Hiking the Bibbulmun Track, Australia

Southwest Australia is one of the worlds 25 biodiversity hotspots and this walk will take you through many of the habitats that make this region so spectacular and world renowned. The entire walk takes six to eight weeks to complete or can be done in shorter stages and is exclusively for walkers only, if you are interested in mountain biking please see the Munda Biddi trail article. The Munda Biddi trail takes a similar course and runs from Kalamunda to Albany as well.

Towns along the trail can be days apart, the longest being 12 days walk so it is important that you carry plenty of food and water. The only source of water on the track is at the campsites which are located a days walk apart, the rain is collected in rainwater tanks which are not filled by any other means. Water may be limited after summer so if you are planning on walking in April/May keep this in mind.

Unlike other famous trails the Bibbulmun is not very crowded and it could be days between seeing other hikers. But it can get busy on long weekends and holidays particularly at the campsites that are easily accessible.

When to go:

Temperatures in the region varies during the year, summer (December – March) is hot and dry with bush fires being a real threat. So the track should be walked in the cooler months (notice cooler- don’t be surprised if in the middle of winter there is at least a few days with temps above 25OC) any time between April and November. October and November can be really hot and dry, and nights get cold in late winter and early spring. Most rain falls in July and August and the southern half of the trail tends to get more rain.

The wildflower season peaks in September and October, can vary based on rainfall and temperatures. The bush comes alive with hundreds of different flowers and colours and should be seen.

Mosquitoes are found throughout the year on the track and the open shelters don’t provide protection from them so a mosquito net is recommended to prevent possible infection with River Ross Virus, some walkers will use the shell (sealed inner) from their tent for protection.

Route:

The track can be walked in both directions, with walkers choosing the direction that suits them or is easier to  travel  too (more on this later). The most common way to walk is from north to south. The track passes through the towns of Kalamunda, Dwellingup, Collie, Balingup, Pemberton, Northcliffe, Walpole, Denmark and Albany where hikers stay for one or two nights to resupply, wash their clothes and enjoy the hospitality.

The track is well marked with triangular markers with a snake on it, although snakes are commonly found in the bush it is not a warning to walkers, the snake is the Waugal which is a mythological rainbow serpent from the Aboriginal dreamtime. The track is broken down into 9 sections with 8 maps:

Getting There:

If you are walking the entire track you will need to get to/from Kalamunda and Albany. The northern trailhead is on the corner of Mundaring Weir Road and Railway Road, Kalamunda. From the Esplanade busport in Perth you can catch the 282, 296, 299 buses. Check out Transperth for timetables and fees. A taxi from Perth cbd to Kalamunda cost approximately Aud$55, and Aud$36 from the Airport.

The southern trailhead is 409km south of Perth at the Old Railway Station on Proudlove Parade, Albany. Transwa provides buses between Perth and Albany for Aud$59.90 one way. Skywest provides flights to and from Albany for min $186.

Transwa also offers buses from many of the towns along the track to Perth if you want a shorter walk.

Accommodation:

For the majority of the walk you will be camping. There are 49 campsites spaced a day’s walk apart and each has a three-sided timber shelter and are designed to sleep 8-15 people. They are free and offered on a first come first served basis so you should be bring a tent for times when the shelter is full. Each campsite also has a sit-down pedestal pit toilet, rainwater tank, picnic tables and tent sites.

In the towns there are no campsites so you will need to stay in alternative accommodation,

Costs:

Their are no fees to walk the track and stay at the campsites, you will need to pay for accommodation in the towns, food, maps and equipment. There are 8 water resistant rip-proof colour maps that cover the entire track and are essential when taking on the Bibbulmun track as well as 2 compact guidebooks which show car access points, campsites, terrain profiles and distance tables. These are available here, and at some visitor information centres.

Individual maps (1-8) cost Au$11.50 each ($92 total)

or

Northern half map pack (1 to 4) cost Au$42

Southern half map pack (5 to 8) cost Au$42 ($84 total)

Northern Guidebook – covers Kalamunda to Donnelly River Village and includes map 1 to 4 cost Au$35

Southern Guidebook – covers Donnelly River Village to Albany and includes map 5 to 8 cost Au$35

Guided or Solo:

This is a walk that is best done at your own pace and with your own itinerary, if you want to stay a couple of days in a town go ahead or want to skip one you can. But because of the length of time required (not many people have 8 weeks free), or lack of hiking experience there are tours along the track that take in the best sections. The foundation offers tours in May and September that run for 9 days.

Outdoor Backpack Buying Tips

Buying an outdoor backpack can be a challenging task. There are various sizes, colors, shapes and of course brands and qualities. So how do you determine which outdoor backpack is best suited for your needs? This article will help you with that by giving you some tips what to look for when you want to purchase one.

The first thing you should look at is where you are going to use the backpack for. Outdoor backpacks come in so many specialized designs, there are hiking backpacks,fishing backpacks,backpacks for water sports and so on. These different backpacks all have their own functionality but you may not need all of those extras. If for example you need an outdoor backpack for a day trip, you don’t need one that can carry a tent or a sleeping bag and also probably don’t need a lot of storage space so a smaller day pack would be fine. When on the other hand you need a backpack to go on a weekend hiking trip, you Will need the space to carry all the necessary items along. If your outdoor activities bring you close to water like kayaking or rafting, it’s wise to look at a more waterproof outdoor backpack. So determine the usage of the backpack as well as the environment you are going to use it in.

Also look at how many times a year you will use the backpack. If it’s for a one time event, a lower quality backpack might be fine,but when you use it more often you’re going to have a lot more fun buying a good quality backpack. This will cost you more but certainly is worth the money.

It is very important that you buy a backpack that fits you well. There is nothing more frustrating then being on an outdoor trip and having back pain or a sore shoulder because your backpack isn’t the right size or adjusted to your body. So it’s better to look for an outdoor backpack that has adjustable straps that you can adjust to your length and body measurements. Look for the backpacks that have a waist band. The waist band will take the weight of your back and let you carry it on your hips. Make sure you adjust the waist band tightly around your hips and after that adjust your shoulder straps. Again, a correctly adjusted outdoor backpack can save you a lot of back pain.

Backpacks also come with a lot of different compartments. If you go on a longer hiking trip you may want to have a compartment for a handheld gps, or for your cell phone that is easily accessible. If you carry your tent and sleeping bag along you may want to look at easy storage compartments that are accessible through zippers on top and bottom of your backpack. This comes in handy when you need an item that is stored on the bottom of your backpack so you don’t need to empty the whole backpack to get to it, but simply open the bottom zippers. When you are hiking in a more challenging dry, hot environment you may want to look for an outdoor backpack that has a hydration pack included. This is a build in water tank that enables you to drink out of a attached water tube without using your hands or holding a water bottle. Also a good backpack for mountain biking or other sports activities.

When you buy your outdoor backpack it’s important that you take your time. If you buy a good quality backpack it will last a very long time and it will be your closest buddy on your outdoor trip. Good luck in your search and have a great outdoor adventure!

How To Enjoy Cheap Adventure Travel This Year

As summer approaches, families all over the country get into a huddle – what kind of vacation plans do they have this year? And it has to be a special one they think of because it has to make everyone happy. If it’s going to cost money, it is going to make the people spending the money – the parents – the unhappiest if the children are always going “So what else is new”. Well, affordable adventure travel could be where your family’s zone lies this year.

Let’s look at how if you don’t have too much money set aside for this year’s vacation, zip-lines and rodeos and golf can be great ideas.

When you were young, adventure travel probably meant that you had to go somewhere off to the mountains and then hike with your family until you were blue in the face. These days, adventure travel tends to be much more entertaining. For instance, try the Appalachian Mountain club. You’ll find these in New Hampshire. Go here and you’ll find that it’s the perfect place to unwind. You get these mountain huts out in the wilderness in the White Mountains. It’s just $30 a person a night. There are lots of free programs and activities for children that they have.

Children just have a romantic idea of the wild wild West in them. But they’ve probably never been to a place like that. So if you take them there, they are surely going to find it hard to complain of how there’s nothing new. The Cody Wyoming National Park and Yellowstone National Park have such a great parade of adventure travel attractions for everybody. How can your children not love barrel racing or nighttime rodeo? And where else can they have a good close-up look at street gunfights, all staged and completely fun?

They have entire villages set up for this. You can get to live there in a little Wild West cabin. And it’s just to $150 a night.

Usually, Yellowstone National Park can be a little expensive in the summer. There is a way though to make it adventurous, fun and still affordable. You just have to use one of their hundreds of camping sites.

Know how when you take a hiking trip, your children absolutely refuse to go hiking? You could turn it into something they can’t help loving. You could turn it into a treasure hunt. At Mt. Hood near Portland, Oregon, at the resort that they call The Resort, they have a great treasure hunting adventure for the whole family, that they call the geo-caching adventure. Your children who never get up off the TV at home are going to be unstoppable here.

How to Prepare For an Adventure Holiday

You are seeking an adventure holiday that will inspire your adventurous spirit and take you out of your comfort zone. That is wonderful! There are a few things that you need to think about before plunging straight in.

What kind of adventure holiday are you seeking? trekking in the Himalayas, white water rafting in Borneo, elephant riding in Sri Lanka, exploring remote villages in the Andes mountains of Peru? The world is an adventure seekers paradise, so to discover your limitless options, key in ‘adventure holidays’ or ‘adventure holidays for women’ on Google, invest in a relevant guidebook or magazine subscription, or visit an adventure travel agent or tour operator.

Before you settle on a holiday destination – regardless of whether you’re travelling independently or with a company,

some preliminary things to consider:

1. check Visa requirements for your destination and make sure your passport has at least 6 months of validity from the date of departure.

2. check vaccine requirements and that the country you’re travelling to is both safe and politically stable.

3. consider travel insurance options, this is mandatory if you are travelling with a company

Fitness

An adventure holiday needs a little more thought than a beach break. You will need to be fit for the trip. Sport-specific training is key: mountain biking and trekking require leg and cardiovascular strength while kayaking and rafting rely on a strong, upper body. Check with your tour operator, or do your own research, to find out what preparation exercises are best for your chosen style of adventure. Being fit can – and often does – make the difference between having a wonderful trip or not.

Different activities and sports make specific demands on your body, so it pays to know which muscles you are going to need and how to make them stronger long before you leave home.

If you’ve booked an entirely new experience – rock climbing, scuba diving, surfing or horse riding, for example – it pays to get an introduction to the sport before you go. A taster session will give you an idea of the muscles you need to prepare, the clothes and equipment you need to pack and the skills you may want to hone before travel.

If your chosen holidays involves trekking, then the best preparation is to get out and start walking. Go for long weekend walks in hilly areas and gradually increase your pace. It is a good idea to walk with a backpack of a similar weight that you would be carrying on your trekking holiday.

Most adventure travel companies have their treks graded from easy that involves about four to six hours’ walking a day, through moderate with the occasional steep path to expedition grade. Different tour companies use different terms.

Packing

Only take what you need, but pack what is advised. Technical clothing, geared to your adventure, will enhance comfort and enjoyment, so is worth the investment. A rash vest or wetsuit will be necessary for water-based activities, padded cycling shorts are a must for mountain biking, and tried-and-tested hiking boots are essential for trekking, for example. Trip organisers should give you a checklist of compulsory items of clothing and equipment; pack them all to avoid regret.

It is amazing how much space you can save in your bag by rolling your clothes instead of folding. I have been rolling for years, clothes pack easier and crease less.

When travelling with your spouse, partner or best friend, split the contents of each travel bag/backpack so that you have some of their items and they have some of yours. Then, if one of your bags goes missing, you will have enough clothing to get by.

It is easier to travel light and take only one piece of hand luggage. But always carry a spare fold-up travel bag for additional purchases. On the trip home, check-in the spare bag with clothes and carry the treasured items onboard the plane. If your luggage is lost, the memorable souvenirs are still safe.

Zippered mesh inserts for the bags make packing and sorting easier. They come in various sizes and are suitable for a range of clothes such as underwear, T-shirts and so on. Keeping groups of clothes separate is great if you’re travelling through a range of seasons or temperatures. They make packing and unpacking very easy and keep you organised on the road, minimising travel stress.

Clothing

The way you dress can affect your safety. It can affect your social interactions. It can make or break your travel adventure. (And, if you pack too much, carrying your bags can make you very tired, very cranky and very vulnerable!)

Remember that you are a guest where ever you go so dress like one. Be modest, elegant and comfortable. The locals have had generations to develop a typical dress that suits the climate and the culture of their country. Take your cue from them. A smile and an open mind should be your constant accessories.

Keeping warm with layers

Even if the weather calls for clear skies and warm temperatures make sure to pack at least an extra layer, usually including wind and/or rain gear. Weather can change quickly, especially in mountain areas.

Practical

The practicality of T-shirts and pants made from quick-dry material outweighs fashion in my traveller’s wardrobe.

Chiffon scarf

When travelling abroad, always pack a very long oblong chiffon scarf. It is the most versatile item. It can dress up a simple black dress draped backward around the neck for evening; it is useful as a head covering for visiting shrines and temples and being appropriately respectful, even if you’re not quite sure of the local protocols and traditions; in a pinch it can be an evening wrap and it takes up no space in a bag.

Sarong Basics

Ladies, always take a sarong on trips, in your carry-on. It can be used as a sheet, towel, skirt, dress, headdress (for mosques, etc), beach coverup, curtain, just about anything. Use your imagination!

Boots

How to fit trekking boots

Reviews and product information can help in your search for quality outdoor footwear, whether you’re in the market for lightweight trail shoes or sturdy backpacking boots. But ultimately the most important aspect of choosing a hiking boot is a good fit.

Here are some tips to help you properly fit hiking boots:

· Try on boots at the end of the day, when your feet are their largest.

· Wear the socks and any insoles or inserts you would normally use with the boots.

· One of your feet is probably larger than the other. Size boots to the larger foot. Better to have one shoe a little loose than the other too tight.

· Walk around in the boots for at least 15 minutes.

· Toes should have a little room to wiggle, and shouldn’t jam into the toe box.

· Heels should feel firmly in place with no heel slippage.

· Walk up and down an incline to check for heel slippage on the uphill and any toe jamming on the downhill.

· Try different styles and widths. You may be a different size in different brands.

· Women should consider footwear that’s built on a women’s last, instead of models sized down from a men’s last. · Boots should feel like they fit initially. Don’t rely on breaking them in to make them fit. If they don’t fit now, they won’t stretch to fit later.

· While you want to pick a boot that fits from the start, you can tweak boots with custom orthotics and insoles (to fill up extra space), professional stretching of the boot (to add space), and different lacing techniques (to reduce foot movement).

· No matter how well they fit, don’t forget to break in your boots around the house or on some easy day hikes before you embark on that weeklong trek.

How to care for your boots

Now that you’ve shelled out money for your new boots, you want to make sure they’ll support you for countless miles on and off the trail. Below are some steps you can take to help your boots last longer.

Periodically treat boots with a waterproofing treatment (like NikWax) appropriate to the boot’s materials (full-grain leather, Nubuck leather, suede, fabric, etc.) and according to the boot manufacturer’s recommendations and instructions. (Warning: oil-based products soften leather, which can lessen support.)

Dry your boots between hikes. Don’t try to rush the drying process though. Close contact or proximity with heat sources, like a fire, radiator, or hair dryer, can permanently damage boots.

Keep them clean. Yes, we know you’re going to take your boots outside and through rocks, mud, and streams. That’s part of the fun. But after every hike, brush that abrasive dirt and debris off your boots (preferably when dry). If your boots are otherwise in good condition, but need minor repairs or to be resoled, consider the value of getting them repaired rather than replaced. Check the warranty and repair services offered by the boots’ manufacturer, or head to an experienced cobbler.

The outdoor kit

Sun protection

Sunglasses, sunscreen (for skin and lips), and appropriate clothing is necessary for sun protection year round, but is especially important when on water, ice, snow, and at higher altitudes. The higher you go the more ultraviolet rays you’re exposed to, increasing your risk of serious sunburn and skin damage, including cancer.

Sunglasses protect your corneas from ultraviolet light year round. Sunglasses, glacier glasses, and goggles also can help prevent snow blindness from sunlight reflecting off snow.

Sunscreen should be at least 15 SPF (though 30 is preferable), block UVA and UVB rays, and be applied anytime you go outside, even on cloudy days. Reapply frequently, including lips, particularly if you’re sweaty or wet.

Clothes supply varying degrees of sun protection depending on their material, weave, color, and moisture content (a wet, cotton T-shirt is practically useless). Some clothes are treated to absorb more UV radiation and come with specific UPF ratings, which can be useful for desert hikes and other very sunny treks.

Hats are a must. A wide brimmed hat or at least a peaked cap for protection of your face from the sun.

First Aid

First-aid kits range from the basic, suitable to treating blisters and minor cuts on a day hike, to expedition-worthy kits geared toward extended travel and large groups. You can make your own or buy a pre-packaged one, but at a bare minimum you’ll want: bandages in various sizes, gauze pads, disinfectant, over-the-counter pain medication, blister treatment, and any prescription medications.

Any first aid kit is useless without the knowledge to use it. Consider taking a first aid course and periodically brush up on your skills. Even if you’ve already passed a course, a small first aid guide inside your kit will help you deal appropriately with medical emergencies.

Personalize your first aid kit to your individual medical needs. Include a pencil and paper. Store all first-aid supplies in a waterproof container or pouch.

The sicklist

· Consult a travel health specialist before travelling to overseas destinations and ensure your vaccines are up to date.

· Take a medical kit which includes treatment for nausea and motion sickness, diahrea and gastric stop, take anti-malarial pills if necessary, insect repellent.

· Avoid mosquitos, flies and other biting insects.

· Don’t go near or touch local animals.

· Eat and drink safely – boil it, peel it, cook it … or forget it!

· Have a check-up on your return if you’ve been sick

· Take out travel insurance.

General Gear

Pillow

Many adventure travellers consider pillows a luxury, one usually left behind to save weight and space. But a good night’s sleep can be worth a little space. So if you, and your neck, want to move beyond that rolled up fleece or stuff sack pillow, take a look at the range of backpacking and camping pillows available.

Backpacking pillows come in two primary varieties: compressible and inflatable, and some that combine the two.

Compressible pillows are filled with down, synthetic fibers, foam, or a combination, and come in a range of outer fabrics, such as fleece, cotton, and nylon. Just like in sleeping bags, down and synthetic fills each have their merits. Down is lighter, softer, and more compressible (both for packing and under your head). Synthetic fills are firmer, bulkier, and more affordable. Hybrids, which use both down and synthetic fill, aim to combine the best attributes of each. Inflatable pillows offer the advantages of weight and space savings for a relatively large surface area, and their firmness can be adjusted. Both compressible and inflatable pillows are available in a variety of sizes and shapes.

Water bottle

Backpackers, hikers, and climbers have always relied on reusable water bottles. As the general public becomes more aware of the negative environmental impacts of commercial bottled water, they’re turning to reusable bottles too. But, with health concerns about some plastics making the news, many are left confused. In what should you store your filtered or tap water? And is that old polycarbonate plastic bottle safe, or is it leaching chemical compounds?

Whether it’s for a trek into the wild or a trip to the shop, there are a growing number of aluminum, stainless steel, and BPA-free plastic alternatives to choose from, beyond the popular, but potentially problematic, polycarbonate water bottle.

Backpack

Like most outdoor gear, choosing a backpack depends on what you plan on doing with it primarily. Consider how long you will be gone on trips (a day, overnight, a week?), how much gear you’ll need, or want, to bring along (are you a minimalist fastpacker or deeply attached to your creature comforts?), and when you’ll be out (winter requires more and heavier gear).

Answering these questions will help you determine the first factor in selecting a backpack.

How Big?

Pack sizes vary between manufacturers and capacity needs depend on the individual. However, in general the following ranges are a good starting point: 30-40 litres – for hiking trips with a daypack 50-80 litres – for overnight and multi-day backpacking trips up to a week 80 litres and more – for trips longer than a week or winter overnights

Choose a backpack that will fit the greatest amount of gear you’ll need to carry. That said, don’t buy a pack that’s bigger than you need. You’ll be tempted to carry more than necessary or will end up with a floppy, half-filled pack. Depending on your range of activities you may need more than one backpack. Perhaps a large pack for multi-day backpacking trips and a small daypack for day hikes.

Fit and Comfort

You can select a pack with the right design, size, and features for your activities, but if it doesn’t fit comfortably you’ll regret your purchase in the long run. Most important, your pack should be adjustable to fine-tune the fit to your individual body. While nothing beats the expertise of a knowledgeable pack fitter, below are some tips to help you choose a backpack that fits you well.

Size a backpack to your torso length, not your height. Don’t assume you need the tall (or the regular or the short) model just because of your height. To find your torso length, have someone measure from the iliac crest at the top of your hipbone to the prominent bone at the base of your neck (the seventh cervical vertebrae). The sizes of different manufacturers’ frames may correspond to different torso lengths, so check the pack’s technical specifications. For example, a 20-inch torso length may mean a regular size in one pack and a large in another.

Since it will be supporting your pack’s weight, make sure the hipbelt provides adequate padding. Some pack makers offer interchangeable hipbelts in different styles and in sizes for both men and women for a better individual fit. During a fitting, load up the pack with weight (an amount you typically would carry) to see how well the pack carries. Then walk around with the loaded pack, practice taking it on and off, make sure you can look up without whacking your head on the pack, and climb up and down stairs.

Shoulder straps, which control the fit of the suspension system, should be well padded and adjustable. An adjustable sternum strap, which connects the shoulder straps, helps bring the load weight forward, and off your shoulders.

Women and others with short torsos, like kids, should consider backpacks sized for them. Many pack manufacturers produce women-specific or short torso versions.

Illumination

It was supposed to be a short day hike with you at home before dinner, but somehow you found yourself out after dark. A torch or headlamp can make the difference between an inconvenient nighttime walkout and an emergency situation.

Headlamps are extremely useful for their hands-free design, compact size, and light weight. Even on short day hikes a light should be carried; small emergency ones can be easily stashed in a pack. Always bring spare bulbs and batteries that fit your model of light.

Making friends

When on holiday, leave those formal business cards behind. Instead carry colourful postcards from home and give your new acquaintances a glimpse of where you live. Relevant contact info can be printed on the reverse.

Carry ball-point pens and small note pads for the kiddies you meet. In some Third World destinations young irresistible children will beg you for sweets. Why help to rot their teeth?

Keeping in touch

A small net computer is extremely useful when travelling, it is light and fits into your daypack comfortably. With a wireless Lan connection, it is possible to connect to the internet in may hotels and hot spots. It also comes in handy as a word processor to take notes of your travels while the memory is still fresh in your mind.

Public email services with large storage capacities, such as Gmail, are a useful resource. Mail yourself copies of all your travel documents and plans – that way you can access them from anywhere in the world from any internet-linked computer.

Pack a USB thumb drive. It’s good for backing up digital information and you can take it to an internet café and post home some photos.

Shopping Without Guilt

Conveniently forget to pack certain necessary clothing – that way you will not need an excuse to buy it when you reach your ‘end’ destination. It then becomes a necessity. It eliminates any guilt feelings. A bit abstract, but it works for me!

Travel Really Does Broaden the Mind

It is true what they say about  travel ; it does broaden the mind. In fact most people who  travel  a lot tend to me more tolerant and open different ideas about the world. As people move from one country to another they begin to realize that all humans have things in common, and most of us are trying to do the best we can.  Travel  makes you not only more aware of your own culture, but it begins to make you feel like a citizen of the world.

One problem with  travel  is there is just so much choice available. There are almost two hundred countries on our planet and visiting them all would take some doing, and a very understanding boss. Not only this but some of these countries are huge and somewhere like China or Russia is not a place you could see much of in a two week holiday. Another thing holding a lot of people back from  travelling  is the expense.  Travelling  the world costs money, but if you follow the example of the  backpacker  and are prepared to slum it a bit then you can do it relatively cheaply.

What most people end up doing is making a compromise; it is probably not essential that you visit places like Tuvalu or Kiribati, but even when you remove the smaller countries there are still a lot of places to visit. One way of getting around this is by doing a tour of different countries; you won’t really see much of each country but you will get a taste of each and some great memories. A popular thing to do is by an around the world air ticket. This can be an open ticket and you could spend up to a year moving from one destination to another.

If you want to follow the example of the  backpacker  and  travel  the world on a shoestring then you will be staying in lots of hostels and only eating local food. If you are prepared to sacrifice luxury and don’t party too much then you can make your money go a long way. There are some countries where it is claimed you can manage on a couple of dollars a day. Places like the islands in Thailand are a popular destination for people to kick back on their world tour and save a bit of money.

If you want to visit Europe then be prepared to spend a lot more money than you would in South East Asia or India. There are cheap alternative in most European locations, but you could pay for a nice fancy hotel in Bangkok for the same price as you would pay for a dormitory bed in somewhere like London or Paris. Japan is another country where you will spend a bit of money.

The many benefits associated with  travel  make it well worth the expense and time. If you want to broaden your horizons then  travel  is going to do that for you. If you can manage to take a year off to see the world then you will be sure to come back a different person.

Travelling Around the World – Backpacking Tips

Backpacking is a hugely popular way to travel as it allows you a freedom and flexibility to choose where to go and what to do as well as keeping costs as low as possible. When setting out for your backpacking adventure there are a few tips to think about to make sure you trip goes as smoothly as possible.

Take a journal with you. This is a great way to write down your stories of the people and places you encountered during your trip; it will be something you can look back on fondly in years to come.

Swiss army knife can be your best friend on your travels thanks to its many uses, just make sure you don’t put it in your hand luggage when boarding a plane.

Take cheap plastic flip-flops. Thousands of people will have used the hostel showers before you so avoid picking up anything nasty by wearing flip-flops when you shower. 

Get travel insurance. Taking out some travel insurance is essential, as you never know what will happen to you on your trip. Unfortunately it’s not unheard of for possessions to be stolen while traveling so make sure you are able to replace any money or possessions by taking out travel insurance.

Toiletries and cosmetics. Hostels wont be giving away little bottles of shampoo like hotels and depending on the country you might not be able to buy what you require from the shops so it’s a good idea to take some with you, just enough so you can maintain hygiene levels while your away.

Mosquito and bug repellent is an essential for the hotter countries you visit. In some countries these pesky little critters can be a nightmare so always take some mosquito repellent with you to avoid becoming a mosquito all you can eat buffet.

A good book will be a very useful on long journeys and lazy days on the beach; they also make good conversation starters with fellow travelers.

An alarm clock will come in very handy on days when you need to catch your transport, the last thing you want is to be fast asleep in bed and miss your flight.

An MP3 player will provide a merciful break from the boredom while waiting in airports and on long trips.

You should also leave some space in your bags for any items you deem to be essential such as a personal memento from a loved to cheer yourself up if you start feeling a bit homesick.

What ever you take on your trip the most important thing is to enjoy your adventure and come back home with plenty of amazing experiences and memories.

Top 7 Rules for Travelling to Sydney As a Backpacker

Sydney is fun and loaded with a huge range of activities and night-life. Backpacker hostels in Sydney are some of the best in the country. If it is your first visit, here are some rules that you should stick to.

  • Peak Season. The peak season for backpackers to travel to is over Summer (December – February). Accommodation is often booked out well in advance because it’s such a popular time to travel. To avoid disappointment you should book well in advance. This will save you money and make sure a room is free when you travel. At the same time, Summer in Sydney is the best time, and you can head north later in the year. Seasons are opposite to the Northern hemisphere and so make the most of that. Christmas in Australia is an outdoor affair!
  • Maps. Sydney’s city is a maze of streets so don’t forget to bring that map. Your hostel should also have some for sale. For travelling around the city and the suburbs it’s suggested you catch Sydney’s public transport to get around because it’s cheap and accessible. Smart-phones make this all that much easier.
  • Party. Sydney is known for its vibrant atmosphere and beautiful beaches. No day is complete without a day spent on Sydney’s sandy beaches. Make sure to pack plenty of sunscreen as the Australian sun is ferocious. Many international travellers get themselves into trouble each year with heat exhaustion and sun-stroke.
  • Events. Many different cultural events come alive during the summer. Every weekend there is something going on in Sydney. From the New Year’s Eve fireworks launched from the harbour bridge and selected areas in the city to Sydney’s many musical festivals in the domain or at the Opera house, Australia day on the 26th January and Chinese New Year in February. Many are free so plan your trip around them.
  • Variety. Sydney is New South Wales’ capital and has many things to offer from shopping to the many national parks. Talk to the locals if you’re short on ideas or talk to the friendly staff at Sydney Hostels. Make sure to experience as much of Sydney as possible.
  • Safety. Don’t be fooled by Australia being a safe country, remember it was built out of convicts. Not to say that it is overly dangerous but there are bad elements in every country, and so keeping safe especially at night. is extremely important. Abuse of alcohol and drugs does lead to some stupid and dangerous situations – make sure you are not a part of it.
  • People. Don’t be surprised if you find all kinds of people talking to you. Australian culture is very open and talkative. It is normal to talk with people you don’t know and it can be taken as offensive if you don’t respond. This is very different to many other Western cultures. Get used to it and enjoy the friendly atmosphere.

How to Find Cheap Travel Insurance For Backpackers

Backpackers tend to spend a lot of time at remote places, train stations and bus terminals. There are times they may face a greater risk of illness, injury or even robberies.

It would therefore be prudent to buy backpackers travel insurance before leaving for your backpacking holiday. Travel insurance for backpackers is designed specifically for the needs of backpackers, generally offering travel insurance for holiday periods ranging from one week to two years.

To find cheap travel insurance for backpackers, be sure that the package you choose eventually provides cover for the following events:

  • Rescue and Repatriation to cover any cost you may incur if you require the use of an air ambulance or helicopter rescue.
  • Emergency Medical Cover to cover the cost of any event that needs urgent medical attention.
  • Holiday Cancellation to cover any costs that you may incur if your holiday has to be cancelled through no fault of yours, such as bad weather or airline strikes.
  • Baggage and Possessions Cover to reimburse you, subject to a cap, in case your travel documents, baggage and valuables are lost or stolen.

If you intend to go backpacking several times a year, buy the annual-multiple plan. This allows you to backpack two, three, sometimes even more times a year and the insurance will cover it, as long as you travel within the period of cover. Buying one insurance policy a year to cover multiple trips will save you at least ten percent.

Look out for plans that throw in extras such as seven days’ complimentary coverage for winter sports. Backpackers love the flexibility of being able to change their travel itinerary as and when they like. They may feel like making an unplanned stopover and spend a few days skiing. Having an insurance plan that gives you this flexibility will save you money and still allow you to enjoy one extra activity while being insured.

How to Travel From Manila to Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte – Backpacker Style

Located in a quiet cove on the northern tip of Luzon is a serene beach called Saud. Saud beach is among the top beaches in the Philippines and has in recent years become a backpacker favorite. This can be attributed not only to the sublime beauty of the beach, but also to the exquisite landscapes and historical attractions in the surrounding areas. Among these are the Bangui Windmills, Kapurpurawan Rock Formation, Maira-Ira Beach and the Patapat Viaduct.

AIR TRAVEL

The most convenient option for visitors traveling from Manila to Pagudpud is air travel. The nearest airport to Pagudpud Town is Laoag International Airport in Laoag city, – the capital of Ilocos Norte. The 3 most popular low cost carriers that service this route are Cebu Pacific Air, Zest Airways and PAL express (formerly Air Philippines).

Flight time from Manila to Laoag City is approximately 45 minutes and the airfare depends on the availability of seats and date of booking. As always, fares booked far ahead of the travel dates are more likely to be cheaper. A rough estimate for a regular round-trip ticket booked at least one month in advance would range from 3,000 PHP to 4,500 PHP.

HOW TO TRAVEL FROM LAOAG AIRPORT TO PAGUDPUD TOWN

The distance between Laoag City and Pagudpud town is roughly 78 kilometers. Upon arriving at Laoag Airport backpackers must take a tricycle to the bus terminal and book tickets for the vans or buses bound for Claveria Province. These shuttles will pass through the town of Pagudpud. The travel time will take around 1 hour and 20 minutes and the fare costs roughly 150 PHP for a one-way trip.

In the town of Pagudpud, the cheapest and most readily available means of transportation is the tricycle. To get around, tourists can hire a tricycle driver. A tricycle is a traditional 3-wheeled motor vehicle with an improvised passenger carriage made of galvanized iron. Tricycle fares will vary by distance.

Upon arrival at the town, backpackers can expect tricycle drivers to walk-up to them to offer tour services. On-the-spot arrangements are not uncommon. It’s important to take note of the average rate for a whole day tour, by asking at least 2 or 3 drivers before making final arrangements. For these unconventional transactions, a deposit is not necessary; rather both parties agree on the fee, sites to be visited and the duration of trip.

The tricycle drivers will only ask for payment at the end of the tour. On the other hand, backpackers can opt to have their hotel staff take care of their tour arrangements. Most hotels have contacts with local tricycle drivers and tour operators. (Hotels may also offer car or van rentals with drivers, but this will cost more).

LAND TRAVEL

The province of Ilocos Norte is on the northernmost end of Luzon Island. Land travel is possible from Manila to Pagudpud, however, it will be a long 10 to 12 hour journey, depending on stop-overs. Tourists can use their own private vehicle or take a bus. The most popular bus liners that ply the Manila to Pagudpud route are Victory Liner, Florida or Partas.

The bus fare one-way is roughly 700 PHP. Tourists can book their tickets on the same day (although it is advisable to go early during peak days). These bus liners can be found in the terminals clustered in Cubao area, along EDSA highway.

Need more information about Ilocos Norte? Check-out this article: 8 Attractions in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte.

Travel Safety – Tips on Backpacking Safety, How to Stay Safe While Traveling Foreign Countries

How To Avoid Trouble and Stay Safe Travelling

Travelling is supposed to be fun but it can easily turn into a nightmare when things go wrong. While help can usually be found eventually it is always better to take precautions and avoid becoming a victim of crime in the first place.

Personal Safety

Staying safe while out and about in a foreign country is usually a case of being aware of your location and noticing those around you. One of the most important things to do is to know your destination. Try to learn about your travel destination before you arrive there, do some research and be aware of any scams that are particularly popular there, as well as finding out about any areas that are known to be dangerous and best avoided.

Avoid becoming the target

Even in areas that you think are safe it is important to be aware of possible dangers, criminals can operate anywhere and you can’t always spot them by sight. Most criminals are opportunistic, they are looking for an easy target so as a tourist you need to make sure you are not going to be that easy target, keeping yourself safe often just means doing simple things like:

• Not keeping valuables in your back pocket – Money and other valuables should be stored somewhere that is difficult for someone to put their hand in unnoticed. A zipped pocket is ideal, or a least a side pocket that no-one can reach into without you being aware of it.

• Keeping your money out of sight – Some travellers like money-belts, others find them to be bulky, sweaty, and unnecessary. Whether you choose to use one or not the principle is the same. Keep most of your money concealed. You are going to need some money in your wallet or pocket to pay for your daily expenses but limit this to small bills and only take money from your main money stash when you are alone.

• Being aware of distractions – Many criminals operate in pairs or groups, one will distract you while the other empties your pockets or bag before you notice. Be aware of what is going on around you. If anyone approaches you to ask a question, take a photo, practice English etc., then take care that they really are alone and no-one is going through your belongings while your attention is diverted.

Minimizing the damage if you are a victim

If you do have the misfortune to be targeted by criminals then you can ensure they do as little damage as possible by taking precautions before they strike. Splitting your money helps. If you only have a little money in your pocket then that is all they can take. The same is true for credit cards, if you must carry them with you then don’t keep them all in the same place, that way if someone does manage to get them out of one of your pockets then there is a good chance that everything in the other pocket will still be safe. Having a spare credit card and some cash can be vital if you do get robbed. You are probably still going to need somewhere to stay the night, and transport to get there, you could be miles from your destination at the time it happens and you don’t want to be left stranded.

Using credit cards while travelling can make life much easier, but it can also open up the possibility of new dangers. Apart from the risk of having your card stolen, card skimming is a very real danger almost anywhere in the world. If you do take a credit card on your travels then make sure it is not one you use for any other purpose. It may be a good idea to apply for one specifically for your trip and cancel it when you return home. You don’t want to leave a criminal gang with your card details to use as they please long after you return home.

Stolen passports are big business in many parts of the world and if you lose yours it can be a big hassle trying to get a new one issued. It is a wise precaution to keep a copy of your passport, card numbers, and bank details somewhere safe, either hidden on you or stored online where you can access it if required.

Hostel accommodation is cheap and usually safe if you follow a few simple rules. Knowing the facilities your hostel offers is a good place to start. If the hostel has a safe then make use of it, there’s no point taking more risks than you need to. Thefts in hostels are rare but they can happen, using a sturdy lock on your backpack is always a good idea, and not checking on your valuables while other guests are watching is common sense. Following these simple rules will help you to have a great travelling experience and steer clear of anyone trying to target you for criminal purposes.