Internet links to other pages I commonly use for travel, equipment and supplies, and organizations we support
NATIONAL PARK SERVICE
Visiting our national parks is a priority for us. We enjoy the scenic beauty and abundant wildlife they provide. Nature revitalizes us.
CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF PARKS & RECREATION
Just as we love our national parks, our state parks are close and provide endless opportunities to escape the urban sprawl, take a deep breath, and relax.
JAMES KAISER TRAVEL GUIDES
These are the best travel guide books I've ever read! I'm hoping he'll continue to write additional guides for our national parks and other countries.
We consistently watch Rick Steves on PBS. His Europe travel guides are very informative, especially if you want to know about hidden gems away from the tourist crowds.
Before I reserve any travel lodging, I check the photos and reviews on Tripadvisor to ensure it's up to our standards. Some bloggers don't like or recommend this site because reviews and rankings can be manipulated or "fake." I avoid reading reviews by locals, or reviewers with only a single review. Look for people who post many reviews in various locations, and who don't live in the immediate vicinity.
There are many websites which will help you find good prices for airline tickets. Kayak has been my default site for years. I don't make reservations on Kayak though. Once I locate the best price, I go to the airline website because I've found it easier to deal with reservations and cancellations directly with them.
This is the best site for lodging, especially if you want to save on hotel costs and live like a local. It's a great way to meet locals as well.
When choosing between airlines, I use the ratings and reviews on Skytrax to help determine which airline to use.
We use Uber instead of taxis or car rentals when we only need to get across town. We also use it when we get lost on public transit and need to get to our destination. Wherever you keep your travel notes, it's a good idea to keep destination addresses in there as well.
An invaluable tool to install on your smartphone. You can download an entire language dictionary to access offline, and can even take photos of written text to have it translated for you.
UNIT CONVERTER PRO
I use this smartphone application to determine current currency exchange rates. It also comes in handy for measurement conversions, like kilometers to miles, feet to meters, kilograms to pounds, or ounces to liters.
This is our primary smartphone application for getting around the country, whether by foot, public transportation, or driving. It even saved us once when the bus routes from Venice changed mid-day!
I also use Google Maps when searching for lodging, as they tend to have a more comprehensive selection. Simply enter a city or town, select Nearby, select Hotels nearby. You can also type “bed and breakfast” after selecting Nearby.
There are occasions when Google Maps doesn't work so well with public transportation. One instance was Rio de Janeiro. When that occurs, Moovit fills in nicely with up-to-date information.
TRIED AND TRUE ITEMS WE USE
1. eBags Carry-on luggage - expandable, rugged, and well designed. Some of their carry-on bags also contain backpack straps. We've been using the Mother Lode Carry-on rolling duffel for years! The wheels have traversed dirt, rocks, cobblestones, sticks, etc. without a scratch.
2. Repel Plant-based Insect Repellent - no Deet, which can stain clothing and harm you if ingested. Tested and approved in the primary rainforests of Costa Rica, Tanzania, and Sumatra without a bite on us. And we accidentally walked around without any repellent just to ensure there were actually blood-thirsty mosquitoes. :-/
3. Teva Sandals - great for hiking in relatively open and dry areas, sightseeing, and most importantly wading through water with jagged surfaces like rocks, coral or seashells.
4. Kuhl Liberator Convertible Pants - comfortable enough to wear anywhere, these pants are nice enough to wear to a concert and rugged enough for hiking. They also convert into shorts, also good for swimming.
5. Laundry bag - some people forget that they'll have dirty clothes when they travel. This also doubles as a great laundry basket once you've washed and folded your clothes.
6. REI Sea to Summit clothes line - it packs small and light, and has rubber beads to hold clothes in place without the use of clothes pins. And it has hooks so you can easily wrap it around anything.
7. Tommy John underwear - non-cotton, it dries within an hour, packs so thin you can take a dozen pairs in your carry-on, and won't even notice you're wearing it.
8. Alba Botanica Hawaiian sunscreen - SPF 45, water resistant, biodegradable, and contains no oxybenzone or octinoxate which can harm coral reef environments.
9. Tilley hats - their broad brim hats offer great protection from the sun, air ventilation, are collapsible and easy to pack, waterproof, and come with a lifetime guarantee.
10. Osprey packs - both our travel day pack (Transporter flap pack) and our day hiking backpack (Talon 22) are Osprey brand. Tough, durable, comfortable, compartmentalized, and the top flap on our travel pack makes the pack rainproof.
VACCINES & HEALTH
Our health care provider uses the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website to determine any vaccines and medications we may need prior to our travels to a specific country. Their website also provides tips for staying healthy while abroad, recommended health items to pack, and any health related travel notices.
ORGANIZATIONS WE SUPPORT
The basic necessities for any human to survive are food, shelter, and clothing. I consistently donate to my local food bank to help ensure these basic human needs are being met.
If we have anything of value we no longer use - clothing, dishes, electronics, etc. - we donate it to our local thrift store in the hopes that others may be able to utilize it. Out of the Closet thrift stores directly help people living with HIV and AIDS. Ninety-six cents of every dollar collected fund AIDS Healthcare Foundation's HIV/AIDS programs and their new housing services, as well as on-site pharmacies and free HIV testing.
I purchase products, from bracelets to reusable trash bags, from 4Ocean. Every product purchased comes with their one pound promise to pull one pound of trash from the ocean, rivers, and coastlines. I use their cleanup tote bag to collect and properly dispose of garbage in my neighborhood.
A few years ago I was made aware of Amazon's charitable donation service, Amazon Smile. Amazon will donate 0.5% of the price of each of your eligible purchases to a list of approved charities of your choosing. This service is offered at no extra cost to you.