7 Ways to Fake a First Class Experience in Economy

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Long-haul flights are the worst. If you’re on a 10-hour flight, cramped up with legroom that even a dog couldn’t fit in, food that is only fit for a prison cafeteria, in seats that I can only imagine are filled with more germs than a toilet, you’re in for one hell of a ride (literally).

But not everyone can shell out the ridiculous prices it costs to travel in Business or First Class. “Help me, I’m poor!

Here are seven tips to make your Economy experience a little less miserable and — although not exactly like First Class — a whole lot better than your buddies who didn’t read this post.

#1: Book The Right Seats

Before picking your seats, check Seat Guru. You’ll find critical seat information like if you’re going to be stuck sitting next to a bassinet (a.k.a. a screaming child) or the bathroom (a.k.a. poop smells) all flight long.

If traveling with a friend, book the window and the aisle seat. More often than not, the center seat will remain empty which = more room. And even if someone swoops that seat, they will only be extra grateful to you when you ask them to switch to the window.

#2: Carry On Cocktail Kit (… and a Plastic Champagne Flute)

Just because you’re not in First Class doesn’t mean you can’t drink like you are. First Class offers top shelf liquors. So, if you’re a booze snob (I hope to be you one day by the way), head to BevMo and purchase premium mini liquor bottles to take on the plane.

If you only care about the buzz (holla!), it’s all about how you drink that drink. Pack a mini cocktail kit and a plastic champagne flute for ultimate luxury that even your Instagram won’t be able to tell you just faked.

#3: Pack Your Own Snacks

Let’s be real, Economy in-flight meals will never win Top Chef or even, say, a pre-school cooking competition. The real difference between Economy and First Class (aside from the seats which, well, there’s no solution for that) is the food.

The key here is snacking. First class offers a wide array of options available any time during the flight, so be sure to pack a variety of treats. A few of my favorite are: clementines, a cheese and crackers snack box (thank you, Starbucks), See’s Candy, nuts (to go with your cocktails obvi), dried/fresh fruit, coconut water (which you should purchase at the airport), pretzels, and a small pack of almond butter.

Ostrich Pillow

Pack a Sleep Mask … or an Ostrich Pillow

#4: Bring a Face Mask

Sure, you run the risk of looking like a serial killer for 30 minutes but it’s well worth the temporary embarrassment. Grab one of those sheet masks, head to the bathroom, wash your face and your hands and once you’re back at your seat, plop that baby on.

If you’re on the shy side, wait until the cabin lights are dimmed. Bonus tip: make sure it doesn’t have a strong smell, you want to avoid acting like a serial killer.

#5: Bring PJs to Change Into

On long haul flights, First Class fliers get their own personal jammies. If they get it, so should we, amirite?

Bring a change of cozy clothes to put on whenever you’re ready to hit that snooze button. Oh, and don’t forget some socks (compression socks are the best).

#6: Eye Mask, Ear Plugs, and a Neck Pillow

This one is a must. For ultimate relaxation, don’t forget a heavy duty eye mask and a pair of ear plugs to drown out your neighbor’s snores.

If you’re fancy enough to have a pair of noise-canceling headphones … well, I’m incredibly jealous of you.

'Bridesmaids' First Class (movie screenshot)

#7: Bring an iPad Filled With Movies

Most airlines provide decent entertainment, even in Economy. But, if you really want to take it to the next level, download a bunch of movies on your iPad. Just make sure it’s charged before takeoff or bring a portable charging stick. Pack a ziplock full of popcorn and you, my friend, are all set.

And now I know it won’t be exactly like Upper Class, but it’ll sure make your Economy experience a whole lot more bearable. Hopefully, this makes you less likely to channel that iconic scene from Bridesmaids where you put on your biggest shades and sneak into the First Class Cabin, Mrs. Iglesias.

Remember, a flight is just that. A flight that takes you somewhere new, somewhere special, and begins your journey to discovery. So what if you have to sit in a smelly, cramped tube for several hours? At least you’ll have extra money to spend on the actual adventure now.

Safe travels!

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Why You Need These Socks for Your Next Long-haul Flight

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Compression socks are for diabetics and old people.

That was my rather ignorant belief for the last decade. And it’s not entirely inaccurate.

But, when a few travel friends reported cases of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) after long-haul flights, I began to understand the need for such socks.

DVT is a serious condition that’s an equal opportunity attacker, meaning it doesn’t much care how good a shape you’re in. Worst case scenario: blood clots in your veins can break loose, travel through your bloodstream and lodge in your lungs, blocking blood flow (pulmonary embolism).

So, yeah. I don’t want that.

Which is why, when CEP Compression reached out to me and offered to send a pair of Recovery+ Merino Socks, I figured it was time to check them out for myself.

CEP Compression Men's Recover+ Merino Travel Socks

CEP Compression Men’s Recovery+ Merino Travel Socks

The Skinny

In short, CEP promises rather succinctly that their Recovery+ Socks will help you:

Regain your power from nature. For all athletes for recovery, daily use and travel.

The Traveler’s Take

It’s easy to imagine that there isn’t much to write about socks. Because … they’re socks.

But, it turns out that CEP packs an awful lot of technology into every pair. And all of it is great for, not just athletes, but travelers too. For one, the fabric blend (74% Polyamid, 15% Merino Wool, 11% Elastan) is ridiculously soft and comfortable. You haven’t lived until you’ve worn merino wool. (Seriously, go out now and change at least half your wardrobe to merino. You’ll thank me later.)

More importantly, the Elastan band means they stay exactly where they’re supposed to be on your leg without falling down or wearing too tight. This is part of what makes the Recovery+ socks so effective and important for travelers. They’re crucial for anyone who travels long distances and must remain seated for long periods of time. When movement is constrained, blood circulation to the legs is restricted causing heavy legs, leg pain, swollen feet and ankles, and even blood clots (the previously mentioned DVT). The socks help reduce the pain and swelling caused by long travel days and also increase circulation in the legs and feet.

On a technical level, CEP describes it as: “media compression and SMART INFRARED technology that work together to improve circulation down to the capillary level.” While the Vagabondish lab is not equipped to scientifically prove this, we can confirm that the socks are very comfortable and very snug (both of which you want in compression socks).

A few more reasons to love these socks: they’re antibacterial with serious odor-reducing properties. Their durability means, when the time does come to wash them, they can be thrown in the washer and even machine dried (on low, of course).

Pricing and Availability

The Men’s Recovery+ Merino Socks are available in black for around $60 USD directly from CEP Compression and from Amazon.

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5 Secrets to Enjoying All the Benefits of Money … Without Actually Having Any

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This year, my boyfriend and I took the dog, the cat, and walked away from our home and our jobs. We moved into a tiny Rialta RV, relinquished our possessions, and gave up many of our luxuries. In exchange, we opted for a life of endless travel, complete freedom, and all the time in the world to do whatever we wanted.

Neither of us had ever lived in an RV before, and we’ve both worked hard all our lives. We had “normal,” 9-to-5 office jobs, and lived for the weekends just like everyone else we knew. We believed that to enjoy some aspects of life, money was required. We didn’t have the financial luxury to do what we wanted 100% of the time … but oh, if we ever won that lottery … THEN we could really live!

What we’ve found after some time on the road is that everything we wanted was there all along, and it didn’t come with a price tag. Here are the principles we embraced to retire into a wealth we never thought possible.

Dream Girl, England
Dreaming in England © @Doug88888

#1: To Be Twice as Rich, Halve Your Expenses

The 9-to-5 rat race is a bum deal. It requires you to work to afford things that you never have the time to enjoy anyway. You kill yourself to own a big home that you never spend any time in. Your PTO piles up with vacation time which you never use because work is too demanding. You’re too busy climbing the ladder, earning money to afford those vacations which you never take.

See the pattern here? You live for the weekends, except that by the weekend you’re so exhausted that you have limited energy. So you mostly just rest. It’s a terrible cycle.

It doesn’t work this way for everyone, but for us it did. We decided to opt out by drastically cutting our expenses. Giving up the home was a big one. Mortgage was a money suck. So was maintenance, things to fill our home with, and cleaning.

I gave up my cell phone and replaced it with a free Skype number. By installing solar panels on the RV (in progress), our electricity expenses will be reduced to a big fat zero. No money spent at RV parks either, since we need no hook-ups. If we don’t feel like driving, we can self-support at a remote trailhead with no amenities for weeks at a time.

We use free wifi, which we can find on pretty much any corner these days. And when we want to, we disconnect by parking on a mountain trail somewhere, embracing isolation. Our water use is minuscule, as we use creeks and waterfalls to rinse off or hand-wash our clothes with biodegradable soap. We have no cable or television, but we like going to the movies!

We have one small pot and one small pan, which we use to make food in the RV. Living is simple and extremely cheap. With our family of two adults, one dog, and one cat, we can live very comfortably on $1,000/month or less.

I have a laptop for all my writing, and then drop into town for a wifi connection to email things or make a post. I also have a Kindle with over 300 books on it, which I pull out before bed for some good quality reading. I get free Kindle books online on thousands of topics. Since everything interests me, I don’t think I’ll ever finish all the books I want to read. Without a 9-to-5 job, I can do more writing (potentially more income), more reading (higher quality research for writing), and more living (many more experiences with so much more to write about).

Want to be twice as rich? Halve your expenses. You’ll be surprised at how little you actually need to feel happy and fulfilled.

#2: You Don’t Have to Own Something to Enjoy It

This principle blew my mind. There are so many things we can get for free, or for minimal payment that others work tirelessly to own. Some of them I have already mentioned, like cable, internet access, and e-books. But there are others:

  • Instead of owning a pool, we can park at the ocean for days of free water play.
  • Instead of a gym membership, we can spend weeks playing on endless miles of trails.

We also enjoy activities like kayaking, fishing, or scuba diving (to name a few) via rentals, for a fraction of the cost of owning the gear required for such activities. Not to mention that the things we value most — fresh air, travel, and the freedom to enjoy life — don’t cost us a cent anyway.

Wind, Water, and Fire; Its All You Need
© Zach Dischner

#3: Lack of Money Buys Freedom

If you’re filthy rich, you can enjoy limitless freedom. But when you’re dirt poor, you can enjoy pretty much the same freedom. If you happen to be somewhere in the middle, that’s when you’re tied down. In the middle, you need to work to pay your debts and expenses. You’re not rich enough to stop working, and not “poor” enough to give up those expenses and luxuries. You’re stuck indefinitely.

When you’re too poor to afford the “luxuries” so common in that middle space (say, furniture and lawn care), you have complete freedom to spend your time doing whatever you want. Just as if you were rich. You don’t have to work as much or at all. You have no one to report to. You can come and go as you wish. No home to maintain. No rooms to clean. You can pick which opportunities and activities you want to be involved in, and actually be picky about it. Your range of choices in life is substantially wider.

These days, many people consider a good travel trip a resort vacation, which of course implies money. But I’m convinced the reason we crave resort-type spots is because we’re exhausted from working so much that we need a quiet place to rest and unwind. However, when you’re working less, you’ll be amazed and how much energy you have. Suddenly a resort vacation sounds boring. You want to run. Hike. Move. Swim. Travel. All of which we can do indefinitely, and free of charge. And if you still want to rest, try lying on a beach like a sand bum for … as long as you want. And that’s the life we’re living now.

Dream Pool, Oregon
© Ian Sane

#4: There’s Free Stuff Everywhere

Sadly, we live in a society where so much is wasted: food, products, energy … the list goes on. Fortunately for RV bums like us, this also means we have an endless supply of free goodies at our fingertips. We can get our hands on anything from food to travel products to personal hygiene products.

In this hyper-consumerist society, we could easily survive on samples alone. And if that’s not possible, we are happy to offer manual labor or personal service in exchange for the goods we need. No currency exchanged.

Between the two of us, my boyfriend and I have a wealth of bartering services at our disposal. He has an engineering background and is awesome at all those “boy” things like manual labor and figuring things out without needing directions. I’m more creative and great at anything related to writing, PR, editing, publishing, promotion, online, etc. This, combined with my journalism background, gives me access to limitless products in exchange for reviews or help with promotion.

For example, we don’t always pay for running gear or races (unless we want to, and we still do when we want to support certain products or events). I get free pet gear for our dog and cat — things like food, leashes, running harness or packs, etc. The most common things I get for free are clothing, running shoes, and sunglasses. These are the three things I regularly have to turn down because I either don’t have enough space for them in the RV, I’m not interested in the product, or I don’t want to put in the time to write a review.

The product benefits extend to my boyfriend as well, and this aspect alone has saved us thousands of dollars. I often joke that my boyfriend and I are the best-dressed hobos out there, testing all the latest “stuff”. I should also mention that not having a job means I have more time to put lots of miles on all this gear, promote what I like, and produce many more reviews and videos, making the freebies much easier to get. Yet another aspect of freebies we enjoy is sponsorships. Over the years we have been sponsored by SportKilt, INKnBURN, and GORE-TEX.

If you’re not a writer, these same freebie possibilities are still open to you. One common misconception is that you have to be an elite in order to get sponsorships or freebies. Untrue. All you need is to be noticed, to have some clout. To have a personality or an appearance or a following that makes you stand out from the crowd. Anything at all. You could wear a costume. You could cover yourself in tattoos. You could have a popular blog.

In the world we live in now with endless blogs and opportunities to self-publish, it’s easier than ever to “be a writer”. But keep in mind — you still have to be good in order for people to follow you. You have to offer something. Check out this great post by Jason Robillard to get you started on the road paved with freebies.

Mountain Biking in Burrard Inlet Indian Reserve 3, British Columbia, CA
Mountain Biking, British Columbia © andy_c

#5: Movement, Not Money, Buys Happiness

We’ve all heard variations of the saying that “money buys (or doesn’t buy) happiness.” I don’t know too much about that, but I can tell you without a doubt that movement definitely equals true happiness. I have this epiphany every time I’m running on a deserted trail in the middle of the week when everyone else is at work. I am happy when I’m moving. And I don’t think it’s just me.

I can tell you without a doubt that movement definitely equals true happiness.

My boyfriend and I can indulge this thirst for movement on a daily basis and sometimes several times a day. The joy we feel in being able to physically move our bodies all day long is unparalleled.

I’ve watched our dog make a transformation as well. In her old life, she stayed at home and waited for us to get home from work. She got long runs on the weekend, and sometimes a shorter run or ball play during the week. We tried to take her out as much as possible, but her outdoor time didn’t compare to what it is now.

As soon as we put our dog in the RV environment, she transformed. She is more well behaved and, for the first time since I’ve known her, genuinely tired at the end of the day. She is no longer jealous of the cat (ha!), and she used to be more skittish of other dogs. Now she wants to meet them as her doggie self-esteem has improved too.

As soon as we wake up in the morning, Ginger and I step right out on the trail to run or hike. Then it’s breakfast. Then more playtime until it’s time to go to bed. Yesterday she was prancing through a creek with us, jumping and barking playfully while we all splashed around. Ginger lives a better life now than some humans do. And I believe that this is how all humans are meant to live.

The truth is, we belong outside. Our bodies, our skin, our organs, were built to be outdoors. We belong to the trails and the mud and the streams. Yet these are precisely the things that we have built walls to keep out. We sanitize ourselves against the very things that scrub our souls clean, and then wonder why our bodies are breaking down along with our spirits.

Our minds were not created to be satisfied with the repetitive motions of menial jobs. We are not stimulated that way. We are not happy. But here on the trails is where we find ourselves.

And the best part is that all of this is free. I could run a new trail every day from now until my dying day and never cover all the great space that this beautiful country has to offer. So much of it we will never see. And yet during the week, we are all alone on this great land. We run and laugh and play and wonder where everyone else is.

And then we remember … they’re all at work.

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The Adventurous Gal’s Travel Guide to Staying Safe, Sane, and Comfortable in Egypt

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We’re fresh back from our tour of Egypt with Lady Egypt Tours!

After two weeks in the country, talking with plenty of locals and doing way more research than I should have about our trip … here’s everything women (solo and otherwise) need to know — from clothing to customs to safety — for an unforgettable trip to the land of the Pharaohs.

Kelsey standing outside Abu Simbel Temples

Kelsey standing outside Abu Simbel

Solo Female Travelers: What to Pack for Egypt

Clothing

Egypt is more sand than streets, so you’ll want to pack for spending a week in the desert, even if you plan on being mostly in Cairo or any of the other cities. Deserts get insufferably hot during the day and surprisingly cold at night, meaning layering is key.

Pack lightweight items that are either moisture-wicking or 100% cotton or linen. (This goes double for your underwear!) I opted for linen pants and cotton shirts over cotton tank tops.

For the chilly nights, I wore jeans and cotton sweaters with open weaves for breathability. I went for versatility, packing items that I could hike in during the day and dress up for fancy dinners at night.

I’m the queen of flip-flops so it was hard to be without them, but it’s best to leave them at home for this trip. Everything in Egypt is dusty and open-toe shoes mean you’ll be left with filthy feet at the end of each day.

No-name slip-on shoes for women

No-name slip-on shoes for women — perfect for Egypt (and gardening)!

I used a pair of no-name, cushion walk slip-ons. They ended up being perfect — the rubber soles let me climb a desert mountain and comfortably walk through sand dunes. The cushion walk kept my feet comfy even on the longest of days, and the canvas top breathed easy, allowing my feet to stay cool, and more importantly dry, on the hottest days (which is a miracle because I have the sweatiest feet on the planet!).

Best Accessories for Egypt

A scarf is the most important item you can bring, period. (OK, after your passport …) When visiting religious buildings, women are required to cover their hair. Scarves are also key for desert excursions, protecting your hair and mouth from the dust. Along with the scarf, be sure to pack plenty of bobby pins. They aren’t just great for keeping flyaways out of your face, they’ll help hold your scarf securely in place all day.

For days when you’ll be exploring the cities or ancient temples, you can opt for a sun hat instead of a scarf. Of course, you’ll lose the cooling, moisture-wicking effect by not wearing a scarf, so sun hats are better options for cooler days.

Kelsey on an ATV in the desert outside Hurghada

Mad Max-style ATV’ing in the desert outside Hurghada, Egypt

Sunglasses are the second most important accessory. Not only is Egypt a sunny country (obviously) in general, but the glare of the sun bouncing off the sand dunes can be absolutely blinding.

SPF Lip Balm & Makeup

There are few things more miserable than dry, cracked lips from too much desert sun. Be sure to always have a conditioning lip balm that contains SPF and reapply often.

Along with the lip balm, try a loose powder foundation that contains SPF. I normally don’t wear makeup on days when I’ll be hiking, but the SPF powder makeup felt much cooler on my face (it was probably psychological, but I definitely prefered it over caking on sunscreen!).

Contents of the Hedgren Carina Travel Purse

Hedgren Carina Travel Purse — Fits all the things!

The Perfect Purse

For me, one of the biggest issues when traveling is knowing which bag to bring. I always pack as light as possible and limit myself to either a backpack or a purse. Backpacks for adventurous excursions and purses for staying in cities. This trip was a little different though. It combined both city exploration and desert adventures.

One week before we left, I got my Hedgren Carina purse and it was a game-changer. It has a million compartments like my backpack but it is also a stylish cross-body that’s perfect for going out on the town. I fell in love and it’s officially the only bag I’ll ever travel with from now on.

Cat sleeping in a suitcase

Don’t pack the cat, no matter what she tells you!

Always Carry

My list of “always carry” items for female travelers tends to stay the same for every trip, but there were a few extras I made sure to have on hand for Egypt. Obviously, you should always keep your passport on you. Try to keep it in a spot that is not easily accessed by pickpockets, like an interior pocket.

After a traumatic road trip emergency years ago, I learned to always have toilet paper with me, no matter where I go. The majority of public restrooms do not stock TP. You’ll need to get it from a bathroom attendant so be sure to always have small Egyptian coins on hand for tipping. Actually, you’ll be doing a lot of tipping in Egypt, so it’s good to keep a supply of small bills on you as well.

But along with the emergency TP, I also carry a small bottle of Poo-Pouri spray. It’s not just for covering your own embarrassing odors, it works great at covering up existing odors in the questionable restrooms you’ll encounter. Egypt is one of the countries where you shouldn’t flush the toilet paper so odors definitely tend to linger. Poo-Pouri has saved my nose on more than one occasion.

And, of course, I always have hand sanitizer for cleaning up when I’m done. A few of the public restrooms didn’t have running water so my sanitizing gel was the only option.

The drinking water is questionable in Egypt. Only drink bottled water (or carry a SteriPen UV Water Purifier which we love) and only buy bottles that have the plastic seal on the cap. You should also make sure you have a supply of preventive Cipro from your doctor. I got horribly sick for a few days and had to rely on an antibiotic that is not approved in the US. It all turned out fine for me but Egypt does not regulate antibiotics the way we do in the States, so it’s best to bring a reliable stash of medicine from home.

Egyptian Customs

Egypt is a mostly Islamic country, but the guidelines for women aren’t nearly as strict as I imagined they would be. I did a lot of research prior to heading there. I wanted to be sure I was respecting their culture but nothing I found online seemed to tell me exactly what to expect.

After speaking extensively with men on their customs and how women are viewed: they are a strict society that is working to be much more open-minded. Women don’t have to walk behind their husbands, but some still do. They don’t have to cover their hair and faces, but some still do. They can go to school and work, but some still chose to stay home.

What does that mean for tourists? It means you won’t be harassed on the streets for walking next to your boyfriend or wearing a tank top. It means you don’t have to fear for your safety if you wear a skirt. I was told prior to going that I should always keep my shoulders and knees covered but once I arrived I saw that rule doesn’t seem to apply anymore.

Your best bet is to travel the country with a tour guide and they will let you know if you should cover up depending on how “touristy” each town is. In Cairo and Aswan, I covered up while in Hurghada I walked around the resort in my bathing suit.

Together in a horsedrawn carriage outside Luxor, Egypt

Together in a horsedrawn carriage outside Luxor, Egypt

As far as public displays of affection, I recommend keeping them to a minimum. While Mike and I held hands in public, we never kissed. I also never hugged my tour guides (… and I’m a hugger, folks — I hug everyone!). When posing for photos, my male tour guides always made sure to keep space between us and not get too close.

You’ll notice that men are very affectionate with each other in public, often walking arm in arm and kissing on the cheek. You’ll hear them call each other “habibi” (“my darling”). But men and women rarely have physical contact with one another in public. Of course, there’s no law saying you can’t smooch your sweetie at the pyramids, but the respectful thing to do is to save it for the privacy of your hotel room.

Kelsey with Loud Muhammad in the desert near Hurghada

Hands at your sides — NO TOUCHING!

Safety in Egypt

Despite the horrific attacks against Coptic Christians in early 2017, statistically, Egypt is very safe, especially for tourists. The country’s main source of revenue was always, and continues to be, tourism. After the revolution in 2011, tourism dropped drastically which severely impacted their economy. Egyptians know that tourists are their bread and butter and they want to do everything in their power to make sure the industry picks up again.

Egyptian Tourism Police Near the Valley of the Whales

Tourism Police tearing up the dunes near Egypt’s Valley of the Whales

The Ministry of Tourism tracks the location and movement of many visiting tourists, often providing police escorts for day excursions to remote sites like Valley of the Whales and Abu Simbel. I never once felt “unsafe” while traveling the country and often the policemen who accompanied us would check on me to be sure I felt safe in crowded areas.

Egypt is no different than any other foreign country you might visit. Be aware of the United States travel advisories (although take them with a grain of salt) and always be alert when you are in an unfamiliar area.

Do’s & Don’ts for Traveling to Egypt

And finally some Do’s and Don’ts to keep in mind before you embark on your own trip to Egypt:

Do: Research before you go

A week before I was set to leave for Cairo, the bombings in Alexandria and Tanta happened. Rather than freaking out and canceling the trip, I hopped onto forums to talk to actual Egyptians living in Egypt to get their thoughts. All assured me that the country is safe and security had been greatly increased. The only advice I was given was to be cautious around the Coptic Churches. Since that wasn’t in my itinerary anyway, I felt reassured that I would be perfectly safe on my trip – and I was!

Don’t: Worry

Egypt isn’t only safe, but the people are some of the friendliest I’ve ever met. I came down with a bad stomach bug one day into our three-day Nile cruise. Not only did our tour guide call the room to check on me daily, but the head chef of the ship heard I was sick and sent me a fruit platter.

Traditional Coffee at Khan el Khalili Bazaar in Cairo, Egypt

Traditional (and very strong!) Coffee at Khan el Khalili Bazaar

Do: Try the local cuisine

Now is the time to be adventurous and try *everything*. Each region of Egypt has its own unique specialty dishes. In Cairo we sampled traditional coffee and koshari; in Aswan, we feasted on an amazing Nubian lunch; and in the desert outside of Hurghada, we dined with the Bedouins.

Every meal featured new foods and I happily dug right in, devouring everything in sight! And without any guilt too! Egyptian food is super healthy, featuring mainly vegetables and lean meats.

Don’t: Go alone

Just like in any foreign country with crowded marketplaces, you should have a companion with you, even if it’s just your tour guide. In the tourist towns, there are touts that will harass and follow you trying to get you to buy from them. Most are polite and will leave you alone if you wave your hand with a dismissive “la shukran” (“No thank you.”).

However, there are pickpockets in some areas so you need to be alert. Traveling with a companion or a group makes you less likely to be a victim of harassment or petty crime.

Do: Use a tour company

Traveling from town to town in Egypt can be a logistical nightmare for solo travelers. The Ministry of Tourism must be kept informed of the movements of tourists traveling through the country. This means constant check-ins and often an armed police escort — something that even us well-traveled folks at Vagabondish just don’t want to have to deal with setting up on our own.

By using a tour company like Lady Egypt Tours, did all of the important details were taken care of for us and we were able to sit back, relax, and enjoy the trip.

Kelsey Kissing a Baby Goat in Egypt

Don’t kiss baby goats in Egypt!

Don’t: Kiss the baby goats

… no matter how cute they are! My stomach bug most likely was from drinking unfiltered water. But I also kissed a baby goat that day, sooo … we can’t actually be sure what got me sick. Just learn from my mistake and leave the livestock alone =)

The post The Adventurous Gal’s Travel Guide to Staying Safe, Sane, and Comfortable in Egypt appeared first on Vagabondish.


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6 Travel Books Whose Stories & Adventures You Can Follow (in Real Life)

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Where do we find our travel inspiration? Often it’s through stories that other people tell us, or travel features that we browse online. But many times, it can be through a physical book.

Whether you are already in foreign lands or at home looking for inspiration on where to go, here are six of the best travel books whose stories and adventures you can follow in real life. Be inspired by the respective author and undertake the same (or similar) trip. Bon voyage!

Best Travel Books That You Can Follow in Real Life

#1: The Old Patagonian Express by Paul Theroux

Paul Theroux’s tale, The Old Patagonian Express, dates back to the 1970s, when he train-traveled all the way from Boston down to Argentina. (Ok, technically for parts of it that was impossible, but the goal was to take a train all the way, which he did the majority of the time). Given that Theroux’s journey was a while back, it may be impossible to re-create the exact adventure. In fact, it certainly is impossible, since many of the trains in Argentina, for example, have stopped running. A car or the local buses (extremely comfortable options available, by the way) will have to suffice.

As you travel south, you can still identify with some of the statements that Theroux makes, or at least note the difference in how time has changed the landscape, be it political, natural, social or economic. Theroux’s tale is a great read no matter where you are in the world, and his astute observations about the differences between travelers and tourists, for example, make it one of my very own favorite travel books.

#2: The Tramp by Mark Twain

Theroux will have you smiling at times, but Twain will really get you roaring. His sarcasm and irony make for an entertaining read just about wherever you are. If you are lonely and alone on the road, this might be the literary pick to cheer you up.

Specifically, The Tramp tells of Twain’s adventures in Switzerland. My favorite chapter tells of his hike up the Rigi mountain, a journey that in fact inspired me to follow not so long ago.

Travel Book (in Rio de Janeiro)Encadré (Jardim Botânico, Rio de Janeiro) © Frédéric della Faille

#3: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Ever since the movie with Julia Roberts and Javier Bardem, Eat, Pray, Love was ringing in everybody’s ears. Note, however, that the book isn’t exactly the same as the film (which book ever is?) and that the former is worth a read in itself.

It tells the story of young Gilbert, who absconds from “conventional life” to travel to three different countries: Italy, India, and Bali. While in the first, she savors all kinds of Italian culinary delights, she practices intensive yoga and meditation in the second. In Bali, in turn, she ends up finding true love.

While some men will enjoy the book, it is really a read for women. Recreating the tale will involve not only quite a budget (since the story involves three countries) but also a partner of the opposite sex, to be found in Bali.

However, finding enough delicious gelato, pizza and pasta in Italy really shouldn’t be a problem. So there you go, just eat, pray, love and you have a three-country adventure all set out in front of you.

#4: Vagabonding by Rolf Potts

Vagabonding is less of a single travel tale, but rather a guide on how to keep traveling forever. Rolf Potts did exactly that, and now has become notorious in the travel writing world for this very book.

In it, you will find detailed advice on how to launch a perpetual career as a nomad, including practical tips on selling your unnecessary belongings and budgeting for your initial time on the road. After that, you will eventually need to find a way to maintain yourself, unless you have a trust fund. Potts again provides useful advice for the former; he himself got started by teaching abroad.


Reading in Flores, Guatemala © stephen

#5: The Camino: A Journey of the Spirit by Shirley McLaine

Shirley McLaine aptly calls the Camino “a journey of the spirit”. The “Camino” in this case refers to the “Camino de Santiago,” the Way of St. James – a pilgrimage that ends in Santiago de Compostela in Spain. In the olden days, it was always a religious pilgrimage. Now, people undertake the journey for all kinds of reasons, whether it be a simple interest in hiking; a way to see the landscape; or even as an alternative honeymoon activity (yes, I met a couple who did that).

Shirley McLaine is one of the many authors who was inspired by the Camino and her tale has inspired numerous others to tread in her footsteps. Of note is that McLaine traveled solo, as many travelers do on the Camino. However, it is also a place where you are never alone; you will meet people and fellow pilgrims all along the way. Thus there is time for personal reflection, as well as being among people. I truly recommend the Camino to anyone who has the chance to go.

#6: Istanbul by Orhan Pamuk

It was impossible not to include a Nobel Prize winner among the most inspiring travel books. Orhan Pamuk is one of them. He writes about Istanbul with poise and elegance, inspiring anyone to travel to the Turkish capital.

The subtitle of the book is “Memories and the City,” a phrase that effectively captures what Pamuk paints in the book. It details an urban portrait and the past: darkness and decline, murder and mayhem. As Publisher’s Weekly puts it:

Central to many Istanbul residents’ character is the concept of hüzün (melancholy). Istanbul’s hüzün, Pamuk writes, “is a way of looking at life that … is ultimately as life-affirming as it is negating.”

As you read, you vicariously experience this melancholy. It inspires you to travel to an Istanbul that is now flourishing economically, but where the traces of a past still remain.

What travel books have you read and followed in real life? Share them with us in the comments below!

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The Best of Egypt: A Photo Tour of Cairo, Luxor, and Beyond

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Fresh back from our whirlwind 16-day tour of Egypt and we’re still reeling!

We learned that, with some advanced planning, it’s possible to see most of the country’s highlights in just two weeks. OR you can opt for the easier, more relaxed route and book a guided tour with a provider like Lady Egypt and their Egyptian Legacy Tour. While we’re not typically fond of guided tours, we *highly* recommend going with them, especially if you’ve never been to the country. Egypt is wild, rugged, and frenetic — all good things in our opinion. But, it can make independent trip planning a bit complicated.

We’re not talking “off the beaten path” travel here. Instead, ours was a guided tour geared toward first-timers looking to explore the highlights — all the best things to do in Egypt.

Best Things to Do in Egypt

Explore Cairo

Cairo is manic, congested, loud, dirty, amazing, and crazy fun. If you’re arriving by plane, it only makes sense to allow for a few days to explore the city before jetting off to the rest of Egypt.

See the Skyline of Cairo

Skyline of Cairo, Egypt (seen from The Citadel)

Skyline of Cairo, Egypt (seen from The Citadel)

To fully appreciate the breadth and sprawl of Cairo, you need to get above it. And the best place to do that is to see it from atop the viewing platform inside The Citadel.

The Mosque of Muhammad Ali (aka “The Alabaster Mosque”)

The Alabaster Mosque (Mosque of Muhammad Ali) in Cairo, Egypt

The Alabaster Mosque (Mosque of Muhammad Ali) in Cairo, Egypt

The Great Mosque of Muhammad Ali Pasha (also known as Alabaster Mosque) at the peak of the Citadel of Cairo is among the most sacred, beautiful, and important in all of Egypt. The ornate trimmings in the foreground bush spell out “Allah” in Arabic.

Look Up Inside the Alabaster Mosque

Ceiling of the Alabaster Mosque (aka The Mosque of Muhammad Ali) in Cairo, Egypt

Ceiling of the Alabaster Mosque (aka The Mosque of Muhammad Ali) in Cairo, Egypt

The inside of the Alabaster Mosque is every bit as stunning as the exterior. Be sure to look up from the center of the mosque — the ceiling is amazing.

The Complex at Giza

The Giza Complex — Sphinx and the Pyramids

The Giza Complex — Sphinx and the Pyramids

The complex at Giza — including the Great Sphinx and the three pyramids — needs no introduction or caption. It’s hands-down Egypt’s most iconic site. It’s just as awe-inspiring in person as your high school history books promised.

Behold the Scale of The Great Pyramid of Giza

Intricate stonework of Egypt's Great Pyramid of Giza (low angle)

The intricate stonework of Egypt’s Great Pyramid of Giza

The Great Pyramid of Giza is the oldest and largest of the three ancient pyramids within the Giza Complex. While most photos show the view from afar, we couldn’t help but marvel at the size, scale, and intricacy of the stonework while standing right up close to it, looking up.

Find Shisha in Cairo’s Khan el Khalili Bazaar

Mike smoking shisha at Naguib Mahfouz cafe in Cairo's Khan el Khalili Bazaar, Egypt

Coffee and shisha at Naguib Mahfouz Coffeehouse in Cairo, Egypt

Khan el Khalili Bazaar is a microcosm of Cairo as a whole. It’s frenetic, loud, busy, bustling, and pulsing with energy day and night. Once you’ve had your fill of Africa’s largest and oldest souk, duck into Naguib Mahfouz Cafe for coffee and a bit of shisha. It’s another iconic experience for visitors to Egypt as a whole and Cairo in particular.

Explore Egypt’s “Lesser Known” Temples

There are no “hidden gems” in the world of Egypt’s temples. They’re pretty much all squarely on the beaten path. But some, like Edfu, are slightly lesser-known but every bit as beautiful as, say, Luxor.

The Temple of Horus at Edfu

Entrance to the Temple of Horus at Edfu, Egypt

Entrance to the Temple of Horus at Edfu, Egypt

The entrance to the Temple of Horus at Edfu is just massive. For a sense of scale, the two tiny, barely visible dots near the base of the entrance are people.

The Pillars at Edfu Temple

View to the pillars and ceiling of Egypt's Edfu Temple

The pillars inside Egypt’s Edfu Temple

The scale of Ancient Egyptian architecture is almost literally unimaginable. The Temple of Edfu took more than 100 years to build and remains one of the best preserved relics of its kind. Before the desert stripped the walls and columns bare, the entire structure was painted in brilliant blues, reds, and whites (look closely at this photo and you can still see traces of color left near the ceiling).

Exploring Edfu Temple

Kelsey exploring the inside of Edfu Temple

Kelsey exploring the inside of Edfu Temple

Visit Luxor, Egypt

Luxor (the modern city and the temple) are among Egypt’s top five destinations, particular for new travelers. Allow for at least a day or two explore the modern city of Luxor proper, the Valley of the Kings, Luxor temple, and the massive Karnak Temple Complex.

Hop a Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Ride Over Luxor, Egypt

Team blowing up the hot air balloon before a sunrise flight over Luxor

Prepping for a sunrise hot air balloon ride over Luxor and the Valley of the Kings

We awoke at an ungodly hour to arrive in time for a sunrise hot air balloon ride over the West Bank of the Nile and the Valley of the Kings. It’s one of the most iconic experiences for travelers to Egypt and worth every hour of missed sleep.

Sunrise hot air balloon ride over the Valley of the Kings

Sunrise hot air balloon ride over the Valley of the Kings

The Imposing Colossi of Memnon Near Luxor, Egypt

Colossi of Memnon statues at the Theban Necropolis near modern day Luxor

The Imposing Colossi of Memnon — stone statues near modern day Luxor

After our hot air balloon touched down near Egypt’s Valley of the Kings, we paid a short visit to the imposing Colossi of Memnon. These two massive statues of Pharoah Amenhotep III are part of the few remnants of the original Theban Necropolis near modern day Luxor.

Visit Luxor Temple at Night

The entrance to Egypt's Luxor Temple at night

The entrance to Luxor Temple at night

It’s almost impossible to pick a favorite temple or site in Egypt. But, Luxor Temple is right near the top of our list. All lit-up at night, it’s just beautiful!

Marvel at Abu Simbel

Egypt’s pyramids may get all of the love in travel guides and history books. But, Abu Simbel was the “big get” for us. It’s a long, three-hour trek each way through the desert but it did not disappoint.

Approaching Abu Simbel

Kelsey standing outside Abu Simbel Temples

Kelsey standing outside Abu Simbel

Approaching Abu Simbel from the outside, the temple is every bit as stunning as we hoped …

The Towering Sentries of Rameses II Inside Abu Simbel

Stone statues of Rameses II inside Abu Simbel

Stone statues of Rameses II inside Abu Simbel

… and the view inside Abu Simbel is every bit as amazing too!

Holding the Key of Life at Egypt's Abu Simbel

Holding the Key of Life at Egypt’s Abu Simbel

They pretty much don’t let tourists leave without having their photo snapped holding the Key of Life at Abu Simbel. So we did!

Get Lost in the Desert

Egypt is, of course, best known for its deserts. Rightfully so, given that the majority of the country is a vast, uninhabited expanse of sand. So, it’s only fitting you spend some of your trip getting lost in the desert …

Hike the Desert Near Hurghada

Desert hills near Hurghada, Egypt

Desert Hills Near Hurghada, Egypt

Many of the towns and cities in Egypt exist as virtual “islands” amid a sprawling desert landscape. The borders of civilization are often clearly defined, giving way to a seemingly endless expanse of sand. Turning off the road to Hurghada, we discovered just how quickly you can find yourself “in the middle” of nowhere.

Hop an ATV Ride Outside Hurghada

Kelsey on an ATV in the desert outside Hurghada

ATV’ing in the desert outside Hurghada, Egypt

An ATV ride in the desert is almost obligatory for travelers to Hurghada. The town is well-known for its seaside resorts, but the sands on the outskirts are also a playground for adventurous travelers looking to explore on foot, by camel, or via ATV.

Chat with a Happy Bedouin Camel

Happy Bedouin camel in the desert near Hurghada, Egypt

Happy Bedouin camel in the desert near Hurghada, Egypt

We found this rather happy looking camel chilling with the Bedouins in the desert outside Hurghada. If we didn’t know better, we’d think he was smiling!

Take a Camel Ride in the Desert

Bedouin leading a camel ride in the desert outside Hurghada, Egypt

Riding a Bedouin camel through the desert near Hurghada, Egypt

In addition to feeding us, the Bedouins were kind enough to take us on a camel ride in the desert. Again, it’s practically an obligatory experience for visitors to Egypt.

To see all this, including the most amazing highlights of Egypt, check out a package tour of Egypt from Lady Egypt Tours!

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Preparing for a Hiking Adventure: 8 Fitness Tips for the 50+ Explorer

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“Am I too out-of-shape for an adventure trip?” It’s the number-one question we’re asked by so many travellers inquiring about our trips.

It’s the nagging worry that especially keeps 50+ adventurers from taking the plunge on the vacation of their dreams – and that’s a shame, because anyone who loves the outdoors is a good candidate for an adventure tour.

Of course, that doesn’t mean there aren’t things you can do to prepare before your trip to make it more enjoyable. A little investment in your overall fitness before you go pays big dividends in terms of what you can accomplish out on the trail.

That doesn’t mean you have to join the gym or punish yourself with a triathlon-level training regimen. There are a lot of common sense steps you can start right now to get yourself ready for the adventure of a lifetime. So if you’re a 50+ adventurer and wondering where to start, try these eight fitness tips to give yourself the confidence to achieve your personal goals.

 

1. Give yourself time to prepare.

Preparing for a Hiking Adventure: 8 Fitness Tips for the 50+ Explorer

In general, it can take your body from three weeks to three months to really see a significant improvement in your fitness level and to respond to a change in routine. So if you’ve already booked your trip, you’d best get started now!

 

2. Focus on your cardiovascular fitness.

Preparing for a Hiking Adventure: 8 Fitness Tips for the 50+ Explorer

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends at least 150 minutes of aerobic activity a week for people 50+ with at least 30-minute sessions at a time.

The best aerobic activities for mature athletes are swimming, cycling, brisk walking or jogging—all of which are great preparation for an adventure like exploring Peru and Machu Picchu.

Even if you can’t get outdoors or make it to the gym, there are lots of great cardio exercises you can do at home to get your heart pumping. Jumping jacks, half-jacks, squats, leg raises, hops, and even plank-jacks are great bodyweight exercises that require no special equipment or skill.

If you’re doing a hiking adventure (like Mt. Everest perhaps), high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is particularly beneficial because it improves both aerobic and anaerobic fitness and prepares your body for the bursts of strength you’ll need on your climb.

HIIT sounds more complicated than it really is – it’s simply adding a short period of more strenuous exertion into your daily walking, jogging, swimming, or biking routine. For example, if you take a 45-minute brisk walk, try to jog for 30 to 60 seconds every 5 to 10 minutes of your walk. Same if you swim or bike – add a few sprints during your usual routine.

A note of caution for you mountain adventurers: Even if you’re in pretty good shape, it’s important not to push yourself too hard at higher altitudes. Exertion is a key driver of altitude sickness.

 

3. Focus on leg strength.

Preparing for a Hiking Adventure: 8 Fitness Tips for the 50+ Explorer

Strength training is generally a good idea for athletes of all ages, but for hikers, leg strength is essential for an enjoyable experience. Your legs are doing the bulk of the work, after all.

Lunges, squats, and calf-raises are all good exercises you can do at home. Try slowly stepping on and off a step or exercise platform, gradually increasing the height as you progress.

Setting your treadmill at a higher incline is also great preparation – or just walking up a few hills on your evening stroll.

 

4. You need a strong back to carry your pack.

Preparing for a Hiking Adventure: 8 Fitness Tips for the 50+ Explorer

Your adventure pack and a few bottles of water are a portable gym to help you get in shape just about anywhere. Strap on your pack and practice “step ups”. This will really get your calves and back ready for the weight you’ll be carrying on a hike! Walking up and down the stairs with your pack is also great training.

Push-ups and planking with a loaded pack build up essential muscles in your core, shoulders, and upper body that you’ll need on longer hikes. Here are some good exercises you can do with your pack to strengthen your back.

 

5. Don’t neglect your core.

Preparing for a Hiking Adventure: 8 Fitness Tips for the 50+ Explorer

Your core muscles are your abdominal muscles, back muscles, and the muscles in your pelvis and they give you balance and flexibility – and underpin just about every other physical activity you’ll do on an active adventure.

Crunches, bridges, and planks are some of the best exercises to build a strong core. You can tune up your core by sitting on an exercise ball while you read or watch TV at night; step up your core fitness game with these stability ball exercises.

 

6. Keep it balanced.

Preparing for a Hiking Adventure: 8 Fitness Tips for the 50+ Explorer

This sounds too simple to mention, but a few minutes spent improving your balance can prevent injuries on your trip and give you more stability when you climb. Walking heel-to-toe with your arms out at your side and your eyes looking straight ahead is an easy and effective balance exercise. So is simply standing on one foot for 30-60 seconds at a time (longer if you can manage) before switching to the other foot.

Here’s a great video with some easy exercises to improve your static and dynamic balance (and you’ll need both on the trail).

 

7. Don’t forget the practice hikes.

Preparing for a Hiking Adventure: 8 Fitness Tips for the 50+ Explorer

Now’s the time to put all those exercises to work for you with a few practice hikes. Look for places with variable terrain and elevation so you can get the feel for how your body responds to the stresses – and areas where you may want to improve.

Remember to wear your pack and toss in a few water bottles, adding more as you progress, so you get used to handling your body with a weighted pack.

The practice hikes are essential for one more extremely important reason: You’ll get a chance to break in your boots – or buy a new pair if the ones you have aren’t supporting you correctly. There’s nothing worse than hitting the trail with a pair of painful, poorly fitting boots.

Remember that new boots rarely feel great right out of the box. The lighter models may break in with just a few hikes, but some of the sturdier leather ones may take weeks to really conform to your feet. Keep that in mind if you’re considering a new pair of hikers before your trip.

 

8. Mental preparation is important, too.

Preparing for a Hiking Adventure: 8 Fitness Tips for the 50+ Explorer

Fear is the enemy when it comes to trying something new. Combat it with physical preparation – knowing you’re doing positive things to get your body ready for the trip.

Focus on the “why,” the personal benefit you hope to attain by completing an adventure: “I want to hike the Inca Trail because I will _______________________.” Keep that benefit firmly in mind when you’re feeling discouraged, both in your preparations and on the trail.

Finally, visualize success. See yourself standing on the vast Tibetan Plateau or hiking Grey Glacier in Patagonia. Seeing success is the first step toward achieving it.

Don’t be afraid of a little self-doubt – it happens to everyone, even the most well-prepared. But you can combat it by knowing why you’re taking an adventure tour in the first place and what success looks like to you.

Of course, a really knowledgeable and supportive trip leader can make all the difference, too.

 

Final thoughts…

You don’t have to be in the best shape of your life to have a memorable and successful adventure tour. But it helps to give yourself confidence with a little preparation before you go.

Just remember – no matter how you feel when you leave, you’ll return renewed, refreshed, and alive with a sense of accomplishment.

If you’re ready to take the next step and start planning your own active adventure, why not contact us today to talk about your travel goals?

And if you’re not ready to have a conversation, but want to know more about adventure vacations and how to plan and prepare for them, sign up for our free email course today.


Source: Active Adventures

Hedgren Carina Shoulder Bag: One Travel Purse to Rule Them All

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I spent a year searching, in vain, for that perfect travel purse. The one that could convert from a crossbody to a handbag. It needed to be stylish yet durable. It needed to hold all of the essentials, yet not be too big. I needed the Goldilocks of purses, and it seemed that just didn’t exist.

Then I found the Hedgren Carina Shoulder Bag — the answer to my travel purse prayers.

Hedgren Carina Shoulder Bag

Hedgren Carina Travel Purse

Hedgren Carina Travel Purse @ Egypt’s Abu Simbel

The Skinny

Here’s what Hedgren has to say about this shoulder bag from their Diamond Touch line:

The Carina shoulder bag is perfect for daily use. Its compact shape makes it easy to carry around. Its design makes it suitable for every occasion. The adjustable shoulder strap makes it adaptable for every woman.

The Traveler’s Take

Hedgren Carina Shoulder Bag / Travel Purse

Hedgren Carina Shoulder Bag / Travel Purse

It’s no hyperbole when I tell you that the Carina is quite possibly the last travel purse I’ll ever buy. It has everything a gal on the go could possibly need. The adjustable strap lets you use it as a posh handbag for an evening on the town, or turn it into a crossbody to keep it close to you when exploring crowded markets in foreign countries.

The durability of this purse is unlike any other I’ve owned. The nylon and polyester blend means it doesn’t stain and wipes down easily. During a two-week excursion through Egypt — land of endless dust and some seriously questionable public restrooms — my Carina travel purse saw it all and stayed clean. A quick wipe with hand sanitizing cloths was all it took to get the grime off.

The Hedgren Carina is also the Mary Poppins bag of travel purses. When I first received it, I was in awe of the endless zippered pockets (it has four!). All of these pockets meant I was able to carry everything I needed for any excursion.

There are certain essentials I must have on me when traveling through a foreign country. In the past, this meant bringing a backpack in addition to my purse. With only the Carina, I was able to leave the backpack at home and still carry my emergency toilet paper and hand sanitizer, passport, money, credit cards, cell phone, camera, iPod, Poo-Pourri, mini notebook and pen, a case for my eyeglasses, lip balm, sunscreen, and still had room for the small souvenirs I picked up along the way. Seriously, it holds ALL the things!

Contents of the Hedgren Carina Travel Purse

Hedgren Carina Travel Purse — Fits all the things!

Pricing + Availability

Available in Black, Periscope, and New Bull Red for around $60 (USD) directly from Hedgren.

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5 Adventurous Things to Do in Provincetown, Massachusetts

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Few places in New England match the raw natural beauty of Massachusetts’ seashore. And few places along the coastline are more quaint, fun, and adventurous than Provincetown.

As lifelong Northeasterners, we visit at least once a year so we know a thing or two about the best things to see and do in this quintessential New England town. Here are five of our favorites …

Things to Do in Provincetown, Massachusetts

#1: Explore the Cape Cod National Seashore

The Cape Cod National Seashore is quite literally a national treasure. Really — that distinction was codified by JFK in 1961 to officially protect more than 43,000 acres of beachfront, ponds, and woods of Massachusetts coastline. Hiking the dunes is arguably the best way to explore it because you’ll always see more on foot and the entire coast is staggeringly beautiful.

Hiking Across the Breakwater in Provincetown

Hiking Across the Breakwater in Provincetown

Don’t miss a hike — a walk really — out to Race Point Lighthouse. The two-hundred-year-old lighthouse is an icon of the P-Town shoreline. For travelers who book well in advance, the beautifully restored Keeper’s House is also available for overnight and weekly stays.

Art's Dune Tours in Provincetown

Art’s Dune Tours in Provincetown © Ray Forbes Photo

But … it’s a massive area and, unless you have a few days (or a week) to explore, it can feel overwhelming. Art’s Dune Tours provides a great alternative. Professionally narrated tours are provided through the dunes via the company’s air-conditioned Suburban SUVs. One-hour and half-day tours are available, although we’d opt for the sunset tour because … sunset.

#2: Watch for Whales on a … Whale Watch

Getting Ready for Our Provincetown Whale Watch

Getting Ready for Our Provincetown Whale Watch

The coastal waters of New England are well-known as some of the most whale-rich in the Atlantic. Hop aboard a purpose-built Dolphin whale watching ship with Dolphin Fleet Whale Watch — a company which has the claim to being “New England’s First and Finest Whale Watch.” Their fleet provides professionally guided tours of Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary — a world-renowned marine sanctuary that’s home to minke whales, finback whales, sei whales, and pilot whales, plus dolphins and porpoises. On a three-hour tour with them on any given day, it’s possible to spot all of the above!

#3: Grab a Gelato and Walk Commercial Street

Commercial Street in Provincetown

Commercial Street in Provincetown © Ted Eytan

Commercial Street is the beating (and touristy) heart of Provincetown. You can’t visit the town without seeing the strip. The town proudly embraces anyone with a lot of character and the strip provides some of the best people-watching in the Northeast.

I Dream of Gelato, Provincetown

I Dream of Gelato, Provincetown

So, bring your camera, open your mind, and grab a frozen treat from the aptly named I Dream of Gelato. The long-standing gelateria serves a extensive list of housemade gelatos including staples like Cookie Dough and Coffee, plus specialty flavors like Chocolate Madness, Banana Killer, and Nutella (but, really, if you know Nutella is on the menu, just put the damn menu down …). There’s also sorbetto, vegan options, and specialty coffee. Did I mention the Nutella?

#4: Get “YAR” Pirate on at Whydah Pirate Museum

Cannons at Whydah Pirate Museum, Provincetown

Cannons at Whydah Pirate Museum, Provincetown © Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce

If you’re a fan of The Goonies and International Talk Like a Pirate Day, you have a friend in us. But, sadly, there’s only one museum in the entire world dedicated to a sunken pirate ship. Not-so-sadly, it’s located in Provincetown.

National Geographic’s Whydah Pirate Museum is a tiny but altogether fascinating museum run by a friendly and super-enthusiastic group of folks. There are a replica pirate ship to explore, 300-year-old coins, authentic pirate pistols & sword pieces, and a handful of interactive, pirate-related exhibits. Admission is $18.50 (adults) and it’ll take you less than 45 minutes to tour the whole thing, including chatting up the staff and shopping the gift stand for fake gold doubloons.

#5: Sit on the Dock … of the Bay

Lawn and Deck at The red Inn in Provincetown

Lawn and Deck at The red Inn in Provincetown

There’s no shortage of ways to enjoy the beauty of the Massachusetts coastline. But, one of our hands-down favorites can be found at The red Inn. This iconic Provincetown restaurant/hotel is a local institution. It was built in 1805 by Captain Freeman Atkins for his wife and much of the beautiful, original architectural detailing remains.

Drinks on the Deck at The red Inn, Provincetown

Drinks on the Deck at The red Inn, Provincetown

As a hotel, it’s pricey — though we would argue it’s well worth the splurge. But, for “average folk” like us, just grabbing a properly poured cocktail at the quaint bar and relaxing in an Adirondack chair on their outdoor deck overlooking Provincetown Harbor is all you need after a long day of exploring P-Town.

Where to Stay in Provincetown

Throw a rock in any direction from the center of P-Town and you’re likely to hit an inn or B&B. They’re almost literally everywhere. Seriously, the town seems to have copyrighted the idea of the quaint New England inn. But this can make it difficult to pick a place to stay! Here are our two favorites …

Land’s End Inn

Land's End Inn in Provincetown, Massachusetts

Land’s End Inn Luxury Hotel in Provincetown, Massachusetts

Our #1 choice for lodging in Provincetown is Land’s End Inn (no surprise, really, as it’s consistently ranked #1 on TripAdvisor as well). Particularly for couples, it’s a no-brainer.

Guest Room at Land's End Inn, Provincetown

Guest Room at Land’s End Inn, Provincetown

It’s quaint, romantic, charming, and luxurious, but not stuffy. Think of it as a bed-and-breakfast for non-B&B-lovers (like us). Each of the 18 rooms is uniquely designed, but all feature plenty of privacy and luxurious amenities like pillow-top mattresses, plush bathrobes, flat-screen TVs, and free Wi-Fi. But for us, the real win is the ridiculously amazing view from the meticulously landscaped garden — one of the highest vantage points in all of Provincetown. The delicious deluxe breakfast every day is pretty sweet too (and it’s free!).

Harbor Hotel Provincetown

For a more budget-friendly option, check out Harbor Hotel Provincetown. We’ve previously covered the hotel before and it remains one of our favorite go-to accommodations. It has plenty of vintage charm and is situated right on the beach — what’s not to like?

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Marshall Mid Bluetooth Headphones Offer Travelers 30-Hour Battery Life [First Look]

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We could frame a house with the boxes of headphones we receive (or are pitched) to review on Vagabondish. But, precious few of them are actually worth a second look.

Marshall has made a serious name for itself among the best headphone manufacturers in the world, particularly for musicians. Their foray into the “everyday user” space continues with the Mid Bluetooth Black. They were kind enough to send us a pair to check out.

Marshall Mid Bluetooth Headphones

Marshall Mid Bluetooth Headphones (this isn’t my arm …)

Here are my first impressions …

Marshall Mid Bluetooth Headphones

The Skinny

In a nutshell, Marshall describes their Mid Bluetooth Headphones like so:

… premium Bluetooth® aptX headphone that delivers superior audio and 30+ hours of playtime on a single charge. Its custom 40mm dynamic drivers lend it a robust sound that balances clarity with just the right amount of bass – perfect for those who demand the best in sound. The on-ear design features a plush headband and 3D hinges that produce an ergonomic fit. Complete with black vinyl, solid metal hinges and brass details mid is the embodiment of Marshall in a headphone.

Marshall Mid Bluetooth Wireless Headphones (black)

Marshall Mid Bluetooth Wireless Headphones

The Traveler’s Take

Straight up: I travel almost exclusively with in-ear buds. Compared to traditional over-ear or on-ear headphones, they’re lighter, more compact, less expensive, and do the trick for 90% of the listening I personally do (which is typically podcasts and audio books). But lately, I’ve been keenly interested in the Bluetooth headphones on the market. In large part because the audio quality is better and also because manufacturers like Marshall have finally been able to provide serious battery life for long-haul flights. I admit the Mid Bluetooth headphones may have turned me.

For a few reasons …

First off, the 30-plus hour battery life is insane. That figure is, by far, the best and longest of any Bluetooth headphones we’ve seen on the market. What’s more: the Mid Bluetooth use the latest aptX technology which virtually eliminates video/audio sync issues. This is a huge boon for travelers looking to watch movies on a flight without the dreadful (1970s-era Japanese kung fu movie-like) lip sync issue while watching movies.

The design is pretty sweet too. The black vinyl, script Marshall logo, and brass detailing all give the Mid Bluetooth Black headphones a vintage swagger that I really dig. The 3D hinges not only look good, however, they also help to provide a better fit. Plus, the entire form factor collapses down via those same hinges to a compact and entirely packable size.

Marshall Mid Bluetooth Headphones with Smartphone

Marshall Mid Bluetooth Headphones with Smartphone

Rockstar design aside, there’s plenty of modern tech built into and on the outside of the Mid Bluetooth headphones as well. A multidirectional control knob provides one-stop play, pause, shuffle, and volume adjustment functionality. It also allows you to easily power the headphones on and off. Phone functionality — the ability to answer, reject, and end calls — is accessible through the knob as well. A secondary 3.5mm socket allows you to share audio with a travel buddy (or make a new one en route).

Pricing + Availability

Available now in any color you like (as long as it’s black) for around $199 (USD) directly from Marshall.

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