Coachella Camping Hacks

Camping at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Annual Festival in Indio, California is often labeled a rite of passage for first-year festival attendees. The party does not end the second the last band leaves the main stage every night; there is something kinetic about the rowdy crowd. Campsite dance floors blast music hours after the venue locks its gates for the night, and other campers who are too wired to sleep re-cap their day and plot a schedule for the next one. This either sounds like a very good time, or a turnoff to those who only go to Coachella to see their favorite bands live.

Entering the venue

Entering the venue

So why, for five years (going on six) have I camped out rather than get a hotel? The answer is pretty simple: the camping community is welcoming and the benefits of not having to take a shuttle or drive to the venue every day makes the choice a no-brainer. Camping allows you to roll out of bed when you want, catch an afternoon nap, grab snacks or drinks of your choosing and it grants you the ability to slap a burger on the grill whenever you want. To me, camping at Coachella is not just a rite of passage, but also a way to improve your festival experience. Read on to help get the most out of your camping experience, and so you don’t spend your days waiting in line to take the shuttle into town to buy the essentials you forgot to bring. Continue reading

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5 Gifts for the Travelaholic in Your Life

The holidays are here, and if you haven’t already thought about gifts for the travelaholic(s) in your life, we have you covered! These items are bound to fuel their travel addiction and help make any aspect of their away-from-home adventures more enjoyable. If you have other interesting gift ideas to share with your fellow travelers, please leave your thoughts in the comments section below. Safe travels and happy holidays!

1. Hooded Travel Pillow

This is the product we would have invented had we not seen it online first. It eliminates the need for an uncomfortable eye mask and is therefore the perfect neck pillow for travelers who want a little shut-eye in transit.

Hooded Travel Pillow

Hooded travel pillow in action. Photo courtesy of BustedTees.com.

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Can You Drink the Water in…

Cold Water in India

But is it potable?

We don’t travel with guide books. They add too much weight, take up precious space and buying a new one for each country we visit would cost too much. Sometimes we read the ones left behind in guesthouses, but mostly we look to the Internet for a few important answers. Before arriving in a new country, we always look up the following information:

1) the local currency and exchange rate
2) what the tipping etiquette is
3) any local customs or important cultural differences
And, super important:
4) can you drink tap water without getting sick?

This last question has become very important to us. Being in constant travel mode between very foreign places has caused us to miss certain things, and ice on a very hot day is one of them. Sometimes, if you can’t drink the local water, you can’t have ice, a smoothie or diluted juice. But other times, like in Malaysia, ice is made in factories and purchased by local establishments. Thank you, Malaysia! But we wish you the best if you attempt to drink ice water in India.

Obviously this is very important information to be prepared with. Here’s a breakdown of countries we spent significant time in during our trip and whether you can drink from the tap.* Some of them may surprise you:

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We’ve Been Gone NINE Months!

It feels like ages ago that we sat in a beer hall in Zagreb with our Couchsurfing host, Tanja, talking about how much we love Croatia and could live there. We never wanted to leave. Africa and India seemed like years away, and now both are already behind us. It’s sad for us to think that in mere months our grand adventure will be spoken about in the past tense. Can’t we continue on for a little longer? We’re looking for a way.

Mike and Tara's WeddingIn the meantime, we’re still excited to celebrate our nine-month travelversary since it means we’ve had so many great experiences since getting married just one year ago on 3/3/12! Yes, you read that right. We are celebrating not one but two anniversaries. This calls for a celebratory beer and an upgrade to a room with AC! Ah, the little things that make long-term travelers happy. :)
While we celebrate, enjoy our latest stats: Continue reading

5 Things to Carry When Traveling Through India

After two and a half months traversing India, we left with a good idea of what other travelers will want to have on hand. Some of these items might already be in your travel bag, but knowing why you need them might persuade you to buy a different brand, amount or, well, two-ply instead of one.

Squat Toilet Spigot

Your toilet paper alternative.

Toilet paper
You might have heard of “Indian-style toilets,” also known as squat toilets. We don’t think they’re that bad, as they put your body in a more natural position than Western toilets. However, the advice to bring toilet paper doesn’t stem from attendants forgetting to replace empties. The truth is that Indians use the rinse method to clean their behind instead of toilet paper. In each stall, there’s either a hose or a spigot with a bucket. (This is also one reason why people say the stalls are gross — there is often a layer of brown water surrounding the squat toilet.) If you don’t want to “go local,” you’ll need to bring your own TP (and sometimes small coins for the WC fee). Baby wipes may come in handy as well.

Cash, especially small bills and coins.
When traveling through India, you just have to accept that credit card readers are as rare as a decent coffee. Cash is king, but smaller bills rule the kingdom. Continue reading

Packing For Long-term Travel: His/Her Top Six

Last year we put a spotlight on six odd items we were packing for our round-the-world trip. Now that we’ve been on the road for eight months, we have a pretty solid idea of what is useful (i.e.: the things we kept) and what had to go (and did!). To keep to the theme of short and simple, we each highlight six items we can’t imagine having traveled without. One common theme you’ll notice – and that we stress the importance of – is that most of the items have multiple functions. And this is true for other things we packed as well (even the souvenir we bought in Malawi!).

Mike’s


1. Moroccan Scarf

Early in our trip, I got the idea that I wanted a scarf, but it was not until Morocco that I seriously started looking for one. Out of all the items picked up along the way, this has definitely been the best return for the money. Considering we have had many desert excursions, with a few sandstorms thrown in for good measure, this scarf has been a lifesaver. Currently, it aids in my ability to breathe in India.

Mike's Moroccan Scarf

Mike’s Moroccan scarf.

2. Universal Travel-sized Power Strip

Compact, but offering three U.S. outlets in addition to a USB outlet, this is a great charging unit. Most importantly, it is dual voltage compatible so all you need is a plug adaptor for use overseas. It is hands down one of the most important items in our bag. (As we suspected it would become!) Continue reading

Am I a Backpacking Hoarder?

Tara Walking With PackWe’ve spent the last 70 days on the move. To continue traveling light and stretch our savings for as long as possible, we abide by a strict no souvenir rule. There are two exceptions: if we would feel strong regret by not making a purchase (no object has yet had this powerful effect on us) or if the item will be beneficial during our travels (this we’ve experienced). Tara’s beneficial purchases include a hand fan and a shirt. Mike’s are shower shoes (after leaving his in Istanbul) and soccer jerseys. Mutual purchases include: a food container (which we accidentally left on a bus in Croatia), two towels for our cruise in Turkey and various amenities that have needed refilling.

Point being: What we buy, we use. What we brought with us, we use.

During a recent travel day from Zagreb to Dubrovnik, I got to thinking about the weight of my luggage. By taking out a couple outfits to keep with my carry-on bag, my large backpack felt remarkably lighter. What did I pack that’s been weighing me down? Continue reading