Tips for Traveling with Your Dog

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Traveling with your dog – Traveling alone carries with it a plethora of preparations.

When you are traveling with dogs, you will find those preparations increasing in number and difficulty.

There are a number of considerations that you should take into account in order for your dog to be comfortable and safe without risk of loss, injury, or accommodation difficulties.

Traveling with your dog
Traveling with your dog

The following tips will instruct you in making traveling with your dog a breeze.

Traveling with your dog

Build Your Way Up

The absolute worst time to discover a dog’s challenges with travel in a vehicle is on a long car ride or airline flight.

You should begin with short trips to places the pooch finds pleasant or get him used to an airline approved crate.

Make use of praise in plenty, soothing tones, and favored treats for desired behavior.

Be observant.

Do you notice any sign of vomiting or nervousness?

You can speak to your veterinarian regarding treatments for either issue.

Have Essential Proofs

When traveling with a dog, it is always wise to have particular documents on hand.

This is true whether you are journeying within your home state, going across state borders, and for crossing international borders.

Such identification and essential documents include proof of licensing, vaccine proofs, and current identification tags.

To add to peace of mind, consider microchipping your dog.

Be sure that the registration includes a mobile number so that, wherever you journey, your dog can be safely reunited with you.

Consider Safety

Certain safety safeguards are a must when you travel with your dog by car or other vehicles.

Dogs should, first of all, not be free to move about at their leisure.

A crate that has been secured by a safety belt or other means of securing safely is best for dogs that are larger; smaller dogs should be in carriers that are secured in a seat.

Also, front seats should be reserved for humans.

Deployment of airbags can cause significant harm to a dog, even one that is in a carrier.
traveling with a dog

Find Accommodations and Know Your Route

The Internet is a great resource when you take your dog traveling.

Many websites give lists of pet-friendly restaurants, hotels, venues, and beaches according to locale.

When traveling with a dog, you must keep in mind your dog’s comfort and enjoyment just as you do those of the party’s people.

Such websites make such efforts a breeze. Pet friendly RV rentals

Know airline specifications for how to travel with your dog before taking off, as well.

A small backpack can be an essential tool when traveling with a dog.

Keep within it a first-aid kit, treats and toys, some food, a travel bowl, and whatever medications or supplements your dog might be on.

One resource for food can be found here.

Also, remember to keep a bowl of cool water accessible to the dog.

Have your veterinarian’s number and numbers of veterinarians where you will be traveling on hand for emergencies.

These items, along with safety precautions and proofs of vaccinations, are vital for successful dog travel.

Top Travel Hacks from Experienced Travelers

Author Bio: Paige Jirsa- I work with Top10.Today, a shopping comparison site, where we strive to help consumers find the best quality and priced products.

Beginner’s Guide to Train Holidays: Swiss Glacier Express Train

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Beginner’s Guide to Swiss Glacier Express train holiday – There is something glamorous about taking a train holiday.

You’re traveling the world, but you also get the chance to relax and enjoy the journey.

Sip tea, listen to live music, enjoy a five-star meal, all while the gorgeous scenery provided by Mother Nature glides past.

The world is a big place, filled with so many beautiful things.

Picking how you spend your first train holiday may seem overwhelming at first.

With all the wonders to see through the window panes of your train, how can you choose between them?

Switzerland is an excellent choice for first time train travelers looking to see the world, with a few less carbon emissions!

Swiss Glacier Express Train Options

The Glacier Express offers unprecedented views of the majestic Swiss Alps, along with extraordinary services.

Beginner's Guide Train Holidays Glacier Express Train Options
Beginner’s Guide Train Holidays Glacier Express Train Options

See some of the Earth’s most spectacular views while making conscious and eco-friendly travel choices via the Glacier Express!

Glacier Express Train is Eco-Smart

When it comes to traveling in order to reduce your carbon footprint, taking a train is a great idea.

Avoiding the airport all together, the Glacier Express offers options where you can travel in and out of Switzerland without ever setting foot on a plane!

Leave London on the comfort of a Eurostar train heading into Paris.

Once in Paris you will connect with a service that will take you on to Brig. I

n Brig you can stay the night in a green hotel, and take in the sights of the city.

In the morning, you’ll be able to set off on one of the many Glacier Express Holiday options without the hassle of the airport!

Whether you’re only traveling on a long weekend, or setting off on an extended vacation, the Glacier Express has something to suit your needs!

Full Ride on the Glacier Express Train

Your breathtaking and awe-inspiring train holiday with the Glacier Express can be as long or as short as you’d like!

There are an array of options including meals, hotel stays, various destinations, and travel extensions.

Whether you stay on the Glacier Express the whole way through, or choose other travel options, there are packages to suit your travel needs!

The length of the Glacier Express starts at either Zermatt, or St. Moritz.

Take your time as you enjoy the full ride from terminus station to the other.

Glacier Express Train Switzerland Mountians
Glacier Express Train Switzerland Mountians

The 180 mile (289.68 km) journey averages around 24 mph (38 kph), so taking in the sights won’t be difficult!

The soaring peaks of the Swiss Alps will great you through the extraordinarily large viewing windows on the Glacier Express.

This full ride lasts approximately eight hours, as you cross 291 bridges, 91 tunnels, cross river valleys, explore mountain passes, and see all that Switzerland has to offer!

The Glacier Express travels through so many amazing places.

Extended Journeys and the Matterhorn!

One of the many vacations you can take with the Glacier Express includes a luxurious trip through all of the train’s destinations.

Your all-inclusive journey will last for nine-days and eight-nights and will take you through some of the most gorgeous scenery!

You can even extend your trip to include skiing in St. Moritz, or any other eco-friendly ski resort!

There are plenty of ways to keep your carbon footprint at a minimum while skiing the alps.

Start your Matterhorn holiday in London, then taking the Eurostar bound for Paris.

From Paris you will transfer to a service taking you to Strasbourg.

You’ll stay overnight in historic Strausbourg for one night.

You can explore the many canals, the Gothic Cathedral, and all of the marvelous local markets.

Matterhorn Swiss Alps
Matterhorn Swiss Alps

In the morning you’ll travel into Switzerland and onto Zermatt!

Swiss Alps Matterhorn

Spend days three and four taking in the grandeur of the Matterhorn.

Your package for your holiday can even include a trip on the Gornergratbahn, Europe’s highest open-air cog railway!

There have been plenty of studies that show taking a single, extended holiday each year can help to reduce harmful emissions.

By reducing the amount of times you travel, you can help the environment!

Days five, six, and seven will be traveling on the Glacier Express all the way to St. Moritz!

By extending your holiday, you will get to experience these amazing additions to your vacation!

Skiing in St. Moritz!

This region is well known for the amazing ski resorts and hotels.

Take on the slopes yourself by traveling during ski season and extending your train holiday with a longer stop in St. Moritz!

Rail Passes

You can purchase a deal that also includes rail passes on different trains to Lake Geneva or Chamonix.

These trips would be great extensions at the beginning of your Matterhorn journey in Zermatt.

Swiss Alps Hotels

Booking with a company that takes your personal preferences into account allows for you to choose your own hotels.

Choosing green hotels while you travel will help to eliminate your impact on the environment while you travel!

Tickets

Your packages can also include ticket upgrades.

You can choose to travel in first class while on the Glacier Express to experience five-star dining, extra space, a luxurious bar car, and exciting stories and informative anecdotes from the on board staff!

A longer holiday made for really immersing yourself in the beautiful Swiss Alps!

Switzerland Swiss Alps Glacier Express Train
Switzerland Swiss Alps Glacier Express Train

Spend time with nature and enjoy all that the Glacier Express has to offer! Travel Planning and Preparation: Things To Do Before Traveling

Glacier Express Train has Short Stays and Transitions

Not only can you ride through the entirety of the train’s stops, but you can also take shorter trips on the Glacier Express!

There are so many great holidays where you can not only see the splendor of the Swiss Alps, but so many other European locations as well.

All thanks to the many connection points along the Glacier Express railway.

Magical Journeys of Switzerland

Start your five-day holiday by entering Switzerland via Zurich.

Then you’ll board a train to the sweet Alpine town of Chur.

You don’t have to fly into Zurich however, you can choose to save on emissions and take a full day to ride the train from London to Chur!

Once there, you’ll spend the night in the hotel of your choosing, then board the Bernina Express towards Tirano, Italy.

Spend the day exploring Tirano before heading back to Chur and boarding the Glacier Express!

The Glacier express will take you from Chur to Brig, where you’ll spend another amazing night before boarding the Jungfrau Mountain Railway.

While riding the Jungfrau, you will pass the awe-inspiring Aletsch glacier before heading on into Interlaken.

Glacier Express Train Graubunden
Glacier Express Train Graubunden

Here you’ll spend your last night, then travel back to London the next day.

Venice via the Glacier Express

The Glacier Express can also be a means by which you travel to Venice!

This six-day, five-night holiday will transport you from London, into Paris via Eurostar, then onto the spectacular city of Chur with a local Swiss train.

After spending the night in Chur, you’ll board the Glacier Express to take you through the Swiss Alps to Brig!

After exploring the city of Brig with your eco-friendly travel gear, you’ll be able to Take the Simplon Route into Venice!

Here you can explore the Grand Canal, take in St. Mark’s Cathedral, or explore the Rialto Bridge!

On day five you’ll journey to Turin before returning to the UK.

These shorter trips and transitions via the Glacier Express will also provide you with the extraordinary service, spectacular views, and leisurely travel!

Begin your love of traveling by train with the Glacier Express and all of its magnificent destinations!

For the Love of Trains Glacier Express Train is Amazing

The Glacier Express can take you through the world and help you experience it in new ways!

Whether you use it as a means to get to another destination like Venice, or travel along its entire route, the Glacier Express is an amazing way to see the beautiful Swiss Alps!

What You Need to Know About Traveling to New Zealand

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Traveling to New Zealand – It’s one of the cleanest and most beautiful places on earth.

From New Zealand’s capital city of Wellington to the “hobbit holes” just outside of Matamata, New Zealand has everything a world traveler could ever desire.

With its vast lands and low population density, this beautiful country truly calls to travelers to explore its wonders.

What You Need to Know About Traveling to New Zealand
What You Need to Know About Traveling to New Zealand

If the country’s verdant landscape and serene waters are calling to you, here’s everything you need to know about traveling to New Zealand.

Traveling to New Zealand

As an island country, there are few modes for getting there, depending on where you’re coming from.

The most notable options to choose from include:

  • Plane
  • Passenger boat or cruise
  • Special travel offers

Air Travel to New Zealand

The fastest way to begin your New Zealand adventure is to travel by plane.

While picking the best flight can be a gamble, there are numerous airlines to choose from.

Due to the plethora of online travel sites, air travel is an excellent choice in the modern age.

Countless sites like CheapOair, Travelocity, Trivago, and many more are there to help frequent travelers like you find the best flight at a low price.

New Zealand Passenger Ships and Cruises

While air travel is the faster and cheapest option, traveling by boat is a very popular mode of transportation.

There are many ports around the entire country.

For those who enjoy the scenic route, cruises or passenger ships are perfect for you.

With the convenience of the modern world, cruises to New Zealand are luxurious and tailored to your every need.

For either of these options, travelers can experience the simplicity of New Zealand’s first and only mode of transportation, by boat.

However, while sea travel is thrilling, those who lack the proper sea legs should stick to plane travel.

Money-Saving and Eco-Friendly New Zealand Travel Tips

The most important thing to do before embarking on your quest is to research travel deals.

While this is not new to seasoned travelers, it is best to evaluate the pros and cons of special travel packages.

These often offer great savings.

But more than that, they can be a great way to reduce your carbon footprint.

Travel tours and packages are a very eco friendly option for your vacation.

Commuting with other explorers to and fro saves a great deal of money overall and helps cut down on the emissions from your travels.

There are also packages made for those who wish to travel largely by foot.

New Zealand is a country with an abundance of rural land and clean beaches, making it an ideal option for the traveler looking to get back to nature!

International Guidelines

As with traveling to any country, it is imperative that you check and comply with the local rules and customs.

New Zealand’s strict customs process is one of the key tools used to maintain the purity and beauty of the country.

Items such as weapons, fresh food of any kind, and even Christmas decorations are banned.

The bottom line: be sure to see what you can and cannot pack to avoid packing illegal baggage.

Last-Minute Tips Before You Leave on Your Trip to New Zealand

When traveling abroad, be sure to check the currency exchange rates to ensure you bring everything you need.

Now, if you should fall in love with the country and want to move, companies like MovingtoNewZealand.com allow you to pay your expenses in New Zealand’s currency.

However, most travel mediums require that you pay in your home currency.

But, when abroad, it is to your benefit to have the country’s currency.

To avoid getting cheated, be sure to exchange your money in a place of reputability.

Changing currency at banks, airports, or hotels are the best options while abroad.

Many currency exchange offices abroad target tourists and often charge exchange fees that come out of your returned amount.

So pay attention to avoid getting cheated.

My Takeaway from New Zealand Trip

New Zealand is a beautiful country that is ideal for all travelers alike.

Whether you stay in the cities or venture into the unknown land, be kind to the beautiful country you are visiting.

Now, double check that you have your passport in hand and enjoy your adventure!

The Apres Ski Activities in Méribel You HAVE to Try!

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Apres Ski Activities in Méribel – Winter is a time for snuggly blankets, hot chocolate, and good books.

That is, unless you’re always in search of adventure!

When it comes to sports, outdoor challenges, and breathtaking views, nothing comes close to the 3 Valleys in Savoie, France!

Taking winter head on, you can ski the slopes, snowboard through the valleys, and relish in all of the spectacular amenities that the Méribel resort has to offer!

Even though it’s a world-renowned ski resort, that doesn’t mean your holiday has to be all about shredding the snow!

Beginner’s Guide to Swiss Glacier Express Train

Apres Ski Activities in Méribel
Apres Ski Activities in Méribel

Apres Ski Activities in Méribel

There are so many other activities that you can do around Méribel!

It’s not every day you get the opportunity to walk across a glacier, go paragliding, or even break out some snow shoes in the Alps!

Enjoying the beautiful scenery around you and having an excellent ski vacation doesn’t have to mean leaving a mess behind you.

There are so many ways you can ski the Alps, reduce your carbon footprint, and still do all the activities on your unbelievable holiday getaway!

Here are some of the non-ski related activities that you HAVE to try while you’re enjoying your winter holiday!

Our top pastimes are proof that you can respect our planet and have a blast all at the same time!

Wine and Dine in Méribel!

Ski resort, or no ski resort, when you’re in France, you HAVE to try the local cuisine!

Whether you enjoy some meat and potatoes, or want a five course five-star meal, Méribel has so much to offer.

Wine and Dine in Méribel
Wine and Dine in Méribel

While enjoying a long holiday, or a weekend trip of skiing, you will want to treat yourself to the best of the best!

Booking your spectacular holiday with sites like iGoSki will not only include amazing chalet prices and all your skiing extras, but will also grant the best seats in the house wherever you go.

By treating yourself to iGoSki weekends, or extended holidays, you’re DEFINITELY going to want add eating the best food Méribel has to offer to your to do list!

Here are just a few of the great restaurants available:

  • Chez Kiki: 30 years of amazing French Alpine steaks! Open fired sirloins, t-bones, and strips will all be grilled to give you the best, most mouth-watering steak of your life!
  • Aux Petites Oignons: Vegetarians rejoice! This is one of the most a welcoming and relaxing atmosphere that also serves up an amazing menu!
  • La Lodge du Village: Some of the best Italian food the 3 Valleys has to offer! Enjoy your pasta, your fish, or your pizzas on a large, sunny terrace!
  • Hotel La Croix: When it comes to authentic Savoyard dishes, Hotel La Coix serves up some of the best local food, fresh from the local markets! Great wine, gourmet food, and a great place to spend your apres ski evening!

Wine and dine yourself after a great day on the snow!

Meribel Olympic Center

Méribel was a huge part of the 1992 Winter Olympics!

There’s nothing quite like ice skating on the same rink where some of the worlds’ most talented athletes have competed before you!

The Olympic Center is a great way to spend the day as a family, get a challenging workout, or simply exploring a little bit of history.

The Olympic center includes a huge pool where you can take a refreshing swim, or relax with your family.

You can also skate in the Olympic center’s ice rink!

Play a quick game of hockey, try out your figure skating skills, or just take a few laps!

You can work out on the ice, or you can get your sweat on in the Olympic center’s top of the line fitness area.

With a recreation center for kids, and a wellness spa for adults, the Olympic center has something for everyone!

A great way to take a day off the slopes, with lots of price options and activity packages!

Snow Shoeing in Meribel

Take a hike! Literally, take a hike in some snow shoes around the Méribel area!

Snow Shoeing in Meribel
Snow Shoeing in Meribel

Whether you want to slow down to see the 3 Valleys, or simply want to cross snow shoeing off your Winter bucket list, this is a fun and healthy thing to do before or after a hard day skiing!

There are lots of peaceful and relaxing snow shoe treks you can take in the area.

Whether you want to pace your way through a whole day of fun themed walks, or get your heart rate up on a sporty half-day trip, there are a TON of options!

You can even star gaze in your super stylish snow shoes on a night hike through the French Alps!

Walk your way through a dream come true as you take a moonlit strut through the snow!

Paragliding in Meribel

A great holiday isn’t really complete without trying something you would never do at home!

Paragliding in Meribel Mont Blanc
Paragliding in Meribel Mont Blanc

Paragliding is a great way to not only see the best views of the French Alps, but to really set yourself FREE!

Flying through the air with one of the many clubs or organizations in Méribel will help make your holiday one you’ll never forget!

You can take tandem flight with an instructor and fly from the tops of the mountains down to the heart of the valley.

Spread your proverbial wings and soar your way into an afternoon of adventure!

Exploring the Valley

Exploring the area around the resort can be as easy as walking up the street!

Get out to lunch, enjoy a hike, or shop till you drop!

When it comes to activities for outdoor lovers, Méribel doesn’t disappoint!

You can take a walk on a GLACIER!

Wake up super early, get all your gear together, and take a hike on the summit of a glacier!

You can also enjoy these amazing outdoor activities to get more in touch with Mother Nature on your winter holiday!

  • Snow biking
  • Ice climbing
  • Heli-skiing
  • Dog sledding
  • SO MUCH MORE!

Challenge your mind, body, and soul with some of these amazing outdoor events!

You can also explore the valley by visiting some of the many local shops!

You can buy some cool gear, get a memento from a local artist, or buy some memorable souvenirs.

Take it slow and spend some of that hard earned dough in the local markets!

Maribel Night Out!

No matter if you’re traveling with the whole family, with a few friends, or on a romantic getaway, Méribel has a little something for everyone.

It has the answers to all the key questions you ask yourself before picking the right ski resort for your family, but it also has an amazing night life for all the singles to mingle!

If the kiddos have worn themselves out on the bunny hills, and the qualified caregiver has everything taken care of in the Chalet, it’s time to hit the town!

Maribel Night Out
Maribel Night Out

Or if you and your friends are ready for a wild night, the wide variety of after dark activities will keep you entertained until the wee hours of the morning!

Stop into the Doron Pub for live music.

Enjoy a quiet drink at Le Loft. Get the party started at Le Privilege.

Dance the night away at Le Rastro.

Enjoy all the best parties and events the French Alps can offer you as you spend a night out!

From a quiet drink, to a raving party, you can find something to fit your after dark appetite in Méribel!

Tips For The Perfect Destination Proposal

To Ski or Not to Ski

Your holiday in Méribel wouldn’t be complete without more than a few days tearing up the snow on your skis!

But if you’re looking to get a little more out of your cold weather getaway, then these amazing activities will get you up and out of the chalet!

Whether you’re dancing the night away, working up a sweat at the Olympic center, or paragliding through the sky, there is always something to do after the slopes!

Take a risk, walk on a glacier, and create some incredible memories!

HitchHikers’ Guide to Global Tourism

Hitchhikers Guide to global tourism

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Hitchhikers’ Guide – A backpack, broad smile, positive vibes and a thumbs up, everything you need to hitchhike around the world.

While many people prefer to travel around the world in planes, trains and taxis, the breed of hitchhikers doesn’t mind gambling on the occasional free rides.

Hitchhiking is for everyone, even if you have no money.

Travel Planning and Preparation: Things To Do Before Traveling

Heading out on an unplanned journey and meeting new adventures head-on has a rush of its own.

HitchHikers’ Guide

However, before beginning your trip make sure that you purchase decent travel insurance.

It can save you a fortune if you end up getting injured or sick abroad.

Moreover, if you are a frequent traveler and a long-term nomad, travel insurance is a sound investment.

Other than purchasing insurance, there are a few more tips that every hitchhiker must go through for a happy trip.

Hitchhikers Guide to global tourism
Hitchhikers’ Guide to global tourism

Take the Right Equipment Hitchhiking

If you are hitchhiking a long distance, then you must be prepared for spending a night under the stars.

HitchHikers Guide Take the Right Equipment
HitchHikers’ Guide Take the Right Equipment

Most of the times, you will find a hotel to stay in.

However, you must be ready in case you don’t find one.

Always hitchhike with a tent or camping hammock and make sure that you have enough warm gear, mosquito repellent and a good map.

HitchHikers Guide keeping your passport safe
HitchHikers Guide keeping your passport safe

Keep Your Documents Safe

While travelling abroad, the first and foremost thing you need to do is keep your travel documents safe.

It can be your passport, your travel visa, identity proofs and other documents.

Many times, hitchhikers face problems with authorities without proper documents.

Best travel gear for hitchhikers
Best travel gear for hitchhikers

Best Travel Gear for Hitchhikers – Invest in Your Gear, If You Like Camping

If you are into camping, purchasing a good sleeping bag and kit is necessary.

Best travel gear

However, if traveling with a sleeping bag feels like a hassle, a decent mat is also helpful.

It will keep you warm and save you from aches and pains that are common when you sleep in a tent.

Another thing that you must carry is a headlamp.

Best hitchhiking Destinations
Best hitchhiking Destinations

Pick Best Spot for Hitchhiking

Picking an excellent stop to get a lift is one of the most essential part of an excellent hitchhiking trip.

Always choose for a lay-by on any long-straight road or service stations.

Majority of the times someone will give you a lift.

However, do not be afraid of walking down the road a bit.

Basically, you will need to find a spot where drivers slow down or stop.

Polite and Friendly when hitchhiking
Polite and Friendly when hitchhiking

Be Polite and Friendly When Hitchhiking

Once a driver pulls over, run up to them – don’t make the mistake of making them wait.

Begin your conversation by thanking them for stopping and find out if they are going in the direction you want to.

Even if they are not going the way you are, thank them properly before they leave.

Once in the car introduce yourself and try to make small talks.

This will help you in bonding well with the driver, and if you are lucky, the driver may even go an extra mile to drop you.

Utilize Online Hitchhiking Travel Websites
Utilize Online Hitchhiking Travel Websites

Utilize Online Hitchhiking Travel Websites

Find out everything about the area in which you will be hitchhiking.

A little information about the area, its roads and cities will help you in figuring out the best route.

Moreover, it will also help you find common problems that hitchhikers might face in the area.

You can use sites like Hitchwiki, for finding quality hitching spots.

Flexible and Happy When Hitchhiking
Flexible and Happy When Hitchhiking

Be Flexible and Happy When Hitchhiking

One of the key characteristics that a good hitchhiker must have is flexibility.

You have to realize that even with all the planning, some unfortunate disruption can happen on the way.

You need to be flexible to adjust to the situations and enjoy the ride.

Moreover, always make sure that you have a smile on your face while you are asking anyone for lift.

If you look approachable and cheerful, you are far more likely to get a ride.

Staying Safe When Hitchhiking
Staying Safe When Hitchhiking

Staying Safe When Hitchhiking

If you get a bad feeling from somebody, refrain from getting into their car.

Therefore, it is better if you travel in a group or at least as a couple.

Also, always carry a pepper spray or some sort of safety equipment to protect yourself from miscreants.

Hitchhiking can be a godly experience only when done right.

Why Hitchhikers Need Travel Insurance?

The most likely thing to happen while hitchhiking is a common accident, for which you might need medical assistance.

If you purchase travel insurance, the medical bills that might seem extortionate will not affect your pocket that much.

In addition, the other places where travel insurance may come in handy are:

Travel insurance benefits

  • It helps in case you lose your bag which has all the documents and money
  • In case you need emergency medical evacuation
  • If your travel company cancels the trip mid-way
  • Your flight back home is cancelled, and you have no money to purchase a new ticket
  • In case you need to call off the trip

Hitchhiking Around the World

Hitchhiking is one of the most amazing ways to get around the globe and to connect with amazing people while travelling.

You will experience some of the most fascinating, unbelievable, shocking and inspiring moments while hitchhiking.

So, what are you waiting for?

Pack your bags and get going.

(All Images Source – Shutterstock)

Best of Bellingham Washington

Earth Day Gardening Bellingham Washington

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

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

This area is an outdoor wonderland with much to do.

The scenery is amazing.

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

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

Earth Day Gardening Bellingham Washington

Best of Bellingham Washington

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mount Baker is much more than a winter destination:

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

Mount Baker
Mount Baker

Views at Mount Baker

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mount Baker Highway

Things to do at Mount Baker

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mount Baker skiing

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

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

Lots of snow at Mt Baker

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

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

We have enjoyed snowball fights in August!

We could sled in May and June!

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

Skiing and snowboarding

The ski and snowboard season is always a great time.

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

There are several based in Bellingham that go.

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

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

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

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

They can enjoy skiing or snowboarding for the day.

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

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

Artist Point at Mt. Baker

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

Pack a lunch and drive up for an unbeatable view.

There are picnic tables and lookout points and easy parking.

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

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

Hiking at Mt Baker is not to be missed.

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

Bellingham, WA

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

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

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

There is the historic Mount Baker Theater which has performances.

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

There’s the SPARK Museum of Electrical Invention.

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

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

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

Fairhaven

Fairhaven is a section of Bellingham.

It has it’s own downtown area.

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

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

Ferndale, WA

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

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

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

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

Berry picking at Barbie’s Berries

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

We enjoyed bringing out of town family there as well.

My kids were young and always enjoyed it.

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

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

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

Barbie’s Berries, Ferndale, WA

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

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

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

There were rows and rows of all of these beauties.

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

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

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

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

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

Bellingham Berry Picking Pricing

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

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

They have their prices posted in their covered area.

It’s also easily accessible online.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday – Saturday: 9 am – 6 pm

Sunday: 10 am – 4 pm

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

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

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

Lynden

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

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

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

Birch Bay

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

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

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

Exploring Birch Bay is an incredible experience.

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

My kids enjoyed playing in the sand.

We also brought small rafts which they enjoyed.

You can usually find parking easily.

Afterwards, take the kids to The C Shop.

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

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

Blaine

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

There is lots do do in Blaine.

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

Plover Ferry

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

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

The Plover Ferry is a refurbished historic ferry.

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

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

You can pay a minimal fee to ride the ferry.

The Plover taxis between Drayton Harbor Maritime and Semiahmoo Spit.

You can board at either location.

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

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

This will take approximately one hour.

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

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

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

Then take the Plover Ferry back to Blaine.

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

The ride is approximately 25 – 30 minutes each way.

Plover Ferry holds a maximum of 17 passengers.

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

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

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

Seeing seals is always a highlight!

Vancouver, British Columbia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vancouver in 2 Eco-Friendly Days

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

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

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

Vancouver is an incredibly walkable city.

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

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

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

Border crossing from Blaine to British Columbia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eco-friendly practices in Vancouver

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stanley Park in Vancouver
Stanley Park in Vancouver

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

After lunch, head to Gastown.

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

Poke your head in some of the local shops.

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

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

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

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

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

Photos from the Road: Driving Vancouver to Lake Louise

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Biking in Stanley Park: Vancouver, BC

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

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

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

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

It’s a must.

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

You won’t get these views anywhere else.

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

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

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

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Biking in Stanley Park, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vancouver, BC Canada: First Impressions

Royal BC Museum in Victoria was our favorite about Vancouver.

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

I had high expectations for Vancouver.

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

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

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

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

Pabst Mansion in Milwaukee

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

Abundance of locally-owned delis, restaurants, and markets

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

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

Everyone rides bikes and there are lots of bike lanes

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

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

You can walk to the mountains or the ocean

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

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

Very walkable

Good public transportation, specifically the buses

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Royal BC Museum in Victoria

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

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

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

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

Human History of BC: Totem Poles and Ninja Turtles

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

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

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

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

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

Race to the End of the Earth: Antarctic Expedition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reasons to See Vancouver Island, BC

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

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

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

Have you been to Vancouver Island, BC?

What was your favorite sight to see?

What were your best Vancouver Island photos?

Vancouver Island with Kids

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

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

And another.

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

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

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

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

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

Day 1: Vancouver BC to Ucluelet, BC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yes, you read that right.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 2: Kayaking in Ucluelet Harbor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 3: Whale Watching and Island Hiking with Remote Passages

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

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

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

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

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

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

remote passages

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 4: Tofino BC to Parksville BC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 5: Parksville to Victoria or Sidney, BC

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

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

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

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

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

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

Visiting Bellingham and surrounding area

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

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

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

Seattle with Kids ~ 12 Things to Do in Seattle

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

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

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

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

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

Things to Do in Seattle Day 1:

12 pm- 5 pm: Museum of Flight

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7 pm-8 pm: Dinner at Blue C Sushi

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

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

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

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

Things to Do in Seattle Day 2:

9 am – 12 pm: Explore Pike Place Market

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

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

Look for stalls selling homemade toys and games as well.

Downstairs, find a fun magic shop and Seattle souvenirs.

It is open seven days a week.

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

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

12 pm – 1 pm: Picnic by the market

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

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

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

1 pm- 4 pm: Experience the Downtown Waterfront

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

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

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

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

4 pm – 6 pm: Play outside or inside

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

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

6 pm-8 pm: Dinner at Olive 8:

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

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

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

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

Things to Do in Seattle Day 3:

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

Worried we wouldn’t get to the Space Needle?

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

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

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

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

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

12 pm: Head home!

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

Enjoying Seattle with Kids for a Longer Visit?

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

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

Passes offer big discounts to children and adults.

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

How do you spend time in Seattle with kids?

What would you add to a 48-hour itinerary?

5 Amazing Trips for Butterfly Watching Enthusiasts

Amazing Trips for Butterfly Watching Enthusiasts

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Butterfly Watching – Planning a holiday around nature is something that makes even the ardent traveler excited for what lies ahead!

The Earth has so much to offer, it’s not surprising that there are tours and vacations that are centered around even the smallest wildlife.

Like the majestic and captivating butterfly.

Find a vacation that will get you up close and personal with some of nature’s most fragile and delicate creatures.

Find the balance between holiday, butterfly watching, and basking in the beauty of mother nature!

There are so many amazing trips you can plan to immerse yourself into the life of these spectacular insects!

The Right Region for the Right Butterfly

Depending upon your area of curiosity, there are a few holidays that would work well for butterfly watching.

If you’re interested in a specific species, there is a trip for you!

If you want to see over two hundred species on a whirlwind tour, then there is a trip for you, too!

Amazing Trips for Butterfly Watching Enthusiasts
Amazing Trips for Butterfly Watching Enthusiasts

Get to know what butterfly and what region you would prefer to visit, then you can start to nail down exactly what you’ll need on your trip and start planning with a butterfly watching guide!

If you’re planning your vacation around Mother Nature, then it’s a good idea to pack consciously.

With just a few simple steps, you can reduce your carbon footprint while you travel, and help to sustain the habitat of these tiny creatures!

Finding the right butterfly-watching holiday will be easy with these amazing choices of expertly guided tours with a pro!

From Asia, to Africa, to Europe, and the Americas, there is something for everyone!

Nepal Butterfly Watching

Home to over 600 species of butterflies, Nepal is an amazing holiday to observe and photograph these stunning insects!

Your twelve-day journey will begin with a flight from London to Napal.

You will visit Phulchowki for days two through four, explore Chitwan National Park for days five through seven, stay at Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge for days eight through ten, finally ending in Kathmandu and the end of your journey.
Nepal Butterfly Watching

You’ll see at least 100 species of butterfly, many species of moths, and other creatures on this journey!

You will get up close and personal in order to photograph the insects and spend your time getting to know their habitats.

Enjoy the sights of the mountains at Godaveri and Phulchowki.

Take in the wildlife in the Chitwan National Park, and relish the species found near Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge!

An expert of butterfly conservation, Dr. Tom Brereton will lead the tour.

You will search out the Golden Emperor, Scarce Siren, Paris Peacock, Great Mormon, Red Helen, and so many other gorgeous butterflies!

Your journey to Nepal to witness some of the planet’s most beautiful butterflies will include your nightly accommodations, as well as all of your meals.

This excludes lunch and dinner in Kathmandu.

Butterfly Watching in Armenia

This exceptional tour of Armenia will lead you through the home of over 230 species of butterfly!

You will get to see species like the Persian Skipper, Dawn Clouded Yellow, Short-tailed Blue, Large Blue, Hungarian Glider, and Jerusalem and Caucasian Lesser spotted Fritillaries!

All in one holiday! These of course are only a fraction of the incredible species you will see!

The tour will last for seven days, and take you through some of the most brilliant parts of Armenia.

Starting in Yerevan on day one, you’ll make your way to Hatsavan and Garni.

Then on to Acharkut, Janjour Pass, Mount Aragat, Khosrov, Noravank and Gnishik. and finally ending on a flight back to London!
Butterfly Watching in Armenia

This guided tour will include all of your food and accommodations.

Led by an expert in the field, this tour will let you not only experience the butterflies’ habitats first hand, but really get to take the time to enjoy the beautiful scenery around you.

Travel through dense forests, mountain gorges, beautiful meadows, and even semi-desert to see where these butterflies make their homes!

Not to mention the amazing cultural history of Armenia and the humans and animals that inhabit the areas!

Naturetrek Wildlife Holidays are an extraordinary way to see the world, and see these amazing creatures all at once!

Hungary Butterfly Watching

Travel to Hungary to see the home of over 200 different species of butterfly!

Enjoy the eight-day trip through this beautiful country!

You will make your way through Aggtelek National Park from Budapest where you will spend days one through three.

Then on to Bükk National park for days four through seven, with day eight being your trip back to London.

Guided by expert naturalists, this tour gives an astounding 10% of its profits to the conservation of butterflies!

Explore a wide range of butterfly habitats like Beech tree forests, spectacular meadows filled with flowers, and all of the rich wildlife in the area!

From birds to damselflies, dragonflies to, of course, butterflies!

The species you will encounter will range in rarity and beauty as well!

Find the Pallas’s Fritillary, Hungarian Glider, and the Purple Emperor as you stroll along the River Bodva.

Butterfly Watching in Hungary you will find:

  • The Scarce Swallowtail
  • Poplar Admiral
  • Purple-edged Coppers
  • The Chequered, Turquoise, Silver-studded and Chapman’s Blues!
  • And SO MANY other species!

Admire all of the amazing natural wonders as you relax and explore!

The price of this amazing tour includes accommodations and food.

Who wouldn’t want to visit the culturally rich and diverse country of Hungary?

Find solace on your holiday as you dive into the stunning environments of these butterfly species of Eastern Europe!
France Butterfly Watching

France Butterfly Watching

France is home to so many species of butterfly there are several butterfly watching tours in France that will take you through this awe-inspiring country.

You can choose between an eight-day stay near the Parc National des Pyrénées, an eight day excursion into the Vercors, or a five day tour of Normandy!

All of these special tours will take you into the world of hundreds of species of butterfly!

Normandy butterfly watching:

  • Alcon Blue
  • Sooty Copper
  • Chalkhill Blue
  • Faust’s Burnet Moth and so many more!

Vercors butterfly watching:

  • Moorland and Mountain Clouded Yellows
  • Apollo
  • Grayling
  • Great Sooty Satyr
  • Dryad
  • Short-tailed, Damon and Mazarine Blues
  • And several other species

Pyrénées butterfly watching you will see:

  • Apollo and Clouded Apollo
  • Scarce Coppers
  • Purple-shot and Purple-edged Coppers
  • The elusive Gavarnie Blue
  • Plus a variety of other blues and fritillaries!

Each of the French tours include food and accommodations during your holiday!

Whether you take your time in the Vercors in the south of France, take in the beauty of the Pyrénées, or explore Normandy, France has a butterfly-watching tour that will enchant you!

Butterfly Watching in South Africa

The 800 plus species that inhabit South Africa will make for an educational and charming butterfly-watching holiday!

Start your eleven-day journey through some of the most spectacular areas in all of South Africa!

Days one through three will see you arrive in Johannesburg and make your way to Wakkerstroom.

On days four and five you will visit Tembe Elephant Park!

St. Lucia will take your breath away on days six and seven.

While Eshowe will be your home for days eight and nine!

Days ten and eleven will be travel days for you to relish in your photographs from your amazing tour!
Butterfly Watching in South Africa

The variety of species will be as remarkable as the country they inhabit!

From the Painted Lady to the African Monarch, and the Dwarf Blue to the Gold-banded Forester, you will see an exciting assortment of butterfly species!

Among the wildlife you will see on your journey through South Africa there will be elephants, giraffes, rhinos, and Impalas!

What an exciting holiday to spend observing nature in such a diverse and culturally rich country!

Take the time to find the right, locally made, and sustainable souvenirs to remember your vacation time in the gorgeous South Africa!

Is Flying in Africa Expensive

Biggest Cities in South Africa for the First Time Visitor

Nature First

Travel the world on one of these butterfly-watching focused tours.

See all of these incredible countries that are home to some of the world’s most delightful butterfly species!

Whether you travel to Armenia, South Africa, France, Hungary, or Nepal, there is a holiday that will suit you!

Enjoy these amazing trips, keep your carbon footprint low, and make your holiday all about the beauty of nature!

(Images: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

Going Green Vacation Siesta Key and Venice Florida

Going Green Vacation Siesta Key White Sand Beaches

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

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

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

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

At long last, we were going!

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

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

Where to Stay While Going Green Vacation to Florida?

We looked online for places to stay.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We are so glad we did!

Villa C14 was fantastic!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adjacent to the clubhouse was their amazing swimming pool.

It was much larger than we expected.

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

I was surprised it was so very clean.

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

We all enjoyed it.

Villa C14 Breakfast Nook

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

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

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

Where would we hang them?

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

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

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

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

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

In addition, the PRIVACY!

No shared hotel hallways, elevators or lobbies.

No noises above, below or next your room.

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

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

How to Have a Go Green Vacation?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We brought beach towels from home.

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

We returned with all our items as well.

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

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

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

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

Everything gets thrown away!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We brought library books instead of buying new books.

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

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

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

We didn’t feed any seagulls or other wildlife.

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

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

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

More About the Food

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

We also deal with milk, egg and tomato allergies.

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

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

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

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

Gorgeous Siesta Key

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No wasted water!

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

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

“Beach-combing,” he called it.

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

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

How to Find Shark Teeth

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

We went to Casperson Beach and also to Venice Beach.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shark Teeth Sharky's Pier

2 Tips to Find Shark Teeth

Know what you are looking for.

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

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

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

Right after that, we started finding them ourselves.

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

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

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

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

Our Wonderful Going Green Vacation Had to End

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Travel Green On Your Next Vacation to Reduce Impact

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

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

Best Places For Green Consumers To Buy Vacation Homes

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

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

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

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

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

But just buying a beach home isn’t enough.

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

Here are some to consider.

Best Places To Buy Vacation Homes With Sustainability in Mind

Buy Vacation Homes in Low-Overhead Markets

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

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

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

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

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

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

So that leaves the utility market.

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

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

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

Buy Vacation Homes in Uncrowded Markets

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

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

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

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

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

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

It makes for a safer, quieter vacation.

Is it green?

Absolutely.

Remember that traffic is an archenemy of fuel economy.

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

In Recovering Markets

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

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

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

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

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

And your investment will help.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Zoo Miami

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vizcaya Museum and Gardens

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

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

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

Beaches

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

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

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

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

The Miami Seaquarium

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

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

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

The whole family will enjoy this tropical paradise.

Everglades Safari Park

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

You can see birds, turtles and alligators.

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

It will be an enjoyable experience.

Jungle Island

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

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

You can visit the park any time of the year.

Miami Children’s Museum

This hands-on museum is great for kids.

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

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

They can also visit the cruise ship area.

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

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

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

Everything You Didn’t Know You Could Do at Niagara Falls

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Niagara Falls is a magnificent landmark straddling the border between Canada and the United States.

The location and natural wonder are probably familiar to most readers on both sides of the border.

But there are also aspects of the Falls that many people don’t know.

There is way more to this destination than just watching water flow over three massive waterfalls.

Tours such as www.niagaratorontotours.com can show you the many other sites to see besides the Falls themselves.

Tips For The Perfect Destination Proposal

Niagara Falls Tours
Niagara Falls Tours

Recommend Niagara Falls Tours

Below are five excursions that I recommend and that you probably didn’t know you could do on your visit to Niagara.

Wine Tasting

Niagara, Ontario has utilized their micro-climate to develop an array of well-crafted wines.

They have increasingly become quite famous for the wines they produce there.

Their famous Niagara Ice Wine is created by grapes that are frozen while on the vine.

This area is the host to the Annual Wine Festival and other festivals every year.

You can tour wineries, sample wine and enjoy Niagara cuisine.

Take a trip to one of the wineries to unwind and relax on your much-needed vacation.

Niagara on the Lake

This quaint and very aged town holds years of rich Canadian history.

Keeping its colonial style look, it will flash you right back to when it was settled in 1781.

You can visit Niagara on the Lake to indulge in the history, shop at an outlet mall, or golf at the oldest golf course in Canada.

It is also home to the Shaw Festival, a non-profit show of a local theater company’s various plays.

Just a short drive from the Falls, this town can be a great day trip to learn how the area came to be.

You also can ride in a real horse-drawn carriage and experience life as it was in the 1700’s.

Hydro Power Stations

For more of a thought-provoking and informational excursion, visit the hydro-power stations.

Niagara Falls is one of the largest producers of hydroelectric energy, having generated around four million kilowatts.

The Sir Adam Beck Hydroelectric Generating System diverts water away from the Niagara River and releases it at the base of the falls.

They are able to produce electricity from the captured energy of falling water.

This is known to be one of the most renewable resources, as the cycle of water never ends.

Through this process, the Falls produce seventy percent of Ontario’s electricity.

Niagara Gorge

As the falls have eroded over the years due to the freezing and thawing of the river, they have receded upstream.

The Niagara Gorge is the original site of the Falls 12,500 years ago.

With the current in the gorge being so strong, it produces some of the most dangerous rapids in the world.

Kayaking is prohibited, so the only way to experience the rapids is on a commercial tour.

This beautiful destination is home to the Niagara Whirlpool as well.

It formed over 4,000 years ago and is the largest natural whirlpool in the world.

Where the rapids end at the base of the gorge, the water is forced to spin counterclockwise, which creates the whirlpool effect.

The naturally forming and marvelous features of this terrain is a sight you must see.

The Floral Clock

Powered by the hydroelectric energy from the Falls, this massive clock is one that no one should ignore.

The name says it all in that all forty feet in diameter is covered in an array of flowers that are changed twice a year.

Throw a coin in the wishing pond or take a stroll alongside it in the park, but make sure to snap a picture to admire the hard work that goes into planting all 16,000 flowers it takes.

You’re mistaken if you think showing up to take a picture in front of Niagara Falls is getting the full experience.

This magnificent landmark affects the community in more ways than just giving people something to look at.

To get the most out of your trip, visit these great places Canada has to offer!

Niagara Falls Eco Tourism: How to Enjoy the Niagara Gorge

Niagara Falls is one of North America’s most stunning and magnificent natural wonders, and well-worth a visit whether or not you’re a fan of eco-tourism.

But, if you’re looking for a destination that has a lot to offer an eco-tourist, know that the Niagara Gorge is home to some of the most ruggedly beautiful terrain on the continent.

You’ll find trail heads, great fishing, picnic facilities, viewing platforms, and more on both sides of the border.

See Niagara Falls Gorge

Of course, if you’re like most people who visit the Niagara Gorge, the first item on your agenda will be seeing the waterfalls themselves!

Niagara Falls sits on the American/Canadian border, with American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls in the U.S., and Horseshoe Falls in Canada.

Many visitors want to make the most of their experience by visiting Niagara Falls in both countries.

If you’re looking forward to rustic camping as part of your eco-tourism experience, you’ll find comfortable and unique campgrounds in the New York countryside surrounding the Falls as well as on the other side of the border.

But even if you like camping, it’s worth spending at least one night in one of the riverside Niagara Falls hotels.

Rent a room with a view of the falls to take in the nighttime light displays and fireworks shows that occur over the water.

You’ll want to spend an entire day taking in the power and majesty that is Niagara Falls.

Book a boat tour of the Falls with Maid of the Mist or Hornblower Niagara Cruises to get as close to the falls as it’s possible to get.

Don’t forget to don your waterproof poncho!

Afterward, visit the Journey Behind the Falls, where you can enter tunnels cut into the rock behind Horseshoe Falls more than a century ago.

From here, you can peer through observation windows cut in the rock to observe water rushing over the Falls at a rate of 600,000 gallons (2.8 million liters) a second.

At the end, you’ll reach a viewing platform that allows you to observe the 13-story-tall waterfall from behind.

Explore the Trails on the American Side of Niagara Falls

You’ll find peaceful parks full of trails, picnic areas, hiking and fishing spots on both sides of the border.

On the American side, visit Devil’s Hole State Park, a park that overlooks the Devil’s Hole Rapids on the Niagara River.

Devil’s Hole is a popular fishing spot, with a stone staircase leading visitors down to the water.

You’ll see great views of the rapids and get an up-close glimpse of the geological strata of the gorge from Devil’s Hole Trail.

Whirlpool State Park, also on the American side of the border, offers scenic overlooks of the Niagara River Whirlpool and rapids, as well as hiking and fishing on the lower level of the park.

The Whirlpool Rapids Trail connects to the Devil’s Hole Trail.

Canadian Side of Niagara Falls Trails

You’ll find even more opportunities for hiking on the Canadian side of the border of Niagara Falls.

Hardcore hikers will appreciate the Bruce Trail, which follows the Niagara Escarpment for 550 miles (890 km).

The Bruce Trail also has more than 250 miles (400 km) of side trails.

Trail users will see a wide variety of local flora and fauna, including centuries-old coniferous trees growing on the edge of the Niagara Escarpment.

The trail also offers views of numerous waterfalls and rapids, as local waterways pass over the escarpment.

For a hiking experience of moderate difficulty that can be had without leaving the city of Niagara Falls, head to Niagara Glen Nature Preserve, where you can learn about the geology of the Niagara Escarpment, and the animals and plants that live within it, on one of the preserve’s twice-daily guided tours.

Explore the park’s numerous hiking trails, or rent bouldering equipment at the Nature Center.

The Whirlpool Trail is the most difficult one in the park, but it’s worth the effort to sit by the water and take in the scenery.

The nearby Upper Whirlpool Trails also offer great views of the water.

Closer to downtown, the White Water Walk provides multiple viewing platforms from which you can gaze upon the power of Niagara River’s Class VI rapids.

If getting the opportunity to explore a new ecosystem is an important part of traveling for you, you’ll love Niagara Falls.

With miles of hiking trails, boardwalks overlooking the white water, and tunnels carved into the rock behind the Horseshoe Falls, you’ll find plenty to do outside on both sides of the border.

Just don’t forget your rain jacket!

Exploring the Best of Canada ~ Where to Go and What to Do

Exploring the best of Canada – With its beautiful unspoiled landscapes, its multicultural society, and bilingualism, Canada is a delight for all who decide to travel around the country or move there permanently.

Thanks to its multiculturalism policy, put in place back in the 70’s, communicating across cultures is one of the things that make The True North so attractive for travelers and expatriates. Inspiring Places in the World

Here’s what to expect when exploring the best of Canada. Tips for Traveling with Your Dog

So, what exactly is there to visit in Canada?

Welcoming around 250,000 newcomers each year, Canada is one of the most popular places for foreign residents.

The largest country in North America and the second largest in the world – right behind Russia – offers you something new and exciting to see at every turn.
Exploring The Best Of Canada

Exploring the Best of Canada

First of all, if you have the luck of actually moving to Canada, you will have plenty of time to explore its wonders.

But if you are there on vacation, you might have some sort of time limit.

The best cities to visit are, of course, the ones that are well-known; yet surprisingly enough, you might find something of interest when visiting some lesser known towns, like Winnipeg, the center of the Canadian Prairies, or Whitehorse in Yukon Territory, starting point of the legendary Yukon Quest race.

Places like these might show visitors a completely different side of Canada.

Top Cities to Visit in Canada

Want to see what Canada is all about, although you only have about one week or so for your visit?

Here are the highlights you shouldn’t miss out on:

Toronto

One of the country’s largest and most popular cities, and often mistaken for Canada’s capital, attracts a huge number of tourists for multiple reasons.

Located only a couple hours from Niagara Falls and the US border, Toronto boasts, for example, a world-famous film festival: Its vibrant cultural life and the landmark CN tower are only a few reasons for its fame.

In recent years, Toronto has become known as one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse cities in the world, with over half the city’s residents being born outside Canada.

This has resulted in a great diversity of cultures to explore, from cuisine to events.

Toronto is also nicknamed “the city within a park” thanks to its miles of parkland around the streams and rivers that flow through the city.

Montréal

Ranked as one of the most livable cities in Canada, will dazzle you with its French and English influences.

Whether you want typical Canadian specialties or a Québec experience with a quaint French feel, Montréal has it all.

A “Parisian New York”, “City of festivals”, “City of a hundred bell towers”.

There are many ways to describe Montreal, a city which is unlike any other in the world.

In Montreal 17th century architecture and beautiful cathedrals rub elbows with typical 1970’s skyscrapers.

Montreal is famous for its European flair. Despite being one of Canada’s largest cosmopolitan cities, the city has a nice a laid back attitude.

Montreal was named the second best city to dine in North America.

It is a food lover’s heaven with cuisines from all over the world mixing with European influenced local specialties.

Montreal is also famous for its many festivals and events, which ranges from the Jazz fest which is held in different places around town, to

Montreal International Auto show which is held in the Palais des congrès convention center.

When visiting the city, make sure to check what events will be on while you’re there.
Top 5 Cities To Visit in Canada

Quebec

One of the most visited cities in Canada, Quebec is known for its breathtaking surroundings and unique history.

Quebec’s Old Town is a UNESCO Heritage site and the city walls surrounding it are the only remaining fortified city walls in North America north of Mexico.

Although not as buzzing as Montreal, it’s a great city for a relaxing romantic weekend

Whistler

Although Whistler is more a village than a city, it is still one of the most popular destinations in Canada, both in summer as well as winter.

Whistler is one of those places where people come for a weekend visit and somehow end up staying for 25 years – a story which is far from uncommon there.

Many locals who have moved to Whistler say they came for the awesome skiing, but stayed because of the summer.

Winter is the most popular time to visit Whistler; however, summer has a lot to offer.

For example, the mountain biking is some of the best in the world.

Exploring the best of Canada will lead you to unexpected places and no doubt, amazing scenery.

(photo credit: 1)

Lake Agnes Tea House and Hiking Trail, Lake Louise, Canada

It was 32 F/ 0 C, but I wouldn’t have known it had there not been snow covering the trail.

I was drenched in sweat after hiking a little over two miles, gaining about 1,000 feet in elevation.

That’s when I smelled it.

The smell of freshly baked goods coming from the Lake Agnes Teahouse.

If you are ever in the area, make sure to check it out.

Built by the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1901, the Lake Agnes Tea House is the closer of the two tea houses, and is situated idyllically on the shores of Lake Agnes.

A great option for adventurers of all kinds, the hike to this cabin will take you along a forested trail, past Mirror Lake and the waterfall that cascades out of Lake Agnes.

This now family-run tea house offers over 100 loose leaf teas, as well as homemade soup, sandwiches, cookies, apple crumble and more.

From Lake Agnes you can hike to the top of the Little Beehive or Big Beehive.

Where is Lake Agnes Tea House

The Lake Agnes Tea House sits next to — you guessed it — Lake Agnes.

Except Lake Agnes is at an elevation of 7,000 feet. There’s no running water or electricity.

Everything has to be carried up on workers’ backs, trotted in via horse, or flown in on a helicopter.

Which probably explains why the PB&J sandwich was so expensive!

The tea house staff are mostly university students who sleep in one of two teensy cabins next to the tea house.

Besides making outstanding tea and biscuits, they are also responsible for cleaning the outhouses and grey water system (yuck).
Lake Agnes Tea House inside

Lots of tea

But the tea house serves over 50 varieties of tea, homemade tea biscuits, cookies, sandwiches, soup, and other tasty goodies.

I can personally attest to the maple tea and tea biscuits with honey.

Nothing tastes better after a hike uphill.

I was just glad to get a spot inside because it was chilly next to the lake once we stopped hiking, though I imagine the porch is wonderful on a summer day.

What else can I do at Lake Agnes?

The hike itself is not extremely strenuous.

It’s just a constant uphill trail.

Hiking trail at Lake Agnes

There are amazing views overlooking Lake Louise, and the glacier-fed lake looks even bluer the higher you climb.

Mirror Lake is a great stop along the way, but be careful once you get past it.

The small lake marks the point where the hiking trail merges with the horse trail — watch your step!

Tips for your trip to Lake Agnes Tea House

Remember to pack an extra change of clothing and to dress in layers.

Depending on the time of year, you can expect a temperature change as you will be in the mountains.

If you make it to Lake Louise, definitely take the time to hike the Lakes Agnes Hiking Trail.

The tea house is a great stop and if you feel up for it — we did after some rejuvenating tea — the Little Beehive Trail provides a stunning view overlooking the the valley below.

Have you been to the Lake Agnes Tea House?

Dog Sledding in Okanagan Wilderness, Canada

Five hours’ drive north from the US-Canadian border lies a city called Kelowna, BC.

Tucked into the Monashee mountain range nearby, you’ll find Big White Ski Resort, home to some of the most family-friendly skiing, snowboarding, and outdoor winter activities my family and I have ever experienced.

At the top of our Big White activity list: the Dog Sled Tour experience, run by musher and tour company owner Tim Tedford.

I arrived for my Big White dog sledding experience with my mom, a long-time follower of the Iditerod and dog-lover.

From the minute we met Tim’s kennel full of happy, wagging, enthusiastic sled dogs, we knew we were in for an unique experience dog sledding in Canada.

These were not the large, mostly-wild Siberian huskies we had envisioned.

In fact, most of Tim’s team are of mixed breed, rarely aggressive, and small in stature.

This does not mean they aren’t equipped for the job: in fact, many of his team, including the lead dog during our tour, are past Iditerod athletes.

While selecting and harnessing his team, Tim described sled dog culture to us, the science behind team selection, and the distinctive kinesiology behind what makes a great sled dog.

Some dog sledding ventures will simply put you on a sled and take your money, but as soon as we started talking to Tim, it was obvious that he cares as much about educating guests as he does about ensuring you have a great ride.

After teaching us what the dogs eat (let’s just say they probably eat better than you and me), where they sleep (in cozy crates nested with straw), and whether they get along with one another (better than my kids), Tim finished preparing the team (and us) for departure.

My mom and I learned how to load and unload the sled as the previously calm and quiet kennel area erupted with excited barking.

“No matter if they just ran, they want to run again,” Tim explained.

Their unbridled joy was contagious: when we finally took off, Tim on the runners and my mom and me in the sled, I was grinning ear-to-ear.

The first thing I noticed was how fast we were going.

The second: how silent the previously barking dogs had become.

We could hear a pin drop (or more accurately, only our own shrieks of joy) as we sailed over the packed snow.

The sight of the graceful, united dogs combined with the beautiful Monashee mountain scenery would have brought tears to my eyes had I not been wearing ski goggles.

Halfway through our 5K (3.2 mile) run, Tim slowed the team and stopped them, offering me a turn at the back of the sled.

He warned me that ‘there’s nothing quite like being on the runners’ and he was right.

I could truly feel their power as they pulled.

Before we knew it, we were arriving back at the kennel, where we praised the dogs one by one (a ritual at Big White) and Tim rewarded the eight dogs with a tasty frozen meat snack.

We appreciated how clearly Tim loved his animals, and we came away from the experience with a greater respect for this species, this sport, and the humane people who give it the heart it has.

What you need to know before booking

Each sled has a weight limit (rather than a person limit) of 340 pounds.

Up to two sleds can depart together most days.

The dog sled experience can be booked nearly any day during the ski season, and reservations can be made ahead of time at the Village Centre Mall Activities Desk and through Central Reservations.

Cost is $195 CAN per sled.

Kids as young as age 3 are welcome, but if some family members would rather not ride, they could come (supervised) with you to visit with the dogs before departure.

Wear ski gear (snow pants, warm gloves, jacket, and googles).

A hat or helmet is also recommended, and you’ll need snow boots.

Have you been dog sledding?

What was your experience like?

As I disclose whenever applicable, we were hosted for our dog sledding experience, for the purpose of review.

Smell Proof Backpacks When Hiking With Kids

Smell Proof Backpacks When Hiking With Kids

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Smell Proof Backpacks – When you’re enjoying the great outdoors with a young child, it’s all-but-inevitable that you’ll have to pack some stinky items.

After all, most babies and toddlers will need a diaper change if you’re spending more than an hour on the trail.

Additionally, you never know when some kind of diaper emergency may arise.

Since it’s vital that you pack out everything that you pack into the wilderness, you may be stuck with carrying a stinky diaper.

That’s why smell-proof backpacks are the ideal solution for adventurous parents and little ones who are on the go.

Smell Proof Backpacks When Hiking With Kids
Smell Proof Backpacks When Hiking With Kids

Smell Proof Backpacks When Hiking With Kids

These even come in handy when you’re in any public place and don’t have immediate access to a garbage can.

Many companies are manufacturing smell proof backpacks.

Used to transport sweaty gym clothes, recreational marijuana and anything else that might cause an annoying odor, these backpacks are the perfect accessory for the hiking parent who’s on the trail with young kids.

Not only will you not be troubled by an unpleasant smell but also you won’t be attracting wildlife that would be interested in the odor.

Most of these backpacks are equipped with a carbon filtering element.

The carbon filtering uses chemical adsorption to get rid of impurities and contaminants.

Effectively, this element locks smells into your backpack and doesn’t allow it to reach any other compartments or the world outside.

Like other backpacks, these packs are available in a wide range of sizes and colors.

Many of them have the same features that you would find in top-of-the-line backpacks that have no odor control abilities.

However, they tend to have tighter zippers to help ensure that odors stay locked where they’re supposed to be.

Hiking or Camping with Kids

Even if you’re not hiking or camping with kids, you may find that smell proof backpacks can revolutionize your outdoor experience.

They are perfect for transporting food in the wilderness, and if you’ve got stinky laundry that you have to pack with you, there’s no better bag.

Some of the best of these backpacks are made by companies such as Skunk, Dime Bag and Funk Fighter.

Price ranges vary considerably, so even if you’re on a budget, you’ll find a model that works for you.

Many of them are waterproof and feature heavy-duty construction to serve you over the long haul.

One of these backpacks just might encourage you to get back to the outdoors with your little ones.