The UK’s Outdoor Scene – A Guide To Safety And Self Protection

England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are geographically distinct countries, each with its own variations in climate, terrain, natural water features and topographical peculiarities.

As such, this makes the UK the ideal place for the pursuit of outdoor activities, giving those with a love of energetic and adrenalin-charged activity every opportunity to indulge their passions. Likewise, those with a desire to try something new or dip their feet in so to speak can try their hand at a new sport.

Water, land and air-based activities are all available in the UK, with certain areas offering better conditions than others for the pursuit of specialised sports. Wales and Northern Ireland, for example, have coastal regions more suited to the pursuit of sea sports. England’s Lake District is well suited to water sports such as sailing and windsurfing while areas of the Scottish highlands present good conditions for skiing in winter.

Many outdoor enthusiasts pursue their favourite activities independently, making use of their own skills and equipment, while those who are novices can take advantage of a large number of companies who offer adventure trips and holidays.

A single day of activity can be arranged or an entire vacation including a different activity each day; both are popular choices. Adventure companies provide all the equipment and know-how necessary for their customers, along with highly experienced staff trained to offer assistance at all levels.

A typical adventure holiday offers participants the chance to pursue outdoor sports such as abseiling, mountain biking, rock climbing and mountaineering as well as water sports such as canoeing and kayaking. Some of these activities can also be easily pursued alone without significant expense or the need for extensive technical knowledge, and indeed many UK residents follow them keenly as hobbies in their spare time.

Over the last few decades, amid the traditional outdoor activity scene, a selection of contemporary and trendy pursuits has become popular in the UK. The likes of bungee jumping, paint-balling, go-karting and ATV riding have gained considerable popularity and have become regular leisure time pursuits for some and one-off social events for others. Insurance for outdoors enthusiasts [] The specific equipment and knowledge required for these activities generally precludes them from being pursued independently.

An element of danger is inherent in the majority of outdoor sports and activities, and this is actually part of the appeal for many who pursue them. Others accept the level of danger but expect the company they use to minimise their exposure to risk and take necessary steps to protect them. If engaging in independent activity, it is up to the individual to seek appropriate cover.

Stringent health and safety regulations in the UK mean that companies take the highest precautions to ensure that no ill befalls their customers. Accidents however are an inevitability of the outdoor scene and have the propensity to not only ruin your day or entire holiday, but also to leave you out of pocket.

Pursuing an outdoor sport either independently or with a certified company is best done with the safety net of a comprehensive travel insurance policy. The right cover will ensure that you are reimbursed for any private medical expenses and for the loss or damage of valuable equipment.

While insurance used to be a costly affair, especially policies that covered dangerous activities, things have changed considerably. Travel insurance cheap packages Now cover for anything from a day to a year is possible at prices that won’t break the bank. To get an idea of how much a policy to suit your needs might cost, pay a visit to travel-insurance-discounts where you’ll find a range of general travel insurance policies. Alternatively, check out vayago where things are geared specifically to adventure holidaymakers.

Stress Relief and Discos

When we feel stressed and exhausted, we look for something that could somehow re-build our strength, right? Yes, there are many events that challenge us every day so the least that we can do is to live as lightly as possible. You can, for instance, think of positive thoughts. These thoughts can make you happy enough to get you going.

You can consider traveling around the country, or better yet, you can visit other countries. Just make sure proper arrangements are made before the travel for an easy and trouble-free journey. If you want, you can just hang around the house and be with your family. You can invite your family to go shopping, watch movies and maybe go on a picnic. If you are the type of person who loves extreme sports and adventures, you can try outdoor activities such as camping, trekking, climbing, biking, swimming and the like. Regardless of what you choose to do, the important thing is that you are enjoying the moment.

But if you feel like you want to dance the stress away, there are many avenues that you can consider. You can go to dance schools if that is what you really like. Dance schools will appreciate your talent and support it all the way. If you are not into dance schools, you might want to consider discos, night clubs and the like.

In considering a disco place, you can start by identifying night clubs within your area that offer accessible and safe night life. For sure there is a district somewhere in your place where discos and night clubs thrive. It is up to you if you want to dress up. But of course, you would want to look great wherever you go, right?

When clubbing, it is a good idea to bring some friends and loved ones. With that, your disco or night club experience will likely be memorable.

If you are worried about the entrance fees, then you might want to know that there are clubs that offer cheap entrance fees. These are just a small price to pay if you really want to have fun. If you are hungry, food and drinks are served. Given the fact that there are many disco places out there, you should consider which disco is better. In order to determine that, you should consider the following:

1. Disco light effects are remarkable. For a business owner, lights somehow change or affect the mood, and if you utilize it well, many customers will patronize you. If you seek to have the best disco experience, look for discos with stage lights, LED lighting system, lasers and the like.

2. DJs play the music. You know that without music, discos are boring. DJs should be creative and upbeat so that they can play well. They should have different equipment such as mixers, sound systems, controller, audios and other crucial electronics.

3. Special effects like fogging machine and the like. With these machines and lights, surely you will have a different clubbing experience.

These equipment will surely make your life more colourful and groovy. Don’t be afraid to dance or go to night clubs because you have the right to have fun.

Grand Canyon Float Tours Are Terrific Family Fun And Educational, Too

Did you know that the Grand Canyon, located in the great American Southwest (Arizona, to be precise), is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World? That shouldn’t be a surprise. It’s an incredible, visually stunning place. I don’t think any other place is quite like it.

Smooth Water

Among other things, the Grand Canyon is a terrific place for a family vacation. Besides the obvious sightseeing (there’s nothing like it!), you can even take a smooth-water rafting trip down the Colorado River. The water’s so calm that seniors and kids four and up can participate in this unique experience.

It’s difficult to comprehend the sheer immensity of the place. Standing on the rim, you’re about a mile above the Colorado River at the bottom. The river looks more like a silvery ribbon than what it really is – the force that created the gorge over hundreds of millions of years. Grand Canyon float tours give you an “up-close-and-personal” view of the river and you’ll be awed by the canyon walls towering above you.

Some folks prefer to stay on top and explore the rim they’re visiting. A few adventurous souls hike down the trails until they reach the bottom. That would be difficult to do if you’re traveling with younger children or senior citizens. Fortunately, families can take Grand Canyon float tours for a fun, educational experience and get the same “bottom-up” perspective.

Outdoor Classroom

If you’d love to get your kids interested in nature and environmental issues, a smooth-water rafting tour would be a great way to do it. These trips are educational, the views are breathtaking, and floating down the river is always fun for everyone!

As you’re passing the canyon’s unique rock formations, you can teach your kids some basics about the geology of the area. The Colorado River carved out the canyon from the limestone of the Kaibab Plateau. Your kids will be fascinated when they learn how the canyon was created. It’s amazing what erosion can accomplish if given long enough.

You’ll probably catch glimpses of some of the native wildlife along the way – bighorn sheep, hawks, California condors, rock squirrels and so forth. Seeing them will give you the opportunity to teach your kids about nature’s delicate ecosystems and how plants and animals live together. Your kids can learn what different animals look like, where they live, and get an idea of what they eat and whether they’re dangerous if provoked.

Hualapai Indians

The area is also rich in Native American history and culture. The people of the Hualapai tribe (the owners of the land at the West Rim) have lived in the region for thousands of years. The Grand Canyon Skywalk is a great learning tool to demonstrate how the Hualapai have become creative about generating income for the tribe as the traditional hunting lifestyle has dwindled.

Every teacher and parent knows it’s important to keep children’s interest. Although most kids are inquisitive, they also have shorter attention spans than most adults. One of the best ways to overcome a child’s tendency to get bored is by changing the topic frequently. Nothing combines just the right amount of excitement and changing sights and topics better than a smooth-water rafting trip. It’s easy for kids to have fun while they’re learning about geology, wildlife and history during a float tour.

Beat the Aussie Winter – Top Getaway Ideas

As the temperatures drop and the rain settles in, many of us are already counting down the days until summer and looking forward to warm beach weather. While Australians still enjoy some of the warmest winters in the world, for a nation of beach lovers, winter entertainment options can seem a little slim. For those who can’t wait until 1 December (Australia’s official first day of summer) a quick getaway can do plenty to warm the soul.

There are plenty of holiday deals on offer to any of these great winter getaways:

Sunshine CoastAverage Winter Temp: 20°C

If you’re coming from the south, including NSW or Victoria, Australia’s beach playground is still a great place to travel to. You’ll enjoy the temperate climate and plenty of fun activities, with both outdoor and indoor options, including Australia Zoo and Underwater World for the kids.

Tropical North Queensland – Average Winter Temp: 24°C

If you’re looking to escape the winter weather – heading north is going to be your best bet, and you can’t get much further north in Australia than Port Douglas and Tropical North Queensland. Winter is a great time to visit as it’s part of the dry season – so your beach getaway won’t be hindered by tropical storms and cyclonic conditions. In addition to idyllic beach weather, you can take on a number of adventure challenges while you’re there, including parasailing and jet skiing.

Fiji Holidays – Average Winter Temp: 24°C

Winter is the perfect time to head overseas to your favourite tropical destination, like the Fiji Islands – but get in early to book your tickets as May to October is the peak travel season. With low rainfall, moderate humidity and warm sunny shores, there’s no better place to beat the winter chill – at least for a little while!

New Zealand Holidays – Average Winter Temp: -10°C

While some of us dread the cold, others embrace it for what it promises; optimum snow conditions. New Zealand had almost 2.5 million international visitors in 2009, and about half of those were Aussies. Kick off the official start to the snow season and head to Queenstown for the annual winter festival. The South Island offers a number of great ski and snowboarding runs, including Cardrona, Ohau and Wanaka. And there’s nothing like cosying up to a roaring fire after a hard day in the snow – embrace the Kiwi winter wonderland.

What’s your favourite winter getaway?

There are plenty of holiday deals for this winter, from Fiji Holidays to the beautiful New Zealand holidays.

Leaving Pets at Home? 16 Tips for Preparing for Pet Care While you Travel

The height of summer travel is upon us and whether you’re heading for a trip to the beach or a wild and wonderful adventure down some rapids, chances are you’re not taking your pets. (Although, if you do want to take them, write me and I’ll send you a copy of my column from last September on tips and hints for traveling with your pet).

When you’re leaving your pets in the care of another there are basic “rules” you both should follow:

1. Reserve your time. You’ll note that many of your neighbors and colleagues travel the same time of year that you do. If you’re hoping your neighbor will watch your cat while you head out of town, confirm that he’ll be in town! Professional companies fill up quickly during busy seasons so you’re wise to reserve your spot for pet-care as soon as you reserve your airfare.

2. Be specific. It’s important that you and your pet-care provider are on the same page. When you say “One scoop of dry in the morning and the evening” make sure your sitter knows which scoop you’re talking about. It’s also a good idea to ensure that the person staying with your five cats “does” litter boxes, otherwise you’re bound to have a huge mess (and possibly strained relationship) when you get home. Other items to specify include: where to dispose of dirty litter, cage liners or doody-bags, how many and what kinds of treats can be distributed, how to use the electronic cat watering machine, the location and instructions for the can opener, which items your bird likes to get into but will do them harm (zippers come to mind), and most importantly what time each day you’d like your visits to occur.

3. Determine liability. No one wants to think about bad things happening, but sometimes they do. Determine now who is liable if your dog bites the neighbor’s child while on a romp in the yard? Or who will pay for the vet bill if your kitty hurts herself while you’re away? There are many different scenarios here, so think them through and discuss your options with your insurance agent before assuming you’re “covered.”

4. Let your sitter know if anyone else is expected in your home during your absence. If your housekeeper comes every Friday, let the sitter know. If you’ve hired an electrician to come in and rewire, again, let the sitter know. Also, ensure that you and your sitter are clear on liability if the electrician unwittingly lets the cat out the front door while he’s unloading his truck.

5. Do you want updates? Let your sitter know how and when you’d like to be updated on your pets’ activities and behavior during your absence. However, be sure your sitter has a number or a way to reach you no matter where you are, in case of an emergency.

6. Leave plenty of food, toys, litter and other supplies. Most folks keep their dry food in special containers – meaning if its running low, the sitter may not be able to find the original bag to determine what brand of food your pet ‘s been eating. It’s a little embarrassing to carry a piece of kibble into a pet supply shop and ask the clerk, “Do you know what kind of food this is?”

7. Provide the name and contact information of a neighbor who has a key to your home. Emergencies happen, and if your sitter is incapacitated for any reason, they’ll want the name of someone who can get to your pets. This is less likely to happen with larger pet-care companies who have a team of sitters who can provide back-up.

8. Keys. Before handing over the spare set to your sitter, test them (the keys, but let the sitter test the keys too.) Also, don’t leave your keys on your property in hidden places for your sitter. This is a huge liability should some criminal see them leaving the key in your hiding spot – what if some less than stellar person watches your sitter “hide” the key and decides to help himself to your possessions?

9. Re-confirm your plans. Make sure you call and confirm your reservation with your pet-sitter at least two days prior to your departure.

10. Agree on a fee. Make sure you and your sitter agree on a fee for the service provided before your departure, this way no one will have bad feelings or unrealistic expectations upon your return.

11. Block off areas of your home to prevent unwanted access. It’s okay to close bedroom doors, or put up baby gates to keep your pets from heading into “unprotected territory.” Because no matter how well trained your furry kids are when you’re home, they are going straight for the comfiest couch while you’re gone. To save angst and frustration, block off areas that are forbidden, and make sure your sitter is aware of the “house rules.”

12. Be honest about your pets’ personalities. The person caring for your pets must have a realistic understanding of your pets’ personality. If your dog is a big barker, make sure you note that, same thing if your cat doesn’t like to be petted. Set your sitter up to succeed and you’ll be pleased with the results.

13. Close off “doggy doors”. While you may be happy to have your pets roam in and out throughout the day while you’re home, your pets’ safety is in jeopardy if you leave that doggy door accessible while you’re gone. Your dog or cat is used to your routine and knows what to expect when he comes in and out. He’s likely worked out a routine around yours. However, when you’re gone, his routine is thrown for the loop. He can become bored and is more likely to pick fights through the fence, or to dig out to follow a scent, a person or an intriguing sight. Both you and your pet sitter want your pets to be at home and healthy when you return from your trip, so keep that doggy door locked and help achieve that goal.

14. Make it easy to access your home. We’ve already discussed keys, but make sure the outdoor lighting works so your sitter can enter your home safely at night and ensure that the walkways and entry ways are clear of debris and clutter.

15. Write down the extras. If you expect that your sitter will bring in the mail and paper and take out the trash, say so. Your sitter is concerned with the health and well-being of your pets and may not think to water your plants unless you ask. Make sure you specify what extra tasks you’d like your sitter to complete and then write them down so you are both in agreement.

16. Call when you get home. Your sitter is concerned about the welfare of your pets and most will continue to come and visit even after your scheduled return home, unless you call and let them know you’ve returned safely.

Following these sixteen steps will ensure that both you and your pet have a relaxing vacation!

Peggie Arvidson-Dailey is the owner of and the founder of She’s also the “Pets in the City” Columnist for the Del Ray Sun and has been a guest expert on “This Week in Small Business” on Chamber of Commerce Radio. Her company has been recognized as “Best of the Best” in the DC metro region by The Washingtonian. To get all the tips and hints you want to keep up with your pets,

Your Essential Packing List for an Adventure Trip

Adventure tours are different from the family trips. Before going for a trip, you should make lots of planning and preparation. You should carry some essential belongings with you for safety. Trekking, mountain climbing, hiking, kayaking and rafting are part of a lifetime memorable trip. If you have to climb the mountains or go for elephant riding and rafting, you need clothes and things. Let us see some of the important items you should take while you are going for a trip.


Your entire preparation for the outdoor tour revolves around the activity that you are venturing out for. You should carry the essential equipment according to that particular activity. You can carry ropes, hooks, climbing shoes, torch-light and batteries. You can also carry rain coats and flip-flops as well.

Food and Water

These two items are important for any type of trip, whether it is a family or an adventure trip. When you are going for an outdoor tour, then you should carry dry fruits, snacks, biscuits and nuts with you. You should carry food that provides you energy quickly. Taking liquids and the juicy food is not a good idea. You should not take junk food and chips. Water is the most important thing you should take with you. Your luggage bag should have lots of drinking water bottles. Outdoor activities require drinking lots of water. Though you can find stores at every place, you should carry your own water bottles.


While going for an outdoor trip, you should carry comfortable clothes. It is better to wear a dress which is soft, airy and comfortable. Tight jeans, tight jackets and heavy clothes are not necessary to take. You should take the clothes according to the destination where you are going. Full sleeve shirts and loose pants are best for your activities. You should also take mosquito nets, jackets, towels with you for the emergency.

Medicines and Toiletries

In an outdoor trip, you have to stay away from the main city. So, it is better to carry lots of medicines along with you before starting the trip. Basic medicines for fever, diarrhea, vomiting and allergies are important to carry in your luggage bag. You should not forget to carry antiseptic creams and mosquito repelling creams for the emergency. It is important to take toiletries like shampoos, soaps, antiseptic lotions, toothbrush and paste.

These are a few important things you should never forget to carry when you are going for an adventure trip. The last important thing is money. You should take lots of cash in your wallet to make your trip successful. Before going for an outdoor tour, you should take help of a reputed tour organizer to make your trip memorable.

The Effect of Technology on Adventure

With more technology, the outdoor recreation scene is changing dramatically. Different aspects of ‘adventure’ are being explored as a new wave of activities has revolutionised the idea of adventure in the outdoors. Bungee jumping, base jumping, jet-skiing, and paragliding are just a few activities being participated in, for one reason: enjoyment. It may be argued that, although they cannot really be compared, doing a bungee jump could be considered more exhilarating than climbing up a mountain. It is a common viewpoint that, “You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again-so why bother in the first place” (Daumal, R., 1967). Many people would argue that the thrill of a bungee jump is an adventure in itself. There are such a variety of activities to take part in the outdoors. Some of these activities involve more ‘adventure’ than others.

Climbing has been revolutionised over the past century. As with many activities in the outdoor scene, it may be viewed that it has changed dramatically due to familiarity, popularity, and commercialism. Climbing has become a sport, and speed climbing is now very popular. Some people would argue that the idea of using already fixed bolts to climb with is not ‘real climbing’ and not in the slightest bit ‘adventurous’. Indoor climbing walls, indoor white water rapids, and now even indoor surfing are becoming increasingly popular. To some people, the idea of surfing indoors, or rafting indoors seems ridiculous. However, the idea of climbing indoors doesn’t get this reaction anymore. It could be argued that this is due to the fact that through familiarisation, indoor climbing walls have been accepted as they’ve become more popular. However, many people would also argue that climbing indoors, in a controlled environment is not an adventure experience.

There has always been a desire to do something different; from the first trip to the North Pole, to the recent ski down Everest. A sense of achievement is directly involved in this respect. In some ways, these feats such as skiing down Everest, and climbing Everest without oxygen, are purely egotistical. One has to wonder whether these are acts of seeking enjoyment, a sense of achievement, egotistical stimuli, or even the money involved in many recent expeditions and events. There is no doubt that there is adventure involved in the majority of events such as these, however, it may be argued that the desire to achieve more is purely out of competitiveness.

The desire to get out of the normal way of living to experience difference is becoming increasingly popular. Motives for doing so include seeking adventure, seeking difference, the aesthetics of natural beauty, and seeking physical achievement. Through modernisation, the outdoor scene has definitely changed. In some respects, it has achieved different perspectives of adventure and subsequently acquired completely different outcomes for the individuals involved. However, it may be argued also that it has lost some of its’ ‘adventure’ through progression of discovery, and also the development of technology.

Outdoor Attractions in Leeds

How To Plan a Successful Outdoor Adventure Packed Vacation

If you are planning to travel to a destination that is going to be filled with a lot of outdoor activities for the sole purpose of having a new experience or facing some new challenges you really need to make sure that you plan properly for this type of vacation. These type of adventure vacations can have a multitude of different things planned like riding horses, white water raft trips, hiking, underwater adventures, fishing, kayaking, mountain climbing, and so on. So if any of that is part of your plans, here are a few tips you might want to follow in order to make your trip safe and enjoyable.

Make sure that when you are planning an outdoor adventure that you don’t choose too many activities. If you do, your vacation in the end will make you feel like you need another one when you get home, just to rest up. So make sure to plan your activities wisely. Try not to choose more than two very physical activities for the trip this will help you enjoy yourself better and give you the much needed relaxation that vacations are really for.

Once you have decided on what kind of outdoor adventure you are looking for choose the best place that offers these kinds of activities. If you would like to go overseas for this adventure, make sure the country you choose offers opportunities that are ideal for what you are wanting to do.

After you have decided on your destination you should then figure out what the best dates and times are for the particular activities are. As an example if you are planning for a ski trip in Switzerland for instance you’re going to want to plan for this kind of trip in the months of December and January. But, on the other hand you are going to this same country to do some great hiking you are going to want to choose months like June and July.

If your plan is for overseas or even in your own country it’s a very good idea that you make a budget up after you have chosen what you are doing, where you are doing it at and when. If you are going to need to rent any kind of equipment, especially in a different country this can be a big expense, especially if you don’t plan on taking advantage of some sort of package tour.

Make sure that if the activity is going to be excessive that you get into shape for this particular activity. You can actually go out with outfitter groups and do what they call pre-trip fittness. This is very important if you plan on enjoying yourself while on this outdoor adventure.

When planning this type of trip, it’s always a good idea that you consider using a tour company to book these types of vacation packages for you. These outfitters or tour companies will be able to give you all the instructions, supplies, equipment and whatever else that will be needed for this type of outdoor adventure. This will be less stress for you and you will also be able to enjoy a discount when you purchase an all inclusive package.

After all of this is done, if you are leaving the country, you are going to need to get a passport and any shots that might be required for whatever country you might be visiting. You should also make sure to get current updates for travel with regards to the place you are going which should include any kind of warnings for travel, tips for safety and any health concerns there might be.

Your Guide to an Adventurous Vacation in Charleston, SC

Okay, I have to admit it. I got the idea for this trip after watching an episode of Giada’s Weekend Getaways on the Food Network. What can I say, she did an amazing job of showing the local color and history of Charleston and made a very convincing case to visit.

Not that it takes much convincing. Charleston is a city completely surrounded in history and intrigue. It moved to its current location in 1680, so as far as America goes, it’s got some history. A central point in much of America’s history – having seen and been the central player in much of the slave trade, the Revolutionary War, and the Civil War – and often ravaged by natural disasters including earthquakes and hurricanes, Charleston manages to shrug it all off and keep its quiet sophistication. You can just as easily dine in a room that George Washington and other noble founding fathers once did as you can tour the history of one of America’s most stratifying institutions at the Slave Market Museum. Haunted ghost tours and a history of piracy give much to contemplate while dining at any of the city’s fine restaurants. And there is a lot of them.

Charleston is definitely a tourist town – with a population of 120,000 and an annual 4 million visitors, it is a city made to cater. And it does so with all the class of old-fashioned Southern Hospitality and a city steeped in old money. To put it into perspective, the gentleman I sat next to on the plane ride in was so eager to exemplify Charleston’s hospitality that he gave me a lift in his BMW convertible to the place I was staying. Talk about arriving to the hostel in style!

Charleston was once home to 8 of the 10 richest families in the world; no small accomplishment considering it was a young upstart founded by Europeans whose family wealth went back many generations. It was the “white gold” of the Carolinas that largely was responsible for this. No, not cotton – it didn’t become king till later, and further from the lowlands around the ocean. It was rice and the knowledge of the African slaves that allowed it to be raised abundantly in such a hot and humid climate.

But after all the wars and natural disasters, Charleston seems ready to take it easy now. There are still plenty of beautiful old buildings that were never destroyed and the locals want to make sure you get to see them. They’re much more interested in leaving all that strife and the heady highs and lows it brought with it for a more relaxed way of life than commonly seen in America. Not relaxed in the way so much of the American South is more relaxed, but more so in a way reminiscent of Tuscany or Provence. They seem ready to enjoy the good life.

And enjoy it they should, cause the good life is all around them! Surrounded by the ocean, you can enjoy surfing on Folly Beach, excellent sailing opportunities and fresh seafood any time of year. Sitting at the confluence of the Ashley and Cooper rivers and right next to the Francis Marion National Forest, a 250,000 acre forest reserve, give plenty of opportunities for outdoor fun. The climate surprised me and reminded me more of Florida than anywhere else I’ve been in the South. And because of this, everything is growing all around the city. Gardens are everywhere, and like much of the storied areas mentioned above, people grow anything they can if there’s any space to grow it. Window boxes, railing boxes, and flower beds are everywhere. The city is awash in growing things and is all the more beautiful for it.

But there is a down side to having the good life and knowing others want it, and that’s the price. It can be a VERY pricey city to visit. A quick search on Expedia shows multiple hotels in the $150/night range. Charleston is tricky to navigate as well, since there is so much water dictating the landscape. A hotel might be very close to the city center by map, but has to cross a huge bridge to make it there, making it difficult to visit the city without a rental car. To stay in the city center itself, you can expect that average price to be closer to $250/night. Which is exactly why I stayed in the local hostel, the NotSo Hostel. I can’t say enough about how excellent this place is. If you’ve never stayed at a hostel before, this would be the one to start with. Extremely attentive and friendly hosts, friendly guests (many people stay there every time they’re in the area including some business travelers, so they become like second hosts), and great amenities including rental bikes for the quick trip into the Downtown area and free breakfast. All this for only $23/night for a bunk room and $60/night for a private room. One of the owners drove past in their work truck and honked and waved when she saw me wandering down the street. Try to get that kind of face recognition and pure enjoyment of their job from an employee at your average hotel. Simply put, you won’t be disappointed.

There are a few restaurants within easy walking distance from the hostel. The two we (I went on this trip by myself but believe me, you’ll find it very easy to make friends with the other hostel guests) went to were Fuel and Hominy Grill. Hominy Grill was good but a little too upscale to make it our go-to restaurant of choice. But Fuel, oh sweet sassy molassy was that ever good! Housed in an ex- gas station, Fuel oozed funky repurposing as thick as crude oil but much more appealing. Tables made from fuel-cost placards, lamps made from gas pump handles, a giant open-air bar where the service bays used to be and endless creativity with the food made for a dining experience that was an instant hit. Add to this completely reasonable prices and a good beer list and we found our favorite restaurant in all of Charleston. Try the others, it will be delicious and fun I’m sure, but you’ll always come back to Fuel.

For more sight seeing, I teamed up with my hostel-mates and we went to the Middleton Place plantation, a very beautiful and historic example of the extravagance of the old plantation owners. You can easily spend a whole day wandering the gardens, barns and out buildings of this place so plan accordingly. Oh, and watch for alligators popping out of the pools in the gardens. We saw a little nipper (about four feet long) sneak out of the pool and try to make his way back to the wilderness of the river. We also took the ferry out to Fort Sumter for some more American history, and went on a Haunted Charleston ghost tour that met up at the Griffon Pub, a very old English style pub in the city center. This was tons of fun and since many of the tour guides are also performing arts students, so it really has a high level of polish to it. Chances are good you’ll end up pretty scared by the end.

After all this fun it was time to wave goodbye to my wonderful NotSo Hostel and the friends I made there and start my kayak trip. The trip was through REI Adventures and run by Coastal Expeditions, a local kayak outfitter on Shem Creek just outside of Charleston. Chris, the owner, was also a tour guide and simply could not have been better. An astute naturalist, father, kayak and outside gear junkie and businessman, he was able to easily slip into and out of conversation with everyone on the trip. He’s also a natural leader and was able to easily guide a group with outdoor experience ranging from competent to “Anthony Bourdain” during very challenging conditions so well that everyone left with a smile. And by challenging, I mean a week of solid rain, swamp water, 99% DEET to stop to worst onslaught of mosquitos the world has ever seen(and possibly create the worst onslaught of cancer. Ugh, DEET…), salt water, and all this with no shower. And every single person left wanting to do it all over again. Now that’s a good guide.

All told it was a fun trip though. Kayaking through the mangrove swamps and black-water rivers, taking the old river-front entrance to historic plantations, seeing how much the plant and water life changes when going from fresh-water swamps to the estuaries and then fully into the salt-water environment around the barrier islands. We camped out on Bull Island during the last night we were there and I don’t think a bedroom of mine has ever had a better view. We ran into and paddled with a couple dolphins on the way out to the island, and on the way back a few of our group just barely spotted the back of a manatee breaching the surface. And now that’s exactly how I remember the kayaking trip, and Charleston as a whole. Full of life, on the land and in the water. And it’s no surprise that the population of the area is so intelligent, fun-loving and easy-going. The people up on land must have learned it all from their neighbors in the water and the rhythms of the sea.

Gift Ideas For Boyfriend – The Adventure Lover

If your boyfriend is always on the go and happens to really enjoy outdoor activities such as surfing, camping out, windsurfing, mountain climbing, or exploring exotic spots then he will really love these gift ideas for guys:

The Solio universal hybrid solar charger is both cool and eco-friendly. It has the power to charge your boyfriend’s entire collection of portable and cool electronic gadgets including smarthphones, iPod, PDA, GPS, Bluetooth headset, digicam, different brands of MP3 players, and so on. It’s stylish and very useful for outdoor adventures where a wall socket is not always available. It basically gets its energy from sun and he can even charge this charger (pretty neat huh?) before going out instead of charging all his gadgets at the same time.

Underwater camera is a not new but this Underwater Digital Camera Mask is taking digital photography to the next level. A great gift for guys who love to snorkel or explore the mystery of the sea. This nifty gadget combines swim mask with a 5 mega pixel waterproof digicam to keep his hands free while he swims. It’s submersible up to 15 feet and designed with a crosshair for accurate shoot.

Garmin Forerunner 405 GPS Sports Watch is a great gadget and a sweet reminder to make him exercise on a regular basis. Developed for all kinds of athletes, it’s equipped with a built-in GPS that easily monitors every single move he makes and records important information such as his heart rate, distance traveled, speed, calories lost, and pace of workout. It’s like having a personal trainer less the annoying pep talk.

Why bring bottled water while jogging or mountain climbing if you can carry your water on backpack? This is basically what this outdoor gear is all about. It’s a relatively small knapsack that holds about 70 oz of water and has a plastic tube connected inside it. Every time he’s thirsty, he simply needs to bite and take a sip on the tube. No need to stop just to drink water and it avoids any leaks or damage to your precious H20.

Weather-proof HD Video Camera is great for capturing his adrenaline-pumping activities and even funny moments. Its rubberized casing enables it to withstand harsh conditions without sacrificing quality. This may sound geeky to you but I can’t help but mention that all videos are recorded in 720p HD quality. In short, it’s very clear!

Wireless Weather Forecaster is a gadget that will keep him informed about the latest weather reports in the next 5 days. For many adventure lovers, getting accurate and up-to-date weather info is very crucial for it dictates the flow of activities. It looks like a digital alarm clock but it has the power to display the current temperature, wind chill, humidity, as well as the daily highs and lows of the day.

Atomic Travel Clock is perhaps the best thing ever invented in this world. That is if you ask any traveler who keeps moving from one time zone to another. What makes this high-tech clock special is its ability to synchronize time around the world automatically. No need to adjust your clock to set the right alarm. Standard features include my favorite snooze option, backlight temperature, and date display.

Aquapac Utility Case is ideal for guys who love rafting, kayaking, and other water sports. It’s a transparent waterproof bag that protects all his prized possessions like wallet, mobile phone, credit card, journal, and other stuff. On top of that, this cool case also floats in the event he drops it in the water.

Leatherman Skeletool CX is a lightweight multitool that he must carry every single adventure. It can function as a wire cutter, regular pliers, bottle opener, and even large-bit driver. Regular multitools are quite heavy but this one weighs only 5 ounces!