What To Do If You Lose Communication While Camping

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Sponsored Post

For many of us, there is nothing like going into the great outdoors to get away from the stress and strife of modern-day life. Unfortunately, however, while being out in the wilderness is great to unwind, it’s still nice to have some connection to the outside world, which is why we also bring our phones with us. However, trying to get reception can be a huge pain, and if you ever lose your device while out in the woods, it can be almost impossible to retrieve it. For that reason, we are going to go over what to do if you lose your communication and how to find your phone with AVG if it is lost.

 

Maintaining Reception

lose communication 2If you are worried about losing your signal while out camping, you can plan ahead by bringing other devices that can offer you cell service no matter where you are. These include mobile wireless routers, cell phone boosters, and portable battery chargers to help you maintain access to your device at all times. These are the best ways to stay connected, but that doesn’t mean they are the only ones.

 

lose communication 3If You Lose Signal

For those that didn’t plan ahead, you can help improve your signal in a couple of ways. First, you can find a clear, elevated area that can give you more direct access to a signal, or you can craft your own makeshift antenna. Chip cans and aluminum foil can help boost your phone’s range if you know what you’re doing. Fortunately, there are plenty of tutorials out there that can help.

 

Losing Your Phone

lose communication 4If the worst happens and you misplace your device while camping, all is not lost. If you have AVG as your Android security and antivirus, then you can track your phone’s location, even if it’s off. This will help you pinpoint where exactly you left your phone so that you can retrieve it. Fortunately, if it’s in the woods somewhere, then you shouldn’t have to worry about someone stealing it.

 

 

Overall, the best way to keep your phone in tip-top shape while camping is to plan ahead and have AVG antivirus installed beforehand.

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Article provided by Lizzy and our friends over at AVG Anti-Virus.

6 Safe and Super Fun Ways to Go Camping with Baby

Camping with Baby 1

By Rita Myers

I’ve enjoyed camping since I was little, and it’s probably one of the few activities that have remained constant in my life, from childhood through adulthood. And now that I have a family of my own, I especially enjoy being able to go camping with all the members of our little household.

Yes, that means I regularly go camping with baby in tow. I’ve realized that a lot of people don’t think it’s possible to do so – it’s not safe enough, there’s too much to worry about, etc.

But it can be an incredibly fun and memorable experience that’s completely safe for your infant or toddler if you know what you’re doing. Here are a few tips and tricks on how to go camping with baby.

 

A QUICK LOOK: WHAT YOU SHOULD DO WHEN CAMPING WITH BABY (#5 will be your favorite!)

  1. Bring These 3 Must-Have Baby Items
  2. Be Mindful of Temperature Changes
  3. Keep your Baby on the Same Eating and Sleep Schedule
  4. Choose a Nearby Campsite and Do a Test Run
  5. Don’t Worry Too Much and Relish in Your Baby’s First Camping Experience!
  6. Get Your Whole Family Involved

 

#1 Bring These 3 Must-Have Baby Items

As indicated in the video above, on top of the basic necessities for your baby, this is the trio that will make camping with your baby convenient and worry-free: a baby carrier, a natural insect repellent, and a safe area for your baby at the campsite.

A baby carrier will allow you to hike and move around while keeping your hands free. A natural insect repellent keeps your baby safe from insect bites – it can be used by the whole family too!

And finally, you need to create a spot at the campsite for your baby where he/she can explore and move around safely and under your watchful eye, be it a mat or a small tent.

Important Reminder: Choose an insect repellent with natural ingredients instead of chemicals. Before using it on your baby, you should read the label carefully and follow instructions closely. Only apply the insect repellent on your baby’s exposed skin and the outside of his/her clothes.

 

#2 Be Mindful of Temperature Changes

Camping with Baby 2

 

Temperatures can greatly fluctuate when you go camping, and it’s easy for grown-ups and kids to adjust to these changes, but you have to be on the lookout when you go camping with baby.

You could have him/her all bundled up because it had gotten cold overnight and into the early morning – thick blankets and a few layers including a hat – but within minutes, it could go from very cold to very hot, making the layers you put on your baby incredibly uncomfortable.

Be particularly mindful of the temperature inside your tent and dress your baby accordingly.

 

#3 Keep your Baby on the Same Eating and Sleep Schedule

Camping with Baby 3

 

Babies need to regularly eat and take naps – try your best to stay within his/her regular routine even while you’re out camping.

It would be great if your baby is able to fall asleep on a carrier, so you can continue on with your hike while he/she does so. Otherwise, you’ll need to adjust your itinerary to make sure you give your baby enough time to nap.

You should also stick to your baby’s eating schedule as much as you can. If you’re breastfeeding, be sure you’re able to find a spot for you to do so even while you’re en route to your campsite.

 

#4 Choose a Nearby Campsite and Do a Test Run

Planning for your first camping trip with your infant can be a daunting task, so try to keep things as simple as possible. Start small and eventually work your way towards bigger and better camping trips.

For starters, choose a campsite that’s near your home, so that in case things don’t work out or something goes uncontrollably wrong, you can quickly pack up and go home.

You can also opt for a familiar campsite, one that you’ve already visited previously. This way, you already know what kind of surroundings you’ll have on the trip. That’s one less thing that’s unknown and unexpected for your trip.

And before you go on your camping trip, take time out to do a test run. Go on a simple road trip with your infant and see how you and your partner will handle traveling with your baby.

That way, you’ll have an idea of what to expect when it comes to the real deal. You’ll also get a good idea of the items you’ll need and what items you can live without in order to minimize your packing.

A test run can also be a bit of motivation – when you witness your baby enjoying him/herself and discovering the great outdoors, it might turn out to be the final push you need to go on a camping trip. Which is related to my next and final tip on how to go camping with baby!

 

#5 Don’t Worry Too Much and Relish in Your Baby’s First Camping Experience!

I believe that a lot of the anxiety that comes with camping with your baby is during the planning stage, when you don’t know what to expect and you want to be prepared for anything. But by the time you actually start the camping trip, you should worry less and enjoy more.

Don’t sweat the small stuff and allow yourself to witness your child discovering the great outdoors. Take your camera out and capture those memories that you’ll want to remember forever. Let your child go a little bit, and don’t be afraid to let him/her explore the immediate surroundings (but under your watchful eye).

Getting your child started on camping early can be the beginning of a lifelong passion for the outdoors and a great bonding experience for you and your family. So don’t worry too much and have a great time with your partner and child!

 

#6 Get Your Whole Family Involved

Camping with a baby requires team effort, so ask the rest of your family to pitch in. You and your partner should take turns spending time with and taking care of your baby, while the other kids in the family can have smaller responsibilities like bringing some of the baby’s items and the baby’s toys.

If your kids are old enough, you can even ask them to take care of their youngest sibling while you do some chores. Don’t leave your kids unattended, but that doesn’t stop you from giving your older kids a sense of responsibility by asking them to take care of their sibling (still under your watchful eye – always!).

Quick tip: don’t make pitching in to take care of the baby feel like a chore for your older kids – instead, make it fun by presenting it as a mission or a game.This can also be a good lesson on responsibility for them!

 

Conclusion

Camping with Baby 4

Not only is camping a great way to take a break from the stress and pressure of daily city life, it’s also an awesome opportunity to spend quality time with your loved ones. It’s a chance to reconnect, reflect and recharge!

So don’t be afraid to go camping with baby! It’s one of the many firsts you’ll want to witness and enjoy for yourself.

The planning and the preparation might take longer than for your usual camping trip, but the extra effort will be worth the joy and satisfaction you’ll feel as a parent. Happy camping!

 

Was this list helpful? I hope so, because I want to break the notion that you can only go camping with baby when he or she reaches a certain age. Camping is an activity that can and should be enjoyed by everyone!  You can even find free checklists to help when camping with your kids (of all ages and stages) by going here.

I would love to hear your thoughts and reactions, so please post them in the comments section! And do share this article if you enjoyed reading it. Wishing you well on your camping adventures!

 

Free checklists for lovers of the great outdoors

Free Checklists image

By Nicole Anderson

Many of us live for the time when we get to experience the outdoors.  We are constantly planning the next great escape from the city to again be at peace with the serenity, majesty and wonder of nature.

Often in our pressured, busy lives it is so easy to forget a few things that would make our experience in nature all the better.  How many times can you recall running late to get away from your routine and in your rush, you overlooked things you wished you hadn’t?  If you’re anything like me (human, that is), then you can surely relate.

And let’s face it.  On some outings, be they for a short or a long while, there can be so many things to remember, depending on what you are doing and who you are doing it with.

So with the above in mind, a few Camping for Women contributors have come up with some checklists to help make our planning and getting things together a little easier.   There are 6 checklists that we have put up initially and more will be added to in the future.

Enjoy the Free Checklists!

The totally free checklists that have been prepared for anyone to download and use below:

 

Free Checklist Hiking and Backpacking

The Hiking and Backpacking Checklist by Lynley Joyce

Click below to download:

hiking-and-backpacking-checklist.pdf (118 downloads)

 

 

 

Free Checklists CampingThe Camping Checklist by Lynley Joyce

Click below to download:

Camping-checklist.pdf (104 downloads)

 

 

 

Free checklists Camping with kids at all stagesThe Camping with Kids at all Stages Checklist by Lynley Joyce

Click below to download:

Camping-with-kids-at-all-stages-checklist.pdf (94 downloads)

 

 

 

Free checklists the ultimate road trip checklistThe Ultimate Road Trip Checklist by Janessa Tice Miller

Click below to download:

The-Ultimate-Road-Trip-Checklist.pdf (101 downloads)

 

 

 

 

 

Free Checklists first aidThe First Aid Kit Checklist by Amanda Parent

Click below to download:

First-Aid-Kit-Checklist.pdf (96 downloads)

 

 

 

Free Checklists post camping

And lastly, but by no means least:

The Post-Camping Checklist by Lynley Joyce

Click below to download:

Post-camping-checklist.pdf (98 downloads)

 

 

 

Use, share and tailor the checklists

You can also tailor these checklists by adding other things that may be particular to your circumstances, activity or location.

And in the future, Camping for Women plans to add to these checklists with different activities that readers tell us are useful.  Future free checklists and any updates to these initial lists will always be accessible from the Resources tab at Camping for Women.

You will be able to download which ever free checklists you like in future directly by going here.

We sincerely hope you get great value out from these checklists and that they save you some time and hassle that often goes with forgetting to take something that you really felt you needed to have.

Be sure to share this resource with your family and friends who love the great outdoors too!

Free checklists for lovers of the great outdoors

Personal protection against bears – guns or bear spray?

bear spray 1

By Carley Fairbrother

I spent seven years as a backcountry ranger in northern British Columbia, and one of the question I got asked the most was, “do you carry a gun out there?”  They seemed genuinely concerned when I told them that I usually just carried bear spray.

To many folks in the north, and I’m sure wherever gun culture is prevalent, bear spray is seen as something a gimmick. I can understand that.  I have been approached by an angry grizzly, and let me tell you, that can of bear spray made me feel a little like I’d shown up to a formal ball in my Pjs.

Yet here I am, years later still traipsing around bear country without a gun. Here’s why.

bear spray 2Effectiveness of bear spray

This may be counterintuitive, but bear spray does work better at deterring bears than firearms.  It’s nasty stuff, and when an animal with the sense of smell 100 times more powerful than a human’s gets a face-full of it, it’ll usually stop its charge immediately.  Bears, particularly grizzlies, often continue their attack, even after a fatal shot. It’s not surprising then that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service report that around 50% of people using firearms in a grizzly encounter still suffered injuries.  Those using bear spray suffered from much fewer and less severe injuries.

A 2008 study by biologist Tom Smith looked at 600 bear encounters in Alaska.  Bear spray proved 92% effective in the 72 cases that it was used.  Four years later, Smith did another study in 2012 looking at bear encounters involving firearms.  Depending on how you interpret the study, firearms were somewhere between 58% and 76% effective.

Speed and Ease of Use

bear spray 3Even a good marksman or markswoman will take at least a few seconds to unsling a gun, chamber a round, aim, and fire.  Even if you are in ready position with your gun, simply aiming is going to take longer than unholstering a can of bear spray.  To make matters worse, a bad shot may just make a bear angrier. Add to that the panic that comes with being face-to-face with and angry apex predator, and I’d say your chances are a lot better with bear spray.

Weight

Carrying too much weight isn’t just unpleasant, it can be dangerous.  If you are fatigued, you are going to be less aware of your surrounding, less likely to make noise, and slower to react in the event of a bear encounter.

A 12-gauge shotgun is going to weigh 6 or 7 lbs.  Compare that to 8-11oz for a canister of bear and there is no contest.  While a lighter gun may stand up against a black bear, a grizzly needs some serious power to bring it down.

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Unnecessary Killing

Just because a bear is angry at you doesn’t make it an evil creature that needs to die.  Remember, you are in its home, and it’s usually just defending itself.  Sometimes it’s only approaching out of curiosity, and spraying it will simply teach it that humans are best avoided.

That being said a predatory, habituated, or unusually aggressive bears should be reported to the appropriate authorities so they can take action if necessary.

bear spray 5

Human Safety

No matter how safe you are with your firearm, it’s hard to predict what kind of bad decisions you’ll make if you are panicked. There are plenty of stories of people inadvertently shooting themselves or their partners while hurrying to get a shot at the bear.

bear spray 6

What about Wind and the Short Range?

In good conditions, bear spray should shoot at least 16 feet, but some brands will shoot further.  This may seem uncomfortably close, but a bear further away will likely decide you aren’t worth the trouble before it actually attacks. You can also spray a bit earlier to make a cloud for the bear to run through.

In the Smith study, only five of the bear spray cases were effected by wind, and the spray still hit their target.  You may get sprayed a little yourself, but it’s a small price to pay.

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The Law

It’s now legal in many U.S. national parks to carry a firearms, but the ruling is still subject to state laws. Here in Canada it is illegal to carry firearms (with some exceptions for polar bears) in national parks.  Oddly, it is also illegal to carry bear spray in Yosemite, so if you plan on hiking there, bring your bear sense.

Things to Note

Now I want to make a few points clear.  Carrying any form of bear defence does not replace the need to use your bear sense.  Always make noise while hiking, stay aware of your surroundings, avoid hiking alone, keep you camp free of food smell, and know what to do in a bear encounter to avoid an attack.

Also, no matter what you choose to carry, know how to use it.  If you choose bear spray, practice unholstering your bear spray and removing the safety, and ALWAYS keep it somewhere where you can grab it.  Should you have an expired canister, practice discharging it.  If you choose a gun, make sure it’s going to be powerful enough and practice getting it ready and taking aim in a variety of situations.

Sources

U.S. Fish & Wildife Service. Bear Spray vs. Bullets: Which offers better protection? Living with Grizzlies http://www.bearsmart.com/docs/BearSprayVsBullets.pdf

Tom Smith et al.  Efficacy of firearms for bear deterrence in Alaska. Journal of Wildlife Management. 76(5):1021-1102J. July 2012. https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/326124/efficacy-of-firearms-for-bear-deterrence-in-alaska.pdf

Tom Smith, et al. Efficacy of Bear Deterrent Spray in Alaska. Journal of Wildlife Management 72(3):640 – 645 · December 2008.  http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/bear_cougar/bear/files/JWM_BearSprayAlaska.pdf

Video

Also, check out this video put together by Carley Fairbrother, together with a giveaway she is running this month:

 

 

9 Points About Using Menstrual Cups While Camping on Your Period

menstrual cups

By Phoebe Hodina

Menstrual Cups: Because your period shouldn’t ever hold you back. Period.

Thinking of using menstrual cups on your adventures in the great outdoors (or anywhere for that matter)?  Here are nine points to consider.

1. The cup is better for Mother Earth.

In a lifetime, the average female uses between 8,000-17,000 tampons. Adding up everything involved (tampons, panty liners, pads, etc.), and multiplying that by all the women in the world… adds up to a lot. If you take in account the energy and carbon released to create those products, and the time it takes for those products to decompose in a landfill… you’re looking at more than just some pesky cramps and PMS to deal with.

To save our planet, switching to menstrual cups can make a serious impact. Silicone cups don’t contain rayon, dioxin, or harmful chemicals. But more than that… they are reusable. They’re pretty much the eco-friendliest way to have a period (other than free-bleeding… which is a whole different kind of article, and not my preference for my clothing).

2. You can skip packing out your used feminine products, and lighten your load.

Lighter pack. This is probably the best perk of camping with a menstrual cup… you don’t have to carry out, and later deal with the waste you’ve created. Simply dump your red stuff in the toilet (or hole), rinse the cup with clean water, reinsert, and continue doing whatever you were doing before. Easy.

 3. You get to worry less and have more fun.

Your lady parts are warm, moist, and the perfect place to a tampon to harbor the deadly bacteria that causes TSS (toxic shock syndrome). Did you know that tiny bits of cotton shreds from tampons can cause small cuts in your vaginal walls—and lead to TSS? For me, remembering to change out a tampon every six hours while in the middle of the great outdoors can be a drag on my fun time. With a menstrual cup, the risk of TSS is almost null. As a woman, you’ve got enough to worry about… TSS shouldn’t be on that list. Plus, with the cup- you can go up to 12 hours before having to fuss with it.

menstrual cups 1
Spending my time petting a wolf, instead of changing my tampon

 4. You can save money… loads of it.

The average menstrual cup will cost you about $30 USD. You could easily spend that every other month on pads and tampons. Over a decade, you’re looking at a savings of around $1,500 if you replace your cup annually. Being a lady is expensive enough, save your cash for camping gear!

 5. You will be untethered in the best sense.

Tampon strings have the gross habit of being gross. Swimming causes other problems with your string, as sometimes it has the tendency to make an appearance. Skinny dip with freedom… without the string.

 6. You can stay hydrated… everywhere

No really, hear me out. Cotton tampons can strip your inner walls of not only their natural lining, but your natural moisture as well. This can make your lady parts more susceptible to infection. Not fun anywhere, especially out in the woods.

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No fear, and no leaks while snorkeling!

Tampons also absorb that extra moisture that is naturally secreted when you’re sexually aroused. So when you remove it before getting intimate, it can make for a less than slick experience. Also, there are some brands that claim you can wear it during intercourse, mess free(!!). I cannot personally attest to these products, but I am 110% behind women who get busy during that time of the month.

And the 3 things you should know, because you should always be prepared:

 7. It can get messy

The first time you’re using the device… be prepared for your bathroom floor to look like the elevator scene of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shinning. OK- it’s not that bad at all, but be prepared. After a couple tries, you’ll have your technique down, and if a drop spills… you will clean it up as the empowered, fierce woman that you are.

 8. Don’t freak out, it will be fine.

The first time I used mine, I had some difficulty… getting it in, and then out. Without going into too much detail, let’s just say I was sitting, squatting and everything in between all over my bathroom. If I wasn’t so panicked about getting it out, it would have been incredibly comedic. If you’re trying it for the first time… make sure you are in the privacy of your own home. But trust me! The learning curve is well worth it.

 9. There are two sizes.

If you’ve delivered a baby vaginally, your body is a little bit different from those who haven’t. There are two sizes of menstrual cups, one for pre-birth, and one for post-birth. Make sure to choose the correct size for your body.

 

All in all, menstrual cups can be a great option for outdoor activities during that time of the month. For more info, make sure to check out: Camping And Hiking On Your Period: Don’t let it slow you down! 

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Free to frolick with the flowers!

How to Prepare For Motorcycle Camping From a Woman’s Point of View

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By Daniela Schoenberg

As a woman motorcyclist, you want to make sure you’re prepared for your exciting camping adventure. Taking your bike on a long ride to the great outdoors is a great way to spend time with friends, family, or just by yourself.

Whether you’re going for a short ride/stay or you’re in for a longer adventure, these are the things you need to know for your trip.

Before You Hit The Road

Make sure your bike is ready to go. If you’re mechanic savvy, then you can do some of these checks yourself. Perhaps you know how to change the oil, check the fluids, and the lights and controls. If not be sure to take the bike to your local mechanic to check it out before you head out on the road. You also need to check your tires to make sure they are ready to go. You want to purchase tires for motorcycles before heading out. You don’t want to be stranded somewhere due to the motorcycle tire you need not being in stock.

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Packing For The Trip

Make sure to pack your heaviest items towards the bottom of the bike or luggage compartment so it doesn’t mess up your road control. Also be sure you have the right motorcycle apparel for your trip. Be sure that you have a variety of apparel to protect you from the weather you may go through. If possible check the forecast for your route so you are not caught unaware.

motorcycle 3

Planning out your route ahead of time is also a great idea. Make sure to have alternative routes in place as well should you run into issues along the way.

Most of all bring along your sense of fun and adventure. Taking a motorcycle road trip can be an amazing experience when you take the time to prepare.

motorcycle 4

 

Repel Mosquitos from Your Campsite, Naturally

mosquitos

By Phoebe Hodina

Dealing with mosquitos

While the mosquito is a part of the ecosystem, it’s probably our least favorite part. Additionally, heavy exposure to DEET has been linked to all kinds of symptoms such as: headaches, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, shortness of breath, and is particularly toxic for small children.

Here are some other, more natural options.

 

mosquito 1Lavender

Lavender not only smells fabulous—but it’s great for repelling mosquitoes as well!

There are a couple ways to incorporate it into your mosquito prevention.

 

mosquito 2Candles

If you have access to your car, or can bring lot of extra stuff while camping or glamping, you can bring some homemade citronella candles with a few drops of lavender essential oil added into the mix to strengthen it!

Works every time!

 

mosquito 3Lotion

You can also add about 15 drops per 1 tablespoon to coconut oil and rub it onto exposed skin.

You’ll smell heavenly, and have bite-free soft skin!

 

mosquito 4Rosemary

A Barbeque Addition

Mosquitos love to strike while cooking, and a great way to keep them away is to add a bunch of rosemary to your grill! Add a few stalks of rosemary to the grill to flavor your food, and keep away the pesky insects. You can also add in a few blocks of cedar to your fire to get a similar effect!

 

mosquito 5Neem Oil

Applied to skin

Known as the “tree of life”, the Neem tree is native to India, and produces an oil that is a natural insecticide. The best part? It works on humans too! Just apply it to your skin to keep away unwanted bugs.

 

Garlic

mosquitos 6Consumed via capsule or in meal

Some people swear by eating tons of garlic. Whether you just add it to your food, or take garlic capsules… people say that it helps keep the bugs away. Personally I feel the research is still out on this one… but I’m not one to say “no” to a tasty meal! As a side note… too much garlic may also keep away your loved ones. But everyone needs a bit of solitude sometimes, right?

 

mosquitos 7DIY Bug Keep-Off Spray

Applied to skin

You can create your own natural bug spray with some witch hazel and essential oils. Simply just combine the ingredients in a small spray bottle or mason jar, and apply liberally to your skin! You can divide or multiply the below as needed, I like to make a lot at the beginning of the summer.

 

Base: Witch hazel (1 cup)

Essential Oils (use at least 4 of these): mint, citronella, rosemary, lemongrass, eucalyptus, lavender, lemon, tea tree (15 drops each)

 

mosquitos 8Stay Covered at the Right Times

Extra layers of protection

Early morning and dusk are peak mosquito times. Conveniently, it’s also when you’re likely to be able to wear longer sleeves and pants. Try to cover up during these times in the day for maximum mosquito armor.

 

Avoid Perfumes

Keep them off your trail

Artificial smells found in lotions, perfumes, shampoos, fabric conditioners, and strong-smelling sunscreens can all attract mosquitos. Try to avoid these as much as possible prior to your camping trip.

 

Happy mosquito-free camping!

 

33 Top Rated Hiking and Camping Gear on Amazon

Top Rated 35

By Kelly Price

This Top Rated list compiled for women outdoor adventurers only features products with at least 4.3/5 stars and 25+ reviews on the global Amazon platform.

When you’re out in the wilderness, it’s just you, Mother Nature and your gear. It’s critical for every product you bring with you to (1) do its job perfectly and (2) leave the smallest footprint possible. The gear on this list has been put to the test by thousands of explorers just like you, and they’ve all performed better than the rest.

 

1. A collapsible kettle that takes up very little room

Top Rated 1

Average rating: 4.6/5 stars (30+ reviews)

Top Rated 34

Reviewers say: “I tested it over my propane grill and it did an amazing job heating the water. When it is collapsed it is about the size of a dessert plate so it saves space in my gear.”

 

2. A tiny but effective fire starter

Top Rated 2

Average rating: 4.7/5 stars (1,400+ reviews)

Top Rated 34

Reviewers say: “A fantastic little tool, really throws some good sparks! Fairly large rod should last a long time, well made, comfortable finger grips, light weight, small enough to fit into any camping / survival kit.”

 

3. A pocket-sized outdoor blanket

Top Rated 3

Average rating: 4.7/5 stars (50+ reviews)

Top Rated 34

Reviewers say: “Easy to carry and can fit in one hand, strong and durable, yet big enough for 2/3 people to lounge around on. We were able to use it as a base for inflatable airpads, or simply pull it out for additional friends to lay on it.”

 

4. A lightweight-yet-warm double sleeping bag

Top Rated 4

Average rating: 4.8/5 stars (40+ reviews)

Top Rated 34

Reviewers say: “This thing is awesome! We’re a big camping family (cheap vacation!) and all have our own sleeping bags. However, I loved the idea of a sleeping bag I could share with my husband and this is the perfect fit. It’s not too much bulkier than an average size sleeping bag, but once you open it up the inside is very spacious! The material is soft and definitely will keep us warm on a chilly summer/fall night.”

 

5. An ultra soft microfiber towel

Top Rated 5

Average rating: 4.9/5 stars (140+ reviews)

Top Rated 34

Reviewers say: “I bought this towel for camping. It is lightweight and folds up very small for its size. The texture is sort of like a chamois, soft and kinda “rubbery”, for lack of a better word. It will absorb a ton of water. Far more than it needs to to dry you off after a shower. It does dry very quickly if you hang it in a breeze. Much quicker than a standard cotton towel.”

 

6. A hand crank power bank with a radio, flashlight, and USB charger

Top Rated 6

Average rating: 4.4/5 stars (340+ reviews)

Top Rated 34

Reviewers say: “This little jewel would provide invaluable during emergencies. It will provide 50 lumen LED light, AM/FM/NOAA radio and even a way to charge phones.”

 

7. A personal water filter

Top Rated 7

Average rating: 4.4/5 stars (340+ reviews)

Top Rated 34

Reviewers say: “As soon as I got this thing in the mail I went straight to the nastiest, most contaminated thing I could find. There just happened to be a sink full of soaking dishes that worked just fine. Couldnt taste a thing. I even spit some of the water out and it was nice and clear.”

 

8. A spork with a bottle opener

Top Rated 8

Average rating: 4.4/5 stars (1,700+ reviews)

Top Rated 34

Reviewers say: “Well made. Just right for eating that emergency can of pork and beans on the road. Clipped it to the key ring on my car’s AA Maglite along with the P-38 can opener and Gerber 1 1/2″ pocket knife. Too big for a pant’s pocket but just right for a coat’s. Of course it can be clipped to a purse or pack too.”

 

9. All-purpose nylon paracord

Top Rated 9

Average rating: 4.6/5 stars (1,700+ reviews)

Top Rated 34

Reviewers say: “Worked great! I brought this with me whenever I went camping or had other outdoor adventures. I used it pretty much every time. The hardest load I put on it was a hammock, which I only had to double the string from the tree to the hammock.”

 

10. A completely waterproof dry bag

Top Rated 10

Average rating: 4.9/5 stars (750+ reviews)

Top Rated 34

Reviewers say: “We used this dry bag on a trip to French Polynesia. Brought it everywhere-on a boat (standing on outside observation deck in tropical rain), a jet ski tour, a shark excursion, and lunch IN the water. Our stuff stayed totally dry. It’s a good looking bag, people asked where we got it. 10LB green bag, perfect size.”

 

11. A portable personal cooking system

Top Rated 11

Average rating: 4.8/5 stars (600+ reviews)

Top Rated 34

Reviewers say: “In the military this was extremely helpful when we had to be out in the woods for weeks on end. We got really creative in what we can make in the jetboil. We used the hot water for shaving, making coffee, hard boiled eggs, oatmeal, hot dogs, hot chocolate, if you can make something with boiling water, we made it.”

 

12. A bottle of versatile 18-in-1 soap

Top Rated 12

Average rating: 4.7/5 stars (4,900+ reviews)

Top Rated 34

Reviewers say: “I use this soap for shampoo, body wash, face wash, I put it in my bath, I’ve used it to clean my counters, I’ve used it to clean dishes.”

 

13. A water bottle that will keep liquid cold for 24 hours

Top Rated 13

Average rating: 4.7/5 stars (2,600+ reviews)

Top Rated 34

Reviewers say: “1) Unbelievably effective at holding temperature. Have yet to see an occasion when there is not still ice at the end of the day, no matter how hot it’s been: sitting in a hot car, going through a double class of Bikram yoga (4hrs in 105 degree room!)
2) Incredibly well made. We have had other metal water bottles; they dent; paint chips or peels. Not this one; my son’s still looks brand new after hanging off his backpack, banging around for the past 3 months.”

 

14. A lightweight, durable backpack for day hikes

Top Rated 14

Average rating: 4.7/5 stars (5,500+ reviews)

Top Rated 34

Reviewers say: “I needed a packable, waterproof backpack for my trip to Brazil and this was perfect! I wore it while hiking through the jungle in Iguassu Falls, where weather was unpredictable, and it kept all my belongings dry. At one point, I was able to fit a change of clothes, sunscreen, towel, and a bunch of other items.”

 

15. And a bigger, more robust backpack for camping

Top Rated 15

Average rating: 4.5/5 stars (1,500+ reviews)

Top Rated 34

Reviewers say: “It has endured some serious abuse and keeps on taking it. I would recommend this pack to anyone at this point. As to the pack itself, it has tons of little features. It has locking mechanisms on the lumbar straps, 2 outside pockets that are literally the perfect size for a Nalgene, It has a pocket on the top for random things (I used it for flint and my back up plan of 9V battery and steel wool), At the bottom it has a place for your sleeping bag. All in all a fantastic pack for the price.”

 

16. A ventilated shoe for warm & wet hikes

Top Rated 16

Average rating: 4.5/5 stars (4,300+ reviews)

Top Rated 34

Reviewers say: “I just used these as my primary shoe for a ten day hiking/white water rafting trip in the Grand Canyon. I used them for the 7 1/2 mile hike from the upper rim to the lower rim while carrying a 35 lb. pack and they performed exceptionally. My feet never got sore and my toes didn’t get bruised, despite the constant decline of the trail. I also used them during day hikes. Even when crossing streams, they dried relatively quickly and were still comfortable even when wet.”

 

17. And a heavier duty hiking boot for longer hauls

Top Rated 17

Average rating: 4.6/5 stars (4,30+ reviews)

Top Rated 34

Reviewers say: “I pretty much submerged these boots in water ENTIRELY, and they are definitely WATERPROOF. They were also incredibly comfortable – I had multiple days of hiking for 12+ hours consecutively, and I cannot stress how comfortable they were. They seem pretty light-weight, great support, solid traction on all sorts of terrain.”

 

18. Fill them shoes with Darn Tough high performance socks

Top Rated 18

Average rating: 4.8/5 stars (40+ reviews)

Top Rated 34

Reviewers say: “I am on my feet 12 hours a day wearing steel-toed boots and these help greatly with making my feet comfortable. I have gifted a few pairs to my coworkers and they have purchased several pairs afterwards. They are a bit pricey but I have a few pairs that have lasted 4+ years, if you wear them out, mail them to Darn Tough and they will send you a new pair.”

 

19. The classic Swiss Army Knife

Top Rated 19

Average rating: 4.7/5 stars (4,600+ reviews)

Top Rated 34

Reviewers say: “I think that this item should be standard issue to everyone. I have several and if I don’t have a reason to use it daily, someone around me does.”

 

20. A compact 10-piece cookset

Top Rated 20

Average rating: 4.7/5 stars (2,300+ reviews)

Top Rated 34

Reviewers say: “This has to be the most complete camping cookware set I have ever purchased. Well finished, fine quality product, pretty solid and tight cookware, no rattling noise when you shake them. It includes a pot with a cover, a frying pan, 2 bowls for drinking water or soup, a soup spoon, bamboo handle spoon, a cleaning loofah and a stainless steel spork, and even though it does not contain a knife, the spork its strong enough to cut through meat, potatoes or carrots.”

 

21. A lightweight yet complete first aid kit

Top Rated 21

Average rating: 4.7/5 stars (180+ reviews)

Top Rated 34

Reviewers say: “This one is a terrific size and weight for hiking. It fits anywhere in or on my backpack.”

 

22. A pair of lightweight convertible hiking pants

Top Rated 22

Average rating: 4.4/5 stars (460+ reviews)

Top Rated 34

Reviewers say: “These are great fitting, light weight, comfortable pants, perfect for hiking in. I will never wear jeans to hike in again. They have a nice straight leg (not wide at all) that fits my body perfectly, and I feel skinny and cute in them too! They also dry incredibly fast. I took these pants to hike around in Switzerland and didn’t want to wear any other pants, I loved these so much.”

 

23. An ultra compact sleeping pad

Top Rated 23

Average rating: 4.8/5 stars (100+ reviews)

Top Rated 34

Reviewers say: “Great bang for your buck. Inflates with about 15 breaths. Comfortable on the ground. Shields you from feeling every little leaf and twig under you. Obviously not best for very cold weather camping if you’re needing this to help insulate you from cold ground. But for basic camping and down to about 45-50 degrees it works.”

 

24. A handy headlamp

Top Rated 24

Average rating: 4.7/5 stars (200+ reviews)

Top Rated 34

Reviewers say: “I have had several Petzl headlamps which have evolved positively in functionality (e.g. operating the switch with a gloved hand) and the Tikkina is, in my opinion, the perfect end result. The default “on” is bright enough for almost any pre-dawn trekking, approach, or climbing, without fear of running the batteries down. And if you occasionally need extra light, it is available with an extra click.”

 

25. A bottle of water treatment drops

Top Rated 25

Average rating: 4.7/5 stars (340+ reviews)

Top Rated 34

Reviewers say: “There are many ways to get clean water these days. Filters, UV lights, charged salts, chlorine, iodine, etc. They all have PROs and CONs. I prefer the Aquamira drops over the other methods because I never have to worry about dead batteries, dead UV bulbs, broken equipment, foul tastes, or clogged filters. I keep several sets of these around.”

 

26. A state-of-the-art GPS watch

Top Rated 26

Average rating: 4.7/5 stars (340+ reviews)

Top Rated 34

Reviewers say: “Did a lot of research on a device that can track my ocean swims, bike rides, runs, heart rate, etc. I have gone on an ocean swim, and it worked like a champ. Mapped my swim, calculated the distance and generated a SWOLF score. The hr sensor was working in the water, but I did go with a hrm-tri strap for better accuracy. Did a 15mi bike ride and it synced easily with my garmin cadence and speed sensor. Post workout data gave me every detail on my ride.”

 

27. A portable high capacity power bank

Top Rated 27

Average rating: 4.6/5 stars (900+ reviews)

Top Rated 34

Reviewers say: “This is personally the best portable battery I have purchased in my life. For the iPhone 6s a full charge lasts me a good 4 full charges, its small so its very compact and fits in the pocket nicely when you want to go places and it doesn’t bother you so much when walking around or running around.”

 

28. A 10-liter camping kitchen sink

Top Rated 28

Average rating: 4.5/5 stars (75+ reviews)

Top Rated 34

Reviewers say: “If you do any camping at all, you soon discover the need for something that holds water. Sometimes it’s for washing dishes, other times it’s for moving water up to camp so you can filter it, sometimes it’s just for washing the dust off your face. It’s always for keeping “dirty” water away from otherwise clean water sources, unless you’re into making someone else sick or messing up the environment.”

 

29. A pack of No Rinse bathing wipes

Top Rated 29

Average rating: 4.6/5 stars (35+ reviews)

Top Rated 34

Reviewers say: “Went on a 2.5 trekking trip through Nepal where you couldn’t shower every day – TMI, I know. These were a great alternative. One wipe is plenty for the whole body – remember you can use the other side. Plus, they packed really flat/neatly into my backpack. There really wasn’t a scent, I felt refreshed and it got the sunblock/insect repellant off surprisingly well.”

 

30. A waterproof notebook

Top Rated 30

Average rating: 4.8/5 stars (160+ reviews)

Top Rated 34

Reviewers say: “This is the best pad out there. I have carried one of these in my cargo pocket through training and now months in Afghanistan. I keep a daily journal in one and use another for important notes. I will always have one of these with me.”

 

31. A pair of low gaiters

Top Rated 31

Average rating: 4.3/5 stars (65+ reviews)

Top Rated 34

Reviewers say: “The gaiters were used over some 10 year old waterproof hiking boots on a route following paths cut by snow-melt fed streams that took us in and out of rocky scree, gravel, tundra grasses and 3 inches of fresh snow. I lost track of the number of low water stream crossings, but my feet stayed warm and dry thanks to the gaiters–can’t say the same for my companions. Product was also highly effective at keeping debris out of my boots.”

 

32. A pair of waterproof binoculars

Top Rated 32

Average rating: 4.6/5 stars (800+ reviews)

Top Rated 34

Reviewers say: “The clarity and magnification is pretty remarkable. They are really compact and light weight for what they are. Magnification is about the limit of what you can hold steady by hand without a rest. I went to a football game sitting in the nosebleeds and let a couple strangers next to me use them, they were blown away and ordered a pair on the spot!”

 

33. For extreme emergencies – a personal locator beacon

Top Rated 33

Average rating: 4.5/5 stars (180+ reviews)

Top Rated 34

Reviewers say: “My boat capsized offshore at 11:31 am. I turned on the signal. The colonel from the coast guard called my wife in the next 2-3 minutes to confirm that I was out fishing. The coast guard helicopter was sent to my location immediately. The helicopter was there very soon.”

 

To discover more top rated products on Amazon or to get in touch with the author, visit WeGravy.com – a new product curation site that hand selects the highest-rated products on Amazon.

 

Top Ten Tips for Solo Females Headed to India

Solo Females India 1

By Emily Pennington

So, ever the over-achiever, I did an enormous amount of research before embarking on my first solo trip to India. I jumped on phone calls and talked extensively with girlfriends who had been before, in addition to scouring top travel blogs and sites like TripAdvisor and HostelWorld. Below are the tips I found most helpful – many of which I discovered on my own out in the wild. Enjoy!

1. Cover Yourself.

I know, I know… It’s not the most feminist approach to open up with SHIELD YOUR BODY FROM THE INEVITABLE KNIVES OF THE MALE GAZE, but it’s important to remember that India has a much more patriarchal culture than the Western world. Misogyny is a very real thing, and literally everyone you meet will happily talk to you about their arranged marriages.

From the moment I got on my plane from Delhi to Rajasthan, I knew I wasn’t in Kansas anymore. A quick jaunt down the aisle to the bathroom meant 30 people staring at me, slack-jawed. Temples and tourists sites are no different. India is a BIG place, and there are loads of domestic tourists from smaller or less frequented cities who want to see all the same sites and palaces as you do but perhaps haven’t seen many Westerners.

The quickest way to avoid unwanted attention, sales tactics, and random street groping is to make sure you plan an afternoon of shopping for more traditional Indian garb one of the first 2 days you’re there. Make sure your breasts, shoulders, and legs are covered in baggy/loose fitting clothing. I liked to always carry a scarf and wrap my head up in it to appear even more inconspicuous. Think of it as dress up! It’s hot and quite humid in most parts of India, so the clothes you purchase there will be more appropriate for the climate. Don’t pack too much before you leave, because clothes are cheap as chips there and beautifully made, for the most part. Plus, you get the souvenir of a whole new wardrobe when you get home!

Solo Female India

2. Morning > Night

This one I learned by accident but kept it up the entire trip (thanks, jet lag!). Try to stay up as late as you can your first day in India, rather than opting for a nap. Go to bed around 9 or 10pm and wake up with the sun. In almost every city you visit, there will be sunrise yoga, markets, and morning rituals (especially along the Ganges River). The locals are out in full force, and the light beaming through the morning mist is stunning. A simple walk around your hostel’s neighborhood or along the Ganges will put you eye to eye with singing schoolchildren, local women doing their washing, sadhus meditating, and little Brahmin priests in training doing a very silly looking version of yoga. 😉

The few times I did venture out into the cities at night, it was cacophonous, crowded, difficult to get around, and full of traffic. Because India is not as developed as what I’m accustomed to, the shacks and vinyl signs marking storefronts began to all blur together at night, making it really tough to find anything, even if your rickshaw driver swears it’s “right down that alley!”

Also, it’s worth noting that many regions and cities in India are dry, so alcohol isn’t really an option if you want to go out at night and get wild. I did have one fun walk around Varanasi in the evening, but I was accompanied by friends (and, to be fair, we did get followed by a fake sadhu for about a mile). In my opinion, mornings are where it’s at in India!

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3. Stay on Your Toes but Remain Open to Experience.

“You’re going to get raped!” was one of the first things out of everyone’s mouths when I told them that I would be traveling through India alone and without a tour group. The notion that India’s misogynistic culture was pervasive seemed to be on the tip of everyone’s tongue. Unfortunately, most of the rapes and violence against women that we hear about so frequently on the news involve Indian women. Eve teasing is a bit of an epidemic out there, and it’s a good idea to read up on it here.

That being said, I can happily report that I most certainly did not get raped and didn’t even encounter the random street groping that I’ve heard other female tourists complain about. Okay, maaaaybe once someone grazed my boob in a crowd, and maaaaybe the fake sadhu tried to touch my friend’s butt, but it was subtle and I did not feel threatened in the least. From the stories I’ve heard, if a man does try to grab you, especially on a bus or in a public place, shove him back, make a bit of a scene, and make sure that people know that what he did is NOT OK. The crowd will have your back. As I already mentioned in tip #1, I would highly recommend covering up to avoid unwanted attention. Random men will still approach you all the time, regardless, offering you tours or drives through the mountains on their motorcycle.

It’s up to you to stay on your toes and exercise good judgment. Be polite, yet firm. State boundaries and ask questions. If you’re one of those people who has a hard time saying no, practice saying no in the mirror before you jump on that plane. You’re going to have to do it. A lot. Carry pepper spray or something small if it helps you to feel safer when walking alone.

4. Take Photos with All the Cute Families!

So, yes, men will definitely approach you at random in the street to offer you tours or take a photo with you (a practice which maaaaay or may not be a weird, sexual thing so they can brag to their friends later). But, there are also huge droves of domestic tourists nearly everywhere you’ll go in the form of the cutest, friendliest Indian families that you’ll ever meet who are going to flip out that you are in the same temple as they are.

At first, it might be alarming to constantly be approached by people requesting ”1 photo?” at all the sites and markets, but I found it really fun to swan dive into the strangeness and take on the impromptu photoshoots that often involved a mother shoving a baby into my arms as she yelled commands to her children and other family members to pose in different variations, most certainly taking sooo many more than just “1 photo.”

Indian people were often really excited and genuinely curious about where I was from and what brought me to their country, so these little paparazzi moments felt like a fun and silly way to be a celebrity for a moment. I once got pulled to the front of the line for a bus ride down a mountain once simply because I had been talking to the sweetest family about their 3 year old’s digital camera obsession at the Monsoon Palace. The giddy memories are innumerable – a 12 year old girl was so excited to meet me that she kissed me on the cheek, and once, while hiking deep in the mountains, another little girl was so excited to practice her English with me that she forgot her name.

Solo Female India 4

5. Tigers and Elephants Are Real.

When my trek out of Rishikesh got cancelled and I only had 7 days left of my India journey, I decided that 8am yoga followed by a massive hike every day was the most logical plan B. On a friendly afternoon jaunt to one of Rishikesh’s well-known waterfalls, I skipped past langur monkeys the size of toddlers and scampered up a less-taken side trail with a lovely creek leading to the Ganges.

On the trail, I encountered lots of GIANT animal dung, thinking to myself, “Hmm. That’s odd, I don’t remember there being many horses in Rishikesh.” Later that evening in my guesthouse, the staff seemed really concerned that I had been out hiking alone, citing snakes, tigers, and ELEPHANTS as potential dangers if I stayed out too late. For real.

Lesson learned – If you’re going to hike in the Himalayas, don’t lose track of time and stay out past evening.  Stay on your toes if you’re going to hike alone, and tell a friend or someone at your hostel where you’ll be if you know you’re going to take a gypsy cab up to a mountain temple and scramble your way back into town (i.e. the famously frantic Neelkanth temple).

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6. Prioritize Community.

This was one of the best pieces of advice I got before leaving for India alone. Go to a site like HostelWorld.com and specifically seek out reviews from solo female travelers like yourself. They’ll almost always mention things like safety, how it is to walk alone in the neighborhood at night, and how easy it is to make friends in that guesthouse!

I highly suggest picking hostels/guesthouses with wifi in large common areas and communal breakfasts/kitchens so you can easily meet people. Places that made a point to offer tours of local markets and temples are great too, as it can often be impossible to find one once you reach the site itself, plus you really get to know the people you hike around with for the day.

It’s also important to remember that not every local is trying to scam you. I was wandering the alleyways of Varanasi with some friends and some freshly purchased 25 cent kites when a man stopped and offered to teach us how to fly them. Turns out, kites are HUGE in Varanasi, and there’s a massive kite festival there every year. We ended up spending the afternoon on the rooftop of an abandoned building right next to the Manikarnika burning ghat, doing what any respectable adults would do, flying kites! It was easily one of the most memorable moments of my trip, and it never would have happened if we didn’t take a chance on a friendly local with a great vibe.

If an Indian family invites you to dinner – do it! It’s a big part of Indian culture to be hospitable to guests, and the one meal I was able to share in an Indian home was better than any restaurant and accompanied by setting off leftover Diwali fireworks on the rooftop with teenage boys! I regretted not having time to accept offers to share a meal with a Brahmin priest and his wife on this trip and totally swooned over stories fellow backpackers told me about being taken in by a family and shown a more authentic version of Delhi.

Solo Female India 7

7. Take Care of Yourself.

Your health on this adventure is of utmost importance so that you can experience all the colorful ecstasy, unexpected brilliance, and frenetic insanity that India has to offer! Unfortunately, this does mean missing out on a few treats while in the country, but trust me, it’s well worth it. Even my strict adherence to these rules couldn’t stop me from getting a stomach bug!

First of all, don’t eat anything that hasn’t been cooked, liquids that haven’t been purified or boiled, or fruit that’s cut or doesn’t have its skin on. Even the oh-so-tempting mango lassis are made by soaking yogurt in tap water before blending, so don’t do it! No ice either. Buy bottled water for 15 cents a liter or bring your own filtration system (I had a SteriPEN with me). Keep your mouth shut in the shower and brush your teeth with a bottle of water too! Whew!

I must admit, I nerded out a little on the vaccines, but most last 5 years to life, and I figured it was a good idea if I wanted to take my little tukas on future adventures in third world countries. I highly recommend getting your Typhoid/Diphtheria, Hepatitis A, and Tetanus shots before you go.

I heard really mixed things from my friends about malaria pills, bombarded by stories about awful side effects and the apparent nightmares they can cause. I opted yes for the malaria pills, since the fact that it’s an incurable disease freaked me out to no end, and I’m happy I did. If your trip is confined to mostly Northern India, you’ll probably be fine without, but the newer pills they’ve developed no longer cause terrifying dreamscapes, I’m happy to report!

Lastly, bring traveler’s antibiotics! They will come in handy when you or a buddy fall ill and don’t want to traverse around town looking for a doctor who can prescribe you some. At the end of the day, though, this is all just precaution to make your trip even more excellent that it’s already going to be. Use common sense and take care of your body. The street chai is plentiful, and it’s nearly impossible to turn down. 😉

8. Planes vs. Trains

Ok, I’m about to unleash an unpopular and potentially bourgie idea. Planes are the way to go in India (am I a bad backpacker?). Especially if you’re on a 3 week or less trip. Here’s why: the train schedule in India is incredibly difficult to navigate. You’re likely to end up number 28 on a waiting list, and then you’ll have to log in and check the website every few hours the day before your journey to see if you even have a seat! Even the first class sleeper trains are small and crowded, and the meal situation is dire at best.

Planes, on the other hand, are clean, relatively affordable domestically, leave on time, and get you to your destination MUCH faster.

But, if you’re looking to ride a train just for the adventure and sheer insanity that will ensue, read on for my Indian train survival guide. First of all, I really wish that someone would have told me that there’s no dining car on the train, or, if there is, there’s no guarantee that your car will have walking access to it. Instead, people opt to hop off and on the train at certain stations, grabbing snacks at one of the many colorful vendors before the doors slam shut and the train takes off again. The problem with this is that they don’t announce in English how long the train will stay at each stop. In fact, they don’t announce anything in English, so you’re left to befriend your fellow passengers to figure out which town is your destination.

I would really recommend buying a pizza the day of your journey and having them package it up in foil or a Ziploc bag to take with you on the train – saves time and stress wondering how or what you’re going to eat! I’d also suggest bringing significantly more food than you think you’ll need. I got stuck on a train in rural India that kept getting stopped and patrolled by men with rifles walking up and down the aisles, turning a 14 hour train ride into a 17 hour train ride (and I only had 1 meal and a cup of chai the whole time). Portable, safe food is most certainly your friend.

Also, if you’re having trouble buying a train ticket online (it is by far the most confusing thing I’ve ever done on the internet), you can definitely take a taxi to the train station the day before you wish to travel and buy them in person. Two of my friends snagged tickets from Varanasi to Agra this way with much less fuss than I put my little type-A heart through! Lastly, The Man in Seat 61 is a GODSEND. A must-read for anyone taking the trains through Asia. www.seat61.com

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9. Bring Treats!

Everyone likes treats. They can be a great way to make friends at your hostel or interact with locals in a simple, organic way. I’m so grateful to my friend, Pam, for recommending this tip before I left. Nearly everywhere you go in India, you will see beggars, many of them children. Apparently these children aren’t even necessarily homeless, their parents might be right around the corner, putting them on the afternoon shift because, hey, cute kids make more money.

I was informed by a few people that these kids have to give their parents everything they bring in at the end of the day, but if you give them something tiny or edible (aka something that’s not worth any money to resell), you get to interact with these little guys and feel awesome, and they get secret treats that their parents don’t know about.

It feels weird writing about this, because it seems so, inherently classist, but I sincerely feel that bringing a smile to some of the poorer kids in India is a fun and incredibly worthwhile part of any trip. After kite flying in Varanasi, for example, we had extra 10 cent kites left over (because we didn’t crash them!), and we ended up with a small parade of children following us as we handed them out. The kids were happy, we were happy, and it was a stellar day. Do it. Trust me!

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10. Climb all the things. Dine on all the rooftops. Yoga with a view.

I brought my yoga mat to India. I didn’t need to, because any class you attend should have extras there ready for you, but I’m so glad I added this extra bulk to my packing list. India is FULL of amazing views. There are balconies and rooftop terraces in urban as well as rural areas, and even the most budget-friendly hostel usually has a dining or common area overlooking the city.

Waking up at 5am most mornings and doing yoga on the roof while watching the sun rise and listening to the sounds of the city waking up were some of my favorite moments in India. Plus, it centered my mind and body for the inevitable chaos that would ensue while venturing around on each day.

Utilizing these overlooks for dining or stretching provides a great way to feel like you’re still in the city, while taking a much needed break from it. Parakeets and flying foxes whiz by in Udaipur, singing children skip down the street, and calls to prayer are sounded.

I would also highly recommend climbing ALL THE THINGS. Climb trees on your hikes! Climb up the sides of waterfalls for a better view! Maintain a sense of danger nerd-itude when exploring. This is an adventure, after all. Any temple tours you see that involve hiking to the top of a mountain – do it! It’s incredibly serene and magical to watch the sun rise at Kunjapuri Temple, outside of Rishikesh, with a hot cup of chai in your hands. I am aching to go back and trek all the way to Tungnath next time – the highest temple in the world!

Solo Female India 5

No matter what your friends and family say to try to warn you against traveling to India as a solo female, it can be done safely and on the cheap. Do your research, book your travel/lodging in advance if you’re worried about where you’ll stay, and keep your wits about you!

Happy adventuring!

 

6 Great Tips on Preparing for a Camping Holiday in the Mountains

By Kerry Anders

Not all holidays have to be spent laying on a beach. It can be just as relaxing to spend time camping and hiking in the mountains. Indeed, the beautiful surroundings and fresh air will do wonders for your health and well-being. A holiday in the mountains is a great way to unwind. To maximise your enjoyment of such a trip, there’s quite a lot of preparation to do though. Here are six great tips to help you out:

1. Pack well

For any hiking trip to be successful, you’ve got to pack some essentials which, according to Compare Travel Insurance, include:

  • Hiking boots: A tough, durable but comfortable set of hiking boots is an absolute must for any trip.
  • Sunblock: Don’t underestimate how long you could be spending in the sun. Take enough sunblock to cover you for the whole trek.
  • Layers: Bring clothing in layers rather than one big coat or jacket. Layers can be easily donned or shed as the temperature changes.
  • Road-tested backpack: You and your backpack are going to become well acquainted. Make sure you’ve tested it to make sure it is comfortable first.
  • Dry pack: Don’t want your belongings ruined by a freak rainstorm? Invest in a good quality dry pack.
  • Flip flops: You’re not going to be hiking all the time, and when you’re not, your feet will be glad of the rest.
  • Sturdy water bottle: You need to stay hydrated, so a reusable water bottle is an important item.

 

2. Know your levels

Only if you’re an experienced hiker should you head high up into the mountains alone. To have a safe trip, make sure you stick to routes that are within your fitness levels and ideally camp with friends. Mountain novices would benefit from group trips with expert guides, and families should opt for a gentler adventure tailored to younger kids.

 

3. Make a meal plan

Busy Creating Memories suggests planning an easy first meal to have once you reach the campsite – something simple like sandwiches. For all other meals, you’ll need to make supplies with you, so it’s best to plan ahead what you can cook on a camp fire and avoid taking too many perishable foods.

 

4. Have a first aid kit

In case of minor illnesses or injury, it’s worth taking a first aid kit – although you should always research the local pharmacy and hospital facilities too. WikiHow suggest taking the following things in your first aid kit, but feel free to personalise the items to your needs.

  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Adhesive dressings (plasters)
  • Bug spray
  • Painkillers
  • Anti-itch Cream
  • Inhaler
  • Tweezers (in case someone gets a splinter or sticker)
  • Any personal medicine

 

5. Improve your sleeping arrangements

With the right sleeping arrangements, camping in the mountains is comfortable. In addition to good quality sleeping bags, you need an extra layer to separate you from the ground. Don’t skip this step, as it’ll keep you warmer. You can use blow-up mattresses or roll mats to place underneath.

 

6. Find out more about the campsite

When choosing a location to camp, there are lots of things to think about. Look at what’s around the camping ground, including popular sightseeing spots and adventure activities so you’ve got plenty to do. If you want to take pets with you, you need to check the grounds are dog-friendly.

Finally, Lifehacker’s top tip is to think about how you’re getting to the campsite. If you want to take more stuff, you’ll probably need a car and be able to park nearby. But if you want seclusion, you’ll have to hike to the right spot – and pack accordingly. Either way, get there in plenty of time to make your camp before dark arrives.

Have you been camping in the mountains? Share your tips with us.