Browsing Category

Outdoors

Advice Guides Insider Tips Outdoors

Five Beautiful Botanical Gardens Around the World

As an avid traveler, I love pounding the pavement in a city I’ve never visited before. Urban architecture and artwork never ceases to impress and inspire me. But there’s one non-negotiable must-do that’s always at the top of my trip list: botanical gardens. Below are a few of my all-time favorites any wanderlust should add to their itinerary.

Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, Melbourne, Australia

Walking distance from Melbourne’s bustling central business district – known as the CBD to locals – lies 90 acres of open air space. Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria is filled with an array of lawns, lakes, pavilions, and paths. Several entrance gates lead to a vast range of collections from bamboo to ferns and palms to roses, with many rare species of trees and foliage. You don’t have to be a botany buff to appreciate the Australian Forest Walk or Water Conservation Garden, but the Garden does have an education team that offers programs for those who want to learn more. It may take multiple visits to soak in all that Melbourne’s garden has to offer; luckily it is completely free of entry. Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria hosts wellness experiences, family activities,  art exhibitions, guided walks, and more throughout the year. Or you could simply bring a picnic and soak in your surroundings before hitting the nearby beach or city. 

Innsbruck University Botanical Garden, Innsbruck, Austria

Two hours outside of Salzburg is the small, charming town of Innsbruck. Tucked away in the Austrian alps, Innsbruck is a prime location for year-round sports like hiking, skiing and mountain biking. But plant lovers are also in luck: the University of Innsbruck happens to have a lush park with three gorgeous ‘gram-worthy greenhouses. Each steamy greenhouse houses orchids, ferns, cacti, and more tropical plants. The real stunner is the indoor pond flecked with giant lily pads, surrounded by luxurious palms. The greenhouses are open every Tuesday, Thursday, and first Sunday afternoon of the month and cost just two euros to enter. Wander the rest of the botanical garden for free and explore over thousands of plant species from around the world.

Malahide Castle and Gardens, Dublin, Ireland

A peaceful outdoor retreat can be found thirty minutes outside of Dublin’s city center. Malahide Castle is a popular tourist destination, and daily tours of the medieval home fill up fast. The grounds around the 800 year old castle are equally as impressive: 260 acres are filled with gardens, greenhouses, the Republic of Ireland’s only butterfly house, and a fairy trail that’s perfect for kids. You may run into brightly colored peacocks who call the gardens home, which was originally created to grow vegetables and herbs for the castle kitchen decades ago. The last owner of Malahide Castle was enthusiastic about exotic plants and rare flora, and transformed the kitchen gardens into the existing landscape. Explore a rose garden, Victorian Conservatory, a geometric greenhouse and much more. Malahide also screens movies and hosts concerts, yoga and more events when weather allows. P.S. – their onsite cafe and food market is insanely delicious as well. Tickets for the gardens, butterfly house and fairy trail are 7.50 euro for adults, and are included in the 14 euro guided castle tour ticket. 

Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, Missouri 

Not only one of the oldest botanical gardens in the United States, the Missouri Botanical Garden was also awarded National Historic Landmark status. 79 acres of indoor and outdoor space with more than 20 individual gardens make up this serene space. Historical structures, including founder Henry Shaw’s townhouse built in 1849, make this botanical garden unique. Victorian era architecture – like a  stone cottage from the late 1800’s and a brick greenhouse constructed in 1882 – give a glimpse of the past, while newer builds like the Climatron geodesic dome conservatory are equally impressive. Multiple museums, a maze, koi fish pond and more round out the garden grounds. The Missouri Botanical Garden hosts events throughout the year, including the jaw-dropping nighttime Garden Glow with over one million lights; the only tradeoff being chilly temperatures. The garden is open daily with free admission for kids 12 and under, and $14 for adult visitors. 

Denver Botanic Gardens, Denver, Colorado

It may be relatively small, but it’s substantial. Denver’s botanic garden on York Street, near downtown, is 24 acres of diverse plant life from around the world. Explore Gardens of the West, highlighting greenery that’s native to Colorado, and international gardens with foliage from China to South Africa and beyond. Colorful ornamental gardens with fan-favorite annual blooms, shady low-light gardens and water gardens with aquatic plants make up the rest of Denver’s collection. While Denver may be known for breweries and sports teams, the Mile High city makes outdoor space a priority with over 200 parks: the botanic garden being the most memorable. The York Street gardens are open all year with $12.50 entry fee for adults, with weekly events ranging from sunrise yoga to botanical illustration for an additional fee. There is a second Denver Botanic Gardens location at Chatfield Farms in nearby Littleton on working farm and native plant refuge. 

Outdoors Travel Planning

The Most Breathtaking Natural Locations Around the World

The world is an incredibly beautiful place with all kinds of stunning natural sights in every area. There are so many breathtaking, natural locations to see around the world and anyone with a love of nature should look to tick as many of these places off of their list as possible. With so many fantastic places to visit, it can be tricky to decide where is best to visit but here are a few ideas for the most awe-inspiring places in the world.

Great Barrier Reef – Australia

With so many astonishing colours, it is sometimes hard to remember that the Great Barrier Reef is a natural coral reef system and not manmade. The largest coral reef system in the world is composed of over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands over a gigantic area of roughly 344,400 square kilometres. In addition to the mesmerising colours, the Great Barrier Reef is also home to all kinds of stunning and majestic creatures which only adds to the appeal.

The Most Breathtaking Natural Locations Around the World

Cliffs of Moher – Ireland

The Cliffs of Moher tower some 214 meters into the sky and make up around 14 kilometres of Ireland’s wild, dramatic and incredibly beautiful coastline. Located on the southwestern edge of the Burren Region in County Clare, the Cliffs of Moher are home to around 30,000 birds which are fantastic to watch as the waves crash into the imposing cliffs. Ireland is sometimes overlooked in terms of natural beauty, but it is quite unlike anywhere else in the world and somewhere that any nature lover will feel at home.

Grand Canyon – USA

One of the 7 natural wonders of the world, the Grand Canyon in Arizona has an average depth of one mile and an average width of 10 miles with amazing views and surrounded by natural beauty. The gorge has been carved out by the Colorado River over the last 5,000 years and left behind layers of colorful rock which show the great history of the area.

Iguazu Falls – Argentina

Found at the Brazil/Argentina border, the Iguazu Falls are one of the most famous and breathtaking sights in South America. A chain of mini waterfalls spanning nearly 3 km, the Falls are quite unlike any other waterfall on earth as you can see water plummeting to earth as far as the eye can see with some of these being incredibly powerful and impressive – on average, there is about 1,500 cubic meters of water flowing ever second. To make this experience even more special, you could look into private jet hire so that you can arrive in style and feel calm and relaxed when you arrive in one of Argentina’s most gorgeous natural locations.

Moraine Lake – Canada

Moraine Lake in the Valley of the Ten Peaks in Banff National Park has postcard-esque scenery which will take your breath away. The blue waters of the lake are fed by a glacier and surrounded by imposing snow-capped mountain peaks and thick forests for a serene, diverse and incredibly beautiful setting. 

The Most Breathtaking Natural Locations Around the World

Salt Plains – Bolivia

Spanning a jaw-dropping 4,086 miles, Salar de Uyuni is the largest salt flat in the entire world and an otherworldly, natural landscape that has to be seen to truly appreciate. A prehistoric lake which went dry and left behind an enormous landscape of white salt and rock formations as far as the eye can see. The reflections allow for some surreal and stunning sights and the opportunity for some amazing photography so don’t forget to pack your camera.


There are many amazing sights to behold in every region on this very beautiful planet, but the above are a few of the best natural locations which anyone with a love for nature will adore and give you a greater appreciation for the world.

Advice Outdoors Travel Health & Wellness Travel Planning

9 Dreamy Destinations For Forest Bathing

Have you heard about forest bathing? The Japanese tradition of “shinrin-yoku” is a mindful practice of feeling a sense of peace while in nature. Forest bathing is a soothing practice to feel our connection to the earth and ourselves, simply from the act of a slow walk in the woods. 

Sound dreamy? This restorative, simple tradition for the soul has boasted many wellness benefits – from improving mood, energy, focus and immune functioning and reducing stress and blood pressure. 

As forest bathing grows in popularity, it’s important to remember that any green space is an excellent setting to practice this tradition. But, for the dreamers out there, we’ve curated a list of some of our favorite worldwide destinations we’d love to practice shinrin-yoku. Here are 9 dreamy destinations for forest bathing from around the globe.

Arashiyama Bamboo Forest, Japan

The western district of Kyoto’s dense bamboo forests house many zen Buddhist temples in their quarters. Sound like a dream? That’s because it pretty much is. The sunlight trickles through the long, stemmed bamboo trees and the sound of the clinking woods as the wind flows is otherworldly. Be sure to come early in the morning to find some peace and solitude. 

Black Forest, Germany

The mystery and intrigue of the Black Forest is reason enough to book a trip to Germany – but adding the element of forest bathing is a perfect excuse to wander through the beloved, baffling forest.

Humbolt Redwoods State Park, California

The great, giant Redwoods would make any person feel small – but there’s a real sense of peacefulness that comes from dwelling in their presence. Sometimes, all you need is some perspective to realize just how metaphorically and physically small your problems are. 

Olympic National Park, Washington

The tall fir trees that dot Olympic National Park tower over forest bathers basking in the dappled light from above. Washington’s only temperate rainforest is home to some incredible greenery – from ferns, moss, spruces, maples, and lots of moisture from its many inches of rain it collects. 

The Highlands, Scotland

The mountains and pine forests of Scotland’s wild Highlands are a mysterious landscape, perfect for mindful practice. 

Crooked Forest, Poland

Poland’s Krzywy Las forest is a mystery. No one really knows the real reason behind the curvy trunks of the trees. No matter what caused their strange growth patterns, the Crooked Forest is unlike any forest in the world. Find yourself exploring the strange phenomenon and be transformed by its oddity. 

Na Pali Coast State Park, Hawaii

The clifftop trails of Na Pali Coast State Park are the perfect place for island goers to escape to. 

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee 

The 816 square miles of trees and rivers, rolling fields and dense forests that encompass the Great Smoky Mountains are a delight for hikers and forest bathers alike. A morning walk within the national park will reveal incredible wildlife and peace of mind.

Giant Forest Sequoia National Park, California

Named after John Muir, Giant Forest in California has the largest collection of enormous sequoia trees in the world. To walk through them is like a homage to the epic beauty of this world. Travelers who take part in forest bathing here should not miss the General Sherman, the largest living being on earth by volume. 


Where do you dream of taking part in forest bathing? What are some of the most beautiful forests you’ve walked through?

Outdoors Pack Perfect What to Pack

The Essential Guide To Choosing The Best Backpack For Backpacking

So you’ve booked the flights, worked out your itinerary and got your dorm room booked, but have you considered which bag you’re going to use for backpacking? It’s not as simple as a quick impulse buy, you will be carrying this backpack for a long time, through busy city streets, upstairs in narrow hostels, onboard sleeper trains and to and from every destination you visit. The type of bag you choose will depend on your experience, take it from me, someone whose bag strap broke just as they collected it from the carousel at Bangkok airport, you need to put some thought into it. Not all backpacks were created equal. Here is our essential guide to choosing the best backpack.

What do we need to look for in a backpack?

Backpacks don’t come cheap, so it’s worth investing in one that is going to stay in good condition for a long time. Below we’ve outlined features to look for when choosing the best backpack.

It needs to be water-resistant

Can you imagine, you’re caught in the rain, your pack gets wet and so all your belongings inside? It’s the thing of nightmares, especially when on the road and you have nowhere to dry off your belongings. Make sure you pick a backpack which is made from a water-resistant material, is semi-water resistant or has a waterproof cover you can use to keep your belongings dry. Also make sure it is lightweight and easy to dry, the last thing you want is to be carrying around a damp, bag that makes your clothes smell musty.

Look for multiple compartments

Choose a bag which has multiple compartments. This is handy for when you want to seperate belongings from one another and for when you want to be able to reach important items quickly. Side compartments are also handy for storing shoes and any clothes that you need to wash. Your front top compartment is ideal for important documents such as your passport or ticket. Making sure everything is seperated and in the right place will help you feel in control and also be less time consuming. Choosing the best backpack means finding one that can tow all you need in an easy to use organization system.

Zippers that lock

Check that the backpack has two zippers that you can lock together. This is an essential safety option for when travelling, especially if you will be leaving your bag unattended at a hostel or in the luggage compartment of a bus or train. (Read our safety tips for solo travelers here if you’re concerned about your bag’s security!) When getting a lock for your bag, choose one that is TSA friendly if you are travelling to the USA. This lock will alllow officials to open your backpack if they need to check it, without breaking your lock.

Always double check on the airline and country you are travelling to, as some will require you to unlock your back for flying. However, for day to day travelling whilst backpacking and leaving your bag unattended in a luggage storage room, a lock is a must.

Don’t go for a backpack with an external metal frame

Forget the image you have in your head of backpackers with a bag on a metal frame. Just don’t go there. Not only will this be incredibly uncomfortable, it will take up much needed space and will be much heavier than a bag with an internal frame. Trust me, using a backpack with an internal frame will much easier on your back and your bank balance as you won’t have to fork out for excess luggage payments.

Make sure it’s padded

The last thing you want is for unpadded belts and shoulder straps digging into you whilst you carry your backpack. Opt for padding that ensures your hips are protected and the weight is evenly distrbuted. This should prevent any rubbing or pressure on your hips. Also make sure the hip belt can be easily adjusted to suit your body shape and that you can tighten it for added support if you need to.

Choose a backpack with padded shoulder straps to make carrying your bag put less pressure on your shoulders and lower back. The weight needs to be evenly distributed to ensure that your back and shoulders feel supported so make sure that your padded straps can be adjusted to fit your size and that the pads are comfortable and not stiff and chaffing.

Choose a padded back

Don’t forget to make sure that your backpack has a padded back. Your back will thank you for this. By having a bag with a padded back it will help distribute the weight evenly and will help take the pressure off your back. If possible look for a contoured back with a curve, this will allow airflow and will stop your back from getting sweaty. Consider how comfortable the back feels against you and if you could stick the next few weeks or months having it dig into you.

What size should I go for?

The size of your backpack should always match the size of your body, if your backpack is too big, it will be hard to carry. If it is too small you won’t be able to bring all of your kit and the weight won’t be balanced correctly. Choosing the right backpack means finding one that will fit your belongings with a bit of extra room just in case. Don’t feel compelled to buy a 70L backpack to fit a variety of outfits in, it will not only be too heavy and uncomfortable but you will regret this choice!

If you need to get a backpack that can be used as carryon luggage this is something to take into consideration as the bigger the bag, the more chance you’ll have to put it in the hold. Also, remember that if you want to take it as a carry on you cannot bring liquids more than 100ml on board.​​​​​​​ Choosing the best backpack for your journey will take time, prepare to try a variety of bags but remember that this backpack will serve you for a long time and is not something you should buy on an impulse. If you want to avoid an uncomfortable, painful backpacking experience, follow our guide and double check all of these points before making a purchase. Believe me, you’ll thank yourself for it when you’re carrying your bag through a busy street in warm temperatures.​​​​​​​

Written by Sarah McCann, Blog Editor at MyBaggage.com a luggage delivery service operating all around the world.

Australia / New Zealand Outdoors

Why Winter Is The Best Season To Visit New Zealand

New Zealand is a unique island country that draws tourists like a magnet all year round. If you love beach holidays and wine tastings, then the opportune time to book your trip is in the summer. But if you’re more into snow-covered slopes, fewer tourists, and lots of adventure, then you will definitely benefit from flocking to the islands in winter. In fact, we believe that winter is the best season to visit New Zealand, and here are five reasons why.

 

1. Traveling for thrifty travelers

June, the first month of New Zealand’s winter, belongs to the low season. There are fewer tourists at the beginning of winter, so hotels normally reduce prices for accommodation. The same goes for plane tickets, car rental, tours, and entertainment. In addition, wintertime is an ideal season for introverts – unlike summer, there are no crowds of tourists occupying all local sights. If you plan to stay away from the advertised ski resorts, you can barely meet any tourist-packed buses.

2. Snow makeover

New Zealand is beautiful all year round but in winter, mountain tops adorned with snow caps add a touch of magic to the landscape. Mountains, like giant cupcakes covered with velvet frosting, can be found here and there no matter where you travel throughout the islands. Any journey in winter, whether on New Zealand small group tours or by rented car, gets a boost of excitement when you cruise through the land of snowy peaks.

3. It’s time to unpack your skis or snowboard

Winter vacation enthusiasts from the Northern Hemisphere are sure to miss the charm of ski resorts in the summer. If you’re a sucker for skiing or snowboarding, you don’t have to wait several months until the chill comes to your vicinity. In New Zealand, the wintertime is in full swing by July. Hundreds of ski fields, ranging from the world famous and loaded with tourists to more intimate yet equally worthy resorts, await you in this Polynesian country. What is especially cool about New Zealand is that the mountains always have snow cover, so you don’t have to struggle with bare mountains or icy terrain.

4. It doesn’t get too cold

Despite the fact that New Zealand turns white in winter, the snow mostly lies in the mountains and rarely reaches your feet. This means that you won’t get numb with cold while sightseeing. Numerous giant lakes of the South Island maintain a comfortable temperature in winter, while warm currents enveloping the North Island contribute to the mild climate. In fact, the temperature rarely drops below 10 °C. On a sunny day, you can even bask on a beach without the risk of freezing your limbs off.

5. Unique plant and animal species

New Zealand is not only the home for majestic mountains, crystal-clear lakes, and mighty geysers, but also a unique kingdom of fauna. Many endemic species that can be seen nowhere else in the world inhabit the islands. In winter, the whale migration routes pass so close to the coast of New Zealand that you can see these gigantic aquatic mammals literally from ashore, especially in Kaikoura. If you want to come in closer contact with this marvel of nature, you can hire a boat with a guide or hop on one of the many tourist yachts.

Top