3 Essential Items for Travelling Around America

A successful trip is often reliant on the items you include in your backpack. I personally prefer to pack at least a day in advance so I have sufficient time to get in all the essential things I might need on my journey. There are numerous horror stories of people who suffer awkward moments while travelling due to the lack of simple yet basic stuff.

Crater Lake in Oregon National Park, USA
Crater Lake in Oregon National Park, USA

Depending on the region you plan on visiting, certain items will come in handy during your trip. Always remember that the same packing checklist may not work for every weather or locale. You must revisit the list and tweak it for each new outing that you plan. Here are the three most essential items for travelling around America:

#1 Clothing

Weather patterns around the USA tend to reach both hot and cold extremes depending on the prevailing season. If you have a detailed itinerary of the locations you’ll most likely visit, checking the weather forecast to know the climate patterns will help you choose appropriate clothing. For example, if you plan on going up North where it is usually cold, carrying a light top and some cute shorts will make no sense. Instead, choose a variety of clothes suitable for different occasions. When in the right clothing, you are more comfortable, and travel is more enjoyable. Maximize on your packing space through the following hacks:

Use Packing Cubes

Cubes ensure you pack minimally and pick only the essential items for the trip. It is anyway wiser to travel light. They come in a variety of sizes, so you are free to select ones that best match your needs. If some clothes don’t fit, consider leaving them out.

Roll the Clothes

Whether you are using packing cubes or just a plain old suitcase, rolling your clothes leaves enough room for extra items. Another reason why rolling is better than folding your stuff – they do not wrinkle. That means, no fretting over creased clothes and no need to carry an iron box.

Don the Bulky Clothes

Some clothes often take up large spaces in your bag. That is why wearing such clothes, especially when they are in line with the weather of the destination, allows for more room. Heading out to ski? Wear the jacket and scarf instead of stuffing those into your overpacked bag.

#2 Accessories

Holidays are all about feeling good and looking even better. Accessories complement our style and hence, bring out the best look. An accessory can be footwear, jewellery, a handbag or a belt. When crossing different states in the USA, you notice a change in fashion trends. Thus, what is suitable in New York may be old in Miami. Be a step ahead of the fashion fad by incorporating different sets of accessories for each look. For example, you can pick a frame from Eyeglasses.com to match your shoes or clothes. Tips for accessorizing include opting for a signature accessory or choosing one with a striking colour or pattern. Remember, the best accessories back up your style and do not dominate the entire look.

#3 Toiletries

Toiletries refer to items that are essential for your comfort and survival during a trip. Items like sunscreen, shampoo, soap, and insect repellent are valid examples. Although small, the components prove valuable when touring regions with diverse climatic conditions. For example, in hot, humid areas, sunscreen helps protect your skin. While most toiletries are prone to leakage and can be tricky to handle while on a trip, you should always ensure you have the essentials. At the very least, pack your toiletries inside a plastic bag to prevent spillage.

Final Thoughts

Travelling is therapeutic. However, the experience can turn sour once you realize you’re missing essential items and can’t easily access them. Have a checklist for the items you intend on carrying to avoid forgetting some. Essential items like clothing, accessories and toiletries should make it to the top of your list.

Do you keep a checklist before packing for a trip?

What item do you never miss to pack for a holiday?

Let me know through your comments below.

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Thanksgiving Is Better When You Travel With Your Family

Many of my friends will soon be preparing for their Thanksgiving holidays, making plans to party or take advantage of the sales to do a lot of shopping. A few of them will think of heading home to be together with their family. In all of this rush to meet the expectations of the world and popular culture, we have forgotten what Thanksgiving is all about.

Is Thanksgiving Only a Holiday?

Sunset at the Big Bear Dam

Sunset at the Big Bear Dam

If the offers presented by the travel, tourism and hospitality industry are anything to go by, one would assume Thanksgiving is only about going on a vacation so you can make everyone on social media envy you. But do we remember that the true essence of this day is in giving thanks to God for His tender mercies and abundant provisions in the form of harvest? This is one day to be grateful for all that you have. And even if you have nothing to boast about, you still have beautiful sunrises and sunsets which are free for all. A gorgeous sunset that comes to mind is the one at the Big Bear Dam in Southern California. The sight of the sun dipping into the Big Bear Lake is one to behold!

What Keeps You Warm in the Winters?

The wood stove fireplace at Four Seasons Retreat

The wood stove fireplace at Four Seasons Retreat

In our world of thermostats, room heaters, bed warmers and fireplaces, we only think of warmth that can be felt with the skin. But what about the warmth that the heart thirsts for? Is there an electric fireplace for that? There are still some things technology cannot replace, and never will. Love is one such thing. Thanksgiving is a time for the family to be together – not only in bodies but also the hearts. If you don’t have enough room in your house, rent a cosy property at the foot of Moonridge in California’s quiet hideout.

Beyond Turkeys & Big Meals

The modular kitchen at Bear's Lair

The modular kitchen at Bear’s Lair

The few families that still gather together on Thanksgiving Eve, worry about what to stuff into their turkey or if the food will be good enough for the guests. If we put our focus on cooking with love and receiving our kindred with arms wide open, the material things would cease to matter. If you enjoy playing chef to a home full of hungry relatives, you will delight in the modular kitchen at Bear’s Lair which boasts of an island that sits between the cooktop and the dining table.

A Home Away from Home

Pinewood Escape in Fox Farm

Pinewood Escape in Fox Farm

If you were planning on repeating last year’s Thanksgiving rituals this year too, then you need to look for a change. A quiet time away from the routine life at home, and a relaxing getaway to Big Bear Lake. Look for a house you can book on Big Bear Cool Cabins and take advantage of their Thanksgiving offer. You will get your 4th night free when you pay for 3 nights at any of their 350 cabins and private homes. All you have to do is enter “4thFREE” as the promo code when you make your booking. Note that this offer is valid only from 21st to 26th November of 2018.

Big Bear has plenty to offer those who seek. Set on the mountains of Southern California, this vacation favourite has homes that let you escape into another world altogether. Hidden amidst wooded pine trees, its approach roads covered in snow, some of the houses are bound to make you fall in love with them. A couple of miles away from Bear Mountian, Pinewood Escape has an unusual architecture that makes it stand out in Fox Farm.

Big Bear Lake – Highlight between the Hills

Big Bear Lake in California

Big Bear Lake in California

The biggest attraction in Big Bear Lake (the city) is, of course, the Big Bear Lake (the lake). Winters at this lake are quite different from the summers. Most of the watersport opportunities are closed due to the harsh weather, but there is still a lot you can do here – hiking, for instance. Do something different this Thanksgiving!

What are your plans for Thanksgiving?

Would you prefer to travel with your family?

Let me know through your comments below. 🙂

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Celebrate Oktoberfest in Southern California: Big Bear Lake Beckons!

The much-awaited Oktoberfest is now being celebrated across the world (not just in Germany) and there’s only a week left before the festivities come to a close. If you are in California, wondering how to spend the last Oktoberfest weekend, look no further! The gorgeous Big Bear Lake in Southern California has a bunch of surprises lined up for you.

Water-skiing in California's Big Bear Lake (Courtesy: Don Graham)

Water-skiing in California’s Big Bear Lake (Courtesy: Don Graham)

Rustic Stays in a Forest Setting

Surrounded by San Bernadino National Forest, Big Bear Lake is the perfect vacation destination that is open to travellers round the year. This little city is named after the Big Bear Lake, which happens to be the main attraction for lovers of watersports. Its proximity to the San Bernadino Mountains makes the area an ideal location even for those who love to hike. The best way to enjoy a getaway like this is to stay in a log cabin hidden somewhere in the rows of tall pine trees.

Fox n Bear Cottages (Courtesy: Big Bear Cool Cabins)

Fox n Bear Cottages (Courtesy: Big Bear Cool Cabins)

Alpine Pedal Path: Hiking in Big Bear Lake

If you love to hike as much as I do, you will always be looking for beautiful trails to test your hiking shoes on. Big Bear Lake has a neat little trail that is very easy to follow even for beginners. The Alpine Pedal Path has a nicely paved road that you can even take your bike on. If you are into birding, carry your DSLR along to capture bald eagles, which are commonly sighted here.

Alpine Pedal Path (Courtesy: Big Bear Cool Cabins)

Alpine Pedal Path (Courtesy: Big Bear Cool Cabins)

Mix Your Vacation With Pleasure

Work and pleasure may not mix together, but vacations and pleasure sure do! 😉 The Oktoberfest days are a nice time to relish the last few days of bright sunshine and get yourself a nice tan in your private pool. Big Bear Cool Cabins has a charming collection of over 350 private homes and cabins, some of which come with swimming pools and hot tubs in your backyard. There’s nothing quite like soaking up some sun as you laze on your pool bed, your favourite drink in hand.

Orsi's Cabin with Hot Tub & Pool (Courtesy: Big Bear Cool Cabins)

Orsi’s Cabin with Hot Tub & Pool (Courtesy: Big Bear Cool Cabins)

Witness Nature’s Beauty at Boulder Bay

One of the prettiest parks in Big Bear is Boulder Bay. True to its name, this lakeside wonder gives you copious views of white boulders covered with savage coloured moss. Even the outcrops on the rocks look romantic when the winds steer the fog about the blue sheet of the lake. Such scenes make for incredibly romantic pictures.

Boulder Bay (Courtesy: Big Bear Cool Cabins)

Boulder Bay (Courtesy: Big Bear Cool Cabins)

Cosy Cabins in Cool Climes

As you plan your evenings and gather together with your family and friends for an amazing night of revelry, you must ensure you have a perfect setting to create that merry mood. Take your pick from the homey cabins, wood panelled lodges and lakeside homes offered by Big Bear Cool Cabins for an unforgettable holiday. The properties are fully furnished and come with a fireplace and all the works to keep you warm on winter nights.

The Living Room of one of the Cool Cabin lodges (Courtesy: Big Bear Cool Cabins)

The Living Room of one of the Cool Cabin lodges (Courtesy: Big Bear Cool Cabins)

Beautiful Sunsets at Stanfield Marsh

It cannot get any wilder and prettier than this! The Stanfield Marsh Wildlife and Waterfowl Preserve in Big Bear not only invites water birds on its marshy terrain, but also lets you be amazed by stunning sunsets from its boardwalk. The marshland dries up in the summers, and the landscape looks quite different then. I have had a long love affair with bird photography in marshy regions. You just cannot miss this place when the season is right!

Stanfield Marsh Boardwalk (Courtesy: Big Bear Cool Cabins)

Stanfield Marsh Boardwalk (Courtesy: Big Bear Cool Cabins)

And When It’s Winter…

When it is cold and snowing, Big Bear’s Snow Summit Ski Resort is where you should be for some ski adventures and scenic gondola rides. You can also indulge in snow sledging, snow-fights ( 😉 ) and other snow sports when the ground is white with thick snow. Don’t forget to book your Big Bear Cool Cabin property for an extended stay this Oktoberfest. They also have pet-friendly houses for your furry friends.

Live in a cosy cottage in the snowy winters (Courtesy: Big Bear Cool Cabins)

Live in a cosy cottage in the snowy winters (Courtesy: Big Bear Cool Cabins)

Save More with Big Bear Cool Cabins

Before you go back to chugging your brew, book your Big Bear holiday with Dealspotr’s exclusive discounts on the Oktoberfest Packages at Big Bear Cool Cabins. These include 5-15% discount on lodging, discounted tickets to Oktoberfest, a couple of complimentary 2-hour kayak rental (or you can rent a bike instead) from GetBoards and 10% discount on Scenic Sky Chair or golf. Use my promo code OKTOB1 and don’t forget to add 2 Oktoberfest tickets to the package. There are packages for 1, 2 and 3 nights.

I reminisce about my time in sunny California

I reminisce about my time in sunny California

The next time you are in California, don’t let it just be about the Golden Gate Bridge or the beaches. Go off the beaten track and explore a lake or hike in the woods for a fulfilling experience.

Do you know more places in California that are not tourist magnets?

Got any tips for Big Bear Lake for my readers?

Let me know through your comments below. 🙂

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Capturing USA Through My Camera

Most of you perhaps know by now that I am currently experiencing my longest time away from home so far. I will finish almost 3 months in the USA, come January. While it all looks hunky dory from the outside, I will let you in on some secrets. It’s not all a bed of roses. The joy of setting foot in America soon fades into oblivion as you get on with life and see the country with a different pair of eyes – not those of a tourist, but those of an insider (read – When A Traveller Takes A Holiday).

Fleeing From Philly

Philly's skyscrapers peep over the Schuylkill River.

Philly’s skyscrapers peep over the Schuylkill River.

For months, I had nestled a dream of exploring Pennsylvania and the rest of the East Coast like a slow traveller. My first few days in Philadelphia were interesting – it’s a colourful place with plenty of water bodies and parks to keep you going. There’s also a little bit of history that the art museums and monuments try to remind you of. I explored different pockets of Philly each day – China Town, Penn’s Landing, Ben-Franklin Parkway, and one day, the UPenn Campus (my favourite). My tummy explored just as my eyes and feet did. But a week in this city, and I was restless. The greens and the blues started to fade away, leaving just a bunch of tall, grey buildings in my head. I wanted to leave. I was longing for a place more natural.

Wayfaring In The West

Millerton Lake is surrounded by hills which are dry now in the winter.

Millerton Lake is surrounded by hills which are dry now in the winter.

I made the sudden decision to fly to San Fransisco and explore the West Coast for some relief. Of course, SF is a big city again, so my place had to be something else – removed from the bustle of San Frisco or Los Angeles, yet easily accessible from both. I decided to stay in Fresno – the gateway to Yosemite. I haven’t hiked (read – Forsyth Trail – A Hike through Satpura’s Core Tiger Zone) there yet (and I doubt I will be able to in this winter, now that most hiking trails are closed), but I have had the chance to chance upon a couple of lakes near this city.

Running Alone – Yet Again!

I see the Yosemite Range inviting me to explore it.

I see the Yosemite Range inviting me to explore it.

During my early days in Fresno, I would question my decision of leaving the East Coast so early. I had the New York City Marathon to finish. But impulsive as I am, I flew back to the East (but to New York this time) to run my first full marathon in The States. The run up to the D-day saw me do practice laps around my house in Fresno each morning. It wasn’t the same as in Philly (which has a huge running and cycling population). I would always be the only pedestrian (let alone runner) on the streets. Despite the missing endorphins, I decided to perk up and capture the bitter-sweet memories of my longest trip ever through my lenses. Check out this video:-

Taking pictures and videos, editing them and sharing the stories on social media has managed to keep me sane for the most part. I have been using VEGAS Movie Studio 14 to edit my memories and add a lot of fun to them. This software lets me add multiple video and audio tracks, in addition to rendering my text overlays in a number of stylized ways. I have been experimenting with their transitions and FX effects too. Looks like my YouTube account will now see more action from me! 🙂 Why don’t you give VEGAS a shot! They are giving away 40% off on all of their versions until 31st Jan 2018.

Be Still, And Know

I find my calm by a lake in Woodward Park.

I find my calm by a lake in Woodward Park.

The more I travel, the more I realize the value of stillness. Maybe I’m being pensive, but I have learnt more of my surroundings and the world when I am still. That’s also how I recharge my batteries! 😉 Where else do you think I get all that energy to run marathons?

What is the longest time you’ve spent away from home?

How do you get creative when you’re down?

Write your comments below! 🙂

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