Travel Tour websites… Why go it alone?

Egypt Rock TempleA girlfriend of mine is going to Italy in May and was looking up travel tours. I’ve never done a travel tour… OOPs, I take that back. My mother found a 10 day river cruise in Egypt that we went on. It was a FABULOUS trip. A travel package was critical in seeing all of the different sites. We needed a tour guide, he gave us the history behind the Abu Simbel Temples, Giza Pyramids, the Sphinx — there was so much to see. Incredible!

Other than that, I’ve normally gone on a trip and done my own planning. Why? Well, I don’t enjoy being on a constant schedule. If I am on a vacation, I want to relax a bit.

However, trips/tours make life easy, especially when the package is all inclusive (airfare, hotel, transportation), it takes the stress out of planning.

I came across these travel websites that were interesting.

horse riding tour

In The Saddle – This is a tour group that specializes in horseback riding holidays. Wow, right. I know, you’re wondering if I am an accomplished rider. No, but I found their trips interesting and adventurous. Check them out. I might have a sore bottom, but it would be worth it for a different type of adventure.

AdventureWomen – For 35 years, they have been focusing on unique adventure tours for active women. This is great, because in the past there were places that women could not travel alone (i.e. Botswana, Russia, Morocco, India, etc.), or if they did, it was at their own risk. If you are a woman, you’ll enjoy this website.

GROUPON Getaways – A girlfriend speaks highly of their travel packages. She bought a trip to Ireland through them. She said the hotel in different locations was great, they had a rental car, it was a good deal, everything went smoothly, hard to pass up.

Global Drifters – A new site I came across through their Blog. Clicking here and there, I found their travel packages. They are a younger company, visit and see what you think. Their tag line, “Not a Vacation, but an Experience.” They offer small group tours for the independent traveler.

Can you tell I am getting Spring fever?

Anyone open for a horse riding tour? Mongolia, to see the Eagle Festival? Bhutan maybe or back to Italy?

Hoping winter is coming to an end. It’s time for an adventure somewhere in the world!

Visit Atlas Obscura -> An adventure guide to hidden wonders in the world.

Travel the worldLast week I was going through my Junk folder on Outlook. As expected most of it was junk; however, I came across an email from, “Atlas Obscura.” Normally, I would not open an unknown email, but the subject header said, “You can spend the night in this formerly abandoned Scottish village.”  This piqued my interest, I want to visit Scotland one day.

Before opening the email, I decided to research “Atlas Obscura.” Turns out it is an online magazine created in 2009 by Joshua Foer and Dylan Thuras. They wanted to create an atlas / guidebook for people to learn about and explore obscure places around the world. They certainly have done that.

If you sign up for their weekly newsletter, you’ll be amazed at the different places you can explore. On their website, you can choose a country (Germany, for example) and you’ll be brought to a map of Germany where they have pointers you can click on with stories for that particular area, i.e. the world’s largest cuckoo clock, the oldest Jewish Cemetery in Worms, the “floating railway” to name a few.

On Eventbrite, I noticed they have Atlas Obscura Society Chicago. For the remainder of February and into March, they have some interesting events going on, i.e. learning about volcanoes and the birth of the most precious stones, interactive history of comics, murder mystery soiree, scavenger hunt, roller skating in the movies, immigrant stories and connections. I wrote to one of the field reps to see what the age range was for people attending. Have not heard back yet.

If you enjoy traveling and you’re getting bored with the normal tourist attractions, I highly recommend visiting “Atlas Obscura’s” website. You’ll definitely find obscure things to explore on your next adventure.

Climbing Mount Si

imageI climbed Mount Si this past weekend. I’m sure you are wondering about it, so I will refer you to Washington Trails Association’s (WTA) website where they have a write up about this climb. WTA is the nation’s largest state-based hiking non-profit organization. They do a great job of promoting all the different hikes in Washington.

Mount Si is a 8 mile hike round trip. I wanted to challenge myself by climbing a mountain, but this was a tough climb. Some of the reviews referred to this hike as a “challenge,” I thought it was more than that, at times, “tortuous.” I guess it depends on what shape you are in, and if your boots are working properly. Some people were whizzing by, obviously having done it before.

The picture I took is of the view from the top. It was spectacular and a perfect day. I even got an interesting bird in the photo.  Anyone know what it is?  There was a cute chipmunk who was running around, not afraid and hoping for food along with some small birds.

chipmunkThe climb took us about 3 hours up the mountain. Going down was tough, because it was steep and my shoes were not cooperating. I didn’t have enough cushion in them and my feet kept moving forward. There were a few times that I hoped a rescue team might come by, my feet were hurting so much, but that miracle did not happen. My friend made a joke that I was not going to be able to manifest it. So, I gave up on the wishing, and focused on getting down.

There were quite a few hikers with dogs and even some who were carrying babies in their packs. I hoped they were in good shape climbing up, because it could get rocky and one stumble and over the cliff you go. One poor dog was so little and panting furiously. I wasn’t sure he/she should have been on the climb. For sure this dog needed some water and “fast.”

Last night, I was sore and stiff and not able to think about my next hike. Now, it is a day later, pain in the legs is subsiding and I am READY for the next challenge. Although, other hikes at 4 miles round trip are going to be easy compared to Mount Si. I hear Rattlesnake Ledge is a good one.

Mount Rainier, the BIG HIKE, that will have to wait!

Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro

imageNot long ago, I wrote about finding the Dragon Boat Racing group on Meetup.com. Well, a few weeks ago I received a message about a NEW Meetup called, “Climbing Kili.” I immediately knew what that was. I opened the message to learn more about the group. I have always thought of climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, so I found it interesting that this message came to my email.  Destiny?  Timing?  I decided to go and find out.

imageIf you haven’t used Meetup.com, you should try it. If you find a Meetup you like, you RSVP that you are attending. Meetup.com sends you a “reminder” message of the meeting date and people comment like they do on Facebook. For example, 12 people scheduled to attend and about 2 hours before the meeting time, people sent messages on “why” they couldn’t come. That was a bit annoying, but I still decided to go hoping a “few people” would make it.

Turns out it was great. The Meetup organizer was a very nice Australian woman who had climbed Kilimanjaro a few years ago and said it was fantastic. She was also a travel agent and has been to Africa many times. She started to fill us in on the trip. She climbed with two ladies who were in their 60s and one woman in her 30s. They ALL made it to the top. They were all in good shape, but not hard core athletes. As they were in different parts of U.S., they communicated by email regarding training. The organizer did long hilly walks on the weekends and in the gym used the stepper a few times a week. She used a normal type of hiking boot, nothing super expensive. She said they didn’t use or take expensive clothes with them either, they get so dirty. At the end of the trip, they left their hiking clothes and boots with the carriers – they appreciated having these things. They don’t have good shoes.

imageThe best time to climb Kili is Sept/Oct, Jan/Feb or early March. This is a 7 night / 8 day package. She said you hike 6-8 hours a day. While you need to be able to hike, Kili is more about acclimating to the altitude. The men in the photo carry your main baggage, the camping equipment and food. You just carry your very personal belongings as you hike. There are different types of packages, so you have to investigate online the cost of what “you” might want to do, i.e extra days, hiking a more secluded trail with less people, etc. She told us about the Machame Route, nicknamed the Whiskey route.

Great group of women at the meeting. One had just climbed Mt. Everest Basecamp, which was exciting. Two others talked about climbing Mt. Rainier in Washington and Machu Picchu (lots of stairs) in Peru. Turns out Mt. Kilimanjaro is one of the Seven Summits. Fun to meet like minded adventurers.

We are considering September 2017, she said there will be a full moon at that time.

If you’ve done the climb, share your story!

MyAdventures.com – Try a new adventure…

Keith Bates

Keith Bates

A few years ago I sat on the board of The Adventurer’s Club of Chicago. There I met Keith Bates who had a passion for traveling the world, meeting new people, and learning new things. He decided he wanted to bring like minded people together. So, he created the website: www.MyAdventures.com

Keith’s goal was to create a site where people could post the trip or adventure they had gone on. At the same time, other people who were planning an adventure could search for someone who had already gone on that trip — view trip details, photos, etc., which would help them plan “their” trip. Great way for people to meet kindred spirits.

The site has taken off and I wanted to share it with you.

Napa Hot Air Balloon Ride

Napa Hot Air Balloon Ride

You might come across a new adventure you had not heard of OR you might connect with a like minded sportsman, traveler or adventurer. These days an adventurer can be anything from a bird watcher, a kayaker, a mountain climber, to a fly fisherman, race car driver, piloting  —  who knows!

Here’s to finding our NEXT adventure!  Life is about exploring, meeting new people, and enjoying the outdoors.

If you’ve gone on a GREAT trip, let us know. We learn from each other.

I still want to visit Mackinac Island. Would that be an adventure?