Travel Accessories We Can’t Go Without

Here are a few travel accessories we couldn’t get by without on trips.

1) Packing Cubes

I can’t remember how I packed before I found these packing bags.  Instead of trying to cram your bag full and then having to re-stuff all your items in every time you open it, just stuff these packing cubes.  Great way to stay organized and find items you need much faster.

Packing Cubes

See on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/eBags-Packing-Cubes-3pc-Set/dp/B004C0XZM4/ref=zg_bs_15743971_1

2) Neck Money Holder

When traveling (especially internationally), it is wise to keep valuables such as your ID, credit cards, and passport tucked away instead of in a purse or wallet.  Valuables holders that can be worn over the neck instead of around your waist tend to be more comfortable and provide easier access.

Lewis and Clark Deluxe Neck Stash

http://www.amazon.com/Lewis-N-Clark-Deluxe-Stash/dp/B00004SR8Z

3) Blanket/Pillow Combo

Definitely one of my better travel investments, this pillow becomes a case for the blanket so it hardly takes up any space in your carry-on.  They are easy to make as well, so if you know a crafty person let them know this would be a great gift.

Lug Nap Sac Blanket + Pillow

http://www.safeskieslocks.com/store/luggage-straps-c-13.html

4) Luggage Locks

I love luggage strap locks because not only can you safely lock you luggage through the airport, but you can extend the strap and lock your luggage to something if you are staying in a hostel or leaving your luggage temporarily in a shared space.

Safe Skies TSA Luggage Strap

http://www.luggagepros.com/lug-nap-sac-blanket-plus-pillow.shtml

5) Sleep Phones

Perfect for long-haul flights, you can listen to music to drown out the engines but still be comfortable enough to sleep.

SleepPhones

http://www.sleepphones.com/store/sleepphones-store/sleepphones-4

6) Solar Charger

There have been multiple times when my phone has died while I was using the GPS function and needed it desperately.  Pack a solar charger so you can give your phone some extra power when needed.

XTG Premium Solar Charger

http://www.amazon.com/Lewis-N-Clark-Deluxe-Stash/dp/B00004SR8Z

BONUS: Jaktogo

For the especially courageous traveler, the Jaktogo is an unconventional travel tool.  Avoid overweight baggage fees or the intense size restrictions of European budget airlines by wearing your luggage. Jaktogo offers the wearable bag in a jacket, dress, or poncho.  As a bonus, it conveniently folds into a tote bag after you pass through security.

Jaktogo: Probably not for the fashionista.

http://www.jaktogo.com/shop.php

5 South American Locations Perfect for Escaping the Cold of Winter

This Winter you may be longing for the warm days of Summer to come back.  Luckily, our neighbor south of the Equator offers the temperatures of Summer this time of year.  Here are 5 locations perfect to swap the cold and snow for some warm summer nights. 

 

1) Punta del Esta, Uruguay.

Uruguay is commonly referred to as the “Switzerland of South America” for it high class and European feel.  CNN named Uruguay one of the “World’s Top Destinations for 2012”.  If Uruguay was New York City, Punta del Esta would be the Hamptons.  For locals, keeping a summer house in Punta del Esta is ideal for its resort feel and rich atmosphere. 

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Punta del Esta, Uruguay

2) San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina

Situated between the Andes mountains and Nahuel Huapi Lake, Bariloche is a nature lover’s dream.  The city itself is styled after German and Swiss architecture, and is known for its jaw-dropping scenery and top-notch cuisine.  A huge ski town in the Winter (Summer for the Northern hemisphere), the region is perfect for boating, hiking, scuba diving, and similar activities in the Summer months. 

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San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina

3) Manaus, Brazil

Manaus is literally surrounded by the Amazon Rainforest and is one of the cities with the easiest access to the jungle.  Your best bet for a trip to the Amazon would be December of early January, if you go too late you will be arriving in the wet season.  Manaus offers a city feel in the middle of the jungle.

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Port of Manaus, Brazil  

4) Santiago, Chile

A large modern metropolis, Santiago can offer a tourist just about everything.  With a Mediterranean climate similar to California, Chile has perfect Winter weather.  You can hike in the mountains in the morning and be on the beach by the afternoon. 

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Santiago, Chile

5) Belize

Okay, so technically speaking Belize is not in South America, but it was too good to leave off our list.  Just off the coast of Belize you can find the cleverly named, Great Blue Hole; A UNESCO World Heritage Site.  With Caribbean culture and temperatures; Belize City is a calm, fun-loving city perfect for relaxing, snorkeling  or scuba diving on the coast.

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The Great Blue Hole, Belize

Best Free iPhone Apps for Travel

We pay a lot for our iPhone’s so why should we pay for expensive travel apps? These five apps have helped My Buddy Abroad members abroad and saved them tons of money.  Get your iPhone handy and download away!

1. U Packing List

1. uPackingListFree – Figure out what you need beforehand 

There’s no way you can forget anything with this app- it covers all your grounds.  Download this before you leave and you won’t be spending money on pricey necessities while you’re trying to enjoy your trip.

2. HearPlanet

2.Hearplanet – Learn about where you are

Sometimes finding time for a tour that also fits your budget can be hard, so use HearPlanet on any of your major landmarks and learn everything you need to know.

3. Tripit

3. Tripit – Organize your trip

Between flights and other travel plans things can get muddled up quickly.  Tripit centralizes  and makes the travel experience that much smoother by doing things such as sending flight confirmations and syncing up with your calendar.  A must have!

4. Road Trip Lite

4.  Road Trip LT – Calculate gas, MPG, and more.

When driving it can get pricey and frustrating.  RoadTrip is awesome tool to calculate how much you’re paying for gas and the mileage.  We learned that our car got us 39 MPG on a 1000 mile trip to Los Angeles.

5. Yelp

5. Yelp – Find the best locations 

Finally, you’ve got to find the best foods and fun and Yelp knows it all.  Whether you want it to use your location or find what you like by search, reading reviews and looking at photos will help pick the best places during your trip.

Travel smart, my friends.

Travel Fitness

Staying in Shape while Traveling:

For anyone who exercises regularly and is cautious of what they eat, it is a constant struggle to maintain this routine while traveling.  Obviously, you want to indulge in the local specialties which I encourage you to try, but you also don’t want to pack on the pounds either.  So, here are three short workouts of varying difficulty that can be completed anywhere, anytime, in very little space.  Repeat each set  2-3 times and mix and match any of the moves below.

Beginner:

  • 30 Jumping Jacks
  • 8 Lunges on each leg
  • 15 Push-ups against the wall
  • 30 Crunches
  • 20 Second wall sit
  • 30 Butt kicks
  • 30 Seconds of arm circles
  • 30 Jumping jacks

Intermediate:

  • 40 High knees
  • 15 Forward lunges
  • 15 Backward lunges
  • 20 Push-ups
  • 20 Squats
  • 15 Wide leg squats
  • 30 Toe touch crunches
  • 12 Tricep dips (off a coffee table height object)

Advanced:

  • Alternating squats (Start at 7: First do 7 full squats then go into the squat position and pulse 7 times*. Next do 6 full squats then pulse 6 times. Continue all the way down to 1)
  • 15 Jump Squats
  • 10 clock Lunges (left leg forward, squat to the left side, left leg back squat, right leg forward, to the right side, right leg back, start again at left leg forward)
  • 20 Burpees
  • 15 Declined push-ups (put your feet on a chair or other raised surface)
  • 15 Tricep dips
  • 30 Reverse crunches
  • 45 Second plank

*[a pulse is only coming out of a squat position a tiny bit instead of coming all the way back to standing]

Here are some additional links for more ideas:

Hotel Room Workout: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJDnjxb9qmk

Hotel Room Crossfit: http://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/crossfit-workout

Moves to do anywhere: http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/fitness_articles.asp?id=629

 

9 Things You Are Probably Forgetting to Pack in Your Carry-on

Packing for a trip can be a daunting task.  There are probably a number of things that you will wish you had packed once you take off, here is a list of some of the most common things you’ll wish you had remembered to pack in your carry-on.

1)      Eye Drops– The air in planes is very dry.  Especially if you plan to sleep on the flight, you will want to pack some eye drops to put the moisture back in your eyes when you wake up.

2)      Socks– I like to be as comfortable as possible when I fly.  Often I want to take my shoes off, but don’t want to freak other passengers out by sitting in my seat barefoot.  If you pack a pair of neutral socks no one will notice you getting comfortable and your toes will stay warm.

3)      Layers of clothing– Never underestimate how cold airplanes will be.  If you are going to a tropical location, you will probably want to wear shorts and a tank top.  Even if you are not, bring multiple layers to accommodate to the cabin temperature.

4)      Billow– Okay, so you can take a little pillow and blanket, but a billow (a blanket that is stored as a pillow) is more fun.  If it is cold on your flight or you just want to snuggle up, you are going to want to bring a pillow and blanket.

5)      Water and Snacks– Relying on the plane food is a terrible choice.  When you get bored, you typically get hungry, so even if you don’t think you will use it make sure to pack drinks and a snack to tide you over.

6)      Tylenol or other painkillers– Whether you experience muscle pain, back problems, headaches from the cabin pressure, or any other issue, you will be glad you packed a painkiller for a flight.

7)      Immune System Booster- Planes are known as breeding grounds for sicknesses, take Airborne or some form of vitamin C to protect yourself as much as possible from getting sick.

8)      Everything you will need if your luggage gets lost- many people only pack the things they foresee needing on the actual flight, but if your bag gets lost you are going to want things that cannot easily be obtained at your location.  Make sure you carry-on your prescriptions, phone charger, a change of clothes, a toothbrush, and anything else you wouldn’t be able to make it two days without.

9)      Hotel and transit directions in paper form- On a trip to Spain, I made the mistake of saving the address and phone number of the people I was staying with on my Iphone and Laptop.  When I arrived, both devices had died and I was without any way of locating where I needed to go.  Make sure you have exactly what you need to get to your final destination on a piece of paper or something that cannot go out of power.

If you think there is anything we are forgetting, let us know below!

Travel smarter, not harder friends.

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9 Tips to Make Your Hostel Stay More Enjoyable

Aside

Staying in a hostel, especially for the first time, can be a very intimidating experience.  Here are some tips that many hostel veterans commonly employ to make their stay as enjoyable as possible.

  1. Bring your own towel.  Many hostels charge a small fee to use a towel that they provide.  Bring your own to not only save a few dollars but to ensure it is clean.

    my favorite microfiber travel towel

http://www.amazon.com/MICRONET-Microfiber-Towel-Blue-Large/dp/B001GXRXXC/ref=sr_1_5?s=sporting-goods&ie=UTF8&qid=1350959997&sr=1-5&keywords=travel+towel

2. Bring an extra sheet.  There is one way to ensure you are sleeping on clean sheets, bring your own.  Travel Sheets are small when rolled but provide huge peace of mind for their price.  No matter how clean or sketchy the hostel, you know where the fabric touching your body has been.

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Awesome travel sheet, like a really thin sleeping bag.

Here is a link to my favorite Cocoon Brand Travel Sheet: http://www.amazon.com/Cocoon-Flannel-TravelSheet-Twilight-86-Inch/dp/B001DXC664/ref=sr_1_10?ie=UTF8&qid=1350959699&sr=8-10&keywords=cocoon+travel+sheet

3. Choose room style wisely.  All male? All female? Mixed? Big or Small? There are a variety of choices to be made when choose a room in your hostel.  If you are a female traveling alone, it is usually wise to bunk in an all girls room. Large rooms with lots of beds can be fun, but you are also more likely to encounter people coming in really late, rising really early, snoring, etc.

4. Bring an Ipod, earplugs, or noise cancelling headphones. You never know what type of roommates you will get. Bring some sort of device to hide or mask noise if you are not a hard sleeper.

5. Bring shower shoes.  Since most hostels have shared bathrooms, you are never quite sure what you are going to encounter.  Bring a pair of sandals to wear in the shower to be cautious.

6. Prepare for all conditions.  No matter what climate your hostel is located in, bring something to sleep and lounge in for very hot and cold conditions.  Sometimes places overcompensate for the outside conditions, so it is nice to have options.

7. Leave valuables behind.  When possible leave anything you would miss if it got stolen at home. Most of the time, if you don’t touch other people’s belongings they won’t touch yours, but why take the risk.

8. Bring a lock.  Better safe than sorry, lock up your valuables when you are out of your room.  Some hostels offer lockers, but make sure to pack a padlock and/or computer lock if you bring expensive items.

9. Make friends.  One of the best parts of hostels is the social aspect.  Get out in the common room and get to know your bunk mates! They usually have great advice.

Hostels vs. Hotels

So you are considering a hostel instead of staying in a hotel, but why choose a hostel? Are there any benefits over staying in a hotel? There are a few differences that can help you decide whether it is a better choice to book a hostel or a hotel.

What is a hostel? When you book a hotel, you book a room. When you choose to stay in a hostel, you book a bed.  You are literally reserving the spot in which you will stay instead of the room.  This typically means that there will be other people in your room that reserved the other available beds.

What are the benefits of  staying in a hostel?

  1. Cost. The number one selling point of hostels is the price. I have stayed in multiple hostels for under $15 a night, which is significantly cheaper than many hotels.  There is often the misconception that hostels are dirty and much trashier than hotels.  This is not necessarily true.  Hostels are rated like hotels on sites such as hostelworld.com.  I have stayed in 4 and 5 start hostels that are as nice as some of the best hotels.  Since hostels are aimed toward the budget conscious traveler, they often include things such as guest kitchens where you can cook and discounted tours or attractions, especially for students.
  2. Social scene. If you stay in a hotel, you are isolated in your room.  Hostels are social settings and you are bound to meet other travelers that are sharing your room.  Additionally, almost every hostel has a common room or some type of lounge to encourage social interaction between residents; many even have bars attached.  I have met some amazing people in hostels who are usually like minded travelers ready to share stories.
  3. Hostel Staff.  The majority of the staff members I have talked with in hostels are younger people who love to travel.  They almost always have great advice, both on the local area and other destinations.  Particularly perfect for people who want to experience local culture, their suggestions are usually more off the beaten path than a concierge who often names the top tourist spots.
  4. Location.  Since hostels typically house a fewer number of residents than hotels, their location options are greater.  There are many hostels situated in restored historical buildings, big houses, old prisons, campsites, castles, etc.  

What are the cons of hostels?

  1. Bad roommates.  There have been a couple times when I have had to share a room with a particularly stinky guest, someone who snores, etc.  I will say these times are outweighed by the times I have met awesome people, but keep in mind you have no say in who is in your room, it is just the luck of the draw.  One night my friends and I returned to our hostel and found a guy that had crawled into my friend’s bed instead of his own. Awkward.  These usually make for good war stories though.
  2. Amenities.  It is common for a hostel not to provide towels for guests without an additional fee. Likewise, they may give you sheets when you check in to make your own bed.  If you are looking for added amenities and special treatment, hostels are probably not your best choice.
  3. Privacy.  Hostels are created to form a community.  The atmosphere is often much more relaxed and less formal than a hotel.  With this in mind, guests may stay up late talking loudly, you will be sharing a community bathroom, and you better get used to changing clothes in front of strangers.

Hostels can be an excellent option especially if you are looking for location character and travel buddies.  Just be cautious to do your research first. Below are some pictures from hostels I have stayed in, both costing a little more than $20 USD a night.

Awesome hostel in Marrakesh, Morocco we stayed in.

Adorable hostel in Budapest, there were also stuffed animals around the bathroom.