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My Favorite Gear for Travelers

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A map, backpack, and other gear for travel
Posted: 9/10/20 | September 10th, 2020

What do you take on your trip? What do you need? As long time readers know, I’m a fan of packing light. I don’t think you really need much when you travel. As a backpacker, I want to make sure everything I own fits into one bag. I often think people bring too much stuff when they travel.

I went to Costa Rica on my first trip overseas and I took with me the entire suggested packing list my tour company gave customers. I carried around so much stuff I never used. Years later, when I did my first backpacking trip around the world, I still carried so much, I ended up leaving stuff in hostels as I went.

But I also recognize everyone has different travel styles and needs. No two travelers are alike.

As you prepare for future trips and are wondering “what do I really need to bring?”, I wanted to give you a list of what I view as practical and must-have items. These items won’t take up too much space, are incredibly useful, and will make your trip better.

Here’s my favorite travel gear:

 

Items Under $25

1. Travel Padlock

Master travel padlockSafety first! If you’re a budget traveler and plan on staying in hostels during your next trip then you’ll need one of these. Since most hostels use lockers, budget travelers need to provide their own travel lock if they want to keep their stuff secured. While you can usually rent or buy them at hostels, it’s much cheaper just to buy one before you go.

Buy now on Amazon!
 

2. Travel Adapter

travel adapterAs many travelers have learned, it’s incredibly frustrating (not to mention inconvenient) to arrive at a new destination only to realize you can’t charge your phone or computer because the electrical outlets are different. That’s why you’ll want a travel adapter. They’re a simple accessory but a necessary one if you’re visiting different regions of the world. This is one I personally use as it covers every region of the world (and comes with USB ports too). It’s affordable, easy to use, and lightweight.

Buy now on Amazon!
 

3. Packing Cubes

travel packing cubesIf you’re going to be living our of a backpack for a few weeks (or months) or you just want to keep your suitcase better organized, buy packing cubes. They come in a variety of sizes, allowing you to store items big and small. They’re great for making it easy to find everything in your backpack or suitcase. (If you want better-quality packing cubes, check these ones out!)

Buy now on Amazon!
 

4. Earplugs

travel ear plugsAnyone who has ever stayed in a hostel knows that earplugs are a necessity. From snorers to late-night drinkers to copulating couples — I’ve heard it all. Even if you’re not going to be in a hostel, they’re still helpful for sleeping in buses, overnight trains, and other types of transportation. A good night’s sleep is priceless — travel prepared!

Buy now on Amazon!
 

5. DryFox Quick Dry Travel Towel

sea to summit travel towelUnless you’re only staying at hotels and using Airbnb, you’re going to need to bring a towel. Having a lightweight, quick-drying towel makes a huge difference when you’re on the road since regular towels are too bulky and heavy (and they take a long time to dry). Instead, get a travel towel. They’re a compact, quick-drying solution that every backpacker needs. (Use code “nomadicmatt” for 15% off your purchase!)

Buy now at DryFoxCo!
 

6. Passport Holder

travel scratch mapA passport holder is a must-have for any avid traveler. It protects your passport from wear and tear — which is important because a damaged passport might get you sent home early or denied entry to a destination (plus, replacing a passport is an expensive hassle). While there are tons of pricey, fancy options out there, a simple one will get the job done.

Buy now on Amazon!
 

7. Toothpaste Bites

Bites toothpaste jar with spilled toothpaste tabsHaving to travel with liquids is a pain. They’re always a hassle at airport security. And when it comes to toothpaste, there is a lot of waste (you never get all the toothpaste out and the plastic package is bad for the environment). Enter toothpaste bites. These dry tabs of toothpaste that come in a recyclable jar (no plastic!). They take some getting used to but they’re an eco-friendly option for the environmentally-conscious traveler. (If Bite doesn’t ship to your area of the world, Lush also sells toothpaste and mouthwash tabs).

Buy now at Bite!
 

8. Moleskine Notebook

moleskine travel notebookI never leave home without one of these. Not only to I use them for work (I’m constantly taking notes and writing down ideas) but I also use them to keep track of my travels so I have something to look back on. They are the perfect notebook for journaling during your trip as well as for writing down travel notes such as directions, contact information, and language tips. Even in this hyper-technological age, I think everyone needs to write more during their travels so they have something to look back on.

Buy now on Amazon!
 

9. Celiac Travel Cards

Legal Nomads celiac logoMy friend Jodi from Legal Nomads created these helpful travel cards for anyone traveling with Celiac disease. They are in-depth resources that communicate your concerns to restaurant staff in a way that allows anyone traveling with the disease to have a worry-free meal. If you or someone you love has Celiac disease, these travel cards are a useful resource! (Use the code NOMADICMATT for 10% off!)

Buy now at Legal Nomads!
 

10. First Aid Kit

If you’re going to be doing any hiking, biking, or other activities during your trip I suggest bringing a small first aid kit. It just needs to include the basics (band-aids, antibiotic cream (Polysporin), paracetamol (Tylenol), gauze, etc.) so that if you get a small cut, blister, or burn you won’t need to worry about infections. Of course, you should always buy travel insurance before you leave home but this will help you take care of any minor cuts or scrapes you get during your travels.

(Also, as I think we’ve all learned over the past few months, bring some hand sanitizer too!). Here’s more information on how to pack a basic first aid kit.

Buy now on Amazon!
 

Items Under $100

11. LifeStraw

lifestraw water filterSingle-use plastics are common in a lot of countries around the world. They’re also polluting our oceans and destroying the environment. But when you’re traveling, they can be hard to avoid if you want to stay safe. Fortuantely, you can do your part to help the planet by traveling with a reusable filter. LifeStraw is an awesome brand that sells bottles with built in water filters. The filters last 5 years so you save money on changing them too. You’ll be able to stay healthy and lower your reliance on single-use plastics. Double win!

Buy now at LifeStraw!
 

12. Travel Headlamp

travel head lampThis is a handy tool for both backpackers and anyone looking to do any hiking or camping. If you’re going to be staying in a hostel, having a headlamp is helpful when you need to check in or out but don’t want to disturb your fellow travelers by turning on the lights. They’re also helpful in emergencies.

Buy now on Amazon!
 

13. Trtl Travel Pillow

a comfortable travel pillowTravel pillows are perfect for those long-haul flights, delayed buses, and airport naps. Every avid traveler should have a travel pillow. They just make being in transit all the more comfortable. They help prevent jetlag and make even the longest, most uncomfortable trip a little more bearable.

Buy now on Amazon!
 

14. Suavs shoes

suavs shoesSuavs shoes are versatile and durable. They’re perfect for traveling because they work for exploring a new city while also looking a little fancier so you can dress them up if you have to. They are flexible, light, washable, and breathable. I love them!

Buy now on Suavs!
 

Items Over $100

15. Travel Backpack

REI Flash travel backpackIf you’re a long-term traveler, your backpack is your home away from home. A reliable, durable travel backpack is a must for budget travelers, minimalists, and backpackers. A well-made bag will last for years and through dozens of adventures. Having a reliable travel backpack is one of the most important items for a traveler and is worth investing in.

My favorite bag is the Flash 45 from REI but other companies worth checking out for high-quality bags are Osprey, Nomatic, and MEC (for Canadians).

For a different backpack suggestions, check out my guide to finding the right backpack!

16. Travel Clothing from Unbound Merino

Unbound Merino wool shirtThese travel clothes are some of the most versatile on the market. Made from merino wool, Unbound Merino offers clothing that can be worn daily for weeks without getting smelly. They are super light (great for carry-on only travelers) and they look sylish too. I really love the material, they’re comfortable, they hardly ever need a wash, and they last forever!

Buy now on Unbound!
 

17. Eco-friendly Luggage from Samsonite

samsonite recycled eco-friendly travel luggageIf you’re looking for a suitcase instead of a travel backpack, Samsonite has been a go-to brand for durable, quality luggage for ages. Personally, I’m a backpack guy but even I am a fan of this luggage set because it’s made from 100% recycled plastic. Not only that, it also comes with a limited 10 year warranty in case something goes wrong.

Buy now on Amazon!
 

18. Kindle

a kindle from AmazonPersonally, I prefer physical books when I travel. However, I can’t argue against the convenience and simplicity of the Kindle. I’ll admit, hauling around physical books is a pain. It’s old-fashioned and inconvenient. With a Kindle, you can pack thousands of books into a single device, ensuring you always have something good to read when you’re in transit.

Buy now on Amazon!
 

19. GoPro Hero 8 Black

gopro hero 7I’m not much of a photographer myself, but even I’ll admit that every traveler needs a camera. If you want something better than your phone but still easy to use, get a GoPro. They’re durable and take incredible photos and video without a steep learning curve. They’re waterproof too and work well for both everyday exploring as well as adventurous activities. It’s the most versatile camera there is.

Buy now on Amazon!

***

Whether you’re heading out for a two-week vacation or a full round-the-world adventure, this list of travel gear will help you get started. You need a lot of stuff when you travel but the right stuff can make a world of difference.

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay elsewhere, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years.

My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

Looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all the ones I use to save money when I travel – and I think will help you too!

The post My Favorite Gear for Travelers appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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How to Plan a Successful RV Trip

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Mike and Anne from HoneyTrek posing in the arctic circle
Posted: 8/27/20 | August 27th, 2020

Since international travel on pause, people have turned to exploring their own backyards. From the U.S. to Canada to England, Europe, and New Zealand, people are getting in cars, campervans, and RVs and heading out on road trips. After all, it allows you to social distance while still getting outside!

Today, I’ve invited my friends Mike and Anne from HoneyTrek to share their RV tips and advice. They’re full-time RVers and will help you get your next RV adventure started easily and on a budget!

A couple of years back, the van life craze had everyone curious about rubber-tramping across North America. Maybe you thought, nah, I prefer my city apartment or jet-setting abroad.

Then COVID-19 hit. All of a sudden, getting out of Dodge with a house on wheels started to sound really good, didn’t it?

There is no doubt that RVing is one of the easiest and safest ways to travel right now. No crowded planes or questionable hotel rooms required — an RV gives you the freedom to explore and the peace of mind of having your own space.

Over the course of our eight-year “HoneyTrek” we’ve tried virtually every style of travel — backpacking, house-sitting, small-ship cruising, backcountry camping, five-star honeymooning, etc. — but the day we rented a campervan in New Zealand, we knew this was our preferred mode of travel.

For the past three years, we’ve been traveling full-time in our 1985 Toyota Sunrader “Buddy the Camper,” from the Baja Peninsula to the Arctic Circle and 47 states in between.

We’ve learned a lot along the way and are excited to share what we think are the most important things to know before setting out on your RV journey.

Here’s a video we just filmed which covers all the basics (or read the post below):

 

How to Pick the Right Size RV

For maximum adventure and comfort, we’d recommend a camper around 21 feet long. We know those big RVs tricked out like a penthouse apartment look tempting, but remember that every foot in length costs mobility. A shorter rig allows you to:

  • Access rugged terrain
  • Fit in a normal parking space, even parallel park
  • Avoid length restrictions on some of America’s most beautiful winding roads and ferry rides
  • Get better gas mileage (Most rigs get 6–10 MPG. Ours gets 19.)
  • Have less stuff to break, which means more time exploring and having fun!

And, while even shorter 16- to 19-foot-long campervans do have the ultimate mobility, there are a few things you should know before you fall for that adorable Westfalia or stealthy Sprinter.

First, life ain’t so pretty without your own indoor shower and bathroom. And, while we respect the vanlifers who make do with public restrooms, bucket toilets, and catholes (digging a hole outside when you need to go to the bathroom), let us tell you the virtues of having a flushing loo: privacy, cleanliness, and autonomy.

We can be in a city center or a protected conservation area and conveniently and responsibly stay the night. In these unprecedented times, it’s more important than ever to be self-sufficient and not rely on shared facilities.

Besides a bathroom, a 19- to 22-foot long RV is big enough to also give you a proper bed and ample storage while still being small enough to explore with wild abandon.
 

How to Get Power (A.K.A. the Virtues of Solar)

Mike and Anne from HoneyTrek boondocking in Pariah Canyon, USA
RVs and campers have a house battery to run the lights, water pump, fans, and power electronics. Here are the various way to keep it charged:

  • Drive a few hours per day
  • Pay to plug in at a campground
  • Run a generator
  • Have solar panels

Your average road trip will likely give you enough charge from driving, but if you really need power, an RV park is never far away. If you are looking to slow-cruise the wilderness and lower your environmental impact, solar panels are a must. The simplest and most affordable option ($70–150 USD) is to get a portable panel and use it whenever you’re stopped in order to charge up the house battery of your RV. This obviously isn’t as convenient or powerful as an integrated system, but it should be enough to keep your phone and laptop charged.

If you are in this for the long haul, though, you’re going to want to install a solar system. We bought 300 watts of flexible monocrystalline solar panels, installed them to the roof, and wired them all together with a charge controller, lead-acid battery, and power inverter in about 20 hours — all for $1,200 USD.

If you want the best efficiency and lifespan, spring for a lithium-ion deep cycle battery, like the Relion RB100. If a DIY electrical project sounds too scary, you can have it professionally installed for $1,000–2,000 USD. We know that’s is a chunk of change, but investing in solar has allowed us to spend the last three years without having to ever pay for electricity, worry about running out of power, or generating any greenhouse gases.
 

How to Get Internet

Anne from HoneyTrek working on a laptop in her RV
Your smartphone is your on-the-go router. It’s important to use a carrier with an extensive national network (AT&T or Verizon) so as to get reception in remote areas (the dream is to be using your laptop from a secluded beach, right?).

We use our Verizon phone as a hotspot for our two laptops, getting 50GB unthrottled per month, plus unlimited calls and texts, for $109 USD.

While that’s a decent amount of data, it’s not a home internet plan through which you can be streaming all day. If you’ll be on the road for more than a couple weeks, monitor your usage with the GlassWire app and install NetLimiter on your laptop to help ration your data. Save your big downloads and uploads for free Wi-Fi zones.

We love working at libraries, not just for the internet but for their inspiring spaces, peace and quiet, community offerings, and open invitation to stay all day.

And, when all else fails, McDonald’s and Starbucks have wifi that’s usually strong enough to tap from the comforts of your camper.
 

How to Find Places to Camp

Your basic campground typically offers a flat parking spot with a picnic table, fire pit, and shared bathroom for $10–30 USD per night. If you bump up to $35–80 USD a night, you’re in RV park territory and will likely get power, water, sewer, and shared amenities like a clubhouse and a pool.

But did you know there are tens of thousands of free campsites scattered around the wilds of the USA? The federal government has reserved 640 million acres of public lands (national forests, BLM [Bureau of Land Management] land, national conservation areas, etc.) for your enjoyment. These sites are pretty bare-bones (sometimes it’s just a clearing in the forest) but, since we have a self-contained camper with our own drinking water and bathroom, all we really want is a peaceful spot with a good view.

This style of independent camping has many names: dispersed camping, wild camping, dry camping, freedom camping, and most commonly “boondocking.” We find our favorite boondocking spots via the Ultimate Campgrounds app, which we use to see what sites are nearby.

If we’re striking out on that app, we turn to iOverlander and FreeCampsites.net.

With these apps, we’re able to find great camping on the fly and rarely pay a dime.

That said, there is a time and place for more traditional campgrounds. They can be a great way to meet other campers, enjoy a few extra services, or stay in the heart of a national park. ReserveAmerica.com is the main campground portal (290,000 listings!) for public (national and state parks) and private campgrounds. HipCamp.com also has extensive offerings and is our favorite for unique sites on private land — it’s like the Airbnb of camping. KOA has tons of options too.

If you know there is a certain place you want to be on a specific night, you can book in advance. But also just don’t be afraid to go with the flow — there is always a beautiful boondocking spot somewhere!
 

Urban Boondocking

Mike and Anne from HoneyTrek boondocking in Seattle, USA
Speaking of boondocking, it’s not just for the woods. We have spent countless nights “camping” in the heart of cities, and if you adhere to a few simple rules, you can feel confident doing the same:

  • Obey all street signs and curb markings and keep the meter fed. If it says “no overnight parking,” take heed. If there is any ambiguity in the signage (street cleaning conflicts, permit parking, etc.), find another spot.
  • Don’t overstay your welcome. We usually limit our time in the same parking spot to two nights.
  • Don’t draw attention to yourself with excessive lights, music, noise, etc. Even though our 1980s RV is far from a stealth camper, we have slept in over 50 cities and never been asked to “move along.”

Be smart, be respectful, and the world is your campground.
 

How to Save Money on Gas

Mike and Anne from HoneyTrek parked at a small general store
We know gas is only around $2 USD/gallon at the moment, but when it comes to your long-term travel budget, every bit counts. Here are some tips to save at the pump:

  • Get the GasBuddy app. It allows you to see the gas prices along your route, often saving upwards of 50 cents per gallon, particularly if you can wait to cross a state line or get farther off the highway.
  • Get yourself a Discover card and/or Chase Freedom Unlimited card; certain months of the year, they offer 5% off your fill-up.
  • Sign up for gas station rewards programs, especially Shell and Pilot, which give 3–5 cents off per gallon.
  • Keep your tires inflated at the recommended PSI, and drive under 55mph. In addition to the gas savings, it’s safer and prolongs the life of your rig.

How to Find the Back Roads

Mike and Anne from HoneyTrek in the Black Hills
Set your GPS to “avoid highways” and you’ll discover just how beautiful this country can be. Interstates have blazed straight lines across the nation but the old network of roads, working with the contours of the land and connecting historic towns, still exists.

The best routes are America’s Byways, a collection of 150 distinct and diverse roads protected by the Department of Transportation for their natural or cultural value.

Even better than that website (because you can’t rely on back roads’ cell reception) is a hard copy of the National Geographic Guide to Scenic Highways and Byways. It maps out the prettiest drives in every state, with something to marvel at even in “the flyover states.” We refer to it every time we start a big drive and discover interesting landmarks, quirky museums, scenic viewpoints, quintessential eateries, and short hikes, which always improves the ride.
 

Take Glamping Breaks

Mike and Anne from HoneyTrek glamping in the desert
To make sure you don’t burn out on small-space, off-grid living, treat yourself to the occasional glamping getaway. Creative outdoor accommodations with a plush bed, hot shower, and friendly host always remind us how much we love the woods.

When we get to a glamp camp, we can walk away from our normal responsibilities (setting up camp, cooking for ourselves, and DIY everything) and truly relax. A gorgeous treehouse, dome, yurt, or safari tent has been designed with your enjoyment in mind, and if you need anything, your host is at the ready.

A little pampering and fresh take on the outdoors will give you the energy to keep on truckin’.

To find fabulous getaways along your route, check out our glamping book, Comfortably Wild: The Best Glamping Destinations in North America.
 

How to Protect Yourself and Your Ride

You’ll be exploring remote areas, going down rough roads, and having wild adventures (get excited!). Consider these three forms of protection and you’ll be ready for whatever comes your way:

  • RV insurance – While this is specialty car insurance, the good news is it can be cheaper than insuring a sedan (we pay $375 USD a year for our Progressive plan).
  • Travel insurance – While most people think of travel insurance for big international trips, it usually kicks in 100 miles from your house, covering health emergencies, trip delays, canceled reservations (from campgrounds to river rafting excursions), and a variety of other snafus. Rather than getting insurance every time we hit the road, we use the Allianz All Trips Premier Plan so we’re automatically covered wherever we go throughout the year.
  • Roadside assistance – Good ol’ AAA does have RV plans, but we like that Good Sam is designed specifically for RVers and doesn’t charge a premium for it. An annual membership covers towing RVs of all sizes, tire blowouts, running out of gas, locking your keys in your vehicle, plus lots of other benefits and travel discounts.

***

As full-timers, we’re incredibly passionate about RVing and lot to share road trip itineraries, advice about buying a vintage camper, and lessons learned from three years on the road. While there is a lot to know about RV travel, renting a camper is a safe and easy way to get started. And there is a wonderful RV and #vanlife community online that will be happy to help too.

Mike and Anne Howard left on their honeymoon in January 2012 and never came home. They created HoneyTrek.com to chronicle their journey across all seven continents and help people realize their travel dreams. They are the authors of National Geographic’s bestselling book, Ultimate Journeys for Two, and the first-ever book on glamping in North America, Comfortably Wild.

Book Your Trip to the USA: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay elsewhere, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

Looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all the ones I use to save money when I travel – and I think will help you too!

Need an affordable RV for your road trip?
RVshare lets you rent RVs from private individuals all around the country, saving you tons of money in the process. It’s like Airbnb for RVs, making roads trips fun and affordable!

Want More Information on traveling the United States?
Be sure to visit our robust destination guide to the US for even more tips on how to plan your visit!

The post How to Plan a Successful RV Trip appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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A Love Letter to Maine

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A picturesque lighthouse on the coast of Maine
Posted: 9/8/2020 | September 8th, 2020

Tucked away up in the northeast corner of the United States, Maine evokes images of endless shorelines, wild forests, Stephen King, iconic lighthouses, and lots and lots of lobster dinners.

Despite growing up only 90 minutes from the state, I only visited once in my life. I was in college and my friend George was from there, so one weekend, we drove up to his hometown of Gorham.

Maine was always one of those places that I felt I could visit anytime so was never a rush to do so. There was always a flight to some distant land to get on instead. Maine could wait.

People tend to put off traveling their “backyard” until the end and I was no different.

But then COVID struck and there were no more flights to distant lands.

A busy harbour on the coast of Maine, USA

There was just my backyard to see.

So, while I was back in Boston longing for nature, I decided to finally visit Maine. My original plan was to spend a roughly ten days there before heading to Vermont then Upstate New York and then back to Boston.

But as the days ticked by, 10 turned to 12, which turned to 14, which turned to 21.

I just couldn’t quit Maine.

I loved the quiet, slow pace of the state.

I loved the small-town feel to the cities, and the fact you were never far from nature. Every city had access to it, and there was always someplace to go hike. Even tiny Bangor had parks and greenways galore.

Nomadic Matt posing for a photo in Acadia National Park, Maine

I loved the food. Besides traditional lobsters and oysters and other seafood we all know about, there was excellent Thai food, upscale American, and creative gastronomy. There was a lot of good food in Maine and, as someone who plans their travels mostly around food, Maine was perfect.

I loved all the microbreweries. Maine is one of the best states for beer and I found myself bouncing from microbrew to microbrew in search of the best IPA. (The winner was Rising Tide in Portland.)

And, of course, there were the people. There’s something about the state that makes everyone smiley, talkative, and welcoming. They’d ask you where you were from, shoot the shit with you, and always have suggestions on where to go next. From the diner owner in Bangor to the staff at the hotel I ended up extending to my stay at to the attendant at the park — who, when I asked directions, decided that was his chance to go into a long soliloquy on his state — to countless others, people in Maine were really nice.

Stephen King's house in Maine, USA

My time there took me to Portland, Bangor, Camden, Acadia National Park, Moosehead Lake, and tiny coastal towns for lunch stops. I learned to shuck oysters. I went on a hike every day. I read lots of books. I ate a lot of delicious food. Since COVID-19 closed most museums and indoor attractions, there was no much else to do. (But, really, who needs more than that?)

In small-town Maine, the rest of the country and its troubles seemed far away. A friend described it as the place for those who want to get away from society but feel like Alaska is too far. In a state where the population density is 41 per square mile (38th in the country), it seems like a perfect analogy.

A peaceful river surrounded by trees in Maine, USA

Maine seems to enchant people, casting a magical spell that lasts forever. It’s no wonder so many people I know from Boston go to Maine every summer. And it’s no wonder why I suddenly found myself calculating how much a summer home there would really cost and, if I too, want to spend the rest of summers here.

In a word, Maine is magical.

If you’re looking for a place to get away from it all with beautiful forests to hike, long coastlines to explore, delicious food to eat, and friendly people to chat with, you need to visit Maine.

Thank me later.

And send me a postcard.

Logistical Information
Eat: Duckfat (Portland), Eventide (Portland), Bite into Maine (Portland), Gidden Point Oyster Farm (Damariscotta), Long Grain (Camden), The Traveling Lobster (Bar Harbor), Havana (Bar Harbor), Rosalie’s (Bar Harbor), Beal’s Lobster (Southwest Harbor), The Fiddlehead (Bangor), Judy’s (Bangor), Stress Free Moose Pub (Greenville)
Drink: Rising Tide (Portland), Stress Free Moose Pub (Greenville), Atlantic Brewing Company (Bar Harbor), Bissell Brothers (Portland), Urban Farm (Portland), Mason’s Brewing (Bangor)
Stay: Black Elephant Hostel (Portland), Leisure Life (Moosehead Lake), Bar Harbor Manor (Bar Harbor)

Book Your Trip to the United State: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

Looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all the ones I use to save money when I travel – and I think will help you too!

Need an affordable RV for your road trip?
RVshare lets you rent RVs from private individuals all around the country, saving you tons of money in the process. It’s like Airbnb for RVs.

Want more information on the United States?
Be sure to visit our robust destination guide on the USA for even more planning tips!

The post A Love Letter to Maine appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.





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Discover Something New at Home this Holiday Season

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Traveling “home” this holiday season? Don’t fall into your old routine. Your high school hangout may be an easy go-to, but if you don’t live there anymore there’s a good chance you’re missing out on some great new local spots. (Plus, be honest: you already know what all your classmates are up to from Facebook.)

We turned to local writers to help you rediscover your hometown over Thanksgiving and the winter holidays. Each city guide features a great new restaurant to try while you’re in town, a cool neighborhood that wasn’t on the radar last year or a store where you can pick up a keepsake to bring your old home back to your new home. We’ll also catch you up to speed on the hot topics of conversation in each city, so you’ll come back savvy enough to join the local sports banter or eat your holiday weight in Cronuts.

Click your city below to learn what’s new since the last time you went home:

Continue reading Discover Something New at Home this Holiday Season

Discover Something New at Home this Holiday Season originally appeared on Gadling on Mon, 25 Nov 2013 12:15:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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4 Thanksgiving Travel Tips to Save You Time

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APTOPIX Airport Travel
Associated Press

Sure, some of these travel tips are basic. But Thanksgiving travel is looking to be an even bigger mess than normal this year, especially around the East Coast. So this 90-second refresher from Samantha Brown and Mark “Hawkeye Louis” could save you hours.

Continue reading 4 Thanksgiving Travel Tips to Save You Time

4 Thanksgiving Travel Tips to Save You Time originally appeared on Gadling on Tue, 26 Nov 2013 11:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Will You Be a Horrible Restaurant Customer This Holiday Season?

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Hispanic waitress taking order
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So you’ve finished your Thanksgiving dinner and you’re finally sick of turkey leftovers. It’s time to get out there and hit the great new restaurant that just opened in your hometown or wherever you’re spending the holidays. (FYI: Aol Travel knows the hot restaurants in cities around the U.S.)

Wherever you go, remember that there are appropriate ways to behave. And there are horrible ways to behave, as highlighted in this Montreal Gazette story by two Montreal-area restaurant servers. Among other things, they urge:

Continue reading Will You Be a Horrible Restaurant Customer This Holiday Season?

Will You Be a Horrible Restaurant Customer This Holiday Season? originally appeared on Gadling on Wed, 27 Nov 2013 16:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Demonstrations in Thailand? No Problem, Travelers Say.

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Rush Hour in Bangkok Centre
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The political protests currently taking place in parts of Bangkok don’t seem to be affecting travel to and within Thailand. And that should be no surprise. Despite events — a coup, floods and protests that closed an airport among them — that have rocked the country in recent years, travelers remain unfazed about visiting Thailand.

Quartz reports:

Not only are tourists still coming, but they’ve been arriving in increasing numbers in recent years, according to government data.

The story adds:

Continue reading Demonstrations in Thailand? No Problem, Travelers Say.

Demonstrations in Thailand? No Problem, Travelers Say. originally appeared on Gadling on Mon, 02 Dec 2013 11:26:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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TSA Lets Travelers Apply for PreCheck

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Travel-Airport Security Fast Track
Associated Press

Today the Transportation Security Administration (you know ’em as TSA) began allowing travelers to apply for its PreCheck program (or as TSA calls it, Pre✓[TM]).

According to TSA,

The new application process allows U.S. citizens to directly enroll in TSA Pre✓[TM], an expedited screening program that allows travelers to leave on their shoes, light outerwear and belt, keep their laptop in its case and their 3-1-1 compliant liquids/gels bag in a carry-on, in select screening lanes. To date, passengers have only been eligible through existing programs such as U.S. Custom and Border Protection’s Global Entry program and frequent flier programs with certain airlines, but this announcement will allow travelers to apply directly for the expedited screening program.

Continue reading TSA Lets Travelers Apply for PreCheck

TSA Lets Travelers Apply for PreCheck originally appeared on Gadling on Wed, 04 Dec 2013 16:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Where to Ski In Every State and 16 Ski Vacations Near Big U.S. Cities

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Squaw Valley

The period after Thanksgiving isn’t just the start of the holiday shopping season, it’s typically the start of the ski season as well. To that end, AOL Travel has posted these two guides to ski vacations:

Now you’ll be able to cross off Ski in Alabama on your bucket list.

Where to Ski In Every State and 16 Ski Vacations Near Big U.S. Cities originally appeared on Gadling on Thu, 05 Dec 2013 11:29:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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And the Winner of Sound of Music Live Is…

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Mirabell Gardens, Salzburg
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Last night’s live production of The Sound of Music on NBC got more flak than Maria did for being an unsolvable problem nun. The acting was bad, the costumes St. Pauli-esque and the mountains… gasp! They were fake!

But there was one winner in last night’s performance: the city of Salzburg, Austria. Home of the Von Trapps, setting of the original movie and now site of thousands of Edelweiss-blasting tour buses and gazebo-worshipping 16-going-on-17-year-olds, Salzburg enjoyed a flurry of love last night.

Continue reading And the Winner of Sound of Music Live Is…

And the Winner of Sound of Music Live Is… originally appeared on Gadling on Fri, 06 Dec 2013 14:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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