Campside Comfort- How much is too much to carry-

Campside Comfort: How much is too much to carry?

It’s in the nature of backpackers, campers, and trekkers of all kinds to enjoy the experience of “roughing it.” There is joy to be found in disconnecting from the hectic nature of modern life, with its 24-hour connectivity and ceaseless electronic noise. A pristine evening beneath a billion bright stars, a sweltering day beside a cold mountain lake, or the simple pleasure of a well-traveled forest trail.


That said, there are many small luxuries that can be carried in even the most spartan of backpacking kits. Allowing yourself one or two is unlikely to affect your pack weight unduly, and can bring a touch of welcome comfort to an otherwise austere campsite.


Flip Flops. Not for wearing while hiking, mind you, but for putting on once you’ve set up camp. Safer than going barefoot, more comfortable than keeping your sweaty boots on, and waterproof, so dipping your footsies into a refreshing creek is a nice option. You can even find some high-quality sandals with a bottle opener in the sole, for cracking open that single craft beer you packed.

Pillow Bag. Otherwise known as a “stuff sack,” a pillow bag is basically a fleece-lined sack that can be turned inside out and stuffed with clothes to make a pillow. Turn it outside-out and carry your unorganizables.

Wet Wipes. A variety of wet-wipes can be found to cater to the avid outdoorsfolk, typically containing a water-based cleansing agent (instead of drying alcohol). When you’re miles from a shower, with 20 miles of sweat, dirt and dead bugs on your skin, a quick rub-down with one of these showers-in-a-packet can feel like a blast from the garden hose at your childhood home. Be sure and dispose of the used towelettes properly.

Camp chair. To some trekkers, carrying a camp chair through a mountainous trail with plenty of fallen logs seems absurd, but if your back gets tired and weak after making the hike, you’ll be glad to have a lightweight (some examples weigh barely a pound) camp chair to lean your back against.  You’ll avoid getting covered in pine sap, and you’ll be better rested for the next day’s exertions.

Consider splurging on a lightweight bit of luxury for your next hike. You may find that the weight isn’t nearly as noticeable as the improvement in the quality of your relaxation.


Is it time to replace your tent-

Is it time to replace your tent?

Here’s the short answer: yes. If you’ve been carrying around the same tent on your backpacking adventures for more than a few years, if you’ve been dealing with a sticky zipper, mysterious leaks, or any of a dozen tiny nuisances, consider replacing that old tent.  You’ll find that tent technology advances with great speed, and a new tent will have many advantages over one only five years old. Here are the important considerations to examine when shopping for a new tent.

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Weight: One of the many ways tent technology has advanced is in the area of weight. Considering that backpackers have to carry their shelter with them, this is a primary concern. With lightweight fabrics, fiberglass rods, and designs which simply require fewer parts, tents have reduced their weight profile by 70% in the past 30 years, and by 10% just in the past ten. Decreased weight gives you more room to pack other essentials, or alternately makes your trek a little bit lighter.

Climate: Tents are designed for specific seasonal use, and you should take this into consideration when planning a trip.  Most tents are “three-season,” for use in temperate conditions, while mountaineering tents are designed to stand up to the cold.  Likewise, dedicated summer tents are devised with better ventilation and even more lightweight walls. Pack the right tent for the season and conditions, and avoid a lot of discomfort later.

Capacity: Tents generally have a number in their brand designation that indicates the ideal number of occupants, but tent manufacturers don’t have a consistent method for determining how much room occupants will need, so some research is required.  Similarly, there are features like separate entrances for dual-occupancy tents, or rain vestibules that can help your comfort level tremendously. Remember that capacity is dependent on occupant familiarity–a married couple or two long-term backpacking partners need less room than a couple fishing buddies who’ve just met.

By giving careful consideration to the needs your new tent needs to fulfill, you can ensure years of comfortable and nuisance-free trekking, anywhere you choose to travel. Get out there and see the world!


Why the train to Paris is always better than the plane

Why the train to Paris is always better than the Plane

I never thought that I would prefer travel by train to travelling by plane, but if you are taking the Eurostar London Paris route then it certainly is! There’s so much to love about the train in comparison to hoping on a plane. The whole thing just seems so much more relaxing, less rushed and over all pleasant. If you’ve already travelled on the Eurostar to Paris then you know exactly what I am talking about. If you haven’t yet had the pleasure, then you are missing out on short queues, great staff, centrally located station to depart from and much more.

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Here are 3 more great things to look forward to when you step onboard one of the TGV trains bound for Paris.

Sit with your friends

I know that on a plane you are able to sit next to your friends, but when you travel on the Eurostar you are able to book a table so that you can sit around and chat to one another. So you can play cards, chat or even have a meal together – it really makes for a much better journey.

There’s so much space

There is much more space on the Eurostar when you compare it to a plane, the best thing is that there is no turbulence so you are not forced to stay in your seat for the majority of the trip. You can get up stroll around, go to the café/bar for a snack if you like and stretch as much as you like. The plane can’t compete with this in anyway shape or form, being able to walk around as you like is something that I really enjoy.

The security checks are sensible

There’s no over the top security checks for the Eurostar like there is at the airports these days. This another thing I absolutely love! If you are travelling with a child and need to bring lots of things with you such as baby food then there’s no need to worry when you’re on the Eurostar because it is straightforward and you can bring on nearly everything that you need.


Revealing the history of Amsterdam

Revealing the History of Amsterdam

When people think of the Netherlands they maybe think windmills. Some others perhaps think of tulips or the little boy who put his finger in the dam. The country is a mixture of enterprise and imagination, great artistry and sporting talent.  The sea has always been a challenge to the Dutch. They sailed the seas in search of trade, exploration and colonisation. Such a low lying country however has had a problem closer to home and that has been to stop the sea’s invasion.


Its Canals

Sea defences stretch the length of the country and have largely been very effective otherwise there would be no City of Amsterdam where history is not only in its museums but also everywhere you look. If you want to get your bearings then there will be buses with a hop on and off facility that will help you.

When it comes to Amsterdam Sightseeing people are perhaps more likely to take to the canals which date back to the 17th century and have allowed both the commercial activities of the city to develop and also helped its defences. You can tour the canals to this day and see the host of buildings that relate to the country’s trading era with the most opulent of buildings the former homes of those that made their wealth from trade. The homes may not be large but there elegant facades identify them as the homes of traders in the past and Amsterdam’s wealthy today.

The Night Watch

There are plenty of things to see and do on dry land and the Rijksmuseum is a spectacular place for anyone interested in art. Perhaps the most famous painting in the whole museum is one of Rembrandt’s 17th century masterpieces, The Company of Captain Frans Banning Cocq and Lieutenant Willem van Ruytenburch preparing to march out, more commonly known as The Night Watch. There are many paintings from the Dutch Masters and if you want to see more then there is always the Van Gogh Museum.

Beyond art

The National Maritime Museum will let you see more of the Dutch as one of the world’s greatest sea powers. It is extremely educational and a great place to take children if you are travelling as a family.

Anne Frank’s home is certainly something to go on the list of places to visit. Her diary written during World War II is there as part of the permanent exhibition. You will find it difficult to believe that hidden annex within the house was home to two families hiding from the Nazis during the War.

Amsterdam by night of course is famous. The Red Light District is a tourist attraction and perfectly safe. If you want to take an organised walking tour then that will be available from a reputable operator.

If you really need to see windmills there are tours that will take you out of the city to see the countryside. The Netherlands is a small country with a high density of population but that does not mean there are not many open spaces and windmills to see if you want to get away from the city for a day.

Image attributed to Keerati




Winter festivals in Barcelona

Winter festivals in Barcelona

You might be forgiven for thinking that summer is the best time of year to visit Barcelona, but there is actually lots going on during the winter months as well. The fun doesn’t stop when the temperature drops – quite the opposite in fact.

After you’ve booked your flights to Barcelona, which you can do by clicking this link, take a look at some of the festivals that are popping up around the vibrant Spanish city. You’re bound to find an event that suits each member of your party and you can look forward to immersing yourself in an exciting new culture.

For a winter getaway you’ll never forget, try out one of these festivals:

Fira de Santa Llucia

A European holiday in December wouldn’t be complete without a visit to a traditional Christmas market, which you can find in pretty much every major city on the continent. You can bet that Fira de Santa Llucia, the oldest Christmas fair in Barcelona, will top the festivities being held in your local town, and it is a true wonder to behold.

From late November through to December, browse more than 300 stalls displaying all kinds of Christmas gifts and decorations, including the Catalan figure of the Caganer used for Nativity scenes, an unusual chap who can be seen crouching down with his trousers around his ankles.

The market has its own artisan section and you can even buy Christmas trees (although you might struggle to fit one in your luggage). Don’t miss the Nativity scene contest, or the many musical parades and exhibitions.

Cap d’Any (New Year’s Eve)

Spend New Year’s Eve in Barcelona if you can, because the festival atmosphere in Placa Catalunya is unbeatable on December 31st. Most Spanish families kick off the evening with a mammoth feast, but they’re always up for a party after midnight.

Tradition dictates that you must wear red underwear for good luck for the year ahead, and eat 12 grapes at midnight – one for every time the clock chimes. Join in the revelry and have a memorable New Year’s – it’ll beat whatever’s going on back at home.


Creative types may be more inclined to visit Drap-Art festival, a celebration of international recycling that takes the shape of various markets, exhibitions and workshops.

The event primarily serves as a platform for up-and-coming artists who rely on recycled materials, and offers visitors the chance to discover more about this unique form of art. There is also plenty going on to keep passers-by entertained.

Drap-Art takes place at the Centre of Contemporary Culture of Barcelona and FAD exhibition space, but some elements will spill over into nearby venues as well. Dates for this year’s festival are December 13th to January 5th.

Els Grans del Gospel

Whether you’re in Barcelona for three weeks or three nights, this musical extravaganza is not to be missed. Born of the gospel section of the International Jazz Festival, Els Grans del Gospel, which takes place over 13 days in December, features performances from some of the best choirs in the world.

In the past, award-winning acts such as the Soweto Gospel Choir from South Africa have sung to crowds, as well as the New Orleans Gospel Chorale and Kings Gospel Choir. The event is being held at various venues around the city.

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