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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 email@example.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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 6154 Midnight Pass Rd, Villa C14 Sarasota, FL
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?
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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 – 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It wasn’t usually the actual volunteer work that I messed up with, but everything around it.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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).
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.
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!
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).
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.
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.