Monthly Archives: August 2016

What is the gorgeous things in California

The Channel Islands are comprised of eight islands (Anacapa, San Miguel, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, San Nicolas, San Clemente, Santa Barbara, and Santa Catalina) off the coast of Southern California. You’ve probably heard of Catalina Island, but most people have never heard of the other seven islands.

Five of these islands are part of the Channel Islands National Park and each of these islands has at least one designated campground.  We were first introduced to this set of islands during a day trip to Anacapa Island from Oxnard, where we spent the afternoon hiking around and got lucky with an unforgettable Orca and Gray whale encounter on our ferry ride back to the mainland.

We experienced a second day trip to the islands  this time to Santa Cruz Islandduring a trip to Santa Barbara a few months ago. This day trip is what sparked our interest to finally pull the trigger on booking a campsite here in July.

Booking a camping trip to the islands is easy enough, but preparing for the trip requires a little more planning — especially for those who don’t have the right camping gear. Due to the lack of information online, we’ve decided to put together this helpful travel guide for those considering an overnight camping trip to any of the five islands that are part of the Channel Islands National Park.

This post will focus mainly on the Scorpion Ranch campground on Santa Cruz Island because that’s where we stayed, but these tips will be helpful for planning a trip to any of the campgrounds or islands in the park.

BOOKING THE FERRY TO CHANNEL ISLANDS NATIONAL PARK

According to the National Park’s website, you must book your ferry ticket before you reserve a campsite at any of the campgrounds. The ferries fill up quicker than the campsites because of day trippers, so be sure to check Island Packer’s availability first.

The ferry to Santa Cruz leaves from Ventura Harbor. If you are traveling from out of town and want to take a morning ferry trip, I highly recommend booking a hotel near the harbor the night before. We stayed at the Country Inn & Suites By Carlson, Ventura, CA — about a five minute drive from the harbor. They provide breakfast in the morning and we were able to fill up our cooler with fresh ice from their ice machine, which made things extremely easy for our early morning departure.

You need to check in at the harbor one hour before your ferry departs in order for them to load the camping gear. The ferry trip to Scorpion Anchorage takes about an hour and you will likely see some wildlife. Luckily, we had cans of Cayman Jack with us, which was super convenient since they don’t allow glass on the boat deck. It seemed fitting to celebrate the first leg of our journey with hand-crafted Cayman Jack margaritas on the ferry trip over.

How to prepare for your weekend traveling

While long vacations to exotic locales can be exciting and adventurous, they can also be costly in both time and travel expenses. Sometimes, a weekend trip is all you need to have a fun, memorable, and rejuvenating experience.

When NatureBox asked us to share our weekend getaway tips and try a few of their healthy snacks, we knew it would work out perfectly for our annual trip to Baja with friends. I always try to pack snacks even on longer trips because I need to eat every couple of hours and that’s not always feasible when I’m traveling. So, from packing healthy snacks to picking a place that speaks to you, here are our top tips for planning an unforgettable weekend getaway.

PICK A PLACE THAT SPEAKS TO YOU

Love the water? Spend your weekend basking on the beach, kayaking down a river, or picnicking near a lake. Maybe you feel uplifted when wandering the woods, or excited by exploring city streets. The ideal getaway may not take you far from home (you don’t want to spend half the weekend just getting to and from your vacation spot, after all) but following your interests will let you enjoy yourself wherever you are.

CONSIDER YOUR ACCOMMODATIONS

You’ll get the most out of your vacation time if you stay somewhere close to the action. That may be a condo on the beach, a cabin or campsite in the great outdoors, or a hotel close to the city’s must-see locations or events. Whatever you choose, rooming nearby will help you stay in the spirit of your getaway.

BRING A TRAVEL BUDDY (OR A FEW!)

Striking out on your own has its highlights, but a weekend getaway can be the perfect opportunity to spend time with your partner or your friends, especially if you often find yourself too busy during the week. Good company will bring joy to everything you do and help make the weekend more memorable.

PUT YOUR PHONE ON AIRPLANE MODE

Make sure you’re really getting away by putting away your phone or laptop. You’ll get a breather from business-related calls or emails, and you’ll keep yourself open to really spend quality time with the people around you. You’ll soak up more of your environment, as well!

PACK SOME SNACKS

Whether you’re flying, driving, hiking or biking, it’s good to keep snacks on hand. Eating every couple of hours will keep your energy up so you can fully enjoy your weekend activities. It can also save you money and keep you away from unhealthy gas station or airplane foods.

Norway on a Budget Tips

images-3With its expansive fjords, famous archipelagos, and undeniable beauty, Norway sits at the top of many traveler’s bucket lists. Like many people who dream of visiting this country, we put it off for years because of the expense compared to other travel destinations. During our recent visit, we realized traveling here can be done affordably with a little planning.

Discover some of our best tips for finding cheap accommodation and how to save money on food and transportation in Norway.

SET A DAILY SPENDING LIMIT

Set a daily spending limit and stick to it! This might mean staying in a hostel, camping, couchsurfing, or cooking your own meals. Before my visit to Norway, people warned me that it wasn’t possible to find a hotel for less than $400 US per night, but I found plenty for under $100 US in the places we visited. Eating at restaurants, on the other hand, is very expensive. We were able to stick to our daily budget by buying alcohol and food for lunch at the local grocery stores.

BOOK IN ADVANCE

Hotels:  As soon as you book your flights to Norway, you should start researching your accommodation. Many areas of Norway have limited accommodation available and the inexpensive hotel options tend to get booked up first.

Before booking your hotel check to see if your rate includes breakfast. Many hotels offer this included in your stay. We filled up enough at breakfast so we didn’t need much more than a snack for lunch, which made spending money on dinner a lot less painful. We recommend Booking.com to find affordable accommodation in Norway.

Transportation: If you decide to skip renting a car, then booking your transportation in advance is recommended. If you do rent a car, look into credit cards that offer car rental coverage. The car rental insurance costs in Norway can easily blow your budget, but it’s not something you want to go without.

STAY WITH LOCALS

This will save you money on accommodation and food. If you book an AirBnb with a kitchen, you won’t have to eat at a restaurant for every meal. Keep in mind that most hotels include breakfast, so make sure to take that into consideration when comparing prices on hotels versus AirBnb stays.

Couchsurfing is another option that I have not personally tried, but many travelers love it. I like to have my own place when traveling (I always book my own apartments when using AirBnb) and I’ve found it can be time consuming to try to find a Couchsurfing host, but it’s a great way to save money if you are on an extremely tight budget.

Good at Travel Photography Tips

images-4You don’t have to be a professional travel photographer to take stunning photos of your travels, but without experience, you may end up disappointed with your shots. Luckily, you can learn from the experience and the mistakes! of the many travel photographers who have gone before.

#1. NOT KNOWING YOUR SETTING

Say you want to snap a photo of an icon like the Eiffel Tower, only there’s a huge crowd blocking the path. If there’s a place you want to photograph, it helps to search ahead of time and make a note of the hours the location is accessible, when it has the most traffic, and whether photography is even allowed. If you’re going to a nature location, see what you need to get there safely. Moreover, if you’re aiming for a certain time of day, look up the appropriate camera settings for the lighting.

#2. ONLY SHOOTING FROM EYE-LEVEL

When you flip through your travel album, you may be disappointed if your photos look generic. To make your shots unique and evocative, look for different angles from which to shoot. Try the “worm’s eye” view from the ground for a new perspective, play with distance to make trees, buildings, and statues more majestic, or position the main attraction off-center with the rule of thirds for a pleasing yet unusual composition. There are many ways to take amazing photos of your travels, so don’t be afraid to experiment!

#3. OVERLOADING WITH GEAR

All you want is some beautiful photographs of your travels. You don’t want to lug around twenty pounds of gear to get them! Luckily, you don’t have to. While it’s tempting to over pack equipment to get the best shots possible, one or two good lenses should meet most of your needs. If you still haven’t found the perfect photography kit, read our post with tips on how to find the best camera for travel photography.

If you know for sure you’ll be photographing wildlife, then you can bring a telephoto, too. I use the Canon 70-300 to get all of my wildlife shots. It’s just the right amount of zoom, but not too heavy for travel photography.

I make sure all of my gear fits in this well-padded camera/laptop bag. While I’m on the ground, I use this small backpack and these lens covers while hiking or this cute padded camera bag while walking around in cities.

#4. MISSING SUNRISE AND SUNSET

You want to capture the breathtaking colors and inspiration of sunrise and sunset, but find that a building blocks the horizon, or you arrive at your location too late? Not planning for sunrise and sunset is one of the biggest travel photography mistakes I find with new photographers.

Doing some before-hand research here will make sure you don’t miss the most beautiful times of day. There are plenty of websites and even apps that will tell you the times of sunrise and sunset down to the minute, so plan ahead accordingly. Arrive a half hour early and stay a half hour after the sun sinks to get the most vibrant colors.

If you’re not an early riser but want to catch the sunrise, try going to bed earlier. You can still have fun and have a few drinks in the evening, just do it a little earlier than usual. I try to go to bed before 11 when I want to photograph the sunrise. This is where jet lag really comes in handy. I also plan my outfits the night before and just grab a quick piece of fruit or toast in the morning so I’m not wasting any time while I’m groggy in the morning.

Great Solo Travel Photos Tips

Traveling on your own is a fun way to have new experiences and expand your boundaries without worrying about synchronizing multiple people’s wants and needs. It can be a truly inspiring way to get to know your own limits — just not that great when you need an extra pair of hands to snap a quick picture for the memories. Luckily, technology makes travel self-documentation much easier (and we all know everyone wants to display their best shots from their travels on sites like Instagram).

I travel solo on about eighty percent of my trips, so I’ve had to learn a few tricks along the way. Here are some of my top tips for taking great travel photos as a solo traveler.

SET UP A TRIPOD

Bringing a tripod is a tip for good photography even if you’re not traveling solo, but if you want steady photos, they’re a must. Tripods will help you avoid the blur and warp of out of focus or unsteady shots. For smaller cameras, the Gorillapod line and similar flexible tripod products are great for keeping your camera steady even on the most unstable of terrain. Their ability to wrap around poles, skis, railings, and other surfaces means that you have the freedom of setting up shots even in tight urban settings too.

I personally use the Manfrotto line of tripods for my heavy 5D Mark II and I’ve been able to set it up in some precarious places. I also carry a digital timer remote and set it up to take photos every second so I don’t have to constantly run back and forth just to get a couple of different angles.

USE A SELFIE STICK

Yes, using one may look silly, but selfie sticks are still incredibly useful for taking pictures on your own! By extending the range between the camera and the subject (likely yourself) further than a natural human arm span, it allows the frame of the photo to be expanded. This way you’ll be able to fit more of the background into your photo and you won’t come home with a million unflattering close-up photos of yourself. I personally love this selfie stick because it’s all-weather and they offer a money-back guarantee.

ATTACH A GOPRO

If you’re looking for the perfect action shot or want your video and photos to come from a first-hand perspective, then attaching a GoPro to your gear while you surf, ski, bike, or even bungee jump can be a great way to capture the experience. Furthermore, the wide range of mounts available mean that you can capture images with the GoPro in environments where other cameras may fear to tread — like underwater or tumbling through the air. We use the Hero4 Silver because it’s the only GoPro with an LCD screen to frame and view your shots.

ASK A STRANGER

Whether you have specialized gear or not, there’s always the option to reach out for help from someone new. After all, you’re not traveling just to look at a foreign place or culture, you’re there to experience it, to take part in a different world or way of life. Photos can be a great way to capture memories from your trip, but starting an interaction with another person, even if it’s just asking for help with your camera, is a great way to make them.

You won’t always get the best photos with this option, but my trick is to ask someone who is carrying their own DSLR camera. I like to give people an idea of how I would like the shot framed before I hand over my camera as well.