Monthly Archives: November 2016

Camping Tips To Yellowstone National Park

In light of a recent unfortunate event at Yellowstone National Park where a man was killed by a Grizzly bear, and since we just returned from a stay in this park, we feel a post about how to stay safe in Yellowstone would come in handy for many travelers who are planning a trip to Yellowstone National Park.

Everything You Need to Know for Camping in Yellowstone National Park

Bear Safety in Yellowstone National Park
We visited Yellowstone in the springtime, when bear cubs are abundant, so we were advised to only hike in groups of three or more, carry bear spray, carry bells and make lots of noise in order to keep from surprising any bears.

Although bear attacks are extremely rare in Yellowstone National Park, it’s a good idea to keep these things in mind before hiking or camping in the area. Up until this year, there had not been any bear-caused human deaths in Yellowstone since 1986. In the recent attack, park rangers have stated this mother bear behaved normally and was merely defending her cubs from a perceived threat and this is why it is wise to make noise in order to prevent bear encounters.

When camping in Yellowstone National Park, don’t leave any food, crumbs, eating utensils, pots, pans, cosmetics or lotion in your tent or at your campsite.

Basically anything with a scent is advised to be locked up when you are away from your site. I was surprised to learn that Yellowstone park rangers advise people to lock these items in their car. I know some places say everything has to go in the designated bear boxes, but we left our stuff in the car and it was fine.

We were told the bears generally don’t come into the campgrounds and if they do, they shoot them with rubber bullets. I guess they have trained them well.

Now, if you are backcountry camping that is a different story. I would say just starve yourself and don’t bring any food at all to be safe, but I guess that advice isn’t very helpful.

Tips for Backcountry Camping
1. Check with the ranger station before heading into the wilderness and make sure you are following all of the rules for that particular area.

2. Sleep at least 100 yards from where you cook and store your food. Don’t sleep in the same clothes you wore while cooking food and keep your sleeping gear odor free.

3. Hang your food bags, clothes you wore while cooking and eating and any garbage at least 10 feet off the ground and 4 feet away from any tree trunk.

4. Upon arrival of a new campsite, check it over carefully to make sure no garbage or food was left behind by previous campers. If you find anything left behind, it is wise to sleep at least 200 yards away from the cooking area.

5. Human waste and water waste should be disposed of properly.
How to Plan a Trip to Yellowstone National Park

Preparing for a Camping Trip to Yellowstone
If you are flying to Yellowstone and bringing camping gear with you, remember to leave the propane and butane tanks for your grills at home. You will have to purchase these on your way to the park since they will not allow them in carry on or checked bags.

Nighttime can get cold in Yellowstone, even in the summer. We were certainly not prepared since we had to take a flight and didn’t want to pay to check more than two bags. If I did it over again, I would have paid $23 more each way for one more checked bag so that we could bring our sleeping mats and maybe even another warm blanket. We ended up spending more than that buying a sleeping pad that we ended up having to just throw away before we hopped on our flight home.

If you do forget mats to sleep on, you can take Scott’s dirtbag advice and raid the cardboard recycling bin. By the third night we were so freezing and in need of cushion that we used flattened cardboard under our tent. It actually works pretty well.

Another option is to purchase really good backpacking gear, which is a good investment if you do a lot of backpacking or camping where you need to fly to your destination. We have been on dozens of camping and backpacking trips since our trip to Yellowstone, so we have finally come up with the perfect backpacking and camping packing list.

Yellowstone National Park Packing Tips
First Aid Kit: J&J sells an inexpensive mini first aid kit.

Mosquito Repellent: The mosquitoes can get pretty thick in the spring and summer. You will want a good insect repellent. We brought this one because it was small enough to add to our pack.

Camping Stove: We have done extensive research on the best and lightest backpacking gear for these types of trips. This backpacking stove is tiny, weighs next to nothing and it heats stuff up fast.

Cookware: We just bought this tiny cookware set for backpacking trips and it’s extremely compact.

Sleeping Bags: This sleeping bag is great for backpacking and it gets excellent reviews.

Tent: We love this lightweight Marmot 2-person tent.

Sleeping Pads: These ones are amazing!

Backpacks: If you are looking for a durable, light, and inexpensive backpack, we recommend the Teton Scout.

Solar Charger: We carry this solar charger to charge our phones and camera batteries.

Dress in Layers: The weather can be fickle year-round. During the summer, night temperatures in Yellowstone average 30 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit and during winter the temperature reaches negative numbers.

Should Know About Carry On Packing Guide for Airplane Travel

Packing for a trip can be overwhelming. You don’t want to bring an unmanageable amount, especially in a carry-on bag, but you don’t want to miss anything important. To make sure you’re prepared on the plane, bookmark this carry-on packing guide with a list of our favorite products to help make your next flight a breeze.

Carry-On Bags
I travel with a lot of camera gear as well as a laptop, so my carry-on bag is packed full of electronics. This means I have to carefully consider every item that goes into the small top compartment of my backpack. I use the Lowepro Fastpack backpack, which has enough room for all of the items listed below as well as a Sony A7II camera body, 3 lenses, and a GoPro.

If you don’t carry around a lot of camera gear, then this bag is perfect for carry-on items, plus it doubles as a cute handbag for day trips once you are at your new destination.

Passports & Credit Cards
First, and most importantly, don’t forget your passport when traveling abroad (and any other important identification documents). You’ll need them to go through airport security checkpoints as well as in emergencies like missing belongings or canceled flight re-booking. It’s a good idea to make copies of your passport and credit cards and keep them separate from the originals in case they are lost or stolen.

If you have prescription medications or supplements, packing them in your carry-on bag is the safest way to ensure you’ll never miss a dose.

Bringing relief meds for headaches, allergies, or motion sickness will also give you the means to reduce such symptoms right away, and vitamins like Vitamin C and acidophilus can help protect you from germs.

Are your cell-phone, laptop, or other electronics flying with you? Make sure they’re secured in your carry-on and don’t forget their chargers!

I always pack a portable charger (we use this one) for times when I don’t have access to outlets, such as on the plane itself or when exploring during a long layover. Finding outlets in some airports can be tricky and you don’t want to be stuck without power on your phone — especially if you are traveling solo.

Bring Clothes, Just in Case
Hopefully, you’ll never have to deal with lost luggage, but it never hurts to be prepared. A change of underwear, socks, and an extra shirt can help you stay fresh until your belongings are returned. If you’re traveling to a tropical destination, consider bringing your swimsuit in your carry-on, too, so you won’t have to miss out on any water time.

A comfortable cardigan or light jacket can also double as a blanket during air-conditioned flights. I’ve found the perfect long cardigan for travel and it always comes on the plane with me. Don’t count on airlines carrying blankets for every passenger — even on overnight flights.

Toiletries are a must for long flights. Travel deodorant, gum or mints, and a travel folding toothbrush are standard items that I bring on all flights.

Stuck without a shower? Biodegradable Wipes keep you clean and smelling great with tea tree oil, peppermint, and ginseng.

Clean & Clear’s oil-absorbing sheets are one of my favorite things to pack in my carry-on because they keep my face oil-free and can even be used over makeup to restore a matte finish.

I also like to carry a travel-size package of antibacterial wipes to clean my arm rests and food tray on the plane. It’s a great ice breaker if you offer one to your neighbor as well.

You can easily bring your preferred lotions and other liquids from home by using your own travel-sized containers. I fill small contact cases with my favorite lotion for the plane. If you have a few different creams, lotions, or liquids essential to your self-care, you can get a pack of 3 for under $7.

Comfort Basics
We all know how dry airplane air can be. Pack some chapstick and eye drops to keep you moisturized and comfortable.

Sleep Essentials
An eye mask and earplugs are essential for helping you get some sleep, whether you’re taking the red-eye or just catching a nap. I always pack a pair of comfortable, noise-isolating headphones to play white noise or music to help me sleep. Most airlines don’t offer headphones free of charge, so I use these to watch movies as well.

Stay Hydrated
Carry a reusable water bottle to fill up after security. This reusable water bottle is something I’ve recently added to my carry-on packing list. I don’t have much space in my carry-on backpack due to camera gear, but this one can be rolled up and crammed into small spaces.

Stave Off Hunger
Airplane snacks can be unhealthy, unfulfilling, and may not take food allergies into consideration. Packing your own snacks means you’ll have what you like and what you need to nourish your body, without paying extra for food.

Tips to Choose the Best Luggage for Your Next Trip

Luggage is not one-size-fits-all, so it’s important to consider your travel style and cater to those needs when making your next luggage purchase. With that in mind, check out the most important things to consider before making your next travel investment.

The Best Luggage Brands

I should note that brands are not everything, and nobody should pay the price for designer luggage unless they are proven durable and have a warranty. For those of you that don’t want to spend a fortune, don’t be afraid to buy those 3-piece luggage sets you see on Amazon (we’ve been using this set for 3 years and love it!).

With that said, there a few brands out there that are favorites among experienced travelers, and even come with lifetime warranties. Keep your receipts!

Samsonite: Although Samsonite luggage only comes with a warranty limited to manufacturer defects, their typical hard-side luggage is known for its durability. It’s a great option if you’re traveling with breakables, a camera, or plan on bringing back a bottle of wine from your trip. Plus, this hard-sided case has an expandable zipper which is unusual for hard suitcases, but perfect for adding a little extra space and flexibility in packing.

How to Choose the Best Luggage for Your Trip

Hard vs. Soft.
It’s important to choose the right type of luggage for your needs. Are you the adventurer type, or do you generally travel for business? Photography buff, or fashion enthusiast? A hard-sided carry-on is ideal for those traveling to areas with temperamental weather or toting cameras, as it offers ultimate protection. Soft luggage is easy to stuff into overhead compartments, and has expandability – perfect for “over packers” or people who want to bring home souvenirs from their travels. Soft-sided bags are also great for added organization!

Don’t buy a carry-on larger than what you can lift overhead! Get one that meets both international and domestic requirements. Some European airlines have smaller size restrictions for carry-ons, so limit yourself to approximately 21 x 13 x 9 and 15-20lb. in weight to clear nearly all international airline restrictions.

Also consider getting two smaller suitcases versus one large, heavy one. You may have to pay to get the extra one checked, but stuffing everything into a larger one can incur oversize and overweight fees – ultimately costing you more money in the long run.

Additional tips:

Pack your bags only 2/3 full. Since you’ll likely be bringing home items from your trip, you want to make sure you don’t over pack your bags to the point of breaking zippers. Roll your clothes (rather than folding) to create more space.

Consider a TSA-approved lock (this Samsonite comes with one) or cable ties on zippers for added security.

Don’t buy black. Avoid the endless search of your bag in sea of black luggage by buying a brightly-colored or printed suitcase. Checked bags should be easily recognizable to save time and avoid theft or mix-ups, because, unfortunately, leaving the airport with someone else’s bag unknowingly happens all too often. If you do end up buying a black bag, (sometimes options are limited!) place a few large stickers, buy a colorful luggage tag, or tie a brightly-colored ribbon or scarf around the handle.

An under-seat bag doesn’t always mean “under seat.” Due to its compact size, these bags are technically considered a personal item – essentially allowing you to bring an additional carry-on. But if you’re traveling coach on a small or budget airline I wouldn’t suggest trying to fit it under tight seats and narrow aisles, and use it as your carry-on instead.

If you know your seat will have a bit more room (e.g. business or first class) then an under-seat bag with wheels and a handle may just be your way of getting by with an additional small carry-on! Fashionable brands like Nicole Miller and Steve Madden offer such bags with a little style at an affordable cost.