Family Camping – Essential Things to Carry

When going for family camping you must carry along your camping stuff. There are many things you can carry to the venue. The materials you carry along will differ depending on the venue you chose for camping, the type of camping conveniences around and the weather. For kayaking, backpacking and canoe camping or any other form of camping that requires gear weight, consider some of the lightweight packing ideas suggested below.

Bed-covers and other bedding requirements should come first in your check list. Normally, you will need a sleeping bag and a canvas for the ground. However, for family camp excursions you will require properly sized tents, a stake puller and a hammer.

Remember also to carry extra tent stakes. You can use tarpaulins that are a bit larger than your tent’s floor so as to cover it in avoiding dust from entering into the tent. If you wish to keep the tent tidy and clean you can carry a small mat and a broom.

There are many choices available when selecting sleeping or bedding material. For instance, you can try camp pads such as Coleman Rest Easy pad or air mattresses, pillows, sleeping bags and blankets. A Coleman shelter will keep you away from high temperatures and dust.

Another important thing that you need in your checklist is the clothes you will wear. Obviously the weather will determine the garments you carry for family camping. The activities will also determine the type of clothes you carry along. If your trip is just for the weekend you will carry about three sets of clothes, a rain gear, a sweatshirt, a jacket and something to sleep in.

If you want to go hiking you can carry long pants, socks and a pair of hiking shoes. For swimming or any other water related activities don’t forget to carry your headgear, swimsuit and a pair of sandals that you can put on at the beach. If your trip is long you can make use of laundry services at the campsite. This allows you to carry many clothes with you.

It is necessary that you maintain high levels of hygiene at the camping trip. Therefore, ensure that you carry toiletries with you. Keep the toiletries in waterproof cans in case of any conveniences by your campsite or carry at least one of the many types of Coleman camp showers. Carry washing and bathing soaps, dental care products and other first aid medicine and equipment.

The family camping stuff can be packed in rugged duffel bags or rubber totes. The heavy luggage problem can be simplified if everyone packs his or her own tote and shower bag. Beach toys, swimsuits and rain materials should be packed in a different bag because they are rarely used.

Family camping can be successful only if you carry the correct camping stuff. You can also use a laundry bag to separate clean clothes from the unclean.

Forest Tourism – A Green Path Toward Sustainable Forestry

At the end of September 2011, the occasion being the World Tourism Day (27th September), the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF), an organisation of which the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) is also a member, promoted its view on the positive influence that ecotourism has on forestry.

Moreover, an increasing number of governments are considering ecotourism as a means to promote sustainable forestry management and support local communities.

Despite the grave economic situation in the last couple of years, according to the World Tourism Organisation (WTO), international tourism has demonstrated healthy growth, with almost 5% in the first half of 2011, setting a new record of 440 million arrivals, according to the UN WTO. Moreover, in the UNWTO long-term forecast, Tourism Towards 2030, released in October 2011, international tourism is expected to continue to grow in a sustained manner in the next two decades.

Ecotourism, as a niche within the larger tourism industry, is one of the fastest growing segments of tourism worldwide, according to the FAO. Therefore, the perspective for long-term sustainable economic growth has the potential to stimulate also forestry funds to participate on the forest ecotourism market. In addition, through forest ecotourism, private companies will have the opportunity to make profit out of socially responsible investments.

Ecotourism involves responsible travelling to natural areas, with the purpose to educate the traveller without the environmental and cultural impact that may come as a negative consequence of traditional tourism. By definition, the more preserved a tourist site or object is, the more attractive it will be for potential visitors. And as forests and their wildlife are among the primary settings for ecotourism activities, it is only natural to assume that promoting forest preservation and investing in ecotourism would be the way to attract more ecotourists.

Forest ecotourism may be particularly beneficial in developing countries, which generally experience more difficulties in promoting sustainable forest management and obtaining much needed investments through forestry funds or other sources of financing.

According to Edgar Kaeslin, Forestry Officer in Wildlife and Protected Area Management at FAO, “Ecotourism has a far greater potential for contributing to income and livelihoods in poor rural communities than what is realised”.

Therefore, the possibilities that ecotourism provides in terms of forest preservation and local economy need to be looked into, especially considering the extent to which some indigenous communities depend on forests for their livelihood. In addition, ecotourism brings more income to local population than commercial conventional tourism that relies mainly on mass hotel chains and large tourist companies.

One of the most famous examples of ecotourism in developing countries is the interest attracted by the endangered mountain gorilla species in Uganda. Ecotourism activity surrounding the gorillas significantly helped to boost the economy of the country and at the same time led to a rise in the numbers of mountain gorillas.

Another African country where forest tourism is likely to benefit from increased governmental support is Tanzania, since the Ministry of Natural resources and Tourismrecently introduced the Tanzania Forest Fund among whose purposes is to support sustainable utilization of forest resources.

Despite its indisputable benefits, however, ecotourism still poses certain dangers to natureand local communities. A lot of activities which are advertised as eco-friendlymay lead to damage of natural sites and there is always the risk that due to the growing popularity of ecotourism, possible participation of forestry funds and involvement of larger tourist companies may diminish the financial benefits to local communities.

Nevertheless, at present, the benefits of ecotourism seem to outweigh the risks, specifically with regards to forest tourism, which has turned into a successful way of promoting forest conservation. One of the ways to further increase the positive influence of ecotourism is to ensure the involvement of local population into ecotourism services, which may be achieved through training and education. In addition, income from forest tourism should be used in order to promote sustainable forestry management.

In the last few years, the UN FAO has been providing technical assistance to various countries such as Laos, the Philippines and Tunisia to develop ecotourism as a sustainable forest use and recently started implementing an $18 million programme in collaboration with Pacific islands (Fiji, Niue, Samoa and Vanuatu) aimed at developing ecotourism as a major component of sustainable forest management. This is undoubtedly a clear sign for the potential benefits of forest tourism.

History of Travel & Tourism

2000 years Before Christ, in India and Mesopotamia

Travel for trade was an important feature since the beginning of civilisation. The port at Lothal was an important centre of trade between the Indus valley civilisation and the Sumerian civilisation.

600 BC and thereafter

The earliest form of leisure tourism can be traced as far back as the Babylonian and Egyptian empires. A museum of historic antiquities was open to the public in Babylon. The Egyptians held many religious festivals that attracted the devout and many people who thronged to cities to see famous works of arts and buildings.

In India, as elsewhere, kings travelled for empire building. The Brahmins and the common people travelled for religious purposes. Thousands of Brahmins and the common folk thronged Sarnath and Sravasti to be greeted by the inscrutable smile of the Enlightened One- the Buddha.

500 BC, the Greek civilisation

The Greek tourists travelled to sites of healing gods. The Greeks also enjoyed their religious festivals that increasingly became a pursuit of pleasure, and in particular, sport. Athens had become an important site for travellers visiting the major sights such as the Parthenon. Inns were established in large towns and seaports to provide for travellers’ needs. Courtesans were the principal entertainment offered.
This era also saw the birth of travel writing. Herodotus was the worlds’ first travel writer. Guidebooks also made their appearance in the fourth century covering destinations such as Athens, Sparta and Troy. Advertisements in the way of signs directing people to inns are also known in this period.

The Roman Empire

With no foreign borders between England and Syria, and with safe seas from piracy due to Roman patrols, the conditions favouring travel had arrived. First class roads coupled with staging inns (precursors of modern motels) promoted the growth of travel. Romans travelled to Sicily, Greece, Rhodes, Troy and Egypt. From 300 AD travel to the Holy Land also became very popular. The Romans introduced their guidebooks (itineraria), listing hotels with symbols to identify quality.

Second homes were built by the rich near Rome, occupied primarily during springtime social season. The most fashionable resorts were found around Bay of Naples. Naples attracted the retired and the intellectuals, Cumae attracted the fashionable while Baiae attracted the down market tourist, becoming noted for its rowdiness, drunkenness and all- night singing.

Travel and Tourism were to never attain a similar status until the modern times.

In the Middle Ages

Travel became difficult and dangerous as people travelled for business or for a sense of obligation and duty.

Adventurers sought fame and fortune through travel. The Europeans tried to discover a sea route to India for trade purposes and in this fashion discovered America and explored parts of Africa. Strolling players and minstrels made their living by performing as they travelled. Missionaries, saints, etc. travelled to spread the sacred word.

Leisure travel in India was introduced by the Mughals. The Mughal kings built luxurious palaces and enchanting gardens at places of natural and scenic beauty (for example Jehangir travelled to Kashmir drawn by its beauty.

Travel for empire building and pilgrimage was a regular feature.

The Grand Tour

From the early seventeenth century, a new form of tourism was developed as a direct outcome of the Renaissance. Under the reign of Elizabeth 1, young men seeking positions at court were encouraged to travel to continent to finish their education. Later, it became customary for education of gentleman to be completed by a ‘Grand Tour’ accompanied by a tutor and lasting for three or more years. While ostensibly educational, the pleasure seeking men travelled to enjoy life and culture of Paris, Venice or Florence. By the end of eighteenth century, the custom had become institutionalised in the gentry. Gradually pleasure travel displaced educational travel. The advent of Napoleonic wars inhibited travel for around 30 years and led to the decline of the custom of the Grand Tour.

The development of the spas

The spas grew in popularity in the seventeenth century in Britain and a little later in the European Continent as awareness about the therapeutic qualities of mineral water increased. Taking the cure in the spa rapidly acquired the nature of a status symbol. The resorts changed in character as pleasure became the motivation of visits. They became an important centre of social life for the high society.

In the nineteenth century they were gradually replaced by the seaside resort.

The sun, sand and sea resorts

The sea water became associated with health benefits. The earliest visitors therefore drank it and did not bathe in it. By the early eighteenth century, small fishing resorts sprung up in England for visitors who drank and immersed themselves in sea water. With the overcrowding of inland spas, the new sea side resorts grew in popularity. The introduction of steamboat services in 19th century introduced more resorts in the circuit. The seaside resort gradually became a social meeting point

Role of the industrial revolution in promoting travel in the west

The rapid urbanisation due to industrialisation led to mass immigration in cities. These people were lured into travel to escape their environment to places of natural beauty, often to the countryside they had come from change of routine from a physically and psychologically stressful jobs to a leisurely pace in countryside.

Highlights of travel in the nineteenth century

  •  Advent of railway initially catalysed business travel and later leisure travel. Gradually special trains were chartered to only take leisure travel to their destinations.
  •  Package tours organised by entrepreneurs such as Thomas Cook.
  •  The European countries indulged in a lot of business travel often to their colonies to buy raw material and sell finished goods.
  • The invention of photography acted as a status-enhancing tool and promoted overseas travel.
  •  The formation of first hotel chains; pioneered by the railway companies who established great railway terminus hotels.
  •  Seaside resorts began to develop different images as for day-trippers, elite, for gambling.
  •  Other types of destinations-ski resorts, hill stations, mountaineering spots etc.
  • The technological development in steamships promoted travel between North America and Europe.
  •  The Suez Canal opened direct sea routes to India and the Far East.
  • The cult of the guidebook followed the development of photography.

Tourism in the Twentieth Century

The First World War gave first hand experience of countries and aroused a sense of curiosity about international travel among less well off sector for the first time. The large scale of migration to the US meant a lot of travel across the Atlantic. Private motoring began to encourage domestic travel in Europe and the west. The sea side resort became annual family holiday destination in Britain and increased in popularity in other countries of the west. Hotels proliferated in these destinations.

The birth of air travel and after

The wars increased interest in international travel. This interest was given the shape of mass tourism by the aviation industry. The surplus of aircraft and growth of private airlines aided the expansion of air travel. The aircraft had become comfortable, faster and steadily cheaper for overseas travel. With the introduction of Boeing 707 jet in 1958, the age of air travel for the masses had arrived.

The beginning of chartered flights boosted the package tour market and led to the establishment of organised mass tourism. The Boeing 747, a 400 seat craft, brought the cost of travel down sharply. The seaside resorts in the Mediterranean, North Africa and the Caribbean were the initial hot spots of mass tourism.

A corresponding growth in hotel industry led to the establishment of world-wide chains. Tourism also began to diversify as people began to flock alternative destinations in the 70s. Nepal and India received a throng of tourists lured by Hare Krishna movement and transcendental meditation. The beginning of individual travel in a significant volume only occurred in the 80s. Air travel also led to a continuous growth in business travel especially with the emergence of the MNCs.

Sarvajeet Chandra writes on issues that are usually brushed under the carpet, or are too everyday-ish for high street strategists. He writes on making strategic plan robust, how to execute strategy well and other tactical issues for everyday business success.

How to Become a Smart Traveler?

The eyes are worthless which haven’t seen the awesome beauty of the nature. As individuals we have many hobbies, some are easy and can be performed indoors while others are somewhat difficult and require one to go outdoors.

One such extremely interesting and exciting activity is traveling. Traveling, as hobby, can give a lot of fun and adventure. However, to become a smart traveler, there are few things that you must always keep in mind while starting on a journey.

Decide Where You Want to Go

Before starting on a journey, you must know what places you are planning to visit. If you are looking for serenity, a lonely beach or country side may be good for you. In case you are a wildlife enthusiast, visiting a forest reserve may be a great idea. However, wherever you are going, you must prepare and equip yourself according to the demands of the place.

Decide What You Want to Carry

Once, you have decided on your destination, you must give it a deep thinking on what things you would be carrying with you. For convenience, you must aim to carry the minimum load but at the same time should not miss on anything important. Without planning, you may forget even the most necessary items or sometimes carry things, which are useless.

Prioritize Things as Per Their Importance

You must categorize the items you want to carry as per their priority. Give highest priority to things like clothes, shoes, bag, communication device, a compass etc. Least priority should be given to things like perfumes, fancy clothing etc. Classifying things like this will help you in picking up the most important items while not exceeding the limit of luggage that you plan to carry with you. Also, you must avoid carrying valuable things with you.

Food

If you are going for places, where food is not available readily, you must also take some eatables with you. Ask people who have visited the place about the availability of food, hotels etc. If the location of your visit is isolated, do not forget to take dry rations and beverages with you.

Basic Medicines

When you visit a new place, there can be a lot of uncertainties. Hence, you must be prepared with some basic medicines and a first aid kit. You must take medicines for fever, dehydration, aches and pains etc. You should also not forget to take some plasters and antiseptic powder. Although, it is not a medicine, taking mosquito repellent is also a good idea.

If you take care of these things, you can become a smart traveler and make your travel much more enjoyable by being sure of avoiding a lot of inconveniences and hardships.

Ideas for a Christmas Vacation in France

Spending Christmas in France looks like a great idea, no matter if you are planning a romantic getaway or a family vacation. Nicely decorated cities, scenic locations, great wine, delicious cuisine, exciting opportunities for outdoor activities, well preserved traditions, charming Christmas markets and lots of things to do are waiting for you. Here are a few ideas of Christmas vacations in France.

Christmas in Avignon

Provencal traditions say that Christmas holiday season lasts 40 days. Therefore, you have more than a month to enjoy the festive mood that seizes the whole religion, to stroll through beautiful Christmas markets, hunting for souvenirs, to taste at least some of the 13 traditional Christmas deserts, and to drink some mulled French wine. If you are traveling with kids, they will certainly love the Christmas parades, the folk art workshops and the traditional dances.

Christmas in Lyon

Some say that it’s better than Paris. Without agreeing or disagreeing, we can say that Lyon is just perfect for a family Christmas vacation. The city lights are almost as exciting as the shows put on in the City of Lights. The Christmas market in Carnot Square will simply seduce you. Open air skating rinks, traditional shows and a much quieter atmosphere is waiting for your in Lyon.

Christmas in Arles

Every year the Funny Christmas Festival (Drôles de Noëls) seizes this Southern French town and fills its street with a festive atmosphere. If you want to be a part of these celebrations, Arles is the place where to spend your Christmas vacation. Tens of performances, music shows and other types of events will make the joy of all members of your family. What more would you want from a Christmas vacation? This holiday is dedicated to families and this is what Arles offers.

Christmas in Alsace

This French region famous for its wine production and wine tasting tours is the perfect choice for all those who want to discover the magic of this holiday and the Alsacian Christmas traditions. In Strasbourg, you can discover the oldest Christmas market in France. If you choose Mullhouse or Colmar, you will also have your share of twinkling lights and carols singing.

Christmas in Paris

Last, but not least, the French capital is the heart choice of romantic couples. However, with ice skating rinks scattered throughout the city and special events organized especially for the little ones at Disneyland Resort, you will find lots of things to do in Paris during your Christmas vacation.

Creating a Social Media Plan For Tourism Marketing

If you wanted to take a vacation, you wouldn’t just hop in a car and go. You’d have a road map.

If you were going to bake a Boston creme pie, you wouldn’t just start mixing ingredients together. You’d have a recipe.

Seeing a trend? Most successful ventures in life generally start with a plan. Unfortunately, most who decide to use social media for marketing tourism and travel forgo necessary goal-setting and strategy. This typically leads them to wonder what they are doing wrong on sites like Facebook and Twitter when they don’t have as many followers or fans as they would desire.

Having a strong presence on Facebook and Twitter doesn’t “just happen” overnight. However, through the careful planning and interacting on these networks (and others), you can drive traffic to your destination. Here are a few steps to improve your social media presence.

First thing’s first: Set your goals.

This is probably the most valuable takeaway from your plan. If you are aimlessly wandering into the world of Facebook and Twitter just because every one else is, you will have no way to measure your success because you won’t know what “success” is. What specifically do you want out of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube? Increased sales of at least 25%? More inbound traffic to your CVB’s homepage? Be specific. Also, what’s more important: 1,000 fans or more hotel bookings? Decide this early on so you can determine what true social media success is.

Secondly: Know thy tourist.

You should have at least a general idea of who your audience is. The more specific, the better. This will help determine what networks you should participate in. For example, if your target audience is older than 45 or 50, MySpace is probably not the best network to join. Also, if you deal with niche audiences such as mothers, sports lovers or business travelers, there are specific niche social networks that you can join to help attract those groups.

Facebook seems to be a catch-all social network for most demographics, but knowing your audience will help develop strategies within Facebook that best targets your future tourists. Facebook marketing strategies range from paid advertising to fan pages and groups.

Third: Give them something to talk about.

This is the part that most jump into right off the bat, but it’s only after careful planning you enter this phase. Even after you begin this step of your master plan, you still need to know how to talk and what to talk about. For example: What are you going to do if someone negatively bashes your destination or staff? Respond openly or privately? Who is going to be the person updating your status everyday and does that person have a clear understanding of your online branding efforts? How much time daily are you going to commit to each social media account?

Also, remember conversation is two-fold. Don’t just talk. Listen, then listen harder. Go beyond comments written on your wall and find out what your fans are interested in on their own profile page. Learn what they like and don’t like and apply that to what you can do better.

Finally: Measure your efforts

Each month, measure your growth. Are you meeting your goals? Can you make better use of your time on Facebook and Twitter? Use tracking software and analytics to gauge where your traffic is coming from and learn from these reports.

Keep comparing your goals month after month and continue to improve on your efforts. Social media isn’t easy just because everyone does it these days. Creating a successful social media campaign means work and much time invested. However, if proper steps are taken in the set up and planning stages of your social media marketing plan, you will lay the ground work for destination marketing success.

Costa Rica Travel News – Costa Rica Tops Tourism Table

Costa Rica has been ranked as the number one Latin America vacation destination in a major international survey of the world’s favorite tourism hotspots.

The World Economic Forum’s yearly travel competitiveness report takes into account a range of factors including natural resources, cultural heritage, the quality of infrastructure, standards of Costa Rica hotels and other services, and the overall regulation of the Costa Rica travel industry.

The report commented on the country’s Certification of Sustainable Tourism program, and the country’s unparalleled richness in natural resources, World Heritage sites and number of protected conservation areas.

Known as the rich coast, the country is unique in the world for its level of environmental protection, with almost 30% of the country’s land areas designated as protected areas, either as one of 35 national parks, conservation areas or natural reserves.

The Costa Rica travel industry has played a major role in the country’s sustainable development program by helping to establish privately operated lodges and reserves.

Some of the most successful and well known protected areas include the Monteverde Cloud Forest, Manuel Antonio National Park, Tortuguero National Park and the World Heritage Site on the Corcovado peninsula.

The country is known for its variation in natural landscapes which provide a home to the highest concentration of bio-diverse natural life on the planet’s surface. Thanks to the country’s compact size, even short Costa Rica vacations are able to include visits to several of the country’s world-famous natural wonders.

Supporting these strengths with abundant, high quality services such as hotels, car rental firms and high quality transport infrastructure, means that the country has been able to reinforce its position as a leading vacation destination in the Americas, and throughout the world.

This commitment to a sustainable and environmentally neutral tourism industry has been well documented in the past. The UN World Tourism Organization has previously praised the country’s Certification of Sustainable Tourism initiative, calling it a model that the rest of the world should follow.

This Costa Rica travel news update was written by a travel-loving Costa Rica vacation expert at Costa Rica For Less, a member of the Latin America For Less family.

Latin America For Less, a US travel agency established in 1998, offers a complete South America vacation service to destinations across Latin America, including Peru, Brazil, Argentina, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Chile and Bolivia.

The company is unique in its ability to offer a price match guarantee as well as the highest standards in quality and customer service.

Fully customized itineraries coupled with personal and friendly service are the hallmarks of a Latin America For Less vacation.

Cheap Mexico Beachfront Lots – Invest in the World’s Tourism Leader

When buyers consider cheap Mexico beachfront lots in up-and-coming tourism areas, much can be said about the lifestyle investment, and living in a beautiful home, on a large lot directly next to the soft sand of one of Mexico’s splendid beaches.

While these points are completely valid, there’s also another very important factor to consider; Mexico’s tourism is currently emerging as a world leader in the industry and investment in real estate that’s related to this growth offers very high potential for return.

Consider the following points:

Mexico is focusing all its energy on tourism growth

2011 marked the beginning of a new era for Mexico’s tourism when President Felipe Calderon signed the National Tourism Agreement. This is an agreement between the federal government and the 31 states that each government will make decisions, policies and public investments based on the primary goal of increasing tourism. This creates a very good likelihood that new tourism areas will begin to grow and gain popularity even more quickly.

Within a decade, the country will be in the world’s top 5

The purpose of the National Tourism Agreement is to bring Mexico into to the world’s top 5 nations within the decade. As of the beginning of 2011, Mexico was positioned #8. This means large investment and promotion in order to beat out some stiff competition. As of early 2012, Mexico was showing that it was up to the task, with a year of heavy investment and promotion, greatly increased private sector investment, and significantly growing tourism numbers.

Undiscovered real estate areas are already gaining international attention

As Mexico continues to grow, new beachfront areas will begin catching the attention of international tourists. Mexico has excellent beachfront areas that are surrounded by beautiful nature, near Mayan ruins and charming, well-kept up colonial cities. Because of Mexico’s economic strength over the past decade or two, there are also good roads offering direct access, phone service, high-speed internet and nearby international airports. Stores like Walmart and state-of-the-art hospitals are located in cities that currently seem out of the way and unnoticed.

Any real estate on the beach will likely soon be in high-demand

As more tourists notice these areas, there will be demand both to rent and to buy real estate on the beachfront. People who buy cheap Mexico beachfront lots and build now may be investing as little as $150,000 USD when all is said and done (lot, building, etc.) We all know how much beachfront homes are going for even in less expensive tourist areas.

So, besides a relaxing life on the beach, all indications point to a very good investment. What we have to wonder now is, what are people waiting for?

TOPMexicoRealEstate.com; Mexico’s Leading Network of Specialists for Finding and Purchasing Mexican Properties Safely

Mexico Real Estate NETWORK; “Mexico’s Leading Network of Specialists for Finding and Purchasing Mexican Properties Safely!”Region: Playa del Carmen real estate Thomas Lloyd graduated from Purdue University Krannert School of Management with a degree in Management/Financial Option Investments.He has been living, investing, and working professionally in Mexico for over 15 years.A Mexican Certified Realtor he is the current president of TOPmexicorealestate.

Backpacking South America Guide Reviews

These days, you can get almost all the information you need from the internet. So why would you waste space carrying around a huge guide when you are backpacking South America? First of all, a guide is great resource to have even before you travel! Use it to plan your trip, and keep it on your nightboard to keep you motivated while you are saving up money for your adventure.

Second, the guide is always a great backup to have in situations where internet or other resources aren’t available. How much should you pay for a taxi from the airport to the city? Where is there a hostel in this god-forsaken town where I am the only English speaking person in miles range? It’s always a good thing to have a guide as backup, even though you might not use it every day!

There are loads upon loads of guides for backpacking in South America. Some cover the whole continent, others cover only countries, cities or islands in greater detail. What kind of book you should buy depends on how your trip is laid out. Are you planning to stay in only one country? Or only one city? Or are you planning to do the whole caboodle? If you are planning to do a large trip covering more than one country.

I would advise you to only bring a “bible” guide that covers it all. Carrying around too many books will take up to match space and bring a heavy load on your back. There are mainly 3 Guides that are recognized as backpack south America bibles.

Lonely planet – South America on a Shoestring:

South America on a shoestring is definitely the most popular book to bring to South America, and also that book that goes as “the bible”. The book covers the whole South America with information on everything from big attractions to restaurants in a small outback town. Lonely planet books are known to be very good on accommodation, restaurants, things to do, and so forth.

Drawbacks are that the book gets a bit dry with only text and no pictures, and also the historical and details on locations can be a bit thin. Still this Is one of the better books on South America, and the book you will see the majority of people are carrying around.

Rough Guide to South America on a Budget:

The rough guides are the new modernized version of Lonely Planet. While Lonely Planet focus on pure quality information, Rough Guides are heavier on readability and visual enjoyment. The positive sides with RG are the Top-todo lists for countries, inspiring pictures and good detailed historical and guide information to places. Negatives are that it lacks some on the resource side. Many of the listings seem to be outdated, and hostels/restaurants might be closed down or moved. Rough Guides are a very good book for those who prefer visual reading enjoyment and good background and historical information.

Footprint South America Guide:

Footprint is the old dog in this competition. Back in the 70s; Footprint were topping all the travel guide lists. After a few years in the dark, they are now fighting to regain their position as top dog. And the new 2010 edition surely is a new good breeze, however it still has a few important flaws. Footprints new book is heavy on good detailed information on all the major places and in many cases it also covers the minor cities in much greater detail then the other two.

Footprints major drawbacks are some unnecessary mistakes that should have been fixed before publication. Many of the maps are incorrect and some of the basic resource sections are outdated. They have done a good job fixing up many of the mistakes in the new 2010 edition. This book is in many cases better than the two others, especially on information on places and attractions, however the book still has some flaws, especially on maps and locations that need to be fixed for this book to be top notch again.

When you are going to pick out the book that fits you the best, you should really consider what you will be using the book for. Are you planning to only use it as resource for restaurants, hostels and directions? Or do you also like to read information about cities, countries and so on.

Figure out what you want and pick the guide that fits you the best. And last, if you are planning to backpack South America in the near future, you can never buy your guide early enough. Once you buy it you are one step closer to your dream of backpacking around South America!

Backpacking Guide to Cuba

Cuba is alleged to be a country at a crossroads; and with the recent rate of change travelers would be wise to visit the nation before its romanticized past becomes the stuff of memories. With an abundance of things to see and do, the country is a popular destination for budget travelers led by a sense of adventure.

Sights

Discovered in 1492 by Christopher Columbus, the Caribbean island of Cuba enjoys an enchanting history now centered upon the life of famous revolutionary Che Guevera and the reign of Fidel Castro.

Both the museum at Santa Clara and Havana’s Museo de la Revolucion provide a background for those seeking to understand modern day Cuba. Situated nearby is the Granma cabin cruiser, in which Castro and Che nearly drowned in 1956.

Elsewhere in Cuba, attractions include the cultural city of Santiago and the spectacular beauty of stalactites and stalagmites in the caves of Pinar del Rio. Havana’s oldest fort is also a sight that should not be missed and simple pleasures such as a casual stroll along the El Malecon seawall and a guided tour of the Havana Club Rum Factory will illuminate any backpacking holiday.

Food and Drink

Cuban food is a cacophony of Caribbean, Spanish and African influences with black beans, rice, pork and plantains featuring heavily in the local diet. Criollo or creole food is served in a paladere, or private dwelling, and offers travelers an inexpensive and authentic dining experience. Restaurants owned by the government are significantly more expensive and the staff often depend on tips for wages.

Cuban bars are always lively and serve speciality rum cocktails such as the mojito and Cuba Libre. Venues often provide great live music with Cubans never needing an excuse to reach for the guitar and enter into spontaneous song. Those who make it to Santiago should not miss performances of son cubano, a unique style of music originating in Cuba and the inspiration for salsa, at the Casa de la Trova.

Where To Stay

For the complete Cuban experience, stay in Cuba hostels, or casas particulares, which are private hotels adapted for travelers and backpackers. Havana hostels usually consist of a room in a private home. This kind of accommodation is abundant and of good value with prices varying depending on facilities and location. As food and other services are likely to cost extra, so backpackers with a very tight budget should ensure they ask about these prices on arrival.