5 Must have gadgets to make traveling easier

 

Sony Noise-Cancelling Headphones: Sony’s sleek headphones feature an adaptive sound control smart system that balances the noise-cancelling levels according to your environment. The Hi-Res Audio sound reduces distortion so you can enjoy your favorite tunes the way they were recorded. And you can customize all of your sound options in Sony’s app. The battery lasts up to 30 hours, which is quite impressive.

Micro smart phone charger: A high-capacity portable phone charger with 3350mAh rechargeable battery, Jackery Mini Portable Charger has enough power to refresh your phone to fully powered. The world’s smallest external battery charger and power bank is compact, portable & stylish and perfect for long flights, road trips, or whenever you need to charge your iPhone, iPad, or other smart device. Jackery Mini has a USB port, making it a versatile device capable of charging a wide variety of smart devices.

Internet/Communication: Pocket Wifi/GoTenna:
Pocket Wifi – Forget foreign SIM cards or roaming charges when traveling the world, Skyroam Solis has you covered. One of the best mobile Wi-Fi hotspots on the market, this ingenious connectivity gadget offers unlimited 4G LTE service in over 130 countries around the globe. Each device can support up to 5 connections and also works as a portable charger for your phone or tablet while on the move, thanks to its integrated 6000 mAh power bank. A day pass is $9 and gives you unlimited internet access for 24 hours. GoTenna – Going completely off grid? No problem. Designed to keep Android or iOS devices connected even when there is no cellular service, goTenna Mesh lets adventurers communicate while off the grid. Made of rugged materials, this slick, pocket-sized device uses Bluetooth-LE to pair with a smartphone, enabling users to share messages and location info instantly within a range of up to 4 miles in open areas. Compared to the original goTenna, this new and improved backcountry communications tool comes with revolutionary mesh networking technology that allows private 1:1 and group chats or public broadcast messages through other devices to extend beyond point-to-point range.

Purifying Water Bottle: Most of the travelers’ health problems are caused by contaminated drinking water, which means a water purification system is a must when traveling abroad. GRAYL’s Ultralight Purifier, is a state-of-the-art device capable of transforming almost any tap or clear natural water source into pure drinking water in just 15 seconds. Perfect for travelers and outdoor adventurers, each 0.50-liter bottle comes equipped with a replaceable purifier cartridge (lasts for about 40gal), providing protection against viruses, bacteria, heavy metals, as well as many chemicals. This is an excellent way to get safe drinking water on the go, while at the same time, saving money on bottled water.

Small Space Saver Vacuum: Need more room in your suitcase? Say no more! Small, smart, and stylish, VAGO is the ultimate travel packing gadget. Equipped with a pressure detecting sensor, this automatic vacuum pump removes all the air inside your suitcase, condensing the clothes to half their size, thus leaving plenty of room for souvenirs and other things you may buy on your trip. It’s an essential travel tool, especially if you’re adding a bit of shopping to your trip, or traveling somewhere cold and need to bring along some heavy winter wear.

4 Reasons why Travel is good for you!

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear ‘travel’ – Vacation? Meeting new people? Or maybe, Instagrammable sunsets? While traveling can be exciting and exhilarating, it’s so much more than sipping margaritas on a sun-soaked beach.
It’s no news that travel is good for your physical wellbeing, but a significant amount of scientific research suggests that exploring a new place can do wonders for your mental and emotional health as well.
Here are five evidence-backed ways traveling makes your mind happy and healthy:

1. It’s a great stress buster.
“The stress of work and daily demands can distract us from what we find to be actually meaningful and interesting,” says Dr. Tamara McClintock Greenberg, a San Francisco-based clinical psychologist and author of Psychodynamic Perspectives on Aging and Illness. Thus, taking a break from the daily hustle and bustle is essential for your mind to relax, recharge and rejuvenate.
And what better way to do so than to pack your bags and cross wanderlust-worthy destinations off your bucket list? Traveling promotes happiness and helps you take your mind off stressful situations. This leads to lower cortisol levels, making you feel more calm and content. “It also helps us reflect on our personal goals and interests,” adds Greenberg. According to a 2013 study, more than 80% of Americans, who were surveyed, noticed significant drops in stress just after a day or two of traveling. “Even though I’m always busy when I travel, whether it’s sightseeing, taking photos or just exploring a destination on foot, I know I’m the calmest and most relaxed when I travel,” says Jacintha Verdegaal, an avid traveler and founder of travel and lifestyle blog, Urban Pixxels.

2. It helps you reinvent yourself.
Writer Patrick Rothfuss said, “ A long stretch of road can teach you more about yourself than a hundred years of quiet .” Experiential traveling, particularly to a foreign country, can help you re-evaluate and reinvent your life. “If you allow it, travel has the ability to expand your mind in a way you never realized was possible,” says solo travel expert and founder of the Trusted Travel Girl, Valerie Wilson.
Moreover, the valuable lessons that you learn along the way broaden your perspective, making you more aware and open to new things. “I love traveling to places with different cultures because it forces you to think about your own,”

says Verdegaal. “Different is not better or worse, it’s just different. But being confronted with these differences helps me to re-evaluate my own principles and values and, sometimes, change them,” adds the professional globetrotter.
Exploring new places can also give you a fresh start if you’re recovering from a major transition in your life. “When I had Lyme disease, for several years, my world shrunk. I lost friends who didn’t know how to deal with a sick friend. I was quite alone and lost a lot of my self-confidence,” says Wilson, who began to travel “out of fear of relapsing.” “By traveling and interacting with the world around me, I found a new passion for life. I convinced myself to travel even when I wasn’t feeling well. It has brought me happiness, given me a purpose, and has made me a strong, independent woman,” she explains.

3. It boosts happiness satisfaction.
Apart from the obvious fact that you don’t have to go to work (and can legit eat pizza for breakfast), traveling gives you the opportunity to step away from the daily grind. The new events and experiences help rewire your brain, hence boosting your mood and self-confidence. “I think people, in general, are not meant to be tied down to just one place their entire lives. I especially feel “trapped” when I have to stay in the same place for too much time, without being able to really move about and explore,” says travel aficionado and co-founder of The Passport Memorandum, Marta Estevez. “My life feels most fulfilling when I’m outside, living through new experiences and learning,” adds the travel expert who has been to more than ten countries.
“Travel definitely makes me happy,” agrees Wilson. “Even the act of planning a trip gives me something to look forward to and brings me happiness,” says Wilson. Turns out, she’s not the only one who feels that way. According to a Cornell University study, the anticipation of a trip can increase your happiness substantially, even more than the anticipation of acquiring something tangible, like a new car.

4. It enhances creativity.
According to Adam Galinsky, a professor at Columbia Business School, visiting a foreign place and immersing yourself in their local environment (for instance, attending a ‘snake boat’ race in southern India or feasting on crispy tarantulas in Cambodia), increases your cognitive flexibility. It also enhances “depth and integrativeness of thought,” consequently giving a boost to your creativity. Galinsky is the author of multiple studies that look into the connection between creativity and international travel. Although, it’s important to note that traveling stimulates creativity only when you engage with the local culture of that place. Merely visiting a new city or a country isn’t going to cut it.

Additionally, extended traveling also improves your productivity, problem-solving skills and can even increase your chances of getting promoted at work!
However, “it’s important to remember that vacation can be very stressful for some,” notes Greenberg. If that’s the case with you, try taking “short, structured vacations in order to get used to the experience of having time off,” she suggests. Also, plan your trip properly, in advance, to avoid last-minute panic and chaos.

Now that you’ve finished reading about all the wonderful things travel does to your brain, it’s time to pack your bags and get going!

Travel: Weekend Getaways

Charleston, South Carolina

 

Where to stay?

21 East Battery (bed & breakfast) – This charming little bed and breakfast is said to have “the best address in town,” as it is located right on Charleston’s famous Waterfront Battery. Discover what it’s like to live in a private residence of this high-end area with all the amenities of a hotel. Choose between the Carriage House or Private Quarters with private entrances and experience fresh breakfast every morning, views of the garden or Charleston Harbor and complimentary tickets to the Edmondston-Alston House Tour, just down the street. Historical sites, award-winning restaurants and the many beautiful churches of the “Holy City” are just a short stroll in any direction.

Wentworth Mansion – The Wentworth Mansion is a grand historic hotel in downtown Charleston. You will find it tucked away in a beautiful neighborhood next to other historic Charleston homes. Make the most of your visit and experience complimentary breakfast, afternoon hors d’oeuvres and wine, spa, athletic club, nightly housemade chocolates and evening port, sherry and brandy. And for one of Charleston’s best restaurant experiences, look no further than out the back door of this beautiful mansion hotel. Located in the old carriage house turned restaurant, you’ll find an on-property farm-to-table restaurant, Circa 1886. Drawing inspiration from historical Southern dishes, this high-end meal is not one to miss!

What to do?

Cobblestone Streets – Charleston has preserved many of its historical cobblestone streets that send you back in time. Originally, cobblestones were used to weigh down ships that didn’t have enough cargo. They were then unloaded and left on the dock. Eventually, the people of Charleston grew tired of their muddy roads and began using the left behind Cobblestone to make travel easier for horses and carriages. A few of the most popular cobblestone roads worth visiting when you’re in town are Maiden Lane, Chalmers Street and North Adgers Wharf.

Historic Plantation Homes and Tours – There are many beautiful historic plantation homes throughout Charleston. Three must visit locations include Middleton Place, Magnolia Plantation & Gardens and Boone Hall Plantation. At Middleton Place, there are several tours available including tours of the lovely gardens, the house museum and even a horse-drawn carriage tour around the property. There are also planned events that take place on the property throughout the year. Magnolia Plantation and Gardens boasts one of “America’s Most Beautiful Gardens” by Travel + Leisure Magazine. Not only are the gardens beautiful, but there are so many other things to experience. You can take a tour of the historical house and the gardens, explore the zoo and nature center and take a ride on the nature train. Last, but not least, you’ll want to stop over at Boone Hall Plantation to admire the perfectly aligned oak trees that greet you as you enter the property. While you’re there you can go on a variety of tours that are both educational as well as entertaining and be sure to stop by the peaceful butterfly pavilion. Visiting one or all of these properties will take you on a journey through the past and allow you to experience what life was like in 1800 to 1900 Charleston.

Horse-drawn Carriage Rides – If you’re wanting to explore the city of Charleston in style, consider taking a horse-drawn carriage ride. Not only is it unique, but it is the perfect way to see the old grandiose architecture while learning about the city’s history. There are many carriage tour companies to choose from, Palmetto Carriage Works, Old South Carriage Company and Charleston Carriage Works, just to name a few. These companies are highly rated and would make for a great experience and memories!

Beaches – After soaking up all of the history that Charleston has to offer you can kick back and relax on one of its many beaches. If you’re feeling adventurous there are many water activities you can take advantage of like kayak and paddleboard rentals. A variety of kayak and boat tours offering a close-up view of the natural beauty of Charleston.

 

Nashville, Tennessee

 

Where to stay?

Hermitage Hotel – If you’re looking to make your hotel part of your Nashville experience, then look no further than the Hermitage Hotel. The Hermitage opened its doors in September of 1910 and has since seen its share of historical events. It has also see its fare share of famous faces come through its doors and if choose to stay, you will be amongst the likes of John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, comedy legend Charlie Chaplin and of course some of country music’s earliest stars Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash to name a few. During your stay you should be sure to check out “the oldest and longest-running Southern restaurant in the state,” Capitol Grille located on the lower level of the hotel adjacent to the notorious Oak Bar.

Union Station – Go back in time when you stay at one of Nashville’s most iconic buildings. Once a bustling train station, this deemed historic landmark is now a luxurious hotel with 125 uniquely decorated guest rooms. In the center of it all, Union Station Hotel is the perfect place to stay to be just minutes away from all of the Nashville hot spots like the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Ryman Auditorium and Nissan Stadium. For an added convenience, the in-house restaurant, Carter’s serves breakfast, lunch and dinner with an added happy hour menu from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

What to do?

Live Music – It’s no secret that Nashville is also known as “Music City” and “Songwriting Capital of the World.” Even its earliest settlers were known to celebrate with song and dance. From there the city’s music history continued to grow. Today you can walk for blocks and music can be heard on every day and night of the week. There are an array of concert halls and small clubs featuring almost all genres of music, not just country. You can also take a walk down “Music Row” and see the famous Symphony Center, Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, Music City Walk of Fame and the Bridgestone Arena as well as recording studios, record labels and entertainment offices. Last but not least, when visiting Nashville, it is imperative that you visit what has become known as the most famous concert venue in America, the Ryman. The Ryman was the original location of the Grand Ole Opry which began in 1925. Today it has seen countless performances by legends like Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross and Neil Diamond. If you don’t have tickets for a show, the Ryman is open for daily tours where you can feel like a star on its famous stage.

Microbreweries – There’s no shortage of microbreweries throughout the city of Nashville. No matter what area of the city you end up in you’re bound to find some tasty brews to sample. Some of the hot spots you may want to check out include Yazoo Brewing Company, Blackstone Brewing Company, Southern Grist Brewing Company and The Black Abbey Brewing Company, just to name a few. Each brewing company has their own unique signature IPAs, ales, sours, porters and more. And nothing goes better with beer than some tasty eats like mac and cheese, burgers and frog legs…yep…frog legs…if you like that sort of thing.

Country Music Hall of Fame – The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is a must see when visiting Nashville. Whether you’re a country music fan or not, the sheer size and the amount of history it keeps is a wonder to behold. With 350,000 square feet filled with memorabilia (over 2 million items) and exhibits of the evolving history of country music, it is often referred to as the “Smithsonian of country music.” Inside the museum you can also see the famous letterpress operation Hatch Show Print and down on Music Row you can visit the Historic RCA Studio B where stars like Elvis Presley, Dolly Parton and Waylon Jennings recorded.

Centennial Park – Centennial Park was established as a City Park after the it’s Exposition in 1897. With it’s Parthenon replica, one-mile walking trail, Lake Watauga, sunken gardens and more, Centennial Park has become one of the most visited parks with thousands of visitors each year. The Parthenon replica, standing in the heart of the park, is amongst the most popular attractions. Just inside the Parthenon is an incredible statue Athena standing at an astounding 42-feet high and both structures are full-scale replicas of the Ancient Greek originals. Today the Parthenon serves as Nashville’s art museum featuring 63 paintings by 19th and 20th century American artists.

Travel: Get Away for the Winter

Cruises are a popular getaway choice for many during the icy winter months, but when is the best time to go? Waiting until later in the winter season can be the better time to go as most people tend to go in December or January. Below we have listed the top five cruise locations to escape to.

The Caribbean and Bahamas are two of the most popular cruise getaway locations, especially during the winter months. With fun in the sun activities like snorkeling and racing around the sand dunes, it’s not hard to see why. Not to mention the much-needed warmth and sunshine.

During our winter months, it’s actually summer in the Galapagos. This is a great destination for snorkeling and wild sea life watching, especially during the months of December through February. If you wait until March for this trip, it is likely that you’ll get to see the hatching of baby green turtles and giant tortoises!

The winter is also a great time to visit the Mediterranean parts of Europe like Rome, Venice and Barcelona. During the winter, cruises are confined to this area, but on the plus side you can visit these hot spots and enjoy everything there is to do without a ton of people around. Another option for European cruises include the coastal Norwegian cruises, which guarantees sightings of the Northern Lights on any classic round trip, 12-night stay between October 1st and March 31st.

Like the Galapagos it’s also summer in Australia and New Zealand. If you’re looking for some beautiful weather to take advantage of, look no further. Cities on New Zealand’s South Island and along Australia’s eastern and southern edges feature some of the best weather of the year. There’s no shortage of things to do and places to see, whether you visit the hustle and bustle of Sydney or Melbourne or take in the natural beauty of New Zealand.

The Middle East and Southeast Asia offer both ocean and river cruises. During the winter months is the best time to visit these destinations with temperatures in the upper 70s to mid-80s. Ocean cruises to the Middle East stop at ports in Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. The Nile river cruises are also very popular during this time of year. Ocean cruises in Southeast Asia include ports like Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore, but if a river cruise sounds more appealing, you can sail down the Mekong in Vietnam or the Irrawaddy in Myanmar.

Spring Vacation!

For anyone wanting to get away this Spring, but not wanting to spend a small fortune to do so, check out Daytona Beach, Florida! Not only are there plenty of things to do, it’s at the top of the list for most affordable Spring getaway destinations and there’s no need for a passport!

Daytona Beach has many beach-front hotels that offer special Spring trip rates, which keeps you on budget and leaves you with more money for fun! As Daytona is a top choice for a Spring travel, many hotels have special daily events such as music and poolside contests during the months of March and April. If you plan to check out the night life, many of the major beach-front hotels offer FREE transportation to and from all the hot spots! If you don’t mind leaving the beach for a day, you can take a quick trip to Orlando and visit “The Happiest Place on Earth” or catch some thrills at Universal Studios Orlando.

Disney World is made up of a total of six parks – four theme parks and two water parks. Spend the day at your favorite park or get the Park Hopper ticket to make the most of your time. Walk through Cinderella’s castle, travel around the globe, become one with the animals and watch Hollywood come to life all in a single day! If you have time to spare, you can make a splash at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon or Blizzard Beach!

If Universal Studios is more your speed, you can choose from two theme parks, Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure, or visit them both with a park-to-park ticket! Go on an adventure through many different worlds as you cast a spell at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, help your favorite super heroes defeat the villain and escape the sharp jaws of a T. Rex. Once you’ve had your fill of thrills, you can head back to Daytona to relax poolside or take a nice walk on the beach and feel the sand between your toes.
When you’re fully refreshed and on your way home, you can rest easy knowing that you made the most of your Spring vacation and can look forward to your next getaway!