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Advice Solo Travel Truth in Travel

Truth in Travel: How Hiking with Mansplainers Taught Me to Hit the Trail Solo

“Milk powder is the most complete form of protein,” said Jakob nodding sagely. Just the day before he had tried to argue with the same air of authority that Trump was a feminist. “I’ve brought 2kgs of it with me to give me energy, you should have done the same.”

He shovelled spoonful after spoonful of cement-like gruel messily into his mouth. His stomach was visibly bloating and straining against his down jacket; milk powder was crusting around the corner of his lips. Jakob was a very good looking boy (and he knew it) but watching the powder crusting around the corners of his mouth and dribbling down his chin was more than a little repulsive. He spoke with the pompous, unfounded confidence unique to white males.

It was the second day of the four day Huemul Circuit in Argentinian Patagonia. Although not particularly long hike it is lauded as one of the most difficult, but also most spectacular, in the whole of Patagonia. It involved ziplining over gorges, hiking over a glacier, near vertical climbs on slippery ground and breakneck descents. The views were some of the most mind blowing I’d ever seen.

What had also been mind blowing had been the amount of bullshit spouted by the two boys accompanying us. Patronising comments, dubious ‘facts’ and a grotesque amount of mansplaining.

“That’s not how you pitch a tent,” said Noam dictatorially on the first evening, hovering over us both like a gangly praying mantis. “Hammer the pegs in at more of an angle. You want them at about 70 degrees.”

We were both seasoned campers. Anne was travelling on a strict budget and had virtually lived in her tent over the winter. But Noam always knew best.

“I know a better way to roll up your sleeping bag,” he said condescendingly. “Adjust the straps more on your backpack like this to spread the weight more evenly. What brand are your hiking boots? You’re going to struggle. I’m amazed that your feet aren’t covered in blisters already. I thought about buying that sort of stove and then decided this one would be much better.”

Of the other 20 or so hikers on the trail at the same time as us, a good three quarters were male. One or two girls were hiking with their boyfriends and there was one other mixed group of four like ours with two women and two men. There were several pairs of boys, and boys hiking solo. No girl groups and no girls hiking alone, although the other girls that we met seemed to be as experienced or more so than their male companions.

I read an article once which claimed that statistically women tend to only apply for a job when they have 100% of the qualifications whereas men will confidently apply with 60% and it always stuck in my head. I wondered whether this was the same when it came to hiking, whether women would only set off if they were 100% sure of their capabilities, and that the only reason that there weren’t many girls on the trail was due to a lack of confidence.

“We should tie our food to trees so that the mice don’t get it,” said Jakob one evening. “We can use your dental floss.” We were camped by the side of a glacier and wildlife, even the huemul deer that the trek was named after, had been noticeably absent. The wind was so strong that at moments it had snatched our voices as soon as we opened our mouths, leaving us bellowing wordlessly at each other. We’d lost a plate and pan lid to the fierce wind whilst washing up in the river and we had had to duct tape together one of Anne’s tent poles that had snapped under the strain. But sure, Jakob’s suggestion of tying all our edibles to a tree using a piece of floss seemed like a great idea.

Anne and I stowed our own drybags of food safely inside the tent and watched half amused, half exasperated as Jakob constructed an elaborate cat’s cradle of dental floss and made several futile attempts to attach his box of milk powder to a branch.

On the final day of the trek we rose before the sun. We were camped at a place known as the Bay of Icebergs. The early morning light illuminated icebergs shaped like enormous chess pieces which calved and flipped over in front of us with thunderous bangs, exposing turquoise underbellies. It was the most beautiful sight I had ever seen.

“Why are you hiking with those idiots?” asked a Dutch boy we’d met on the trek, perched on the rock next to me. “You know that you could do this without them.”

The day before we had only just made it to camp before the sun set. We’d ended up waiting for several hours for Jakob who had eaten far too much breakfast, suffered from indigestion and had to wait for his stitch to pass.

It made me think. Anne and I had been waiting for the boys the whole time. We both hiked and camped regularly. So why did we need two not particularly big and not particularly strong men who certainly had no more than 60% of the skills required to survive in the wild to chaperone us?

That morning we ran naked into the lake underneath the rising sun and swam amongst the bergs. We made coffee and sat on the pebble beach watching the slow yet steady progress of an iceberg shaped like a slug making its way across the bay and as we sat there we made a pact with each other that from that point forward we would hike with other girls or we would hike alone. We had had enough of male ego.

The first time that I set off on a multi day hike alone I was filled with self doubt but I was determined. Of course hiking with someone else is always safer, but there is no reason whatsoever why I need a man to escort me on a hike. Since I’ve been hiking solo or with other girls I’ve met far more people, enjoyed myself so much more, and I’ve been able to pitch a tent without having the angle of the tent pegs scrutinised.

All that I needed to do was take the male ego out of the equation.

 

Advice

Pandemic Coping Tips for Avid Travelers

The global threat presented by the COVID-19 pandemic has upended the way many of us live our lives. Activities that were commonplace just a few short months ago now carry a much higher degree of danger, particularly those that involve spending large amounts of time away from home. As such, countless trips have been canceled, leaving many avid travelers frustrated and depressed. Whether you’ve put the brakes on a trip that had been planned for months or had to cancel a spur-of-the-moment travel excursion, feeling aggravated is entirely understandable. However, instead of sitting around the house and wallowing in disappointment, travelers can chase away the blues by employing the following measures.

Plan a Post-Pandemic Getaway

When the current pandemic will end is still up in the air. Still, with a vaccine at least 18 months away, it’s safe to assume that big travel excursions are off the table for the foreseeable future. However, the fact that your next trip is a long way off doesn’t mean you can’t start planning for it – and the more time you have to plan, the more enjoyable a trip is likely to be. So, if you’ve been bitten by the travel bug, why not start laying the groundwork for your post-pandemic getaway? Sure, it may be a long way off, but that just gives you more time to select a suitable location, find comfortable lodgings, research local sights and plot out a trip itinerary. For example, if you wish to celebrate being able to travel again by visiting one of the foremost wonders of the natural world, you can start researching the best Niagara Falls hotels.

In fact, if being stuck at home has given you an abundance of free time, why stop at planning just one trip? If there are numerous locales you’ve been itching to visit, this is the perfect opportunity to draw up roadmaps for multiple getaways. By the time we’re all cleared to travel again, the planning phase will be in the rearview, enabling you to focus exclusively on enjoying your trip.

Revisit Memories of Previous Trips

Even if you can’t currently embark on new trips, there’s nothing preventing you from revisiting old ones. Since one of travel’s primary purposes is creating lasting memories, you should never pass up an opportunity to relive treasured trips. If there’s a specific travel excursion for which you’re feeling particularly nostalgic, break out any relevant photos, videos and keepsakes and reflect on all the unique experiences you enjoyed throughout this journey. Additionally, if you’ve been meaning to create a photo collage or slideshow for any past trips, there’s no time like the present to get the ball rolling.

Touch Base with Friends and Family Members

While traveling for pleasure often entails meeting new people and experiencing new things, nothing quite compares to reconnecting with treasured friends and family members. Although seeing these people in person may be ill-advised at the present time, calling, video-chatting, texting or emailing an important person with whom you’ve lost touch is likely to make their day – and yours. Reliving old memories with people you love and learning about what’s new in their lives can be a deeply rewarding journey in its own right.

Know That You’re Doing the Right Thing

If being unable to travel has got you in a funk, you can take solace in the fact that you’re doing the right thing. Not only does abstaining from travel decrease your odds of infection, but it also decreases the odds of you infecting other people. Since a fair percentage of people afflicted with COVID-19 are asymptomatic, it’s entirely possible to spread the virus and have no idea that you’re doing so. For those of us bitten by the travel bug, being stuck at home can be cumbersome, but enduring this inconvenience is crucial to saving lives.

To call the global pandemic generated by COVID-19 unprecedented would be an understatement. Since no one under the age of 100 was alive during the last pandemic of this magnitude, the vast majority of us are attempting to navigate a frightening and unfamiliar situation one day at a time. Given the highly infectious nature of the novel coronavirus, minimizing the amount of time spent outside of your home and avoiding crowds is a large part of staying safe. For seasoned travelers, this means canceling highly-anticipated trips and putting long-planned getaways on hold. While there’s no denying that this is a huge letdown, the pointers discussed above can help ease your disappointment

Advice Outdoors Travel Planning

Conscious Travel: 8 Tips for a Sustainable Vacation

Regardless of our personal opinions, one thing remains an irrefutable fact: our planet is facing an ecological crisis. The environmental changes we witness everyday are increasingly serious and some of them are irreversible. Still, we can try to help the environment with small, but meaningful actions. One of them is sustainable travel. It’s an expanding territory that has grown alongside our own consciousness about the world that surrounds us and awareness of our intrinsically wasteful society. Sustainable travel, in its essence, means being aware of and try to minimize the impact tourism has on the environment and local communities. Here are eight ideas to help you make an informed decision when you go on vacation, keeping in mind you’ll be using your leisure time to contribute to sustainability.

E.R.I.E: Ecological, Responsible, Impactful, Ethical

Four simple words to guide you as a conscious traveler. Ecological is as simple as enjoying the environment in its natural form with activities such as camping. Being responsible just means you have to be aware of how your individual actions can impact local communities. “Impactful comes down to spending your pocket money on helping locals, as opposed to adhere to regular mass consumerism. Ethical refers to your moral duties to respect the environment, animals and communities,” explains Fiona Hill, a lifestyle blogger.

Keep It Local

It’s common knowledge that tourism makes up a huge part of many different economies. However, in order to ensure you are financially contributing to the local communities themselves, it is important to choose local products and activities. Avoid gift shops and their mass market production by choosing local keepsakes instead. A local business will most likely invest its profit back into their community, which is the opposite of what worldwide-known franchise chains do.

Avoid Over-tourism

Popular destinations such as Amsterdam, Venice, Barcelona and Paris might seem like a good vacation option. The history and aesthetics of those places are a no-brainer. However, they do tend to be overcrowded, punching a big hole in sustainability. There are so many other destinations that would benefit from your contribution to their underrated economy. Not to mention that it will be less stressful for you if you’re not constantly surrounded by massive crowds of tourists! “Why not choose the Portuguese islands of Azores or Madeira? Or perhaps explore the Greek paradise that is the Skyros Island? You’d be surprised with the range of alternatives available instead of your standard vacation destination,” says Silvia Olive, a travel blogger.

Alternative Accommodation

Avoid hotels! They are some of the greatest culprits in damaging the environment, with outrageous amounts of food waste, toiletry bottles thrown away without being fully used and AC units on full blast.

Choose hostels, locally owned hotels that don’t belong to international chains, or guest houses.

Say No to Cruise Ships!

Cruise ships are a big no-no in terms of sustainable travel. They are horrendous for the environment and don’t benefit local communities whatsoever when they dock. They pollute the oceans, damaging marine life and they don’t avoid plastic waste and fish consumption.

Pack Light

There are several benefits in packing lightly for your travels. If you choose carry-on luggage with only essentials, planes will carry less weight and consume less fuel. Also, with less luggage to transport, you can opt out of getting a cab from the airport to your chosen accommodation and use public transportation instead. Don’t pack wasteful items like plastic bags, containers or bottles!

No Clue Left Behind

Wherever you choose to travel, ensure you don’t remove objects from their original environment. Don’t litter! Reduce your waste by recycling and packing reusable items. You can always find local recycling points when on vacation.

Choose Mass Transportation

Take small steps to contribute to the reduction of carbon emissions. Choose shared services like Uber and local transport as opposed to taxis. You can also explore cities by walking or being part of bike share programs.

It’s becoming more and more important for us to be conscious about our decisions. We are all part of this planet and have our roles to play, small as they may be. Even when you’re having fun in your vacation, you can make small alterations that will help the environment, as well as creating new experiences for yourself.

 

Advice Middle East Travel Planning

Why You Should Plan A Trip to Oman This Year

There is something very refreshing about choosing to visit a destination you know nothing about and therefore have very few, if any expectations of. Most recently this happened to me when I chose to go to Oman for my honeymoon, not the conventional choice, I know!

I didn’t know anyone that had been there, in fact most people looked at me completely blankly when I told them where I was going. It isn’t the kind of location that pops up on your Instagram feed on the regular either!

When you think of the Middle East, it is hard not to imagine glitzy high rise skyscrapers and attractions that regularly hold the title of “biggest in the world”. Oman is the complete opposite. Stoically understated in design, you will not find a single skyscraper here, in fact, no building is allowed to be higher than fourteen stories in order to preserve the stunning natural beauty of this Gulf country.

Visitors only really started coming here in the 1970s when Sultan Qaboos took over from his father, began to build some infrastructure and set about modernizing the country, before then flinging their doors open to the outside world. The country is now switching gears again in order to increase tourism; a new hassle-free visa process has been introduced for many countries and a huge new airport opened in Muscat in 2018.

A City Break in Muscat

Start your journey in the country’s capital, which will prove beyond a doubt that you don’t need height to have beautiful architecture; just visit the Royal Opera House, Al Alam Palace and Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, a gift from the Sultan to the people to mark his thirty years of reign. Don’t miss exploring Muttrah Souq as well, thought to be one of the world’s oldest Arabian market places.

The real beauty of Oman comes when you leave the city though. It has some of the most diverse landscape of any country I have ever visited; dramatic mountain ranges, deserted white sand beaches and magical Arabian desert, all within a couple of hours drive of the Muscat.

Jabal Akhdar Mountains

Why You Should Plan A Trip to Oman This Year Take a road trip to Jabal Akhdar, part of the Al Hajar mountain range, for some respite from the heat; up here roses, apricots and pomegranates flourish on the mountainside, where the temperature is around 15°C cooler. It is the views that really take your breath away here though; deep ravines, wadis with abandoned villages clinging to the sides and more greenery than you would have ever thought possible for somewhere in the Middle East (it’s no coincidence that Jabal Akhdar roughly translates to “Green Mountain”).

Why You Should Plan A Trip to Oman This YearYou can visit in a day trip, but watching the sun set here is nothing short of surreal; the total silence around you only accentuating the experience, until all you can see are the glittering lights of the ancient city of Nizwa sparkling in the distance.

There are two knockout hotels up here, the Alila Jabal Akhdar and the Anantara; the latter is built around Diana’s Point where you can take in the views from the same spot as the late princess once did in 1986.

Wahiba Sands Desert

Why You Should Plan A Trip to Oman This YearGetting to Wahiba Sands from Muscat is a very scenic journey in itself, the coastline is stunning and there are miles and miles of deserted and immaculate beaches.

Actually entering the desert is bit of a surprise; one minute you are bouncing along through a village and the next you take a turn and move immediately from road to sand (not sure what I was expecting?!).

Driving through the desert a very freeing and peaceful experience, until you started dune bashing. Here you can visit communities descended from the Bedouins (nomads who lived in deserts of the Middle East and North Africa) and learn about their lives and culture.

There are a few places to spend the night here. Wahiba Desert Nights Camp is on the more luxe side; your accommodation is an individual Bedouin inspired blend of tent and permanent structure, with hot water in the shower and air conditioning!

Why You Should Plan A Trip to Oman This YearYou can occupy yourself with desert safaris, camel riding or star gazing, but honestly, the best thing is just to ride up to the top of the highest dune to watch the sun fall in the sky and the sand change from reddish-orange to a dark yellow. The temperature drops quickly, so return to your camp for a communal dining experience with live music and a barbecue.

Final Thoughts

Oman is a stunningly diverse country with a more understated vibe, which is probably one of the reasons it has flown under the radar for so long. Now is the time to come though; Oman’s continuing efforts to increase tourism means it is an easy country to visit and get around, but it is still so much quieter in terms of visitors. I went in October (shoulder season) and outside of the hotels, didn’t come across many non-locals at all.

Bonus: Top Tips for Visiting Oman

  • A visa is needed for most other countries and is easy to apply for on their e-visa site online. It is only valid for entry within a month of application though, so don’t get ahead of yourself and apply too soon (as I did).
  • As with other Middle Eastern countries, conservative dressing is required. This means shoulders and knees covered as a minimum and you are required to cover your hair when entering any of the mosques.
  • Oman is the safest country to visit in the Middle East with a very low crime rate and a very friendly and hospitable culture, so is great for female travelers.
  • Public transport is not commonplace in Oman and if you are looking to leave the capital, I would recommend getting a driver. You can hire your own car, but driving through mountains and deserts should only be reserved for the most competent and confident drivers.
  • As with other Middle Eastern countries, try not to visit between June and August where the temperature renders it difficult to step outside and many of the tour operators shut down for the season.

Why You Should Plan A Trip to Oman This Year

Advice Featured Tech Will Work for Travel

This Is the Year to Start the Blog You’ve Always Wanted to Start and Here’s How

This Is the Year to Start the Blog You've Always Wanted to Start and Here's How

With a new year comes new inspiration and resolutions to propel us to new heights. If you’ve always dreamed of one day having your own blog to share your travels, your style or even your day-to-day thoughts… this is your year.

It’s been about five years since the formation of Dame Traveler’s blog, and over this time we’ve collected some outstanding resources for new, or soon-to-be bloggers. Here they are!

Beginner Steps on How to Start a Blog

Find A Niche

Many influencers in the past have claimed that “blogging is dead” – but we wholeheartedly disagree. Sure, we live in a oversaturated media age… but by no means does that mean there isn’t room at the table for everyone. Each one of us has a perspective and a voice worth hearing. It’s time to share yours! There is an audience out there begging for your knowledge, your style, your voice. Do it, girlfriend.

Finding a “niche” comes down to getting clear about your passions, as well as targeting problems you are capable of solving or areas of need. For example, if you are incredibly passionate about outdoor adventures, look into competitive blogs out there and see what is missing or you’d personally had loved to see years ago when you started.

Pick A Name

What’s in a name? Choosing a name for your blog is perhaps one of the hardest elements for most! Some things to note, choose a name that stands the test of time. This is not the time to get too trendy! As years pass, many bloggers have turned to more classic names (or even changed their branding to simply be their name).

Choose evergreen qualities associated with your ideals or mission. Make a list of words and descriptors associated with your niche and your pathos/ethos, see what sticks! And from there, simplify once more. Your name should be simple enough for new readers to remember!

P.S. changing your name down the road isn’t the biggest headache… so don’t get bogged down in this step of the process or have it stop your progress! Move forward with something that fits, you can always change it later if needed.

This Is the Year to Start the Blog You've Always Wanted to Start and Here's How

Domain

After you’ve picked a name, it’s time to commit! Buying a domain is simple and straightforward. Choose a reliable registrar (we happen to love using GoDaddy) and run a domain name search to see if yours is available. This can get a bit picky in today’s day and age as many domains have been used or are already existing by other users… so get creative. A simple change your “.com” to something similar to “.co” will do… or add hyphens between words.

Side note: be sure your name’s social media handle is available in some shape or form!

WordPress / Plugins

There are many other blogging platforms others adore, so be sure to do your research. We’re huge fans of WordPress‘s customization, and can’t argue with its price point for beginning bloggers. Another huge benefit to WordPress it that all users own all of their content. Plus, it’s a simple integration from your domain website and presto! Once you’ve gotten set up on WordPress, it’s time to download some plugins to streamline your blog’s functionality. Some of our favorites include: YoastSEO, Classic Editor, WP Instagram Widget, Really Simple SSL, JetPack by WordPress.com, and Contact Form. 

This Is the Year to Start the Blog You've Always Wanted to Start and Here's How

Template

Templates are a blast to explore once you’ve set up the backend of your blog! When searching for a template, it’s important to choose a theme that stays true to your “brand” – colors, fonts and layout cannot be overlooked. If you have no idea where to start, start sifting through your favorite websites and see how they organize their websites. Do you enjoy having a series of blog posts mentioned on your homepage, or are you looking for a journal-esque entry? What fonts do you love? Do you like clean, minimal templates or detailed, playful ones? WordPress has many templates to experiment with (ours is the Rosemary Theme)… so just start trying! There are also amazing template designers out there too, so don’t be afraid to reach out to theme/template creators if you’re willing to invest.

This Is the Year to Start the Blog You've Always Wanted to Start and Here's How

Our Standby Resources

Once you’ve got a solid foundation for your blog, it’s time to get into the fun stuff! Below are some of our standout resources we’d happily invest in over and over again.

This Is the Year to Start the Blog You've Always Wanted to Start and Here's How

Replica Surfaces

Foodies know that having a handful of props helps any and all shooting circumstances. We discovered Replica Surfaces earlier this year and are obsessed with their photography backdrops. They’re lightweight, realistic backdrops to photograph any time, anywhere with. Their textures and portability can’t be beat!

This Is the Year to Start the Blog You've Always Wanted to Start and Here's How

Fujifilm X-T20 or Fujifilm X-T30

If photography is something you’re hoping to delve into with your blog, the Fujifilm X-T20 or the Fujifilm X-T30 are excellent mirrorless cameras that pack a punch. Needless to say, the ability to capture stunning photographs is a crucial element to blogging in today’s day and age… so investing in an excellent started camera with advanced settings like these are a must. (P.S. read more our photography gear and tech resources here.

This Is the Year to Start the Blog You've Always Wanted to Start and Here's How

Google Pixel 4XL

If you’re a soon to be blogger on the go, the Google Pixel 4XL is an awesome addition to your line up. The camera on it are just as high of quality than many other beginner point and shoot cameras (if not better)! P.S. if you’re looking to upgrade your smartphone travel photography skills… read this post!

This Is the Year to Start the Blog You've Always Wanted to Start and Here's How

Google Analytics

To deeply understand your blog’s growth and content your readers are referring to… or to brainstorm some goals month to month, Google Analytics is your go-to resource! Google Analytics is a web analytics service that reports traffic on your blog, giving you insight and a clear idea on what’s most popular. You can also easily see where your followers are coming from, from the keywords that drew them to your site and what content they’re engaging with most. It’s a one-stop look into the details of your blog’s growth!

Tailwind

Tailwind has completely refreshed and rejuvenated our Pinterest posts! Essentially, Tailwind is a Pinterest scheduling app that uses an algorithm to identify when your posts will reach the biggest audience and the best engagement. It also re-shares evergreen content that is re-pinned and loved by Pinterest followers too. Tailwind is not only a streamlined way to keep on top of Pinterest, but it’s grown our blog readership tenfold!

This Is the Year to Start the Blog You've Always Wanted to Start and Here's How

Canva

Canva is an excellent resource to create graphic designs yourself that align with your blog’s branding and design. Whether a Instagram Story template that directs your followers to a new blog post, or a collaged collection or photos for a chic roundup post… Canva has a design for everything. They also have printing services too! Perfect for business cards and other PDF designs you may make.

This Is the Year to Start the Blog You've Always Wanted to Start and Here's How

Presets

If you’re ready to start upping your photography skills with your new blog, experimenting with photography looks is a fun step of the process. Finding a look and vibe that you’re excited by is a crucial step of the creative process and presets can help!

Find Us Lost Presets

We love Find Us Lost Presets, especially their full collection of Adobe Lightroom presets, inspired by various destinations they’ve traveled to. You’ll find endless options, no matter what lighting situation you shot in during your travels, as well as a really handy editing tutorial video and installation guide to answer any questions you run into! (P.S. if you’re on Instagram and not following Find Us Lost, stop what you’re doing right now and do so. We’re obsessed!)

This Is the Year to Start the Blog You've Always Wanted to Start and Here's How

Bon Traveler Lightroom Presets

Another of our favorite photo editing collections is Bon Traveler’s Lightroom Presets! Created by Jessica Wright (one of our favorite travel photographers and bloggers), these presets have such a dreamy, creamy tone to them. Created to take out the guessing when it comes to editing photos – these presets are balanced, have the hues and luminance to create a warm “vibe” to each snap you’ve captured. You’ll find each collection has a desktop or mobile option to choose from, which is perfect for synching up any smartphone photos with your DSLR shots for a uniform look. We also love that each collection mentions what they were inspired by and how Jessica uses them for various locations.

This Is the Year to Start the Blog You've Always Wanted to Start and Here's How

Everybody Lies Book

If Instagram growth and monetization are your two biggest goals after establishing your blog – read “Everybodies Lies” and thank us later! It’s a dive deep into the world of social media, candidly uncovering the experts and influencers’ unspoken secrets. If you’re at all curious about what it takes for entrepreneurs and aspiring influencers do to cultivate their audience, this book breaks it down in a simplified and streamlined manner. Expect all the tips and tricks you won’t find anywhere on the internet!

This Is the Year to Start the Blog You've Always Wanted to Start and Here's How

 


We truly believe this is the time to really start that blog you’ve always dreamed of creating. Happy blogging!

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