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The Shitty Side of Traveling

how_to_poop_while_traveling

You see all these travel bloggers; Their beautiful adventures, perfectly angled, perfectly colored. They’re thin, beautiful, digging into some large exotic street food, enjoying a large brunch spread full of cheese, pastries, and lattes. WOWZA, you want that.

But I want to talk about what really happens on these trips, post-brunch. If you’ve been anywhere, even on vacation, you know what I’m talking about. Shitting… or lack thereof. How are there so many travel blogs out there without even the mention of it? Because for me, the inconsistency of pooping is the only consistent thing while traveling.

where to poop while travelingI embarked on my first long-term travel adventure last month, knowing full and well that even domestic travel put my sensitive digestive system at risk for constipation. Throw in a little jetlag and a whole world of new foods and I was set for complete catastrophe no matter how much water (or coffee) I drank.

drinking beer at ruin bars in budapestWhen you’re sightseeing, hiking, beaching, enjoying a beer in an authentic pub, or in no man’s land looking at the glories of the world, you don’t want to be thinking about the last time you spent a solid amount of time in the bathroom (or the last time it was solid). Wondering “how long can I go without shitting before I die” isn’t exactly what I want running through my head when I’m trying to look cute in travel pics. But it’s somewhat unavoidable, so let’s chat about it, shall we?

First of all, this is a completely natural occurrence.

In fact, it’s an evolutionary trait dating back to our hunter/gatherer days. When you’re a real nomad (not the cute, insta-famous ones), hunting for animals, you probably don’t want a predator tracking your scent during your journey. So as soon as your body recognizes that you’re in a new location, it shuts down all colon activity.

Cool, right?

Yeah, not so much when the bloating sets in after that lovely brunch spread.

Traveling is also stressful, and your tummy knows it.

Did you know that you have 100 million neurons in your gut? That’s more than in your spinal cord. So if you’re in a gross bathroom, stressed about missing your connecting flight, or overly exhausted from being in airports for 36 hours straight, your second brain in the gut is going to just say no.

Obviously, there are ways that you can keep on your merry loo schedule while you’re exploring.

A few tips (and reasons I failed – lesson learned):

Pre-Trip Prep

A few days before the trip, I normally start packing my diet with fiber. Kale salads for dinner, spinach smoothies for breakfast. Being on a super consistent schedule leading up to your trip gives your body routine, which will be easier to follow.

I failed at this. Packing up your apartment, quitting your job, and leaving for two months led me to some serious stress eating. Constipation – 1, Caroline – 0

 

Water, Water, Water

As soon as you head to the airport, drink a bottle. Through security? Drink a bottle. Just chug them as often as possible.

8-hour flight? Doomsday. They offer free wine on the plane, and I just couldn’t resist. Then I landed in Europe where water fountains are not a thing, and who wants to spend money on water bottles? Constipation – 2, Caroline – 0

 

Keep it Moving

Exercise. And this is where it gets tricky. Unless you’re able to maintain the same type of exercise as you’re used to, your body has to adjust. Yes, you may be walking 10+ miles a day when you’re exploring, but if you’re adapted to doing yoga every day, that’s a very different type of movement.

No, I’m not going to do yoga every day after wakeboarding and walking a marathon. Sorry. Constipation – 3, Caroline – 0

 

Diet

Fruits and veggies! And preferably fruits that have not been cooked into a jam, resting in the middle of strudel.

breakfast in bulgaria

avoid eating the whole plate of pastries

Ha. Ha. Ha. You think I’m not going to try every pastry on this side of the world? In my defense, the salad culture that I’m accustomed to isn’t quite as popular outside of NY. Sure, we’ll go with that. Constipation – 4, Caroline – 0

Fast forward to our second stop on the trip and I’m getting desperate. Panic poop mode, if you will. After chugging about 6 bottles of water, I start pulling out all the stops for things that are my go-to’s:

  1. Coffee: Ended up dehydrating me even more. Next.
  2. Soft Serve Ice Cream: Flickering memories of my childhood, but still nothing.
  3. Activia: If it works for Jamie Lee Curtis, why not me?
  4. Kale: Okay, you know it’s bad when Kale doesn’t work.

And right when I was about to order some Haribo Sugar Free Gummy Bears, I realized that I was past the point of no return and it was time to fold. My boyfriend and I started a 3-hour long venture to buy laxatives. Let me tell you, you know it’s love when a man asks the convenient store worker for laxatives in Hungarian after using google translate on every box in the store.

Travel Tip: Most laxatives can only be purchased in proper pharmacies, not your average Walgreens. But have no fear, either buy them and pack ahead of time or purchase there, you won’t need a prescription!

So here are my recommendations (to pack & and to buy in emergencies):

Metamucil (To pack)

A gift from the heavens! For those with potential to reach a desperate situation, but able to catch it early enough. The equivalent of 5 kale smoothies ready to hit your digestive system in the form of fiber pixie dust.

Pro Tip: Since it’s orange flavored, mix it with some Emergen-C to get the total travel package.

Metamucil Multi-Health Psyllium Fiber Supplement Sugar-Free Powder, Orange Flavored, 180 Servings Price: $25.44 Metamucil Multi-Health Psyllium Fiber Supplement Sugar-Free Powder, Orange Flavored, 180 Servings Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 04/30/2019

Colace (To pack)

This baby is technically a “stool-softener” but the sound of that title sends shivers to the insides of my colon. Let’s just say it loosens things up in a nice way without completely dehydrating you into a prune.

Pro-Pro Tip: Colace + Metamucil + Emergen-C Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. . You. Will. Be. Invincible. Go climb Mt Everest.

Colace Regular Strength Stool Softener, 100 mg Capsules, 60 Count, Docusate Sodium Stool Softener for Gentle, Dependable Relief Price: $15.97 Colace Regular Strength Stool Softener, 100 mg Capsules, 60 Count, Docusate Sodium Stool Softener for Gentle, Dependable Relief Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 04/30/2019

Suppositories, Fleet or Equate (To buy or pack)

In short, these are not fun to talk about since they go in the opposite direction of how you want most bodily items to flow. But they work. I’ll let you decide how you feel about them. They aren’t for everyone.

Pro Tip:  I say that you can pack these, but I could easily see them not being the best to travel with. Google it. Proceed at your own risk.

Dulcolax (To buy, available in lots of countries)

For those of you with the desperation level of wishing a solid dose of food poisoning on yourself. The normal version says to take it before you go to bed and things will start rattling about 6-12 hours after you take it. Convenient. Have your morning coffee and take a seat, my friend. This puppy works.

Pro Tip: Drink SO SO SO much water after. Lax attacks pull all the water in your body to aid the process and leave you feeling like a raisin. So if you get a headache a few hours later, just chug.

Dulcolax Laxative Tablets, 100 Count, Gentle, Reliable Overnight Relief from Constipation, Hard, Dry, Painful Stools, and Irregular Bowel Movements, Stimulates Bowel to Encourage Movement Price: $16.31 Dulcolax Laxative Tablets, 100 Count, Gentle, Reliable Overnight Relief from Constipation, Hard, Dry, Painful Stools, and Irregular Bowel Movements, Stimulates Bowel to Encourage Movement Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 04/30/2019

To Sum It Up

That’s the shitty side of traveling. The moral of the story is that it’s bound to happen, so let’s not pretend that it doesn’t (even to those pretty little #wanderlustgirls). Here’s to many more trips where laxatives aren’t the necessary option for you, but if so, pack in preparation and cheers to flushing!

Get Lost In Ireland: Summer Road Trip Inspiration and Tips

 

Ireland is arguably one of the most picture-perfect summer road trip destinations. Come to Ireland to see breathtaking scenery, come for the friendly people, come if you want to slow down and get lost in the beauty of the simpler things in life: a cup of morning tea with fresh milk, a stroll through the market stalls, a self guided tour of abandoned castles, a laugh with friends over a pint at the local pub… the list goes on.

Ireland Road Trip Routes

You could easily spend an entire week in Dublin alone. But what’s the fun in staying in one city when you can rent a car and explore some back roads? Best of all, it’s possible to drive across the entire midsection of Ireland from the East coast to the West coast in about 2 hours.

Fun fact: Ireland is slightly larger than the state of West Virginia. Although the country is small in size, there is plenty to see.

When deciding the best route for your Ireland road trip it is going to be a tough call! Northern Ireland is known for its epic landscapes: dramatic cliffs, picturesque blue sea, and mythical rock formations. No wonder Game Of Thrones shoots scenes there! The capital, Belfast, is trendy with loads of history. It’s also home to the Harland and Wolff shipyard, the construction site of the Titanic.

However, if you are traveling from Dublin up to Northern Ireland things can get complicated. Northern Ireland is a part of the United Kingdom and you will need to pass through border patrol, pay in Pounds instead of Euros, and spend extra on rental car fees.

My advice for first-time visitors would be to start in Dublin, head down South, and make your way to the West coast. You will be able to see a number of world-famous sights, get a taste of traditional Irish cities, and discover your own hidden gems along the way.

Ireland Road Trip Itinerary

For your road trip, I recommend that you give yourself a minimum of 7 days to complete the itinerary that I’ve put together. If you’re tight on time, then adjust your route as needed because let’s be real… any number of days in Ireland will be well worth it!

Day 1 – Dublin

Explore the shops of the Temple Bar neighborhood, watch live music at Dublin’s oldest pub – Brazen Head, or take a brewery tour at the Guinness Factory.

Day 2 – Kilkenny

Visit the grounds of the Kilkenny Castle, wander down the Medieval Mile, and grab a pint at Smithwick’s brewery.

Day 3 – Cork

Follow in the footsteps of Winston Churchill and kiss the Blarney Stone at Blarney Castle, sample lots of delicious foods at the English Market, and admire the local architecture.

Day 4 – Cork with day trip to Kinsale

Check out the abandoned castles and abbeys along the winding country roads, stroll along the Kinsale harbor, and sit down for some Fish & Chips at Dino’s Family Restaurant…Yum!

Day 5 – Cliffs of Moher

Depart early to beat the crowds that flock to the Cliffs of Moher to admire the stunning landscapes that make it Irelan’ds top natural tourist attraction.

Day 6 – Galway

Navigate the buzzing side streets, check out the local artist markets, and listen to the many street performers.

Day 7 – Dublin

Eat a traditional Irish breakfast, stop by Trinity college, and people watch as you walk down the River Liffey.

How to Rent A Car In Ireland

In Ireland and all of the U.K. you sit on the opposite side of the car AND drive on the opposite side of the road. That took me a few days to wrap my head around.

I can still hear my family reciting “Hard left! Wide right!” every time I turned at an intersection. Although nerve-racking at first, I guarantee you’ll feel an indescribable sense of accomplishment when you master driving in a foreign country.

To rent a car in Ireland you will need to provide a valid driver’s license, passport, and credit or debit card. Our total transportation costs were around $500 or $83 per day including the cost of gas and a 6-day car rental. After a quick comparison of rental car companies, we decided to go with Europcar because of its proximity to our hotel and low prices. Overall we received great customer service and a good-as-new rental.

Two tips that could save you big money when renting a car in Ireland is the type of vehicle you choose and whether you purchase rental insurance. In Ireland and most countries in Europe, rental cars are almost exclusively manual. Learning to drive stick shift will save a lot of money. The associate helping with our rental told us that an automatic car would have cost us 2x the daily price of a manual one. It’s also common to pay an extra daily charge for adding drivers to the contract.

Rental insurance is another added expense that you may not need. A little-known fact is that many U.S. credit card companies already provide rental car protection free of charge.

I suggest researching online or calling your credit company to see if your card includes rental car insurance benefits. I personally use the Venture from Capital One because of its many international travel perks and low annual fee. 

When To Go On A Road Trip in Ireland

The high season for Ireland runs from June until September. The sun was shining for the majority of our trip in July but we still wore layers because of the unpredictable weather. It was noticeably more difficult to find accommodations during the peak season and for the budget traveler, there may be some initial sticker shock when looking at hotel prices.

Although prices will be high when you get to Ireland, you can find super cheap $300 round trip flights to Dublin by searching Norwegian or WOW airlines.

Truth be told, I hate planning in advance. Two months before our trip, I struggled to secure accommodations because nearly everything had already been booked. With a lot of searching, I still managed to find some last minute steals for around $120 a night for 3 people staying in either an Airbnb or Bed and Breakfast.

Don’t wait until the last minute like I did. Plan your accommodations several months in advance and you will have a much easier time finding affordable lodging!

The most budget-friendly accommodation in Ireland is either a hostel, Airbnb, or Bed and Breakfast. Dublin was by far the most expensive city on our trip. For Dublin, I recommend trying to book a place near downtown so you can be within walking distance of the many city attractions.

If you are traveling during the summer months and are looking for a unique budget-friendly experience, stay at Trinity College. You will be in the heart of Dublin, the campus is iconic, and the prices are fair.

As expected, it is much easier to find reasonable lodging prices in Cork and Galway. Don’t be afraid to stay a bit further out of the main downtown areas and book a place in the countryside. It’s generally a better value and more spacious – plus you’ll have easy parking access and get to experience the local way of life.

What to Expect On Your Ireland Road Trip

On your journey around this magical country, you’ll see why Ireland is a bucket list destination! If you are doing your road trip right, you’ll get a little lost along the way. You don’t need to plan every detail of your trip. Our best days were the ones we didn’t plan. Other than accommodations and flights, make the trip an adventure and see where it takes you.

Don’t be shy! Make sure to ask for tips from your hosts or other local acquaintances that cross your path.

Irish people are friendly and like to have a good time. Strike up conversations with the locals and if they suggest you visit a hidden gem or restaurant in the neighborhood then there’s a 100% chance you should go check it out.

Side note: when you do go out to eat, you can choose to tip servers 10% at a nice restaurant and it is not necessary to tip bartenders or taxi drivers.

Except for the occasional nasty bits of weather that Ireland is infamous for, there isn’t much to complain about. Pack a raincoat and some extra warm layers or just drink lots of Guinness.

The Complete Iceland Packing List

Iceland Packing List | Ultimate Iceland Packing List | Total Packing List For Iceland | Weather In Iceland | Backpacking Iceland | Packing for Iceland |

Iceland’s weather can be unpredictable, and to figuring out the best time to go and what to pack for Iceland can be difficult. One thing you can be sure of for most trips to Iceland is that it’s going to be chilly and wet. During our last trip to Iceland, it lightly rained the whole time. Our list below covers all the basics from required items like a waterproof jacket to the nice to have things like rain pants.

If you are looking for a specific summer Iceland packing list or winter Iceland packing list, look no further. This list is designed to be comprehensive, and we even detailed the weather patterns based on temperature and hours of sunlight so you can make the most informed packing decisions.

Weather In Iceland

Let’s briefly review the weather. The average is around freezing (32 Fahrenheit, 0 Celcius), with the highs in summer approximately 50 degrees Fahrenheit(27 Celcius) and lows in winter at 28 degrees Fahrenheit (0 Celcius). What you need to be more worried about is the number of hours of daylight. We created an infographic that has a good summary of the weather below.

Weather In Iceland | Life Nomading | Best time to travel to Iceland | Summer weather in Iceland | Winter Weather in Iceland | What to pack for Iceland | Iceland Packing ListWinter

Winters are surprisingly mellow with the normal January temperature in Reykjavik (- 0.5°C/31°F) like New York City or Hamburg. It isn’t surprising to see snow in October or April, yet it rarely remains on the ground for more than a couple of days.

Summer

The average July temperature in the southern part of the island is 50–56 °F. Some summer days can go up to 68–77 °F. Summers in Iceland can be delightfully warm in addition to the unique Midnight Sun which gives 24 hours of light and the fervor of midnight golf, or early morning club escapades.

Quick Tips

Pack light! Having a checked bag lost can ruin a trip to Iceland as most trips are short and buying stuff on an island is expensive! Try to fit all your stuff in a carry on if possible – it will make your life easier and prevent any lost luggage events eating into your vacation time! If you are having packing space issues here are five tips to help!

Think water resistant! If there were a theme that could be applied to anything you pack this would be it! From boots to jackets – water resistance is key for a pleasant, warm, and comfortable trip to Iceland!

Required Items

Let’s take a deeper look into why we deemed some of these key items as required. Technically all of these items may not be “required,” but they are if the plan is to see the best of what Iceland has to offer: Hot springs, amazing outdoor landscapes, and ice caves.

Waterproof Boots

Hiking the amazing landscapes and ice caves in Iceland are must-do activities. Pick up some waterproof hiking boots to do it all with dry feet. Almost any brand of boot made of Gore-Tex Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. works well, as it is more breathable than a rubber boot but also waterproof.

Vasque Men's Sundowner Gore-Tex Backpacking Boot Price: $219.94 Vasque Men's Sundowner Gore-Tex Backpacking Boot Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 04/30/2019

Waterproof Coat

We recommend layering up with a thick rain jacket or getting a waterproof winter coat. While it can be snowy, having enough layer can prevent needing a full-blown arctic hiking coat – unless you plan to hike in Vatnajokull. We previously detailed the best rain jackets for men, if you are a guy looking to grab one for an Icelandic trip. All in all, after talking with our fellow avid outdoorswoman and outdoorsmen we found that Marmot coats Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. we’re consistently mentioned as a highwater proof coat.

Marmot Minimalist Lightweight Waterproof Rain Jacket Price: $189.00 Marmot Minimalist Lightweight Waterproof Rain Jacket Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 04/30/2019

Universal Outlet Adapter

Iceland uses to Europlug, so any adapter that has a European outlet adapter should work. A universal adapter Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. can be picked up online for less than twenty dollars. The outlet in Iceland is two round plugs and typically slightly indented into the wall.

Universal Travel Adapter, All-in-one International Power Adapter 2.4A Dual USB, Wall Charger UK, EU, AU, Asia Price: $16.95 Universal Travel Adapter, All-in-one International Power Adapter 2.4A Dual USB, Wall Charger UK, EU, AU, Asia Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 04/30/2019

Swimming Suit

Blue Lagoon | Packing Lit for Iceland | Packing list | Swimsuit for IcelandIceland is famous for hot springs, which means you need to bring a bathing suit. There are tons of hot springs. If you want the most comprehensive list of hot springs, hot pot Iceland has the only exhaustive list of locations with GPS coordinates. Aside from natural hot springs, the public baths is a more local off the beaten path option. The public baths are also much cheaper than the blue lagoon.

 

Water Resistant Backpack

Grabbing a water-resistant backpack or a waterproof backpack cover is a great idea. Transportation in Iceland is costly so carrying your daily essentials to reduce trips is ideal. On our last trip there it rained the entire time. Having a waterproof backpack will make any Iceland trip much more comfortable.

Durable Lightweight Packable Backpack, Water Resistant Travel Hiking Daypack For Men & Women Price: Durable Lightweight Packable Backpack, Water Resistant Travel Hiking Daypack For Men & Women Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 04/30/2019

Recommended Items

Let’s review why some of these key suggested items can be so helpful, even though they may not be vital for an Iceland trip.

Gloves

Depending on when you go – it could be snowing. If you plan to go up north into the highlands, you will undoubtedly encounter snow. Grabbing a pair of light gloves is ideal, and if the plan is to hike in the highlands or go ice caving, then snow gloves are recommended. Pick up a pair of touchscreen gloves so the touchscreen on the phone will still work.

Windproof Warm Touchscreen Gloves Men/Women Price: Windproof Warm Touchscreen Gloves Men/Women Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 04/30/2019

External Battery Charger

Stay on the go and don’t worry about having to find a plug by bringing an external charger. Having an external charger in Iceland is important because most trips are short and transportation is expensive. Bringing an external charger will prevent trips home to charge and derailments of plans due to dead phones.

Compact 13000mAh 2-Port Ultra-Portable Phone Charger Price: $37.99 Compact 13000mAh 2-Port Ultra-Portable Phone Charger Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 04/30/2019

Winter Hat

A winter hat is another useful clothing item for an Iceland trip. Think of it as another layer that is easier to take on and off. With all the outdoor activities and different weather depending on location (highlands vs the black sand beach), It is nice to have a piece of clothing to warm up that is easy to store and put on.

Winter Socks

A good pair of socks will come in handy. The padding in the socks protects from blisters when hiking and keeps your feet warm. Smartwool socks or any other merino wool socks make the best winter socks hands down.

SmartWool Popcorn Cable Lifestyle Socks Price: $22.95 SmartWool Popcorn Cable Lifestyle Socks Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 04/30/2019

Nice to Have Items

Melatonin

Taking melatonin can keep sleep cycles intact. Most trips to iceland from the USA are redeyes, but even from other places a time change is likely. melatonin is a natural sleep aid that can be used to help sleep on the pain or at night if jet lag is keeping you from falling asleep.

Nature Made Melatonin 3mg Tablets, 240 Ct Price: $8.67 Nature Made Melatonin 3mg Tablets, 240 Ct Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 04/30/2019

Scarf

A good scarf is great for any adventure through Iceland. The Arctic wind is the last thing anyone wants blowing up their neck. Having a good scarf is also fashionable, and quite popular in Europe.

To review, here’s the full list or Required and Recommended items:

  • Waterproof boots
  • Universal Travel Adapter (Europlug)
  • Thermal clothing
  • Waterproof/winter jacket
  • Swimsuit
  • Waterproof backpack
  • Rain pants
  • Trash Bags
  • External charger
  • Winter hat
  • Gloves
  • Toiletries
  • Towel

If you want to go to an Iceland adventure with us, check out our Iceland Trips!

 

Best Gifts for Adventure Travelers

It’s time to buy that awesome gift for your globetrotting friend – or yourself :). We have tested and tried tons of products over the last year, and this list is a culmination of that. When you are looking for the best gifts for adventure travelers, it’s important to keep a few key things in mind: durability, size, portability, and utility. The best gift is rugged enough to brave the outdoors but also useful and convenient.

Maxracy International Travel Power Adapter

I have been using the  Macracy international power adapter Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. for a good time now and have really enjoyed it. I put away my USB adapter and use this exclusively. It is super convenient for traveling to other countries – or just around the house. You can plug in two USB devices and a laptop all through one plug. It is super handy for travel or at home.

Maxracy International Travel Power Adapter with 2.4A Dual USB Charger and Built-in Spare Fuse Universal AC Wall Outlet Plugs All-in-One for UK, US, AU, Europe & Asia (Green) Price: $14.99 Maxracy International Travel Power Adapter with 2.4A Dual USB Charger and Built-in Spare Fuse Universal AC Wall Outlet Plugs All-in-One for UK, US, AU, Europe & Asia (Green) Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 04/30/2019

Lamzac Inflatable Lounge Chair

This inflatable lounge chair rolls up into a small portable bag. The lounge chair does not require a pump and is easy to inflate. It is great for trips, and it even floats. I took mine with me hiking, and it was amazing after a 4-hour hike to be able to lounge at the top and get some rest.

Fatboy Lamzac The Original Version 1 Inflatable Lounger with Carry Bag, Inflatable Couch for Indoor or Outdoor Hangout or Inflatable Lounge Air Chair - Aqua Blue Price: $39.93 Fatboy Lamzac The Original Version 1 Inflatable Lounger with Carry Bag, Inflatable Couch for Indoor or Outdoor Hangout or Inflatable Lounge Air Chair - Aqua Blue Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 04/30/2019

Slack Line – BYA Slackline with Carrying Bag

Slacklining is fun, portable, and good for your health. Find a nice park or a beach with some coconut trees and you are set for hours. A slackline doesn’t take up too much space in a bag and is pretty light. The BYA slackline is a good beginner slack line.

BYA Sports Classic Slackline Set - Complete 50-Foot Kit with Beginners Help Line, Ratchet Set and Tree Protection Wraps Price: BYA Sports Classic Slackline Set - Complete 50-Foot Kit with Beginners Help Line, Ratchet Set and Tree Protection Wraps Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 04/30/2019

Tribit Sound GO

The Tribit XSound Go portable outdoor Bluetooth wireless speaker is an awesome buy for any adventure traveler. This is a speaker, that you can easily take with you. For how small it is, it packs a punch and it lasts for 24 hours of playtime on one charge! Also, if you weren’t sure by the look of it – it’s super rugged! I have been testing it in the shower, and even submerged it in the bath, and it still works great a few weeks later.

Tribit XSound Go Bluetooth Speakers - 12W Portable Speaker Loud Stereo Sound, Rich Bass, IPX7 Waterproof, 24 Hour Playtime, 66 ft Bluetooth Range & Built-in Mic Outdoor Party Wireless Speaker Price: $32.99 Tribit XSound Go Bluetooth Speakers - 12W Portable Speaker Loud Stereo Sound, Rich Bass, IPX7 Waterproof, 24 Hour Playtime, 66 ft Bluetooth Range & Built-in Mic Outdoor Party Wireless Speaker Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 04/30/2019

The “Travelers Drone” – DJI Mavic Pro

The DJI Mavic pro is just small enough that it rarely sets off any issues at customs (Drones are a hot issue in foreign countries) with no performance sacrifices. It’s a top drone, and what we use for our videos. If you are want something similar, but cheaper see the spark Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. .

DJI Mavic Pro Fly More Combo Price: $980.00 DJI Mavic Pro Fly More Combo Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 04/30/2019

The Long Way Round

Most people don’t know Ewen McGregor wrote two awesome books detailing his motorcycle adventures around the world with his friend Charley Boorman. Aside from tracking an epic journey on a motorcycle from the UK to New York, it also explores life lessons and what they learned on the road.

Long Way Round: Chasing Shadows Across the World Price: $6.91 Long Way Round: Chasing Shadows Across the World Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 04/30/2019

Nomad Charging Cable

It’s rugged and ensures you always have a reliable cable standing by at all times. The cord has a kevlar core and can endure the certain wear and tear that results from traveling.

Nomad iPhone Charger Lightning Cable(1.5 Meter)-Ballistic Nylon Core- Apple MFi Certified- Compatible with iPhone X/8/8Plus/ 7/7Plus/ 6s/6Plus/6/5/5s /iPad Price: $29.95 Nomad iPhone Charger Lightning Cable(1.5 Meter)-Ballistic Nylon Core- Apple MFi Certified- Compatible with iPhone X/8/8Plus/ 7/7Plus/ 6s/6Plus/6/5/5s /iPad Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 04/30/2019

Floating Bluetooth Speaker – UE Wonderboom

A waterproof Bluetooth speaker that floats? What more can you ask for? Perfect for pool parties, and a few brews in the lake with your buds. Start a party anywhere, even underwater. IPX7 waterproof rating, shockproof, dustproof, and can play up to 10 hours of continuous music on one charge.

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Vagabonding

Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel by Rolph Potts is an awesome book. It explores the alternative lifestyle of a vagabond and details his lessons learned and stories on the road though. The book also includes budgeting tips and tricks to finance your 6-week to 2-year journey Vagabonding around the world.

Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel Price: $10.87 Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 04/30/2019

12-in-1 Tough Headwear Microfiber Adjustable Bandana

While traveling the world you almost always encounter dust, bad smells, and sweaty situations. Having microfiber bandanas is an awesome tool to help with all these problems. It can be used as a headband, dust shield, sweatband, helmet liner, and many more things.

12-in-1 Headband [Tactical] - Versatile Lightweight Sports & Casual Headwear - Bandana Constructed with High Performance Price: $7.99 12-in-1 Headband [Tactical] - Versatile Lightweight Sports & Casual Headwear - Bandana Constructed with High Performance Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 04/30/2019

Earth Pak Waterproof Dry Bag

A waterproof dry bag is a must-have for any beachgoer or boater. I used mine for the last year and it has saved my expensive electronics countless times, while on the road. Another bonus is that they float. This package also comes with a bonus phone bag!

Earth Pak -Waterproof Dry Bag Price: $20.99 Earth Pak -Waterproof Dry Bag Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 04/30/2019

Sunland Microfiber Travel Towel

The Sunland microfiber travel tower takes up little to no space in your bag and has huge value. It comes in handy after a surprise rain, or when staying at a cheap hotel that doesn’t include towels. It drys very fast, and is super absorbent and is a great gift for travelers!

SUNLAND Microfiber Travel Towel Price: $11.39 SUNLAND Microfiber Travel Towel Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 04/30/2019

Smart Wool Socks

Smart wool socks use a special technology that helps prevent them from holding odors. They are breathable, can be worn a few times, and helps keep your luggage from smelling bad. They have multiple levels of thickness from winter socks to athletic socks. These are great gifts for hikers!

Smartwool Women's Hiking Medium Crew Price: $18.95 Smartwool Women's Hiking Medium Crew Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 04/30/2019

Woolx Merino Wool T-shirt

Merino Wool T-shirts make great gifts for adventure travelers. The material promises that it reduces odors, and can be re-worn several times without a wash. They have short sleeves, long sleeves, and shirts for both men and women. 

Woolx Men's Merino Wool T-Shirt Price: Woolx Men's Merino Wool T-Shirt Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 04/30/2019

Outdoor Waterproof Hiking Pants

Waterproof hiking pants area great gift for any outdoor enthusiast. They are thick enough to provide some basic protection from water, brush, and small tree branches but breathable enough to be comfortable. I have a pair of these that have come in handy on numerous motorcycle rides and hikes. Let’s be honest, sitting in soaking wet clothes is awful.

Hiking Breathable Quick Drying Outdoor Sports Pants Price: $35.99 Hiking Breathable Quick Drying Outdoor Sports Pants Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 04/30/2019

Rite in the Rain Waterproof Notebook

A waterproof notebook is great for travelers. It can be used to take notes without the worry of water ruining all your hard work. It is important to note, that you will need a space pen Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. to write on the paper underwater and in the rain.

Rite in the Rain Weatherproof Hard Cover Notebook Price: $17.86 Rite in the Rain Weatherproof Hard Cover Notebook Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 04/30/2019

Audible Audio Books Membership

Audible is an amazing gift for travelers. It gives you access to thousands of books on audio for a low monthly cost. This is perfect for downtime or those moments when you are stuck waiting in line at the airport. While you are at it, you might as well give yourself the gift of a 14-day free trial. Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Audible Membership Price: $0.00 Audible Membership Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 04/30/2019

DJI Spark Drone

The Spark is all you could one from a drone packed into a small package. It includes all the things DJI is known: Amazing controls, high-quality camera, brand recognition, and a great battery. While it doesn’t have the battery life or performance of the Mavic Pro, it’s a smaller and cheaper alternative.

DJI Spark, Fly More Combo, Alpine White Price: $537.99 DJI Spark, Fly More Combo, Alpine White Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 04/30/2019

Biolite Campstove and USB Charger

A camp stove that charges your USB devices. This is quite possibly one of the most useful camping tools anyone could ever have. I am currently saving up to take one on my next adventure. This little thing can keep you warm, help you cook food, work as a fire starter, and charge your devices all at the same time.

BioLite CampStove 2 Wood Burning and USB Charging Camping Stove Price: $129.95 BioLite CampStove 2 Wood Burning and USB Charging Camping Stove Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 04/30/2019

Still not finding the best gifts for adventure travelers in your family or friend group? How about gifting the best gift of all… an invitation to join you on an exciting trip of a life time.

Building Global Competence Without Traveling

Building Global Competance

Life Nomading Introduction:

You don’t need thousands of dollars to travel the world to become globally competent. A travel blog and tour company telling you that you don’t need to travel the world seems counterintuitive. However, at Life Nomading our passion for travel is driven by our desire to understand different cultures, bridge gaps between people of different backgrounds, and forge into the darkness that is uncertainty.

Story by Oliver Crocco:

Global competence is often times a pleasant side effect of traveling the world or living abroad. It gives you a rare perspective of looking from the outside in at your own country and culture. Having that perspective to view things in your own country from a different angle will make you more relatable and help drive successful relationships with diverse people in your life and career.

What about people who don’t have the privilege to travel internationally or work abroad?

Bill McDermott, CEO of SAP talks a lot about the importance of respect, and authors of Being Global, Unruh and Gabera write that to become a global leader requires a “do-it-yourself mind-set.” So here are four ways I’m learning to help foster respect for other cultures by intentionally seeking out global experiences at home.

Connect with refugees in your area

After college in Spokane, WA, my housemates and I volunteered with a refugee resettlement organization and housed refugees from different countries for 1-3 months at a time. Over the course of the year, we had a family from Bhutan, several individuals from Eritrea, and a man from Iran. We would pick them up from the airport, help them get settled, and teach them how to get around town. Most of them could not speak English or knew basic things about America – like that we flush our toilet paper. Still, they loved sharing their culture with us and were grateful to be in the U.S. One of the members of our house even opened a thrift store business in Spokane (Global Neighborhood Thrift) and employs dozens of immigrants from all over the world. There are powerful ways to volunteer with local refugee organizations or big INGOs like the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and it can be extremely rewarding.

Find a popular second language in your area and begin learning some words and phrases

For many of us in America this might be Spanish but it could also be Amharic (Ethiopia), Mandarin, French, etc. Then, when you meet someone who speaks that language, do your best to speak a few words of their native language with them. It is a humbling experience to fumble through and perhaps botch a foreign language – even just “hello” and “thank you.” I recently learned how to say “thank you very much” in Amharic (betam ameseginalehughn) considering the amount of Ethiopians in D.C. There is a community-building energy that comes with doing so, and I believe it demonstrates a level of respect that we need more of in our globalizing world.

Attend cultural events

I live in Washington, D.C. so there is absolutely no shortage of cultural events to attend. From the Thai Temple in Maryland (Wat Thai D.C.) to the Embassy nights and ethnic restaurants, there are many ways to engage with other cultures. This is obviously not true everywhere in the U.S. but there are more and more ways to interact with others cross-culturally popping up. In 2014, I went to the Saudi Arabian Embassy with a Saudi classmate. He has since become one of my best friends and we have had countless deep (and sometimes tough) discussions about culture, religion, and global leadership.

IMG_6449

Go out to lunch, coffee, or even ask to be mentored by someone in your organization who has a different cultural upbringing than you. 

In Caligiuri and Tarique’s 2012 article “Dynamic cross-cultural competencies and global leadership effectiveness,” the authors discuss having a mentor from another country as one of the indicators for cross-cultural competency. I am sometimes wary of mentoring relationships because of the power distance inherent in them but I like the idea of seeking out relationships with people from a variety of cultural backgrounds in your organization. My mentor, colleague, and friend, Dr. Maria Cseh, is originally from Hungry and I’ve learned a lot about Eastern European culture (and much more!) from our many discussions.

Summary

Even if we work on global teams, have multiple international assignments, and speak other languages it does not mean that we will become globally competent. We must always push ourselves to be curious about our global surroundings wherever we are in America or abroad. It requires a humble willingness to learn and see things from other perspectives.

The reward? A certain richness and color to life – and a global sense of belonging.

Review: Bella Vista Cloud Forest Reserve

Somewhere up in the mountains not too far from the small town of Mindo, Ecuador is an amazing cloud forest. We stumbled upon it during our motorcycle tour just a few weeks ago. It was a worthy stop, and the proprietor was excellent. The video below is narrated by the owner himself – he is the David Attenborough of Ecuador.

What is a Cloud Forest?

A cloud forest is a moist subtropical climate that has persistent cloud cover. Think rain forest, but with less rain and more clouds. Aside from an epic cinematic feeling while walking through it, minimal pesky insects. Due to the elevation, there are typically no mosquitos, this is the case at the Bella Vista Cloud Forest Reserve.

How to Get There

If you have your own transport and are coming from Quito- you are likely going along the highway to Mitad del Mundo / Calacali / Mindo / Los Bancos on the route which is called Colectora Quito-La Independencia. Quito-La Independencia is one of the highways in Ecuador, and it it will be represented on google maps with the number 28 (E28). You can also take a bus route. Several tourism companies also provide transport if you want to make things easy.

You can also take a bus route and several tourism companies provide transport if you want to make things easy.

Self-Driving Highway route:

Bellavista Nature Reserve

If you type in Tandayapa on google maps and route yourself there, it will get you 80% there. The rest of the route is literally off the maps.

  1. Head towards La Indepencia / Mitad del Mundo / Calacali / Mindo on Quito La Indepencia.
  2. At km 52, there is a turn to the left just after the bridge. Follow this road past “El Paraiso del Pescador” and straight through the village of Tandayapa. Climb uphill to Bellavista. Total distance from the main road 12 km.
  3. At km 62, there is a turn up to the left, which takes you along the ridge 12 km to Bellavista. Follow the signs all the way.

Public Transport / Bus Route:

  1. Take any bus to Nanegalito from Terminal Microregional de La Ofelia in north Quito. Any bus heading for Mindo, Los Bancos or Puerto Quito passes through Nanegalito.
  2. In Nanegalito, ask any pickup truck for a ride up to Bellavista. It costs about $15 price for the ride, not per person. *See the bus schedule – for a bus to Nanegalito.

Activities

There are a ton of activities nearby the nature preserve, and there to keep you busy. From epic views to serene nature – it’s all there.

Humming Birds

Humming Bird at Bellavista Nature Preserve

For a small fee, you can watch the hummingbirds at Bella Vista. I imagine if you spent money on other things this fee could be waived, that happened to be the case when we were there. We purchased a tour hike and he allowed us to take photos of the hummingbirds for free.

Hiking

Bella Vista Cloud Forest | Life Nomading | Adventure Travel

A plant we learned about on the hike – It’s called a poor mans umbrella.

You can go for a hike at the cloud forest reserve on your own or with a guide. The guide is just a little extra – which was well worth it as the experience is much better that way. The guide told us about all the plants, wildlife, and the history of the cloud forest – quite the story!

Bird Watching

Yep, bird watching. You may not be 50 years old, and your 401k might not be stacked. However, you still have time for a little bird watching. When you find a rare bird – you get some weird sense of accomplishment. Binoculars can be rented on site.

Tandayapa Bird Lodge

Very nearby is the Tandayapa Bird Lodge, it should just be a 20 minute drive. Here you can do bird tours. Ecuador is a big bird place apparently. For $165 (Summer 2017) you can also stay at the lodge. This includes 3 meals.

Accommodations

When it comes to accommodations you can stay at the Bellavista Reserve itself or about 30 minutes away in Mindo. The reserve itself has destination worthy accommodations.

Staying at the Bella Vista Cloud Forest Reserve Hotel

Bellavista-cloud-forest-reserve

When it Waking up on top of a mountain with insane views of a cloud forest is a special thing. That does come at a higher price – around 135 dollars for a nicer room. While 135 dollars is not a lot for a hotel, it’s more than a hotel in Mindo. It does include meals, however. The hotels in Mindo can run as little as $35 a night, but this will limit you to a day trip to the cloud forest. You can also talk to them about their budget accomodations – they have shared rooms at much lower rates.

Hotels in Mindo

  1. Dragonfly Inn BnB – for just $49 (Spring 2017) a night, and it was an excellent place. They provided secure/gated parking for our motorcycle and the manager even woke up at 5 am to give us our complimentary breakfast. This place has impeccably clean rooms and there is a calming stream that flows out back. You can hear it in the morning as you wake up, and late at night as you are drifting asleep.
    Dragonfly inn BnB | Mindo | Group Adventure Travel
  2. Mindo Lago – for $73 (Summer 2017) a night you can stay in the scenic eco-lodge. They even have a little paddle platform which you can have dinner on in their restaurant.
  3. El Abrazo del Arbol – This hotel is another boutique hotel. It has an awesome water feature. Yep, I just said water feature.
    el abrazo del arbol farm | Ecuador | Eco-lodge | Lifenomading | Adventure Travel

Our Overview

The Dome where you can stay at the Bella Vista Cloud Forest Reserve.

When it’s all said and done – the Bellavista Cloud Forest Reserve gets an A+ from us. It is a very reasonably priced activity that is tons of fun. The hikes through the cloud forest are beautiful and refreshing (little to no mosquitos). The proprietor is on-site often and has a wealth of knowledge he will share with you. Also, the dome rooms at Bella Vista are some of the coolest we have ever seen. We highly recommend the Bella Vista Cloud Forest Reserve!

Why You Should Absolutely Travel After a Breakup

travel after a breakup

I’ve traveled to over thirty cities in three different countries in the last six months. When I started this traveling adventure in January, it came fresh off of a break-up.

Yep, you heard me right, a break-up.

For the one person reading this that has never experienced a breakup, this is a moment in anyone’s life where they realize that everything they were accustomed to for the last year or so is now completely GONE.

Breakups are blinding and can leave a temporary and for some, a permanent hole in your soul that you most desperately want to fill again quickly.

If you’re not off filling the void by hooking up with anything that walks by, then typically your next go-to vice could be traveling.

It makes sense. Traveling can really leave you to your own thoughts and reflections and provide a new lease on life that may be a bit more healthy than “Netflix and chilling”.

Breakups aren’t bad reasons to travel.

I mean ask any Life Nomading team member and we will cheer you right along, ideally to Bulgaria (shameless plug). However, I think it bears a little reflecting on the intentionality of travel and the expectations out there for what you will get out of your adventures as you search for that “missing piece”.

You’ll get out of it what you put into it

Just like most things in life, you’ll have a shitty time traveling if you don’t make an effort to push yourself and step outside of your comfort zone. You want this life-changing experience, but if you aren’t willing to work on your travels you’ll have nothing but photos of you drinking frozen daiquiris on the beach somewhere.

And that doesn’t help you in re-discovering who you are as a single person.

You’ll Re-Learn How to Be Awestruck

Movies have done a poor job setting our expectations with travel (and most everything in life to be honest).

I know when I started traveling continuously for the first time, I remember stepping into that first new city ready to be mind blown and waiting for the Walter Mitty theme music to begin playing as I walked down the jetway. However, it just doesn’t happen that way. Unless of course, you are literally playing the Walter Mitty playlist as you step off the airplane.

Be patient, this is a process of re-learning how to be awestruck.

I’m not a religious guy, but I do think that you can’t force yourself on the universe in this way. You just have to be patient, be open to any experiences, and just let the life happen on your travels. Awe-striking moments will happen, I promise.

Your Perspective Will Be Worth Its Weight in Gold

When it comes to breakups it’s easy to get into this weird phase where you only see things in a certain way. You get self-absorbed and feel like the world is ending.

News flash. It isn’t, and travel helps you get over that real quick.

How? Well by giving you so many perspectives on life and environments in such a short amount of time that you can’t help but accept that your problems are just a small drop in the world of millions of people around you.

You’ll Learn to Be Single

travel after a breakupDuh, right? But seriously, its a new territory for you and you don’t understand it yet.

Well, guess what, when you travel solo you learn real quick. The more important thing is that, not only will you learn to be able to laugh at yourself and enjoy quiet moments by yourself, but you will also begin to learn who could fit into your life in the future.

Traveling when single gives you the time to gather up all these global perspectives, bundle it up in your brain and come to conclusions about what priorities, values, and morals actually matter to you and thus gives you the patience to not force a new relationship until you find someone that slides into those respective slots.

Breakups are terrible. There’s no way around that, but travel can help.

The beautiful thing about travel is that there is no right or wrong way to do it. The way you go about it is, and always will be, unique to you.

Review: Ecuador Freedom Bike Rental – Self Guided Chocolate & Cloud Forest Tour

Bike-stop-quito-ecuador

Memorial day 2017 for most people meant burgers and brews in a close friends backyard. Memorial day for us was 8,000 miles away on the back of a motorcycle surrounded by clouds on top of a mountain. We heard that purring through the mountains of Ecuador on a bike was a bucket list item people take months or years to commit to – we signed up just a month before we left.

Minimize the Risk. Maximize the Adventure

Many people thought we were insane when we told them we were spending Memorial day on a motorcycle driving through the clouds atop a mountain in Ecuador. In the end, they were crazy for not coming with us!

We did the Self-Guided Chocolate & Cloud Forest tour, and it was life changing! It sounded insane and dangerous, but it didn’t feel like it. That’s because Freedom Bike Rental provided us with all the tools, and resources we needed to have a fantastic trip. No trip like this is without risk, but Freedom minimized all the known risks to make us feel as safe as possible.

Ian-Ecuador

The route is excellent, and all the stops are pre-populated into the GPS they provide you. The scenery is beautiful, and there are a ton of great stop off points. The roads are so much fun to drive on; around every winding turn and each beautiful overlook are backdrops any car commercial producer would die to get a shot of.

The Gear

Quito, Ecuador

As part of the self-guided tour, you get almost all the equipment you could need. From clothes to tech it’s all there. Below is a gear list.

Provided Gear:

  1. GPS – A nifty Zumo + Garmin GPS that charges while driving via the motorcycle. It comes preloaded with all the points of interest.
  2. Pants – Standard motorcycle pants to protect you from the pavement and the elements
  3. Gloves – Standard motorcycle gloves.
  4. Helmet – Many helmet options that were are all high quality, and DOT approved. Several helmets also included GoPro mounts.
  5. Motorcycle Jacket – Great multi-layer motorcycle jacket. A jacket with multiple layers ensures you can match the elements without losing the protection from the body armor.
  6. Emergency Equipment – This included a replacement tube, air compressor, and a first aid kit. They have a 24-hour support line and a mobile mechanic, but they provide you the tools to do it yourself if desired.
  7. Lockable Cargo Boxes – Depending on the bike model, multiple removable and lockable cargo boxes.
  8. Bungee Cords – heavy duty bungee cords to tie down additional load.

Optional Gear:

  1. Video Camera – You can rent a GoPro or a  Garmin VIRB HD camera for only $10/day.
  2. Tank Bag – A bag that mounts on the motorcycle tank $5/day
  3. Communication Headsets – A Uclear communication headset to communicate with other riders for $5/day.

For a full list of the optional add-ons and exact models check out their website. All in all, each add-on was very cheap for the value provided. For example, a GoPro costs hundred of dollars so having access to one for a few days at less than $50 is a bargain.

The equipment is great, but the tour itself is excellent. In 24-hours we saw and experienced what the average person does in a few weeks.

The Tour Stops

We obviously won’t cover every single one of the 17 stops that make up this tour. However, we picked out our favorites to provide a sufficient overview and story.

Virgin Del Camino Overlook

The overlook is one of the first stops along the tour. Whether you are religious or not, it’s recommended to pray for a good ride here. When we found ourselves looking hundreds of feet down over a daunting ledge from a motorcycle, we became religious REAL QUICK. Anyways, the Virgin Del Camino Overlook is one of the best parts throughout the tour to grab photos, so have your camera ready.

Guagrapamba Waterfall

Guagrapamba Waterfall

The waterfall hides in a scenic valley. The hike to get there is pleasant and eye catching. It’s no Victoria Falls, but it’s on the route and easy enough to get to which makes it worth your time. The waterfall is great, but the hike there rivals the beauty of the waterfall itself.

The Bellavista Cloud Forest Preserve

Humming Bird at Bellavista Nature Preserve

The Cloud Forest where the Bellavista Nature Reserve sits is breathtaking. Driving into the fog on a dirt road in the mountains has a strong cinematic feeling. I half expected a bunch of orcs to come storming through the fog at any moment. At the Reserve, you can hike, learn a ton about the forest, and stay in one of their rooms that has a breathtaking view of the mountains.

Bellavista-cloud-forest-reserve

The Bellavista Cloud Forest Preserve has an incredibly knowledgeable owner and the operator by the name of Richard Parsons. He is an Englishman who is referred to by some as a walking BBC documentary. If he is around while you are there pick his brain as much as possible, as he is extremely knowledgeable about the cloud forest and travel in general. He built the Cloud Forest from the ground up.

While we traversed through the cloud forest, we stumbled upon some spectacular views and this beautiful swing that went right over a massive drop down into a valley. It was a surreal experience, but it is not for the faint of heart. Taking a spill off the swing could have put a monkey wrench in our vacation experience. As they say though, no risk no reward.

The Small Town of Mindo

Mindo-Ecuador

Mindo is a small town north of Quito, Ecuador that has a population of just a few thousand people. While the tour is self-guided and we could choose our pace, following Freedom Ecuador’s advice and staying a night in Mindo is the right move.

For $15 we had an excellent steak with a Club Cerveza. If you want a night out, there is a small Karaoke bar called late night bar. They have drink specials and seem to be relatively accustomed to foreigners.

We stayed at the Dragonfly Inn BnB for just $49 (Spring 2017) a night, and it was an excellent place. They provided secure/gated parking for our motorcycle and the manager even woke up at 5 am to give us our complimentary breakfast.

The Butterfly Garden

The Mariposas de Mindo Butterfly Garden in Mindo is a rare experience. It is a small café and garden where you can enter a netted area filled with over 1200 butterflies and moths. There is also a small restaurant and hotel here. If you are lucky, a butterfly might just land on your hand!

The Chocolate and Coffee Tour

The El Quetzal Restaurant and Chocolate Factory is delicious and informative. We didn’t make it in time to see their detailed tour that shows the age-old process of making chocolate from bean to bar, but we enjoyed a delicious mocha coffee. The tours run all day 10am-5pm every day on the hour. The coffee and chocolate are incredible, as promised.

The Pululahua Crater

Pululahua-Crater-Ecuador

The Pululahua Crater is a dormant volcano that sits north of Quito. The Caldera is 5km wide and filled with beautiful greenery. If you have free time, you can even stop and do horseback riding in the bottom of the crater.

The Crater was the best or second best part of the trip. We parked our motorcycle for free just in front of the small, unassuming entrance. Just around the corner is a beautiful lush green crater that has a small town right in the middle of it. A fantastic view seemingly tucked away like this is quintessential Ecuador. At every turn, you are surprised with a view so spectacular it seems to rival the one you saw just moments ago.

Conclusion: Ecuador Freedom’s Cloud Forest Tour is Daring and Beautiful

The Freedom Bike Rental Self-guided Chocolate & Cloud Forest Tour is a once in a lifetime experience. The Freedom Bike Rental company is well organized and kind. The whole process exceeded our expectations! It was risky, but in the end, the only time we almost laid the bike down was when a few tiny dogs chased us – they felt bigger in the moment :).

If you are on the edge of taking up a daring adventure – just go! Walking around Los Angeles at night or driving through rush hour traffic can be more dangerous than a motorcycle tour through Ecuador. We can’t wait to go back to Ecuador and rip through the mountains, but this time we want to make it all the way to the beach! If you are unsure take a peek at the video below that pushed me over the edge and convinced me that I absolutely had to go!

Note: All views expressed are our own and we were NOT compensated by Ecuador Freedom Bike Rental.

Image Sources:
All Images are taken by Life Nomading unless otherwise stated.
Cloudforest – Bellavista Cloud Forest Reserve, Dragonfly Bnb – Bed and Breakfasts Europe, Chocolate Tour – Rodrigo Buendia., Mariposas De Mindo – Tripadvisor

Comments questions or concerns tweet us @lifenomading.

Part 5: Adventures in Sumatra, Indonesia

Himbit arrived at our house un summoned, per usual, around 8am. It was time for the cookout. This cookout was different  than your typical BBQ, because we were capturing the chicken and killing it ourselves.

Couping the Coop

This was actually our second day attempting the cookout, because yesterday Himbit had been unable to “capture a chicken” While this is rural Indonesia, it isn’t 10,000 B.C; This is not the time of hunter gatherers. From our perspective we we’re now under the assumption that the chicken was being stolen. Nonetheless, a chicken was “captured” on day 2. 

Harrison (my travel partner) offered to kill the chicken. We held it down, and Himbit instructed him to look to the sky and speak a few words in Batak. Batak is a local variation of the Indonesian language. Harrison spoke words of thanks to the earth for the food. Himbit explained this as paying respect to the chicken’s life being taken. Finally, the deed was done and the cookout began.

De-feathering a chicken in Tuk Tuk, Indonesia.

De-feathering a chicken in Tuk Tuk, Indonesia.

While moost vegetarian or animal lover readers may be offended by the process of killing a chicken and/or the lack of respect for animals – I completely refute this. This process made me respect animals and the food served at my table more than I ever have. In the western world, we are washed clean from this. It is something we do not often see, and we feel as though the food just magically appears at our tables.

The cookout was an amazing time, and the chicken was the best chicken I have eaten to this day. It was battered in a mix of herbs, spices, and finely ground nuts. 

Grilling in Tuk Tuk, Indonesia

Grilling in Tuk Tuk, Indonesia

Farewell

The barbecue winded down and we played music for the last time. Tuk Tuk, Indonesia had changed us. The music, the people, and the unrivaled natural beauty we’re amazing. We both knew this experience would never be forgotten. We said goodbye to Himbit the following morning. He drew a small map of the island and wrote a note for us to remember the experience. We gave him a tip for all he had done for us that last couple days. Himbit served us well as a friend, and a guide. He played great tunes, and I hope one day he gets to meet Kid Rock (basically his music hero).

Farming in Tuk Tuk, Indonesia

To this day this Tuk Tuk, Indonesia and Lake Toba remain one of my fondest memories. What is your fondest travel memory? If you don’t have one I encourage you to make one. Go out and see the world. Take what you have learned home with you. Change your outlook. Grow.

Do you have any questions, or comments? please comment below or tweet me @marekjmichalski.

Part 4: Adventures in Sumatra, Indonesia

We woke up early in the morning after a long night of singing and drinking. We had a bit of a hangover and a lot of excitement. It was an amazing experience so far, but we we’re less than a full day into our 4 night stay on the Island of Tuk Tuk.

Up the Mountain with Himbit

Himbit kinda just showed up at our villa (didn’t even need to call him) and gave us a ride back to his house to pickup some scooters we we’re renting from him. We grabbed the phone number of his friends from last night, and a barbecue was on the books for the next day.

Grab the scooters and hit the road. Around the island, up the mountain, down a hill, and through the farmlands we went. Away from the tourist villas and over to the other side of the island.

Kids were walking home from school. Oxen were plowing fields. It was so different, but familiar at the same time. Parallels were everywhere.

School Children in North Sumatra, Indonesia

Kids walking home from school in North Sumatra.

Life here is more simple. There is no rushing of cars, people aren’t walking around half cocked, and everyone is easygoing. In the fast paced and connected world we live in these days life can be hypercritical. We feel so busy. We feel overwhelmed. It’s all analyzed under a microscope over social media, through data, everyone is hypersensitive.

Kids in North Sumatra

Biking around Indonesia we stumbled upon some construction; It’s a family affair.

At 23 years old I finally learned that abundance had nothing to do with wealth, or the minutia that occupied my daily worries. Passion, family, music, and relationships filled the people of Tuk Tuk to the brim.

The Rain

About halfway up the mountain in the middle of the lake, we figure out why no one is here. It’s rainy season, and a torrential downpour is on the way. We snapped this photo just before we headed inside a shanty on the edge of the road.

The shanty was a coffee shop on the top of the mountain. It looked like a rigged up store that someone might have in their garage. It sat on the side of a cliff, and every few minutes I glanced around to make sure the building wasn’t starting to turn into a disintegrating toboggan.We grabbed coffee, and like one does at Lake Toba, played the guitar. Literally every business on the island of Tuk Tuk must have a guitar. The building inspector must check that their is a guitar; it’s a requirement to open your business.

We waited for over an hour and the storm didn’t wain for a moment. It was time to face the rain. Two hours up the mountain was still two hours down. There was no rain gear. We drove right through it and nearly froze to death.

After getting back to then villa I raced to a hot shower. We looked forward to the barbecue, and the warm day that would hopefully await us tomorrow. Find out what happens next in Part 5.

Do you have any questions, or comments? please comment below or tweet me @marekjmichalski.