Mother's Day is almost upon us so that means you should be planning the breakfast in bed, the cards, and, of course, the gift. We're sure you show your mom love every day, but this is an opportunity to shower the important women in your life with a little extra gratitude—moms, grandmas, aunts, honorary moms, “framily” (as my mom and I call it), and more!
Check out our last-minute gift guide below to get inspired and pick out the perfect present for the special ladies in your life.
Flowers for her
A bouquet of flowers from Flora Queen, which delivers to over 100 countries in as little as one day, means no matter where mom is, she'll have a beautiful bouquet in her honor. Tulips are a classic Mother’s Day choice, but we love something more unexpected, like this rose and lily combo—or even a potted bromelia plant for something that will really last.
Something else with flowers
If you want to get mom some flowers that will stand the test of time, we love the idea of a floral print silk scarf. This one comes in four gorgeous floral patterns—perfect for spicing up her spring and summer looks. Alternatively, you can also go for a floral journal or some floral sneakers depending on what your mom will use the most.
If your mom recently found out about Instagram and won't stop talking about her favorite influencer of late, get her something that's totally #instagoals, like a trendy Gua Sha facial tool. Your mom deserves a great self-care gift that doubles as a like-garnering post for her feed. This one comes with three different shapes to try, as well as a handy guide. Pair it with a face mask or a facial serum for the perfect Mother's Day self-care package.
There's nothing better than a gift that continues throughout the year, so a subscription box that gets delivered to mom on a regular basis is a perfect choice for this year's Mother's Day gift. This cruelty-free, vegan, and non-toxic makeup subscription from Petit Vour.
Get her a twist on the classic locket with this customizable, and very chic, brass pendant, in which you can include a heartfelt note that she can keep with her long after Mother's Day celebrations have ended. You can round out the gift by pairing it with this hammered brass ring and bracelet for a set she'll wear forever.
Eco-friendly starter pack
Gifts that are practical, stylish, and eco-friendly are really the whole package. If your mom is looking to upgrade her eco-game from old tote bags for grocery shopping to becoming a zero-waste guru, we think eco-friendly starter kits, like this one from Package Free Shop, are the perfect jumping off point!
With spring well underway and Lent now over, this can only mean one thing to many Canadians—maple syrup season is upon us! Many of us indulge in lashings of this amber nectar on our pancakes in the morning, or perhaps to jazz up vanilla ice cream, but the history and traditions of collecting and making this delicious treat stem way back to before Canada was even Canada.
Find out how maple syrup harvesting techniques and uses have changed, from its origin to present day.
First Nations traditions and uses
Maple water has been extracted from trees since long before the first settlers arrived. The First Nations—a predominant indigenous group who were of the first inhabitants in present-day Canada—would extract the water from trees with diagonal cuts made at the base of the tree, which was the original method of tapping. The sap would then be collected in pots, often made from birch bark.
Sap from maple trees is 97% water and only 3% sugar, so the next job was, and still is, to evaporate off as much water as possible. The First Nations people would heat rocks up in a fire, and once they were white hot, the rocks would be placed in the sap to evaporate the water. There is evidence to suggest that heating rocks in fires was a fairly common method for cooking, as well as heating up water or sap, for the First Nations people.
They had a very holistic view on life, meaning they would use what nature provided them for their day-to-day needs. This was no different when it came to their uses for maple water. Since hot rocks can't maintain their heat indefinitely, it meant that maple water wouldn't evaporate down to what we all now know as maple syrup.
In fact, historian Pierre Rheaume, a researcher on the history of maple, suggests that what the First Nations people were actually producing was a more concentrated maple water, not a syrup. This maple concentrate had different uses to ours, as well. It was used as a tonic, and surprisingly, an eyewash, as their houses were often filled with smoke that dried out their eyes, and maple water was used as a remedy.
The first settlers
When the French first arrived in the eastern part of the country—in what would become Quebec, where 80% of the world's maple syrup is still produced, and Nova Scotia—the First Nations people were already well-versed in harvesting maple water.
In the mid-16th century, the French explorer Jacques Cartier was the first European to map the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and the shores of the Saint Lawrence River, which he named "The Country of Canadas." He saw the First Nations people extracting maple water and became intrigued. On trying it for the first time, Cartier and his men described the sap as similar to a fine wine (which may not be the best indictment of the vintage they had on their voyage to the New World).
The early economy of the first settlers in Canada was primarily based on the fur trade. The French would send envoys to boost trade by learning about the customs and languages of the First Nations people. Similarly, the First Nations people were equally inquisitive about the settlers' equipment, including iron cauldrons. This led to maple water being evaporated off until only a red sugar was left.
This was initially a problem for the French traders, as they had been hoping for white sugar. Since white was primarily associated with purity, the traders believed that white sugar would taste better. This red sugar, however, which became known as "country sugar," gained popularity in France and made its way onto the market—and into European kitchens.
Tapping the trees
By the early 19th century, new and more effective ways to harvest sap were being explored. This led to producers drilling a hole into the tree and adding an actual tap, which would allow sap to pour directly into buckets without doing irreparable damage to the trees—a risk of the old method. The buckets would then be carried down to cauldrons for the evaporating process. This new method, however, meant an increase in the quantity of sap, which meant a need for a more industrious operation to create sugar.
By the 1850s, sugar shacks were an established part of the harvesting process. Numerous cauldrons would be fired up, and they could hold up to 60 liters of sap. The process would take up to 24 hours, and every 60 liters of sap produced 1.5 liters of maple syrup.
During this period, it was still hard to effectively store and preserve the syrup so it was not available unless you worked in the sugar shacks. Producers were still very much in the business of making and selling maple sugar. Any leftover syrup would be kept in barrels and left in the sun to create vinegar, as it was hard to come by in Canada during this period.
The modern era
The 20th century obviously saw a rapid change in many areas of production and technology, and maple syrup wasn't left behind! Improvements were made in how it was harvested, produced, and stored. Just before the turn of the century, in 1889, the aptly-named evaporator was invented. This new method of evaporating off the water in the sap cut the process down to just four hours, allowing for even more syrup and sugar to be produced.
Sugar remained the preferred product until the 1920s, when barrels and containers became more effective at preserving the syrup. Even then, it was still only available by the gallon. By the 1950s, syrup became available in cans, which made it quickly become a commodity that could be sold in grocery stores, as well as facilitated exportation—making it even more lucrative for producers.
With the increase in sales of maple syrup came the increase of demand. Producers now needed a more effective way of harvesting the sap. While the built-in taps were effective at extracting the sap, workers still had to carry buckets of it down to the shacks. In the 1970s, producers began to attach a network of tubes to the trees to siphon off the sap directly to the shacks and their evaporators. This method of tapping is still used today.
Health benefits of maple syrup
As we saw earlier, the First Nations people would use the early form of maple syrup as a healthy tonic. This trend didn't end with them. At the time, French physicians also believed that something in maple sap had health benefits, and it was used specifically for lung problems and to alleviate pain for people with chest problems.
Between 2005 and 2010, scientists found specific chemicals in maple sap that suggest that these early uses may have had merit. Numerous chemical compounds that have links to health and wellbeing have been found in maple syrup and sap, including polyphenols, vitamins, and minerals. Additionally, a 2010 discovery established the process-derived chemical named Quebecol, named after the home of maple syrup. Like agave and honey, maple syrup may well have a touch of Mother Nature's healing qualities, so make the most of it the next time you have a plate of pancakes and blueberries for breakfast!
Got a hankering for maple syrup? Explore Quebec and try some locally produced maple syrup when you book a weekend getaway at one of our amazing luxury camping rentals!
The time has come for some spring cleaning—the (often dreaded) organization of all of the papers you hid in a drawer for the past year, the items of clothing you no longer wear, and a deep clean of every part of the house. While this means focusing on the jobs that may have been neglected over winter, the goal is to make your living space feel more open and airy, paralleling the ambiance that this season brings. Meanwhile, decluttering will not only help you enhance your living space, but also your mental space, leaving you feeling satisfied and more at ease.
With these top tips, you'll be spring cleaning in no time, and you never know...you may even begin to enjoy it—or at least the end result!
1. Form a plan
Make a checklist to help you divide and conquer the house; these smaller goals will make you feel a less overwhelmed. With a big task, like spring cleaning, it can be difficult to know where to start, so writing things down can make you see things much more clearly.
If you don't want to create your own checklist, try a free, downloadable template that will help you organize your cleaning process. Want something a little more technological? There are even apps that can help you prepare!
2. Stock up on supplies
Doublecheck that you have all of the cleaning supplies you'll need before you begin. There's nothing worse than getting halfway through and having to run to the store to buy replacements. It will hinder your progress and may demotivate you from wanting to continue cleaning when you get back home.
3. Play some music
No one wants to clean in silence! Music releases a chemical in the brain called dopamine, which plays a key role in keeping you motivated. An upbeat playlist is going to get you in the mood to clean and make time go much faster. If you can't find a playlist you like, you can try a podcast or the radio instead—or even just turn on the TV for some background noise to keep you company.
4. Learn to compartmentalize
Try not to think of everything you have yet to clean; break it down into bite-size pieces and just focus on one room at a time. Be sure to make your checklist for each room specific, as there are going to be different things you'll want to do, based on each room's contents and size. After each room is decluttered and cleaned, each one after that is going to seem so much easier, especially when you are able to look back at your progress.
5. Always declutter first
No matter which room you decide to start with, it's a must to begin with decluttering. Trying to clean around bits of paper here and random clothes there is only going to slow the process down. Try a systematic way to breakdown all of the items you find into four categories: put away, give away, storage, and trash.
6. Work from top to bottom
When it comes to cleaning, starting from the top of the room and working your way down is ideal. Dust falls naturally falls, so this will save you from doubling your workload and having to sweep or vacuum the floors a second time.
Our favorite cleaning tips
Windows: Polishing the windows will make the room feel brighter.
Walls: Wipe down the walls to bring their true color back.
Vacuum: Move furniture, and vacuum ceilings—this household appliance will be your best friend!
Dust: Stock up on furniture polish to make the place shine.
Want to expand this project to the garden? Check out our tips for gardening in the most effective and sustainable way!
Vertebrate populations have decreased in size by 60% since 1970, 18 million acres of forests are cleared each year, and the Arctic ice melting at an alarming rate. The protection of our planet is now more important than ever, and appreciation of the natural world seems to be something that we as humans are finding hard to grasp, as we continually mistreat the most precious thing we have. It's time that we start to defend the oasis we live in, which provides our food, water, and air, and we need to learn to share our world with the all the other living creatures that inhabit it.
Earth Day was founded on April 22, 1970, as a way to increase consciousness about environmental concerns by founder Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin. In 1969, after a brutal oil spill wreaked havoc in Santa Barbara, California, Senator Nelson pushed for a "national teach-in on the environment," which eventually led to events all across the U.S. and 20 million Americans taking to the streets to display support for a sustainable environment.
Since then, the global situation has continued to deteriorate, as yet more wildlife habitats are lost forever, and pollution reaches terrifying levels. It's time for us to abandon our destructive ways and take responsibility to create a planet that can be a haven for both us and the thousands of wonderful living species that we share it with. It may seem a great challenge for us today as climate change lays waste to our small blue and green planet, but Earth Day is the perfect way for us to stand together in unison for the most important thing we have—Earth, our home.
Explore with us, as we find out how Earth Day is celebrated around the globe.
1. New York, U.S.
Earth Day's main aim is to educate people about our global environmental problems, and the rally in New York offers the chance to connect with companies using green initiatives, as well as learn more about environmental campaigns and green travel. The event is one of the biggest outdoor Earth Day celebrations and takes place in Union Square—comprised of festive events, live music, and ecological food trucks, all while raising awareness of the fragile state of our environment.
The 5-kilometer, eco-friendly walking tour is a great way to discover ecology schools and state-of-the-art waste and recycling centers, while the New York Botanical Garden showcases live music performances, parades, and tours that highlight the urgency to protect the world's plant species.
2. London, U.K.
Between Tuesday, April 16, and Monday, April 29, the Neoclassical Somerset House opens its doors with a two-week program that allows the public to enjoy interactive events and large-scale installations created by some of the best artists around the world. During the program, visitors will be able to discover ways to combat climate change, promote sustainable living, and attend family workshops.
Some of this year's highlights include exhibits such as a Dystopian vision of a future without humans; a flag and audio commission on the roof exploring the voice of the natural elements; and a large scale LED installation that brings together the voices of international activists, philosophers, and poets.
3. Sydney, Australia
For Earth Day 2019, Sydney is holding an incredible 24,901-mile challenge where event organizers will find out how many times participants can run the entire length of the equator. The challenge needs 415 participants to run at least 2 miles each day in April to make the distance around the equator at least once—calling all runners, joggers, and walkers!
Sydney will also have experts in clean energy talk about how companies and technology impact the condition of the planet. These experts in clean energy and environmental entrepreneurship will share their insights into how industries have an impact on the environment on April 23 at The Podium Building on Market Street.
4. Tokyo, Japan
Yoyogi Park in Tokyo sees over 100,000 Earth-conscious people gather each year to learn how to live more sustainably from various NPOs and speakers. Earth-conscious artists and musicians perform in the park over the weekend and visitors can find plenty of organic products and local business' explaining their respective green initiatives. One of the highlights of the celebration is the Tokyo Vegetarian Festival, which offers delicious, ecologically-sourced food.
5. Vancouver, Canada
Canada's "Party for the Planet" takes place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, April 13, at the City Hall Plaza in Surrey, where three stages offer live music and performances. For the kids, there's the Earth Day Pilgrimage to Burns Bog on Sunday, April 28, where more performers sing, dance, and drum as they walk through the gorgeous Delta Nature Reserve. This year, the free outdoor event features keynote speakers, poetry recitals, and music from the Susan Summers and the Sacred Web Singers, as well as Aline LaFlamme and the Daughters of the Drum.
Curious how you can give back this Earth Day? Hop on over to our recent post to find out where to volunteer this year!
Sustainability is never a simple thing to summarize in a brief description, but in 1987, the United Nations defined it as when "design, construction, operations and maintenance practices [...] meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."
Sustainability has become an increasingly important issue in recent years, not just in the larger sense that the UN is working tirelessly to achieve for the betterment of people living in poverty, but also in our day-to-day lives. Whether it's recycling, riding a bike to work, or even reducing the amount of meat we eat, we're all trying to do our bit for the environment. But what about our gardening practices?
On the face of it, working on our gardens seems like a pretty environmentally-friendly activity, but whether we have the classic back garden, an urban community garden, or even a new-age roof garden, there are things that all green-thumbed people can do to ensure that their gardens are environmentally-friendly and continue to be sustainable—producing flowers, vegetables, and shrubbery for years to come—as well as working in harmony with the local environment.
Here are some practical ways to make your garden more sustainable and environmentally-friendly.
1. Plant trees
Planting trees is one way to not only improve your garden aesthetically, but it also makes it more healthy. Trees actually store the carbon from the atmosphere that your soil needs to become more fertile and fruitful. Of course, not everyone's garden can necessarily afford to give up space for trees, so why not volunteer with a local organization planting trees in communal areas, such as parks and community gardens?
2. Use natural fertilizers
To ensure our gardens and the habitats in them stay healthy, it is a good idea to try to avoid using synthetic fertilizers, and as much as possible, avoid using pesticides. Do you really want all those chemicals going from your vegetable patch to your plate? There are many other sustainable ways to help your garden thrive and grow—the most obvious of which is using compost. Filled with all the natural nutrients your garden needs, it's an eco-friendly way to keep your plant beds growing strong, and the beauty of it is you can make it yourself.
As we mentioned earlier, recycling is an important part of sustainability, and this includes our food and garden waste. By making your own compost, you're ensuring that all that leftover food and lawn clippings aren't simply ending up in a landfill somewhere. When making your own compost, you want to keep a balance between the brown and green plant matter, and you might be surprised as to what you can put in your mix.
To keep that good bacteria busy and active, the green matter is helped by grass clippings and kitchen waste. You can use your fruit peels, vegetables that are past their prime, and even coffee grounds. The brown plant matter is helped by shredded newspaper, wood chips, and dry leaves, so you can keep hold of yesterday's sports pages, and don't just bag up those leaves on the driveway when you've finished sweeping them up. Think of it as food for the garden!
4. Weed out the weeds
Every area has weeds that are native to it, and it's important to find out what may be growing in your area and during which season. Sometimes the worst garden weeds look like they're nothing more than wildflowers minding their own business, so it's important to know the difference. It's pretty tempting when you see evidence of weeds in your garden to get the herbicide out, but before you do that, there are natural ways to get rid of them. Tricks such as using salt, vinegar, boiling water, or simply removing them from the root can often be enough to a put a stop to them.
5. Diversity is key
When planning out your garden, try to get as many different species of plants as possible. Creating biodiversity is a good way to ensure that your prize flowers bloom for as long as possible, and keep coming back year after year. A wide range of plants also encourages local wildlife to visit your garden. Small birds and insects are an important part of a garden's life cycle, especially when it comes to pollination. Encouraging these habitats to spring up helps to keep your garden in ecological harmony with your surrounding environment.
6. Get the kids involved
As the old adage says, kids are the future. By getting your kids to help you in the garden and learning eco-friendly and sustainable gardening practices, it'll become second nature to them. No matter if it's at home, school, or in the local community, by teaching kids the right way to garden early on, you can make sure that they will continue to follow these practices as they grow older and start their own gardens.
Want to take sustainability to the next level? Expand your eco-friendly way of life to the day-to-day with some our favorite wellness tips!
The good news? We're halfway through April, and spring has well and truly sprung. The bad news? Those pesky April showers, getting everything soggy and wet. Don't let the rain, well, rain on your parade! Take a look at this fantastic waterproof gear to make sure your spring glamping adventure as dry and as comfortable as possible, keeping you going until you catch the first sight of those May flowers.
We'll start with the most important thing to keep dry on holiday…your phone! From simple things like Instagramming that delicious pão de queijo in the streets of Rio to making an emergency phone call to your friends because you got lost in Yosemite National Park, there are hundreds of situations where you'll want to make sure your phone is in working order. These waterproof cases will keep them that way!
iPhone owners can look good while protecting their devices, thanks to Ounne's sleek and translucent shockproof case made from TPU-based materials that allows phones to be submerged under 6 feet of water for up to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, everyone can enjoy Vansky's universal floating phone case, which can survive depths of 100 feet for up to 30 minutes—all while keeping its touchscreen functionality, the ability to plug in headphones, and a wrist strap for extra security. Now go and get that kayaking selfie!
Perhaps the only thing more important than your phone, especially if your travels take you abroad, is your passport. This, as well as various other travel documents, like boarding passes and insurance documents, can turn into a nightmare if damaged or lost. Where possible, these should be left somewhere secure and dry to be collected later, but if you have to take them with you, keep them safe with this waterproof passport locker from Witz. Not only is it completely waterproof and crush resistant, but it also floats!
While most of us are happy to take snaps of our travels on our smartphones, others prefer the customizable settings and features of traditional SLRs (or DSLRs), as well as the wide variety of effects they can produce. These cameras need love, too, and are often much more susceptible to damage than your average phone, due to the different removable parts.
Cases like the one above from waterproof bagLuniquz protect both the camera and the lens from water with durable and scratch-resistant TPU and PVC materials. While it will protect water from entering if dropped into a lake, for example, it is not recommended for underwater photography. It offers similar protection against snow, dust, and sand, however, so you really can take your camera everywhere!
Bags and backpacks
Where are you going to put your brand spanking new waterproof gadgets while you hike through the rainy Hoh Rainforest? In a waterproof bag, of course! The yellow bag you see above is the Waterproof Dry Bag by Earth Pak and uses a roll-top design that is popular with hardcore kayakers, due to its small size and ability to float. It's by far the best option for any activities taking place on a body of water, like sailing or whitewater rafting.
It's not the biggest, however, and its single strap is a turn-off for people who will be carrying their bags long distances, so another, more ergonomic option might be the Overboard Pro-Sports Waterproof Backpack. Featuring the same roll-top design as the Earth Pak, it boasts two straps so it can be worn with ease, has a 20-liter capacity for all your stuff, and features various inner and outer pockets sealed with watertight zips.
The sun is setting, and you've arrived back at your safari tent after a day of hiking, cracked open a well-deserved beer, lit up the barbecue, and sat down for a few minutes. As the conversation (and beer!) begins to flow, you begin to realize something is missing... music! If you're anything like us, you can't play the guitar, and music playing from a tinny phone speaker just doesn't cut the mustard. With a waterproof bluetooth speaker, like the one above from FUGOO, you can listen to your tunes anywhere in the world—without worrying about water damage from heavy rain, waves, or waterfalls.
We've been looking at ways to waterproof your valuables, but now we're going to look at protecting the most precious thing of all...you! There's nothing worse than the feeling of being soaked and sodden—wet clothes clinging to your skin, slowing you down, and making you cold and miserable. A good waterproof jacket provides your vital organs with defense against both the pounding rain and howling wind, as well as is absolutely essential for most travels. Of all the waterproof garments available, they are rivaled in importance only by a good pair of boots.
The Marmot PreCip for women boasts one of the best quality-to-price ratios on the market, offering a breathable and water-resistant shell for around $100. It also packs away neatly, so when the sun starts shining again, you can easily stow it away in your bag.
The Outdoor Research Foray for men comes in with a heftier price tag of around $200, but rest assured, you will be buying a top-of-the-line garment. Adjustable hood and sleeve cuffs seal off all entry points , but moisture and heat can be vented, thanks to its armpit vents on the sides, which offer superior water resistance while remaining extremely breathable.
As the connection between your body and the earth, your feet are going to bear the brunt of the elements, including rain, streams, and mud, to name just a few. Just a few hours of exposure to cold and wet conditions can lead to cases of blisters, frostbite, and even trench foot, causing major discomfort. A good pair of waterproof boots will prevent all of this, enabling you to enjoy your journey to the max and go wherever the wind takes you.
These boots by Timberland don't just protect your feet from water, they look good, too! They boast the classic Timberland style, while utilizing a waterproof seal and rubber soles for traction in slippery conditions. For more extreme and muddy conditions, you might want to consider a pair of wellington boots. What you lose in portability, you more than make up for in practicality, as evidenced by their popularity among those in agriculture—a famously wet and muddy profession. Check out Hunter Boots for some stylish options.
Tips and tricks
To end with, let's look at a couple of home remedies for waterproofing your belongings, which are perfect if you're not in a position to shell out for new gear, but also don't want to stop exploring. It must be noted that these tips are no substitute for quality waterproof gear; they're just a temporary fix.
The first is a simple trick for waterproofing your bag by using a large trash bag. Simply cover your bag and secure it so only the straps are visible, and the bag can still be worn normally...voila! If the opening of the trash bag doesn't fit around the bag, simply use it to line the inside, and once it is packed, tie it shut. In this case, the bag isn't waterproof, but everything inside of it will stay dry.
Unlike the trash bag trick, which can be used whenever, this next trick for waterproofing your shoes will require some foresight, as well as a wax candle and a hairdryer. Take a wax candle and rub it all over your shoes, ensuring a white waxy layer is visible on the specific areas you want to be waterproofed.
Once this step is completed, take a hairdryer, put it on high, and blow dry your shoes! Candle wax melts at about 115°F, so after roughly 30 seconds, you will begin to see the wax disappearing. This is because it's melting and seeping into the top layer of your shoe. Did I mention candle wax is waterproof? Like some kind of boring power up from Super Mario, your shoes are now temporarily waterproof!
Looking for some places to put your new gear to the test? Find out the best national parks in the world here and check out some amazing rentals on Glamping Hub!
Over two hundred years ago, a courageous group of 48 pioneers set out on an epic journey, battling through a severe winter, rugged mountains, and vast wilderness to cut a new trail westward from Massachusetts to Ohio. These bold American heroes started the expansion of the modern day United States, opening up new routes through the Northwest Territory. They were the bravest of the brave, and now it's your turn to follow in their footsteps and carve your own route through the unknown.
Release the adventurer inside you with one of our remarkable road trip ideas through a U.S. national park!
1. The Grand Circle Tour
With its awe-inspiring canyons and seemingly endless skies, the Grand Circle Tour in Utah offers 1,500 miles of incredibly scenic highways, six national parks, and huge lakes in the desert—meaning it's no wonder that this stunning region is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the states.
Start your tour by visiting Zion National Park, hiking Canyon Overlook Trail and watching the sunset light the entire canyon. On the second day, explore the spectacular Zion Canyon by taking the handy shuttle bus. Bryce Canyon National Park is then just an hour's drive away and boasts more majestic overlooks from Sunrise Point and Bryce Point.
The famous All-American Road, Scenic Byway 12, will then lead you through Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument into Capitol Reef National Park and its unique rock formations. Be sure to add Arches National Park, Dead Horse Point, and Canyonlands National Park to the itinerary, too.
To end the vacation on a high, soak up the awesomeness of the Grand Canyon's mile-high cliffs from the South Rim, while wondering how on earth four Empire State Buildings stacked on top of each other could fit within its monumental walls!
2. Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park
As the world's first National Park, Yellowstone contains more than 290 waterfalls, over 500 active geysers, and 67 species of mammals amid its sprawling 2.2 million acres. The vibrant and bizarre scenery at this one-of-a-kind spot means a road trip here is sure to evoke the senses.
Grand Teton National Park makes a great starting point for the road trip and the vistas of Phelps Lake from Death Canyon Trailhead are simply astounding. Jenny Lake, Hidden Falls, and Inspiration Point should also all make the list before getting back on the road to Yellowstone for terrain that seems like it could be from another planet.
Old Faithful, Grand Prismatic Spring, and Mammoth Hot Springs are all a must-see while on a scenic drive through Lamar Valley, where you'll see the bison at their watering hole for the ideal end to the road trip.
3. Yosemite National Park
The iconic valley of Yosemite is a photographer's dream, as well a paradise for rock climbers. With its towering waterfalls, giant Sequoia trees, and thousands of plant species, the area is a true natural wonder steeped in dramatic scenery.
Driving through the Wawona Tunnel to Tunnel View, the unrivaled beauty of the valley makes its instant and unforgettable impression on all its visitors. The majestic granite rock formation of the famous Half Dome and the panoramic views of the distant horizon at Glacier Point are the perfect way to start the vacation while the Four Mile Trail, which makes its way up to a 3,200-foot peak, is the ideal way to take in the diverse ecosystems and wildlife habitats in the park.
The Yosemite Valley Loop lets you burn some rubber while taking in the landscape and make some well-earned pit stops for more breathtaking sights, like climber's obsession and adversary El Capitan, Vernal Falls, and the tallest waterfall in North America, Yosemite Falls. As the Scottish-American influential naturalist John Muir once so aptly put it, this area really is "one of nature's rarest and most precious mountain temples."
4. The Great Smoky Mountains
Generally regarded as one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world, with rock formations dating back over 200 million years, the rolling valleys and dense forests of the Smoky Mountains are home to more native trees than the whole of Europe combined.
Encompassing 244,000 acres in Tennessee, 276,000 acres in North Carolina, and a 70-mile stretch of the Appalachian Trail, this region is an outdoor adventurer's playground that is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Cades Cove offers a scenic 11-mile loop road, where travelers can embrace the rich wildlife, historic buildings, and access to trails to delve deeper into the enchanting terrain.
The popular Newfound Gap Road also winds its way from Cherokee to the center of the park, crossing the 5,000-foot mountain pass of Newfound Gap and ending in Gatlinburg. The 66-mile round trip offers visitors a 3,000-foot ascent up through the backbone of the Smokies, with extraordinary mountain and forest views. Balsam Mountain Heintooga Ridge Road, accessed from the Blue Ridge Parkway, gives drivers even more sweeping vistas, while Cataloochee Valley gets you up close to majestic elk grazing, all from the comfort of your car.
5. Joshua Tree National Park
Covering 1,235 square miles, Joshua Tree National Park is an ecological crossover, in which the Mojave Desert and the low Colorado Desert meet, resulting in two distinctly different ecosystems. The rugged mountains and broad valleys covered in twisted Joshua trees create an unfamiliar and extraterrestrial landscape.
Having previously lay hidden deep underwater for 250 million years, the area now offers a paranormal expanse that is perfect for an unforgettable road trip with friends and family. Starting off in the town of Joshua Tree and heading south on Park Boulevard will lead to mythical Hidden Valley, with its iconic massive boulders, and a short trip back on the road will leave you at Keys View. The 5,185-foot lookout point has panoramic views of the Coachella Valley below, as well as San Jacinto Peak and San Gorgonio Mountain.
Jumping back in the car for a short cruise through the desert gives you the chance for some photo ops at famed Skull Rock and Arch Rock, while driving south on Pinto Basin Road places you in the intriguing Cholla Cactus Garden, with its unusual strands of cacti sprawling across the barrens for as far as the eye can see.
On April 22, 1970, millions of people in the U.S. took to the streets to call for action on the environmental issues of the time. It was the first time society took part in pro-Earth demonstrations, and this event led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and environmental laws, such as the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act.
The movement started spreading across the world in the 1990s, as global ecological awareness grew. Today, over 1 billion people from 192 countries join in annually, which makes it the largest civic observance in the world.
Why do we celebrate Earth Day?
There is an undeniable connection between nature and all living beings; Earth is our home! We celebrate Earth Day as a reminder of the importance of maintaining a harmonious relationship with our planet and with nature, and it gives us a chance to bring awareness to important environmental issues and inspire change.
Earth Day 2019
This year's theme is "Protect Our Species." Human beings have irrevocably altered the balance in nature by destroying and reducing plant and wildlife population. This has happened by deforestation, pollution, poaching, and more—all without acknowledging the value and unique role of each and every living being.
We are now dealing with an alarming rate of extinction, and we must work hard to protect endangered species. Bees, elephants, giraffes, whales, and coral reefs play an essential role in the survival of the ecosystem and therefore in our survival.
Although this might sound discouraging, the good news is we can still do so much to help. Every big change starts small, and if we work together as a global collective, we will be able to make a difference.
How to give back
1. Do your research: Keep yourself informed; information leads to better decisions.
2. Spread the word: The more people who are aware, the more people can take action.
3. Encourage individual and group actions for the environment and wildlife
We've also compiled a list of ways for you to support the environment in your day-to-day life:
Plant flowers, trees, and gardens
Collect trash from beaches and nature reserves
Recycle and avoid single-use plastics
Avoid making outdoor fires
Use detergents, soaps, and cleaning products that are biodegradable and eco-friendly
Adopt a plant-based diet
Grow your own food or buy locally-grown food
Walk or cycle more
Respect protected areas
Avoid touristic activities that support animal exploitation
Report hurt or sick animals to the authorities, as well as illegal trade
Abstain from buying products made with endangered species or parts of them (fur, leather, ivory, etc.)
Use cruelty-free products (not tested on animals)
Support sustainable fishing
Use oxybenzone-free sunscreens
Petition the government for better laws
Support local NGOs and volunteer
Travel green (accommodations with minimal carbon footprint)
Where to volunteer
Volunteering is one of the best ways to give back, and there are many great projects going on across the U.S, Canada, and the rest of the world. We've compiled a selection below where your helping hands, hearts, and minds are needed.
U.S and Canada
Wild West Wildlife is a non-profit organization dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating wildlife in the Texas Panhandle.
Last Chance for Animals is a Los Angeles-based non-profit dedicated to eliminating animal exploitation, with a variety of campaigns from banning live export and puppy mills to supporting veganism.
Earth Law Center is a New York-based non-profit that works to transform the law to recognize and protect nature's inherent rights to exist, thrive, and evolve.
Wildlife Rescueis an organization that aims to save wild animals through its network of rehabilitators and wildlife rescue centers across Ontario.
Nature Conservancy Canada is a non-profit that focuses on conserving natural areas and biological diversity all across Canada.
Rest of the world
Volunteering in places like Costa Rica, Thailand, or South Africa sounds appealing, but having so many options to choose from can be overwhelming. Fortunately, there are companies that can help you arrange everything and guide you through the process.
International Volunteer HQ works with wildlife and environmental conservation organizations on all five continents and offers a great range of affordable volunteering programs, including eco-agricultural and marine conservation, as well as animal welfare and animal rights.
GoEco is an eco-tourism company that provides a varied selection of volunteer projects abroad. Whether you want to volunteer for animal conservation or teaching, they will find the perfect fit for you.
Go Overseas offers wildlife and rainforest conservation programs all over the world that are both enriching and life-changing experiences.
Glamping Hub can help you travel green, thanks to our plethora of eco-friendly rentals in the U.S., the U.K., and beyond!
Holi festival is almost upon us, and we're here to clue you in on everything you need to know about this beautiful and colorful Hindu springtime celebration. Also known as the "Festival of Color," Holi is usually celebrated in India and Nepal, with millions of Hindus coming together on the last full moon day of the lunar month, which this year falls on March 20-21.
The history of Holi
Holi first originated in the Indian subcontinent, but it has since spread to other parts of Asia and is becoming more popular around the rest of the world. It's roots lie, however, in the story of Hiranyakashipu, the ancient Indian king "who was like a demon" and wanted to get revenge on Lord Vishnu for killing his brother. When Hiranyakashipu's son, Prahalad, who worshipped Lord Vishnu, would not obey his father, and the king decided he must be killed.
Hiranyakashipu had a sister, Holika, who was said to be immune to fire, and he asked her to sit with Prahalad on her lap so he would burn to death. Much to the king's surprise, however, Holika burned to death, while Prahalad, who all the while had been repeating Lord Vishnu's name, survived without nary a scratch. Thus, to this day, Holika's demise represents the burning of all that is bad. (For the complete story, check out Maps of India!)
Holi rituals and traditions
A few days before the festival, people usually start collecting wood for a big fire at the major crossroad in the city. On the eve of Holi, Holika Dahan takes place, which is the lighting of a bonfire to represent the burning of Holika and the victory of good over evil.
The next day is when the main celebration takes place, which is a party with lots of colors called Dhuleti. This jubilant festival sees thousands of people cover each other in a rainbow of colored powders to celebrate the beginning of spring.
The colors used are very symbolic in Hinduism. Red indicates both sensuality and purity, while saffron—the most sacred color in Hinduism—represents fire and purity, relating back to how impurities are burned by, or eliminated with, fire. Additionally, green represents life and happiness.
Everyone then takes to the streets to dance and sing and in the evenings, and friends and families will gather together for food and further celebration.
Reasons behind Holi
The main reason people celebrate Holi festival is to bring in the new season: spring. Hindus, however, have additional reasons for celebration. They believe it is the only day where the Gods look away—the only day they can get rid of any evil and/or sins before starting anew. The colored powders signify the sins, and when the powders are washed off at the end of the day, this signifies a clean and pure start to the new season.
Where to spend Holi
Holi is celebrated pretty much all over India, albeit with slight variations, so wherever you go, it will be a bright and vibrant ceremony. Here are some suggestions if you would like to travel to a popular and well-known destination for your Holi experience.
Vrindavan and Mathura
Mathura and Vrindavan are immensely popular throughout the country and attract thousands of people from all over the world. Vrindavan is a holy town in northern India and is where Lord Krishna spent his childhood, while Mathura is the birthplace of Krishna.
The tradition of throwing colors is also said to come from the love story of Lord Krishna and his wife Radha. A Holi show, therefore, takes place in Mathura every year—a week before the festival commences. This takes place from the Dwarkadhish temple to the Holi Gate, where the festival is marked.
If you want to be at the heart of one of the biggest festivities, you must visit Goa. The festival is called Shigmotsav, and it is spread over a fortnight. The main Goa beaches will turn colorful, and parades and performances will be held throughout the city for five days, which is a great experience for both locals and tourists.
What to wear
As you are attending a festival where you are going to get covered in water and color, it is important to wear something old and something you don't mind getting ruined. It is recommended you wear white, so the color shows up more, and you begin the day as a blank canvas. Our top tip? Cover your body in oil. You will have a better chance of washing the paint off at the end of the day.
Interested in visiting India? Find out more about where to stay here!
Mardi Gras is almost here and that means its time for costumes, beads, and a lot of celebration! We're here to give you some great background on this enormous party and some glamping sites perfect to head away to if you want to be close to the action and have an unforgettable experience this year.
A brief history
Mardi Gras in the U.S. dates back to 1703, when the tradition was brought to what is now Mobile, Alabama, by French explorers sent by Louis XIV to defend the then territory of Louisiana in the New World. They held the first organized Mardi Gras celebration there in Louisiana, starting a tradition that endures to this day.
When the capital of the territory moved to Biloxi and, later to New Orleans, the traditions spread and stuck. While today Mardi Gras is celebrated primarily in Louisiana, Florida, Mississippi, and parts of Texas, the spirit of the holiday has spread all over the U.S. and can be found just about everywhere.
When to celebrate
Mardi Gras is French for Fat Tuesday and is the culmination of the celebration of Epiphany, or the holiday honoring the Magi, 12 days after Christmas. It occurs the day before Lent begins on Ash Wednesday.
Lent is a religious period marked with repentance, somberness, and giving up habits or pleasures to prepare for the dark Good Friday and subsequent happy Easter Sunday in the Christian tradition. Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, is the last day to party it up with food, drink, music, and dancing before Lent begins.
Local groups, known as Mystic Societies or Krewes, organize parades, masked balls, and parties that are super unique. With good food, dancing, costumes, and beads, this celebration is a must-see. In recent years, more Mardi Gras celebrations are discouraging single-use plastic and glitter (a harmful micro-plastic for marine life) in an effort to become more environmentally conscious.
Where to celebrate
If you're looking to get in on this legendary party, heading to Mobile, Alabama, or New Orleans, Louisiana, is a no-brainer, but if you want to make this trip something a little more unique, a glamping site nearby would be the perfect getaway! Look below for some sites that put you close enough to the celebrations, but far enough away so you can sneak away from the crowds when you're done for the night.
This tucked away tent has access to gorgeous beaches, a nature preserve, and great trails for hiking and biking. After heading into Mobile for the celebrations on Tuesday, enjoy a few more days on the gulf for a well-rounded vacation.
30 minutes outside of Mobile, you'll find this cottage on the coast of Mobile Bay, with everything you need for a comfortable stay. With everything from Wi-Fi, a king-size bed, and a screened-in porch, this accommodation is the perfect comfortable spot to settle into before donning your costumes and heading to the parade!
New Orleans, Louisiana:
This perfectly cozy A-frame cabin sits on an incredible private 53-acre lake, surrounded by gorgeous wildlife, marshes, ponds, and forests. Just a 40-minute drive into the city of New Orleans, this little nature getaway is perfect for couples looking to experience a little bit of everything in the bayou.
This massive lakeside rental will make you want to get every friend you know and head down to NOLA. Located on Lake Pontchartrain and 45 minutes away from this city, this 20-person accommodation will be the perfect place to host the whole gang for a relaxing get away before heading into the city for a very memorable Mardi Gras.
Don't let the party stop here! Be sure to check out our collections of accommodations near New Orleans and Mobile for even more Mardi Gras-worthy options.