Posts Tagged ‘tips’

Desert Hiking Essentials and Safety Tips

Hiking in the desert may seem unconventional to some, but this activity does have quite a few avid followers. Desert hiking gives you ample opportunity to indulge in rock climbing, walk along the gorgeous terrain, and of course, click pictures as you move ahead.

Hiking, as all other adventure sports, should never be taken lightly, especially when you consider the harshness of the desert. There are certain safety measures and precautions that you need to keep in mind, every step of the way.

Top 5 Desert Hiking Essentials and Safety Tips

1. Carry All Essentials

A desert hike is definitely not a stroll in the park, so it is imperative to make preparations for it. To begin with, you must make a list of essential items which you need to carry along with you. These include basic supplies and safety equipment. Usually, the items that you carry along for your trip depend on the location, weather, and the amount of time you plan to spend there. But a desert hiking trip in particular, calls for the following essentials –

– Extra water
– Extra food
– Map and compass
– First aid kit
– Flashlight with spare batteries
– Spray water bottle to mist water on your body
– Protective clothing
– Sunscreen
– Whistle/mirror for use during emergencies
– Swiss knife

2. Keep Sipping on Fluids

Nothing works like good ol’ water to beat the desert heat. Preferably, you should never hike between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., times when the sun is at its brightest. However, it is important to be hydrated at all times, in order to keep heat-related afflictions at bay. A good hydration pack will help you keep up your fluid intake, and won’t be too cumbersome to carry.

It is estimated that an individual perspires around half to one quart of fluid for every hour spent walking in the sun. This may exceed to around 2 quarts if you’re walking uphill in harsh sunlight. Ignoring the health risks associated with desert hiking can place you in a potentially life-threatening situation, especially if you’re alone. Therefore, remember to keep sipping on water every few minutes, rather than waiting for thirst to strike, and make yourself vulnerable to a heat stroke.

3. Respect Mother Nature

The solitude of the desert may trick you into believing that you are the master of this vast expanse of land, but it obviously isn’t so. Deserts are home to a large number of rattlesnakes, coyotes, black widow spiders, and scorpions, not to mention several land-dwelling insects. Your presence on their land would not bother them, unless you go and bother them first. Therefore, as a responsible hiker, you must keep yourself from going unnecessarily close to any animals, or deliberately harming them, lest you wish to be attacked by them. Accidental encounters may happen, of course, which is why you need to be acquainted with first aid measures as well.

4. Know What to Do if You’re Lost

In case misfortune befalls, you might lose your way in the desert. Your immediate response would be to panic, but do refrain from doing so. Instead, follow the Stop-Think-Observe-Plan (STOP) method to reassess your situation. This involves stopping to relax and get over your ‘freaked out’ state of mind. The next step is to look around and think about your best available options. This includes studying your map, assessing your possessions, and making optimum use of them. The third step is to observe the environment around you to chalk out an exit/escape route. The final step is to plan what your next move is going to be, having taken complete stock of the situation you are in.

Deserts are usually notorious for being reception-free zones, so don’t always expect your mobile phone to work here. Thus, it is of utmost importance to let your loved ones know about the exact details of your hiking trip, so that they can take the necessary measures to send out a search party in case you are lost.

5. Never Overestimate Yourself

As a hiker, you could be an amateur or a veteran, but you should never override any of the prescribed safety norms issued by the authorities. So, if you know of any adversity coming in the way of your hike, do not challenge it. Devious terrains that are out-of-bounds for people, stormy weather, etc., are some of the things that you should keep away from, no matter how thrilling it may seem to you. Throwing caution to the wind may not necessarily cause harm, but you will be putting your life at risk.

Hiking needs to be enjoyable, exhausting, and rejuvenating at the same time. To make your trip a memorable one, make sure that you tap into your inner spirit of adventure, and follow safety rules alongside. Hope you have a great trip!

Helpful Tips to Find the Best Cruise Deals

Sea cruises, without a doubt, spell class, style, and luxury. They seem to have it all―spacious cabins with top-of-the-line amenities, multi-cuisine restaurants, spas, swimming pool(s), recreation areas, and amazing live entertainment. And move over seasickness; because most cruise liners today are the very definition of comfort.

So, when you’ve got a liner that lets you travel in style to the most exotic destinations in the world, from Scandinavia to Antarctica, you naturally assume them to be jaw-droppingly expensive. Well, some of these sure are, but there also are a variety of options to suit your budget. The following pointers will come in handy to find you that dream cruise vacation.

How to Find the Best Cruise Deals

Begin with Research
The first rule is also the most obvious one on the list; to be able to find a bargain on your cruise vacation, you need to invest a good deal of time in research. Get the basics in place by deciding:

– myour destination
– myour choice of ship (big or small)
– type of cruise (adventure/family/singles/exotic)

Once you have these answers in hand, you can get to the task of zeroing in on the cruise that ticks all your boxes. Read up on cruise companies and their reviews on the Internet. This will help you shortlist a few options. You can even order brochures of the trips that interest you.

Proceed to Booking
If this is your first cruise trip, it is suggested that you book it through a travel agent. A cruise, unlike a regular holiday, is like your mode of transport/accommodation/sightseeing all rolled into one. Which is why a travel agent’s expertise will come in handy to book a trip that suits your needs. An agent can help you pick the right cruise, a good cabin, food and beverage options, age-appropriate entertainment for the family/group, include a few steal-deals, and perhaps throw in a discount as well.

A few cruise companies even appoint certain agents to accept bookings from customers. In such cases, the agent will not charge you anything for the service rendered, as he is already being paid a commission by the company. So, in case an agent is trying to coerce you into choosing a particular cruise, give it a deeper thought before you come to a decision.

Usually, the good agents are sure to have a Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) affiliation. A CLIA-certified agent is considered to be worthy and experienced to offer the best services, having completed a training program. Plus, you may also look for referrals, and pick an agent that has been recommended by someone you trust.

Finding the Best Deals
Finding the best cruise deals requires some amount of experience as well as expertise. To a first timer, it is akin to rocket science; and there are more chances of the person being taken for a ride, rather than a cruise. But here’s a thumb rule―your best chances of snagging a steal are at least 8 to 10 months before the sailing date. The best cabins are on sale during the early days, so you’re ensured a wide choice. This is especially true of popular destinations like the Mediterranean or Caribbean. If you’re thinking of going off-track, say Antarctica for instance, then you have to book at least a year in advance. Such cruises are not as frequent as the others, but are phenomenally popular (and not to mention, expensive).

Getting in Last-minute
Last-minute deals are a bit of a gamble when it comes to cruises. This is because, unlike regular vacations, your options are severely limited. So, while it’s true that you may find some last-minute value deals, they may not necessarily be to your liking. If this is your first trip to the seas, it is recommended that you play it safe and book in advance. Once you gain experience, you’ll automatically be trained to snag a steal at the last moment.

Be Weather Wise
Ensure that you complete your homework regarding weather-related aspects before you book your trip. Be in the know about the kind of weather to be expected at your destination, plus the general conditions of the sea throughout the duration of your trip. Doing so is important because lull-season cruise trips may fit perfectly in your budget, but the dowdy weather conditions throughout the cruise may dampen the overall experience. This may seem a bit trivial to some, but keep in mind that if you don’t like the weather, you simply can’t leave a cruise midway, for obvious reasons.

Consider the Whole Hog
A cruise isn’t just about the ship. You need to add the cost of traveling to the port of departure, perhaps a night’s stay here, and the return flight from your destination. Adding up all these things will give you an accurate picture of your actual expenses. Just ensure that your pre- and post-cruise expenditure does not eat into what you thought was a bargain cruise price.

There are endless number of things to consider when you’re booking a cruise trip. But listing them all out would translate to a lot of confusion. So, don’t be too pressurized, and book your trip in a relaxed state of mind. You’re sure to get the best deal this way.

Tips for Choosing the Best European River Cruise

At the cost of sounding very ill-informed, it must be admitted that cruise ships were, until recently, considered to be a perfect holiday for those who found themselves on the wrong side of 50. It involved a comfortable setting, with lots of time spent bobbing up and down on the calm waters of the Danube or the Rhine, seeking the most wonderful photo ops of continental Europe. It still is all this, but you’d be surprised to know the extent to which cruise companies have reinvented themselves to cater to a more younger and hipper crowd.

So, before you dive right in and book one for yourself, here are a few things that you’ve got to keep in mind.

Pick one that is all-inclusive
With group holidays, most itineraries are not all-inclusive, which can be a shame, as the traveler has to be mindful of what he can or cannot do. Therefore, it is better to pick a cruise that gives an all-inclusive deal, upfront. This should include all of the following―airport transfers, tips, meals, drinks, excursions, and on-board facilities like spas, specialty restaurants, pools, gyms, etc. Try to evade the “conditions apply” deals as far as possible, as it is really hard to keep a track of what you’re allowed or not allowed to do.

Screen their specialties
With their growing popularity, cruises are now catering to all kinds of travelers; gone are the days when it used to be the ‘elderly’ way to see Europe. Once you dock, there are ample opportunities for doing whatever it is you want to, be it cycling, exploring, clubbing, or simply taking the designated walking tour conducted by in-house tour guides. You’ve got to be clear about the kind of excursions that are offered, as some companies can be quite rigid about their itineraries, and not allow patrons to go off on their own, for safety concerns. If you’re more of the outdoorsy type, and the cruise offers a lot of museum visits, you know you ought to bypass it.

Don’t forget your budget and your purpose
European cruises can be quite heavy on the pocket. Does it seem any surprising that they’ve been the preferred way to travel for well-off retirees? An all-inclusive, two-week cruise can easily cost you in the range of USD 6,000 or thereabouts per person. Which can amount to nothing, provided you are the type who’d want to travel in style. But if you’re a backpacker at heart, or for whatever reason your mind’s not in it, you won’t be able to enjoy it, no matter how lavish the setting.

Know that the weather can be a complete dampener
April to October is the cruise season in Europe. But mind you, the weather in April and early May can play spoilsport at times. It can be wet and chilly, which means that you may have to spend most of your time indoors, rather than being on the deck to enjoy the views. Also, the rains may cause the water level in the rivers to rise, making it impossible for ships to pass under bridges. Conversely, in case of a drought, the low water level would also mean that ships cannot pass through. Late May to July, therefore would be more appropriate than April.

Pick a cruise that’s right for you
Rhine? Danube? Seine? No, all European cruises aren’t the same; in fact, they do cater to very different kinds of clientele.

The Rhine-Moselle-Main cruise is more about exploring the picturesque side of Europe, as it takes you along the historic corridor of the continent, viewing the most breathtaking castles, mountains, and landscapes. This cruise charts the course of the Rhine, from Switzerland to Amsterdam, into France and Luxembourg, and culminates in Germany. Fans of fairy tale landscapes and history buffs will immensely appreciate this route.

The Danube crosses the Iron Curtain, entering Eastern Europe, which offers a fresh perspective into Europe for those who have had enough of the western part of the continent. The Danube flows from the Black Forest in Germany to the Black Sea in Romania, passing through Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia, Croatia, Bulgaria, and Romania.

The Rhone cruise is made for wine lovers, since it sails through Provence and Burgundy, two of France’s top wine-making regions. You’ll have ample visits to vineyards along the way, sampling the local produce, and enjoying the gorgeous views.

The Douro is another exciting option for those wanting to explore Portugal and Spain, two very unique and distinct destinations in the western corridor. The Douro river rises in north-central Spain, and flows southwards into northern Portugal, and finally emptying into the Atlantic at Porto. Stops along the way include the Golden City of Salamanca, and the sleepy fishing hamlet of Pinhao, as you take in the vine-covered, rugged hillside along the banks of the Douro.

The cruise you pick should foremostly, reflect your choices about the kind of holiday you wish to go on. Therefore, conduct thorough research before you take your pick.

Cruising through the rivers of Europe is one of the most amazing ways to appreciate the beauty of this picturesque continent. Remember to book your trip at least 8 months in advance, though, as the best of these get filled up before you would imagine.

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