Showing posts with label travel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label travel. Show all posts

From Hanoi to Ha Long Bay to have fun should not ?

From Hanoi to Ha Long how many km? From Hanoi to Ha Long how many kilometers to travel, visit, travel or work ... from Ha Noi to Ha Long should determine the shortest, most convenient routes. Ha Long is a popular tourist destination with important and upgraded transport links. The center of Hanoi capital about 170 km by road and many routes for you to choose. Ha Noi - Bac Ninh - Ha Long route: take 2 - 3 hours by car. From Hanoi follow Route 5 to Sai Dong junction and continue along Route 1 to Bac Ninh. From Bac Ninh, go along Highway 18 passing Pha Lai - Chi Linh - Dong Trieu - Drinking and then going to Ha Long.

From Hanoi to Ha Long Bay to have fun should not ?

Adventure Elevated in Coeur d'Alene

It has been such a busy couple of weeks that I've barely had time to get caught up from all of my recent travels. Having only just returned from the Southern Ocean in March, I was home for only a couple of weeks before heading out to Idaho to attend the Adventure Travel Trade Association's (ATTA) AdventureElevate event in Coeur d'Alene. I got back from there, only to hit the road once again this past week on a kayaking trip in Oregon. This week, I'm staying in one place at long last, and taking the opportunity to share some stories, starting with my experience with the ATTA.

Video: Beautiful South Africa by Drone

If you want to know why I love Africa so much for a travel destination, all you have to do is take one look at this video. Shot using a DJI Mavic Pro, this short but sweet clip provides an amazing look at an amazing country. From landscapes to wildlife to breathtaking sunsets, this has it all.

SOUTH AFRICA - A Mavic Tale from Rind-Raja Picture Company on Vimeo.

Video: Eastward Through Nepal, India, and Beyond

This beautiful video condenses a three month journey through Nepal, India, Thailand, and Vietnam down to a two-and-a-half-minute clip that provides some of the most stunning highlights from that journey. And what stunning highlights they are. From the Himalaya to the shores of the Indian Ocean, across jungles, hilltops, and rivers, we get an all-too brief glimpse of this part of the world. If you haven't visited this region yet, chances are you'll want to after watching this. Sit back and savor every moment of it.

Eastward from David Struik on Vimeo.

Video: A Visit to South Georgia Island

I haven't had a chance to share any stories from my visit to South Georgia Island earlier in the month, but I'll have plenty to write about soon. As I'm busy catching up on other work however, I thought I'd share this video which provides an amazing overview of this wild, remote, and incredibly beautiful place. South Georgia is one of those destinations that you always hear others talk about in hushed, almost mythical tones. For me, it lived up to all of the hype, and then some, providing some amazing opportunities for adventure, interacting with wildlife, and history. Here's a glimpse of what this place is all about.

Nat Geo Lists 9 Oscar-Nominated Films to Inspire Adventure

If you're a movie buff like I am, you probably already know that the Academy Awards show takes place this weekend, with golden statues being handed out to the best actor, actress, director, film, and so on. While many of us will be tuning in on Sunday night to see who takes top honors (the odds favor La La Land), others will no doubt be wondering what all of the hoopla is about, and why I'm even talking about it on The Adventure Blog in the first place. Well, the truth is, great films can inspire us in many ways, including sending us off on amazing journeys and seeking real-life adventures of our own. As a kid, I longed to visit some of the far flung places that my favorite actors were traversing through on the big screen, and when I got older I've managed to see some of those locations myself. Now, as we prepare for the Oscars to be handed out this weekend, National Geographic has posted a list of nine films that have received Academy Award nominations that will inspire you to go on an adventure as well.

Some of the places that make the list don't seem particularly adventurous. For instance, the aforementioned La La Land takes place in Los Angeles, while Danzel Washington's Fences is set in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Of course, those places still have a lot to offer visitors in terms of culture, history, food, drinks, and even outdoor attractions too. But, some of the other destinations on the list may feed your need for adventure better. For instance, the locations used for shooting the movie Arrival are found near Bozeman, Montana; one of my favorite places on the planet. Similarly, the critically acclaimed Hell or High Water takes place in West Texas, not far from the spectacular, but seldom visited, Big Bend National Park.

As usual with a list of this kind, I won't spoil all of the entires. Needless to say, they offer some interesting places to visit for those who like to travel. In some cases, watching the films alone will inspire you to want to go there. La La Land is lauded for being a visual love letter to LA for instance.

Every one of the films on Nat Geo's list are from this year's crop of Oscar contenders. But, it would also be fun to put together a similar list of classic films from the past as well. For instance, Lawrence of Arabia served as the inspiration for me to visit Jordan, while Raiders of the Lost Ark sparked an interest in Egypt as well. Seeing Rick wander the streets of Casablanca in the film of the same name will certainly lure fans of that movie to Morocco, while Out of Africa is a good way to convince anyone that going on safari might be a good idea.

What are the films that have inspired you to see various parts of the world? What movies have you intrigued about some place you haven't gone yet? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Off to Austin, Texas!

Just a quick note to regular readers to let them know that I'll be on the road the next couple of days, so updates may be a bit sparse. I'm on assignment in Austin, Texas where Yeti Coolers is opening its first retail store, which I'll be covering for a couple of different outlets. This is a bit of a homecoming for me, as I lived in Austin for nine years, so I'm looking forward to seeing how the city has changed since I moved away a few years ago.

That said, I should I have some free time to post a few stories while I'm away, although they may not be as numerous as usual. This is a short trip though. Just two days, so I'll be back on schedule again early next week, before heading out to Denver on another short trip.

We're in a bit of a calm period right now, with the spring climbing season in the Himalaya still more than a month away, and a couple of weeks until the start of the North Pole season as well. But, there are still some stories to keep an eye on, so if anything develops I'll be sure to post the news.

And to my friends back in Austin, I'll see you soon!

Just in Time for Valentine's Day Nat Geo Lists the 17 Most Romantic Destinations in the World

World travelers listen up! If you're looking for a place to visit with your significant other, National Geographic is here to help. Just in time for Valentine's Day (Yes, that's today fellas'!) the experts at Nat Geo have given us a list of the 17 most romantic destinations on Earth

As you can imagine, the places that made the cut for this list are all pretty spectacular for a number of reasons. Most offer amazing views, some have a fantastic mix of history and culture, and pretty much all of them have an ambience about the setting that makes them special in very unique ways. You'll recognize some of the usual suspects, but others are a bit more off the beaten path and lesser known, which gives them an allure all their own.

So which destinations earned a spot on this list? As usual, I won't spoil the fun of finding out for yourself, but some of the highlights include the French Riviera, Bruges, Belgium, and Hamilton Island in Australia. Of course, the images that accompany the description of the places are all outstanding and will only increase your desire to visit these places even more. And as usual with any far-flung destination, there should be plenty of adventure to be had along the way too.

The 17 romantic destinations were paired down from a much longer list that is part of National Geographic book The World's Most Romantic Destinations, which is filled with even more suggestions of where to go and what to see with your Valentine. Speaking for myself, quite frankly I can't think of anyone I'd rather explore the world with. 

View the entire list here

Woman Sets Record for Fastest Person to Visit Every Country on Earth

An American woman named Cassie De Pecol has set a new world record for visiting every country on Earth in the fastest time ever, completing her whirlwind adventure in just 18 months and 26 days. Over the course of that time, she managed to see 196 different nations, averaging about one new destination every three days or so.

Cassie's round-the-world journey began back in July of 2015, and while she of course wanted to sample every culture on Earth, she had other plans in mind as well. De Pecol began traveling as an ambassador for the International Institute of Peace Through Tourism, and often met with dignitaries to discuss sustainable tourism as well. She remains committed to that goal even after her recent return home, and says that she'll plant trees to help offset some of the carbon footprint from her journey. "If you say, fly from Bangalore, India, to Colombo, Sri Lanka, you end up killing one tree during that flight, the goal is to plant two trees, for regenerative tourism, not just sustainable tourism," De Pecol told CNN.

While undertaking this goal of seeing the world, Cassie flew more than 255 times, which causes some to call her a hypocrite. She recognizes that criticism however and says that she has plans to plant trees in over 50 countries as part of her sustainable tourism efforts.

De Pecol faced more than a few challenges in visiting every country on Earth. Not the least off which was her American passport. U.S. citizens are not welcome in every country – including North Korea, Syria, and Turkmenistan. But, she found creative was to gain legal entry into all of those places, adding their stamps to her passport as she went.

Her other big challenge was funding the project. When she first started planning, she estimated that it would take $198,000. She managed to save $10,000 of her own, and raised the rest of the cash she needed by gathering sponsors. In the end, she was able to complete the trip, and in record time.

While reading this story, a couple of things came to mind. First, I'm pretty sure I could travel around the world for a lot less than $198,000, so I'd like to see how she came up with that budget. The other things is that my style of travel isn't one where I'd want to knock off a country every three days. I know she had other goals in mind, and that it wasn't about going on a leisurely trip, but I certainly would have liked to have spent more time in each of those places, speed record be damned.

That said, it is pretty amazing that she managed to get into all of these places, and I'm impressed with her persistence and dedication.

The 40 Most Iconic Places on the Planet According to Outside

In 2017, Outside magazine celebrates its 40th anniversary, and to celebrate it has put together a series of lists that will look back on its history and forward to a changing environment and culture around us. The first of those lists has now gone online, and as you would expect, it is definitely an interest one. To get things started, the editors at Outside have put together their picks for the Most Iconic Places on the Planet.

To earn a spot on the list these places must be "significant, beautiful, and terrifying destinations that loom large in our imaginations." Once you get a look at the list, I'm sure you'll agree that the places that made the cut fit that description. For instance, the mountain bikers will appreciate the inclusion of the Slick Rock Trail in Moab, Utah, while surfers will find that Maverick's has made the list as well. These two spots wouldn't make the average person's list most likely, as many would not have even heard of them. But for the Outside crowd, the certainly loom large.

Other destinations that have captured the hearts and minds of outdoor enthusiasts, would-be adventurers, and explorers include Chris McCandless' bus in Alaska, Heartbreak Hill from the Boston Marathon, and Camp 4 in Yosemite Valley, which holds a special place for multiple generations of climbers.

I won't spoil the entire list. In fact, the ones that I've mentioned are some of the first that you'll find as you begin to scroll through the webpage. But needless to say, this is a great read that will bring back fond memories, inspire future adventures, and leave you plotting an escape to visit these destinations for yourself. This is a list that lives up to its name, and it is as diverse and varied as you can imagine.

Grab yourself a beverage and a snack, get comfortable in your chair, and sit back and savor this one. It is well worth a read. I've been lucky enough to visit a few of these spots, but I have my work cut out for me to see them all. Check out the full list here, and then start thinking about what Outside has planned for its next list as well.

Video: The Problem of the Wilderness in Alaska

Take a scenic journey through Alaska with this video, which is set to a famous quote from Bob Marshall called The Problem of the Wilderness. His words are extremely fitting as we wander through some of the most beautiful landscapes on Earth. Alaska is an amazing place, with a wilderness like no other. It is a place that anyone who values truly wild places should see but for today, we'll just have to settle for this video. Enjoy.

The Problem of the Wilderness from Tom Welsh on Vimeo.

The Best Travel Photography of 2016

Few things can inspire us to want to travel to a new destination like a great photo. Those of us who are lucky enough to hit the road on a regular basis for our adventures often have a desire to capture the places we visit in stunning images that we can share with friends and family. In my case, I'm happy if I just don't screw up the shot or inadvertently get my finger in front of the lens. Thankfully, there are others who are far more talented than I am to make up for my lack of skill. 

Some of the most talented of those photographers have submitted their images for the 2017 National Geographic Photo Contest, of which the finalists have recently been revealed. As you can imagine, the images are beautiful – sometimes haunting – with great shots captured at some of the best destinations around the globe, ranging from Botswana and South Africa, to Rio de Janeiro and Northern Ireland. Some of the images are landscapes, some are of the wildlife, and others are candid shots of the people that inhabit these places. All are colorful and mesmerizing. 

For those of us who aspire to be better photographers ourselves, the photos are a good reminder that taking a great shot isn't just about the technical details. It's also about capturing the moment, framing the image properly, and recognizing what is truly interesting about that snapshot of a moment in time. Too often we get caught up in just pointing and shooting with our cameras that we forget to truly take in the moment. But I've found that my best photos over the years have been taken when I slow down, observe the world around me, and look for the right combination of elements. My patience is usually rewarded at some point, and the image is one that means more to me long after I've returned home. 

The winners of the travel photo contest will be officially announced on February 28. To check them all out before that, click here

Video: Walking the Roads of Argentina

In 2016, a pair of travelers visited Argentina, exploring both the Salta Region in the north, and Patagonia in the south. Along the way, they shot some very dramatic video footage, which has now been assembled into this beautiful clip which not only reveals the roads of Argentina, but plenty of other breathtaking images of landscapes and people too. This well crafted short film is a joy to watch, and will get your wanderlust going as well.

 
ROADS OF ARGENTINA from Guillaume JUIN on Vimeo.

Travel Tip: LeftOverCurrency.com

Frequent travelers take note; I've got a website that you're going to want to bookmark for future use. It's called LeftOverCurrency.com, and it gives us the ability to take all of that extra cash that we bring home with us from our adventures, and convert it back into money we can use. The site accepts a wide range of currencies, and offers very good exchange rates to ensure that you're getting the most value for the foreign money that you probably just have sitting around in a drawer somewhere anyway.

As someone who travels to foreign destinations on a regular basis, I always seem to come home with a few bank notes or coins in my pocket. Most of that cash ends up going into a box, along with other money that I've collected on my journeys. I currently have everything from Egyptian pounds to Nepali rupees, to Mongolia tögrögs rolling around in there, plus a few others too. But with LeftOverCurrency.com, I can get that money converted back into something I can use.

Here's how it works. Simply go to the website, select the currencies you want to exchange, and add them to your online wallet. After you've done this for all of the various types of money you want to swap out, you click on the wallet to see your current balance. Then, push the "Proceed to Exchange" button and fill out the information in the form to create your account. Doing this will lock in your exchange rate for 14 days, which allows you the time necessary to send your foreign currency in to be verified. After that, the website will either send you a check, or direct deposit your money into a bank or PayPal account.

The process works for wide array of currency types, including bank notes and coins that are even out of circulation. It is a quick, easy, and efficient way to get some real cash for the foreign money that you have left over, and your local bank won't accept. You can find out more by visiting the website and starting the process yourself.


Men's Journal Gives Us 51 Last Minute Gift Ideas

Okay, if you're still looking for the perfect Christmas gift for someone on your shopping list this year, and my 10 last minute gift ideas, nor Nat Geo's 31 suggestions, and Outside's list of 20 stocking stuffers for under $20 hasn't been much help, than perhaps Men's Journal can be of assistance. The magazine has posted it's selection of last minute holiday gifts as well, and it is lengthy one, offering 51 options for procrastinators

Not all of the items on the list are specifically geared for the outdoors or travel, but there is still a lot of things that men (and women!) are going to like. For instance, some of the items that get the nod from MJ include a sweet cycling hat from Rothera, a fun daypack from Cotopaxi, a cool camera from Nikon, and a headlamp designed for runners from Nathan. You'll also find a number of interesting books, some useful gadgets, pants from Fjällräven, and a even a kayak from Perception

All in all, this is a fairly wide list of suggestions for gifts for just about anyone in your life. Obviously here at The Adventure Blog we focus more on the outdoor and adventure travel items first and foremost, but there are all kinds of other great ideas as well for just about any type of personality. If you truly are stumped, perhaps this will at least provide a few ideas to help you get just the right thing for your loved one. If not, you're probably going to have some problems, as obviously the clock is ticking on the holiday shopping season. 

Check out the entire list at MensJournal.com

10 Last Minute Travel Gift Suggestions from The Adventure Blog

Christmas is now in sight and the clock is most definitely ticking. If you find yourself still scrambling to find the perfect gift for the adventure traveler or outdoor enthusiast on your holiday shopping list this year, we have some suggestions for what they might like. Here are 10 list minute gifts that are sure to make them happy, all of which are under $100.

Ledlenser SEO 7R Headlamp
Every outdoor adventurer can use a good headlamp, and Ledlenser's SEO 7R is one of the best I've seen in awhile. Powered by either a rechargeable battery pack or standards AAA batteries, this lamp is capable of putting out as much as 220 lumens and is built to be water resistant too. It is comfortable to wear, lightweight, great for travel, and comes with a 5 year warranty as well. Price: $90

Dog & Bone LockSmart Travel Bluetooth Padlock
Keeping your valuables safe and secure while on the road can be a challenge, but Dog & Bone's LockSmart Travel high-tech padlock can help. This Bluetooth enabled lock connects to your smartphone for keyless unlocking from anywhere in the world. It also has location tracking properties and is TSA compliant, meaning you can place it on your bad and not worry about nefarious individuals gaining access to your belongings. Price: $59.95

LifeStraw Go Water Bottle
Everyone can use a good water bottle of course, but the LifeStraw Go isn't just a handy way to stay hydrated, it also features a two-stage filtration system that removes 99.99% of all harmful bacteria, protozoa, and viruses that could be lurking in water. This makes it a great choice for both backcountry excursions and travelers who might be visiting countries where finding clean drinking water might be a challenge. Price: $49.95


Power Practical Luminoodle Plus Camp Lighting System
Keep the campsite well lit with a Luminoodle light rope from Power Practical. Flexible and waterproof, these lights are easy to hang in a tent, on branches, or just about anywhere else you need them, delivering 180 lumens of light without blinding anyone in the process. The Luminoodle Plus kit comes complete with a 5-foot set of lights and a 4400 mAh battery to keep them powered on. Price: $39.95

Global Entry
Frequent travelers know how long it takes to get through security lines at the airport, and customs when returning to the country when traveling abroad. But a Global Entry membership from the Transportation Security Administration lets them bypass those bottlenecks quickly and efficiently. The process does require an interview and a bit of a wait time, but it is worth it. Price: $100

Champion Duofold THERMatrix Baselayers
Baselayers are always handy no matter what outdoor activities your favorite adventurer is into. They provide the first line of defense in keeping us warm and dry in the backcountry, and are an indispensable part of any gear closet. Champion makes high quality baselayers that are also affordable and good looking too. Price: $23.99

Yaktrax Cabin Socks
Soft and warm, the Yaktrax Cabin Socks just might be the most comfortable sock your outdoor lover will ever put on his or her feet. If the cold chill of winter is leaving their toes a bit chilly, get them a pair of these to help them recover. They are so comfortable (and affordable!) that you'll even want a pair for yourself. Price: $12.99

Stacked iPhone Wireless Charging System
For the traveler looking for a convenient way to keep their iPhone charged while on the road, the Stacked wireless charging system is a godsend. Modular in design, this iPhone case uses powerful magnets to connect with chargers, portable battery packs, and a handy car mount that is fantastic for navigating on long road trips. Buy the Stacked bundle for $99.99 or individual pieces as needed.

Dry Guy Warm 'n Charge
The cold weather isn't just hard on our bodies, it's hard on the batteries in our electronic devices too. That's why Dry Guy invented the Warm 'n Charge, a battery operated hand warmer that is also capable of recharging a smartphone too. The device uses a 4400 mAh battery for up to five hours of warming or two phone charges. Price: $40

Stanley Pocket Steel Adventure Flask
Let's face it, we all like to rough it in the woods on occasion, but that doesn't mean we have to be completely uncivilized. The Pocket Flask from Stanley is a lightweight and compact way to carry a little extra something into the backcountry with us for those celebrations when you bag a peak or are just toasting to your good fortune. Price: $18

31 Last-Minute Outdoor Gift Ideas from National Geographic

Still wondering what you should get that outdoor and adventure lover on your list this holiday season? Are you starting to stress out as time begins to run short? Never fear, because National Geographic is back today with yet another extensive list, this time providing 31 gift ideas to help us get outside more.

As you can imagine, this particular list is filled with some wonderful suggestions for outdoor gear that your adventurer is sure to love. For instance, you'll find the Rumpl Down Puffy blanket on the list – which is something I recommended in my holiday shoppers guide a few weeks back. Nat Geo also recommends The North Face ThermoBall Hooded Parka for the ladies, as well as Smartwool's awesome mountaineering socks, which were created in conjunction with Conrad Anker. Other items that get the nod also include Osprey's Raptor 14 hydration pack, Gear Aid camp lights, and the GoPro Hero 5 camera.

All in all, this is a really diverse list of gear with suggestions for just about every kind of activity or outdoor gear lover. Whether they enjoy hiking, biking, running, or travel, there are plenty of suggestions on what gifts to buy this year. Check out the full list by clicking here.

I'm working on my own last minute shopping guide as well with even more suggestions for what to get your favorite adventurer. Look for that in a couple of days, hopefully with enough time to round out your shopping before Christmas.

Gear Closet: Thermacell Heated Insoles for Your Winter Boots

It's amazing how much technology has started to pervade into our outdoor gear these days. As someone who gets dozens of pitches in my email each and every day, I've seen a sudden rush of gear that uses battery packs to bring warmth to the wearer. In the past few weeks, I've seen jackets, shirts, pants, and even slippers. Do all of these gadgets work as advertised? It's hard to say, but at the moment heated gear seems to be one of the biggest fads on the fringe of the outdoor industry. I say the fringe, because until someone like The North Face or Columbia joins the fray, it will remain a feature for companies that are looking to find a way to distinguish themselves from the competition.

But, I have had one piece of gear that does heat itself waiting in the wings for testing once cold weather had arrived. That happened last week where I live, with more to come in a few days. That made it the perfect time to give the new Heated Insoles from Thermacell a test run. After all, no one likes cold feet in the winter, right?

As with most insoles, Thermacell's offering is designed to slip inside your boots and provide a little extra cushion while walking. But more importantly, these insoles are meant to keep your feet warm too. They have a heating element that runs throughout the product, and a small rechargeable battery that slides into place to supply the power necessary to keep them functioning. When activated, the soles do indeed provide a steady supply of warmth that can keep your feet comfortable, even in very cold conditions.

The mode of the Heated Insoles that I tested are also equipped with Bluetooth technology, which when paired with your smartphone (iOS or Android), can be controlled remotely. When connected to your mobile device, a special app allows you to set the exact level of warmth that you would like for each foot individually. That way if you need a little extra warmth on your right food, you can simply crank up the heat. And if you find that one of your feet is getting warmer than you need, simply dial back the temperature. The app also allows you to monitor battery life of each of the insoles too, so you'll know just how long you have before they quit working and need a recharge.


Speaking of battery life, Thermacell says that the lithium-ion batteries are good for as much as 8.5 hours between charges. That's when the temperature of the insoles is set to low of course, so the warmer you run them the faster the battery will die. Fortunately, it only takes about two hours to recharge the batteries completely once they are fully drained, which means they'll certainly be ready for you overnight or even if you come in from the cold for a brief break from your winter adventures. So far, in my testing I haven't completely run the batteries down yet however, so I can safely say that the estimates of their charge are fairly accurate. On top of that, Thermacell offers additional battery packs for $59.99 if you're unable to charge them as often as you'd like.

Thermacell also claims that the insoles are highly durable, saying they are rated for over 1 million steps. I'll have to wait awhile to get to that loft number, but I can say that they do indeed feel very durable in hand. Chances are, you'll be able to slip them into place and forget they're in your boots, except when you want to warm things up. Over time, they'll even mold to your feet, making it even easier to forget they are there.

So, how well do they work? Extremely well actually. The Heated Insoles are very easy to use, warm up quickly, and stay warm for an extended period of time.  In fact, they'll make your feet feel incredibly cosy no matter what you're doing outside in the cold conditions, allowing you to stay out longer than you ever expected.

The one knock I have against the Heated Insoles are the price. At $199.99 they are fairly pricey, and probably out of the budget for most outdoor enthusiasts, some of which may not even have spent that much money on their boots. But, it is important to point out that Thermacell does offer a more basic version (without Bluetooth for instance) for $134.99. That's still pricey, but a bit more palatable.

Now, that said, if you're someone who spends a lot of time outdoors in cold weather, or whose feet get cold easily, the Heated Insoles are definitely worth the investment. Polar explorers, mountaineers, and hunters who stand around a lot will probably call this product their new best friend. For those folks in particular, I'd recommend picking up additional battery packs too, as you never know how long you'll have to go between charges. Yes, $200 is a lot to spend on a pair of insoles, but for the right market segment, these are going to be extremely popular.

Find out more at Thermacell.com.


Nat Geo Adventure Gives Us 39 Destinations for a Great Long Weekend

Looking for a few suggestions on where to get a nice long weekend adventure? If so, you're in luck, as National Geographic has compiled just such a list. But this one is quite extensive, offering 39 different places in the U.S. to make a quick getaway, but still enjoy a surprisingly great outdoor adventure too.

Now, lest you think this is one of those quick and dirty  lists that is vague in its description of the place, each of the locations is given a solid introduction and shares inside tips from an expert on that particular place. You'll learn where to hike, bike, climb, ski, and paddle, as well as where to eat, drink, and stay too. You'll also learn about the favorite spots for the locals as well, most of which aren't well known to visitors. All in all, the individual posts for each destination are filled with useful info to help you to decide just where you want to go, and what to do when you get there.

So what are some of the places that earn a nod? The list begins with Salida, Colorado, expands to Hood River Oregon and Lake Placid, New York, before spreading out across the U.S. to other places like Ely, Minnesota and Whitefish, Montana. Of course, the list is populated with plenty of destinations you've heard of, but it is also long enough to slip in some new ones that you probably haven't encountered before too. And whether you like to play in the snow, desert, mountains, or on the water, you'll find something here to draw you in.

As 2016 grinds to an end, and the holidays draw ever nearer, most of us probably don't have a lot of free weekends at the moment. But, 2017 is just around the corner and after the New Year comes and goes, I'm sure we'll all be looking for an escape. Check out the full list here and start planning.

Gear Closet: ExOfficio Cosimo Travel Jacket

Looking for a lightweight, warm, and comfortable jacket for your cold weather travels? If so, you'll want to give the ExOfficio Cosimo a look. This jacket has everything travelers could possibly want, including a high degree of packability and versatility for use in practically any environment.

For those not familiar with ExOfficio, the company has been designing great gear for adventurous travelers for nearly 30 years. The brand can pretty much outfit you from head to toe in fashionable, high performance clothing that is designed from the ground up to keep us comfortable no matter where we might wander. I'm especially a fan of the company's BugsAway collection – which keeps biting insects at bay – and its underwear, which are the best I've found for taking on active adventures.

But of course, ExOfficio offers a wide variety of shirts, pants, jackets, and other garments as well. One of its newest is the Cosimo, which stylish enough for a jaunt around London or Paris, but performs at such a high level you'll want it with you in the Alps and Pyrenees too. And while it isn't as technical as something you might find from Mountain Hardwear or The North Face, that is actually a major benefit for those times you don't want to look like you just stumbled out of the wilderness.

Make no mistake, the Cosimo is indeed very warm and comfortable, without being thick and bulky. It accomplishes that feat by using Thinsulate, a synthetic insulation that has been around for years but continues to evolve in interesting ways. In this case, this material is put to good use by adding warmth without dramatically altering the look or thickness of the coat, something that every traveler can appreciate when they're packing for an extended trip in a cold climate.


One of the other advantages of Thinsulate is that it is very durable, and as a result the Cosimo shrugs off punishment very well. After wearing mine around for an extensive period of time while running errands, visiting the dog park, and taking hikes, it still looks like it is brand new. Better yet, its outer shell is easy to keep clean, and doesn't show wear and tear, which bodes well for when you want to take it with you on your travels. A jacket that is capable of surviving the rigors of the road, while still looking good, is a nice addition to any wardrobe. And since the Cosimo is also water resistant, you can wear it in inclement weather as well.

As a frequent traveler, I'll fully admit to having a preference for garments that are highly packable. I like clothes that don't take up much room in our suitcases, and can compress down to a small footprint too. The Cosimo performs well in this category as well, since it can be stuffed away into its own storage pocket, which doubles as a travel pillow in pinch. It is this level of versatility that has made me a fan of ExOfficio products for years, and keeps me coming back to the brand year in and year out.

Other nice design elements on the Cosimo include both a zipper and snap enclsoure on the the front, which is adds to the level of warmth in the jacket, and helps provide a higher level of protection against rain and snow. Additionally, all of the pockets – two hand pockets, a chest pocket, and an internal travel pocket – are also zippered, which helps provide an extra sense of security when you're stuffing valuable items – like a passport or smartphone – inside. ExOfficio also added a cinch cord in the hem that can tailor the fit of the jacket and help keep cold updrafts from reaching the interior.

As mentioned, one of the strengths of this jacket is that it looks a bit more fashionable when compared to some of the more technical jackets we review with regularity on The Adventure Blog. The Cosimo is one of those garments that looks right at home when you're exploring a new city, grabbing dinner at a fine restaurant, or heading out for a light hike. This is another aspect of the coat that makes it a good choice for travel, since it will be the only one you'll need to take with you. Sure, if I'm venturing into a place where it is going to be extremely cold, or I'm going to be taking part in some very active challenges, I might choose a different jacket to accompany me. But, for general travel needs the Cosimo will provide plenty of performance even in poor conditions.

The Cosimo is available in three versions: a vest ($145), standard jacket ($180), and a hooded version ($190). I tested the standard model, and obviously liked it very much, but I'd recommend spending the extra $10 and getting the hooded one, that is unless you absolutely don't like having a hood. The extra warmth and protection it provides is worth the few dollars more in my opinion, even if you only use it from time to time.

At first glance, it is easy to think that ExOfficio has priced this jacket a bit too high, after all we've seen other travel jackets that provide a great deal of comfort, warmth, and packability lately for less money. But, wearing is believing, and the Cosimo certainly delivers where you need it most. It is an excellent jacket for the price, and it offers classic good looks that will serve travelers well in a variety of destinations. For me, this is a great option to have at your disposal, and I think you'll appreciate everything that it brings to the table.

Find out more at ExOfficio.com.