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Where did the Catalans come from? Tracing the roots of any culture is a tough task, especially trying to represent a cultural group as accurately as possible without writing a novel on the topic. The history of Catalonia dates back to the middle ages, but don’t worry; I won’t bore you with a history lesson. All you need to know is that since the XIII Century (some claim it’s the XI Century when the first ruler emerged) Catalonia has had its own rights and parliament, which may explain why...
Tracing the roots of any culture is a tough task, especially trying to represent a cultural group as accurately as possible without writing a novel on the topic. The history of Catalonia dates back to the middle ages, but don’t worry; I won’t bore you with a history lesson. All you need to know is that since the XIII Century (some claim it’s the XI Century when the first ruler emerged) Catalonia has had its own rights and parliament, which may explain why to this day the Catalan’s have such a strong cultural identity and desire to preserve it.
Now, why in the world would a Canadian (that’s me!) have any interest in the topic of Catalan culture, other than for the fact she’s living in Barcelona and is simply curious about its origins like the rest of us? I have a few motives for why I am choosing to unravel the roots of the Catalan culture (or rather, scratch the surface). The first is the most obvious, and the same reason many have. That is to gain a more in-depth knowledge to understand and appreciate the unique culture of the Catalans to the fullest.
The second reason for my Catalan cultural exploration is more personal. From the first moment I experienced the vibrancy of this region, I felt an instant connection to it. Catalonia left a strong impression on me. There was always something unique about the way people gathered and celebrated local events. No matter how many times I watch a Correfoc (Public Pyrotechnic Display) or observe the Castellers (Human Towers), I am continually amazed at how the Catalans congregate in masses towards a common goal.
To an outsider, their traditions may seem like nothing more than some crazy Catalans gathering together. However, by tracing the roots of the Catalan culture, you begin to understand just how deep their cultural ties run and how these somewhat strange traditions are grounded with historical significance. Along with traditional ties that help understand their cultural identity, the language, arts, and cuisine of Catalonia also play a significant role.
I’ve never lived in a place with such a deeply rooted cultural history. Daily, individuals are standing up in support of the preservation of their culture even though the forces fighting against its survival are strong. I’ve often asked myself, from where this strong sense of identity exactly originated.
‘Was there one extremely crucial point in the development of the Catalan culture or were there a series of events which have made up the Catalan culture as we know it today’?
There are countless aspects of the topic that fascinate me, and it’s why I am choosing to shed light on this. The conflicting views of identity amongst the Catalan people (mostly regarding language and tradition) are in many people’s opinion, the main root of the ongoing dispute for independence. Economics, Taxes, Pride, and Dignity all play a role. However, I’ve chosen to touch on the broader aspects. These are the ones at the core of their being, and which connect the Catalan people to a common cause; that is their cultural identity.
The universal identity of the Catalan people can be characterized by innovation, creativity, hard-working nature, and quirky humor. Their unofficial national symbol says it all. Some places have eagles, Canada has the beaver and maple leaf. In Catalonia, well, they have a Burro (donkey). The burro stands to represent two main aspects of the Catalan identity. First, the symbol describes their dedicated nature and hard work ethic, and second, their cheeky poke at the Spanish, who use the bull as one of their symbols. It’s worth noting, the Catalan’s are quite light-hearted and don’t take themselves too seriously.
Silly symbols and shenanigans aside, Catalonia has been through a lot, well which part of the world hasn’t really. There is not one single event that shaped the cultural identity of Catalonia, instead, there are a series of events that came to define the culture we know today. Language and traditions have held strong. Even the typical food eaten in Catalonia tells a story about their rich past.
Historical tidbit: The Moors hadn’t fully made it to the North of Spain, and because of this, many of the advanced irrigation methods and technologies also never arrived in Catalonia. Many people say this is possibly why the Catalan’s are so resourceful and have a strong work ethic.
It’s debatable whether Catalonia has ever been its own nation, but one fact is that the language has always existed alongside its people. We can trace the roots of the language to the colonization of Tarragona by the Romans. There are two converging theories on the language. One is that it began from a combination of a vulgar form of Latin spoken at the time, plus some Arabic. The second is that Catalan evolved from Provença and a mix of French that was spoken at the time. These two languages created Occitan which later supposedly developed into Catalan. Over 9 million people speak six main dialects (Valencian, Rousellanese, Northern Catalan, Central Catalan, Balearic, and Alguerse) of Catalan today.
To a foreigner, Catalan sounds like a mix of French, Spanish, and Italian. I often joke with Catalan friends that if you chop off the last letter of a Spanish word, you have Catalan. Well, let me tell you, I’ve learned that this isn’t the case. Catalan is its own language, not a dialect of Spanish at all.
I mentioned that Catalonia has come up against a lot over the years; the freedom of the language is no exception. During the war of Spanish succession (1701-1714), Catalonia lost its autonomy, and its constitution dissolved. This event resulted in a significant decline in the Catalan culture.
Historical Tidbit: During the Industrial Revolution, more money had been generated, a new class emerged, and the culture had a massive overhaul. Cultural institutions popped up, and events in the Catalan language took place everywhere. One such example is the Jocs Florals (The Floral games), where Catalan poets performed their works. The Floral games are still celebrated today although, payment to see the games are no longer made in flowers.
The Catalan language appeared to be strong and thriving once again, that was until the Franco dictatorship came into power in 1939.
Well, as you’d expect, it was banned. You wouldn’t dare be caught speaking Catalan. Let’s just say; you’d get more than a slap on the wrist, your life could very well be at risk. Laws were so extreme that during the reign of Franco, newborns couldn’t even be given Catalan names. Luckily, following the end of Franco’s time in power, Catalonia returned to observe a higher level of freedom than before. Things began to flourish once again, the arts included.
Friendly Factoid: Around the XII Century, the first evidence of Catalan language was discovered in the “Homilies d’Organyà,” one of Catalonia’s historical texts.
Funny Phrases: There’s an old saying that goes something like “all fish in the Mediterranean speaks Catalan.” Some versions refer to Aragonese instead of Catalan. The common saying refers to when Aragon was a respectable empire and massive traders among the Mediterranean civilizations. As one of my colleagues says, “Trading and making money is kind of a thing in our culture.” Even nowadays, Catalonia is the region in Spain with the most exports and imports.
Now, I won’t go too much into this, but I couldn’t mention Catalan culture without giving recognition to a great master of Catalan Modernism art, Antoni Gaudí. If you’re reading this, you most likely know who I’m speaking about right now. Short in height, bushy beard, unassuming and modest. Alright, well that’s maybe not the best way to describe him, but it paints an initial picture for you at least. Gaudí. was a true master of his craft, and not only that, he stood firmly for the preservation of the Catalan culture. He was also a solid protector of Catalan modernism.
If you have the chance to visit Barcelona, you must book a tour of Gaudí’s main masterpiece. Due to the popularity of the architectural wonder, it’s best to book skip-the-line Sagrada Familia tickets well in advance. Gaudí’s works aside, you can also visit the George Orwell square (commonly referred to as trippy square). After the Civil War, the famous writer came out with a work called “Homage to Catalonia.” If you’re a fan of his writing, this is a must read!
There are more wacky traditions in Catalonia than I can keep track of, and I love them all! If you’ve never been to the region, get your butt here. Also, remember, that no matter what time of the year you come, there’s always something exciting happening. Without some knowledge of the most deeply rooted traditions, it’s difficult to understand the roots of the Catalan Culture fully. Let me share with you a snippet on the origins of the most significant of all the Catalan traditions.
Fire, pitchforks, and dancing devils; this pretty much sums up what Correfoc is. The direct translation is “fire-run,”. Correfoc is one of the wackiest traditions I’ve ever experienced. The pyrotechnic spectacular is said to have originated out of the Ball de Diables (Devil Dances). The medieval theatrical performances were a re-creation of a duel between Evil and Good. Street theatre performances like this typically appeared during festival days that fell in the religious calendar. After the death of General Franco, much of the traditional folklore and heritage underwent another revival and consolidation.
It’s the perfect display of trust, strength, oneness and the most unusual form of cultural manifestation across Europe. Well, at least that’s how I see it. If you’re not familiar with Castellers, it’s basically a massive human tower. Although impressive, comprising of up to 10 levels, on average 100-200 people, and up to 10 meters tall, what’s even more unique is what it represents.
The first documentation of the tradition of Castellers dates back to around 1801. Popular at nationalist celebrations, Castellers evolved from Ball de Valencians, a folk dance that typically ended once a human figure was raised. As years past, the final figure grew in importance. The taller you could make your figure, the more you would outdo the other groups. The final figures eventually became their own performance, and hence why we have Castellers today. Other theories on its origins are in circulation, but this one appears to hold the most weight.
What’s so fascinating about Castellers? If you’re asking this question, I’m guessing you haven’t yet witnessed the spectacular yourself. Let me say, the first time you watch them, you may even feel yourself sweating with a bit of anxiety. Even as a spectator, it’s a bit nerve-wracking, especially when the final tier is built. The tower is completed by a small child who climbs all the tiers until they arrive at the top. The tradition, which has received UNESCO Status in 2010, is a must see!
The most famous typical dance of Catalonia, La Sardana, links in with Catalan nationalism. I won’t get into that here, but know, dances like La Sardana, or music like the Catalan rumba, have strong roots in the Catalan culture.
Check out the following festival days for an insight into the roots of the local culture.
There’s no shortage of delicious Catalan specialties. Some examples include Escudella (typical soup), Botifarra (traditional sausage), and Calçots (bbq spring onions). Catalonia has no shortage of tasty treats. One of my favorites is called “pa amb tomàquet.” The literal translation is bread with tomato. The popular item is a staple here in Catalonia. You can eat it for breakfast, as a tapa or for merienda (mid-evening snack) with or without a slice of jamón, and/or cheese.
The Catalans themselves often joke that “pa amb tomàquet” came about as a way to save money by using the leftover bread from the day before. Considering Catalans are usually tight with their money (not my words, that’s coming straight from the lips of many locals), this would make sense. As merchants, the Catalan people were always managing money, skimping and saving wherever they could. Their clever ways of money management have carried through into today.
Throughout history, there were many influential individuals and self-organized groups fighting against the preservation of the Catalan culture. Although there are still many opposing factors none are stronger than the opposition against the independence movement.
Politics aside, I’m not here to close off with a political debate. Frankly, not having lived here my whole life, my vision of the big picture is not as broad as someone who was born here. My aim in unraveling the roots of the Catalan Culture was to expand your knowledge of the importance and significance of it so that you could gain a deeper appreciation for the culture of this incredible region. Catalonia has been my adopted home for the past few years, and I adore it the same way I love my place of birth.
Maybe you haven’t ever visited Catalonia, are traveling through, an expat living here or you’re originally from Catalonia. Whatever your situation is, I’m sure we all can agree on one thing. There are many layers to the Catalan culture. It is the diversity and vibrancy of the culture of Catalonia that initially captivated me, and it is what continues to hold my attention. I do not doubt the strong sense of culture here, and after experiencing it, I now understand more about the universal driving forces behind why there is such a strong desire to preserve it.
Written By: Tanya Lesiuk
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What’s the best backpacking tent? Backpacking tents come in different style and technologies. Having the right one is a necessity but not all are created equal nor a perfect one size fit all. As many experienced adventurers know, having the right equipment is essential to any outdoor activities like backcountry backpacking or multiple-day hikes. Finding the right backpacking tent is never an easy job. There are so many options out there that you can get lost in the sea of brands and...
Backpacking tents come in different style and technologies. Having the right one is a necessity but not all are created equal nor a perfect one size fit all. As many experienced adventurers know, having the right equipment is essential to any outdoor activities like backcountry backpacking or multiple-day hikes.
Finding the right backpacking tent is never an easy job. There are so many options out there that you can get lost in the sea of brands and products. If you often find yourself in this kind of situations, then today is your lucky day. That’s because we’ve done all the possible research for you and have compared dozens of products from all of the top brands.
We at Always Wanderlust have combined decades of backcountry and long-term backpacking experience. We’ve braved the elements. We’ve climbed mountains and we’re here to take the guesswork out of choosing the best tent for you.
We’ve handpicked a few tents worth mentioning to make this top 10 list. You won’t have to worry about picking or searching for the right tent because we’ve already done the research for you.
Here are our picks for the Top 10 Tents for Backpacking or any Adventures for that matter.
Tarptent ProTrail | Best thru-hiking tent
ZPacks Duplex | Best Ultralight Tent
HyperLite Mountain Gear Echo II | Best Solo Ultralight
Marmot Tungsten | Best Budget Ultralight
Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo | Best For Taller Individuals
NEMO Hornet 2 | Best All Rounder
Kelty Salida 2 | Best 2 Person Budget Tent
MSR Hubba Hubba NX | Best 3-4 Person Tent
Gossamer Gear The Two | Best Non-Freestanding
Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 | Best 2 Person Ultralight
How to Choose a Backpacking Tent | Best For You
Tarptent is known for and very good at making durable and light backpacking tents. They use specialized materials like Silnylon (a blend of nylon and silicone) to make their tents. You can tell by the name of the company that they have made use of the humble tarp in order to come up with a minimal and functional tent with lots of space and little clutter.
This is a 3-season tent, meaning it can be used in hot, humid or cold weather. It has one door/vestibule and the walls are single-sheets. The best features of this tent are that its ultralight, very spacious and extremely durable.
The tent uses 30d Silnylon, which is a tough and durable silicone despite being extremely light. The high ceiling gives you plenty of room in the tent to do much more than just lie down in.
The internal mesh screen has a bit of tension to it which prevents moisture from finding its way in and ruining your gear. Although this tent is not freestanding and doesn’t come with poles, there aren’t many stakes needed to set it up. This leads to easier and hassle-free pitching.
ZPacks have done it again with one of their highly rated products, the ZPacks Duplex. This tent offers all superior qualities while being ultra-light and extremely functional. The tent is made from heavy-duty construction materials that make it stand up to just about anything. Whether you’re braving strong winds or heavy rains, this tent can handle it all. That’s because the Duplex is made of high-quality DCF fabric that is light, wear-resistant and waterproof. It also doesn’t sag down like the other tents in this range.
This too is a 3-season tent, and similar to the ProTrail has single-sheet walls. It has 2 doors/vestibules. The Duplex is the best choice for long-distance thru-hiking. It’s not all good though. There are some minor downsides to the Duplex. Because the fabric is ultra-light, it brings in some side effects, like being a little more expensive than your average tent. It also means you’re only going to get a single-wall tent, which isn’t great for handling condensation and moisture buildup.
The Duplex isn’t a freestanding tent, which means you’ll have to spend some extra time and effort setting it up. But despite these setbacks, this is still a perfectly viable choice for anyone looking to go backpacking on a weight limit.
HyperLite is best known for its range of ultralight backpacking tents and camping equipment. They make hundreds of different tents along with their countless product lines. But one of their most renowned and well-known product ranges is the shelter series. The Echo II provides immensely great value with great functionality. While most backpacking tents of this size will be tapered off to maintain balance, this isn’t the case with the Echo II. The tent is roomy enough for you to be able to feel most comfortable.
This tent is a 3-season tent and has doubled walls and 2 doors. It is a freestanding tent so you won’t have to spend extra time keeping it upright. The great thing about the double-wall design of this tent is the amount of flexibility. The outer tarp and the inner insert can be used independently. You can remove the insert if you’re in hotter and humid climates. But if you’re camping out in the cold, the insert can come in handy to insulate you and keep out the cold.
It’s very stylish and sleek, which makes it stand out. It has great space-compartmentalization. The only thing that manages to stand out as a setback is the fact that the price is a little steep for what it offers.
The Marmot Tungsten 2P UL provides the best value for money in our book. It manages to balance great features at a decent price point. It’s made out of durable polyester rainfly. This material is very light and doesn’t sag. Setting up this tent is ridiculously easy and you can easily open and close the zipper doors without any hassle. It has a decent sized floor space which makes it easy for you to be able to fit inside.
If you’re on a budget and require most features and lots of interior space, then this is the best choice. It’s a 3-season tent with double walls, 2 doors and freestanding.
While there are some problems with the tent, like an uneven frame, it’s still a viable option. For backpackers on a budget, this provides the best middle ground for functionality and durability without burning a hole in the pocket.
If you’re in the market for something new and unique, the Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo is the answer for you. At just $200, it’s cheap enough for just about anyone to get an ultra-light style for an affordable price. This tent has a unique shape when you have it pitched up. The only setback for having this kind of unique design is the fact that you can only fit one person into it. But even then, there’s plenty of space if you want to drag in a ton of gear. The floor space is pentagonal and the vestibule is large enough to hold your backpacks and gear.
It is a 3-season tent with double walls, 1 door/vestibule. Although it is a non-freestanding tent, it only requires 1 pole to stand it upright.
The side door is easy to access and you can move in and out of the tent easily. It also opens up really wide so you can vent the air in hotter climates. And if you happen to be caught in the rain, the bathtub-style floor, and the wide side door will make the water drain out quickly.
This one too is a great choice for people on a budget looking for lightweight backpacking tents with enough interior space for one person.
Nemo is known for making high-quality lightweight tents for all kinds of purposes. The Nemo Hornet 2P is a great tent from one of their premier product lines. It has an igloo-like shape where there are a small narrow opening and a dome shape for the actual tent area. The one problem with this is that the dome shape is slanted inwards which limits your usable space. Despite that, you can fit two people comfortably. The slanted shape works great for colder climates where you would want to have less room to keep the heat contained.
It is a 3-season tent with double walls, 2 doors and is ultralight. Setting the tent up can be a bit of a pain considering its an awkward design that sits somewhere between non-freestanding and freestanding (semi-freestanding).
You have to put up two poles to pitch it up because of that. It’s not the most ideal situation if you’re trying to put it up on anything other than a smooth surface. Barring that, you have a pretty decent ultralight tent that can work great for solo situations.
Maybe you’re on a pretty tight budget and spending several hundreds of dollars is not the most ideal situation. At a budget-friendly cost of just $150, this tent is a shoo-in for a great beginner tent. It’s simple enough that you don’t have to worry about all the technical aspects. All you have to do is set up the tent and enjoy your trip with comfort.
It is a 3-season, double-walled tent, has 1 door/vestibule and is freestanding.
Setting up can be a little intimidating for some people but it’s the perfect primer to learning about everything involved in backpacking. While this tent is freestanding, you still have to set up the outer tarp with pegs in the ground. Despite that, the inner part of the tent is completely freestanding so setup is fairly minimal.
If you’re just starting out on your camping and backpacking trips, this is the perfect option for you. With a great balance of cost, convenience, and ease of setup, there aren’t many better options out there.
If you’re looking for something a little more rugged, the MSR Hubba Hubba NX might just be the option for you. Remarkably designed from the ground up. Everything from the material to the fabric and the construction of the tent is decently constructed.
This 3-season tent has double walls, 2 doors and is freestanding.
The tent’s symmetrical design is complemented by its flower petal style tent fabric. It makes the inside roomy and comfortable. The fabric is fully waterproof and has a thick consistency to it. This means that anything from strong winds to heavy rains, and even snow, won’t bother you.
A side effect of such a fabric that the MSR Hubba Hubba NX weighs more than the average tent. But for the superior durability and comfort, it’s a small price to pay.
Gossamer Gear is known for making superb designs that work well for any occasion. They make all kinds of backpacking tents for all kinds of people and all kinds of situations. The Gossamer Gear II is no exception, it’s a well-built and solid tent with an exceptional design that makes it versatile enough to be used for just about any situation.
It is a 3-season tent with double walls and 2 doors and is non-freestanding.
The Gossamer Gear The Two stays true to its roots by incorporating a standard triangular V-shaped design. While this does mean that you might have to spend time and effort setting it up, it has its benefits too. You get a solid well-built tent ready to tackle anything thrown at it. It has great storage, great ventilation, and above all, a very reliable design.
There isn’t much that can be said for other tents that are in the same category as the Gossamer Gear II. It’s a tried, tested and true tent that doesn’t fail you.
Big Agnes is no stranger to making high-quality tents that stand the test of time. Their line of ultralight tents is some of the most popular and in-demand products out there. The Tiger Wall UL2 is one of the company’s bestselling products and it’s not really hard to see why.
Built from the coattails of the Big Agnes Copper Spur and the Fly Creek design, the Tiger Wall UL2 takes it all to another level. It combines all the good elements from both these models and elevates it further. The Big Agnes takes the stylish appearance of the Copper Spur but reducing the weight of the tent at the same time. It borrows the intricate pole structure of the Fly Creek but manages to squeeze in more interior space than you could ever get.
It is a 3-season tent with double walls, 2 doors/vestibules and is semi-freestanding (you require some work to pinch it up straight, but not much).
Despite what you may have heard, buying a tent can be quite challenging if you have no prior experience. Even seasoned and veteran backpackers often have to debate over the kind of tent they will need to fulfill their requirements. Getting the right specifications, you need to have a balancing act and one that needs careful consideration. With that in mind, we’ve listed below some of the aspects that you need to keep in mind when shopping for a tent. This will also help you narrow down your choices from the above-mentioned candidates.
The last thing you need on a backpacking trip is to have more weight tugging on your shoulders. While most tents are light enough to not add a significant impact, that’s not always the case. There are many tents out there that are quite heavy and do not fare well for hiking and backpacking. Less weight also means that you have more room for other things like supplies, gear, utilities, food and extra pairs of clothes. Generally, you’ll find that backpacking tents are anywhere from normal weight to lightweight and even ultralight weight. The best thing to do here is to choose according to your total carrying capacity.
The next aspect that’s crucial is the capacity of the tent. You don’t want to end up going through your trip enjoying yourself only to be cramped in a tent with 5 other people at night. At the same time, you don’t want to bring a big heavy tent if you’re going solo. Make sure to buy a tent according to your requirements. Buying multiple tents is also an option if you’re going with a big group. It is better to be safe than sorry.
Obviously, you’re not going to buy something you can’t afford. Cheap backpacking tents don’t have to be bad. This is why you have to carefully consider the price of the tent that is on offer. It’s important to remember here that price doesn’t directly correlate to quality. You can find good-quality backpacking tents for cheap and similarly find average-quality tents with a not-so-average price tag. Make sure you’re getting the best value for money when making your purchase.
What good is a tent if it can’t shield you from the outside elements? That is why it’s crucial that you find out what kind of protection your tent can provide. Whether it’s water-proofing or netting to reduce inner humidity, make sure your tent is up to the task. Some cheap beginner backpacking tents out there offer little to no protection so choose carefully.
No one wants to stand out in the cold for hours trying to find out how to assemble the tent. It’s an important factor to consider when buying a tent. Make sure that you know what kind of tent you want, whether it’s a freestanding tent, a semi-freestanding tent or a non-freestanding tent. These ranges vary in terms of difficulty of setup. A tent that needs minimal poles and pegging points will always be easier to set up. Similarly, a freestanding tent has the absolute minimum amount of setup needed.
If you regularly go on backpacking and camping trips, you need something that’s rugged and can survive at least a couple of trips. While no tent lasts for an eternity, anything that wears out in a few trips is less than ideal. Make sure that your tent is made from durable materials. Try to read up on the manufacturer’s return and warranty policy, just in case you get a defective product.
Having more than one person in the tent means that they will need to enter and exit at different times. If you have more than one door and vestibule, you can be sure that they can go about their business without disturbing you and vice versa.
Getting a tent with two vestibules is also beneficial when dealing with more than two people. The last thing you want is being huddled in the tent with another person only to have their equipment hit you while you’re asleep. By getting a tent with two vestibules, you can solve this problem. This way you can each have your belongings safely put away without having them in the tent taking up valuable space.
It’s easy to spot a well-designed tent as opposed to a poorly designed one. When considering different designs, make sure that you pick something that will stay functional and practical. These days, a lot of tent manufacturers go for crazy-looking designs that don’t offer a lot of practicality. Try to get past how well designed it is on the outside and try to find out what it’s like on the inside.
It’s also important to make sure that everything functions well and doesn’t break or stop working when you least expect it to. When you’re in a camping ground miles away from civilization in the middle of the night, it can really come back to haunt you.
Despite what some people will have you believe, not all backpacking tents can brave the four seasons. Usually, you’re going to find tents built for 3 seasons or less, which are summer, spring and fall. Light winter can still be tolerated by a few tents but if you’re planning on going camping near the Rocky Mountains, you’ll need something more specialized. If rain is a concern, make sure you have waterproofing available on your preferred tent.
Aside from the tent’s exterior, you also need to pay attention to the way the floor is designed. A lot of times you may have a wide tent with a narrow floor that really limits your space and capacity. While you’re at it, you might also want to consider getting a tent that has a footprint which can help protect your floor from tearing through pointy rocks and uneven terrain. Getting a tent with a more layered floor will also help you keep warm against the cold ground.
Another overlooked aspect of buying a tent is the walls of the tent. Traditional tents come with single walls that may be thin fabric or padded with foam. But you can also get double-walled tents that provide a bit more protection. These tents come with two layers, an outer layer often called the tarp and an inner layer made of mesh lining. Double-walled backpacking tents are especially handy in situations where you have to deal with wet and damp conditions. Any condensation that forms on the inside of the tent is kept at bay with the inner mesh layer. These tents are also great at keeping your body heated, resulting in more warmth for colder climates.
By now you should have all the tools you need to pick out the tent that will work perfectly for your needs. At the end of the day, you can think of it as an investment. The more time and effort you put into it, the more output you get. It’s not all about getting something that’s the most expensive or the most feature-rich. Rather, you should get something that fits your needs perfectly and makes your trip feel memorable.
What are the best backpacks for Traveling? We’re sure that all seasoned travelers will agree with us when we say that one-bagging it is the best way to go. It just takes the traveling experience to a whole other level because you’re going into it with the mindset of having the best time possible. Yes, the point is to allow yourself to be free from unnecessary inconveniences, so you can focus on whatever is important – living in the moment. This might seem like a grand thought that’s...
We’re sure that all seasoned travelers will agree with us when we say that one-bagging it is the best way to go. It just takes the traveling experience to a whole other level because you’re going into it with the mindset of having the best time possible.
Yes, the point is to allow yourself to be free from unnecessary inconveniences, so you can focus on whatever is important – living in the moment. This might seem like a grand thought that’s well beyond the concept of having just one bag, but honestly, it all goes back to this.
Packing light forces you to cut down on what you’re told you can’t live without. It makes you rethink what you actually need. It might surprise you to find out that you don’t need that much at all to be happy and comfortable.
For most people who make the switch to one-bag traveling, they find out a lot about themselves. Stripping your stuff to the bare essentials does tend to do that.
It also makes one a more carefree traveler. In the most traditional sense, you really would have all your possessions on your back, with the whole world ready for your taking.
The best part? You’ll always be that person who has everything within reach. So no more digging around in suitcases and finding stuff in there that you didn’t even really need in the first place.
Plus, for the more active traveler, this allows you to location hop with ease without having much to repack.
Now, choosing the right backpack is not easy. Having to choose from all the available brands and models on the market right now can be quite confusing.
You’d have to factor in how durable it is, how much it’s going to cost you, and if it fits your style. At the end of the day, you’re looking for a bag that is best suited to YOU, and that’s a whole other journey that you’ll have to undertake.
NOMATIC TRAVEL BACKPACK – OVERALL FAVORITE
OSPREY STRATOS – BEST BACKPACK FOR HIKING (MEN)
NORTH FACE WOMEN’S TERRA 40 – BEST BACKPACK FOR HIKING (WOMEN)
HYNES EAGLE 44L CARRY ON BACKPACK – BEST FOR JETSETTERS
LOWEPRO TACTIC CAMERA BACKPACK – BEST FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS
REI CO-OP RUCKSACK – BEST FOR THOSE ON A BUDGET
PATAGONIA BLACK HOLE – BEST FOR THE ULTRALIGHT PACKER
KNOMO BEAUCHAMP BUSINESS – BEST FOR FASHIONISTAS
TLS MOTHER LODE WEEKENDER – BEST FOR HEAVIER PACKERS
THE BACKPACK (AWAY) – BEST FOR MINIMALISTS
OSPREY DAYLITE – BEST FOR URBAN TRAVEL
First of all, let’s get one thing clear: it’s not very likely that you’ll find a bag that will suit ALL your travels. However, it is possible to find one that fits a unique scenario. For example, the bag that you’ll want to take to your trip to the Alps isn’t going to be the one that you want to take on your work trips.
Similarly, a bag that might be perfect for a photographer isn’t going to be the same as a surfer’s.
Before you start panicking, we can tell you that we’ve done your research for you. Below, we’ve broken down the factors that you should keep an eye out for when browsing around for the right bag for you. It really depends on what kind of traveler you are or what kind of traveling you will do most. Are you going on trips only weekends? Are going to hit the backcountry for some hiking excursions? Do you want to look stylish while you’re walking the streets of Paris? Are you more practical and take only the most basic items on your trip? These are important questions that we will have answers to in this detailed guide.
All you have to do is focus on the factors that are tailored to your needs. We’ve also tested out a couple of products on our travels as well, so we can let you know what we think about these specific bags.
Obviously, a backpack would give you better mobility and, ideally, it would be small enough to be your carry-on, so you won’t have to check it, and you won’t have to wait around the baggage carousel upon landing. We all know that takes a lot of time.
This also means no lugging around heavy rollers in the airport and never having to worry about airlines losing your baggage ever again.
By no means, we’re not telling you what kind of bag you should bring. It really all boils down to your preference. However, we’re going to highlight travel backpacks for the following reasons:
You’d be free to walk around without having to pull something behind you constantly. You’ll also never have to worry about damaging your luggage wheels if you ever find yourself walking through a not so ideal terrain.
They’re also noiseless. Imagine going down the cobblestone streets of Paris, making a racket with your roller bag. Not very romantic.
Plus, everything is easy to access. We all know that checking in for your flight or entering another country will make you reach for your passport and itineraries a couple of times. You’ll be free to reach for whatever you need without having the added hassle of minding all your stuff.
We can’t say this about all travel backpacks, but we certainly can about the best ones. Some of these backpacks are made from the lightest materials and they’ve been designed specifically for travel – meaning, compartments, compartments, compartments!
If you’re going to be moving around a lot by way of public transit like trains and buses, then having a backpack would take up much less room.
Having a backpack would be much for suited for the more adventurous traveler who always likes being on the go.
It’s also smart to think about others as much as you think about your own comfort. You don’t want to inconvenience anyone else by taking up more space than you should or hitting innocent bystanders with your roller bag.
Gone are the days when “travel backpack” means an unsightly mountaineer bag that looks like a log and screams “I’m staying at a hostel and I love patchouli.” We’ve all been there and, hopefully, we’ve all graduated from that.
These days, travel backpacks can look chic and stylish in an urban setting while having the flexibility to bring it on a hiking trip. That also means that the bag would be suited for both conditions – meaning, it can get wet, it’s splash-proof, etc.
If you go for a roller bag, then it would not be wise to bring that along to a trek. By the same token, you’re going to look out of place if you bring something bulky and neon to a café for a quick coffee break.
Ideally, you want to have a bag that’s small enough to fit under the seat in front you in the plane. We understand that this poses a challenge for some people, but if you manage to do this, then you’re much better off.
Believe us; you can fit everything you need in one bag while staying well below 50L. It’s just a matter of finding the right lightweight bag that can accommodate all your stuff.
Make sure that the initial weight of the bag is not that significant. A heavier bag means less stuff you can pack. Also, make sure that it fits the airline’s required dimensions. There is a max legal carry on the rule that airlines will make you comply with.
Exceeding those dimensions means you’ll have to get your bag checked.
The true volume of a backpack pertains to how much usable space it contains. This is where it can get quite tricky. Travel backpacks are measured in liters, but you can tell a lot about the usability of a bag just by looking at it.
You should also pay attention to the bag’s thickness and the flexibility of the material it’s made out of. A thin, strong material would allow for more stuff to go inside it, while having a bag lined with padding would protect your belongings if you’re carrying around something fragile like a camera or a laptop.
Match these specifications for your needs.
Look out for additional flex. If you’re trying to cram more stuff into a bag and filling it to the brim, you’re not going to have much like with this if the bag that you chose has no give.
How the bag was designed and how you plan to utilize this space are the two key factors in determining the usability of a travel backpack.
As a general rule, backpacks that have more of a square or rectangular shape hold more stuff than other shapes. It’s cool and utilitarian too if you’re going for that look. It’s very in nowadays.
Choosing a slimmer travel backpack is better for your back. If a pack is close to your back, then it will feel less heavy than it is.
We’re talking about a 40L bag, so that’s a lot of weight to be carrying around. That’s why it’s important to go for a more compact, slimmer form factor.
An added bonus to this is that you won’t be taking up too much space, making you less likely to bother other people. We’re sure you’ve experienced having your face or shoulder nicked as you’re waiting for everyone to board the plane.
Don’t be one of those people.
Panel loading or clamshell packs would be our pick. It functions much like a suitcase while combining it with the versatility of a backpack.
So if you plan to be a regular tourist and you’ll just be staying at an Airbnb or hotel, then this is the better choice.
However, this wouldn’t be convenient if you plan to go on a trek or to camp out. A top loader pack would be better because you won’t have to open the whole bag up like a suitcase to get whatever you need.
Another thing that you have to consider when selecting your travel bag is if it can withstand different weather conditions – meaning, how good of a job will it do of keeping your stuff safe and dry?
In a lot of traveling scenarios, you and your bag will be exposed to different kinds of weather. Particularly, if you plan to visit places where it’s rainy like all over Asia, this is going to have to be one of your top priorities.
First of all, let’s establish that waterproof and water-resistant mean different thing. For the average traveler, you’d be perfectly fine with a water-resistant bag. That will protect your stuff from a brisk walk in the rain.
However, don’t expect that you can totally submerge this bag in water or that you can trek with this bag in the middle of a storm. That’s asking a bit too much.
If you plan to pack something that absolutely cannot get wet like, say, for example, your laptop or your tablet, then we advise that you get something like a Daka Pouch.
It’ll fit perfectly in your water-resistant bag for the extra protection that you need for those certain items.
You’re going to have to rely on this pack for a couple of days, so you have to make sure that it’s not made out of flimsy materials.
There’s nothing worse than losing stuff from a broken zipper or a torn bag. It makes for a bitterer situation because all it had to take was bringing along a sturdier bag.
You shouldn’t feel bad about shelling out a lot of cash for a bag because it’s insurance for your other stuff and it will most likely last you a long time. You should also understand what you’re paying for here.
Bag manufacturers these days develop tech for better bags. Yes, research goes into the best kinds of materials for just about anything, travel bags included.
So you’re paying more for the tech and for the best-resourced materials. Those sorts of things will never come cheap.
Plus, the more durable the material is, the more items it can carry. It makes perfect sense. Here are some specific things you should check out when considering a travel backpack:
When you’re looking around for bags, you might see numbers like 250D, 500D, and so on. At least, bag manufacturers who are serious about making the best products will be transparent with this. What does the D stand for? Denier – which refers to the thickness and weight of the material.
To get a little technical, it’s the mass per 9,000 meters of thread. That means lightweight fabrics like cotton will have a lower denier.
So when it comes to backpacks, the higher it is, the more durable it’s going to be. However, that also means that it’s heavier.
One fabric that you should look out for is Rip-stop nylon. Although it’s close from being just regular nylon, “rip-stop” nylon does just that. Its special weave in the form of squares will prevent your bag from ripping any further should it be punctured.
A bag made from this kind of material can carry a lot of weight. If you’re planning to go where there are warnings about muggings and theft on the streets, this will also come in handy.
As a little info tidbit, the rip-stop nylon was invented during World War II to replace silk parachutes. Even to this day, it’s still being used.
We’re talking military grade here, so that should be good enough for the well-worn traveler.
If you’re going for something a little more stylish, then consider getting a leather bag. Leather is known to be pretty stretchy and durable, so you can stuff more items in with a little elbow grease.
But leather can be a bit too heavy if you’re planning to move around a lot. Plus, it needs special care. You’re going to have to wipe it with oils and it can’t really get wet.
Don’t get anything made from polypropylene and canvas. Those bags are cheaper for a reason. It’s because they’re easily damaged and won’t last very long.
Below, we’ve provided you with a questionnaire that you can use to narrow down your choices.
If a bag can carry and protect all your stuff, but it’s a strain on your back and shoulders, then you can’t really say that that’s the right one for you.
Always check the foam in the straps and how thick it is. If you can’t carry much weight, scout around for a bag that has load lifters or hip belts.
Some bag manufacturers offer different options for different body types. It’s a smart idea to pay attention to what the experts have deemed to be the best for your own specific body type.
Check to see if it has compartments or if you would have to buy packing cubes for it. Either way is fine.
The point is that you have to be able to envision how you’re going to be using it. We’re all for being organized here, so throwing all your stuff in there without a thought won’t fly with us.
Also, take note of how easily items can be accessed.
There are anti-theft bags out there and we recommend that you focus on those if you’re paranoid about that. But you should take precaution with normal bags as well.
Are the zippers exposed? How easy is it to access the laptop compartment? Are there layers to the bag to hide fragile items?
Bags are fashion items too. Yes, its main point is utility, but you’re going to be seen with this thing. It’s important that it fits your overall style.
There are all sorts of bags for different aesthetics. The important thing to remember is that you don’t want to stand out like a sore thumb.
Now that we’ve got pretty much everything covered, let’s get into our top picks for the best travel backpacks.
The post How To Pick The Best Travel Backpack – For Any Kind Of Traveler appeared first on Always Wanderlust.
Everyone plans their year around their vacation. It’s that one much anticipated time when we can lay back, enjoy the scenery, and leave all the stress of work behind. So you ask yourself, What’s it going to be this year? Are we going to the white sand beaches of Bali? Are we going museum hopping in Paris? Is our ski trip to Aspen long overdue?” You could be anywhere in the planning stages of your dream trip. You could have just settled on a destination and booked your tickets and...
Everyone plans their year around their vacation. It’s that one much anticipated time when we can lay back, enjoy the scenery, and leave all the stress of work behind. So you ask yourself, What’s it going to be this year? Are we going to the white sand beaches of Bali? Are we going museum hopping in Paris? Is our ski trip to Aspen long overdue?”
You could be anywhere in the planning stages of your dream trip. You could have just settled on a destination and booked your tickets and reservations. You could have just written down your list of top 10 places to go and are now saving up for when you can go.
Whatever the case may be, one thing that you’re absolutely going to need is a travel budget. Why is that you ask? Well, it’s no surprise that a vacation can do a number on your bank account.
So it’s important that you plan ahead to resist the temptation of overspending. You could go on your vacation and charge everything on your credit card and not give a second thought about it. You’ll only go back home and realize that you’ve racked up quite the credit card bill. That would be more on your plate to deal with.
Plus, you’ve been planning your whole year around this. You don’t want to bring along the anxiety of not knowing what you can and cannot spend. You have to plan your budget, so you can be free to fully enjoy your vacation.
Not having a travel budget can even make your vacation turn disastrous. No one wants their vacation to end with not just good memories, but a couple of regrets too. Everybody has experienced that one point or another and having a travel budget is one step you can take to avoid experiencing that ever again.
You want to get your money’s worth. After all, you worked so hard for it. You want to set aside some funds and know exactly where they can go towards. This will lift the stress off your vacation time. Stress is something you should leave behind, not something you should carry along with you. That just defeats the purpose of going on vacation in the first place, right?
Exactly how can a travel budget help you?
If now’s the time you’re planning the vacation, you can use your travel budget to plan it more realistically. This will limit your choice or airlines, hotels, tours, the list goes on. Don’t let the “L” word scare you off. That just means that with a travel budget, you’ll be able to do more things and visit more places.
If now’s the time you’re saving for your vacation, you can use your travel budget to set your savings goal. You’ll know what you want to do and what you have to spend on it. So that means you’ll also know how much you have to save.
If everything is packed and all your accommodations are booked, you can use your travel budget to know how much you can spend spontaneously.
Obviously, you won’t be able to plan everything ahead. The cool thing about going on vacation is that a lot of things can take you by surprise. Maybe you’ll want to try out something you just newly discovered. Maybe you want to eat a swanky local restaurant that comes highly recommended on Yelp.
Having a travel budget can help you say yes or no to these spontaneous whims and help you get the best out of your time out of town.
The best part about all this is that it’s not at all hard to do. But before we get into the details of how to create a great travel budget, it has to be clear to you that a travel budget is just a mere guide. It’s not there to be followed to a tee.
You have to create your budget with some allowances. Remember, you’re going to be dealing in estimates and you might make a mistake or two along the way.
What you’re aiming for here is flexibility, not restrictiveness. With that being said, let’s get started!
Normally, one of the biggest expenses that will blow a hole in your wallet is travel fees – how you’re going to get to your destination.
Now, these could vary depending on where you’re going and where you’re coming from. You could be going there by plane, by ship, by car, etc.
You’re going to have to do your research and weigh your options. If you’re planning to travel to multiple locations, you’re going to have to research how much it’s going to cost you to go to these places as well.
Important note: Before you get anxious about this, there are a couple of fares comparing sites that you should check out. These will help you out a lot. Sites like Skyscanner, Kayak, and GoEuro will do all the work for you. You could also get good deals if your book your flights using their services.
They will list all the flight to your destination from the cheapest to the most expensive. All you’ll have to do is select the one that fits your budget the best.
Another big expense will be your accommodations. More research has to go into this. You have to look up lodging options to decide where you’ll be staying.
Different people have different preferences. Maybe you’d like to stay at a hotel with a pool. Maybe you’d like to stay at a hotel that’s the situation right in the thick of everything.
Maybe you’re a backpacker and you’d like to crash at a cool hostel. Do your research and find places that will fit your needs and your budget.
Important note: To get the most back out of your back, try to book a reservation at a place that offers at least one meal with your booking. Check out our Accommodations Page for the absolute best deals on hotels and hostels.
It could be a hotel that has an inclusive breakfast buffet for certain rooms or a hostel that has a kitchen that guests can use.
The next thing you have to consider is what modes of transport you’re going to be using when you get to your destination.
Naturally, every location is different. If you frequent travel sites, a lot of them report that taxis in some places scam tourists who don’t know better. They ask for a lot more money if you’ve got that clueless “I’ve never been here before” look in your eye.
If you’re on a tighter budget, then perhaps the smarter way to move around is by bus or train, where the fares are always standard.
If you don’t plan to get everywhere on foot, then allotting a budget for moving around is a must.
Important note: It would be smart to search for public transport ticket options. Some cities offer a travel card that you can use on all of their public transportations. This would be way cheaper than having to pay for each individual trip.
If in your research you find out that booking taxis in advance would be cheaper than hailing them freely, then, by all means, do so.
Also, it’s important to get the locals’ perspective on how to get around. This will the lessen the chances of you being ripped off because taxis, for example, will back off if you know how much a trip to somewhere is going to cost.
It’s not very realistic for anyone to decide on every single place where they’re going to be eating at on their vacation. That’s just absurd.
What you aim to do here is to get a ballpark figure of how much your meals are going to cost you. Sniff around online where people give estimates to how much their meals at specific places cost.
Apps like Zomato and TripAdvisor will do that for you. People leave their reviews of the food too. Whether you’re the type who likes fine dining or hole in the wall places, these apps will come in handy.
If you’re hard-pressed for time, you can just follow this basic rule of thumb: you’ll be expected to spend 2 to 2.5 times the price of a one night’s stay at your hotel (or resort, hostel, etc.) on a day’s food expenses.
Important note: If you’re down for it, always eat at where the locals eat. These places are popular for a reason. Not only will you be getting more of a cultural experience, but you’ll also probably won’t spend as much as you would at, say, an international restaurant.
If you’re renting an Airbnb, try to cook some of your meals to save some money. This will give you the chance to check out the local markets and to save your money for fancier restaurants.
If you don’t have travel OCD and you don’t have to go into your vacation with a solid itinerary, that’s perfectly fine. All you need to have is a rough plan of what you’d like to do when you get there.
Let’s say your favorite band is passing by the place you’re visiting because they’re on tour and you want to go see the show, then factor in those ticket costs. Let’s say where you’re visiting offers a lot of water activities like boating and scuba diving and you want to try those out, then factor in those costs.
Just by knowing yourself and who you’ll be traveling with, you’ll have a vague idea of what you’re going to want to do. Make a list of your “must do’s” and research beforehand about how much they’re going to cost you.
Important note: Travel services offer to book major attraction tours in advance. Some of them even offer deals like special discounts and extra detours if you book earlier than when you arrive. This will help you avoid the traffic of tourists who are looking to get on these tours impulsively. Check out our recommended tour companies on our Travel Resources page for some awesome money saving deals.
Most likely, the answer is yes. At the very least, you’ll pick up a few souvenirs to bring back home. This is something that you can’t really research, but you should set aside a budget for these costs.
Think about your shopping habits. Is this something that you really enjoy and absolutely have to do when you’re on vacation? If yes, then allow a bigger budget for it.
Important note: If you plan to bring back souvenirs for friends and family, then it would be helpful to bring a list of these people with you.
By doing this, you’ll be able to check them off and reduce the risk of overspending. Also remember that if you end up buying a lot of stuff, you’re going to have to find room for them in your luggage.
If not, rethink your planned expenses. You should always have money set aside if anything goes awry. It would be foolish to just assume that everything is going to go smoothly.
In case something like a medical emergency arises or even stumbling upon a cool shop or restaurant, it would be smart to be prepared for it.
Important note: If you don’t have a clue about how much we’re talking here, a general rule is to set aside 2 to 3 days’ worth of daily expenses as an emergency budget per person.
People who travel a lot have a sense of where they’re going to spend their money on and don’t even need to write all these down as for reference.
They usually have a ballpark number of how much they can spend in a day or even a week without going over their budget.
If you’re new to this, then all this planning can be a bit overwhelming. So how do you get started?
First, you’ll have to do research about the location you’re traveling to. You have to know what the approximate cost of living is going to be.
Personally, in order to do this, I check how much a night’s stay is at the average hostel. I do this even if I don’t plan on staying at a hostel for a number of reasons.
Knowing the cost of living index would come in handy if you play to stay and live like a local for a while. So if you plan to stay somewhere for a relatively long time, then it would be smart for you to do this.
After you figure out how much the average hostel costs per night, multiply that by 3. That’s going to be your budget for one day.
To illustrate, let’s say the average hostel costs $25 a night. That would give me $75 as my daily budget. To break that down, I’d have:
So if you plan to rent an apartment for a whole month, then you need to find one that would cost less than $25 to rent per night – less than (25×30) $750 per month. If you go over your food budget, then cut costs on your “everything else” budget to compensate.
This is how I do my own budgeting and of course, I have my own level of comfort that I have to meet. But it may be different for you. You may be able to multiply the average hostel cost by 2 if you can get by on that.
Maybe your standard of living is higher than mine and you need to multiply it by 4. The trick here is to practice. Test out your “factor” by making a detailed budget of one vacation and compare it to the next. You could even do this by benchmarking values in your own area.
If you get good at this, you’ll be able to have an idea of what a good budget would look like for your next trip. This would be an advantage when your plans aren’t really solid and are likely to change on the fly.
Let’s stick to our hypothetical budget of $75 per day. What I do is I would take out a week’s worth of my budget at a time so I don’t incur a lot of ATM fees (I’ve learned my lesson).
So I would have $525, but I would only carry $75 with me on a daily basis. This helps me plan ahead. Let’s say I’m going out for drinks with some friends for the night, then I would cut back on food costs during the day.
If I reach the end of the week without even spending my entire budget, that would give me the chance to splurge on some treats.
You can manage by allotting your food and “everything else” budget for little trinkets, cheap tickets, and snacks. However, if in the middle of the trip, you plan to take an expensive sailing trip, a class or go to a concert, then those shouldn’t be included in your daily budget.
Treat them as separate expenses, so you don’t have to scrimp on food and other essentials.
After you’ve figured out how much going to a specific location will cost you, check your overall costs and compute the average cost per day.
How can you tell if you’re budgeting like a champ or spending way too much? One way to do this is by comparing the time you can live on that budget in a high-cost destination versus a low-cost destination.
To give you an example, the same budget that you could manage on for 3 months in Europe could last you 6 months in Southeast Asia.
If you plan to travel the globe, plan your budget accordingly. That means you’ll be able to stay longer in low-cost destinations if that’s what you want.
You can test your theory by creating a detailed budget for a specific destination. Once you have this, you can then divide the daily cost by the average hostel cost. Round it up it down to the nearest whole number and this is going to be your factor.
Remember, do not include more expensive items in your daily budget. So, in theory, it could look something like this:
TOTAL OF: $3,230 for 42 days (6 weeks)
You might find that you’d want to change things up a bit because you’re liking a place a lot more than you expected. For example, this is what your new schedule could look like:
The average cost per day will make it out to $56 from your original plan of $53. That’s not much of a difference, but you will have to consider this if you’re on a tight budget. So there you go, you’re now armed with the right knowledge to plan your travel budget.
Here’s a very handy MS Office Template to Budget for Travel
What To Take RV Camping? A camping trip can last days or weeks, and if you’ve never hit the road in an RV before, you might not know where to start. Whether you’re heading out for a weekend or the rest of your life, there a few things that you need to turn your caravan into a home and save some headaches along the way. Packing for any trip can seem extremely daunting, especially a camping trip. Whether you are new to the RV life, or you are just trying it out for a weekend, certain...
A camping trip can last days or weeks, and if you’ve never hit the road in an RV before, you might not know where to start. Whether you’re heading out for a weekend or the rest of your life, there a few things that you need to turn your caravan into a home and save some headaches along the way.
Packing for any trip can seem extremely daunting, especially a camping trip. Whether you are new to the RV life, or you are just trying it out for a weekend, certain essentials can make the experience an incredible one.
7 – Pet
You can’t just park your RV anywhere. You have to plan this first.
The first thing you will find, in an RV, is that you need to be able to fit into a variety of parking spots or more accurately, parking sizes. In massive parking lots or large sites, this is not so much a problem, but you are bound to have a tight squeeze or sharp corner somewhere along the way. Be sure you know how to maneuver the RV and which side the hookups are on. Backing up can be more difficult than it looks, especially if you are towing a camper trailer. Be patient and take your time, accounting for where the door will end up as well as where the power, water, and sewer lines will go, if applicable.
After that, you need to make sure the RV is level. If you’re not level, many things in your RV simply won’t work. Your fridge and your propane system can fail to operate if not level and will ultimately be damaged. Not to mention how hard it is to sleep in a bed when you keep rolling onto the floor. There’s a good chance that at some campgrounds, the ground is most likely going to be uneven. Having leveling blocks will make sure that fridge stays running, your food doesn’t spoil, and you won’t have other unpleasant surprises.
RVing isn’t always glamorous. If you’re staying in the RV for long periods of time, you’re going to have to know how to hook up the power, water and empty the sewer. If you are renting an RV, everything you need should be included and you will be shown how everything works when you get started. Before you leave, check all connections and make sure you have any additional attachments necessary. For example, if your RV is a 50 amp camper, it is pretty much essential to carry a 30 amp converter as many sites are not compatible with 50 amp. You do not want to arrive at a full hook-up site only to realize you cannot access it because you have the wrong connection.
For water, most hoses are standard. If you are new to RVing or plan to travel around a lot, it can be beneficial to have multiple lengths of water hose. As well, a water regulator is often required when hooking up to a municipal water source. A small attachment that goes on the end of the hose, it regulates water pressure going into the RV. This protects the RV plumbing from being damaged by high-pressure lines. A quick tip if you do not have regulator is to turn down the water tap at the source. Just be sure no one accidentally turns it back up and be aware of the pressure on your taps. You also have the option of simply filling the water tank and having access to running water wherever you are on the road.
The most important and unpleasant RV essential is the sewer hose. Or the sewer system in general. Manage it properly and you will have a smooth holiday with all the benefits of your own private bathroom. Pull the wrong valve and things can get messy very quickly. So first things first, check that you have all of the sewage hoses and fittings you need before you go. You probably want to get a pair of rubber gloves you can designate for just this purpose (something you will not have a problem throwing away).
Usually, there is an elbow-shaped pipe that attaches to the RV sewage tank. The hose attaches to this elbow and then gets put inside or attached to the sewage dump (often just a pipe sized hole in the ground). Every RV has a black water tank (from the toilet) and a grey water tank (from sinks and shower). Always open the black tank valve first and then the grey water tank. Also be sure to use enough water in your toilet so the black water tank has enough liquid in it. Do a practice run of this process before you go so you’re not running around trying to figure it out when it’s too late.
Overall, with utilities, the RV is versatile and can adapt to your purpose. If you are looking for a warm shelter for a wilderness camping trip, you may not require all the bells and whistles. If you like a few creature comforts or are heading out for a long road trip, set off with everything you need, and you will be a self-contained oasis. Everyone is different, and you will quickly find your comfort level in your RV, especially if you prepare in advance.
Only kidding! Most RVs do not require you to be a mechanic to drive them, they are much like any other vehicle. Still having some mechanical knowledge and some basic tools can come in handy. This one probably seems pretty obvious, but RVs are more likely to run into emergency situations because of their size. Having an emergency kit along with jumper cables will help you be prepared just in case you find yourself stranded during the middle of your vacation. In the kit, you might also want to include a whistle, flashlight, tire pressure gauge, extension cords, and more.
The benefit of renting an RV is that they often come with roadside assistance so that you do not have to handle any mechanical problems. If you do not come equipped with a personal mechanic (or the equivalent) on the trip, seriously consider adding insurance that covers your RV so you have peace-of-mind no matter where you travel to.
One of the best parts of having an RV is being able to use the kitchen. From garbage bags to dishes to soap and towels to cleaning products. You’ll want versatile pots, pans, dishes, and utensils to suit your cooking needs. One pot meals work great in an RV. The top three items that RVers forget to pack are garbage bags, condiments and sauces, and a can opener. It really is the little things that make for an easy and relaxing trip.
There is usually a good amount of storage space in the kitchen so here is where you want to indulge. Pack your favorite meal options as well as some additional treats. If you take time to stock up at a grocery store and prepare with the food in mind that you will eat, you will save time and money and allow the trip to run smoothly. In the end, you’ll want to be as stocked for the road as you would be at your home. After all, an RV is your home away from home.
What’s better than starting a campfire after a long day of travel? Many times people choose to cook their meals over a campfire and it can be the center of the evening after a long day of sightseeing. You can’t start a fire without firewood. You will also likely need an ax, some type of firestarter, and matches or a lighter. If you will be preparing food, you will need to pack a grill and utensils. You’ll also want a pot and pan, skewers, flame-resistant gloves, and cooking implements. Use one of the side storage cubbies as the go-to spot for campfire supplies so you can pull out the chairs, light the fire and start cooking.
If you’re going to spend your days out and about in the outdoors, you’ll want to have a first-aid kit. You never know when you might take a tumble or get injured. If you’re pretty far out in the forest or desert, you might be pretty far from a doctor. Being prepared will help keep you safe and help buy you time in case of an emergency.
Since you will be on the road with an RV, you will want to bulk up your emergency kit a little bit. Pack extra flashlights as well as oil, windshield wiper fluid and coolant. Be sure to have pylons and flares, simple tools, as well as a spare tire and tire jack. Even with roadside assistance, you may have to help yourself, or at least properly protect yourself until help arrives. In that regard have a set of emergency phone numbers, a backup charger for your phone, as well as a detailed plan of where you are headed left with a friend or family member. These essentials ensure you can have peace of mind while you explore new horizons.
Plan your recipes and meals before you leave so you know exactly what you need to bring. Packing food is always a good idea to reduce the overall costs of your trip. You’ll want plenty of water and items that won’t perish easily. Canned foods, meats, peanut butter, crackers, cereal, and other munchies will help keep you satisfied without going bad quickly.
Water could have a category of its own. You use it to drink, wash, bathe and flush the toilet yet it is often forgotten. The great thing about RVing is you have a built-in water tank. The difficulty can be in knowing where to find water. If you are not staying at a campsite with a freshwater hook-up, you might need to fill up before you go. It is also important to pay attention to where your water is coming from, make sure it is safe to drink before filling your water tanks.
As with any vacation or road trip, the main two issues are what are you going to eat and where you are going to sleep. In an RV, you have that covered and everything else is simpler because of it. Being able to stop, whenever you want or need, to eat, rest, or use the bathroom takes a lot of the stress out of a holiday and allows you to really relax and see the sights at your own pace.
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Lake Tahoe In Any Season If there is ever a place one can call an all season photographer’s paradise, it would Lake Tahoe. Winter, spring, summer, or fall the seasons produce amazing photographic opportunities for every photographer at any level. Whether you’re scrambling up boulders on the Northern Shore or high up on some vista overlook; you’re always within a shutter click away from a postcard-perfect frame. I have been fortunate enough to have visited Lake Tahoe...
If there is ever a place one can call an all season photographer’s paradise, it would Lake Tahoe. Winter, spring, summer, or fall the seasons produce amazing photographic opportunities for every photographer at any level. Whether you’re scrambling up boulders on the Northern Shore or high up on some vista overlook; you’re always within a shutter click away from a postcard-perfect frame.
I have been fortunate enough to have visited Lake Tahoe through different seasons in over a decade. I’ve spent an entire winter season in the North Eastern Tahoe City, skiing its surrounding slopes and then scrambling my way towards various locations to catch a sunset during Apres hour. I’ve scouted and photographed a lot of places in Lake Tahoe discovering hidden little gems that today is teeming with photographers that you have to compete with.
I have discovered many Lake Tahoe photo locations from random explorations and from research. Some famed spots like the Bonsai Rock are relatively difficult to find if you didn’t have any help from GPS coordinates. I found the Bonsai Rock from somebody posting it coordinates on Google Maps – now the location is reasonably famous amongst photographers, and you’ll see a swarm on weekends that it’s tough to miss.
I also use an app called Trover to collect a list of photographs and locations that I will talk about later. It’s a very useful app for discovering new locations as well as making a list of places that you eventually want to visit. There’s a budding community there of travelers who post photos that will give you a serious case of wanderlust.
At the end of this post is a compilation list of all the exact spots that I’ve mentioned here via a Trover embed. There are a thousand spots you can take great photos of Lake Tahoe – it is the largest Alpine Lake in North America, and as such, you’re never far away from a sunset reflection or an Alpenglow over its surrounding peaks. This list not meant to be a complete list of all photo locations but rather a guide of tried and true places that generate the best photos of Lake Tahoe.
For me, winter is the definitive answer. The photo locations are less crowded, and I often find myself alone in solitude to ponder in the white landscape and enjoy the silence along the lake’s shore. That’s not to say, other seasons are bland. On the contrary, summer is also a great time to enjoy the lake and great for scouting other locations with long days at your disposal.
Spring brings about the lupine bloom that blanket the shores in some sections of the lake. Climate change has brought about some changes in Lake Tahoe’s shores, and these fields of lupine have popped in locations where beaches grew mainly due to lower lake levels. Fall is also a great time to shoot in Lake Tahoe when aspen trees create an interesting contrast to the Lake’s blue waters.
Sunset, sunrises, midday, or midnight, Lake Tahoe, can be a photographer’s paradise! Ideally, you want to bring your whole arsenal and the kitchen sink. Superwide through telephoto you will find a place to utilize every focal point. Since you’re mostly shooting skies and water, you would want to bring along your favorite polarizer; it’s great for slowing the water’s motion as well as exposing the rocky bottom of the lake.
You can bring a graduated neutral density filter with you, but if you know how to blend exposures via layers in Photoshop, then that’s the better option. That you need to stabilize when shooting during the golden hour. A good tripod is a must in these situations to hold your camera in place.
The Nevada side is great for sunsets and has lots and lots of exciting foreground – like the multitude of granite boulders that litter the shores. There is room for abstract and creativity here if the weather doesn’t permit for grand and wide landscapes. Use telephotos and isolate the boulders if you can.
Lake Tahoe straddles two states, California and Nevada. As such I’ve divided this guide to reflect the subtle differences and the best times to shoot which locations. From experience, the California side is better at giving you the best sunrise photos since your shooting in the western shores. I’ve had many excellent sunset photos of Lake Tahoe on the eastern Nevada side.
That’s not to say you can’t get great sunset photos in California or vice versa, like photography compositions, some rules are meant to be broken. If you have the time, experiment and you might just land an excellent frame where you least expect it.
So, without further ado. Let get to the best photography locations in Lake Tahoe!
Eagle Falls is tucked away in some man-made stares across the Eagle Falls Trailhead parking lot. An ideal sunrise location, set up camp long before dawn so you can get your spot set up because you’re likely going to be competing with other early bird photographers. Late spring is one of the best times to shoot this place due to the more significant flow of water and the position of the sun directly on the falls during this time.
During the summer the falls would have dried up and you’ll only get a trickle of water that may or may not be that interesting in composition.
If you search for images on Google, you’ll most likely see a bunch of pictures of an island in an aquamarine bay. The island is called Fannette Island, and the bay is Emerald Bay. The Fannette Island has a European style stone castle that’s called the Tea House; It was built by the owner of Vikingsholm. What’s cool about this view, is that you can frame all of them on a classic postcard-perfect view.
This viewpoint is found right on a pull out stop off highway 89. If you can’t park your car on this shoulder, very likely since it’s a popular place, park across the street in the Eagle Falls Parking lot and walk across. This view is very close to the falls, and you can probably catch both once you capture a few frames of one.
This is likely where you will end up parking during the busy season in Emerald Bay. You can get some good photos here once you have exhausted your options at Eagle Falls and the Emerald Bay Overlook. There’s a trail here that meanders all the way down to Vikingsholm, and from there you can catch an eye’s level view of Fannette Island. Because of its location, it’s ideally shot during sunrise or dawn. It’s also ideally located near South Lake Tahoe where you can find various accommodations for your trip.
Rubicon Bay is home to a popular marina and hosts a few beaches on the East Shore. This part is never short on man-made structures has boat houses and wood boat docks and moorage. If you explore this place at dawn, be prepared for some the craziest sunrises you’ll ever see!
If you’re an early bird, this spot along with Eagle Falls will give the best bang for your buck in getting that postcard-perfect photo. Beware, not all docks are public so make sure you read the warning signs before you walk long one.
Just like Mount Tallac, Maggies Peak is quite a hike. It’s a relatively moderate trail, not quite as difficult as Tallac but will break out a sweat or two. You can see Lake Tahoe with Cascade Lake juxtaposed above the tree line and beyond.
During late spring, a walk through Lake Forest Beach gives you opportunities to photograph a field of lupine. These purple colored wildflowers provide an excellent foreground to Lake Tahoe’s expansive background. These plants grow up to three feet tall with its bright purple flowers popping up against a golden hour backdrop is a thing to behold. However, if you’re not there in the spring, the beach also offers opportunities, like the one pictured above, for sunset landscapes.
This area is by far the most densely populated part of Lake Tahoe. It’s sharing a border with Nevada, and several casino hotels make its mark along with the massive gondola of Heavenly Ski Resort. However, there are patches of forest lands and parks where you can easily escape and discover some unique photo opportunities.
The drive along Emerald Bay Blvd will undoubtedly turn up a few photography spots. There are also several groves of aspens in the area, making also ideal for fall photography. There’s a turnout towards the Mount Tallac Trail and the road leading to the trailhead is surrounded by forests. This spot has various wildflowers blooming during spring.
Lake Tahoe’s western shore is punctuated by boats, boat launches, and a multitude of man-made objects. That is in contrast to the more natural boulder lined shore of the Eastern Nevada side. If you want man-made subjects to provide contrasts in your composition this side is your best bet.
The only issue with this part of Lake Tahoe is the many privately owned shoreline. It can be difficult to find places to access the lake. Still, it’s worth it if you can find a spot where you can roam freely. Just be sure to wake up early because this side has epic sunrises.
Mount Tallac is the tallest mountain of the west shore of Lake Tahoe. It’s a moderate trail with up to 10 miles round trip and up to 3500ft in elevation gain depending on which route to take. It offers some of the best vistas of the Lake. It’s an oft-trodden trail that offers fantastic views of Fallen Leaf Lake and Lake Tahoe itself.
There’s a backcountry campsite just below the peak and it’s a great place to get familiar with multi-day hiking.
This place isn’t beautiful in the summer but come winter when the water freeze solid and snow blankets the shores, this place can match any other place in Lake Tahoe regarding beauty.
This overlook can be reached via highway 431 off Incline Village on the Nevada side. The road leads to Mount Rose Ski Resort, and you can see this overlook off the bottom of the road with a vast view of the lake. This is one of the best vistas in Lake Tahoe that is very easy to get to. No hiking required.
Hidden only by name. Hidden Beach is one of the best spots to take sunset photos of the North Shore. It’s just a few yards from Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park information center. It’s not easy to get to, but if you park at the information center. Take the trail south and scramble over a few boulders to get to this location.
Sand Harbor is just teaming with boaters and beachgoers in the summer. If you don’t like people in your shots, you should avoid this place. However, in the winter it’s often devoid of visitors and presents various photographic opportunities. It has a sandy beach and several man-made structures if you would like man-made elements in your picture.
Creek Beach is found just south of Secret Cove. It is part of the trail that connects Chimney Beach and Secret Cove. So really, you will have your hands full and perhaps all day exploring this area. Hike up and down the trail to and from Chimney Beach. There is unlimited compositions you can come up with depending on the time of day, the weather, and the season.
There is a lot of exposed granite slabs that make the area great for superwide angle shots. If there’s a storm or overcast, come here anyway. You can get some really dramatic and surreal shots like this photo on the left.
Arguably the most photographed boulder in all of Lake Tahoe. Its moniker comes from the little trees that have sprung up from the pine cones trapped in the boulders cracks. It used to be difficult to find, but now it’s often crowded with people. Your best bet here is to shoot it during winter or weekdays, there are fewer photographers during those times.
Getting to this location, you can quickly figure why it’s famous. It’s the Bonsai Rock is, to be cliche about it, a very photogenic rock. It just so happens to frame perfectly an ideal sunset. You really can’t go wrong here, and lots of other photographers have the same idea too. But if it’s your first time in Lake Tahoe, you have to check this place out!
This place is the defacto information center of the Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park which also encompasses Secret Cove, Chimney Beach, Sand Harbor, and the Bonsai Rock. A small parking lot with restrooms make this an ideal stop for families driving through the park. It also has a few spots where you can get unique photos. So while everyone is out crowding the Bonsai Rock, come to this place instead – you might just like it.
Carnelian Bay is teeming with activities in the summer. If you’re lucky enough to find beach access, it’s one of the least photographed places in Lake Tahoe.
Secret Cove infamous for being a nudist beach, so don’t be surprised if you come across beachgoers sans swimming trunks. This cove offers some great photo opportunities just a little before the golden hour. The waters are clear and blue in most cases, and it truly showcases the coined term “Keep Tahoe Blue.”
Here you’ll find kayakers and stand up paddlers enjoying their sport during the summer and often make great subjects to juxtapose on Lake Tahoe’s spectacular landscape. Just be mindful of the bathers in the nude.
Chimney Beach got its name after the left-over chimney from a house built during the Gold Rush. This beach is located next to Secret Cove and has some of the best areas to get creative compositions of Lake Tahoe. During years of drought, you’ll see boulders exposed along the shores, and you can use them as foreground interests in your photos. If you see high clouds on the skies above. Make your way here quick and wait for the fantastic Alpenglow that surely to happen.
The East Shore has the most concentration of rocks and boulders along Lake Tahoe’s shore. It creates a distinctive scene and one of the best places to photograph a sunset with rocks or boulders in the foreground.
The flume trail is both foot traffic and mountain bike trail. It has incredible views of Lake Tahoe once you get a little above the tree line. I’ve done this trail with a mountain bike a couple of times, and it’s quite a challenge (I’m not a biker). If mountain bikes aren’t your thing, just hike it up. It’s not a bad trail for hiking and offers unique views of the lake.
This is the first bay you’ll come across if you’re driving from the California side towards Nevada in the north. The bay is enclosed in mostly privately owned beaches so there’s no easy way to get down. There are a few road stops and if you have a telephoto lens, you should be able to catch some very interesting compositions of sailboats, catamarans, kayakers and so on.
There you go. What’s listed here is by no means an ultimate list. There are many places not listed here that are also great spots to photograph in Lake Tahoe. I hope you’ve found some clues and perhaps even some inspiration to explore this natural wonder. And I hope, you also do your part to Keep Tahoe Blue!
Below is the Trover List for all the beautiful spots to photograph in Lake Tahoe.
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