Tap, Tap, Book!

Tap, Tap, Book!

Expedia. Trivago. Kayak. Hotwire. Travelocity. Priceline. The list of highly-praised booking websites goes on and on, but at the end of the day, what matters is whether you have a place to stay. There are few places less comfortable to spend the night than in your car. So what happens when you forget to book a hotel? What happens when you get snowed in for the night? Surely, staying the night in your car isn’t an option, and we all know how hard it is to navigate websites on our smartphones. What are we weary travelers to do? The Hotel Tonight app is currently the hottest hotel app and a go-to for anyone about to leave for vacation. Because the app focuses primarily on day-of listings, it’s perfect for unexpected overnighters, and because of the reduced nightly rates, it’s perfect for the frugal traveler. It works like this: every day at noon, the app updates with information about available hotel rooms in any city. The rooms are organized into seven tiers: luxe, hip, solid, basic, charming, crashpad, and high roller. Each tier represents a different type of hotel. For example, a basic hotel is “a modest hotel with limited extras, perfect for when you need a place to lay your head” while a luxe hotel is a higher-rated hotel with more luxuries such as valet parking, a pool, laundry service, and more. Along with the tier, each hotel room is assigned a user rating and the distance from your location to the hotel. Booking is only a few easy taps away. The app’s sleek design and user-friendly features have...
Going Underground

Going Underground

If you have a desire to explore, it’s probable you think of beautiful landscapes and the fresh air of nature, perhaps an impressively green forest or a shockingly red canyon. But there’s another place to explore that’s a little more mysterious and underground—literally. For thousands of years, people have been exploring caves and their geological oddities. It has its dangers, but just like any other sport, spelunking can have rich rewards if you’re prepared. James M. Tabor wrote a book called Blind Descent, which chronicles the experiences of cavers exploring the deepest caves in the world, the deepest being seven thousand feet deep. In his book, Tabor counts 52 ways to die in a cave. Even though some of the items on the list are rather specific, such as animals eating rope and rabid bat bites, it is clear that intense caving can be very dangerous. There are myriad ways to be injured, especially since caves can be some of the darkest places in the world. Caves can also be home to some diseases and high concentrations of methane and carbon dioxide. But don’t be alarmed! It’s unlikely that you’ll ever catch a disease (unless you spend a month in a cave like some of the explorers in Tabor’s book), and with proper planning, you can avoid asphyxiating in a cave. In fact, with some planning, you can avoid all of the 52 ways to die in a cave and enjoy the incredible phenomenon. However, note that not all caves are that extreme. Intensity varies with every cave. Beginner caves are horizontal and short. You can rent the minimal...
Pilgrim in a Strange Land

Pilgrim in a Strange Land

Attending religious services abroad Intricately woven prayer rugs in an Islamic mosque. Soaring arches in a Catholic cathedral. Quiet meditation chants in a Buddhist temple. Religion has always played an integral role in any culture. Travelers who attend religious services outside their own faith often find themselves more immersed in the culture. Tourists can conquer the oft intimidating experience of exploring another religion with a little preparation. Do Your Research Imagine the embarrassment you would feel if you walked in on the middle of a religious service. The internet and travel apps are your best friend and key to avoiding tourist faux pas. Some religious centers even have Facebook pages with important information like worship times and locations. It is also helpful to know beforehand whether you can take pictures inside the religious buildings. Know the Dress Code It may be intimidating to attend a new religious service, but you will blend in more if you follow the dress code. Many religious centers make dress code exceptions for visiting members of other faiths, but some have mandatory rules for all visitors. Do your best to be respectful and follow the dress code for religious services. Search the web or social media pages for specific religions’ dress standards. Make Friends Arrive at the worship service a little early. Introduce yourself to other worshippers or to the religious leader present. He or she will likely give you advice for how to participate and teach you a little more about his or her religion. Keep an Open Mind Travel broadens our horizons and opens doors for cross-cultural relationships and understanding. Always go...

Game of Drones

Jumping into the world of drones doesn’t need to be a freefall experience. No matter your skill level, drone footage will heighten your travel experience. Explore the different options to find the drone that best suits your needs. UDI 818A If you are just starting out with drone exploration, then the UDI 818A is the best choice to explore the skies. Despite having a flight time of only ten minutes, this drone has other features, like first person view (FPV) and virtual reality (VR) compatibility, that give it an edge that other drones do not have. Compatible with iPhone and Android Smartphones, the UDI 818A can send you live feed so you watch exactly where the drone goes. You’ll also love the altitude hold, a prime feature that helps you gain stability for aerial photos and video. It enables you to learn techniques that pros work hard to achieve. Plan on spending under $200—a great gift for any friend. Yuneec Q500 4K Not a beginner, but not yet a pro? The Yuneec Q500 fits both your budget and your desire for quality. This drone has an average flight time of 25 minutes—only three minutes shy of the best drones’ flight times. Add in the extra battery and the flight difference is unnoticeable. The drone travels at a radius of 2,600 ft., or half a mile, which is still about 2500 ft. further than the UDI 818A. Like most high-end remote drones, the Yuneec Q500 has the same camera and video resolution as the iPhone. At only $750, this type of quality is bound to create travel-worthy experiences without breaking...
Dude, Where’s My Luggage?

Dude, Where’s My Luggage?

If you’re anything like me, the idea of checking your luggage at the airport might terrify you. Even though airlines have become highly efficient in handling baggage, I’m always paranoid that I’ll find myself at the baggage-claim carousel, watching in despair as everybody leaves, until I’m finally standing alone with none of my bags. To combat this, here are some tips to either prevent losing your luggage or track it down if it does get lost. Luggage ID It’s simple, but helpful. Buy some quality luggage tags, and make sure your contact information is up to date—especially your phone number. If luggage gets lost, then either an agent, worker, or good Samaritan can give you a call and let you know where it is. Check-In Airlines have a cut-off time for checking in luggage, so make sure you get there before that deadline. Try to be early to the airport, because arriving too close to the cut-off time will increase the risk of your luggage missing your flight. Nonstop Flights A nonstop flight lowers the chance of losing your bags. Without all the layovers and connections, your luggage goes right with you. Luggage Tracker These amazing devices are a cheap solution for peace of mind. First, you attach them to your luggage. Then, they notify you when you land with your luggage, or they let you know the location of your bags if they aren’t with you. This is definitely a must-have for the frequent traveler. Travel Insurance If you travel a lot, this is a great option. Lost or damaged baggage is covered under travel insurance, so it...
Gluten Free On-the-Go

Gluten Free On-the-Go

Stepping up to a falafel cart in Jerusalem was thrilling, especially when I asked the owner to make the falafel how he likes it: with everything on it. I could identify only three of the ingredients he added to my falafel, but that is the charm of experiencing local cuisine. Unfortunately, the excitement of enjoying local cuisine while traveling turned to fear when I learned that I needed to eat gluten-free foods due to Celiac Disease. However, you can still enjoy traveling the globe and trying new foods while living gluten free. Here are some suggestions for gluten-free travelers to make vacationing more about experiencing than worrying. Do Your Homework Before leaving on vacation, take time to do some research. Look into the local cuisines of the places you will be visiting. What are the most popular dishes and their ingredients? If you are traveling where there is a language difference, what are some short phrases you can use to ensure you are selecting a safe option? Getting a head start can help you avoid feeling overwhelmed and confused when ordering—especially if there is a language barrier or a vague menu. Have a Backup Plan Sometimes there aren’t safe, gluten-free options where you are—and that’s okay! Taking snacks and on-the-go meal options can be a great backup plan if local cuisine options aren’t gluten-free. This can make going out on all-day excursions less about worrying and more about soaking in adventures. Use Your Resources There are several websites and phone apps that can guide you to gluten-free restaurants and entrée options. Gluten-Free Restaurant Cards from CeliacTravel.com. This app allows...