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10 Best Dates in Washington, D.C. That Aren’t Dinner & A Movie

By Kacey Mya of The Drifter Collective

Washington, D.C. is the nation’s capital, and for good reason: the city has a rich history and a lively, diverse culture to match. In other words, you’d be remiss to spend every single night out at dinner and a movie when there’s so much else to do.

Date Ideas To Spark Some Fun & Romance in Washington, D.C.

Need a little help planning your next out-of-the-box excursion? Here are 10 ideas for making your D.C. date something extra special:

Picnic in the Park

A picnic is a roundabout way of eating a meal on a date: you won’t be dining at a restaurant, but you can still whip up a meal to impress. On top of that, you’ll be able to go and grab a seat at any time you want without reservations. If that’s not enough incentive, the city has a lengthy list of gorgeous parks that would paint a picturesque backdrop to your picnic. It might even be more romantic to dine on a blanket beside the Potomac or under a cherry tree, right?

Monument Tour

Chances are, you’ve seen the majority of D.C.’s most famous monuments. But, when is the last time you went on a stroll to see them all in one fell swoop? You and your date can embark on a walking tour of the National Mall and check out the city’s most famous landmarks. Plus, all that time walking will give you two a chance to chat and really get to know one another.

Washington DC Monument

Arcade or Billiards Bar

Another dating rut to fall into is grabbing drinks over, and over, and over again. Instead, make your trip to the bar a bit more memorable by choosing a spot with tasty beverages and a memorable activity. A gaming bar like the city’s Atlas Arcade allows you to play retro video games while you imbibe. Or, you can hit up a billiards room and play pool, as well as darts, shuffleboard and arcade games, depending on the place you go.

Outdoor Movie

Okay, so this is technically still a movie date. But the fact that you and your date can grab a blanket, some snacks and sit under the stars while watching a movie makes it just a tad more special. Washington, D.C., Virginia and Maryland all have outdoor cinema offerings, too, so you can find the one nearest to you or the screen showing the movie you most want to see. Offerings range from blockbusters, to 80s classics, to cartoons — the choice is yours.

Escape Room

Don’t worry — it’s not as scary as it sounds. Places like Escape Artist DC give participants a full narrative, creating a world that has a puzzle to solve within it. You and your date will have to try and escape the room by solving various puzzles, but it will be a fun challenge for you to complete together. Once you’re out, you’ll feel like you really earned a good cocktail, which will round out a seriously memorable evening.

Kayaking

The Potomac River you picnicked beside is the perfect place for a kayaking trip, too. You and your date can sign up for a guided tour, or simply rent a kayak or canoe together and start rowing. If you want to do something a little less challenging, you can also rent paddle boats in smaller bodies of water like the Tidal Basin, where you’ll have incredible views of the Jefferson Monument.

Washington DC Date ideas

Museum Hop

Washington is home to some of the nation’s best museums, and they cover a broad range of interests. In fact, allowing your date to choose the museum you’ll visit will give you an insight into his or her interests and personality. Will it be the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the National Air and Space Museum, or the International Spy Museum, where you can pick up an alias and try your best to live like an undercover? The choice is theirs.

Visit a Winery

You might be surprised to find out that there are some bona fide wineries within a stone’s throw of Washington, D.C. Many of them have open hours, tours and tastings, as well as activities like live music, movies and bocce ball on the vineyard lawn. Your date will be impressed as you whisk him or her off, though it would be best to grab a shuttle or taxi out to the winery so you can both imbibe.

Volunteer

The nation’s capital has endless opportunities for locals to get involved and make the city — and world — a better place. You and your date can brainstorm the causes you care most about and find a charity involved with your top choice. Then, sign up to fill grocery bags at a food bank, walk shelter dogs or help re-paint a local school. The few hours you spend doing good will make you feel pretty good about yourselves and each other.

Cook Together

Finally, you can always keep things casual and simple and still eat a hearty meal. Simply skip the fancy restaurant dinner and find a recipe online instead. You can work together to peel, chop, sauté and bake, producing a full meal as a team. Sometimes, a meal you make yourself tastes even better than what you buy in a restaurant, anyway — you should try that theory out and see.

Now, Make It A Date!

Chances are, at least one of these date ideas suits you and your significant other. So, cancel your dinner reservations and plan something out of the ordinary instead. You’ll both enjoy doing something different, but mixing things up will make you enjoy those special dinner-and-a-movie nights even more. To us, that sounds like a win-win.  


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kacey is a lifestyle blogger for The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture & the world around us. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations & cultures, all while portraying her love for the world around her through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing & inspiring posts. Follow her on Twitter and Pinterest.


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Top Features Of The 2017 Chevy Volt For Road Trips

For us, a car means more than a means of daily transportation. It’s also often one of our preferred methods of travel, whether it’s a road trip to get to a particular destination or whether the road trip itself is the point of our travels. We’ve taken long as well as spontaneous drives (like the long weekend road trip to New Brunswick) and through all of them we’ve learned some pretty important tips for taking a road trip. What always ends up being the most important factor is the car we’re driving so whenever we’re looking for a new car, there are some key features we tend to focus on that guarantee the vehicle will suit our everyday needs and beyond. Lately, we’ve been intrigued by a variety of different options for vehicles from fuel-efficient hybrids to RVs as we always have a diverse set of needs when we own or rent a car.

Finding The Right Features In A Road Trip Car

We had heard quite a few things about the 2017 Chevy Volt that made us think it’d be a solid car all around as well as being an environmentally friendly option that had the potential for saving on fuel costs. So, we headed to Hogan Chevrolet to get a closer look at the 2017 Chevy Volt for ourselves.

Since we wanted to see what kind of car it was and whether it was versatile for both everyday driving and road trips, we were looking at it for certain key features that would serve our purposes.

Chevy Volt Interior

5 Key Features in The Chevy Volt

What we found is that the Chevy Volt has quite a few of the features we look for in a car, especially one we’d want to use for frequent road trips. Though small, sleek and part electric, this car surprised us with how much it offers and the following are 5 key features of the 2017 Chevy Volt that were particularly important and relevant to us.

Road Trip Beats: Entertainment System

Chevy Volt Dahsboard

We love having a car with a console that’s packing a punch when it comes to entertainment and with that comes the sound system and phone-charging capabilities. The 2017 Chevy Volt is pretty loaded when it comes to what it offers in those departments – Sirius Satellite Radio, An OnStar Built in WiFi Hotspot option, a myChevy Mobile App which allows you to control the car from anywhere you’ve got a signal, and compatibility with Androids or iphones that allows you to use the touchscreen display to access your phone to play music, make phone calls, use Maps and see messages. The built-in speakers are also great and there’s an option to upgrade to Bose speakers to make it that much better.

While this makes working and staying connected easy while driving the car, especially on longer road trips, the wireless charging capabilities and 2 USB ports also allow us to make sure all our gear is charged and ready to be used wherever we are and however long we are on the road.

Spacious Interior For All Our Gear

Chevy Volt Trunk Space

We can usually travel light but when we driving is our method of transportation, we want to be able to bring whatever we want – all our gear, a cooler for food and drinks and any extras we typically can’t travel with when we’re flying or using other means of travel.

The 2017 Chevy Volt is pretty spacious and would definitely accommodate what we would want to bring with us. The rear seats even fold down to allow for extra storage space.

Accommodation Mode

Chevy Volt Test Drive & Review

A term we’ve coined ourselves, accommodation mode is what we call it when we’ve converted our car into a bed… which we seem to do a lot. Whether it’s a front seat nap while we’re getting where we’re going or a full on sleep in the back with the seats folded down, we like to drive cars that offer us flexibility in how we design our travels and give us the opportunity for spontaneity in where we go and how we get there.

As we already mentioned, the interior is spacious and the rear seats fold all the way down which makes for perfect accommodation mode. The only problem with this is that there’s not that much extra space for the stuff we bring to be piled or shifted. In that case, we could always stick to sleeping in the front as the seats actually recline all the way back and are pretty comfortable!

Guidance & Getting There

Chevy Volt Review

While the 2017 Chevy Volt comes with the option to upgrade for GPS, the cell phone compatibility makes it easy for you to use maps on the dashboard screen as long as you have service on your phone. While we typically get by easily without GPS or an app to guide us, having either makes it so much easier and since we often like to be spontaneous, it helps to have a way to get back on track easily or even look for random places we can stop, places we can eat or even take a rest.

Fuel Efficiency & Cost to Drive

Chevy Volt Electric Fuel Savings

Chevy Volt battery life

 

 

 

 

Unlike your typical hybrid, the Chevy Volt doesn’t run on a combination of electricity and gas at the same time. Instead, it works off the electric power first (to get you to most places you’ll want to go in a day) and then shifts to fuel-powered. We think this is great because you can save on fuel as you drive for everyday errands and even commuting to work and only use fuel for longer trips and destinations.

Chevy Volt Electric Plug Chevy Volt Electric Plug

For road trips, it would mean a bit more planning to confirm you had stops along the way to power up if you didn’t want to keep paying for fuel but as it’s got pretty good fuel-economy, you can still drive solely on gas power if need be.

This combination makes it a great option for saving some money and government incentives drive the price even lower, making it a more manageable cost overall.

 

Overall the Chevy Volt is a pretty impressive little package though the price point is somewhat higher than a comparable car without hybrid capabilities. For us, it’s a great option for a road trip car though the space in back may be tricky to manage a full-blown nap AND our luggage… but to be realistic, how many people really sleep in the back of their cars when they travel? Yep, probably just us!

Keep this post for later or share with others on Pinterest – just hover over the image below & click “Pin it”! If on MOBILE, tap the photo below & click ‘Pin It’ when it appears!

best features of the 2017 chevy volt pinBest Road Trip Features of the Chevy volt pin

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Simple Ways To Make A Difference While You Travel

Eco-friendly tourism, sustainable tourism, green travel, the list of buzz phrases we’ve developed to describe a more responsible, more attentive way of experiencing the world is pretty lengthy. All of these have become hugely popular and hotly debated. The impact that travel has on the environment, cultures and wildlife are issues that have come to the forefront of people’s’ minds as they choose how and where to travel. There are also often differing views on what these buzz words mean, how they should be implemented and what it really means to ‘travel responsibly’. It can be expensive, time-consuming, confusing and frustrating to sort through and choose an option that feels right and many times people just avoid it altogether.

simple ways to make a difference when you travel pin 2

6 Things Every Traveller Can Do To Make A Difference

While we don’t have all the answers and certainly muddle our own way through our efforts to travel with the most positive impact possible, we’ve come up with a few things that every traveller can do to make a difference while they travel. These six ideas can be easily incorporated, are inexpensive and only really require a little extra effort and some thought.

 

 

 

Just Say No To Straws

straws

This is something we’ve been trying to incorporate into our everyday experience when we dine out. When we found out that in the US alone, approximately 500 million straws are used per day, we were astonished. Add to that the fact that:

  • they aren’t always recycled,
  • contain BPA,
  • contribute to the 8 million tonnes of plastic that enter the ocean every year,
  • are harmful to animals,
  • and are one of the top ten items found as litter on beaches

The list could go on but it’s pretty clear that straws are really cylindrical tubes of destruction when it comes to the environment.

What would happen if we all just did away with straws? Next time you go to a restaurant while travelling, or at home, make sure to ask for your water or drinks without a straw. For us, this is the hardest thing to remember as that initial interaction tends to happen fast or, if we do remember, we are inevitably brought one already opened anyway.

If you stop at a fast food restaurant, take your drink without a lid and drink from the cup. Wherever you find a straw imposed upon you, find a way to prevent it from happening the next time. And if you really need to use a straw? Get an alternative like a compostable, stainless steel or glass straw to take with you when you leave the house!

Something like the SipWell Stainless Steel Drinking Straws or Green Heart Stainless Steel BPA Free Reusable Straws are great alternatives to the disposable plastic ones we see everyday!

Waste Not, Want Not!

At this point, you may be asking, “So, I’ve gotten rid of the straws, but what do I do with the disposable cups and lids I’m always holding?”. There’s a simple answer but this time it requires more than just thought and effort, it requires a little cash.

If you’re inclined to fork over a bit of dough to help the cause, buying and bringing a tumbler or water bottle whenever you travel can make a huge impact. In certain countries where clean water is hard to find, this may get a bit tricky. Our advice is to find out how the locals source clean water. For example, in Thailand, there are larger bottles that are refilled regularly with drinkable water. We used these extensively while there and it cut down not only on waste, but also cost of water.

If you’re travelling light, or are concerned about the weight and size of a bottle, you can always go with the collapsible kind – like these Collapsible Silicone Water Bottles – which work great even when you’re at home and going out for the day.

You may find you can’t, or won’t, use one in all scenarios and destinations but by incorporating it as much as possible, you’re still reducing your footprint and eliminating a significant amount of plastic waste.

Want A Clean Beach? Help Clean It Yourself!

beach cleanup

We all love going to a beautiful beach so seeing trash along the shoreline or in the sand is not only an eyesore, but also frustrating. We’ll trudge our way through the sand, carrying our towels, chairs and coolers and grumble under our breaths about how inconsiderate people are as we nudge discarded pieces of trash to the side.

Not only are these items blights on a beautiful sandy landscape, they are also incredible harmful for wildlife. Garbage can be mistaken for food and can be especially harmful to sea turtles who nest on beaches and their offspring who are born there.

A brilliant way to do your part? Bring a bag with you when you go to a beach (or a park or other outdoor destination where litter is often seen). All you need to do is pick up the garbage from your car (or drop off point) to where you choose to sit and back again.  If everyone were to do that, think of how garbage-free and wildlife-friendly beaches and other outdoor areas would be. Of course, spreading the word and recommending this to others increases the amount of garbage pick-up that will go on, the number of beautiful outdoor spaces that are clean and the amount of wildlife saved!`

Leave The Paper Trail & Take Photos

We recently saw a brilliant concept at the Brevard Zoo in Florida where the focus on conservation and education was evident in almost every aspect of the property as was their dedication to the environment. What we thought was especially inspired was their lack of paper maps. Instead, visitors are encouraged to take a photo of the main map (’cause who doesn’t have their phone or camera with them?) and use it to navigate. At the start of each of the larger exhibit entrances, another map specific to that area is displayed to look at or snap a photograph.

While this would be an amazing thing at many of the attractions around the world, it realistically won’t be happening overnight. So why not play your part and take a photo of the large maps most sites have displayed at the entrance and skip grabbing one of the handheld paper ones? Encouraging those in your group to do the same could even start something down the line.

If Your Body Says Yes, Walk Or Cycle

bicycle riding in europe

This may not be for everyone depending on their physical abilities but it’s something to consider if you’re able. We often forego taxis, driving or other forms of transportation while we explore a destination and opt to use our own two feet. Whether we’re walking (which is the majority of the time for us) or cycling, we find we can really get a better feel for local life and even spot some hidden gems we otherwise would have missed.

Not only does this allow you a different perspective, it also keeps your heart healthy and saves you from using more environmentally harmful transportation methods.

Though the saying “it’s like riding a bike” is popular, we’re not sure how easy it is to hop on a bike after an extended period of time without riding and navigate the streets of some of the crazier cities, but walking at least some of the way is a good way to cut down on your footprint.

End The Shame. Pee In The Shower

It’s something that few people talk about. It’s a closeted practice that few admit to and yet it could save gallons of water every time you do it. Yep, that’s right. Peeing in the shower is one of the most environmentally friendly things you can do and it’s even got benefits for you too!

While there doesn’t seem to be any sanitary risks (urine should be basically sterile in healthy individuals) there could be potential health benefits with respect to cleanliness. In fact there are a whole host of potential benefits of peeing in the shower!

But we’re talking about the environment right? Not only will you reduce toilet paper consumption but you’ll also be saving up to several gallons of water per flush you avoid by letting the shower water do the job. There has been criticism that doing this prolongs shower time thus reducing the benefit, but calculations have shown it’s a small reduction and the water-saving benefits of peeing in the shower are still huge.

Imagine how much you could save on a daily basis, not just when you travel? But in countries where water processing is not as developed, where water is hard to come by or where water usage is conserved, going number one while you are showering can be considered doing your part to helping the environment and cutting down on your footprint!

All The Small Things

Really, we believe it’s about the small things. It’s about changing the way you think about the environment and your role in it. Small things add up and can add up large. Once we eliminate the detachment most people feel to the environment and start changing the apathy people have when it comes to their own pollution and creating waste, we’ll find that the destinations we travel to will be kept cleaner and safer for longer.

It’s a group effort and it takes time. It doesn’t have to be a trip dedicated to environmental cleanup. It doesn’t have to be a volunteer opportunity that you sign up for. It’s about making a point to contribute in ways that you can, wherever you go and as often as possible.

 

Keep this post for later or share with others on Pinterest – just hover over one of the images below & click “Pin it”! If on MOBILE, tap a photo below & click ‘Pin It’ when it appears!

    Simple ways to make a difference when you travel pin how to be environmentally friendly while you travel pin

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Best Places To See A California Sunset In San Francisco

By Kacey Mya of The Drifter Collective

Typically when people are planning a vacation, they think of fun activities to do during the day, like hiking or seeing museums. When you’re going to vacation on the west coast, however, it’s a great idea to plan ahead to see the sunset in a way you wouldn’t be able to at home. It’s one of the best things you can do, especially when you’re visiting San Francisco. Thankfully there are easy ways to incorporate the sunset into your next trip.

Unique Ways to Enjoy the California Sunset Next Time You’re In San Francisco

Here are some ideas for finding that perfect sunset spot while in San Francisco!

Golden Gate Bridge Sunset

golden gate bridge sunset california

You already know that when you go to San Francisco that driving across the Golden Gate Bridge is going to be on your list of things to do. Why not drive across it and see the sunset at the same time? The international orange color of the towers will only accent the hues of the sunset, just make sure you keep an eye on the road! If you’d rather sit and watch, there are multiple places to gaze at the bridge where you’re sure to see the sunset from as well.

Outdoor Evening Performance

Besides the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco is also known for being a hub of local talent, so if you want a true experience of the city, you’ll want to catch a concert while you’re there. There are plenty of outdoor concert places where you’ll be able to see the sunset at the same time, and some of them are even free. Check the listings for the time you’ll be in town and take in every moment!

Bonfire on The Beach

sunset in san francisco california

Bonfire supplies are probably not among what you’ll pack in your suitcase, but you should definitely pick some up at the store once you get to wherever you’re staying in San Francisco. You’ll have access to some of the most beautiful beaches in the country, so why not be on one while the sun sets? This is a great option for both people who want something fun and casual to do, and people who want something romantic. As long as you read up on recreational fire regulations, you’ll be in for a great night.

Cocktail Cruise

While you’re at the ocean, look around for a fun cocktail cruise that will end your day on a great note without forcing you to reschedule your whole vacation. Cocktail cruises are usually no longer than a couple hours, but the key is to pick one that has the kind of entertainment you like that’ll see sights you want to explore. Some cruises are scheduled to end in a gorgeous sunset.

This is another great idea for people wanting casual or romantic sunset activity ideas. It’s popular to take a cocktail cruise with a bunch of your friends, because the atmosphere is so laid back. Still, it can give couples a private moment on a balcony that floats past stunning scenery, so why not give it a try? Especially if you get a cruise that focuses on ending with the sunset, you won’t even have to worry about timing your night. Let the cruise staff do that for you!

Hippie Hill

If you’re more of a laid back, easy going kind of person, Hippie Hill is definitely a place for you to try and catch the sunset. A gathering spot in Golden Gate Park since the 1960s, Hippie Hill provides a place where you can enjoy a range of sunset activities, like playing some fetch with your dog or holding a barbeque. With all of the ways you can enjoy the park, Hippie Hill is a great place to watch the sunset from, especially if you’re visiting with a group of friends.

 

Watching the sunset during a trip to San Francisco can easily make the top of the list of things you’re going to tell your friends about once you get back home. The key is to do some research and find the activity that fits your trip. Whether you’re looking for something fun or romantic, San Francisco will be able to offer something that fits your needs, all while basking in the orange glow of the sunset.

 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kacey is a lifestyle blogger for The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture & the world around us. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations & cultures, all while portraying her love for the world around her through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing & inspiring posts. Follow her on Twitter and Pinterest.


 

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An Australian Sunset Road Trip

By Roxana Oliver

There is something magical about sunsets. Everybody loves watching them and soaking up the sweet energy and colours they bring. If you happen to be in Australia, you cannot miss out on the opportunity of a lifetime to see the most mesmerizing sunsets in the world.

The Best Waterfront Sunset Spots in Australia

Pack your things, gather your closest family and friends and hit the road for a magical sunset road trip hitting these five stops.

Twelve Apostles, Great Ocean Road, Victoria

twelve apostles australia

You can start your road trip on the Great Ocean Road and move your way north. However, don’t miss out on seeing the most amazing sunsets the Great Ocean Road has to offer. This is one of the most iconic places in Australia, which can be busy with tourists during the day. Since your mission here is to capture the sunsets, you will manage to avoid the touristic chaos. The biggest star of the show is the Twelve Apostles, with its rocky coast and colourful sunsets. Sit down, unpack some snacks and drinks and watch the horizon. The colours will change magically, from bright orange to the most calming pink reflecting on the water and providing tranquillity and joy.

St. Kilda Beach, Melbourne

melbourne australia beach

Your next stop is Melbourne itself, with its stunning beaches and great atmosphere. Just as you ride into town, you should make your way to St. Kilda Beach. Melbourne is famous for its beaches filled with peace and landscapes, but on this one you can experience some of the most amazing sunsets. Watch the sun go down while you’re sipping some wine and having a snack and enjoy the view of the warm changing colours and calm clear waters. If you get the chance to take a boat out, you will be able to see the most amazing view, filled with silhouettes of boats showered in the sun and share it with your close ones.

Byron Bay, NSW

Byron Bay New South Wales

As you progress with your road trip, you should head east. Go to Byron Bay if you want to be present for some of the most amazing sunsets on the east coast. As you wait for the sun to set, you can take a long stroll along the beach and enjoy its sweet smells and calming sounds and colours. You can even visit the Cape Byron Lighthouse and snap some stunning photos of the most calming sunsets on the east. However, since the road is long from Victoria, and Byron Bay can be quite long, you can easily rely on charter bus rental agencies to provide you with the most comfortable vehicles for your long road trips on your sunset adventures.

Moreton Island, Queensland

Moreton Island Queensland

If you continue along the east coast, you are on the road to more memorable sunsets. Moreton Island can be your next stop and it is just an hour’s drive from Brisbane. This island is a peaceful oasis that can help you forget about the hustle and bustle of urban life and it will provide some compelling sunsets. This island features some of the most wonderful beaches, untamed forests and massive sand dunes, and if you find just the right spot before the sun goes down, you will witness something amazing. Since this island is filled with shipwrecks, the sunlight will reflect from the water and hit the corroded metal and it will provide a colourful oasis of light, shadow and tranquilizing colours that are worth seeing.

Daydream Island, Queensland

Daydream Island Australia sunset

This island lives up to its name. It is a perfect place for finishing up your road trip and enjoying the last sunset of this adventure. The whole island is filled with a romantic atmosphere and as the sunset comes, it becomes even more dreamy and passionate; that’s why it is a perfect place for couples to enjoy. The rocky waters make the greatest music found in nature, while the shades of orange will shift and create a great setting for sipping wine and leaning against someone’s shoulder.

If extreme adrenaline-rising adventures are not your thing, don’t despair. A sunset adventure can be equally as exciting, because you can see the most amazing views and beaches on your trip. Pack your bags, consider renting a vehicle and hit the road filled with colours and joy.

 


roxana guest post

Roxana is a travel enthusiast and lifestyle consultant from Sydney and she loves to write about her adventures. She is all about the healthy lifestyle, loves to run with her husband and dogs and has fun cooking exotic meals for her family. Being a typical Aussie, she often hits the waves and loves beaches and sunshine! You can find out more about her writing following her on twitter.


 

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6 Great Tips To Help You Travel With Instruments

By Natalie Wilson of Musical Advisors

Music is a universal art form, which makes the nomadic lifestyle a great fit for musicians of all types. Traveling and sharing music can be one of the most enjoyable ways to see the world. However, many musicians struggle to find ways to keep their instruments in good shape as they move from place to place. Often, moving instruments around, checking them as baggage on planes, and bringing them to environments with extreme temperatures can result in bangs, scratches, and cracked wood. However, traveling with an instrument can be a positive experience if you plan ahead to reduce the likelihood of any damage.

How To Go Travelling With Instruments

Here are some helpful tips for taking instruments while you travel:

Choose Travel-Friendly Instruments

mandolin and banjo

Some instruments are just made to be traveling with. These travel-friendly instruments will be lightweight and compact. For example, a ukulele is an excellent instrument to travel with because it’s so light that it won’t add much weight to your total luggage, but it will add countless sing-alongs. A tuba, on the other hand, might be a little more difficult to travel with.

You might find that large, heavy instruments are too burdensome to carry around and they might put a damper on your trip. Here are some other travel-friendly instruments that will add some extra enjoyment to your next trip:

  • Guitar
  • Mandolin
  • Banjo
  • Harmonica
  • Violin
  • Fiddle
  • Flute
  • Clarinet

Extra Padding

This is one of the most important tips because it will reduce the likelihood of your instrument getting banged up or scratched as it moves from place to place. When you place your instrument in its case, try laying down some towels or cloths to wrap your instrument in a protective layer. This extra padding will reduce the amount of room your instrument has to move around in its case, which will help to prevent the instrument from getting damaged.

Buy Your Instrument a Seat

If you’re planning on flying and you have a high-quality instrument, you might want to consider purchasing your instrument a seat on the plane. Many airlines now offer this as an option because of too many complaints about instruments getting damaged when they’re checked as regular baggage. If you’re instrument is expensive, it’s highly recommended you consider this option to prevent the instrument from breaking in the baggage compartment.

Additionally, if your instrument is made of wood, it might crack when exposed to very cold environments. By buying an extra seat, you’ll be able to ensure that your instrument is kept in an area with a mild temperature. Although buying an extra seat is expensive, replacing a high-end instrument will likely be much more.

Purchase a Lower Quality Instrument

old violin

If you have a high-end instrument that you’re worried about damaging on a trip, you might want to consider leaving it in a safe place, such as at home or at a friend’s house and purchasing a low-end travel instrument. When you purchase a cheap instrument specifically for the purpose of traveling, you’ll be much less upset if it becomes scratched or dented along the way.

When we’re traveling, we usually don’t have as much control over the environments our instruments will be exposed to. Not only is your instrument more likely to get damaged on a trip, in rare cases, some musicians have reported their instruments as having been stolen. Purchasing an instrument that won’t break the bank will prevent all of these worries from interfering with you enjoying your trip.

Buy a Humidifier

This tip also applies to instruments that are made of wood. If you plan on traveling in a cold and dry environment, you might want to invest in a small humidifier for your case. If you have a guitar, for example, you can buy a small humidifier that will sit between the strings of your instrument and maintain a humidified environment. This will prevent the wood from cracking.

Create a Strategic Pedalboard

If you play electric guitar and plan on traveling with technology, such as effect pedals, you’ll want to be strategic about the devices you bring with you. While at home you might be able to incorporate three boost pedals on a pedalboard, it might be more useful to only bring one when you’re trying to travel lightly. Consider what the absolute essential pedals are, and try to leave some of the not-so-necessary pedals at home. In fact, it can be easy if you know how to set up a pedalboard.

Ready To Take Your Instrument On The Road?

musician guitar

Hopefully, you found these tips on how to travel with an instrument useful. Traveling and playing music can be highly rewarding. Music is universal, and you’ll, therefore, be likely to make many new friends and acquaintances along the way by playing songs everyone can enjoy on your instrument.

When you’re trying to determine which instrument you should bring on your travels, search for one that will be lightweight and won’t take up a lot of room. In terms of technological musical devices, ask yourself what is absolutely necessary to bring, and leave the rest at home to make your luggage lighter. Additionally, remember to reduce the likelihood of your instrument getting damaged by providing extra padding, buying it a seat on an airplane, or buying a humidifier.


natalie musical advisors profile pictureABOUT THE AUTHOR

Hi there! My name’s Natalie Wilson and I’ve been playing guitar since the young age of five. As a performer, I’ve traveled extensively with my instruments and love to share tips about what I’ve learned throughout my career on my music blog.
On my blog, you’ll find reviews, tutorials, tips for musicians, and more.
Contact me: natalie.musicaladvisors@gmail.com.


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Amazing Countryside Road Trips In The USA

By Kacey Mya of The Drifter Collective

When one day blurs into the next and your coffee sits cold on your desk, you long for country roads to reconnect to your inner self. At home, after a long day, you wind down by doing yoga, binge watching a T.V. show or enjoying a glass of wine.

You seek whatever simple pleasures you can find. There’s something about the way mountains, meadows and farms stretch out over vast landscapes that soothes the soul, how the world is wide with wonder.

Enjoy the Countryside by Traveling to These Places

Wind down by taking a road trip on those winding country roads to these rural places:

Lover’s Leap in Virginia

“Virginia is for Lovers,” says the road sign as you cross the border into the state. The roads write and coil slowly upward like something alive, as the foothills flirt with daring cliffs. With stunning views from high precipices, Lover’s Leap winds through Patrick Country, Virginia and is located in Meadows of Dan, close to the North Carolina border. A sad tale surrounds the site as two lovers — a settler and Chief’s daughter — chose to be together in death, much as did Romeo and Juliet.

Also located in Meadows of Dan are farms, craft shops and botanical gardens. Wonder down to Henriedda Crafters to enjoy nostalgic crafts and take a stroll through nature at Dehart Botanical Gardens.

You’ll find wineries nearby in Floyd, Virginia. Give the Chateau Morrisette Winery and Restaurant and Villa Appalaccia Winery a try, which both feature live music and beautiful views.

Amish Country in Indiana

indiana countryside

For a return to simplicity, escape to Amish country in Indiana, where five locations make up the top ten settlements by Amish church districts: Allen County, Daviess County, Adams County, Elkhart and Lagrange Counties. The latter two make up the largest Amish settlement for the state. The settlements have Swiss roots, but there are differences in the communities, as some are more conservative and have various types of carriages due to slightly different practices.

In Elkhart county, visit Nappanee to try the delicious, traditional food at Threshers Dinner, where the threshers would gather every season to separate wheat grain from chaff. Stay at The Inn at Amish Acres, which is central to many of the area’s Amish attractions.

Kayaking and Whale Watching in Washington

You can’t get more picturesque than the small town of Port Townsend, Washington, especially if you physically need to be close to water at all times. At around 10,000 residents, this adorable town has a rich maritime history set on the northeast point of the Olympic Peninsula. Victorian homes and architecture dot the area, and residents and tourists alike enjoy kayaking and whale watching.

On rainy days, enjoy the rural pastime of antiquing, and listen to musicians play as you taste the wide selection of food: Try the seafood at Doc’s Marina Grill or the breakfast at Hudson Point Cafe.

From the daring cliffs of Lover’s Leap, to the simplicity of Amish Country and whale watching in an adorable marine town, let the countryside take you home in a way you haven’t been in a long time. Winding rural roads soothe the mind, body and soul, while teaching travelers the lessons of endurance, patience and simple joys.

 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kacey is a lifestyle blogger for The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture & the world around us. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations & cultures, all while portraying her love for the world around her through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing & inspiring posts. Follow her on Twitter and Pinterest.


 

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Beyond Insurance: Travel Protection Options You Should Know

You know not to leave home without travel insurance. But your basic coverage may be missing some important travel protection. While your travel insurance will get you through some of the more common mishaps and misfortunes, it often won’t help in the most severe, devastating, or expensive situations.

What’s Missing From Basic Travel Insurance?

Your basic travel insurance generally includes coverage for medical or dental emergencies. It typically covers procedures, tests, hospital stays, and prescriptions, as well as trip cancellation or interruption, lost luggage, and accidents. You’ll usually purchase travel insurance on a trip-by-trip basis or find long-term coverage for longer stays abroad. The credit card you use to book the trip or your employer-sponsored coverage may even provide basic travel insurance.

There are, however, some significant areas of additional protection that your basic travel insurance doesn’t cover, such as medical evacuation or repatriation, travel security, and crisis assistance. Luckily, membership programs like MedjetHorizon offer essential travel protection options. Ensuring that you’re covered for these areas is important, and it means making yourself aware of what your travel insurance plan covers and whether you need additional protection.

Medical Evacuation and Repatriation

medical evacuation travel protectionImage via Flickr by bert knottenbeld

Imagine yourself in an unfamiliar destination, requiring hospitalization for an illness or injury. While your medical expenses may be covered, you’re in a strange place, away from friends, family, and the comforts of being in your hometown. Even insurance plans that cover evacuation include only air transport to a hospital that the provider deems suitable. Having additional protection for medical evacuation and repatriation means arrangements will be made for you to be transported to the hospital of your choice, anywhere, regardless of the medical necessity.

This is huge, especially for longer hospital stays, as you’ll be able to spend your time healing close to home and with the support and medical treatment you know and trust. Without this, the expense to travel home via medical transport would be ridiculously high and not feasible for the majority of people. In fact, the cost of an air ambulance will most likely be no less than $10,000, and that’s not taking into account international distances or additional variables that can increase costs.

Travel Security and Crisis Assistance

Though serious incidents are few and far between, knowing you’ll be protected should an emergency or crisis arise while you’re abroad offers peace of mind above and beyond what basic travel insurance provides.

Acts of terrorism, political threat, or wrongful detention are some of the security issues that additional travel protection providers, such as MedjetHorizon, can help with. Crisis response networks are also available to help with other major issues such as medical and legal aid as well as global evacuation and rescue.

The worst part of being involved in a crisis abroad is not having the network and support you’d normally have while at home and having to search for the information and help yourself. By tapping into security and crisis assistance, you’ll be able to cover yourself in many unforeseen situations.

Illness and injury, political unrest and crime: it’s during unpredictable circumstances like these that having additional travel protection can make all the difference. So no matter where you’re going, take a look at your options and make sure you’re covered when it counts the most!

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Why Beijing Poses More Questions Than Answers

By Jane & Nigel of The Time of Our Lives

Ever been to a new place, desperate to learn about a fascinating culture, a unique cuisine or an unfamiliar way of life? I guess that’s why most of us travel. If we only wanted to experience a similar vibe to home but with a nice beach and better weather, we’d be holiday-makers. Nothing wrong with that, but in our minds, travel is something different.

In September 2016, we embarked on the biggest travel adventure of our lives … a 57-day, self-planned whizz around the world. Nine countries, packed full of bucket-list experiences, and over 35,000 miles of air, train and ship travel. And one of those countries was China.

As you can imagine, 57 days to do nine countries is nowhere near enough time. But it’s all we had and one of the tips that our flight booking agency gave us was that China waives its rather expensive visa fee if you spend fewer than 72 hours there and you are in transit. So we decided to shoe-horn in a 66-hour visit to Beijing, in between Japan and Vietnam. And we were really excited to see what the capital of the world’s most populous country and one of oldest surviving cultures had in store for us.

First Impressions of China

Beijing Scooter

Our first experience of China was immigration. Despite having special lanes for the 72-hour visa waiver, it appears that Beijing’s border team doesn’t see applicants very often. There were certainly no others in the immigration hall that evening and our case was escalated up to managerial level pretty promptly. Whilst not being rude, the questioning was not exactly what you might describe as welcoming. Ultimately, with all of our fellow passengers long gone, as well as all of the immigration officers except ours, we obtained a couple of passport stamps once we’d conclusively proved that we were planning to leave in 3 days’ time.

After a good night’s sleep in the luxurious, but not overly expensive Prime Hotel Beijing Wangfujing, we were up bright and early to take a look around – with the Forbidden City (a UNESCO world heritage site) being top of the list.

By this stage, we had already noticed that we couldn’t access our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts and that Google search results seemed drastically reduced. We all know that China is an authoritarian communist regime, but also that capitalism and entrepreneurship is a mainstay of the country’s huge growth. We were fascinated to see how these two apparent opposites sit alongside each other. And it wasn’t long, walking down Wangfujing Street that we further grappled with this conundrum. Having walked past what can only be described as a shanty town, built out of scrap corrugated iron and cardboard, we came to a major crossroads, where the world’s most premium designer brands – Rolex, Tiffany, Gucci – vied for the newly rich’s attention … and cash.

We walked on a little further, trying to get our heads around this place. And then a young man, spotting Nigel taking candid photos with a long lens, struck up a conversation with him about photography. We were slightly wary by this point and Nigel’s answers were uncharacteristically guarded. After a few minutes, the young man explained that this was where the famous Wangfujing night market had been until June that year. He showed us photos on his phone of the market’s last night. The government had apparently given the shopkeepers 2 months’ notice to vacate the place as it was designated for redevelopment. He said it was a sad day for the area.

Feeling slightly guilty for mistrusting the young man, we parted with hearty handshakes and mutual wishes of ‘all the best’.

Exploring the Major Sights in Beijing

Summer Palace Lake Beijing, CHina

The Forbidden City, built in the 15th century, is a remarkable sight, as much as anything for its vast scale. Our audio guides helped us make sense of it all and distinguish our Mings from our Tangs. It was crowded even in the chilly mid-October drizzle. One of the interesting visitor demographics was smart middle-aged professionals showing their elderly parents, presumably from a rural region, around the place. This juxtaposition, perhaps more than anything, showed the two sides of China … impatient, well-heeled ‘cut-and-thrusters’ and swarthy Maoists, slack-jawed at the majesty of their surroundings.

On a gloomy second day, we explored the Summer Palace, a taxi-ride away to the north-west of the Forbidden City. We ended up doing a boat ride to the palace with a raucous party of Chinese tourists. We appeared to be slightly more fascinating to this group than the gorgeous royal surroundings, which made us slightly self-conscious and bemused. On disembarking, Jane, in particular, was grabbed by the arm to be included in photos. The smiles were warm and friendly, but, once again, we were puzzled by the experience. If anything, we preferred the Summer Palace to the Forbidden City. We took a long walk along the lake in the mist and the palace itself is more self-contained and less crowded.

On our departure day, we had planned in a trip to the Great Wall. Having negotiated with a taxi driver to take us there and then onto the airport afterwards, we set off early. Communicating in China for us non-Mandarin speakers, is generally conducted via a translation app. This ended up in a few hilarious exchanges, but ultimately, we got by.

We went to the length of the Great Wall at Mutianyu. This is not the closest stretch to the centre of Beijing, but, maybe for that reason, it’s known for being less crowded, especially if you get there nice and early (say 8.30am). More by luck than judgement, we took the gondola (not the chair lift) to the top of the wall and got a toboggan back down. Having seen all of the options whilst we were there, we would definitely recommend that combination, unless you are determined to walk. That left us with a 1.5 mile walk along the top which was just about perfect. It’s really something else to say you’ve been there.

So What Did We Make Of Beijing?

Time Of Our Lives Great Wall of China

Well, maybe it was because we had just come from uber-courteous Japan, but we found most of the Chinese people we encountered loud and brash. But then we came across the young man in Wangfujing and the Summer Palace day-trippers – who were warm and full of smiles. Puzzle number one.

Puzzle number two was the capitalist/communist thing. We definitely noticed the touch of an authoritarian hand. And then we saw motorways fully loaded with BMWs, Audis and Mercedes. How these worlds are coexisting happily is not at all obvious.

And puzzle number three is the culture. We tasted food with flavours that were so unfamiliar as to be otherworldly. The folk religion, involving ancestor worship, is as old as civilisation itself. Customs, traditions, language … it’s all so alien to westerners, that it would truly take a lifetime to comprehend.

So we spent 66 hours trying to understand a little bit of this world. But we left with more questions than answers. Which, in a way, is the best excuse for a return trip for the curious traveller.


Time of Our Lives Profile PicJane and Nigel are a travel-blogging couple from the UK, both with two daughters and a passion for people and places. Former BBC journalist, Jane is always looking for a great story and is never happier than when she has a notebook and a travel ticket. Since he was a teenager, Nigel’s ambition has been to travel to 50 countries by the time he was 50. And he’s recently achieved that goal. Follow them at www.thetimeofourlives.net, on Twitter, on Facebook and on Instragram.


 

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A Guide To Visiting New York CIty

New York City Travel Guide

New York City is the most popular destination in the world, and for good reason. With first-class entertainment options, world-famous landmarks, buzzing street activity and nightlife, it is an epicenter of culture, diversity and excitement. Your choices are seemingly endless when it comes to hotels, which means deciding which hotel to book can be a challenge, as options range from hostels to ultra-luxurious global chains. IHG® can help you find accommodations that cater to your wants and needs while you explore what makes NYC so unique.

New York City CityscapeImage via Flickr by hijanisch

Things to See

New York City is home to a multitude of world-renowned landmarks, so prioritizing your time during your visit is essential. For the ultimate sightseeing adventure, consider one of the hotels in Manhattan, home to the Empire State Building, Times Square, Wall Street and the 9/11 Memorial. Manhattan can easily fill your itinerary with must-dos, and a short boat ride across the harbor takes you to the Statue of Liberty. After a day of sightseeing, a stroll through Central Park is an excellent way to unwind.

Hotels in New York City

New York City hosts almost 55 million visitors each year and offers an incredible array of destinations and attractions to explore. Regardless of when you go, where you stay or what you do, there are plenty of hotels to fit your specific needs, and by booking through IHG, you are assured a great stay while you explore New York.

Where to Stay

When considering hotels in New York City, first choose your ideal borough, since each has its own character, advantages and charms. You may want to be closer to the multicultural cuisine of Queens or the tree-lined streets of Brooklyn. Midtown Manhattan is a prime location for visitors wanting to be within walking distance of Broadway plays or 5th Avenue shops, although they can be expensive. If you want to be in the middle of the action, look for a Times Square hotel location. Luckily, there are many reasonably priced hotels inside and outside of Manhattan, and getting around is easy.

How to Get to New York City

The New York City metropolitan area is served by three key airports: John F. Kennedy International Airport, La Guardia Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, which is only 15 miles from Manhattan. Those visiting the city by rail will enjoy the iconic Grand Central Terminal or Pennsylvania Station, the city’s two main railway stations. Travelers with shorter stays may find New York City hotels near major transportation hubs more convenient and more budget-friendly.
The thought of getting around the city can be intimidating for first-time visitors, but traveling throughout the city and its five boroughs is surprisingly easy, thanks to the extensive Metro subway system. Along with its low cost and vast network of routes, the Metro is an efficient way to explore the city. In addition, you can easily hail a cab for a direct route to your destination.