Category Archives: RTravelTips

Map Making Resources

Image by Curran. Kelleher. Retrieved from Flickr. Used under Creative Commons' licensing.

Image by Curran. Kelleher. Retrieved from Flickr. Used under Creative Commons’ licensing.

I am not sure if it’s my passion for travel or the trained geographer in me, but, I am drawn to maps. The weathered, even torn, vintage variety seems to have the strongest allure for me.

A new take on an old classic are digital maps. So when I ran across a post by Open Education Database (OEDb), I knew I wanted to pass it on to my readers.  This summer, OEDb created a link for “Do-It-Youselfers” to 20 free open source tools and data resources to help non-GIS (Geographic Information Systems) users, create maps. Click here to begin!

Travel Season Tips

Image by Matt Hutchinson. Retrieved from Flickr. Used under Creative Commons' licensing.

Image by Matt Hutchinson. Retrieved from Flickr. Used under Creative Commons’ licensing.

U.S. Travel Association estimated that U.S. residents took 1.6 billion person‑trips for leisure purposes last year. Respondents listed the number one reason for travel was to visit relatives (March 2013.) With the largest travel season approaching, I thought a friendly reminder of what to do (and not  to do) would be helpful.  RCompass points to an article by Amy Farley, written for Travel + Leisure.  Farley includes tips and tricks on how to cope with noisy hotel neighbors, wild taxi drivers, mission impossible plane changes, and more… To add some levity to your pending travel season; click on Farley’s full article , Travel Etiquette Dos and Don’ts (October 2013.)

Free Access to Maps


If you are investigating new locations, you might be interested in traveling to, check out Britannica online. They offer a free, interactive map on places (country, city, state, and/or providence) around the world. This resource provides the basic demographic information, including the flag, land area, people, etc., that you might find of interest.

Simply click to begin your search.

Tip: If you have a child, that is still in school, this might be the perfect start to his/her research paper.

Image by Dirkb86. Retrieved from Flickr and used under Creative Commons Licensing. Some rights reserved.

Image by Dirkb86. Retrieved from Flickr and used under Creative Commons Licensing. Some rights reserved.

World Conference!

Nature. Image by Moyan Brenn. Retrieved from FlickR. Used under Creative Commons Licensing.

Nature. Image by Moyan Brenn. Retrieved from FlickR. Used under Creative Commons Licensing.

Ecotourism is considered an alternative form of tourism for travelers. These destinations provide an educational component, capture a larger portion of  revenue locally, and strive to minimize the impact generated by the tourists/tourism. Often the main focus is on the natural environment and indigenous peoples and/or cultures.

To learn more about ecotourism you can visit  the International Ecotourism Society.

If you are interested in attended the 2013 World Conference this September, click here for details.

Road Trip Tip!

Image by Road Some rights reserved.

Image by Road Some rights reserved.


Looking for a travel tool to help you plan your next trip?

Road Trippers is a free online travel planning site. It links you to published travel guides, popular destinations across the United States and related blogs.

You can cruise through this site by using the navigation panel on the left. To help narrow your search, click on the types of places/attractions (sports, entertainment, nature, etc.) you would prefer to visit.  The map of the U.S. will tag possible locations using color coded dots for each category you select.

Click here to begin  your search with

Wine Country U.S.A.

Wine. Image by Berlado Leal. Retrieved from FlickR and used under Creative Commons Licensing.

Wine. Image by Berlado Leal. Retrieved from FlickR and used under Creative Commons Licensing.

Are you  a wine enthusiast, interested in some of the top wineries in the United State? Home and Garden Television (HGTV) has posted a photo tour of the top 22 wineries in the United States. From the east coast to the west coast and everything in between. Click here to begin your virtual tour!

Dear Parents,

Image by RCompass.

Image by RCompass.

Here are the top 10 things I learned on a recent vacation with a nine year old. These are quick reminders for parents of simple things that can be done while traveling but also at home and after work!

  1. Power Down: I find that I text a lot at night to stay connected with my friends. Although its not as time consuming as a phone conversation-it is definitely distracting.  The first day of our trip, I was returning a text to my cousin who was buying tickets to a concert for us when I noticed that my son visibly slouched in his seat with disappointment.  He wanted my time (one-on-one). I text my cousin back and explained that I was going on vacation and would get back to her in a few days. And to my son, I promised to power off my phone for the rest of the trip.
  2. Digital Revolution: Speaking of digital technology; When I was younger my mom gave me my first camera which used the titty-bitty 110 film. Every photo cost money to develop whether good, bad or ugly. Thanks to digital cameras, my son (a budding photographer) was able to click freely and creatively.  Which meant that I was able to save big bucks knowing that we had the freedom to delete and then print the best of the best.
  3. Big Kid: Let your hair down and don’t be afraid to channel your youthful spirit. Laugh at yourself and get silly at unexpected moments. It will lighten everyone’s mood and maybe even allow your kid(s) to see you in a whole new light.
  4. Follow the Leader: We often try to navigate and take control of situations (its a parental survival skill). Consider letting your kid(s) take the lead. They instinctively want to show off for their parents (it gives them a sense of approval). You might be surprised and proud of what they do.
  5. Game on: Think back to when you were young playing with friends, cousins, siblings, or neighbors-almost anything can be turned into a game by simply scoring, counting, comparing and/or tallying. Competition still is a great motivator for most any child (especially boys).  Keep it safe, clean and rewarding!
  6. Get Out: Even if your pillow (or book) seems to be calling you, take time to interact with your child. It isn’t enough to physically be next to each other. Connect in a real way. I find that even though the thought of another hike, tour or bike run is exhausting; once I have committed to it, I almost always find it pleasurable.
  7. Clean Up Crew: Even though you are on vacation, you will undoubtedly still need a clean-up crew. Simply keep a small bottle of water and a few sheets of paper towels (wipes or napkins) with you at all times. You will be surprised how often they will come in handy. Now I know why my parent’s glove compartments were always filled with leftover *(unused) take-out napkins.
  8. Navigator: Every pilot could use a copilot (or two).  Take the time to teach your child how to read maps and work a compass. Back seat driving can be a good thing. Note: We stayed in a small town in a valley where even my Android didn’t work anyway-it was fun to roll old school.
  9. Reflection: It takes time to absorb and reflect our experiences. I still remember moments from my first family vacation almost 20 years ago. You might be surprised random thoughts that your child will share day, months or years after your trip(s).
  10. Present Day:  Children have the gift of living in the present. They aren’t bogged down by the past or worried about the future. Everything is real-time. Try to live in the moment with them. Theses days seem to cruise by:-)

And one to grow on….11. There is always room for ice cream (need I say more). Tip:For a special twist on this favorite we bought ice cream flavored Jelly Bellies-just to mix things up!

Vintage Vs. Antique Collectibles

Image by RCompass

Image by RCompass All Rights Reserved.

While on vacation sometimes we search out rescued, recycled and/or reused pieces to add to our collections.  Do you know the difference between a vintage item and an antique? According to Mike Wolffe, American Pickers (2013) , a “vintage” item is approximately 20 years old while “antique” refers to something greater than 100 years old.

Breathtaking Virtual Tours!


This week’s recommended virtual travel tool is AirPano!

Meet the Team!

AirPano project is comprised of a team of eight, Russian men, who travel to the most significant landmarks around the world. At each sight they capture high resolution, aerial images and videos which are then uploaded online.

AirPano 360 Degrees

This online tool provides incredible views and access to some of the worlds most breath-taking sites both natural and man-made around the world. Click below to begin your trip!

  • The Top 20 (Link)
  • Seven Wonders of the World (Link)
  • 3D Panoramas (Link)
  • 3D Videos (Link)
  • Photo Gallery (Link)

Special Features at Your Fingertips

  • High Resolution Images/Videos
  • Multiple Views Points
  • Variations in the Time of Day Filmed/Photographed
  • Navigation Bar
    • Change of View (toggle)
    • Zoom Capabilities
    • Additional Site Information/Articles
    • Adjustable Music (Volume & Song)
    • Link to Google Maps

Note: These are large images/files. Be prepared that they make take time to load.

I promise, they are worth the wait!

Traveling with Children: Emergency Preparation


It is common for nature-based or adventure tourists to pack emergency kits. However, I would encourage all travelers to create a kit, regardless of the type of trip planned.  Youngsters tends to be high energy, courageous and perhaps a little more accident prone compared to older, more seasoned travelers. The reality is, as a parent/guardian you are assuming a greater level of responsibility when you decide to travel with minors. So, keep in mind the type of activities you have planned and remember to grab some essentials for your day pack.

Fist aid kit! Image by Graphic Fuel. Retrieved from Flickr and used under Creative Commons Licensing.

Fist aid kit! Image by Graphic Fuel. Retrieved from Flickr and used under Creative Commons Licensing.

The Basics (travel sized):

  • Band Aides
  • Antiseptic
  • Gauze
  • Bandage/Wrap
  • Small Ice Pack (some can serve as a heating packet as well)
  • Copy of Medical Cards (front & back)
  • Compass-you are traveling after all 😉
  • Emergency/Contact Information**

As a special note, it’s always good to consider dressing in layers (weather changes), bringing high protein snacks, water, sunscreen and bug repellent.

** The story that prompted this post:

When my son was two years old, I spent a summer visiting my brother overseas. Sadly, it only dawned on me during the return trip home how naive and irresponsible I had been.  What if something would have happened to me in route? Although this is the risk any parent/guardian takes when traveling with minors-there are some things that can be done in case of an emergency to help you/your family. First, I would suggest simply listing additional information (i.e. names, language(s) spoken, emergency contact, special medical instructions [i.e. diabetic, allergies, etc.], along with start and end destinations) in an accessible (but still private) location such as in your child’s backpack, diaper bag, and/or suitcase. The parent/guardian should also keep a copy with them at all times as well.

I was fortunate that we had a successful and safe trip, but I promised myself I would do what I can to safeguard loved ones on future trips-regardless of the distance traveled (regionally, nationally, or internationally). I would encourage you to do so as well!

Wishing you safe travels-now & always!

Depending on the intensity of your trip, space and accessibility to other resources-here are some additional items  to consider packing and deserve an honorable mention:

  • Flashlights
  • Extra batteries
  • Duct tape (101 uses)
  • Throw away cell phone
  • Poncho
  • Pocket Knife
  • Whistle
  • Gloves
  • Flares
  • Seal-able Plastic Bags
  • Matches (dry case)
  • Heating pouches
  • Small Radio
  • Maps
  • Language/Travel guide
  • Appropriate Apps