How to Overcome Jet Lag

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Frequent fliers and international travelers alike know the symptoms of jet lag all too well. Fatigue, interrupted sleep, difficulty focusing, and even stomach issues can all be a part of life after that long trip. Jet lag can occur after quickly traveling across two or more time zones. The more time zones that you cross, the more intense these symptoms are likely to be. Luckily we've got some tips to help you overcome jet lag.

Simulate your schedule before you leave

While not always easy to do, this can be one of the best tricks to ease the symptoms of jet lag. Advancing or delaying your body clock before your big trip can help to make the adjustment to your new time zone quicker and easier. Adjusting your eating and sleeping schedules before hand can go a long way.

Drink plenty of water

Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water before, during and after your flight.

Avoid alcohol and caffeine

The effects of alcohol and caffeine at altitude will cause dehydration and increase your tiredness. They will also add to your sluggish feeling once you're off your flight and jet lag sets in.

Arrive early in the Day

If at all possible, try to land in your travel destination early in the day allowing you to control your own light exposure in order to best adjust to your new time zone. 

Move around on the plane

Make sure to get up and walk around periodically, do some static exercises and stretch. This will help to keep your blood flow at normal levels throughout your flight.

Exercise when you arrive

A workout soon after you arrive may actually help reset your internal clock and ease the symptoms of jet lag.

Get outside

Sunlight can be especially helpful for resetting your body's external clock when you have jet lag.

Hot/Cold Therapy

A hot bath or sauna helps to ease sore muscles, increases blood circulation and can help you relax. To go the extra mile, try a hot/cold contrast by taking a cold shower or going for a cold swim after your session in the heat.


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Backpack vs. Suitcase: How to Choose on Your Next Trip

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Travelers often have strong opinions in the backpack versus suitcase debate - you may even be thinking about your preference as you begin reading this blog post. But the truth is there are pros and cons to both backpacks and suitcases, and the best option often depends on the type of travel you are about to embark on. To help make the selection between a backpack or suitcase for your next trip, let's break it down.

Backpack

Pros

  • Extremely mobile
  • Fits just as much stuff if packed correctly
  • Lots of pockets!
  • Lighter weight compared to a suitcase

Cons

  • Can be heavy and/or uncomfortable
  • More difficult to organize
  • More difficult to lock a backpack
  • Finding the right size matters

When it's best

Backpacks are great to use on trips where you will be on the move a lot. The more destinations on your trip, the more reason to bring a backpack. If your travel destination features cobblestone roads, dirt paths, narrow hallways, or lots of stairs, you should probably consider a backpack. When mobility and practicality are more important than carrying your bag on your shoulders and the higher likelihood that your clothes will be wrinkled, choose a backpack!

Suitcase

Pros

  • Hard-shell suitcases can take a beating
  • Easier to pack and repack
  • Can be waterproof
  • Roll easily on flat surfaces

Cons

  • Difficult to carry up stairs
  • Difficult to use on uneven surfaces
  • Often take up more space
  • Not as mobile as backpacks

When it's Best

Suitcases with rolling wheels are a great choice when you have one or few travel destinations on your list. If you are on a slightly more luxurious trip where you might not be carrying your bag yourself, or if you aren't moving around much, you likely will not have to worry about most of the cons of carrying a suitcase making it an awesome choice. When ease of access, organization and style are more important than moving freely and flexibly, choose a suitcase!


Pick up one of our Travel Notebooks to go along with your backpack or suitcase for your next trip!

How to Travel as a Broke College Student

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A lot of college students talk about wanting to see the world, experience new cultures, and gain a broader understanding of the world at large. But not nearly as many take advantage of their opportunities to go out and see it. After all, what better time to travel than your college years when you have a summer break, less responsibilities and are eager for new experiences. Even if you're a broke college student, we're here to tell you that traveling doesn't have to exist only in your day dreams. Here's how:

Flight Deal Websites

There are several flight deal websites out there that make it more affordable to fly around the world - great news for broke college students! The key here is to be flexible with your travel destinations and timeline, so that you pounce on that great deal when you see it. Some of our favorite flight deal websites are The Flight DealHolidayPiratesSecret Flying and Scott’s Cheap Flights.

Travel During the Low Season

We mentioned that being flexible with your timeline can be important if you are looking for travel deals. Well, if you travel in the low or shoulder seasons, transportation and accommodations are often far more affordable! Take advantage of summer and holiday breaks while in college to seek out those low season travel destinations.

Don't Eat Out

Save major money while traveling by not eating out at a restaurant for every meal. Go to the market and shop for produce like a local to cook for yourself back at your hostel or Airbnb. Exploring markets is one of the best cultural experiences while traveling, plus anything is better than eating instant ramen noodles in your college dorm room.

Take Advantage of Free Tours & Museums

If there is one thing that broke college students are great at seeking out, it's free stuff, and if you're looking for it, there are plenty of free ways to explore a travel destination. Take a free walking tour, go to a free event or visit a free museum!

Use Public Transportation

One of the best ways to get around while traveling is to use public transportation. It's cheap, and you really get a feel for how the locals get around. So when you can't walk to where you want to go, make use of the subway or bus system so you can save some cash.

Couchsurf

As a broke college student, what could be better than not having to pay for a place to stay during your trip, all while meeting cool locals? That could be yours with couchsurfing! If you're unfamiliar with couchsurfing, it is a hospitality service that allows travelers to arrange homestays and meet locals or other travelers. 

Study Abroad

If you'd like to immerse yourself in a new culture for an extended period of time, what better way than by studying abroad? In many cases it costs the same as the tuition and housing that you would be paying anyway plus it is an amazing opportunity to learn more about the world. 

Volunteer

Volunteering is a great way to see the world while you are making a difference in a powerful way! There are a lot of great opportunities to volunteer around the world, no matter what type of work you have in mind. Check with your college to see what volunteer opportunities may be available to you through your school. 


Are you a college student looking to travel the world!? Get your own Adventure Assist travel notebook to plan and organize your trip.

Simplify Travel Planning

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Do you get overwhelmed with travel planning? We're here to help you simplify your process to get the most out of your travel planning and maximize your travels. Here are some quick tips to keep in mind next time you're planning a trip.

Know Your Options

The biggest reason to travel plan is to know your options for activities, sights to see and places to visit. It's totally fine to show up to your travel destination with little to no research, but in our experience that rarely makes for the best travel experiences. We tend to get the most out of our trips when we at least know our options, even if we don't have our plans set in stone. It doesn't have to be a concrete itinerary, but you will feel more connected to your travel destination if you are knowledgeable about things to do and see such as historical sights, restaurants, or museums. If you have an objective that you would like to get out of your trip (practice your Spanish, learn about wine, etc.) you will need to research the options you have while in your travel planning process. Don't let this overwhelm you, try to have some fun with it and focus on the bigger picture - that it will help to maximize your travel experience.

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

No trip goes exactly as planned, so don't sweat the small stuff. While travel planning, keep in mind any time constraints and try to set reasonable expectations of what you will be able to see and do in the time that you have. Knowing your options before you get to your travel destination helps you to prioritize the activities that you most want to do and see, according to what you would like to get out of your trip. But if something goes wrong (and it likely will), just remember that it is all a part of the adventure.

Stay Organized

To help you stay on track and not get overwhelmed, it is important to implement some systems around your travel planning to help you stay organized. Of course we'd love for you to utilize our travel notebook, but definitely recommend having a system that works for you. For us that means recording where we will be staying, potential things to do, and how we will be getting from place to place. Other things we like to fill in as we go to remember the adventure. If you can have all your information in one place, you won't be searching everywhere for your flight numbers or hotel reservation information which will help to keep things moving smoothly.

So next time your planning for a big trip, try not to live and die by your travel planning outline, but instead use it to maximize your travel experience. This perspective helps us to simplify how we trip plan and not get overwhelmed and we couldn't recommend it more.


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Tips for Staying Fit While Traveling

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Anyone out there get nervous about traveling because it will be difficult to maintain your fitness routine? You're not alone. It can be easy to forget about eating healthy and to ditch working out when we are trying to make the most of our time in a new place. Thankfully, it doesn't have to be hard to stay fit while traveling. We've put together some easy tips for staying fit while traveling that you can incorporate into your travel mindset.

Choose to Be Active

When you think of exercise, do you just think of sweating it out in a gym? When you're traveling, that is likely to be the least exciting thing you could be doing. Plus, depending on your accommodations, you may not even have access to a gym!

Try working an active lifestyle into your travel plans instead. Walking tours, biking, and hiking are all excellent ways to stay fit while exploring your travel destination! It's exercise that doesn't necessarily feel like exercise because your still making the most of your travel day.

Exercises you can do anywhere

Try mixing in a conscious fitness routine as well. Some of the best ways to stay fit while traveling tend to be exercises that you can do anywhere, like yoga, body weight exercises (push-ups, pull-ups, squats, lunges, etc.), or going for a jog.

You may find that going for a jog as soon as you get settled into a new travel destination is a great way to get your bearings and gain a quick understanding of your new location.

Be Conscious of Your Diet

Diet plays a HUGE role in our health and fitness goals and it can be extremely difficult to stay on track with while on vacation. This can be terrifying for aspiring foodies (like us)! Food is such a big part of travel, and any cultural experience, that we would never deny ourselves the opportunity to taste some new flavors in the name of fitness. However, we try to be conscious of our decisions and use moderation with anything heavy in carbs or sugars. Do your best to eat lots of vegetables and don't forget the protein. 

Try going to the local market to grab some produce and cook a few meals for yourself while on your travels. Not only is it a great cultural experience, but you will eat healthy and even likely save some money.

Drink in Moderation

If you love to drink while on vacation, the liquid calories can add up fast! You probably already know that drinking alcohol isn't exactly healthy, but that doesn't mean that you can't maintain a healthy and fit lifestyle while drinking occasionally and in moderation.

Our advice? If you are going to choose to drink while on vacation- try and avoid too many sugary drinks, drink plenty of water and be smart. Wine and liquor without mixers (consumed slowly) tend to be the healthiest options.

Do what you can

You likely won't stick to your health and fitness routine 100%, but that's okay. You're on vacation after all! But, being more active and conscious of what you consume is not only great advice while traveling but in your everyday life. Remember, a healthy and fit lifestyle isn't all or nothing so every little bit helps!


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The Best Way to Plan Your Summer Getaway

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It's summer time, and that means fun, sun and summer vacation! 

We started Adventure Assist to help people plan for, stay organized during, and relive their dream trips long after they have returned home. Everything we do is to better connect travelers to their destination - we designed a travel notebook, based on hundreds of our personal travel experiences, to efficiently assist you throughout your next adventure.

Make the Most of Your Summer Getaway:

  • Streamline your travel planning and lose your anxiety
  • Save time & effort accessing your travel info
  • Relive every travel detail with a beautiful keepsake
  • Lightweight, durable & travel-friendly so that you can take it anywhere
  • Flexible enough for any length of trip
  • 7 tabbed travel sections - Packing, To Do, Transportation, Accommodations, Calendar, Contacts, Journal
  • 100% money back guarantee

So, if you're anything like us and itching for an exciting summer getaway, we've got you covered!

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Reasons Everyone Should Take a Summer Vacation

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We get it. You're busy. You work a lot, have hobbies, strive for a social life, spend time with family, etc. This doesn't always leave time for travel. But we're here to tell you that there is always time for travel if you commit to making it a priority. Furthermore, is there a better time to travel than a summer vacation? Summer is reminiscent of fun in the sun. Plus, students are out of school and professionals are halfway through their year (definitely in need of a few days off). Here are some reasons everyone should take a summer vacation:

Releive Stress

Everyone needs short breaks from our responsibilities at work or school. Summer is the perfect time of the year to take a relaxing vacation and reset your batteries. Whether you're eyeing a beach getaway or your favorite national park, a summer vacation is a great reason to read a good book, relax your mind, and take a well deserved break.

Boost Creativity

New settings and new experiences often lead to new perspectives. So, it's no surprise that we often come up with our best ideas away from the office. Summer vacations are the perfect way to inject some creative thinking in your life at a time when you may be feeling stretched thin.

Be More Productive

After resetting during your summer vacation, you are more likely to feel ready to tackle your work day. Short vacations often lead to increased productivity when you get back to school or your workplace because of lower stress levels, increased creativity, new perspectives, etc.

Spend Time with Family

Students are out of school, parents are ready for a break, the weather is begging you to spend time together outdoors - summer vacations are the perfect time for family bonding. Spending time with your friends and family is a huge reason why you should be taking a summer vacation.

Get Outdoors

Summer time is a time for fun in the sun. Whether you prefer relaxing on a beach, hiking in the wilderness, or any other outdoor activity, summer vacations are the perfect time of the year to enjoy everything the outdoors has to offer.

So take time out of your busy schedule and go on that summer vacation. You most certainly deserve it!


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How to Save Money While Traveling

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We all like a little extra cash in our pockets but it's not always easy to balance a big trip while balancing your bank account. That's why we are offering up some of our best tips on how to save money while traveling.

 

 

Be Flexible with Flights

Unfortunately, we can't always be flexible with our travel plans.. But if you're able to have flexibility with your travel dates and times, you can set yourself up to find the best possible deal around the time you'd like to travel. Furthermore, it often pays to be flexible with your destination as well. Keep your eyes peeled for flight deals and error fares, and maximize the opportunity to save some money.

Book Using Points and Miles

This is travel hacking 101. Join rewards programs for airlines or hotels you frequent. Sign up for that credit card that gives you a ton of upfront points. We advise to do a little research on this one, and be careful to only use credit cards responsibly, but this is a way to save big with travel.

Travel in the Offseason or Shoulder Seasons

By traveling in the offseason or shoulder seasons means less demand and lower prices. This is true for travel expenses, accommodations, food, tours and more. Sometimes traveling in the offseason has disadvantages too but we like to target shoulder seasons to maximize the best of both worlds.

Get Creative with Accommodations

If you're trying to save money on your next trip, you may want to get creative with your accommodations. This could be as simple as staying at an Airbnb instead of a hotel or, to take it a step further, try couchsurfing or a house swap.

Book Accommodations in Convenient Locations

A common mistake travelers make is seeking out cheap accommodations that are far away from the attractions they are wanting to visit. There is know set rule but it helps to understand the price of general transportation in your travel destination and taking that into account when booking your accommodations.

Shop at Local Markets and Grocery Stores

An easy and fun way to save money while traveling is to shop at local markets and grocery stores. Not only will you save money, but you will get a cultural experience as well.

Cook for Yourself

After picking out your food at the local market, save some cash and cook it for yourself! Eating out for every meal adds up quickly, so even making just a few meals for yourself can really help you save some money while traveling.

Carry Snacks and Water

Next time your on a tour or even just exploring, plan ahead and bring your own snacks and water. If you don't, these expenses will add up, especially if your in a touristy location or on a tour.

Travel Where You Have Friends

Traveling where you have friends is always a great experience. Not only do you get the inside scoop on the travel destination but you also may be able to save money by staying with your friends and not getting stuck in tourist traps.

It's not always easy to save money while traveling but hopefully these tips will keep you one step ahead and put some extra money back in your pocket!


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Weekend Getaway Tips

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Need a weekend getaway? If you're like most of us and swamped with life in general, sometimes a weekend getaway is all it takes to relax, reset and rejuvenate. A change of pace and a change of scenery can be an incredible break even if just for a short weekend. But taking off for a quick weekend getaway doesn't have to be overwhelming or poorly planned. Here are our tips for taking an easy but memorable weekend getaway.

Choose a destination close by

Choosing from a short drive or short flight for your weekend getaways serves a few purposes. Perhaps most importantly, you will spend less time actually traveling so that you can maximize the time you have in your travel destination. Additionally, traveling close to home can mean less packing, less planning, less expenses and zero jet lag.

Have a Focus

Pick something you want to focus on for the weekend. Do you want to relax on the beach, eat until you explode or hike a mountain? By having a central focus, it gives you exciting reason for your trip but allows for plenty of free time to explore during a short trip. 

Plan around holidays

Planning weekend getaways around holidays is a best practice for any corporate weekend warrior. Getting the extra vacation day for your trip is extremely valuable in the grand scheme of things.

Keep it simple

Maybe the biggest tip of all for a weekend getaway - keep it simple. Don't try to do too much. Have fun, memorable plans but leave yourself some room to breathe. After all this is your chance to relax and reset, right!? 

Stick to these tips and you'll be well on your way to having an amazing weekend getaway!


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Travel Journal Tips: Easy Ways to Get Started

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Want to travel journal to remember an upcoming trip but are a little intimidated, or think it may require too much time or effort? We are here to help. Here are a few quick techniques to get the ball rolling. These don't take much time or skill but will help you hold on to your travel memories.

One Line Per Day

Start simple. Maybe for you that means, one line per day that embodies your experiences for that day. Some days you'll have much more to include but if you don't there is no pressure to write a long entry.

Get Creative

Just because you are keeping a travel journal doesn't mean you have to treat it like a diary. Maybe you can draw really well and would rather fill your journal with sketches. Or perhaps you want to include a local recipe, or song lyrics. You could even stick to pictures, ticket stubs or postcards.

Fill Down Time

Chances are you will have some down time while traveling and journaling is a productive way to fill some of that time. Take advantage of your layover or a long train ride to get some writing in and maybe you won't feel so much pressure to write at other points during your trip.

Make Lists

A straightforward way to travel journal is to include lists or bullet points. This could be as simple as listing the things you did that day, food that you've tried, or activities that you are most excited about. This typically requires less creativity and gets the writing process started.

Gratitude

At the end of every day, write something that you were grateful to experience on your trip. This is a great way connect with your travel destination, and afterward, allows you to remember exactly how you felt during your trip.

There are a lot of reasons to keep a travel journal, but hopefully these suggestions help if you aren't sure where to start. 


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Travel Planning Tips: Research and Organization

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So you've picked your next travel destination and are about to dive into the exciting, but sometimes overwhelming, world of planning your trip. Don't worry, we're here for you. We've laid out our process of researching and organizing our travel information as well as some general things to consider as you go through the travel planning process. 

For reference as you go through this post, here is a link to our favorite travel resources.

To Do

Make a list of all of the things you would most like to do (or better yet, simply the things that you might like to do) in your travel destination. We like to break them down into three general sections - Activities, Attractions, Food/Drink.

Activities - Things to do, Tours, etc.

Attractions - Sights to see

Food/Drink - Restaurants, Coffee Shops, Bars & Nightlife

So, what’s the best balance between being completely spontaneous and having your trip planned out to the minute? We’ve found that you’re always better off knowing your options but the point at which you schedule activities is largely a personal decision based on how structured you would like your trip to be. Some people may prefer to decide the day of an activity, for some the night before, for others it could be weeks or months before your trip. Be aware that certain activities and attractions can require booking in advance.

Once you do have your schedule set, it is a great idea to add those items to a planner or calendar to help you connect your to do list with your schedule.

Transportation

The three biggest things to consider with transportation are - cost, comfort and time (in no particular order). Unless you are traveling to remote locations, you will typically have options for a range of the three factors. You will need to do some research to see what makes the most sense for your particular situation. For example, a budget backpacker, who places a high value on cost, may stick to cheaper bus routes that take longer to reach their destination while a midrange traveler may opt for a short flight instead.

Once booked, it is a good idea to write down your transportation details, such as booking numbers and departure times, so that you can reference them easily and efficiently.

Accommodations

For some travelers, finding the right accommodations can make or break a trip. Usually the three biggest factors when deciding on the right accommodations are - cost, location and value (in no particular order). Again, you will need to do some research to find the best place(s) to stay for your particular situation.

Once you’ve found your perfect home away from home, we recommend recording the address and all of the booking and contact information so that you will be able to easily access it while traveling.


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Reasons to Study Abroad in College

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Are you thinking about studying abroad? If you need help convincing yourself that it is the right thing to do, you've come to the right place! Here are some of the best reasons why you should study abroad in college.

Learn a Foreign Language

Being immersed in a culture that speaks the language you would like to speak is by far the best way to learn it. Becoming fluent in a foreign language is a lot of work, but it is becoming more and more important with the globalization of the world. 

Personal Development

Studying abroad and travel in general are great ways to foster personal development. It teaches you to be more independent, self-reliant and to step out of your comfort zone. Being in a new country long term can be overwhelming at times but you will come out of it better prepared to handle life after college. 

Experience Different cultures

Being immersed in a new culture is a powerful experience. Studying abroad opens the door to your host culture's food, language, history and traditions. While some may be extremely foreign and others might be strangely familiar, they will all contribute to your experience abroad.

Make Lasting Memories

While studying abroad you'll have the opportunity to meet lifelong friends from different parts of the globe and likely share many new and exciting life experiences together. Your time studying abroad just might be your favorite part of college.

Impress Potential Employers

Improve your employment opportunities after you graduate by studying abroad in college. Companies are investing in the global market and want employees who are comfortable in a global setting. Not to mention the skills learned while studying abroad, like self-reliance, are highly sought after. 

It is Possible to Do Inexpensively

There are a lot of great places to study abroad where the living expenses are far less than they are in the United States, especially if you are interested in studying somewhere outside of Europe. Tuition may be less expensive as well.

See the World Differently

Your previously held beliefs about the outside world will undoubtedly change after your study abroad experience. You may even gain a new perspective of your own country! 

So go ahead, study abroad! Step out of your comfort zone a little bit and gain valuable life experiences, new skills and personal growth.


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5 Reasons to Travel Solo

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Traveling with a group or a travel partner can be extremely rewarding. After all, you have someone to share all of the incredible moments with. But there is nothing quite like setting off alone on a solo travel experience. There are plenty of reasons that you should set off to travel solo, here are 5.

You Meet More People

It is often easier to meet locals or fellow travelers if you are traveling solo because we tend to put ourselves in situations to meet people more when we are alone. Additionally, when you travel solo, you forfeit sharing responsibilities with other travel partners. Even if you're shy, this forces you to interact more with people and opens up more opportunities to strike up conversations or meet people along your travels.

You Have Financial Control

Do you have an a strict budget of for your next trip? It will be much easier to stick to if you travel solo. This is because you don't have to balance your budget with the budgets of fellow travelers. One of the hardest parts about traveling with groups or other individuals is that you usually all have different budgets that you can spend on the trip. When you travel solo, you won't get talked into splurging on that super expensive meal or the tour group that you could have done by yourself. Vice-versa, if you'd like to pamper yourself at a nice hotel, you don't have to feel bad about it.

You Control the Plans

One of the best parts about traveling solo is that you have complete control over your plans. This allows you to be more spontaneous or just go with the flow. If you want to take the day off completely and just relax at your hostel, you can do that too. You don't have to make sacrifices and do something just because your travel partner would like to. This allows you to maximize your travel time doing exactly what you would like to do.

It Builds Confidence

Traveling solo is a great way to build self-confidence which will carry over into other areas of your life. Knowing that you can successfully navigate the world by yourself is a powerful understanding to have.

You Learn More about Yourself

When you travel alone, you will inevitably be faced with a number of challenges that you'll have to overcome. This could be coming to terms with what you care about, how to spend your time or even whether to face your fears. Traveling solo gives you time for indepth thought, it allows you to pursue what is important to you and you will learn a lot about how you will react with no one else to rely on.


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12 Incredible Things To Do in Nicaragua

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Nicaragua has a special place in my heart. As a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer who served in Nicaragua, the country was my home for over 2 years. On a recent trip back to relive my time there, I was reminded of how great of a travel destination it is. Nicaragua has beautiful nature, great surf, is inexpensive and safe. The people that live there are extremely hospitable and accommodating. Even though Nicaragua is no longer a well kept secret in the travel community, there are still plenty of places to get off the beaten path. If you're looking for a new adventure, we can't recommend this Central American country enough. Here are 12 incredible things to do in Nicaragua.

Explore Granada

The colonial city of Granada offers some incredibly preserved architecture and is one of the most popular places to visit in Nicaragua. Walk the streets and explore the Spanish colonial buildings and churches, most of which are painted vibrant colors and feature beautiful doors that are no less incredible. Besides wandering around the city, you can take a boat ride or kayak around the islets in the lake nearby. Granada also has the best assortment of restaurants and bars in Nicaragua.

Zip Line on a Volcano

Take a short day trip from Granada to Mombacho Volcano to zip line through the treetops in a jungle setting on the side of one of Nicaragua's many volcanoes. Mombacho Volcano offers some great hikes as well but if you're short on time, we highly recommend the zip line experience.

Visit Ometepe Island

One of the most unique places in the world, Ometepe Island, is a small island located in the biggest lake in Central America and is made up mostly of two large volcanoes. Outdoor activities are a big draw to Ometepe, and you can expect great experiences whether you're cycling, kayaking or hiking. If you're up for the challenge, hike one (or both) of the island's volcanoes. It truly is a challenge to hike either volcano and you'll need to start early to beat the heat. Make sure you use a guide for your hike.

See Lava at the Masaya Volcano

Nothing will make you respect mother nature more than staring into the bubbling lava of an active volcano. This is exactly what you can do on Masaya Volcano. You can look into the volcano from a safe distance that you can reach by tour, hiking or driving straight to the top. Be aware that you should not stay longer than a few minutes at the volcanoes peak because of the strong fumes.

Visit the Craft Market in Masaya

The craft market in Masaya is another great day trip from Granada. It is by far the largest craft market in Nicaragua and offers beautiful textiles, paintings and other crafts. There is a separate "locals" market in Masaya that is equally interesting to explore but features less souvenir items and isn't curated for tourists. There is very limited accommodations in Masaya so we recommend visiting on a day trip.

Swim in Laguna de Apoyo

A relaxing spot nearby Granada and the capital city of Managua, visit Laguna de Apoyo to relax for the day or spend a few days at a guest house or hostel on the lagoon. Laguna de Apoyo was formed in the crater of an extinct volcano and offers beautiful views and incredible nature. Sail, fish, swim or hike around the lagoon or just take some time to relax. 

Surf along the Pacific Coast

The beaches on the pacific coast of Nicaragua are beautiful and most offer excellent surfing opportunites. Nicaraguan surf beaches are a less crowded alternative to it's neighbor in Costa Rica but offer similar swells. The sunsets aren't bad either!

Explore Leon

Another colonial city, Leon is less colorful than Granada but still has some amazingly preserved architecture, including the largest cathedral in Central America. You can climb to the roof of the cathedral for some great views of the city. Leon is the former capital of Nicaragua and remains the country's "intellectual capital" boasting one of the main universities and several museums. Make sure you visit the Revolution Museum, especially if you are interested in learning about the Sandanista movement and U.S. intervention in Nicaragua. Additionally, many murals marking the political impact of the war between the Somoza regime and the Sandanistas can be spotted around the city. 

Go Volcano Boarding

A day trip from Leon, visit Cerro Negro (the youngest volcano in Central America) where you can hike up and actually sled down the active volcano. Organized tours leave Leon in the mornings and are one of the most popular activities in Nicaragua. While there are ways to slow down or speed up, be advised that you can be seriously injured while volcano boarding.

Swim through Somoto Canyon

Somoto Canyon is still a fairly under the radar tourist activity in Nicaragua. A day trip from the city of Esteli, you can jump off the canyon cliffs and swim in the turquoise water below. There are several tour companies that will take you to explore the canyons or you can do self guided tours. Please use extreme caution if not on a tour and you want to jump from cliffs. We have had close friends severely injure themselves. 

Escape to the Corn Islands

One of the best getaways in all of Nicaragua are the Corn Islands located off the Caribbean coast. There are two islands - Little Corn Island and Big Corn Island. Big Corn is slightly more expensive and offers more resort style accommodations. Little Corn Island is quieter, cheaper and extremely laid back. It is the perfect place to snorkel, dive, or just read a book on the beach. Little Corn Island is also one of the cheapest places in the world to get scuba certified.

Relax in Pearl Lagoon

Another Caribbean destination where you can really slow down and experience other cultures that Nicaragua has to offer is Pearl Lagoon. Most of the towns population is Creole but there are also indigenous groups like the Miskito and Garifuna that make up the towns inhabitants and the main language spoken here is English. Not a major tourist destination, Pearl Lagoon is hard to get to but it is truly a special place in Nicaragua and well worth the trip. The Pearl Cays off the coast of Pearl Lagoon are especially worth the visit, where you can rent a boat guide and have a whole Caribbean island to yourself for the day.


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Tips for Traveling When You Don't Speak the Language

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Is not speaking the language keeping you from an incredible travel opportunity? We get it, travel is fun and exciting but for some people it also can be nerve-racking if you don't speak the language. That's why we've put together our tips for traveling when you don't speak the language.

Learn the Basics

You don't have to become fluent for your two week trip abroad, but, if you don't speak the language, put in the time to learn basic words and phrases that will be helpful during your trip. Knowing how to say "hello", "please", "thank you", "Do you speak English?", etc, will get you pretty far and likely make you feel more comfortable. Not only will it help you navigate your new environment, but it shows locals that you've made an effort.

Use Hand Gestures

If you're at a loss for how to explain what you're trying to say, hand gestures are often the solution. It is often said that hand gestures make up a higher percentage of language than spoken words so it isn't surprising that using them when you don't know the language is so helpful. When you're stuck, try miming or charades. One word of caution though, be sure to do some research to make sure specific gestures are not offensive in your host country.

Translation Apps

Another great solution, although not always the most practical, are the use of translation apps. They are usually far from perfect but if you're in a bind or simply want a guide for the basic words and phrases that you're trying to learn, they can be extremely helpful.

Point

There is power in pointing. For example, pointing to items on the menu as you butcher the pronunciation is usually a good way to make sure you're ordering what you actually want. Point at places on maps, point at your phone, point at the address you're looking for. It is a great way to get your "point" across (sorry, I couldn't help the pun).

Carry Around the Address Where You Are Staying

It is always advisable to carry around the address of where you are staying while wondering around your travel destination. Taking a business card from your hotel or having the address handy in your Adventure Assist travel notebook are easy ways to do this. This will ensure that you can always find your way back by showing your taxi driver the address or asking directions.

Be Nice

Possibly the most helpful thing to consider when traveling to a destination where you don't speak the language is to always be nice. It can be frustrating at times to not be able to communicate effectively, and let's face it you'll probably mess up at some point when you try (everyone does). When you are nice, people instinctively want to help you and they will often go out of their way to make sure that you have everything that you need.

Often travel is about putting ourselves out there and finding comfort in the uncomfortable. So, if not speaking the language is keeping you from an amazing travel experience, consider these tips to make sure that you don't let anything hold you back.


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How to Plan a Group Trip (and Stay Sane)

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There is a lot to consider when planning a group trip and it can be extremely stressful. So, we put together some tips on how to plan a group trip (and stay sane). Follow these tips to take some pressure off next time you're planning an epic group trip.

Have a Leader

It is important to be democratic when planning a group trip so that everyone has input and shares their opinions but don't be afraid to take charge. The group needs a leader who is willing to make some decisions, including planning and booking the trip.

Who, Where, When

Decide who is going, the destination and when the best time to go would be. Consider which friends align best with your travel style and what everyone ultimately wants to get out of the trip. Keep in mind that the more travelers in the group, the more opinions, personalities and budgets you'll have to juggle. We suggest not to start planning until you get a commitment from everyone involved, including a definite location and timeframe that everyone is available.

Decide on a Budget & Payments

Before booking anything, it is extremely important to make sure that everyone is on the same page as far as budget. Agreeing on a maximum budget is a good way to eliminate any possible surprises that your group members might not be expecting. Additionally, it is important to decide how payments from group members should be handled. It is often easier for the leader to pay any deposits, etc., for the group and be reimbursed.

Book Transportation First

Book flights or other modes of transportation first to officially lock in the group and timeframe of the trip. Additionally, booking early typically gives you the best prices and will ensure that everyone in the group is able to travel together. Don't forget to ask about group rates.

Decide on Accommodations

When planning a group trip, the traditional hotels or hostels may not always make the most sense. It is often better to stay in a home or apartment through a service like Airbnb so that everyone can hang out without being crammed into a hotel room.

Plan Activities

Communication is key when planning activities for a group trip. It is important to get an idea of what the group members are interested in doing before booking anything ahead of time. Sometimes it may be better to have an idea of what you all might want to do but wait until arrival to book the activities so that the group can feel it all out together. We recommend to not be overly ambitious and to plan a lot of downtime on group trips because people will inevitably want some alone time throughout the day.

Go on Your Trip!

Your planning will pay off once you land in your dream destination. Relax and make the most out of a group trip with your friends!


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What Not to Pack

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In our view, packing is a personal challenge to ourselves to not be miserable keeping track of and lugging around too much stuff. There are many tips to pack like a pro but what it ultimately comes down to is deciding what not to pack. Easier said than done, what not to pack is often some of our favorite things or even something that we think might come in handy during our trip. We all have various needs, so this is far from a concrete list of things not to pack, but if you're feeling a little overstuffed on your next trip consider leaving these things at home.

Don't Pack IMpractical Shoes

Packing too many shoes is the quickest way to fill up coveted luggage space. Packing impractical shoes is the best way to ruin your trip. Aim for one pair of comfortable walking or running shoes, and another pair of comfortable shoes that can be dressed up or down. Think twice about bringing boots, high heels or any other shoes that are not comfortable or you're unlikely to wear more than once or twice.

Don't Pack UNNECESSARY Gadgets or Devices

If you brought a portable DVD player on your last trip, we're looking at you. Bulky gadgets or just too many devices can be a pain to keep track of. Even over the ear headphones are a nuisance to pack. You're phone is probably the only device you really need except for those of you that might need a computer for work reasons. Likewise, there are rational reasons to bring a kindle or small portable speaker but definitely leave your book light, mini iron and toothbrush sanitizer at home.

Don't Pack your whole Beauty REGIMEN

Try restricting your toiletry bag to the basics (toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorant) and any medication you may need on your trip. If you're opting to bring your makeup bag, the same principals apply - the basics will probably do just fine. Your accommodations will likely have soap and shampoo, and if they don't you can just as easily purchase them at your destination. Definitely think twice before packing your 8 step skin care routine or your elaborate regimen to tame your hair.

Don't Pack Valuables

Expensive jewelry, fancy electronics and designer clothes are probably best left at home. Bags are often lost in transport, tourists are more likely targets for theft, and it is easy to forget or misplace items at your hotel. As a general rule - If you wouldn't be okay with losing it, don't bring it.

Don't Pack Towels

Towels are bulky and take up a lot of space in a suitcase. They can also take a long time to dry and stuffing a wet towel into your bag is not fun. Your accommodations should have towels that you can use during your stay. An exception would be the light, quick-drying towels which are a solid all purpose solution for a beach towel, yoga mat or if your hostel is stingy.

Don't Pack Bulky Clothes

If you're traveling to a cold climate, it is a far better strategy to layer than to bring bulky items. You can probably get away with one heavier coat if you wear it while traveling but beyond that, stick to lighter items that you can layer together to stay warm.

Don't Pack Unique Outfits for Different Days

We all love options but the truth is you have to make some sacrifices. Instead of packing a full new outfit for each day of your trip, bring versatile clothing that can be mixed and matched to maximize your suitcase space. Wearing an item in various ways creates more room for you to pack other things. Earth tones are usually a safe bet because they can usually be worn together and you can always add some style with a unique scarf or hat.


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8 Things to do in Singapore

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A futuristic city that combines lush greenery with modern urban landscapes, Singapore is leading the charge into "green" cities around the world. But beyond the parks and gardens which have earned Singapore the nickname, the Garden City, there is still a lot to do and see. From shopping to street food, here 8 of our favorite things to do in Singapore.

Marina Bay Sands

An iconic feature of Singapore's skyline, Marina Bay Sands is a giant hotel complex that features a hotel, shopping center, several restaurants, and observation deck. The rooftop bar overlooks the Gardens by the Bay and provides an incredible view of the city. It's also the perfect place to catch a sunset while drinking a Singapore sling.

Gardens by the Bay

Perhaps the most well known attraction in the city, Gardens by the Bay, is a fascinating and futuristic ecosystem of botanical gardens that will help you understand why they call Singapore "The Garden City". Gardens by the Bay features enormous biodomes with exotic plants, man-made supertrees, and beautiful park areas all connected by various pathways and suspension bridges. Go at night to see the supertrees lit up and stick around for the light shows set to music.

Chinatown

Take a stroll around Chinatown and explore Singapore's Chinese heritage. Navigate the tacky souvenir stands and explore the colorful shophouses and delicious restaurants. Don't miss the Chinatown Heritage Centre for an in depth view into Chinatown's past.

Orchard Road

If you're a shopper in Singapore, chances are you will find your way to Orchard Road. If you're in Singapore but aren't much of a shopper, chances are you will still find your way to Orchard Road. Busy malls, upscale designer stores and surprisingly good restaurants make up this popular shopping street. You may be surprised to find that it is actually very much a place of interest for locals and tourists alike.

National Gallery Singapore

Located in the recently renovated Supreme Court building in downtown Singapore, the National Gallery Singapore features a large collection of modern art from in and around Singapore. The gallery aims to reflect Singapore's unique culture and heritage as well as it's relationship with other Asian countries and the world as a whole. If you like modern art, this is a must visit.

Haji Lane

Lined with shophouses, Haji Lane, has become the go to street for independent shops, boutique designers and hip bars. Take some pictures exploring the colorful streets, visit quirky vintage shops or stop for a beer and some people watching.

Little India

Featuring some extremely well preserved shophouses from the colonial era, Little India is one of the most vibrant areas of Singapore. Roam the incense infused streets, enjoy amazing Indian food and visit colorful Hindu temples. A great place to get lost for a few hours.

Hawker Stands

One of the best reasons to visit Singapore is the food. With an incredible mix of Malay, Chinese and Indian flavors, there is no shortage of good food in the city. But what really makes Singapore's food scene special are the hawker stands. Visit any of several hawker centers around town for incredible and affordable dining. We're talking food courts with Michelin-starred street food.


Planning a trip to Singapore? Make the most of your adventure with an Adventure Assist travel notebook!

Traveling with a Purpose

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We often talk about traveling with a purpose... but what do we mean by that?

Consider this - could travel be leading you nowhere? A few "awesome" experiences under your belt, checking countries off your bucket list, wandering the world without really taking the time to get to know your destinations or yourself? As an outsider it may seem like this is the dream life, but we know from experience that constantly traveling in vacation mode, especially during extended trips, can be pretty damaging to your attitude and your wallet.

As a Peace Corps Volunteer in Nicaragua (hi, this is Jake!) I saw this constantly. Travelers that set off on a life changing trip through Central America only to get caught in tourist traps, party all day and night, and spend the majority of their trip asleep in their hostel bed. After I left the Peace Corps I headed down through Central and South America and noticed much of the same. Travelers who were undoubtedly seeking something but appeared instead to be running away. And hey, I've been there, I'm not one to judge and I like a good time as much as anyone, but I decided somewhere along the way that I didn't want to travel like that. In fact, I made it a mission of sorts to travel with purpose and share that idea with others. It's a big reason why we started Adventure Assist. Our travel notebooks have become a way to give people intention while traveling and as we evolve it will continue to be our main focus.

So, how can you apply traveling with a purpose in your own life? Once you understand the concept, there are a million ways to do it. For example, I traveled to Cuba to run the Havana marathon, in Tuscany I set out to learn everything I could about wine, I went to Guatemala to study Spanish, in Singapore I was fascinated by the history and architecture of shophouses. Maybe you'd like to volunteer in India, learn to surf in Costa Rica, attend a baseball game in every stadium in the US, or head to the English countryside to write a book. Maybe you simply want to relax or to see an old friend or to learn about the history and culture of a new place.

We believe that if you plan on traveling for an extended period of time, having goals throughout your adventure is extremely important. We aren't saying that you should make an intense list of things to accomplish in every city you plan on visiting but that being conscious of what you want to get from your travels will likely lead to a more fulfilling experience. Traveling with a sense of purpose helps you learn and grow and it better connects you to your travel destination. Without a doubt, you will leave with new skills, knowledge, and likely some experiences you would not have had otherwise.


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Why We Started Adventure Assist

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We get asked often about why we started Adventure Assist. Well, it actually came to be for a few reasons... A need for a product that didn't exist. A desire to connect with like minded travelers. A passion for helping people have more authentic and purposeful travel experiences...

We sell a product that helps travelers plan, organize and journal their latest adventures, but we hope to be so much more than that. It's really about creating new experiences and connecting with people all over the world. For us, travel has been life changing. It has opened our eyes and our minds, given us amazing stories and even better friendships, and encouraged us to chase our dream. Our mission is to pass on even a tiny portion of that through Adventure Assist.

We designed our travel notebooks to be as flexible as possible. We didn't want to include specific lists or information that most people will never use. We didn't want to limit travelers to specific destinations or length of trips. We wanted a minimal design that maximizes space and gives you the freedom to include the most important travel details. So, we created a space to store all of your travel information but not one that forces your hand. Get creative, be spontaneous. Your life should be an adventure, and we want to help.

For travelers, by travelers.

- April & Jake (Adventure Assist)