CategoryTravel and Leisure

Beware Dear Solo Travelers

There’s a gazillion tour companies now floating through the world wide web. Most travelers want the lowest price possible to escape and go straight to “cheaperosity.com” before they even narrow down their dreamy bucket list destination! This can lead to disaster or in the least, a waste of time and money on a place that will underwhelm you. Let’s say a friend encourages you to visit Nepal. You’re clueless, but you Google local tour operators. Over 1200 show up. You pick “Yak on a Budget Travel”, ‘cuz they are dirt cheap and you send them a deposit by PayPal. Five months later, no one greets you at the airport upon arrival. Outside, Kathmandu assaults your senses, but you manage to hail a taxi to your 2-star hotel bordering on a youth hostel. No breakfast, bad bed. Your guides are subpar with thick accents. You get half-day tours daily instead of full days as promised in vans with no AC. At each famous site, the guide says, “Need money now for entrance fees.” And the story goes on and on for 8 long days of disappointment as you watch other tour groups gleefully exiting deluxe motor coaches and heading to the front of the lines for the best vantage points.

A gentle reminder dear travel lover – Do your research on tour operators credentials first! Choose one with a proven track record of reliability. How? Carefully read their company profile. Is the company Owner-run or is it presented through a travel agent who doesn’t want the expense nor responsibility of being the Principal? Is it a cheesy website with template blocks to cut and paste in your contact details, looking like something designed by a teenager? Be extra cautious if stock photos are inserted instead of real people who actually traveled with this company.

Ask how long the tour operator has been in business. A year or less, I’d run. Are they fully licensed and bonded? Do they have IATA license and other credentials? Any reports to the Better Business Bureau is a huge red flag. Find reviews on Google. If an emergency happens, does the company have insurance to protect you? Understand that countless tour operators go out of business each year. What protection do you have if you paid for a trip in full and they close shop a week before you depart?

Consider companies that have successfully sent groups around the world for a long time. Look for repeat travelers. Check out their website to feel the passion and integrity that comes from their information. See that they use Non-Stock Photos showing real people on their trips. Glance over hundreds of happy testimonials, each honest and trustworthy. Invest the time in researching who you’ll book with. Find a company that will deliver what they promised. After all, it is your investment in a thrilling adventure to provide you forever memories.

6 Top Features of the Luggage Scales

Luggage scales are a useful piece of kit to have at home to avoid issues with paying excess baggage fees. Most of the airlines set different weight allowances so it can be difficult to get it right for the frequent travellers. They are easy to use and can include a variety of features to match the specific needs.

Let’s take a look at the key features worth having on the luggage scales:

Weight capacity

Weight capacity is a major feature to consider. This needs to easily reach the maximum limits set by the different airlines. Many of the luggage scales will accept a load up to about 110 pounds, which is more than enough. Additionally, the accuracy can vary with the different units. Most have an accuracy leeway of about by 0.1 pounds. This is likely to give enough accuracy for most unless very close to the airlines permitted limit.

Screen lock

The weight lock is a user-friendly feature that will ensure the total weight of the luggage is kept on the display screen for a certain period of time. This makes it a lot easier for a single person to use the scales without having to hold the luggage and read the display at the same time.

Type of Display

The weight can be displayed using analogue or LCD. The LCD units are easier to read if the screen is backlit. Many of the low-cost models are particularly difficult to read in bright light conditions. Also, the LCD units will use more battery life. The alternative option is those built with a traditional clock dial. They do not rely on extra battery power and are still very easy to read.

Compact size

The luggage scales are typically compact in size which means they can be taken on any journey. This will give the option to weigh the luggage again before the return leg of the journey to avoid going over the permitted limited after buying souvenirs for friends or family on the travels.

Battery indicator

Many of the feature rich units have a battery indicator to give a quick reminder of the available charge left in the battery. This is great for those that travel often and need to make sure it is always ready to use.

Automatic shut down

A useful feature to save battery life is automatic shut down. This is often seen on the luggage scales with an LCD display. Most units will switch off after 30 to 60 seconds of no activity.

6 Useful Luggage Accessories for Organized Travel

Luggage accessories are a practical and handy solution to make organizing your bags or paperwork easier. They can range from the convenient items like travel wallets and packing cubes to those items that improve safety, such as the security straps. Let’s take a look at a few of the most useful options to get ready for traveling:

Travel wallet

A travel wallet is a very convenient item for the frequent traveler with its ability to keep items like the passport, money and tickets safe. They can also include multiple small pockets which are great to hold loose change, pens, credit cards, etc. Any wallet made in a waterproof material will be favored because it will make sure the contents are protected in the event of getting caught in a rain shower. Additionally, they are still light and compact enough to easily fit in a rucksack or handbag.

Packing cubes

The packing cubes are a useful solution to pack clothes, accessories, toiletries, etc. in a suitcase without getting everything screwed up. Alternatively, they can simply be used to divide the space in a suitcase by placing the cubes down the middle.

Waterproof toilet bag

This is a useful all-in-one solution to hold a complete collection of bathroom products. They are typically spacious with multiple pockets and compartments. When in use, it will conveniently unzip and hang on its plastic hook in a hotel room or similar. Also, they can make a very useful option for camp trips when it is necessary to navigate to bathroom facilities in the dark.

Luggage security straps

The luggage security straps give extra peace of mind in knowing the suitcases are better protected with less chance of being broken into. Also, they can be used to secure extra items onto the suitcase that are too bulky to fit inside, such as a rain poncho, sleeping bag or roll-mat.

Money belt

A money belt that is easily hidden under clothes is a great way to secure the valuable items while exploring a busy market, rushing through a crowded airport, or similar environment with plenty of other people about. They are great for holding items like money, passports, bank cards, tickets, or other valuable documents.

Dry bag

A dry bag is a must-have travel supply for anyone involved in outdoor activities, such as kayaking, rafting or simply days on the beach. This type of bag is great for holding a spare set of clothes, towels, muddy clothes, or damp swimming gear. Many of these bags can be fully submerged and still keep the contents dry.

The Trials of Lighthouse Keeping

In 1792 Patos Island was named Isla de Patos (Island of Ducks), by Spanish Explorers Galiano and Bazan maybe because of the many ducks which inhabited the island. Interestingly, the island was a hiding place for smugglers due to its nearness to the Canadian border and its many trees and caves.

The island’s first light was on Boundary Pass just opposite Canada’s Saturna Island. Patos Island is at the northern entrance to the Canal de Haro. This was a very dangerous passage because of strong currents and foggy weather. In March of 1891 Congress appropriated $12,000 to erect an aid to navigation which consisted of a double dwelling, fog signal building, water tanks and a post light at the western end of the island. The actual building was completed late in 1893.

Thus there was a white light on the Canadian side of the channel and a red light on a ten foot tall white stake on Patos Island.

By 1915 several improvements were made with the result of a new fog signal and a lighthouse with a fresnel lens. Harry Mahler was paid $700 per year as head keeper and Edward Durgan received $500 per year as assistant keeper.

After serving as lighthouse keeper at several different locations on the West Coast Durgan returned in 1905 to Patos Island as the head light keeper. He arrived at at Patos with wife Estelle and their thirteen children where he became very well-known. Even though it had a mild climate, Patos Island was very isolated. The Durgan family would travel twenty-six water miles once a month to Bellingham, Washington for supplies. Their nearest neighbor was Saturna Island in Canada which was just over three miles away by water.

Seven of the children came down with smallpox and keeper Durgan, in order to signal for help flew the lighthouse flag upside down. Eventually help did come but one account says that three of the children died. While another account was that one child succumbed. A third accounting states that the child who died likely died of appendicitis, not smallpox

Helene Durgan Glidden, one of the surviving children later wrote a memoir titled “The Light on the Island”. In this writing she told of her talks with God, how she played with her pet cow and wandered the shores of the island which she called “the petticoats” of Patos Island.

George Loholt replaced Durgan as headkeeper with Mary Durgan’s husband, Noah Clark, staying on as assistant keeper.

Trips over the rough waters for visiting or shopping were dangerous. In 1911 Noah Clark motored to Blaine,Washington to pick up his wife, Mary and their young son who had been visiting the Durgans. On their return trip the boat’s motor failed as it was nearing Patos Island. The boat started filling with water and Clark jumped overboard for help to save his family and he was never seen again. His family, after drifting in the water all night, eventually crawled on top of the cabin when the boat filled with water. Fortunately they were rescued after grounding onto a shoal.

In August 1912, a distress signal was coming from Patos Island. Captain Newcombe of the Canadian fishery protection tug noticed the signal and stopped at the island to investigate. The assistant lighthouse keeper, William Stark, told the captain that Keeper Loholt was exhibiting signs of insanity. That Loholt had left the station in a boat two days earlier without any explanation leaving Stark to carry out all the duties alone. Captain Newcombe notified the lighthouse inspector in Portland, who proceeded to Patos Island.

Inspector Beck arrived at Patos and discovered that the two men had been fighting and that one had threatened to kill the other and drove him from the island. Ultimately the assistant was suspended and Keeper Loholt continued on as head lighthouse keeper for another ten years or more. During which time he rendered assistance to several vessels in distress.

Those accounts were mentioned in the Annual Report of the Commissioner of Lighthouses.

Telephone service came to the island in 1919 and took care of much of the communication issue.

The lighthouse is now part of Patos Island State Park and has been restored and is being cared for by a group of selfless volunteers.

The lighthouse can be visited by boat from either Friday Harbor or Roche Harbor. In recent years there are docents to open the lighthouse to visitors during the summer months.

The lighthouse is owned by the Bureau of Land Management. Grounds.open, lighthouse closed

The lighthouse is best visited by boat. Roche Harbor or Friday Harbor on San Juan Island are two of the closest harbors to Patos Island Lighthouse. Keepers of the Patos Light have had docents on the island in recent years to open the lighthouse to visitors during the summer months.

Orcas Island Eclipse Charters has offered Lighthouse Tours in the past that pass by Patos Island. Outer Island Excursions offers trips to Patos Island that include a hike to the lighthouse.

First Time Volunteering Abroad

The first time I traveled by myself was my Freshman year of college when I ventured off to volunteer in Nicaragua. A few months before I left on a flight by myself to meet a group of strangers, I was sitting in my Chemistry class in Felmey Hall when a recruit came in to spread the word about an organization I had never heard of, GIVE Volunteers. With little research I convinced myself that this was a step I should take and signed myself up. Fast forward to awkwardly sitting on an old school bus full of 30 other volunteers, traveling down a gravel road to a small fishing village on Western coast of the country. Though the first 12 hours were a little awkward and intimidating I grew to love that group of strangers and some of them are still my good friends now, four years later. We started in the small town of Jiquilillo building houses for single and abused mothers and worked our way to Little Corn Island, teaching kids and working with a recycling program.

Poverty in some of these places were high, I saw things that I had only seen on the news before and never thought I would experience first hand. But I also gained a new respect for the world, for my family and friends and all that we have. Little did I know at the time that this trip would change who I was, how I viewed the world, and what I would want to do for the rest of my life.

It was when my flight landed in Chicago that for the first time in my life I had a passion for something. I had done things before that I liked, such as cooking and taking art classes, things that I thought would be fun to do but I had never craved something like this passion before. I had spent the past two weeks traveling around and volunteering in Nicaragua. And those two weeks were the most meaningful weeks of my 18 years of life. At moments it was terrifying, I questioned why I went, I got sick and missed home and my mom, but the more I did and the more I feared, the more I grew and the more I realized that the best things in life are held at the other side of fear. I had to stretch past my anxiety to hop on that plane and it ended up leading me on an adventure that I can never forget. That adventure sculpted me as an individual. It lead me to the love of my internship, and the work I do around the community.

When I was first offered my internship at Marcfirst my friends told me I was stupid for not looking for an opportunity that would offer pay. I knew it would be relatively time consuming and though doing the work for free wasn’t my first choice, it was an organization that consisted of something that I fully supported. It was that passion to relinquish into the community of doing good and helping others no matter what form it came in. I am currently seven months into my internship and I love every second of it. I would go in more if I had the time, the money means nothing to me and I fully support the work being done. It has proven that money is not the ultimate prize in life, and that happiness in what you are doing with your life is.

Things to Do on the Island on a Vacation

An island is any smaller area of land that is surrounded by water on its sides. It is a place where you can spend the quality time with your family and friends under nature. It is the perfect choice for your vacation when you are looking for a family trip, romantic getaway or a nature vacation.

An island is popular because of its amazing view and pleasant climatic conditions. It offers all the modern conveniences that an individual strives for while on a holiday. One can find a variety of comfortable places to stay like hotels, inns, private guest cottages, etc. on the area.

Things you can do while on an Island

An island offers several fun activities and diversions off and on-the-beach both. One can happily spend their quality time by involving themselves in various activities.

— Nature tours

There are water bikes and Segways on rent for people who love to have adventures. One can enjoy on-the-beach tours of the island while having fun with water sports. Go out with your partner to have the view of the island on water vehicles and make your vacation much more exciting.

— Relaxing beaches

Not everybody wants those adventurous activities. For all the lazy people out there, they have beach mats and chairs to relax while having the sunbath in an amazing view. After that, have your lunch and dinner at the fancy restaurants that are there to serve you on the beach itself.

— Off the beach tours

Beside the beach, one can have a tour of the place and explore it with the scooters and bikes on rent. Shopping is one of the options women can go for. The place would have a lot of beautiful shops and galleries filled with unique and antique things. Remember, there is no cluster of malls rather there are beautiful shops to have your shopping done appropriately.

— Others

For the people who want some sort of activities that are similar to their regular life, they can go for golfing, tennis, badminton, cinema, etc. The popular island offers such activities. Also, if you don’t want to go out of your hotels, you can try these activities at your hotels only without going out.

All in all, there is something for everyone to satisfy themselves and there is a surety that you would not be able to stop yourself from visiting an isle again and will make some very beautiful memories to be cherished for the whole of your life.

Make a plan out of your hectic schedules and offices and visit some island. Pamper yourself, and have the best time of your life with your partner, family, and friends at some Island.

Remember you will not get such activities on a deserted island. On a deserted island, you will have to explore the things yourself without any help. But, if you don’t want to go for any experiments, popular islands are the best option for you where you can get all the conveniences while enjoying yourselves.

7 Tips To Help You Get The Most Out Of Your Private Tour

If you want to go on a private tour, our tips may help you. On a trip, you will have tons of fun seeing beautiful sights and getting to know different cultures in a different place. Without further ado, let’s know the tips that can make your tour unforgettable.

Customized experience

Having a private tour is a great idea as it helps you have a customized experience. But it’s possible only if you talk to your guide so you can have the right expectations. Therefore, you may want to share you likes, dislikes and interests with the guide, and this will help your guide make your tour the best experience of your life.

Be ready for poor weather

You should be ready to deal with poor weather. Know that you will have sunny days as well as cloudy days and rainy days. Unlike what most people believe, bad weather is a great time to go on a tour.

However, make sure you make necessary arrangements so you don’t have to face difficulties in case of poor weather. You don’t want to ruin your trip.

Choose comfy shoes

You may want to get a few pairs of comfortable shoes. In the same way, you should have a few dresses for different types of weather, customs and cultures. Again, your guide can help you make the right choices.

Respect the other cultures

You may want to respect the cultures of the places you are going to spend time at. What does this mean? In short, you need to understand the things that are going to be different in those places. As a matter of fact, travelers who spend a good deal of time in understanding different behaviors and customers have more fun during their trip.

Try new things

You may want to try new things, such as food, activity and drink. No matter how small they are, do give them a go. You will have a lot of fun.

Do your research

Before you leave, don’t forget to find out as much as possible about the places that you are going to visit. And do let your guide know about a special place that you are most interested in.

Another way to know more about that place is to read a short story or novel written by an author who lives in that area. This will help you know more about the local culture and get inspired.

Ask questions

Once you are with your guide, make a list of questions that you want to ask them. Guides have tons of knowledge to share. Moreover, it’s a lot more fun to find out more about a place by having a discussion with an expert.

Travelling Tips for the Disabled

Unlike in the past, today people with disabilities have been recognized, and are less discriminated against. In many countries there are legislations that protect them and make their life a little easier. Also many public buildings have been designed or renovated in order to accommodate people with disabilities.

With all these improvements, people with disabilities are now able to travel for vacation or a business trip to places far away from their home. However, with all these improvements we have made, travelling for people with disabilities is still a challenge for them, especially when they are travelling alone or, they are travelling to an unknown destination. Below is a guide to help people with all forms of disabilities to travel safely.

1. Plan well in advance
Planning is key to any form of success. This is very important because it reduces chances of getting stranded and being inconvenienced. Booking flights and hotel rooms are the top priorities, however if you are going to stay at a friend’s or a relative’s house; notifying them in advance is very important. Then they can be prepared and even pick you up from the airport.

2. Book hotels that are disabled friendly
Hotels with disabled friendly structures are very convenient as they allow disabled individuals to move freely with minimal effort. Most of these hotels also have special emergency protocols that ensure disabled individuals are not left behind in case of an emergency, unlike some hotels where these issues are over looked.

3. Use a travel agent that offers travel packages for disabled travelers
Booking flights and hotel rooms with travel agents that offer travel solutions to disabled people is advantageous in a number of ways. They ensure they book for their disabled clients airlines and hotels that are disabled friendly. They strive to offer services and suggestions that will ensure their clients travel comfortably.

4. Understand and know your rights when at the airport
Travelling, for people with disabilities, is very hectic, especially when they arrive at the airport. They face the challenge of getting proper information and directions. This is further aggravated by the huge number of people traveling and long queues. In airports, there are attendants that are supposed to attend to the needs of those travelling with disabilities.

Disabled travelers should not, and are not, treated differently when they go through security measures. They are also protected from any form of discrimination from any airline. Disabled travelers are advised to be very conversant with their rights to avoid and report any form of discrimination when travelling.

5. Bring extra medication
There is no harm in carrying an extra dose of medication when travelling. People do lose their luggage as they travel so, having an extra dose will act as a backup when one dose gets lost. This also ensures that when travelling, a disabled person does not run out of their medicine forcing them to start looking for a drug store when travelling. These medications should be stored properly to ensure their safety.

6. Take a doctor’s note and contact information when travelling
A doctor’s note contains important information about a condition that a disabled person is facing and this will help doctors save a lot of time on tests in case of an emergency. Contact information for your doctor allows other doctors to get important information from your doctor should the need arise. This small, but vital, information can save lives.

7. Use direct flights
It is very hectic and tiresome for a disabled traveler to use connecting flights. Using connecting flights exposes them to loss of their luggage and even injury as they get in and out of a plane. Using a direct flight cuts all these risks down and saves a lot time and energy when travelling. Direct flights also ensure that those travelling with disabilities are not stranded in an airport as they wait for a connecting flight.

8. Disabled travelers are advised to have some knowledge about where they are travelling to
There is nothing more difficult than looking for directions to a place you do not know about. This is even harder for disabled travelers so, it is advisable to have at least some knowledge and understanding about their destination. This will give them an upper hand when moving around and the knowledge to know where to go and where not to go. This will be very helpful when they are stranded or experience an emergency situation and need urgent assistance.

9. Carry the appropriate luggage
Disabled travelers are advised to carry luggage that they can manage when they are travelling. Unless they have company, travelling with a huge amount of luggage is not easy. Traveling lightly enables disabled travelers to be more flexible to situations that arise besides, a large amount of luggage can also easily get lost.

10. Enjoy travelling
Many disabled people do not travel often because of a lot of limitations which discourages them. However modern technology ensures safe travel for all regardless of their condition. Travelling should be enjoyed by all since it is a chance to experience new things that are different than what they are used to

Marrowstone Point Light and the “Triangle of Fire”


About October 1 1888 a lens lantern with a red light was mounted on a pole to mark the eastern entrance to Port Townsend Bay. In 1892 the Lighthouse board recommended a large fog bell be installed to warn of the sharp turn in the course when entering for leaving Puget Sound. $3,500 was allocated by Congress on March 3 1893 and a one and one half story six-room keepers house with a fog bell tower was built and put into operation on April 7, 1896. The huge 1,200 pound bell would strike twice every fifteen seconds during periods of fog or low visibility.

Seventy-year-old former sea captain Osmore H Morgan was the first keeper. He had spent the prior fourteen years as head keeper at the New Dungeness Lighthouse. His daughter, Nettie Race took over after his passing in 1907. A few months later Axel Rustad was appointed keeper and he and wife Karen took over. They stayed for ten years raising four sons in the keepers quarters. The only water for the family was rain water collected and stored in a 5,000-gallon redwood tank which was located in a shed behind the house.

In July 1903 the North Pacific, a side wheel steamer struck Craven Rock off Marrowstone Point in a dense fog. The steamer had 14 passengers aboard who were taken to shore by lifeboats and the tug boat C. B. Smith. Lighthouse keeper Morgan fed and sheltered them until they were taken aboard the steamer Mainlander which had run aground on Marrowstone Point that same morning but was afloat again at high tide. The North Pacific was a total loss as it sank in deep water.

In 1907 construction of Fort Flagler was completed. Fort Flagler joined with the guns at Fort Casey on Admiralty Head and the guns at Fort Worden near Point Wilson to form a “Triangle of Fire” to prevent enemy vessels from entering Puget Sound

Dense fog caused another mishap in August 1908. The 502-foot-long armored cruiser USS Colorado ran aground on Liplip Point the southeast tip of Marrowstone Island. This incident cast light on the need for more navigational aids in Puget Sound. On October 22, 1913 Congress appropriated $30,000 for improvements.

Marrowstone Point received a new fog signal and light in 1914. An experimental acetylene gun was installed in a wooden building thirteen yards northeast of the bell tower and took the place of the fog bell. Mariners were asked to report the efficiency of the gun to the lighthouse inspector in Portland.

A new acetylene gun was installed atop a concrete structure just two months later. At the same time, the light was changed from a fixed red to a quick two red flashes every six seconds. The acetylene fog gun was the first of its kind to be used in the United States.

Several improvements were made over the years until 1962 when it was automated. In 1972 the Coast Guard transferred the property to the Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to be used as a research facility. The keepers house is now used as a guest house for scientists who visit the Marrowstone Marine Field Station.

Still standing at the waters edge are the structure that held the light and fog signal and the light tower. The flashing white light is still functioning but the fog signal is no longer being used. The station is now being used as a marine ecosystem health and marine fish health research facility.

Fort Flagler is now Fort Flagler State Park. A military museum is located in the park. The Marrowstone Point Light is visible from the park’s beach but it is not open to the public.

The Hurdles Of Travelling Out Of The Country

Travelling out of the country seems to be fun and exciting. However, the hurdles that accompanied our thrill is unexpected. It starts with the Immigration at the airport and the Embassy where we are scrutinized thoroughly for the purpose of our visit to a certain country.

With my experience, I was almost left in the Immigration. I was held in the Embassy for almost 2 hours. They were very critical when it comes to tourists. But I do understand their protocol especially those who leaving and entering the country. Imagine the show money should be a maximum of US$ 10,000. Better that my purpose was research. But still all the files of my laptop were scanned as well as the Facebook messages and my emails. The good thing that happened was that from being suspicious, they become impressed with my work because I was able to make studies outside the country even if I was not able to visit them physically. I was really afraid to be left in the airport because I have spent much for this travel. My God, I did not sleep for 3 nights because of my immediate need for money to cover my round trip air fare, hotel accommodation and food not to mention to buy enough amount of US dollars in my pocket as a show money in case the Embassy will question my capacity to sustain my stay in Malaysia.

But after going through a lot in the Immigration, I was very happy because I can now go anywhere in the world as a researcher and a writer with no hassles at all. I was able to prove my credibility and identity to them that nothing is impossible if you put your mind into what you are doing.

Just never think that when you go out of the country, it makes you a nobody. You have a very important contribution to make a change especially in the lives of the significant people around you. Lots of people become successful because they are able to overcome all the odds on their way to achieving their dreams. Accept and adapt change! There is no sense in spending your days talking about who you used to be. It will only prevent you from creating a successful and meaningful life.

If you spend too much on talking about your ideas, gathering information, reading, researching, attending seminars, and listening to what everyone else is saying and not putting into action all that learning and knowledge to make your life happen, you are bound to fail.

When you are determined to do what you want, no one can stop you. It’s a matter of having self-confidence, perseverance and hard work.

Never hold yourself back, put worthwhile goals into action. Walk the talk and apply all the learning and knowledge you have to make things happen and make a difference in your life.

© 2021 Travel and Leisure

Theme by Anders NorénUp ↑