What Does Responsible Tourism Mean?

What Does Responsible Tourism Mean?

This post may contain affiliate links, for more information read our full disclosure The travel industry is throwing around this term: Responsible Tourism or Sustainable Tourism. So what does Responsible Tourism mean? Each year we travel, consume, photograph and share on our social media channels, exposing friends and family to expand their knowledge of the cultures of the world.

The world gets a little bit smaller, those in different countries can see your social media posts on Instagram and Facebook and may compare it to your lives. Animal rights, environmental responsibilities are becoming more and more talked about….especially the use of plastic. Stop and question what you think you know about plastic vs paper bags, look at the whole environmental impact. Look at how the production and use of plastic impacts and effects low-income households, did you know there is an actual place called ‘Cancer Alley’? In our ever-increasing virtual connection, what can we do as travel addicted wander lusting Instagram posting fiends to be more responsible when we travel? First things first….to understand what it is.

What does Eco-tourism mean

Responsible Tourism is a multifaceted approach, which includes:

  1. Minimizing negative social, economic and environmental impacts while traveling
  2. Generating greater economic benefits for local people and enhancing the well-being of host communities
  3. Improving working conditions and access to the worldwide industry
  4. Involving local people in decisions, markets, and trade that affect their life and chances at life.
  5. Making positive contributions to the conservation of natural and cultural heritage, embracing the diversity.
  6. Providing more enjoyable experiences for tourists through more meaningful connections with local people and a greater understanding of local cultural, social and environmental issues.
  7. Provides access for physically challenged people
  8. Is being culturally sensitive, encourages respect between tourists and hosts, and builds local pride and confidence.
What does Eco-tourism mean

There are many different ways that this can be addressed and focused on. The Culture Trekking Community is one that focuses on numbers one, five, six and eight. Creating a community where ideas, religions, cultural idiosyncrasies are both shared, respected and embraced. As the Community grows I want to improve awareness on environmental impacts as well as fight the uphill battle of having more meaningful human connections. Today I will focus on the latter.

Where the idea started for my own Responsible Tourism:

The video was quite graphic when I saw this 2 years ago, but it really impacted me in so many different ways. The moral of the story is…..you don’t know what you don’t know until you educate yourself on how small choices like using single-use straws can impact the environment. I now carry a reusable metal straw in my purse at all times. This video is where responsible tourism started for me….watching this turtle in so much pain made me feel like I needed to do more for the environment.

It isn’t just the plastic straws, it is garbage that is left strewn about in all the different places that I visit. I remember walking behind someone in Yellowstone National park…..they dropped a wrapper on the ground (a large one). I was so frustrated by this because they had a bag they could have easily slipped that wrapper into. I picked it up and gave it back to the tourist, who naturally acted like they dropped it by accident (even though I watched them look around before dropping it). It is not that hard to slip those wrappers into a pocket, a bag, in your shoe….anything but on the ground. Taking a few more steps to ensure your rubbish gets into the proper receptacle is not as hard as you think…..as Nike says ‘JUST DO IT’!

Another video that truly impacted me was one man in India, who returned to his home to find the beach he loved filled with garbage. He knew he had to do something so he started knocking on doors and aims to be that change he wishes to see in the world. Take a look at the video & then I want to think about how much of a difference we could make if each of us committed to picking up 3 pieces of trash wherever we travel to. What about taking an extra garbage bag on a local hike in your hometown? We could all use a few more squats in our day, right?

Why am I showing you all these videos? A picture is worth a thousand words (or so they say), but I feel that videos are the way to make an impact that can create change. What is better than a video? Visiting a place like the Washed Ashore Gallery in Bandon Oregon (several displays are located throughout the United States, see the Washed Ashore Exhibit Locations for more information) can both teach our generation and the generations below us how to protect our earth and save our oceans.

Traveling can be an exotic thing full to the brim with activities that will make your friends envy your life & maybe even despise you a little. The more I travel the more I realize that I want to make a difference in the world, no matter how small it is. Ecotourism and Volunteering for cleanups and service can help connect our communities, open minds and hearts, and help start the change we wish to see in the world.

Supporting Companies with good causes:

What does Eco-tourism mean

Save the Baby Turtles!

A Blogger friend of mine in Fort Lauderdale Florida was able to participate in the nighttime protection of hatching baby turtles. These baby turtles get confused by the city lights and instead of going into the ocean (following the moon), they follow the city lights. This leads them to be run over or crushed by bikes, cars or fall into holes they cannot get out of. What these volunteers do is once the baby turtles hit their 10-foot periphery line, they gather them up in a bucket and take all the confused little fellas to the ocean where they set them free. They also move beach chairs and sandcastles to allow for the mothers to come to the beach easier and lay their eggs. Check out her post on Saving Baby Sea Turtles and how you can help or participate!  

Soul Flower Clothing Company

As soon as I found this clothing company, I know I had found my tribe. Just look at their tagline:

Soul Flower is a natural clothing brand for kind souls and free spirits. Mindfully made with natural fibers and heartfelt art, we design our threads with kind vibes from start to finish. We seek inspiration in the simplicity of everyday life – in nature and in music, in free-spirited adventures and in like-minded souls. We create clothing in a way that supports our planet, spreads a positive message, and most importantly — helps you express yourself.”

what does responsible tourism mean

Beyond the message of Freakos‘. When looking into building your eco-friendly and ethical wardrobe, look no further.
The inks they use have a low impact on the environment with citrus solvents being utilized. They reuse paper boxes and packing materials to ‘keep the story going’. All cotton that is used in their clothing is organic cotton, recycled fibers or hemp. Not only do they focus on the clothing, but they also decreased the catalog printing and now use recycled paper with soy-based inks. They are also green office certified (aka: energy wise usage of products and environmentally savvy).

Why is this important? Small companies like this are able to be more environmentally friendly and I support those who make an effort to do so whole-heartedly! I feel privileged to be able to collaborate with this company as I love their manifesto, Soul Flower’s practices, and policies and their clothing is SO COMFORTABLE!

What does responsible tourism mean?

To all my big headed ladies out there (I’m talking literal, not egotistical) – this is the place you should get your headbands! Every time I wear these headbands I feel a little better about myself, I read the inspirational message printed on it and cannot help but feel inspired to finish out the day with a bang! Plus, let’s be honest, sometimes a girl just needs a headband to decrease the stress of doin’ da hur….ya feel me? To get your headband:

What is responsible tourism

The other items I have personally tried and fallen in love with so far are the yoga pants and shirts. If I’m being honest, I wear the pants EVERYWHERE! Not just because the pants are comfortable, but because they have the most adorable prints on them that inspire me to continue to be Eco-friendly in my day to day life & inspire me to live a simpler life to help have less of an impact on the environment.
I wore the shirt for two days in a row people! I know that’s gross but it has been so hot over here, and it is so light, airy and cute with the little leaves on it… I couldn’t resist

Personal Note: It is sooooo hard to find cute and comfortable clothing as a curvy woman — so to find a company that caters to my desire to be eco-friendly and embraces those of all shapes and sizes really just gives me warm fuzzies and I want to shout out from the rooftops how much I appreciate and love them for this.

You don’t just have to participate in environmentally friendly activities at destinations you visit. You can start being environmentally friendly to companies just like Soul Flower. Check out Soul Flower Summer Specials today!

Other Ways to be a Responsible Tourist:

Be Respectful of Religions and Cultures:

Look at local customs and rules when entering churches across the world. Do not make derogatory jokes or compare those within the country to something you deem as ‘more sensible’ or ‘better practices’. Do not impose your beliefs on those within the country unless prompted to. Respect the cultural idiosyncrasies of what is considered ‘normal’ for that country.

What is responsible tourism


The bottom line is, just because something, someone, or a country as a whole does something different than what you know to be normal — doesn’t mean that it is wrong. There are some exceptions where it endangers basic human rights, practices, or harms/mutilates any animal or human being (obviously). Even if you do see something wrong, intervening as a tourist could land you in jail – be careful, be cautious and if you have a concern about the country/destination use a guide that you can ask questions about what is appropriate or if you can do something/intervene without landing yourself in jail.

Be Respectful of Shop Owners Overseas:

Do not take photos of products, items, or anything in different countries that could affect their livelihood. Do not get offended if they ask you not to take photos, there is a reason! Unnamed countries citizens will visit these economically struggling countries and take photos of their products and produce them at a fraction of the cost, but they are not authentic products.

What is responsible tourism


Moroccans, for example, rely on their skill and artistry of furniture, clothing, architecture, woodworking to profit from their craft and provide for their families. How many times have you visited a country and thought, ‘Oh I can get that back in my own country, I don’t need to buy it here’. This is why it is so important….so many countries rely on tourism and the money it brings in to put food on the table. So please….before you take a photo in a store, ASK the owner if it is ok.

Be Aware and Educate Yourself on Regional Issues:

What is responsible tourism

Human trafficking, terrorism, and so many more unsavory things happen in this world. I have too much of a tender heart to focus in on the negative all the time, so rarely listen to the news – but I do search for those individuals who have the capacity to handle situations such as this. I support them, I share their stories and donate when I’m able to.

It is important to be sensitive to cultural and religious practices (as part of Responsible Tourism) that help to positively define a culture, but that never means we should tolerate those who continually violate the basic human rights of food, safety, and shelter.

With having experienced Rape and sexual assault myself, the topic of sex trafficking is a very passionate topic for me. Operation Underground Railroad is a team of individuals of highly specialized individuals who have years of experience in special forces, law enforcement working proactively since 2013 with local governments that I wholeheartedly support. This is a video that had me in tears for how grateful I was to the men & women who do this. Please support them in whatever way that you can….
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_CgQcNkUlw&feature=youtu.be
If you would like to Donate to O.U.R. please feel free to do so, if you are unable to donate, then try and Volunteer for O.U.R. to help aid in their efforts.

Small changes can make a big difference:

Wear environmentally friendly products:

  • Keep any soap while camping at any location away from runoff areas (at least 100 feet).
  • Bury or pack out your human waste. Look at the requirements for each camping spot you visit for their rules and regulations.
  • Wear environmentally and Ocean friendly sunscreen as this often washes off the ocean, causing damage to coral and marine life.
What is responsible tourism

Biodegradable products:

  • Bringing your own straws, skip the straw at Starbucks. If this doesn’t make sense, please keep watching the video of the Turtle above until it does.
  • Get a recycling bin or start a recycling group in your neighborhood. (More information below on recycling that could be available in your country).
  • Make a list of low-cost companies that produce Biodegradable Products and keep a list. Hand the list out to anyone who uses straws, show they alternatives. Don’t force it down their throat — educate with KINDNESS! Honey works better than vinegar when trying to entice people to change their daily habits or companies to change the status quo.
What is responsible tourism

Utilize the Reusable Grocery Bags:

  • This is such a simple change that we can all do (especially those of us in the States). In most other countries they are charging for the plastic bags, yet when we implement it here to try and help support the environment….everyone loses their minds! They tried to do this when I lived in Texas and I would stand there and see with my own eyes, these grocery baggers get verbally assaulted for doing their job and charging for the plastic bags. Come on people…..be better than that……do better than that…….realize that this isn’t just about YOU and YOUR needs, but for the betterment of humanity and animals. If you still aren’t convinced that plastic bags are a big deal, watch this video of the whale found dead with hundreds of pounds of plastic bags in its stomach. If that doesn’t convince you, well…..I don’t know how to help you become a better human being.
  • I need some advice myself on this one….grrrhhh….. I have all the reusable bags I can handle. I start daydreaming on the way to the grocery store, then out of habit, forget to take the reusable grocery bags I brought off the garage wall where I put them so I wouldn’t forget them. If you have some advice on how to remember these things…..let a girl know in the comments below.

A Call to Action for Responsible Tourism:

Ecotourism

  • Here is a great resource if you would like to participate in Ecotourism on your next trip: Ecotourism.org

Volunteering through worldwide programs/cleanups

Companies that Participate in Eco-friendly Product Production:

Clothing: Patagonia, Thought Clothing, Encircled Clothing

How to encourage clothing companies to not use plastic hangers

Straws: The Last Plastic Straw is a great website for a list of all the different types of straws, where to get them and how they are better than the plastic straws. There is also a site completely dedicated to Living a life without plastic, this is where I get my reusable metal straws (bamboo and glass is also available).

Home, Pets, Cleaning supplies and more: Life Without Plastic gives you so many bamboo or steel options that can replace many of the household items that have or contain plastic. Gift certificates, gift registry, and points program are also available on this site to help you invite friends to the #noplastic movement.

Trash Bags: Biodegradable Trash Bags, Green Legacy Tall Kitchen Trash Bags

Grocery Bags: Reusable Grocery Bags

Sandwich Bags: Eco-Friendly Reusable Sandwich Bags

Recycling throughout the world: Recycling in the States (contact your city councils to arrange this), Recycling in Australia, Recycling in Canada, Curbside Recycling available in New Zealand please check your local city councils, Recycling is also available in the United Kingdom for each household (mandatory supply of bins from government), Spain also has recycling available in some areas, and the Netherlands actually pays you to bring in your recyclable materials (typically at grocery stores).

IF YOU HAVE RECYCLING IN YOUR COUNTRY AND IT IS NOT LISTED HERE, PLEASE LIST THE RESOURCE OR WHO TO CONTACT BELOW  🙂

A Must Read Plastic Free Blogger: If you are like me and feel a little overwhelmed by how many things in your home contain plastic, visit Beth Terry: My Plastic Free Life Blogger. She will teach you, take you step by step through the process and show you how to live a plastic-free life.

Worldwide Plastic Pollution Coalition – Now NO ONE has an excuse to not participate in reducing their plastic use. This is a global alliance of individuals, organizations and businesses working together to stop plastic pollution.

what does responsible tourism mean

How To Tour Responsibly:

We have such a duty to protect creatures who outlived the dinosaurs, are essential to our planet’s ecosystem – the Sea Turtles. We don’t have to start being Eco-friendly or participate in Responsible Tourism practices only when we are traveling. Get involved in the activities now, one goal or plastic straw at a time.

Be respectful of religions, people, cultures, and races as long as they do not infringe on basic human rights to live life peacefully, safely without fear of bodily harm and can provide for basic human needs of shelter, food, and water.

Get involved in volunteer programs locally where you can help end human trafficking, gang violence, opioid epidemics, and so much more. There seems to be an Instagram hashtag or Facebook group for everything these days. If you have any suggestions for local groups you are passionate about, please let it in the comments below with a link to their site.
Teach those around you, share the information on your social media platforms….it just takes one rock in a pond to start a ripple that turns into a wave. Be that change you wish to see in the world.

How do you like to contribute to Responsible Tourism?

What is the most important thing to you regarding Responsible Tourism?

Mount Whitney Hike in Winter

Mount Whitney Hike in Winter

The Night I Thought Would Be My Last My first backpacking trip was an exciting prospect, but little did I know what a disaster it would turn out to be. It was November, and I was turning 30 years old & I had decided I was going to do something unique for my birthday. My roommate, Lo, a camping/100K/rugby superstar invited me to not only backpack but snow-shoe in winter up the mountaineering route on the second highest peak in the United States……Mount Whitney.

For the record, I have never been backpacking prior to this, I have never been snow-shoeing, I have never carried so much weight for so long on my back in my life. I had just received 2 steroid injections in my feet for Plantar Fasciitis. I was afraid of not being invited again, so I said, “OH! Really!?! That would be so fun!”

As the trip got closer I became anxious about what exactly I was to pack. I knew Lo would know what to pack, but I was embarrassed to ask for details — so I did what I do best…. ignored my problems and made it up as I went. I did a little research online and became even more terrified as the information I found warned me of people having to be flown off the mountain for medical emergencies.  Great……I was likely going to die on my birthday.

The day of the trip came, I didn’t weigh my pack, didn’t check to make sure the batteries were in the navigation device….but I set out on the trip anyway. We drove to California where we stayed with Lo’s family, picked up her cousin (a military man). Then we headed on over to Lone Pine where Mt Whitney awaited us, a 14,505-foot peak, with an elevation gain of 6,500 feet over 11 miles on the Mountaineers’ route.

Mount Whitney Hike in Winter

I was tasked with carrying the climbing rope, and we had to park quite a ways down the road and hike in because of rock slides and snow. The road was still fairly steep and by the time we got to the trailhead, we were all sweating to the point you could see the salt in our sweat. I had brought some music with me but was told that it was a cardinal rule when hiking with them that you should not listen to music. At this point is when I realized I may not have the mental nerves of steel to do this without music. Not wanting to appear like a pansy princess I continued to trudge forward.

At the trailhead, we put our snow-shoes and I felt the real challenge start. I was hot, heavy, red as a beet from sweating with huge metal/plastic things on my feet that I didn’t even know if they would work or how to hold my poles. I said a little prayer that I wouldn’t look stupid and started down the trail after Lo and her Cousin. The snow was powdery and soft & three feet deep (at least). I was just so glad there weren’t many people on the trail because there would be fewer people to make a fool of myself in front of.

It started to get hard for me about 20 minutes past the trailhead and I was sure to bring Cliff bars and had the water in my pack to slurp on. I was still dripping sweat and my hands were really cold. All I could think of while I was walking was, ‘I’m not even to the hard part yet and I already want to turn around, come on Janiel you are stronger than this. You need to get a good song in your head and just keep singing’. The only song that really worked was a rap song, ‘one step, come on two step come on. I hate rap but somehow it kept me going up all those switchbacks. 

Lo and her Cousin were blazing the trail & would switch off with creating steps up and down the snowbanks. They were always ahead of me or waiting for me & think I said sorry about 7,000 times. I knew if I didn’t pace myself that there was no way I was going to make it up the mountain and more importantly back down it. I would be too afraid of getting lost if I turned around at this point, because like a greenie knucklehead I forgot batteries for the GPS. I had no choice but to keep going & fought through the mental blocks.

I could tell they were thinking something every time I would catch up to them — but maybe it was my own anxiety and insecurities telling me that. The sun started to set and all the moisture from sweating and falling into the snow had seeped into my clothes started to make me quite cold. My water was frozen so I couldn’t drink any more water, I turned to eating the snow to at least get some moisture in my mouth. The further up we went the dizzier I became. I knew this symptom was a touch of altitude sickness combined with my asthma, but I refused to be any more of a weak link than I already felt like I was.

Mount Whitney Hike in Winter
Stages of Hypothermia

At one point I caught up with them, and Lo’s cousin took one look at me and said, ‘come here a second’.  I crossed the stream we were at and he pulled off my glove and panic set in a little bit when I realized the tips of my fingers were turning blue down to the first knuckle. I am a Physician Assistant and knew subconsciously what it was. I wasn’t thinking so clearly and all I could say in the panic was, ‘Why are my fingers turning blue?!?’ He immediately took both of my gloves off, shoved them in his pockets, took his warm gloves and put them on my hands. I think that is the point I started to develop a bit of a crush on this man. (I love a good Mountain Man, military trained tough nugget.)

We ate a little bit, refilled my water with non-frozen water and then kept walking and they stayed close to me after that, putting me in the middle of them. I knew I was slow, and could tell they were frustrated…..but what could I do? I knew I was trying as hard as I could, but this was my first trip doing any of this! Lo stayed quite and her cousin just told us stories and kept us laughing at least. We came to a really tough spot where we had to really try and get over this ‘hump’ in the snow — we all got over it and her cousin went ahead of me.

As soon as I got up he started talking and walking again, became a little off balance and stepped to the side & all I saw was his hiking poles going overhead and heard a large ‘THUNK’ sound. He had fallen into a hole where he was stepping on his snowshoes, had to take his pack off & was literally over his head in a snow bank. Lo and I were laughing so hard we couldn’t even help him out of the snow pit he had fallen into, which brought on more frustration from him. He was a great sport the whole time. I was glad he was there to offset my mood of feeling pitifully slow and weak.

Mount Whitney Hike in Winter

We came to an area they thought would be good to put the tent down. I had never been snow camping and felt so out of sorts in what I was supposed to do to help. I admit that I stood there, soaking it all in and trying to put as much as I could in my memory for if I ever did this again. In doing that I feel like I looked bad, as in lazy…. they asked if I wanted to help get the tent set up and I came out of my mental processing phase and said ‘oh yeah, sure! Sorry about that – what can I do?’. We got the tent set up and then hurriedly got into the tent and made some dinner that we all shared like we were starving animals….it was our Thanksgiving dinner of freeze-dried spaghetti and meatballs, mixed with the water we boiled & a pumpkin pie Cliff bar.

We all changed out of our wet, sweaty clothing and snuggled into our sleeping bags. I didn’t realize that I had inadvertently grabbed the 15-degree sleeping bag instead of the negative 15-degree sleeping bag. Once I laid down, I started to shiver hoping that I would get warm from the shivering. The ground was cold, there was condensation from our breath in the tent, the warmth of making dinner in the tent started to dissipate…..and that’s when I really started to shiver.

I’m not talking about the kind of shivering you get when you go sledding at night. I’m talking about the kind of shivering that makes you wonder if you are actually shivering, or if you are having seizures. I couldn’t stop, my adrenalin & panic kicked in – I was afraid to go asleep. I think Lo became a little worried and asked if I wanted to use her emergency blanket, I really appreciated the gesture and took her up on the offer. It wasn’t enough though, my body just couldn’t recover from being so cold.

Mount Whitney Hike in Winter

I pulled out the coat I had been wearing, put every piece of clothing I had on, opened up a pair of hand warmers I luckily brought and put them on my feet, my femoral arteries and my armpits- then squished into my sleeping bag like I was slipping into a condom & began to pray for forgiveness for all my sins. I told God that if he let me live through this night that I would be better and do better. I think at one point I cried a little when the convulsions finally started to slow down a little and I could feel my chest start to become a little warmer. Over the next 2 hours, it spread to my shoulders and hips. I don’t think I ever truly became ‘warm’, as long as my core body was warm – I felt like I wasn’t going to die from Hypothermia.

I think I was able to sleep around 3-4 hours that night (if I’m being generous). We awoke early the next day and started to pack up camp again. I felt like the Tin man from Wizard of Oz that hadn’t been oiled in 500 years but refused to complain. After breakfast they had me use my ice ax for the first time. I snowshoed up the hill above us a little bit and trialed that out & ended up burying the tent with snow….just bloody perfect. Let’s just put my rookie mountaineering mistakes on my ‘idiot’ tab for this trip (insert frustrated groan). I seriously considered calling myself the Bridget Jones of Yosemite. We unburied the tent and headed up the hill again, it was so steep we ended up having to do about 20 switchbacks just to get up this one hill.

We made it to a juncture that required her cousin to blaze the trail on the edge of an icy cliff…ON HIS KNEES. I’m not kidding people, he was crawling on his knees with his ice ax. There was a sheer drop off into the huge pine trees and jagged ice below.

My heart just started racing even writing this…. I was the next one to go along this real-life video game from Hell. I tried to swallow my emotions down, but it came bubbling out as I turned around to Lo and said, ‘Lo……I’M SCARED!’ she looked at me dead on and said, ‘Well, GO!’ I remember thinking, ‘God, please don’t let me die! After making it through last night I feel like this should not be the way I should die’.

I fought the shifting snow with my snow-shoes and got onto my knees trying to figure out how to hold my ice-ax properly without stabbing myself in the heart should I fall. About 15 feet along this ridge, I hear her cousin say something loudly. I stopped and looked ahead and couldn’t see much, but heard him yell, ‘Hey Lo, I don’t think we can go this way’. You could feel the disappointment behind me when she said, ‘Really?’. He responded emphatically, ‘Yeah, this is making me nervous & it gets really shifty up here’. I found out later that he had to use his ice ax so that he wouldn’t go sliding down the sheer drop off and it scared him a little to have us get in the same situation. I poker-faced my relief at having to turn back and not use this terrifying path.

We headed back to our last fork in the planned route and after Lo and her cousin talked they realized that there was just no way up the mountain at this point in the year. They tried to go another route and her cousin just ended up getting stuck in the brush and she had to help him out of it.
The decision was then made to head back down the mountain as it had defeated us with the icy conditions and depth of the snow. I could see the disappointment in both of their faces, and truly felt bad because I felt like I had ruined their dream of mountaineering Mt Whitney in the Wintertime.

Mount Whitney Hike in Winter

Heading back into town and had some good laughs along the way when Lo tried to ski down on her butt and her snowshoes ended up catching an edge, the momentum lifted her up whitewashing her face first in the snow. The weight of the backpack was so heavy it was pinning her down, which I didn’t realize, and she came up gasping.
Besides the negative self-talk that plagued me on this particular adventure. I have to say this was BY FAR, the most adventurous birthday I have ever had. I especially loved the surprise blueberry pie protein bar Lo had brought for me for my Birthday. I honestly think God saved me on this trip.

In the end, I still felt like I was the weak link on this Mount Whitney hike and was determined to prove myself again. It took a whole year to be invited somewhere again, but I still feel like I’m one tough broad and did a dang good job of persevering despite the complexity & difficulty of this particular venture.

Mount Whitney Hike in Winter

So what is my message to all those out there that it is your first time backpacking? BE KIND TO YOURSELF! If it is hard, keep going, but know your limitations, ask questions, communicate and make sure you choose people to go with who are patient, kind and good-humored should you fail.

Make your first time backpacking an easy summer, spring, or fall so you can get used to the weight of your pack & train your leg muscles to work that hard (especially your calves). Remember to have fun, and take your time when backpacking – it doesn’t matter how quickly you go, or how fast you make it to the top. You are in nature, to enjoy nature and the peace that comes from being away from the rat race of life.

As Always…Happy Travels, Happy Tales and See You on the Flip Side.


Where To Stay

Booking.com

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Things to do in Crescent City California

Things to do in Crescent City California

Not many people know where Crescent City is, likely because of the nearby Redwood Forest that frequently overshadows this quaint town. Yet for those who don’t want to spend the entire time in the Redwood forest, here are a few tips on what to do in Crescent City California. I have also included the best Redwood Groves, and tips for visiting.

Things to do in Crescent City California

Battery Point Lighthouse:

Built in 1856 with 22 inch thick slabs of granite, this lighthouse is only accessible at low tide. The beach near this area is quite small but full of agates that locals come to regularly collect and make into jewelry. If you look to the right, there is a house nearby that has a comical yard piece that made me laugh til I cried…..the one and only, Harry the Henderson.

Things to do in Crescent City California

Beaches near Crescent City:

South Beach is the first beach you will come to when heading North up through California. This is a very popular beach in winter and summer. Here you will find some of the best tide pools near Crescent City, and if you are lucky you may see the annual Noll Longboard Classic Surf Contest.

Things to do in Crescent City California

Endert’s Beach

Endert’s Beach is my favorite Beach near Crescent city. This place is a hidden gem right off of the 101 hwy, with sand dollars, sand crabs at low tide and fishing for red-tailed surf perch at high tide. There are plenty of agates, shells, and other fun gems on this beach as well. This beach is perfect for that holiday BBQ as they have picnic tables and BBQ stands every 500 feet or so. There is hardly anyone on this beach & the perfectly untouched sand stretches on for miles. We let our dogs off the leashes and let them run for miles and miles.

Redwood Forest

Things to do in Crescent City California

Simpson Reed Grove 

This Redwood Grove is great for families and those with children. The path is easy and full of the gentle giant Redwood Trees that have created a natural playground. Climb over the enormous trees, hide in the center of the fallen giants, wiggle across branches that have created natural bridges.

Stout Grove

Things to do in Crescent City California

This is the grove that is a favorite among locals due to it being right by the shoreline of a river. Here you see these massive trees and then a beautiful river running right next to it. The best time to visit is in the summer around 3-5pm during the golden sunlit hour. Be sure to bring loads of mosquito repellent as they are quite bad in the summertime.

Smith River:

Things to do in Crescent City California

If you are not much of an Adrenalin junkie, then you may prefer to Kayak or Tube the River by the Redwood Groves lining the shores. Take a dip in the Smith River at South Fork where the water is crystal clear and will give you a refreshing jolt to those on a road trip.
Try your luck at fishing, the Smith River is the best place for salmon, trout and steelhead fishing in the whole State of California.
There is also class IV-Class V white-water-rafting, snorkeling with the salmon and trout, and taking a helicopter to the only open water lighthouse open to the public….St. George Reef Lighthouse.

Trees of Mystery:

Things to do in Crescent City California

This is the slightly more commercialized area of the Redwood forest, with statues of lumberjacks and a chair lift that takes you soaring above the skyline of the forest below. This is the ideal place to go if your party or family is feeling a little run down as it has a museum, a forest café, and six different trails that everyone can enjoy.

Ocean World:

Things to do in Crescent City California

Takes about 2 hours, has a little show with sea lions, kids get to touch the fish. The aquarium has a guided tour of the sea life touch pool, aquarium & sea lion/seal show.

Why Visit Crescent City California

Things to do in Crescent City California

When you first drive into Crescent City California, you will think you are driving into a bit of a ghost town. This is likely because most of those who do live there are out exploring the surrounding areas themselves. With so many wonderful outdoor adventures from whitewater rafting, the Redwood Groves, the Smith River, and the plentiful tide pools and ocean activities… it is hardly a ghost town. Crescent City is a town teeming with adventure waiting to be had.

As Always Happy Travels, Happy Tales, and See You on the Flip Side.

Where to Stay in Crescent City California

Booking.com

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Travel Hacks for Road Trips

Travel Hacks for Road Trips

No matter if you are traveling with children, alone, or just with your furry friend – Road Trips can either be Hell on Earth; or a vacation in and of themselves. So after driving all over the Western United States for most of my life, here are a few Travel Hacks for Road Trips I highly recommend following when planning your own Road Trip at home or abroad.

Download Road Trippers

This is a fantastic app for your road trip, and can also be accessed online to help plan your vacation on the road. I first found and utilized this when taking a Road Trip from Dallas Texas to Nauvoo Illinois. I was going to be traveling through a bunch of open fields. After planning out my route I explored all the spots along the road that had a good rating and found this gem in the middle of nowhere! It is in the Spinach Capital of the United States. A statue of the spinach-eating machine himself has his own little garden and fountain. This also happens to be across from the Police Station, so you have ample entertainment for all!

This app and website are a fantastic way to make those 12 hour drives a little more bearable on the road. From a medical standpoint, it also gives you an excuse to get out of the car every few hours to walk around. People who sit and travel long distances can have swollen legs and blood clots at times as well if they do not walk around sufficiently.

How to stay awake while driving

Get enough rest the night before

Doing this will help you be more alert on the road and less prone to falling asleep at the wheel.

IF YOU ARE TIRED AND START TO LOSE CONCENTRATION THAT IS THE FIRST SIGN YOU ARE AT RISK FOR FALLING ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL.

Pull into a gas station and take a power nap.

I have done this a few times in the past, where I pull into a busy gas station and take a 15-20 min nap. This always helps me feel more refreshed.

Avoid sugary foods or high carbohydrate content as your snack.

When you eat high carbohydrate and high sugar content foods, it starts a vicious cycle of fatigue. Why? Well, you eat that doughnut or candy, your body sees it as too much sugar, so it releases insulin and then drops your blood sugar again. Then you become very sleepy or hungry again, starting the cycle over. I try to avoid sugary foods whenever driving for this reason.

Keep Cool

When I get warm I tend to fall asleep much easier. It is more comfortable to be warm, but I would rather have cold toes and arms before risking crashing my car and killing someone else.

Audiobooks

This is my favorite way to stay awake. Imagine this like the old radios back in the day that would tell the cowboy stories to the children. The children would be so enthralled by the battles and day to day explanations because they didn’t have TV, this was their entertainment.

Audiobooks typically have quality actors and actresses that are able to do multiple accents, voices, and inflections to keep the listener engaged. Yes, some of the audiobooks are entirely too boring and drab to listen to on the road, but there are many that are not.

I personally have signed up for Amazon’s Audible Book subscription for $14.95 per month. I am an affiliate with them, but I have never been more grateful for the positive entertainment value it provides and now listen to them on the way to and from work all the time.

Podcasts

This is something my flatmate is really into. She has several Podcasts that she listens to on a daily basis to and from work. I think this could also work for road trips as well, you may just need to download the podcasts to your mobile device prior to starting your trip.

What are some of your favorite podcasts?

Caffeine

If all else fails, just start swigging Caffeine. Think of all those boring meetings from work you have survived on the sweet nectar of the Gods.

Travel with a friend:

Switching off while driving is really important while on the long road trips and stretches of the road.

Stretches and Facial exercises:

This is an odd one, but I start stretching my legs, toes, fingers, neck, back arms etc…. It keeps your heart rate slightly more elevated than at baseline, thus increasing blood flow to your brain and keeping you refreshed.

Facial exercises also help to keep me awake at the wheel. I open and close my mouth as hard as a can, wiggle my jaw side to side, see how many animal sounds I can make with my tongue etc….

Check road conditions and weather conditions

With the age of the internet came the ability to check your road conditions prior to starting your journey. There have been several instances that I wish I would have, and others where I didn’t and wish I would have.

There was one instance where I didn’t want to leave my parents house to drive back to Las Vegas and did not look at road conditions. I ended up leaving the house when it first started to snow, and by the time I hit Cedar City Utah, I was in a complete blizzard. Traveling at 25 mph on the freeway because of road conditions, and was nearly hit by a snow plow.

Organizing the car

This is paramount for safety while driving. The less distracted you are on the road, the better off and safer you will be.

I will put all the luggage in the very back of the car, the cooler in the middle of the back seat where it is easy for your friend to reach if needed. If you are traveling alone, set up your ‘snack bag’ where you can easily reach it.

Wear sandals

Make sure you have Sunglasses to help with Glare.

If you are driving at night, turn down the dashboard lights. This will help your eyes not feel as tired from trying to adjust to the brightness of the dashboard vs the road.

Have your music or audible book playing before you put the car in drive.

Garbage bag, paper towels, and Kleenex should also be nearby where you don’t have to bend over, reach, or stretch to access them.

Check Your Car for Maintenance

Before you pack anything in the car, make sure your spare tire is filled up and in good condition.

Have a small gas can handy, just in case you miss an exit and the next gas station or turn around isn’t for another 50 miles and you are on empty.

Make sure you check your tire pressure after everything is loaded and in the car.

Change your oil, cabin filter, and engine filter before you go. This will help with gas mileage in your car.

Have your local mechanic esure all fluids are topped off, and the washer fluid is the appropriate one for the area you are traveling to.

I once was driving from Las Vegas to Utah in the snow and went to use my windshield wiper fluid and it froze on my windshield. I had to do an ACE Ventura head out the window to drive to the next town to get it fixed. They had to thaw out the windshield wiper lines with a hairdryer and vinegar, then unplug them. This really cut into my total driving time and was a major stressor. So mention to your mechanic if you find you will be driving to different climates and what they suggest for those areas.

Plan for Gas Stops

Don’t push the car to the point the gas light comes on! I always make a rule for myself that should I take a long road trip where I have never been before I never let the tank get down past 1/4 tank. Even a 1/4 tank is pushing it for me, I typically will fill up at 1/2 tank because I know I will be able to drive for several hours to the next gas station.

Get On The Road Again

Road trips can be a fantastic way to make bonds with friends, and see new destinations. It is important to plan, stay safe and stay awake on the road. There are over 100,000 car accidents per year from people falling asleep at the wheel in the United States. Make sure you know your own limits on when you need a break, even if it is just a mental break. There are plenty of unique things you can see on the road, not every place has to be Instagram worthy. The best adventures will always be the locations that make you feel more fulfilled and productive in your daily life, spark your creativity or help you create a more meaningful connection.

 Happy Travels, Happy Tales & See You On The Flip Side.


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Hack Disney Magic Kingdoms & Make Your Memories Magical

Hack Disney Magic Kingdoms & Make Your Memories Magical

When I say Disney, I’m sure images of childhood memories pop up in your mind and a smile comes to your face. There are those occasional few who have bad experiences, but when Minnie Mouse comes up and gives you a hug, well magic just seems like it could be real and all your problems disappear. There are a lot of different ways to visit Disneyland, but only a few people know how to really work the Magic Kingdom to their benefit. Here are my tips on how to Hack Disney Magic Kingdoms & Make Your Memories Magical – from Discount tickets to park secrets, it’s all here!

Hack Disney Magic Kingdoms & Make Your Memories Magical
Me with my Friends Emily and Cari at Disneyland

But first off, let us start by picking the Magic Kingdom we would like to go to first and their different available attractions:

  1. The Original Magic Kingdom: Disneyland and California Adventure
  2. Walt Disney World Florida
  3. Disneyland Paris
  4. Disney World Hong Kong 
  5. Disney Resort Shanghai
  6. Disneyland Tokyo

I have been to 2 of the 6 Disney parks listed here: Florida and California, multiple times. Each time it is a little bit different because I learn something new. So I will let you in on my little secrets 🙂

Disney NEW NEWS: 

  • Did you know that they changed the restrictions on adults dressing up in Disneyland? Make sure you check out the new rules before you decide to go so that you don’t get sent home and ruin the whole trip
  • THEY ARE TALKING NOW!!!!! It has been quite some time that the characters of Mickey, Minnie, and Donald Duck have been silently waving and hugging children. Well, GUESS WHAT! Now the characters are going to be talking, joking, telling stories and interacting with guests and each other!!! HOW COOL IS THAT! I have yet to confirm this for myself, but if anyone has confirmation of this please post a link or comment below 🙂
Hack Disney Magic Kingdoms & Make Your Memories Magical

Disney Magic Kingdom Costs and Deals

What about those prices?!? Everyone likes a good deal, but Disneyland has been able to circumvent even the savviest of criminals. However, there are a few websites and practices that can keep your cost low.

  • Check out the Anaheim Deals –  they will let you know if there are discount tickets or not. Most of the time, the discount tickets are going to be when the kids are back in school.
  • If you are American Military personnel you can also go to the window and buy the Military Discount tickets (at least in the States you can). If you just know someone who is military personnel and want them to buy the tickets online for you, well that doesn’t work anymore.
  • Check out Park Savers as well; they also have discounted ticket rates.
  • You can also scan through Undercover Tourist, Official Ticket Center
    • Please keep in mind that the official Disney Ticket office doesn’t include sales tax, where some of these 3rd party sellers will tack on that 6.5% (Florida) tax
  • If you have an AAA membership you can purchase tickets in their local office and you won’t have the sales tax added onto the final price either. Find a local AAA office near you.    

I beg you, whatever you do, DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT buy tickets from eBay or Craigslist. They are not authorized dealers of Disney Tickets and the tickets are typically expired or scanned to the particular person that bought them.

Don’t Take Things Too Seriously – It’s the Happiest Place On Earth

  • I don’t have children, but I always love seeing them dress up in their Disney outfits and costumes. When you put them in a place like this it makes everything all the more magical.
  • Do you know what I love even more? When the parents dress up with them! They make a theme and all dress up together. Cutest family dress up that I have seen is about the Little Mermaid: Mom was a cute version of Ursula and her daughter was the little mermaid (it was a little odd to see Ursula hold the Little Mermaid, but it was so FUN that the parents dressed up like that – talk about a bonding moment)!
    • There have recently been new rules placed for those over 14 years old dressing up as characters, though. You cannot be an identical character to those you see in the films apparently. There were too many guests calling themselves cast members and they want to protect the image of Disney as well as legal ramifications that may come from this happening. Make sure to check out the new rules associated with adults dressing up as characters in Disneyland.
  • It’s crowded, but don’t get impatient. Just enjoy the moments and talk to your kids while they wait in line instead of letting them look at their cell phones the entire time. Or, use their cell phones to play games like Ellen DeGeneres game ‘Heads Up’
  • Don’t butt in line, just don’t, we all know you are doing it – playing the ‘I didn’t know, I’m sorry’ doesn’t really work anymore.
  • Yes, I’m sure there are other theme parks where the rides are more fun, faster and scarier than what Disneyland has, but Mr. Walt Disney actually hated theme parks and that was never his intention in the beginning. So take a look around and appreciate the small world that Disney creates for you and your family so you can have an amazing adventure, and memories you will never forget.
  • If you are single, well then you are in LUCK! Go to Disneyland ALONE!!! They have special lines for single riders at Disney and it will literally cut your wait time in half. Plus, gives you a great opportunity to meet the person they will likely stick you next to. Share the screaming love 🙂 You can also think of utilizing this if you are tired of riding ‘It’s a small world’ with the kiddos, and want to do a child swap and utilize the single rider line once or twice to get as much out of the park as your kids are.
Hack Disney Magic Kingdoms & Make Your Memories Magical

Are Park Hopper Tickets Really Worth It?

When to get a Park Hopper Pass:

  • If you are traveling with young children, I wouldn’t recommend it. It takes a lot of effort to get them on the rides, off the rides, get their food down, schedule their naps etc. If you are traveling with several families and staying more than 2-3 days, then definitely get a park hopper pass. Do a daycare exchange where you split into teams and one group goes to California adventure for the day, then the other group can take care of all the kids.
  • It’s not your first rodeo with Disneyland and you know exactly where you want to go and when.
  • You want to watch the firework shows or nighttime parades every night. This way, no matter what park you find yourself in, come time for the show, you are able to watch it.
  • If they are in their low season (typically while school is in session and it’s daytime) – when locals and season pass holders are not utilizing the park and you can easily move from one ride to another.
  • You get bored easily with one park and want to be able to hit the best rides first and jump in between each park.
Hack Disney Magic Kingdoms & Make Your Memories Magical

Things To Know Before Visiting

  • Check on Disneyland ride closures. There is always one or two that are under maintenance.
  • Check on Disneyland shows available. I am talking the Aladdin show, the Lion King show etc.
  • Get your ticket online and beat the whole line in general (See the list of resorts above and each hyperlink will lead you to the official ticket sales link for each respective resort.)
  • Get a Disneyland map to plan your routes and decide who will get fast passes – get an itinerary of what to see and when to eat and where. Make sure you read these tips on how to get the most out of your fast pass.
  • Download the Disney Wait Times App.
  • If you have Children under the age of 10, you may want to bring a stroller or rent a wheelchair as they tend to get tired by the end of the day covering so much ground.
  • Know how tall each of the children in your party is and check Height Restrictions for each ride so you don’t wait for 1-2 hours to get on a ride only to be disappointed that you or your child can’t go.
  • Bring a Poncho if you are planning on riding any of the Wet and Wild rides Disneyland has to offer. They do their best to protect your belongings, but it’s best to bring a Ziploc bag for your phone and/or camera.
Hack Disney Magic Kingdoms & Make Your Memories Magical

How to Get Early Entry Into Disney

Early entry hours are only on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. These days I would suggest taking advantage of the early hour with fast passes. Get in line at Cars, then when you exit, grab a fast pass and send someone to go and grab another fast pass from a different ride while waiting in line. 

 Some of the parks have circumvented this by only allowing you to have one FastPass at a time, or requesting a time 2 hours after your initial fast pass. Make sure you have valid park tickets before you arrive. If you opt for the Southern California CityPASS, then it may be purchased in advance or at the Main Entrance Ticket Booth.

Hack Disney Magic Kingdoms & Make Your Memories Magical

Healthy Places To Eat In Disneyland

Hack Disney Magic Kingdoms & Make Your Memories Magical

Little Known Secrets of Disneyland Resorts

  • Club 33 – only available at 3 of the Disney Parks (California, Shanghai, Tokyo – soon to be available at Walt Disney World.)
  • Hidden Mickey Ears throughout all of the Disney Parks – there are typically around 50 in Disneyland! Take the Challenge when you are there and find those hidden ears wherever you can. They can be hidden as decoration, flowers, sidewalk art, in photos on the rides, maybe even on characters 😉
  • If you visit Disneyland, you can see Walt’s actual apartment and get a tour of the place! It’s right next to the information desk.
  • If it’s your birthday, make sure to stop by guest relations for a Birthday Pin! The staff throughout the Park will literally stop you and wish you Happy Birthday. I went for my Birthday and it was seriously one of the funnest things I have done. They also have pins for graduation and if it’s your first visit to Disneyland.
    • If you decide to celebrate your Birthday at Disneyland and sit down at a table service restaurant, then tell them it’s your Birthday and you will get a fun Dessert.
Hack Disney Magic Kingdoms & Make Your Memories Magical

Traveler Tip: 

If you want a Birthday Pin and you are over 14 years old, then you will need to bring an official ID  with your Birthday on it. If you are just married, then I would also bring a copy of your wedding certificate, or at least a photo of it to show them.

  • You can request a FREE character autographed postcard by mailing: Walt Disney Company Attn: Fan mail Department 500 South Buena Vista Street Burbank, CA 91521
  • You can be the Captain of the Mark Twain Riverboat! Although it is typically reserved for those families with a young child 😉 Doesn’t hurt to ask the staff if you can!
  • Learn how to draw your favorite Disney Characters! Yes it’s true, you can learn how to draw them at the Disneyland Animation Academy
  • Ask to ride on the train engines at Disney
  • Get beads at New Orleans Square
  • Ask for stickers from Cast Members and you can get the real Wilderness Adventure Sticker as well
  • There is free Buffet dining for those under 3 years old
  • Book your Disney Vacation as a package and you can get loads of free items as well
  • Downtown Disneyland was modeled after a real town in Marceline, Missouri
  • The Disney family Crest is what is above the gate in Sleeping Beauty’s Castle
  • The drawbridge at Disneyland does actually work but has only been used twice since its inception
  • For more Disney Secrets, visit Wander Wisdom