TRAVEL ESSENTIALS TO MAKE EVERY TECH SAVVY BACKPACKER DROOL

 

 

If you’re heading off on a far-flung adventure to scale an obscure peak in the middle of nowhere, dive in the deepest oceans with the most tropical of fish or you simply want to get away from it all and immerse yourself in a new culture, you will need some tech to take with you. While many backpackers yearn to escape the technology that is encroaching on their everyday lives, others embrace the positives and use the latest gadgets and gizmos to enhance their travel experience. While you might not want to be a social media fiend scrolling through your Facebook feed and missing the beautiful vistas in front of you, you could be recording the awe-inspiring sunrises you stumble upon using the latest piece of visual wizardry.

 

It doesn’t matter whether you are heading into the jungles of Costa Rica, taking a jaunt through the tropics of Goa or island hopping in Thailand, take a look at the finest bits of tech that you should be packing for your travels.

 




 

Smartphone

 

Perhaps the most revolutionary bit of gear to explode onto the consumer market, smartphones are so much more than the cellphone of twenty years ago. These little cuboids are finished in gunmetal gray or polished black, or brilliant white and are full of everything you need to organize your life, plan a trip and keep in touch with your nearest and dearest. You can, of course, make calls too, but who wants to do that when you have more advanced methods of communication. Whatsapp and Viber are just two of the latest free methods of communication that utilize wifi technology and don’t eat into your call or text allowances. Head over to HandsetExpert, and you could find exceptional deals on the latest smartphones that suit your lifestyle needs. You could opt for a simple SIM-only deal to save you money when on your travels, yet you’ll still have the same 20MP camera at your fingertips to capture the most wonderful of moments and you’ll still be able to blog away to heart’s content when staying with the most elusive tribe in the outback of goodness knows where.

 

You shouldn’t fear technology when on your travels, you should embrace it. A smartphone can keep you connected when you need to be and could even save your life should you get lost roaming your new terrain.

 

 

Digital SLR

 

If you adore shooting some awesome pictures when you’re overseas, you may require something a tad more advanced than your smartphone. The Panasonic TZ range still provides an exceptional range of travel cameras for the money with awesome zoom features and stunning resolutions. However, if you want a piece of kit that takes your photos to the next level and gives you even more control, then nothing beats a digital SLR.

 

Both Canon and Nikon have sound entry models for under $500. They last nigh on a lifetime and are super reliable. There’s no need to worry about poor lighting with a digital SLR and, if in doubt, you can always whack on the auto mode to be sure of a decent shot. The manual controls that a digital SLR affords means you can experiment with exposure times, ISO settings and shutter speeds to create the most atmospheric shots. Coupled with a decent SD card and you could keep your memories in electronic format forever.

 

Power Pack

 

If you love nothing more than having a soundtrack to your travels, then you’ll need a power pack for your journey. There’s nothing worse than embarking on a mammoth train trip only for your MP3 player to lose its juice halfway through your excursion. Music can make a jaunt abroad all that more memorable with a specific track evoking memories of times spent on the beach or being out on the open seas. To ensure that you always have your earbuds at the ready to fire on all cylinders with your favorite artists, you need a power pack that will charge up your music player on the go. Some even have multiple ports so you can charge two or three devices at the same time. If you’re a bit of a bookworm, you can charge up your Kindle, if you are a photography whizz, you might fancy keeping your digital SLR fully charged. Whatever pieces of tech you require, it’s vital that they are kept usable and charged up.

 



GPS

 

If you are still reading this thinking that you can keep shunning technology when on your next foray abroad, you should consider taking a GPS device with you. While it’s admirable to forego the smartphone, use your eyes as your camera and not feel the need for music, you should always endeavor to remain safe. If you’re one of those individuals who loves venturing off the beaten track, you should make sure that you always know where you are, should you get lost.

 
For those travelers who love spending time on the beach, heading off on more organized tours and staying close to civilization, a GPS unit might not be necessary. You’ll be infinitely more at ease with your smartphone. However, if you relish heading to unseen sights, going solo on your jaunts or venturing to more dangerous spots abroad, you should consider GPS. While you may not want to use a Garmin Foretex to direct where you are going, it’s a good idea to have one in your backpack should you need to notify anyone of your position.




Heading halfway across the globe, exploring the world and enjoying taking in the sights, sounds, and tastes of new destinations is life-affirming. However, it’s vital that you are safe, self-aware and willing to embrace technology to enhance and not hinder your traveling experience. Take a look at these pieces of kit and consider packing them in your backpack the next time you are ready to take a jaunt overseas.

 

DEBBIE’S HIDEAWAY

I recently shared with you guys, our amazing experience in Antelope Grand Canyon. Of course, staying in Page AZ for a few days meant we needed somewhere comfortable to rest and sleep. I did some research for hotels near our destination and I was fortunate to have chosen a bed and breakfast/Mini-suite type Motel. Our place of choice was Debbie’s Hideaway.




What you get here is hospitality and convenience. Don’t expect a high end mattress or automatic curtains and floor to ceiling windows. Our goal for our trip was to remain on a budget by cooking breakfast and dinner instead of dining out every day and take advantage of the fully stocked kitchen (we actually failed to cook as much as we expected since we decided to eat out more than we had planned). The room is very cozy and welcoming.  For extra guests a Sofa bed is available in the living room. The kitchen comes with a stove, microwave, fridge and coffee maker. Living area is equipped with cable TV and with the Motel has WIFI access.  A comfy master’s bedroom has a queen size bed, 20 inch TV and nothing beats a hot shower after a long day of hiking and exploring. Although Debbie’s is simple in its amenities, we couldn’t ask for more on a reduced budget. Sadly, I failed to take photos of the interior of our room (booh, I know) but the outside garden I did capture and made our stay extra special to enjoy a cup of coffee on a warm morning in the desert.

The garden has a zen feeling and decor. There are several garden areas which you can unwind in while you grill some bbq in the bbq pit. Big trees provided shade cover from the hot sun rays so it was a more comfortable temperature than we expected.

 

 

 

This garden reminds me of home in the Philippines. We didn’t have a clothes dryer so we would hang our clothes to naturally air dry it after washing. It’s so nice to see this back to basic design in a fast pace country once in a while.

Of course, gardens usually have flowers. Flowers make this place feels like more like home than a Motel.


I may not have met Debbie herself, but I did meet and talked quite a bit to her husband (Who introduced himself as Mr. Debbie..lol) who appears to manage the place on a day to day basis. When we originally inquired thru the phone, one thing that convinced us to stay here was how friendly and welcoming he was. He gave us tips where and when to go to Antelope and more tips like not to miss out on going to Horseshoe Bend. He gave us the best time to see the famous Horseshoe and he was certainly correct as proven by great photos. Mr. Debbie made us feel like personal guests and this birthday trip was amazing and unforgettable because of those tips. Keep an eye on my experience and photos on my next post about Horseshoebend.




Anyway, that’s it for today. If you plan to visit Page and need a place to stay, I will recommend Debbie’s Hideaway and you’ll see why.

ANTELOPE CANYON -ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL PLACES IN THE WORLD

Ok, ok, I know! I am a little late on posting this, but, since my husband just gave me a new camera for my birthday, I still have to figure out how to use it and of course to check every photo and make sure they look awesome before I share with the world. So much for the excuses hahaha, yes, one thing on my bucket list has been to go to the many canyons in Arizona and Utah and especially Antelope Canyon. Seeing the photos on Google mesmerized me all the time and always left me with thoughts, “how can we have this kind of place and not everyone know about it?”, “Is it real or trick photography?”. “Do these rock formations really exist?”.  So as my 30-ish birthday getaway, the hubby, our friend and I planned a trip to Arizona and Utah to find out for ourselves.

 

Antelope Canyon is located near Page Arizona on Navajo Nation land, just outside Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and close to AZ HWY 98 a few miles east of Page.

 

 

No stretching, no preparations for me. I had only brought my sneakers and bottled water, dealing with the 100 degree desert weather was not that fun at all. As I got to the spot where we had to wait for our tour guide, I was a little bit disappointed and underwhelmed seeing the entire empty land filled with cactus and desert plants. I was like, “Where the heck are the canyons?!” I totally can’t find a clue where they can be as I was just seeing the entire open space. Was I about to be disappointed by 10 feet of a wall of rock?

 




As we walked toward the entry area for the canyon, the tour guide was talking about the history, how the Canyons started, yadi yadi yada, I admit I was no longer paying attention (oops, did I just say that?), I just wanted to know, “where are the darn canyons”? After about a 10-15 minutes walk from the parking lot and ticketing area, there was a pathway going down to where there was a big covered waiting area with groups of people with their tour guides lined up and waiting under the scorching summer heat.

 

 

Given how hot it was, I was thinking, this must be something special for all these people to be waiting in these temperatures with just a little bit of shade to shield us from the sun. It must have been 110 degrees in the shade! I was surprised at the diversity of age in the group, from Seniors to little toddlers. One couple even brought a baby who was maybe 9-10 months old. Later on, you will see why that might not have been the best idea.

Pretty long wait to enter the Canyon

 

 

We’re almost there! (The Stair down to the Canyons)

 

 

As we went closer to the front line, that’s the time I realized why we were stuck on the shade. There was a  steep staircase leading from the waiting area down below to the cave/canyon. My excitement started to level up as I started to see the rock formations and I had to face my fear of heights haha. The stairway is very steep leading down to the canyon and at points, turns into a ladder which required me to go down backwards as you would a ladder. The braver people ventured down facing forward. This tour turned out to be more of a hike than I expected. One thing I was very grateful for is that it’s much cooler down in the canyon which is below ground level and mostly shielded from direct sunlight.

 




Steep ladders, narrow pathways, sweat and muscle pain are all worth it. Just seeing these formations are overwhelming but honestly, I would love to do it again!

I’m just glad that our bed and breakfast, Debbie’s Hideaway, is so close from the Antelope Canyon.

 

SUNSET PARK, LAS VEGAS’ OWN OASIS

LAS VEGAS SPOT AWAY FROM THE CITY LIGHTS

 

So, where else can we go aside from the Strip in Las Vegas? If we hear Las Vegas, we always think of city lights, busy streets, drinking, party, casino and etc. Did you know that there are places you can go aside form Hotel/Casino hopping? Yes, we have some landmarks to visit away from those busy streets and city lights!  So to have an opportunity to view a landmark of the art variety was something I didn’t want to pass up. Although I had postponed my viewing, when the weather was perfect for a day out and a short drive from Vegas, I couldn’t think of a better time to check out the unique artwork.

 

About a dozen miles south of Las Vegas is not where you would expect a world renowned artist to set up his latest art exhibit for a 2 year engagement. The unique display is the brainchild of Ugo Rondinone. Ugo is a Swiss born Artist who was previously most well known for an exhibit called Human Nature. Seven Magic Mountains is produced by Art Production Fund, New York and Nevada Museum of Art, Reno.

 




 

 

The colorful stones reaching into the sky from the desert is a sharp contrast to the bleak, yet still beautiful surrounding desert. The bright colors and stack of stones seems to bring back that feeling we all had as kids by stacking building blocks as high as we could. Based upon the way people were flocking to the gigantic stone displays, taking photos and even selfies seems to show that everyone was feeling a level of nostalgia and fun as well. Maybe it is the bright colors or the unspoken unease that these stacks look like they could come tumbling down at any moment. However, everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves very much, and much more than what you would usually expect during an art exhibit.

 

This exhibit will be on display until May of 2018 and if you are in Vegas and want to take a couple hours away from the hustle and bustle of the usual Vegas offerings, I would highly recommend a short drive out to soak up some fun culture.

MT. ZION, UTAH

The Zion National Park is one of the places to visit when you go to Utah. It is covered with red, white, brow canyons, plants and wilderness. I actually found out about this from a friend and with her stories, I just asked my husband to go there over the weekend as I have learned that Zion National park has been an intrepid hikers’ and photographers bucket list. I have to see for myselfwhat’s with this park.

 

Utah is just at least 1 hour and 30 minutes away from Vegas. So it is really easy for us to go there compared to California which takes 4 hours usually to get to LA.  Can you imagine, we have been to 3 states in 1 hour and 30 minutes?! Amazing, isn’t it? Yes, from Las Vegas, we have entered Arizona and Utah.

 

So, ok, our impromptu trip has pushed through. As soon as we reached the border of Arizona-Utah, I had seen so much difference. More trees, canyons, red soil, river, cows and horses and more farm lands that I do not usually see here in Las Vegas.  We didn’t have any hotel reservation  since the husband’s cousin was staying overnight in nearby Cedar city. renting a house which I find it very convenient and better than a hotel.

 

Zion National park encompasses some of the most scenic canyon country. This is perfect for everyone who loves to travel, hike, bike, camp or even just unwind and take photos.We entered off of highway 9 thru the park’s south entrance where we had to pay $30 for the entire family’s entrance fee (upto maximum of 15 pax in 1 vehicle) and it is valid for 7 days. We had to leave the vehicle at the parking lot and ride the Zion Canyon Shuttle that goes to several stops.  We decided to go for the easy one since we are just beginners and we got 2 kids with us. As we looked at the map, we decided to go for Emerald pool trail. As they say, we shouldn’t be leaving Utah without seeing this. It is right across the road from Zion Lodge. Emerald Pool is a mix of trails and pools that provide easy to moderate hiking opportunities between each oasis.

 

We decided to go further and reach the next higher stop — The Grotto Trail.  As for no experience in hiking and with a fear of height, this trail is pretty strenuous and exposed. The cliff ledges are real serious! But it is all worth it with the amazing scenery that I can capture with my Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge.  I can’t wait to go back for more .

 

Since it was just a short vacay, it is indeed our plan to experience more of the trails that Zion has to offer. It is definitely a must visit place! One has been  crossed off my bucket list and can’t wait to X-off for more!




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