If you're like me, the thought of throwing away a recycleable item or not using the other side of a piece of paper before tossing it makes you cringe. Sometimes waste is unavoidable, and it seems as though these instances multiply when traveling. Below are a few of my favorite go-to travel accessories that are guaranteed to reduce waste, without taking up valuable cargo space in your suitcase! Oh, and by incorporating these products into your travel routine and cutting down on waste, you are also helping yourself to save money in the long run- what's not to love about that?
(This is not a sponsored post- I just really love the way these products make traveling a little bit easier!)
You gotta eat, right? That doesn't change when you're traveling. In fact, you may even want to eat more because there are so many new and exciting cuisines to try in such a short amount of time!
Whether it's in the airport, on the plane, or grabbing that oh-so-delicious authentic street food, you are bound to find yourself reaching for a plastic utensil to aid in consuming that deliciousness. From plastic spoons and forks to plastic straws, and the plastic wrapping that often holds it all together, the waste quickly adds up. By incorporating a reusable set of bamboo flatware into your routine, you are guaranteed to use less plastic, and you might even avoid some unwanted germs- plastic cutlery is often washed and reused to maximize use. This set includes everything you need for enjoying your meals on the go- from utensils to straws- even chopsticks! The best part is that it comes in its own handy-dandy roll-up carrying case, keeping your utensils protecting from any grime.
You can find the set pictured below here or check out this set made out of boao.
Just as with eating, water is something you can't do without. Drinking enough water while traveling is especially crucial for ensuring that you stay healthy and energized during those long days of exploring. Even in my day-to-day life, I carry a reusable water bottle around with me everywhere and fill it up along the way. When traveling, it is normal to feel skeptical about the water you're drinking, and it's common to buy a lot of plastic water bottles that will be consumed and tossed in the trash repeatedly. With a filtered water bottle, you eliminate both the need for plastic bottles, as well as the uncertainty about the quality of water you're drinking.
LifeStraw is a brand known for its powerful and effective portable filtration system. Used by campers, hikers, backpackers, and travelers around the world, LifeStraw has now put that same water filtering technology directly into a reusable water bottle, meaning you can fill up anywhere without worry, knowing that the filter will do its job to remove 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria and protozoa, delivering clean, healthy water wherever you go. Now you're not only reducing plastic waste- you're saving yourself money by not buying multiple bottled waters a day.
One thing I love to do when I travel is visit the local grocery stores and farmer's markets. This is such a great way to get an inside glimpse at what the authentic local life is like. While these visits can easily be planned, sometimes you may stumble upon a little market on your way to another activity. I know I have had my fair share of carrying around random pieces of fruit or pastries in my backpack, only to later find them squished and bruised.
By utilizing a cooler backpack, you are not only more likely to keep your food purchases safe and fresh longer, but you are taking advantage of a product you are likely already going to have with you. I always travel with a backpack because it allows for handsfree movement and feels more secure than carrying a purse. By using an insulated lunch bag, you can keep your food safe without adding an extra bag or item to carry. Because it is water-resistant, it is perfect for carrying other travel essentials, such as a camera or important documents. Keep everything you need with you in one bag, safe and secure, while reducing the amount of waste from damaged food!
What are your go-to travel products?
How do you like to make eating while traveling better for you and the environment? Let us know in the comments!
On a month-long trip to Argentina, we took a weekend to explore San Carlos de Bariloche (commonly known as "Bariloche").
On the day we arrived we started to ask the front desk staff about a nearby brewery – we thought we would walk over and have some dinner. She asked if we meant the Patagonia brewery, which we quickly decided was indeed the brewery we wanted; I don’t even remember the name of the poor brewery we thought we wanted to visit, because Patagonia beer had become one of our favorite Argentine brews, and as soon as we realized it was an option, we dropped any thought of other breweries.
We took a cab the 17 miles and arrived at the most beautiful setting imaginable – an absolutely gorgeous panorama of trees, water and mountains – we could not get enough of it! Add delicious beer and great pub food and it just doesn’t get any better. We had a hightop table for two at the window looking out over the stunning vista; there are also massively long tables made from cypress.
Outside there is plenty of seating in the form of sofas and grouping of Adirondack chairs – there are no bad options. We ate indoors, then walked around the grounds for a while just taking in the views; we decided to take the bus back to our hotel, and hopped on the Number 10 for the ride back down the mountain.
Written by guest writer Laura Atkins
For more on how to spend a weekend in Bariloche, visit The Offbeat Traveler
My husband and I have a weekly tradition of going to a local coffee shop after church on Sundays. One of our new favorites is Queen City Grounds. Located on the edge of Uptown, QCG has everything we want and more in a coffee shop. From the bright, open space to the never-ending reggae music, bar countertops and cozy couches, this modern coffee spot fits the needs of anyone who wants to work, relax, play games or read a book found in the open library. Featuring a full breakfast and lunch menu, classic coffee options, and a few unique creations of their own, QCG has managed to provide an eclectic offering in a simple atmosphere. I have no doubt that our weekly tradition will continue to bring us here for a long time.
Pro tip: If you're like me, then you tend to prefer breakfast, or even brunch, over lunch options. Try the Rancheros Burrito. Made to order with options including bacon or tofu, avocado, pico de gallo, topped with crunchy corn chips and wrapped in a spinach or whole wheat wrap, this option can be altered to suit everyone's preferences. Just be sure to order before they switch over to the lunch menu!
Pro tip: You can't go wrong with any of the drink options. My go-to at every coffee shop is a chai latte, and they did not disappoint. Topped with plenty of cinnamon, this chai was very flavorful and not too sweet. More of a cold brew type of person? Well they have that on tap (as well as a few select beers). Really love their coffee? You can purchase bags to take home with you and try your hand at barista life from the comfort of your kitchen.
Now that you know where to stay in Asheville, where to get amazing brunch, and where to hang out for a couple of drinks, the next logical step is adding a little adventure, because every good weekend getaway should not only include plenty of relaxation, but plenty of fun!
For an easy waterfall hike near Asheville, Looking Glass Falls is the perfect place to go for anyone who wants a bit of nature. Looking Glass Falls is the best waterfall hike near Asheville because it offers gorgeous views that everyone can enjoy, regardless of ability. This extremely accessible waterfall is actually visible from the roadside, meaning that families with small children or those who may not be able to hike are still able to experience great views of the falls. With roadside parking available, you can enjoy the falls from the top, or walk down the staircase to the base of the falls, where you can then wade into the water or scramble along the riverbed rocks.
So far in our Asheville series we have talked about some amazing places to chow down on brunch or hang out and grab a pint, and while these are vitally important aspects of enjoying a weekend away, probably one of the most crucial details in planning a weekend getaway is where to stay.
The first time I scheduled a trip to Asheville, this was actually one of the hardest parts of the planning. I had never been before so I didn't have any prior knowledge of the area and while online research is helpful, first-hand knowledge is key (whether it's your knowledge or you're getting tips from someone else). After a last-ditch effort to find something both unique and affordable, I desperately Google searched "glamping in Asheville" and lo and behold there is actually a place called Asheville Glamping.
I was quickly drawn in by the boho-vintagey vibe from the photos of tents, domes, and airstreams and after an excited scroll through the website, I decided this was the place to stay. But the search wasn't over yet. Many of the more popular sites, such as the dome, were booked through for months, and others only had availability here and there. After a second run-through, I was able to find a site that both met our budget and time-frame.
The Deluxe Bell Tent features a queen bed, a heating and cooling system, and now, a hot tub (this addition appeared after our stay) all perched atop a steep hill with beautiful views of the surrounding property and mountains beyond. The tent is constructed on a wooden deck, giving you the perfect place to sit back and enjoy the sunset.
Since our stay at the 15-acre property roughly 30 minutes outside of downtown Asheville, the owners have added two more domes and are currently working on a treehouse. Several hot tubs have popped up at some of the sites, adding a bit more of the "glam" to glamping. If you haven't been glamping before, do not let the luxury aspect fool you. You are still camping and you will still run into some of the same elements of traditional camping, such as insects, dirt, and weather. However, instead of sleeping bags, you'll find yourself nestled in cozy blankets atop real mattresses. Instead of relying solely on campfire flames your ceiling may be draped with twinkle lights. In my opinion, it's the best of both worlds- comfortable nature.
Have you been glamping before? Let me know where in the comments!
Asheville is the mecca place of breweries in North Carolina, with popular beer bars ranging from local mom-and-pop shops to well-known nation-wide labels.
One of the more popular names comes from a beer you've see in stores and bars all over the country-- Fat Tire, by New Belgium Brewing Company. Originating in Colorado, New Belgium has since moved East, taking up residence in Asheville, North Carolina, where its food truck rotations, outdoor facilities, and live music fit right in. Throw in the abundance of bicycle decor and you'd think this company was born here.
While standard brewery activities are plentiful, New Belgium goes the extra mile by renting out the rooms in the brewhouse for events with up to 325 guests (standing room). The 5,100 sq ft space features an 8-tap bar, wifi, and the sounds of boiling kettles and grain raining through the pipes, making this fully functional production space perfect for your next large event (wedding ceremonies excluded due to the noise).
Another way this major beer name has gained strides in the Asheville community is through its sustainability initiatives and environmental transparency. New Belgium advocates for partnering with eco-conscious players and lists the qualities they look for when purchasing. In addition to sustainable values, they practice community positivity through donations, volunteering, and collaborations- just another way large companies can make positive impacts on local communities.
Next time you're in the area, be sure to stop by for some live music, local food truck goodness, and a couple pints- they've made a name for themselves for a reason.
The first stop on our tour of Asheville is one of my favorites- a place that I keep going back to every time I visit. We all have our favorites and sometimes tradition trumps quality, but not in this case! This time around the tradition was born because of the quality; the quality of food, service, and atmosphere!
Sunny Point Cafe in West Asheville has it all. While I've only been there for some amazing brunches, they also feature equally amazing lunch and dinner menus, as well as a selection of wines, craft beers, and cocktails.
Rated #1 on TripAdvisor for the best brunch in Asheville, Sunny Point Cafe can also be found on hipster foodies' lists everywhere, ranking in the Top 10 for Best Asheville Brunch/Breakfast spots. Some examples of their award-winning dishes (yes, they have won awards for their amazing culinary talents), are the shrimp 'n' grits, which won the 2016 and 2017 Stoobie Award for Asheville's Best Shrimp 'n' Grits. I've also heard that their avocado toast is among the best in the city.
My personal favorites are the Huevos Rancheros- eggs topped with black bean cakes, feta, and cilantro crema (a gluten-free dish), and the Fried Chicken and Waffle sandwich- a pecan waffle topped with fried chicken, bacon, pimento cheese, and jalapeño jam. Their menu also features several options that can be made gluten-free or vegan.
INSIDER TIP: Because of the cafe's popularity, it is more than likely that you will arrive and have to add your name to a long list of those waiting- DO NOT LEAVE. I know how easy it is to be turned off by long wait-times, but believe me it is well worth it. In fact, the cafe understands your displeasure with having to wait, and makes it infinitely more enjoyable by providing a coffee station in the outdoor waiting area, where you can help yourself to unlimited refills of fresh coffee, and enjoy watching West Asheville life pass you by. On a nice day, you may even get to experience some live music, as local bands have been known to set up and play for hungry customers.
Aside from the incredible variety of dishes and flavors that are served up here, one of my favorite things about Sunny Point Cafe is that they are very socially conscious, featuring a different nonprofit partner every month! Every table in the restaurant has an envelope on it for customers, should they so choose, to donate money for the nonprofit that month. Along with the money from generous customers, Sunny Point also adds a donation to the collected funds, and delivers it to the chosen partner. In 2017, they raised and donated $16,856, and in 2018 they increased that number to $20,517. Read more about the organizations they've partnered with here.
INSIDER TIP: After your meal, head outside to the neighboring garden- here you can walk through the garden beds and see where the cafe plants and harvests the produce found in your meals! It's as fresh as you can get!
INSIDER TIP: Take a bit of the West Asheville flavor home with you! You can shop the selection of jams, dressings, and sauces that you may have experienced in your meal. If that's not enough, you can even purchase the Sunny Point Cookbook, featuring several recipes that have developed since the opening of the cafe, as well as other timeless comfort food dishes.
Have you been to Sunny Point Cafe? Let us know your favorite dishes in the comments! Got another favorite Asheville brunch spot! Let us know so we can check it out!
I've been to Asheville a handful of times, as it's roughly a 2-hour drive from Charlotte, and each time I love taking advantage of all this amazing city has to offer. From the wide selection of craft breweries, local coffee shops, and eclectic restaurants, it is truly a millennial's dream. If those are things you also value, then Asheville is the place for you.
Located in the western part of North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville has a population slightly under 100,000 people. Known for its vibrancy, it has a large (and growing) art scene, fascinating historic architecture, and is what a foodie's dream are made of. Walking the streets you are guaranteed to see layers of art and messages of peace adorning the walls. Ample opportunities exist to experience the local culture through artisans, food, and entertainment.
And if the city life becomes too busy for you, an escape to the mountains is a stone's throw away. From the Blue Ridge Parkway to waterfall hikes to cozy cabins, the great outdoors is ready and waiting for you.
In this new mini-series, I'm going to share all that I have come to know and love about Asheville, from the food and drink to art and nature. I was quick to identify Asheville as my spirit city, and if you stick around you may just find that it has something for you too.
If you've ever been to Asheville, share your favorite spots and things to do in the comments!
When it comes to camping, there are many different styles that have emerged over the years. From the rugged backcountry sites that require multi-mile hikes in, to the more ~luxurious~ fad of glamping, complete with queen-sized beds and space heaters, and everything else in between, camping has evolved to fit the desires of many. As someone who has participated in, and enjoyed, several of those styles, it's hard for me to choose one type of camping that I prefer over all the others. It just depends on the season and what I'm really in the mood for.
On this trip, we choose a nice middle-ground camping experience. We were able to drive our cars up to our sites and take showers in the bath houses, but we also got to pitch a tent, build a campfire, and cook our own food. It was adventurous, yet comfortable- exactly what we were looking for. In fact, it matched what we were looking for so much that dare I say, it was the best campsite I could have asked for.
Located in Tugaloo State Park, we signed up for a certain type of campsite (i.e. basic, waterfront, RV, etc.) and then it was first come, first serve, so the site you ended up with depended on when you arrived and how long it took you to select a site. I choose a waterfront site, and from there, we drove around the park a few times trying to find the perfect spot. It didn't take long however, as one specific site really stood out to us. It was located on a piece of land that jutted out into the water a bit, and the site next to us was empty. While there was a camper on the other side of us, it was far back enough that we still had privacy. Our chosen site was also a quick walk over to the shower-house, meaning we had everything we needed while still feeling removed enough to enjoy the trip.
My absolute favorite part of the camping site however, was that we were surrounded by water on two sides. We saw beautiful sunsets and sunrises, and nothing beats the sound of waves gently lapping on the shore while you're laying in a hammock, watching the campfire flames crackle and pop.
We spent the nights relaxing by the fire and the days exploring the nearby state parks, written about in previous posts. The best part was that it was Gary's first time ever camping (if you don't count a glamping weekend) and he loved it; he quickly became a campfire omelette expert!
In addition to camping, Tugaloo State Park also offers swimming, water skiing, and boating in the 55,590 acre Lake Hartwell. If tent-camping isn't your style, there is a large rv/camper facility, as well as several yurts and cottages available to rent.
The quiet peacefulness and tranquil-like atmosphere quickly made this my all-time favorite camping destination. Turns out, the middle-ground is a great place to be!
Following our visit to the most beautiful waterfall in Georgia, we wanted to swing by another waterfall series. In hindsight, we should have gone there first, as anything after Toccoa Falls would be judged with a tough eye as the bar had been set high.
We drove out to Tallulah Gorge State Park for some afternoon fun. This park, set on more than 2,500 acres, features a 1,000 foot deep gorge carved out by the Tallulah River. Within the gorge are the main attractions of the park, the six waterfalls formed by the river, known as Tallulah Falls. These falls cause the river to drop 500 feet in one mile.
Activities at the park include camping, hiking, biking, swimming, fishing, whitewater paddling, and more. There are rim trails along the park that visitors are welcome to hike, but the number of hikers allowed to make the trek down to the gorge floor is limited to 100 people a day. Permits are required but are free and can be obtained the day of at the Interpretive Center.
My favorite feature of the park was the suspension bridge that swings 80 feet above the gorge floor, offering amazing views of the gorge and falls below.
While the walk down to the bridge is a piece of cake, climbing the stairs back to the top was excruciating. In fact, I don't know if I've ever been sweatier in my life. If you recall from a few posts ago, I mentioned that it was August, in Georgia. It was hot, humid, and at this exact point, utterly unbearable. The light drizzle that began to develop as we climbed back up did little to ease our discomfort. The light at the end of the tunnel was that our campsite did in fact have a shower house.
Tallulah Gorge State Park had a high standard to meet, and I would say it succeeded. It did not feature the beauty that was found at Toccoa Falls, but it made up for it in a rugged wilderness that all adventure-seekers yearn for.
I travel and then I write about it. I hope you enjoy my experiences, and can learn from my trial and errors!