Essential Items for Your Next Backpacking Trip to South America

Essential Items for Your Next Backpacking Trip to South America

Similar to backpacking in Asia or parts of central America, the first rule of thumb is to not bring any unwanted attention to yourself. To put it simply, it is best to not bring any jewelry, valuables, or additional tech devices (other than perhaps your phone and a camera). You don’t want to be a target for a robbery or petty theft, so it’s best to just leave the fancy rings and watches at home.

While it is important that you avoid bringing any expensive jewelry to South America, this in no way means that you shouldn’t carry some nice outfits if you choose to have a nice dinner in Buenos Aires or Bogota. Also, investing in sturdy shoes, a solid rain jacket and a waterproof outdoor backpack.

One thing to definitely avoid is wearing a money belt (a silk sleeping bag liner more than does the job). You basically want to be as discreet as possible when it comes to storing money and other documents during your backpacking adventure.

As you’re packing for your trip and placing all your items in your waterproof backpack or suitcase, be sure to pack light. Bringing a few pairs of pants, merino wool socks, water purifier tablets, etc. is better than overpacking and your items being too heavy to comfortably hike the Inca trail on the way to Macchu Picchu. Once you’re there, you can always purchase any basic toiletries or the like.

At the end of the day, practicing minimalism is essentially the way to go with regard to exploring the stunning, vast continent of South America. Remember to also use basic common sense and do the proper research before you head to the Andes, the beautiful architecture of Cartagena, or the isolated nature preserves deeply woven in Patagonia. The world is yours to explore. Safe travels!

An Ice Fishing Guide for the Winter

 ice fishing

As we enter ice fishing season, it is important to bear in mind that it can both be productive and challenging, especially with the weather dropping significantly.

The first thing you need to keep in mind is to acquire proper outdoor fishing attire (some labels you can keep in mind are Cabela’s Outfitter Fleece outerwear, WindShear, etc). There are several different options with WindShear, but in particular, check out The Berber Fleece because it is both comfortable and warm even in the coldest of temperatures.

While places in the U.S. such as the Midwest, the Pacific Northwest, and the Northeast/New England area dropping to record low temperatures, getting the best outdoor wear possible is essential if you plan on ice fishing for more than an hour or so at a time.

One great thing you can do this winter is to rent or borrow a permanent shelter on the ice (which are heated). Some people can even fish in short sleeves in the midst of freezing temperatures.

Midwinter can provide some outstanding ice fishing opportunities and this winter is the perfect time to explore the waters in your area. Please remember the following to ensure your safety.

  1. The minimum thickness for supporting a person for ice fishing is 4 inches of clear, solid ice.  If you happen to operating an ATV on the ice, be sure to double that number.
  2. Always fish with another person (especially when it comes to ice fishing). It is without a doubt one of the safest practices to participate in regardless of the amount of time you are outdoors.
  3. Ice picks should always be worn around your neck in case of a fall that could push you through thin ice (perhaps in Feb/March or early winter/late fall).
  4. Always be sure you have a long rope with you in case you need to help someone out of the ice.
  5. Always keep an eye out any color changes on the ice. If you are out on the ice for a few hours and temperatures rise a bit during that time, be cautious that the ice isn’t so thin that you can’t leave the area.

Greek Travel Spotlight: Exploring Athens in 4 Days


With most of Athens constructed as a walkable, tourist friendly city, it is no surprise that millions of American tourists flee to the ancient ruins that have graced Greece’s landscape for centuries. See below for the most iconic Greek monuments to keep on your radar during your Athenian exploration.

The Acropolis

The religious center of Athens, this ancient structure is actually visible from any point within the capital. Sites at the Acropolis in Athens range from the Parthenon, Old Temple of Athena, and the Theatre of Dionysus, which are all located in the large complex containing around 21 areas dedicated to deities.


Dedicated to the goddess of Athena, the patron of the capital, this structure is arguably the most sacred temple or holy area in Athens. This marble temple was designed by architects Iktinos and Kallikrates and is entirely constructed from clean, white marble.

Marble statues, ancient pediments, and perfectly carved tiles are pointing to this temple pristine excellence, making it an almost must-see during your short trip in Athens. From this point, you actually have the most majestic views of Athens, where you can perfectly see the shimmering Mediterranean, the Plaka district, and the mountains in the distance.


Right below the Acropolis is the historic district of Plaka, where the most quaint bed and breakfasts are located on winding cobblestone roads leading to the most delicious spinach pies, sandal shops, and restaurants that allow you to view the Acropolis from your dinner table. There are also awesome coffee shops right under the Acropolis (where the locals usually go) that serve really refreshing iced treats.  

The most ideal time of year to explore the Plaka District is without a doubt the summer, where tourists and locals alike can enjoy the beautiful brightly colored vine-like flowers covering the restaurants and shops throughout the district.

5 Must-See Destinations in Iceland

Amanda Starbuck - IcelandFrom icy glaciers to steaming hot springs, Iceland is jam-packed with gorgeous natural scenery that’s best experienced up close. If you’re planning a trip to this one-of-a-kind Nordic nation, be sure to check out the following spots.

The Blue Lagoon

One of the most well-known tourist spots in Iceland, this geothermal spa lives up to the hype. Tourists can relax in the lagoon’s iconic blue seawater, surrounded by a beautiful lava landscape. The water in the Blue Lagoon is rich in minerals and silica, which is said to be beneficial for the skin; a nearby hotel/clinic even offers skin care treatments for visitors! The Blue Lagoon is also in a convenient location and is close to Keflavik International Airport.

The Volcano Hekla

It’s no wonder that director Ridley Scott chose the base of this massive volcano as part of the scenery in 2012’s Prometheus. In some ways, the barren land that lies at the foot of the volcano seems like an alien landscape. Meanwhile, the towering volcano itself has inspired awe for thousands of years. Hekla, which is 1500 meters high, is active and there have been dozens of significant eruptions over the years.  

Þingvellir National Park

The famous Þingvellir National Park is located in southwest Iceland, and it contains the nation’s largest natural lake. Visitors can also have the unique experience of exploring in the Silfra diving spot, which is directly between the continental plates of America and Europe. If you’re a history buff, you really won’t want to miss this park —  Iceland’s Parliament was established at Þingvellir back in the year 930, and for over 800 years the location served as an important political forum.

Lake Myvatn Geothermal Area

Iceland’s fourth largest lake, located in a very volcanically active area, is surrounded by unusual lava formations known as Dimmuborgir “(dark cities”). Icelandic legend says that the devil himself once fell into this spot, but whether or not you’re a believer in local lore, there’s no denying that the surrounding lava fields are seriously hot. The lava fields are full of various caves and crevices with naturally warm water in which visitors can bathe. However, temperatures vary and can be dangerous, so be sure to do your research and chat with locals before you take a dive.


This spot is ideal for nature lovers, or for anyone who is looking to go off the grid and explore some of Iceland’s lesser-known (or untouched) areas. Located in east Iceland, Húsey is nestled between two glacial rivers and boasts more plant species than any other spot in the nation. In addition to the 175 species of plants in the area, 30 species of birds nest in Húsey each spring. Other animals, such as reindeer and seals, are also prominent in the area.

3 Top Fresh Water Fishing Destinations in the U.S.


fishingTable Rock Lake in Branson, Missouri

Known as being one of the best bass lakes in the United States, it is no surprise that many amateur fishing lovers hail from all corners of the country to visit Table Rock Lake.

Since the water is clear most of the year smaller natural baits work best. Along with using live bait, plastic worms have also proved to be most effective during the catch.

If you are a kayak fisherman you will need one of the higher quality fish finders because the water can be discolored and it can sometimes be very difficult to determine the water’s depth. Keep a lookout for objects or vegetation on the lake’s floor, as this generally where the bass tend to gather.

Kentucky Lake, Kentucky/Tennessee

The largest man made lake on the eastern side of the Mississippi, Kentucky Lake runs North to South along the Western tip of Kentucky and nearly the entire western border of Tennessee.

Interestingly enough, this man made lake contains every species of freshwater fish which is one of the many reasons it is such a desirable destination for fishing lovers.

Kobuk River, Alaska

The Kobuk River is famous for containing a variety of fish which we don’t see in the lower 48 and you can only access this river by a small airplane. Kobuk river is famous for sheefish, arctic grayling, lake trout, arctic char, chum salmon and northern pike.

The sheefish is the most common fish species in the area and it has a similar taste and size to halibut. Since they grow quite large, you would need a larger rig to catch.Since Sheefish are aggressive fighters and feed on smaller fish, use a 2-3 inch line to catch them.

While these are top three areas for freshwater fishing, there are so many other places to visit that have an abundance of aquatic wildlife.

5 Best Hidden Sights in Germany

Apart from Germany’s capital or the country’s financial center, Frankfurt, it can sometimes be challenging to find the right sights in this vast European nation. Below are some awe-inspiring landmarks that should definitely be on your bucket list the next time you visit Germany.

The oldest city in Germany

Trier is Germany’s oldest town which is beautifully decorated with Roman arches and medieval churches. Taking a walk down to Moselle river will lead you to a stunning Roman amphitheatre. Annually, the ancient Bread and Games festival takes place in September which is a local tradition consisting of music, dancing and different historic contests.

Near Dresden, Germans and tourists alike thoroughly enjoy the breathtaking views of the Saxony National Park in Switzerland. The stunning landscape has a range of natural beauty, ranging from white limestone peaks to thick woodland, in addition to vast, green meadows. You can also see the winding crystal blue water of the Elbe River flowing into the distance.

Traditional festivals
The Cannstatter Volksfest in Stuttgart, which occurs from the end of September to October 9th, is one of the biggest fairs in Europe. With Germans, Europeans, and other intercontinental tourists gathering for this event, it is no surprise that this continues to be a main attraction. All in all a joyous, free-spirited festival, try to attend this event during the first Sunday, when the Volksfest parade with horse-drawn brewery wagons, bands wearing traditional German attire, and delicious food all make the experience even more worthwhile.

Magical castles in Bavaria
Both of King Ludwig the II’s castles (Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau) are so magical in nature that they have both inspired Walt Disney himself during the creation of “Disney World.” Visitors can tour the lavish interior and decorations of these two castles, and experience the gorgeous views of Lake Forggensee. Interestingly enough, Neuschwanstein was the setting for films Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and the Great Escape.

Exploring the Baltic Sea
A small peninsula on the northern coast of the Baltic sea, the Darß is a beautiful, remote area that is known for its wildlife. The wildlife in the area has rare breeds of geese, stunning beaches with clear water that are perfect for biking and exploring. If you happen to be near the Baltic sea for more than the day, be sure to rent bungalows that are close in proximity to the beach.

Useful World Travel Tips

Be prepared for unexpected circumstances and some planned events not working out as you as hoped. Although this can be frustrating and often times less than ideal, keep in mind that these mishaps are not only what will allow you to learn more about how to plan your trip better next time, but will create cherished memories.

Getting annoyed or angry does not help the situation in the slightest. Taking a deep breath, evaluating the situation, and moving forward with a smile on your face is the only way to best address any unfortunate situation.

Rise & shine
Even though this is technically a “vacation,” waking up at the crack of dawn to get the day started is actually the best way to explore a new city, town or country. One huge benefit to waking up early is the simple fact you can avoid any massive crowds or long lines to important sites.

If you happen to enjoy photography, going on site to take photos in the soft or golden light provides a different perspective in the morning when everything comes across as new and fresh to the eye. So grab a cafe solo along with un desayuno tipico and head on over to the watch the sun rise over the mediterranean coast from Park Guell.

People watch
Taking the time to observe and take in what is around you is the best way to create memorable visual images in your mind well after the trip is over. Having breakfast at a cafe full of locals to asking your cab driver where the best places to visit, are both incredible ways to experience this new place with an introspective glance.

Smile & greet others
Before you head out to Kyoto or Athens, be sure to learn a few simple greetings in the local language to make certain interactions such as saying hello, goodbye or thank you. This not only shows the local people you have made an effort to learn a bit of their culture, but it also allows for easier interactions with waiters, hotel staff and cab drivers in your day to day conversations.

Don’t overplan
Give some time in your schedule to explore on your own without a set itinerary, a tour bus waiting waiting for you, or a line around the block to see the spider-like chandeliers of the Royal Palace in Madrid. Scheduling time out of your trip to explore the place you’re visiting is the most ideal way to create some spontaneity and healthy unpredictability during your journey.

Slow down
A huge mistake that many travelers make during their journey is to over schedule or attempt to cram as many countries as they possibly can in a limited timeframe. Spending even more time than anticipated in one place is never something to regret during your travels.

Pack less
Packing lightly is one of the most fundamental tips before traveling abroad from anywhere between one week to a full month. Although you think you need six pairs of shoes and a ton of new clothes to hike the Alps, it is best to actually leave those behind. This also allows for additional space to pick up some souvenirs for loved ones along your international journey.

A Guide to Muir Woods National Monument

One of the most historic and well known historic forests in the continental U.S, Muir Woods National Monument is located off the Pacific coast, just outside of San Francisco in Marin county, California. Protecting 554 acres of forest, John Muir Woods is a breathtaking nature preserve consisting of extensive biodiversity with its rich ecosystem throughout the forest. In particular, the Muir Woods National Monument is known for its redwood forests, one of a few remaining in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The Muir Woods National Monument is an old-growth coastal redwood muir woods sunlightforest. Due to its proximity to the Pacific Ocean, the forest is regularly shrouded in a coastal marine layer fog, contributing to a wet environment that encourages vigorous plant growth. The fog is also vital for the growth of the redwoods as they use moisture from the fog during drought seasons, in particular the dry summer.

With trees aging anywhere from four-hundred to eight-hundred years old, redwoods are generally incredibly tall, with their height soaring to around two-hundred fifty feet. Although it is prohibited to camp within the national monument, visitors are allowed to hike or bike the trails to fully experience the endless wonder of the redwood forest.

If you happen to be interested in hiking to the Muir Wood National Monument as your final destination, be sure to catch the Marin Stagecoach to the Mountain Home Inn, which is close in proximity to the forest.

From the Mountain Home Inn it’s a two-mile or around a one hour hike to Muir Woods on the Panoramic and Canopy View trails. On this particular path, visitors have the opportunity to see the gorgeous vistas of the ocean alongside the beautiful redwood trees that complement nature’s serenity.

While parking can be bothersome for many, one great tip to keep in mind when planning your visit is to take the shuttle to the vast nature preserve. Even though the shuttle is quite convenient, please keep in mind that the Muir Woods Shuttle is only operational the spring and summer.

muir woods creekTo avoid crowds, be sure to plan your visit to the park either during the late winter or early spring. While it is ideal to plan your trip around the summer, also bear in mind that it is also equally important to avoid visiting the national monument during holiday weekends. During the springtime, visiting the park after a light drizzle or a wet day is the perfect opportunity to shoot some stunning nature shots to capture the vibrant pale green leaves in and around the forest.

While the Muir Wood National Monument is by far the most famous of all redwood national parks, it is also a great idea to visit other nature reserves in the area if time permits. Visit the second-growth redwoods of Phleger Estate and enjoy one of the most peaceful sites in the Golden Gate National Parks. To explore other redwood destinations in the Bay Area, be sure to visit the Butano State Park and Redwood Regional Park.

The Best Hikes on the Appalachian Trail

Springer Mountain, Georgia
This hiking trail that is around 75 miles in length and generally lasts for eight days is located at the southern end of the Appalachian Trail in northern Georgia. Starting from the northern portion of Georgia to Georgia and ending in the southern depths of North Carolina, the most mesmerizing part of this trail is the shady, oak valleys that are completely breathtaking. Since this journey is often fairly longer, hikers agree that the best time to explore this trail is during the milder spring climate instead of the hot, humid summer.

Anthony’s Nose, New York 2.2 miles round-trip

Contrary to what many hikers believe, the Appalachian Trail’s lowest point is actually where it crosses the Hudson River. Although many people are aware of this, the climb up to Anthony’s Nose is actually quite difficult, even for the fittest outdoor explorers. A short trail but fairly intensive, it does take some physical practice to prepare for this steep climb.

Delaware River, New Jersey/Pennsylvania 15.9 miles one-way (two days)

If you happen to make the special trip out to the Delaware Water Gap, be sure to visit The Kittatinny Ridge towers which offer incredible views of the tri-state area. Dip your toes into Sunfish Pond, the southernmost glacial lake on the A.T. Also, it is also very convenient to take a side trip to Mt. Tammany, where you can also see beautiful views of the river and the surrounding mountains in the area.

Avid hikers and sometimes photographers make the trip out to Mt. Tammany during the early spring (to see the pale green leaves) or mid-autumn to see the bright, vibrant leaves for miles at a time.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee (four days)

As the country’s most visited national park, this is a classic trip in the South that is an essential adventure for many outdoor adventurers all over the country. Reservations are required for shelters and campsites, and weekdays are generally less crowded. Hiking paths take visitors through ridges and streams, incredible vistas, icy bodies of water and a climb to the highest point on the trail at Clingman’s Dome, which is over six-thousand feet.

The hike up to Clingman’s Dome is quite impressive for everyone ranging from Trails are steeper, longer, and higher here than in Shenandoah National Park. Surprisingly enough, this trail that goes through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park can experience rainstorms, snowstorms and hail storms in the spring.

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia 100 miles (ten days)

Unlike the other trails, the hike to Shenandoah National Park is definitely geared towards outdoor explorers that have worked up to an extensive physical excursion. In other words, this hike is in no way designed for the weak-hearted.

Although this is one of the longest journeys on the Appalachian trail, it is actually not the most physically draining or intensive. The length of the trail presents hikers and other visitors stunning views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, along with the Shenandoah Valley, if you are keen on exploring some more.



Discovering the Charm of Ireland

Cliffs of Moher

With over one million visitors that travel from all over the world to experience this majestic sight off Ireland’s western coast, the Cliffs of Moher is truly what makes any trip to Ireland worthwhile.

The deep navy blue of the Atlantic in addition to the mossy green green covering this vast, arch-shaped fields is the perfect way is absolutely breathtaking. At the southern end of the Cliffs of Moher stands Hags Head, a natural rocky promontory that resembles a seated woman when one looks at the area from the north.

Although many tourists are unaware that this vision is quite interesting, if you happen to ask about viewing Hags Head during your time at the cliffs, simply ask anyone who happens to frequent the hiking or biking trails in the area.

In terms of the ancient Gaelic language, the word Mothar means “ruined fort.” Historically speaking, a fort dating back to the first century BC stood where Moher tower is currently located, so that tourists can discover how stunning the other side of the Atlantic ocean remains centuries later.

Trinity College Long Room, Dublin

As the largest library in Ireland, beautifully decorated with over 200,000 books dating back to the 17th century, the Trinity College Long Room continues to be a prime tourist spot for both domestic and global travelers visiting Dublin.

The massive collection long room not only includes a rare copy of the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic, which is ideal for any avid history enthusiast who thoroughly appreciates UK culture, but in addition this library also contains 15th-century wooden harp. Interestingly enough, this wooden harp is the model for the Irish Emblem.

The library’s most famous possession is the Book of Kells, which is decorated with lavish Celtic and Christian iconography. The Book of Kells was crafted by Christian monks around 800 AD For many Irish nationals, this actually currently represents

Blarney Castle, Cork

Historically known as a medieval stronghold which is located on the River Martin, this castle was built during the Muskerry dynasty in the year 1446. If you happen to explore Blarney Castle during the spring or the summer, be sure to explore the extensive gardens that surround stronghold.

Not only does walking around the castle allow you to view this architectural masterpiece from various angles, but it also allows you to see other attractions that aren’t in the tour books, such as the natural rock formations with unique naming conventions. To guide you through planning a trip to Ireland, please visit this link.