.

It’s all right to ask these questions and let them know if you have allergies.

Household

Last but not the least, it’s okay to ask some information about the household. How many are there?

Will there be other volunteers with you?

Get to know your host, and it will be a more rewarding experience for the both of you.

WWOOF tips
WWOOF tips

Tips for First Time WWOOFers

It is your first time to WWOOF and you are excited.

It’s going to be an adventure, but it’s going to be a lot more fun if you prepare.

Some people are disappointed simply due to lack of preparation and not knowing what to expect when WWOOFing.

WWOOF tips

Decide What Type of WWOOFing You Want

What type of experience are you looking forward to?

  • Do you want to take care of animals?
  • Plant vegetables and fruits?
  • Work in a vineyard?

Some farms will teach you how to make products that you can sell like produce, meat from pigs, fruit jams and so forth.

Other farms focus on the activities while others center on the business side. In some farms you will work alone while in others you will be with several volunteers.

Get an idea of the type of WWOOF experience you want and the easier it will be to narrow your search.

Be Aware of Your Limitations

Do you have allergic reaction to certain types of farm animals?

Do you have diet restrictions (i.e. vegetarian, gluten free, low sugar, etc.)?

Answer these questions first so you can work out an appropriate arrangement with your host.

Don’t Expect Hotel Level Amenities

You won’t be staying in a resort, so don’t expect to be pampered. Electricity maybe sparse or nonexistent. You may have to share a bathroom. And you might want to bring your own travel hair dryer.

Sleeping quarters will vary from farm to farm. In some cases, you may be given your own room, in others there may be several beds.

Be prepared on some farms you may have to set up a tent in which to sleep.

Know Your Skills

Having some basic farming skills will help, but don’t be discouraged if you don’t know anything about farming.

If your skills involve photography, business planning, marketing, writing guidelines for future WWOOFers or drafting contracts, let your host know.

Farming is not just about planting and caring for animals. It is also a business, and the skills you learned in the city can be a big help.

Talk to your host and let them know what you can do for them. If they are interested in help, it will be a win for both of you.

Choose the Season Wisely

The seasons dictate how high demand will be in a farm so you need to factor this in. You are most likely to get volunteer work during spring and fall as that is when they are most busy and need a helping hand.

The situations vary per farm, but springtime usually involves a lot of planting and caring for animals that have given birth.

The fall or autumn is harvest time, while summer is also busy in most farms especially if they’ve got dry fruits.

Dry weather also means it’s the perfect time to build pig pens and other structures around the farm.

The wintertime is quiet in most farms.

The seasons determine what type of activities will be done in the farm, so before you join, decide what types of activities you want to do.

Please keep in mind that while the seasons do dictate a lot of what you’re going to do, other tasks could come up.

Decide on the Duration

If it’s your first time, two weeks is ideal, though if you’re pressed for time, a week will suffice.

The reason two weeks is ideal is because seven days is just too short for a lot of work. Second, your host will probably spend much of the first week preparing you for the tasks.

If you’re staying for two weeks, you can use the second week to really get down to work and help.

At the same time, don’t overextend yourself. The idea of WWOOFing is fun all right, but it’s best to start with two weeks to how it works out.

You can always volunteer again next time and for a longer period if you enjoyed your stay.

Choose a Location

The best places to WWOOF include somewhere you are at least interested in visiting and experiencing.

You won’t be spending all your time WWOOFing (4 to 6 hours a day usually), so the rest of the day you will be free to explore.

In that case, use your time to see the place and experience the local culture.

Be Organized

Find out in advance if there is certain gear and clothing, especially footwear, you should bring.

In addition, you should get in touch with your country’s WWOOF, check their host database and look for reviews of the farms you have selected.

Remember to read reviews and feedback of the host you’ve chosen so you can get an idea of the working conditions.

Pack Only the Things You Need

Remember farming is hard work and will have you sweating and muddy.

Make sure to pack old trousers and t-shirts, comfortable socks and waterproof boots.

A cap or hat is essential if you’re volunteering during the summer, and don’t forget sunscreen and mosquito spray.

A pair of gardening gloves could be handy too.

WWOOF Reviews

Spend time reading WWOOF reviews and testimonials from people who have actually volunteered and spent time in an organic farm.

It will help narrow down your choices of where to WWOOF.

WWOOF in France review

Let’s start with Carl Adams who became enamored with the idea of volunteering on a farm and decided to WWOOF in France.

One of the first things he and his friends learned was the unpredictability.

One of the tasks they had to do was find a busted pipe, and this was followed by other tasks that included mixing concrete for the barbecue, renovating and more.

Adams enjoyed his cheerful hosts and the evening meals together.

While there was a lot of work for their week stay, Adams and his friends gained a new appreciation for life on an organic farm.

WWOOF in Italy review

Our friend Shelby Ventra shared with us her experiences WWOOFing in Italy. She had been to Italy several times before as a tourist and again as a part-time journalist.

Curious about WWOOF, Ventra decided to give it a try. She chose three farms, one at San Casciano, the other at Nibbiaia and one at Castagneto Carducci.

She arrived in Tuscany with thermals, plasters and gardening gloves.

Her WWOOFing at Nibbiaia involved mustering sheep.

Her other tasks included stripping fruits from trees and more, and work began at 8 in the morning.

At the Castagneto Carducci farm, Ventra worked 5 to 6 days a week which involved helping to build stone walls and barns; caring for animals; clearing scrub; weeding and pruning; and gathering hazelnuts and eggs.

WWOOF in Mexico review

Tina Colaro, who with her husband, wanted to learn Spanish and to experience WWOOFing simultaneously.

The couple chose to stay at General Cepeda, a small town on the outskirts of Saltillo, and they volunteered to do ranch work for two weeks.

The owner’s ranch was fairly new and had several fruit trees, cactus, chickens, pigs, a windmill and a solar panel.

As volunteers, their work included planting cactus; helping expand the pig pen; feeding the animals each day; and constructing the irrigation system.

During their stay, the couple also enjoyed the countryside, savored the views, and experienced the local culture as well.

Read WWOOF reviews

These are just three testimonials from people who have tried WWOOFing.

Each volunteer work is unique and provides the individuals with unique experiences, and that is part of the reason why WWOOFing appeals to many.

Living and working in a farm can mean different tasks every day. It’s best if you just come in with an open mind and enjoy your stay. The more you research, plan and can learn in advance the better. Then it will be up to you to enjoy the experience, no matter what comes your way.

These best places to WWOOF are great places to consider for your next WWOOFing adventure.

Do your research to learn how to pick a great WWOOF host and have a life-changing experience especially for vegans.

Consequences of Global Warming

How to Stay Safe While Volunteering Abroad

The advantages of getting away from the UK and volunteering abroad as part of a gap year are plentiful.

As well as gaining a unique and enlightening experience of another country and culture, volunteers also make a real difference by offering up their time for a given cause.

Volunteering Abroad
Volunteering Abroad

The reason why I became interested in volunteering was to get a closer insight into the local culture, become more of a part of the community rather than a watcher, and really get to know a different way of life.

I also thought this would be a good experience that I could benefit from in my future career.

It turned out to be one of the most memorable experiences of my life, but if I could do it all again, I wish that I would have read up a bit more about it before I threw myself out there in the unknown, because it’s not always as safe as your own backyard.

But you live, you volunteer, and you learn.

Stay Safe While Volunteering Abroad
Stay Safe While Volunteering Abroad

It wasn’t usually the actual volunteer work that I messed up with, but everything around it.

Prepare

Volunteering is not a vacation, it’s so much more than that, and if you want to make the most of your time and make it easy on yourself, study and read about it.

There is a time and a place for “going with the flow and see what happens”, and volunteering is not the right place to do that.

Read all the information you can lay your hands on before choosing your destination and the work you will be doing – and make sure that you learn about the area before you get there.

Travel Together
Travel Together

Once you have a thorough plan, ensure that friends and family know your itinerary. Inform them of where you’re going, when you’re traveling and who you will be with during your time away.

Travel Together

When it comes to moving around within the country you’re visiting, avoid travelling at night where possible and always try to steer clear of travelling alone if you have an alternative. I’ve ended up in some truly sticky situations because of this in Rwanda!

Even just having one other person with you is a significant advantage, although if you can mange to move around with a bigger group then all the better. And it hurts to say it, but I noticed a big difference having a guy in the group.

There are reasons to travel alone, and it can be great. Just stay safe.

Be Aware While WWOOFING

It may sound obvious, but it’s incredibly important to be aware of your surroundings at all times – especially seeing as though you’ll be in a completely unfamiliar environment.

It’s even more important to be vigilant at all times; In the beginning of my volunteer work I was the naïve traveler who assumed that everyone who speaks to you is there to make friends – bit of a mistake, and soon I found myself duped.

Rwanda
Rwanda

In Congo, I spent an hour running between bus companies trying to get a bus ticket to Rwanda, and every single person was lying about how they had a ticket for us.

If I wouldn’t have been so naive I could have done things differently and been on that bus way earlier.

By the same token, though, don’t get to a stage where you assume that anybody who approaches you wants to do you harm or steal your valuables.

Try to be level headed and assess each situation on its own merits and you won’t go too far wrong – human instinct is a valuable tool, so trust your feelings.

Balance all these three, and you’ll be safe volunteering anywhere!

Are You a Voluntourist?

A new way of traveling is starting to emerge – some call it ”the rise of the voluntourist.”

So what does being a Voluntourist mean?

A voluntourist, also known as a chadventurer, is simply a tourist/traveler who combines travelling / backpacking around the world with volunteer work or fund raising for charity to help the country he or she is visiting.

Today’s travelers seem more and more to really want to give something back to the countries they visit.

I remember how shocked and disgusted I was when they started having guided tours in the favelas in Rio (a barrio where the poorest people live in abundance of violence and corruption) a few years back.

How can people pay for a tour to watch other’s misery? As if they were going to the movies, and soon would head back to their ”reality” in their four star hotels.

Giving back

Now tourists are willing to take a step forward. Instead of only feeling sorry for the people in the country they’re visiting, and leaving, they are now starting to to help them.

Are you willing to take that step?

If you’re interested in spending a week or two of your vacation volunteering here are a few websites that can be helpful:

http://www.voluntourism.org/

http://www.crossculturalsolutions.org/

http://www.unitedplanet.org/

http://www.gviusa.com/

Imagine…

Luxury Family Volunteering Vacations

Have you included a few weeks volunteer work while in a country you were visiting?

If so how was it?

I am so keen to travel to South America and help out communities there as well as backpack around for 6-8 months.

Family Volunteer Vacations ~ Your Complete Guide for a Great Trip

Family Volunteer Vacations – Many travelers, myself included, attest to the fact that any sort of travel is eye-opening, fostering global understanding and reducing prejudices.

Taking your kids out of their home environment, no matter how far, will undoubtedly broaden their minds.

This said, should you consider turning your family vacation into one of the many family volunteer vacations?

Best Places to WWOOF and How to Select a WWOOF Host
family volunteer vacations

What are family volunteer vacations?

Volunteer travel means precisely that: you and your family are traveling for the purpose of lending aid or volunteer effort in the country of your destination like to help wildlife in Belize.

It can be arranged during domestic or international trips, and can be arranged by you, of course, once you touch ground in the country you’re visiting, but is most often planned well ahead of time through a volunteerism travel organization.

Is volunteer travel right for you?

To decide, consider the following questions:

Do you have the means to volunteer abroad?

Ironically, volunteer travel is not cheap. Of course, if you’re planning to travel internationally, especially traveling with kids, few trips will be truly economical.

Consider whether you have the means to join a volunteer travel organization.

Are your kids old enough?

Again, this is a question only you can decide, but most tour companies recommend volunteerism travel for tweens and teens.

Kids under age 12 may not have the emotional strength to handle the extremes of poverty, sickness, or plain sadness they may encounter.

On a practical side, kids must be old enough to be of use from a volunteer work standpoint as well.

Is volunteer travel the best way we can help?

For some families, the answer to this question will be yes.

If you have limited time but less-than-limited funds and a desire to help, a volunteer trip may be the best way to do your part.

If you have a skill set that would be of particular use, such as building or medical expertise, a volunteer trip may be the best use of your abilities.

However, if your own resources are limited, there are other ways to show you care (more on this below).
Family Volunteer Vacations
Volunteer Travel Programs: Local and Abroad
21 Resources for Volunteering Abroad Why You Should Do It
10 Things to Know Volunteering Abroad Before You Sign Up
11 Things to Know Before You WWOOF

Volunteer vacation organizations:

If you’ve decided a volunteer vacation is right for your family, the three organizations below offer a good place to start.

Each with a different emphasis and at a different price-point, they showcase the range you can expect to find in volunteer travel.

Me to We:

Me to We is one of the most expensive volunteer travel organizations (a trip to Kenya starts at over $4000 per person), and it combines volunteerism with pleasure, adding in safari game drives, for instance, and some upscale lodging.

At first glance, the idea of offering such perks may sound insensitive or incongruous with the purpose of the trip, but bear in mind the need to take breaks, disconnect from your efforts, and regroup…all valid coping measures while volunteering abroad.

Global Volunteers

Global Volunteers offers programs both domestic and international, with trips as low as $995 per person to the Blackfeet reservation of Montana, for instance.

Through community development partnerships, Global Volunteers (a non-profit) pairs volunteers with longer term projects all focused on serving at-risk youth.

Kids traveling on these programs can easily relate to the peers they’re helping.

GlobeAware

GlobeAware offers week-long programs for a middle-of-the-range price.

A trip to Laos, for example, starts at $1,400.

Like the other programs listed, GlobeAware does not include international airfare in the cost of their trips, but once there, nearly everything is covered, from lodging to food, so families can focus on the reason for their visit.

If you can’t leave home

For many parents, the best way to teach kids about global need and injustice is through local travel.

Volunteer at a city homeless shelter, soup kitchen, or food pantry for the day, or better yet, sign up for one day per month.

Do you have an interest in reading to children? Volunteer at a school with high needs. There are programs to help homeless teens. You can answer phones, help with mailings, and more. Religious organizations are also a good place to find volunteer opportunities.

Support global relief organizations that are travel-based, such as Passports with Purpose.

This year, Passports with Purpose is serving underprivileged families in Haiti with sponsor Expedia.com.

Families can assist their efforts every holiday season by bidding on fun travel adventures.

Help other children broaden their minds through travel with the Passport Project

This organization helps teen girls obtain their first passport, allowing them to travel and gain perspective on their world.

Families don’t have to travel far to help those less fortunate, nor do they need to spend thousands on volunteerism organizations abroad.

All travel opens the mind, and need can be found in every corner of the world.

How to Find a Great Farm Vacation to Get Back to Nature

Farm vacations – Long popular in Europe, farm stay vacations have only recently become part of the mainstay U.S. travel market.

Once you try a farm vacation, however, you’ll be sold.

Whether experiencing a farm as a vacation destination in itself or as a lodging alternative including other activities, staying at a farm is a way to get back to nature, take the slower path, and have an eco-friendly travel experience called Agritourism.

We now seek out family-friendly farm vacation whenever we travel, as the price of farm vacation lodging is usually compatible to that of a mid-priced hotel.

For the money, families get a property to explore, farm experiences to enjoy, and usually some meals included.

Find fully-vetted farm in the U.S. at Farm Stay U.S., where you can search for the perfect farm for your vacation by region, state, type (farm, ranch, or vineyard), or price.

The site is maintained by a farm vacation professional and updated continually.

Great Farm Vacations in the U.S.

Every farm property is different, so the picks below range from a coastal mountain lamb farm to a tropical papaya farm and everything in-between!

Leaping Lamb Farm, Alsea Oregon:

Those looking to get away from the stresses of everyday life and lose themselves in pristine surroundings, the sound of bird calls, and the bleat of lambs will love Leaping Lamb Farm.

Ideal for guests with kids, proprietor Scottie Jones welcomes children to partake in daily farm chores, help care for sheep, and generally run loose on the property of coastal rain forest and rolling pasture.

Kids and adults alike learn firsthand how food gets to the table, whether in the form of the farm-fresh eggs guests collect daily to the produce from the garden.

Only one family stays at Leaping Lamb at a time in the farm’s single luxury guest cottage (breakfasts provided).

North Country Farms, Kauai, Hawaii:

Travelers looking to spend less on Hawaiian accommodations should skip the beach resort properties and book at North Country Farms instead.

Tucked into the lush Kauai countryside, North Country is a working produce farm where families, solos, and couples can relax in relative solitude.

The farm is adjacent to excellent coastal hikes, beaches, and nature centers and gardens, so rest assured: you’ll still get the Hawaii vacation you imagined.

Kids and adults can pick fruit off the trees to eat on the spot or compliment their meals, and the hammocks outside the two guest cottages always beckon.

Liberty Hill Farm Inn, Rochester, Vermont:

At Liberty Hill Farm, the hosts care for up to 270 Robeth Holstein cows.

Guests can give a hand with milking for help plant fields should they like to, or can explore the surrounding Vermont countryside, sampling local cheeses and other dairy foods at creameries nearby.

Guestrooms are in the 1825 homestead farmhouse, where breakfasts and dinners are prepared.

The emphasis here is on seasonal, local foods, so locavores will be happy, as well as anyone interested in agri-tourism.

Farm Sanctuary, Watkins Glen, New York:

For travelers who want to support efforts to end animal cruelty, a stay at Farm Sanctuary’s New York property will educate guests as well as support the farm’s mission.

Here guests will make friends with rescued farm animals ranging from pigs to cows, assist with feedings if desired, and eat vegan meals.

Day visits are also available – we toured the Orland California Farm Sanctuary location with young kids and were given a full tour and opportunity to pet, play with, and feed the livestock.

Wilson Ranches Retreat, Fossil, Oregon:

For travelers seeking an authentic ranch experience in the high desert of West, Wilson Ranches Retreat offers cattle drives, horseback riding, and home cooked ranch meals as well as several accommodation choices.

Guests can explore nearby Fossil Oregon, known for fossil discoveries, or experience the contemporary cowboy lifestyle.

Remote and rustic, Wilson Ranches Retreat is the real deal: guests come away with a true understanding of earning a living from the land.

Farm stays are available in nearly every state of the US, and are a great alternative to traditional hotels.

Families will appreciate the educational nature of a farm stay, as well as the space for children to be children, and couples and solo travelers will welcome the seclusion and chance to unwind.

Travel Green On Your Next Vacation to Reduce Impact

Consider one of the many family volunteer vacations available it could be a fit for your family.

(photo credit: Julien HarneisÄngsbacka – Visions Service AdventuresEDV Media Director)

11 Things to Know Before You WWOOF

Updated:

WWOOF – After volunteering for five days on an Argentine chacra (small farm) — complete with ultra fresh meals and a bit of farming work in a picture perfect setting.

I’ve learned a good bit about WWOOF and WWOOFing (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms).

In retrospect, there are a few things I wish I would have known before going.

Overall, the number one thing to ask yourself before you choose a volunteer program is “why do I want to do this?”

Your answer, be it “I spent all my money and need to live for free until my plane ticket home” or “I want to know how to garden” or “I want a different experience,” should help you figure out what type of farm you want and how long you want to stay.

If you’re considering volunteering on a farm, read this first.

Chacra Millalen: Volunteering on an Argentina Organic Farm

How do I get Internet While Traveling?
How do I get Internet While Traveling?

11 Things to Know Before You WWOOF

It’s Not All Farm Work

While we spent most of our time weeding the garden, preparing meals, and cleaning up, there was more to do at our farm than just garden and clean.

Several people taught English lessons and the week after we left volunteers started making herbal remedies and building adobe bricks.

Volunteering on a Farm Doesn’t Always Mean Free Rent

A lot of people assume that if you volunteer on a farm you will get room and board.

This isn’t always the case.

Because we only stayed five days and worked 4 hour days, we contributed for meals and our room.

Another couple on the farm was staying for several weeks, but didn’t want to work 8 hour days so they paid for food.

Farming isn’t always lucrative, so even if you work for months with long hours you may still be asked to pay.

In Argentina this could be $2-$10/day if you work full time; we paid about $20/day for room and board.

You Don’t Have to Work Long Hours

Because some farms don’t need all the volunteers they have at one time, or if you are paying for part of your stay, you don’t necessarily have to work long 8+ hour farming days.

If you want to spend part of your time on the farm relaxing or hiking around the area, look for a WWOOF experience that will allow you to pay a bit.

And as Kimberly mentioned in her post, at our chacra everyone got weekends off.

You Can Stay for Weeks or Months

Because of timing with the rest of our trip in Argentina, we were only able to stay 5 days.

I wish we could have stayed longer.

Some people on our farm had been there a month and had no plans to leave anytime soon.

The Longer You Stay the More You’ll See

It may seem obvious that if you stay for a longer period of time you will get to see how the farm changes throughout the seasons.

For some reason I thought this would only happen if you stayed months, but people who had been on our farm only a week were excited to see how much the basil grew.

And even in our time there the newborn kittens opened their eyes.

Before You WWOOF
Before You WWOOF

The Accommodations Vary

We stayed in a private room on the farm, while others slept in tents.

Another WWOOF from a nearby chacra told us his farm didn’t have electricity.

But we did bring our own Best Travel Hair Dryers.

Fresh Food is Incredible

Kimberly and I participate in CSA farm shares and shop at farmers markets, and when I was little I managed to grow a few ears of corn and a couple of potatoes one summer.

But there’s something different when you’re helping grow the food you eat. It tastes so much better.

The Area Around the Farm Matters

We were lucky to be within hiking distance of a national park, lake, and waterfall.

The nearest town was also within walking distance and there was a larger town (El Bolson) reachable via bus, taxi, or hitchhiking.

If you’re thinking about WWOOF, I would definitely recommend considering what else is in the area.

The People (and Animals) Made Our Experience

If we had just been on a farm by ourselves, the experience would have been completely different.

Getting to know the other volunteers and the family who owned the farm made our time so much better.

If you’re thinking about WWOOF find out who else might be there.

Also, our farm had three adorable (but slightly mischievous) dogs, two cats (and three newborn kittens), and three horses.

It was so much fun to see these animals interact with each other and with us.

Things to Know Before You WWOOF
Bob the dog

We Spoke in English

Because they other volunteers were from English speaking countries the farm owner spoke English, we spent the majority of our time communicating in English.

Start with the WWOOF Website

I visited the Argentina WWOOF site when considering volunteer and farming options, but I wasn’t sure how helpful it would be and I didn’t want to pay the membership fee to find out.

Instead I spent hours reading blogs and Googling “volunteer Argentina”.

That’s how I eventually came across Chacra Millalen.

Turns out, everyone else we volunteered with had found the chacra through the WWOOF site.

I would have saved a lot of time had I used the WWOOF site in the first place.

How do I get Internet While Traveling?
How do I get Internet While Traveling?

Want to learn more about WWOOFing?

Check out these books: The Practical Guide to WWOOFing, Volunteer Vacations, and Work Your Way Around the World: The Globetrotter’s Bible.

WWOOFing in New Zealand ~ (Travel Interview)

Great Resources for Volunteer Traveling and WWOOF ‘ing:

21 Resources for Volunteering Abroad Why You Should Do It
10 Things to Know Volunteering Abroad Before You Sign Up

We are currently planning on our next WWOOF adventure and are excited to see another part of the world from this unique vantage point.