Host Spotlight: Daniel

By Fred Jéquier

Editor's note: Each month, we'd like to introduce you to one of our wonderful Glamping Hub hosts and what inspired them to create a glamping site. This month, we interviewed Daniel about his rustic cabin with a hot tub near Windham, New York.

A photo of Daniel taken by @francisdriscoll outside his rustic chalet, ready to head out to the slopes!
Keep on reading to hear more about his property below!

1. What is the story behind starting your glamping site?

Working a busy and stressful financial services career in New York City, I was seeking a weekend escape from the city. I found that in the Catskill Mountains of Upstate New York, especially as I developed a new passion for snowboarding. I have always enjoyed the great outdoors (I am a boyscout!). Reconnecting with nature, enjoying peace and quiet, and having access to the great hiking/ski mountains—Hunter and Windham—were important factors for me. So I began looking for a quaint cabin up in that area, and I got lucky in finding this cozy cabin!

Photo courtesy of @ethanabitz

2. What did you do before becoming a glamping host? What drew you to glamping?

I still work in the financial services industry and I'm a glamping host on the side. For most of my career, I worked in New York City and within the last year I moved to Chicago. Glamping offers the best of both worlds—you get to enjoy nature without the conditions of a tent directly on the ground.

Photo courtesy of @ethanabitz

3. In your opinion, how does your accommodation fit the definition of glamping?

The chalet allows you to enjoy and connect with nature in the Catskill Mountains, in a relaxing, rustic setting.

Photo courtesy of @ethanabitz

4. What is the most special thing about your property?

The large hot tub that faces an open field and mountains head on. There’s nothing quite like relaxing at night in the hot tub with your friends, some drinks in hand, and enjoying the clear starry sky together.

Photo courtesy of @dirtandglass

5. What do you love the most about running a glamping site? What are some of the challenges you face?

When I started hosting the chalet I never expected just how many people from all over the world I would interact with. At this point, I have hosted people from dozens of countries and it has been a true joy helping people plan their stay in the Catskill Mountains. I didn’t realize how much I would enjoy the hosting and communicating with guests par. I enjoy being hospitable...who knew!

Photo courtesy of @ethanabitz

Given that the chalet is located on a mountain top in a rural part of the United States, there are certain things that are more challenging to accomplish and things that I certainly took for granted living close to cities. Things take longer to get delivered up here or its difficult to find the right service to do work because it’s a long drive up the mountain from the valley.

Photo courtesy of @dirtandglass

I would say my biggest challenge was when I decided last year to add a hot tub to the property. There are many logistics that come into play in order to provide a good, safe hot tub experience to each and every guest. One can’t fill up the hot tub with water from the chalet as we run on well water, and filling up several hundred gallons at once would place a burden on our filtration and well pump systems. So we have to have fresh water trucked in. Luckily, one year and three contractors later, we have really found someone to take care of the hot tub from A to Z that we are truly happy with and has been providing guests with an amazing experience.

6. Tell us about your most memorable guest experience to date.

Our last Glamping Hub guests were a couple of honeymooners that stayed for over a week and they loved it! I thought that was both memorable and quite the compliment. Another stay that pops into mind is a family who gushed about how the chalet brought them closer when they went on their first ever skiing trip at Windham Mountain last March. I like that the cozy atmosphere of the chalet is bringing people together.

Photo courtesy of @dirtandglass

7. Which three words are most commonly used in guest feedback about your accommodation?

Cozy, clean, and relaxing.

8. Tell us about the experience you provide for guests visiting your glamping site.

I like to provide a rustic, relaxing experience on the mountain top so that you can enjoy nature, unwind and reconnect with those closest to you. I aim to have the chalet provide guests with the least expensive six person accommodation with a hot tub on the mountain top.

Photo courtesy of @ethanabitz

9. If you could have anybody stay at your accommodation, who would it be and why?

Can I please pick two? Ayrton Senna, the legendary Brazilian Formula 1 driver, and John F. Kennedy, my favorite U.S. president. I think they are both very fascinating and it would be so interesting to meet and talk with them if they were still alive.

Photo courtesy of @dirtandglass

10. Are there any upcoming additions/changes to your glampsite you would like to share with us?

When I bought the chalet in 2018, I started hosting it almost right away with no major changes. I have added/renovated things along the way due to guest suggestions and instagram inspiration. Therefore, we are always updating a little something here or there. In hindsight, I like this approach a lot because you learn more about the chalet and what guests want/like. Our next few projects include: building a mailbox so that the driveway entrance is clearly marked, building a rustic farm table for the kitchen, and making improvements to the driveway.


To book an unforgettable stay at Daniel's rustic and cozy cabin in New York, click here!

5 ways glamping can help you do a digital detox

By Alexis Vega

From 1992, when the first smartphone was developed, and 2007, when the first iPhone hit the market, to today's plethora of options when it comes to mobile devices of all kinds, there has been a noticeable uptrend—starting in the early 2000s—in our consumption of social media, our app usage, and our need for the latest and greatest in new technology. We live connected to our devices, and we are constantly worried about being up-to-date about what is happening online at all times—so much so that we sometimes neglect our real lives. It's hard to acknowledge that we might be losing control and that we have reached a point in which our internet addiction might be affecting our mental health.

How are social media and the internet affecting mental health?

In a recent study, the University of Michigan found that the use of social media may “reflect and amplify the levels of narcissism." Further research conducted by the University of California concluded that the use of phones and laptops disrupts sleep cycles, which leads to sleep disorders.

It doesn't stop there, however; spending so much time on our devices has more of an impact on our brains than we think. So much so, in fact, that we've come up with new buzzwords, practices, and trends to help us modify our dependence or cut it out entirely.

More and more people are consciously disconnecting from social media and technology to do what is now widely known as a "digital detox." It has become so common that designated digital detox retreats, hotels, and camps are popping up and rapidly gaining popularity. With getaways specifically designed to help you disconnect from your mobile devices on the rise, why not try going technology-free on your next glamping adventure?

What are the benefits of a glamping digital detox?

Glamping is all about being outdoors in a natural setting. With thousands of secluded accommodations in nature—without having to sacrifice any amenities—the last thing you'll want to do is go online. Here are some ways glamping is ideal for a digital detox.

1. It brings you closer to nature

There is no place in the world where you can find more peace than in nature. Switch off from social media and enjoy the feeling. It is proven that nature has a positive impact on our well-being. Nature heals, it reduces anger, fear, stress, and anxiety.

2. The human connection has a stronger signal

When in the wild, who needs Wi-Fi? Time spent in nature improves the personal and human connection you have with yourself, your friends and family, and fellow travelers you meet along the way. Without the distraction of your smartphone, you naturally will make space to engage with others, strengthen your bonds with people and nature, and interact with your surrounding environment.

3. A good night's sleep is guaranteed

Looking at a screen before bedtime tricks your brain into thinking it needs to stay awake, and it prevents melatonin from being released. Without any devices around, all you need to worry about is gazing at the stars above as you fall asleep—guaranteeing you a wonderful night of rest and relaxation!

4. Re-learn how to live in the moment

Checking your social media, email, and other apps takes up so much of our time—so much so that a break from checking them will make you realize just how much time you were wasting refreshing your screen. You'll naturally start to pay better attention to what is going on around you at any given moment and start to pick up sights, scents, sounds, and sensations you were previously ignoring.

5. Enjoy time for personal growth

Without the need to check your phone every two seconds, you'll be able to focus on you—allowing yourself to have new experiences and try new things. Try your hand at an outdoor activity that you've never done before, like stand-up paddleboarding. Challenge yourself to finish two books over the course of a week. Make a new recipe for the first time. The world is your oyster, and you owe it to yourself to have space and time for personal growth.


Can't head out on a trip right now? Create an outdoor glamping experience in your backyard with this fun party idea. Make sure you have everyone leave their cell phones in a bowl at the door for the perfect day of disconnecting!

All the Labor Day cookout recipes you'll need

By Eric Wright

With Labor Day weekend rapidly approaching, it's time to start planning that annual family cookout—filled with mouth-watering food—and avoid a half-baked spread! Even though summer may be coming to an end and the kids are thinking about heading back to school, there's still time for one big backyard barbecue and all that's left to do is to organize the legendary menu. Without further ado, lettuce begin!

From Southern-style mains and grilled sides to tasty starters and vegetarian options, make your Labor Day weekend 2019 one to remember with these delectable recipes.

1. Steakhouse burgers

A delicious steakhouse burger recipe from Once Upon a Chef.

For many Americans, a juicy burger straight off the grill is the epitome of Labor Day celebrations, and these tender steakhouse morsels are sure to impress. The main ingredient and star of the show here is the 85% lean ground beef, which gets mixed with bread, salt, pepper, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, and scallions before hitting the flames. Whether you like your burgers medium-rare or well done, these patties are always packed full of flavor.

2. Spicy buffalo wings and buffalo sauce

A juicy buffalo wing recipe from A Fork's Tale.

If you're looking to sink your teeth into something hot and spicy this Labor Day, you've just found a match made in heaven. These spicy buffalo wings only take around 35 minutes to make, and you can add as many red hot chili flakes to the sauce to get that perfect level of heat. Hungering guests at your summer cookout will be raving about your recipe for months!

3. Corn wheels with hot honey butter

A corn wheel recipe from Good Housekeeping.

The sweet taste of corn wheels dripping in hot honey butter makes them the real side star of any Labor Day cookout with family and friends. With simple ingredients, like unsalted butter, honey, Kosher salt, habanero hot sauce, and, of course, the all-important ears of corn, neighbors and friends alike will be a-maized by the rich flavor.

4. Bacon jalapeño cheese dog

A bacon jalapeño cheese dog recipe from Hungry Doug.

Thick-cut bacon, premium cheddar cheese, spicy jalapeños, and sizzling hot dogs create the heavenly bacon and jalapeño cheese dog, which is sure to be a massive hit at any Labor Day party. Super simple to make and ready in only 30 minutes, you know what they say, "Sun's out, hot dog buns out!"

5. Creamy potato salad

A great potato salad recipe from Inspired Taste.

A large, creamy bowl of potato salad is a must-have on the menu come Labor Day, and with this recipe, you'll have even the pickiest eaters praising your cooking. All you'll need is celery, pickles, sweet red onion, hard-boiled eggs, fresh herbs, and regular household condiments to create this ap-peal-ing side dish—all in just over 30 minutes.

6. Veggie skewers

An easy veggie skewer recipe from The Forked Spoon.

Grilled veggie skewers are an ideal complement to any main dish served on Labor Day, and with a wide range of fresh ingredients, like zucchini, red onion, and bell peppers, and a dash of garlic sauce, it's a super healthy addition, too! The ingredients all have the same cooking time of around 10 minutes, making these perfectly charred skewers an instant hit.

7. Kansas City ribs

Photo courtesy of Kevin is Cooking.

A couple of racks of Kansas City ribs sitting on the table just dripping in a sweet, yet spicy, rub are going to have your friends coming back for seconds and thirds! The thick, sweet, and tangy sauce takes around 50 minutes to make, and once applied to the baby back or spare ribs, the only thing left to do is to grab a cold one and wait for the smoker to do its work.

8. Baileys s'mores

How can you resist these Baileys s'mores from All Recipes?

If sweet treats are your thing, here's the inside scoop on the perfect dessert—this delicious Baileys s'mores recipe. A ridiculously easy dessert to make, yet irresistibly tasty, all you need in the kitchen are graham crackers, large and mini-marshmallows, chocolate sauce, and, of course, that all-important bottle of Baileys Irish Cream.


Looking for somewhere to get away for Labor Day weekend? Look no further! We've even got some more recipe ideas for you, too.

Stand-up paddleboarding: Where and how

By Eleanor Stanesby

Stand-up paddleboarding, or SUP, is one of the fastest growing water sports around the world. People are swapping out their kayaks—the former reigning champ—and trying their hand at this balance-testing activity. The origin of stand-up paddleboarding is traced back to Hawaii, where it was originally used for more practical reasons, such as traveling distances or fishing.

The sport has now become recreational, thanks to local surfers who invented the sport as a way to still get out on the ocean when the waves got low in summertime. They also realized that stand-up paddleboarding was much quicker and easier to learn than surfing—therefore making it available to a much broader audience and allowing its popularity to skyrocket.

Get ready to learn everything you need to know about how to stand-up paddleboard—and where the best places to do it are!

Photo courtesy of Seabreeze.

Where to go

If you're planning a trip or a vacation near the water soon—be that an ocean, a river, or a lake—you're in the right place to give stand-up paddleboarding a go. When weather permits, it's the perfect, fun-filled activity to include on any trip's itinerary, in addition to being a great full body workout once you've mastered it!

The perks of this water sport don't stop there, though. While stand-up paddleboarding, you're bound to be surrounded by a stunning natural environment, all while floating along a tranquil lake or sparkling river and having the utmost fun with this serene, yet challenging, activity.

The following are some of our favorite destinations:

Oahu, Hawaii

Photo courtesy ofISLE.

What better place to learn how to stand-up paddleboard than in the birthplace of the sport? Oahu, Hawaii, is known for it's epic big wave surfing, but in the summer when the waves are calmer, this is the perfect destination for both beginners and pros. Not only famous for it's epic water sports, the tranquil, clear waters; white, sandy beaches; and soaring temperatures are also a huge bonus when heading to this beautiful island.

British Columbia, Canada

Photo courtesy of Tripaneer.

British Columbia, Canada, is filled with reflective lakes and meandering rivers, and these peaceful waters make this the ideal place for SUP beginners. The possibilities are endless for diverse stand-up paddleboarding and sightseeing while here—and the incredible views will leave you in awe while doing so, too!

Portugal

Photo courtesy of Portugal Sport.

It's not hard to see why stand-up paddle boarding is so popular in Portugal, with its 1,793 kilometers of coastline to explore. You can explore the caves in the Algarve, or head to Luiz Saldanha Marine Park to go paddleboarding in an aquarium-like setting. With crystal clear waters and up to 70 meters of visibility, this spot is totally unique.

The need-to-know

Paddleboarding in Hawaii from Turtle Bay Resort.

Getting a feel for stand-up paddleboarding should only take 30 minutes or less, depending on how good your balance is. For first-timers, it's recommended to find calm waters and head out with a friend, in order to increase your chances of succeeding while learning this new skill.

Equipment

Minimal equipment is required, and it all can be rented from a water sports shop. The three main items are:

  • A paddleboard
  • A paddle
  • A life jacket

Techniques

Once you have your equipment, you can head to the water to start this adventure. Simply put, it's all about balance—using strength from your core to keep you upright and centered while on the water. The three most important parts of learning this water sport are: how to stand up properly, how how to balance while paddling, and how to fall.

Someone learning how to stand up on the paddleboard.
Photo courtesy of REI.

Trying to stand-up immediately as you get on the board is most likely going to end in disaster. Climb on the board while using your knees to balance, and head out into deeper water, away from the shallow shores. Once you feel comfortable, you can then begin to stand, one foot at a time. Plant your feet where your knees were and place the paddle horizontal along the board to anchor your balance.

Someone successfully standing on the paddleboard.
Photo courtesy of REI.

Once you're standing, you must rely on your core balance to keep you from falling. Your feet should be hip-width apart, and your weight should be evenly distributed. Keep your gaze on the horizon and avoid staring at your feet; this will help you keep your balance and avoid falling into the water.

What to do if you fall

Learning a new skill is always a challenge and will come with its wins and failures during the learning process. Falling is all a part of the fun when learning how to stand-up paddleboard; however, knowing how to fall correctly is important in order to avoid getting injured.

Pro Tips:

  • Fall to the side to avoid the board.
  • Try to fall flat to avoid hitting your head.
  • Hold onto your paddle.

You'll be paddling off into the sunset and off to your next scenic trip in no time!


Paddle off into the sunset and onto your next scenic trip! Here's some inspiration on where to head—and some other adventure sports you can give a shot.

How to start a summer bonfire

By Arran Wallace

The bringer of warmth, cooker of meat, and provider of a romantic atmosphere in a log cabin, fire has held a special and primal place in our hearts ever since early humans learned how to make ti and control it—marking a dramatic shift in human habits. It also ushered in a new era for man kind, the reduced risk from uncooked food and ability to stay warm in colder climates, among many others.

Given its historical importance to human life, it is surprising how few people actually know how to start a bonfire. We rely so heavily on modern appliances to warm ourselves and our food that we've forgotten one of the most important basic skills a human can have.

That's why we've put together this guide on how to safely start a bonfire this summer...and all year round, for that matter! When you head out on your next glamping getaway and want to start a bonfire to roast marshmallows or tell ghost stories, you'll know how to do so safely—protecting you, your fellow glampers, and the natural setting that surrounds you.

Step 1: Prepare the pit

Nonflammable surface? Check. Small pit for embers to fall into? Check. Perimeter of stones? Check.
Photo courtesy of Silver City Resort.

The first thing you'll need to do is choose a good location for your fire. It needs to be on bare earth, sand, or gravel—anywhere that can't catch fire itself. (Dry or dead grass is an absolute no-no.) Visualize an eight-foot safety perimeter, and clear any flammable materials within that area. If you're in a wooded area, make sure there are no low-hanging branches or vines that the flames could reach. Ideally, the fire should have open sky above it, so that smoke doesn't rise up into any branches nor affect any nests or animals up in the trees.

Once you've chosen your spot, start to dig out a pit that is a few inches deep, which will prevent the fire from spreading. As the wood turns into embers, they will fall into the pit rather then spread outwards. A perimeter of rocks also stops the spread of embers and ashes, especially in windy areas. It's also a good idea to have extinguishing materials nearby in case you need to put the fire out quickly in an emergency.

Step 2: Collect and arrange materials

From left to right, you'll see tinder, kindling, and firewood.
Photo courtesy of REI.

What you'll need

There are three main materials you will need to start your bonfire:

  • Tinder: Dry pieces of thin material that catch fire and burn very quickly. Good examples include straw, dry grass and leaves, newspaper, cotton balls, and even cattail reeds.

  • Kindling: Bigger pieces of flammable materials that catch fire quickly but burn slower than tinder. Good examples include twigs, thin branches, pine cones, and tightly-rolled newspaper.

  • Firewood: A standard log, about the length of one's forearm, and what most people envision when you picture a fire. These burn slowly and provide warmth for a long period of time.

Once you have these three things, you light the tinder, which is used to light the kindling, and then use the kindling to light the firewood. Try to collect twice as much as you think you'll need, because there's nothing worse than running out of materials before your fire is ready.

How to lay the fire

Once you have your tinder, kindling, and firewood, you can begin to arrange the materials, which must be done in a specific way, otherwise known as a fire lay. As an homage to glamping, we're going to go with the tipi fire lay, although there are many variations you can choose from.

This is a tipi fire lay, with tinder surrounded by kindling, leaving space to access the tinder.
Photo courtesy of Outdoor Life.
  1. Collect your tinder into a bundle, and place it in the middle of the fire pit.

  2. Use three or four twigs or sticks to form a tipi structure that contains the tinder bundle.

  3. Continue adding to the tipi structure, all while leaving a small opening upwind so you can access the tinder inside. Make sure to build upwards rather than outwards and leave spaces between the sticks for air to move freely.

  4. If you have a couple of small or thin pieces of firewood, you can add these, too, as long as their weight does not compromise the structure.

How to light the fire

Take your lighter or matches, and carefully light the tinder inside through the opening you left upwind. By leaving it upwind, this ensures that the wind pushes the flames through the tinder bundle. You may have to blow carefully to encourage the tinder to catch fire. If done correctly, the tinder will light the kindling, creating a quickly burning fire. At this point, you can slowly add the firewood, being careful not to suffocate the flames. As the anonymous quote says, "A fire is like a child; you must look after it carefully in the beginning so that it can look after you later."

Step 3: Safely extinguishing the fire

As the woman extinguishes the fire, note how she is upwind to avoid the smoke blowing in her face.
Photo courtesy of REI.

Now for the easy part! Remember that container of water you carefully prepared before lighting the fire? Take it and pour it slowly on top of the fire until the hissing stops. Don't stand directly above the fire to avoid breathing in the smoke.

Once you've done this, use a stick and stir the ashes into the dirt, which may reveal embers that weren't extinguished by the water. Put these out with more water, or simply stamp them into the ground with your foot. Make sure you're wearing shoes with thick soles, though!

If there are any sizable sticks or logs left, scrape away the surface to check they are not still burning. Finally, give everything the palm test: Hold your palms up to the embers and logs. If you can't feel any heat radiating off them, it is safe to leave.

In the unlikely event you don't have any or enough water on-hand, the extinguishing process is pretty similar. You'll use dirt or sand to cover the embers instead, which will deprive them of oxygen and stop the fire. Be careful not to fully cover the fire, as this could create extremely high temperatures under the dirt or sand that could reignite later. Once the flames have been extinguished, use a stick to mix the embers around in the dirt/ or sand to check that there isn't anything still glowing and then give it the aforementioned palm test.

One final tip

A camper strikes a flint and steel to create sparks, which land on the char cloth below.
Photo courtesy of Twin Eagles Wilderness School.

How to create a spark with no lighter or matches

Perhaps you left your lighter at home or it's run out of lighter fluid. Maybe you fell into a creek earlier, and now your matches are sodden and useless. In order to be prepared for every possible scenario, make sure you tuck some flint, steel, and char cloth in your backpack before you head out into the wilderness.

The steel is a C-shaped piece of tempered steel; the char cloth is a piece of sooty linen that has been burned in a low-oxygen environment, which catches fire easily and burns slowly; and the flint is a hard gray rock with a sharp edge. All of these can be found in any camping supply store. What's more? This old-school method of starting fires will impress your friends, won't run out of gas, and can't break. (You can still lose the materials, though, so be careful!)

The idea is to strike the steel against the sharp edge of the flint to create a spark, setting the char cloth aflame, which can then be transferred to your bundle of tinder. From this point, you can continue as described above, blowing the nascent flames carefully until your fire is blazing away.

Hot Tip: If weather conditions are windy, you may have to hold the char cloth on top of the flint, so that the sparks don't have to travel very far.

Another (easier) option is to invest in a ferro rod, short for ferrocerium rod, which is a small rod made from a compound of iron and cerium. Striking against it with a blade will produce a shower of sparks, similar to the ones created by 4th of July sparklers.

For those who prefer a visual, this video will show you how to create a spark with these materials:


Want to find somewhere to practice your skills? Check out all of these cabins with fireplaces, and don't forget to pack your flint!

Our favorite eco-friendly camping gear

By Eleanor Stanesby

A camping adventure is the best way to disconnect from day-to-day life and connect with the great outdoors on your vacation. While camping is a more sustainable choice of adventure travel, the impact on the environment is still ever-present if you haven't invested in the right gear to help lower your carbon footprint even further.

A cheaper price tag often influences our decision on which product to choose, but that low ticket price typically is for camping gear that isn't sustainable for the environment nor your wallet. No matter the season, camping products are prone to damage and wear after battling against inclement weather, which means cheaper gear will likely send you back to the store in no time.

If you've dug out all your camping gear and realized it might be time for an upgrade, become a more eco-friendly consumer with this selection of gear that will allow you to enjoy some conscious camping this year.

Camping stove

CampStove 2 by BioLite

If your heading off-grid, the BioLite CampStove 2 is the perfect way to toxic fumes while cooking your favorite camp meal. This wood-burning stove is a great alternative to gas stoves and will allow you to cook with cleaner air—producing 95% less smoke than a normal wood-burning fire. In just minutes, you can boil water with any renewable biomass found in the campground, and the excess energy can be used to charge any electrical devices, stored in an internal battery and used for later!

Camping utensils

RePEaT Utensil Set by To-Go Ware.

Avoiding buying and using plastic for a camping trip is a great step towards sustainability. In doing so, you're both cutting down on your plastic usage and protecting any wild animals from plastic waste being left behind on accident. The RePEaT Utensil Set by To-Go Ware is the perfect substitute for all of your cooking needs. Made from responsibly sourced bamboo, this set includes a knife, a fork, a spoon, and chopsticks, and it comes with a handy carabiner, so they can be easily clipped onto your backpack.

2-in-1 lantern and phone charger

PackLite Hero 2-in-1 Supercharger by LuminAid.

If you're out in nature, lack of light can be a problem, and finding a product that will last for the duration of your trip is vital. The PackLite Hero 2-in-1 Supercharger from LuminAid is the ultimate solar-powered lantern—both illuminating your campground, with its 300 lumens, and charging your smartphone simultaneously.

Before you leave, you can charge it via USB in just two to four hours via USB, and while on the road, all it needs are 16 hours of direct sunlight. This may seem like a long period of time, but never fear! The lantern can be clipped onto your backpack during the day to soak up all the solar power you'll need come nightfall. It's also water- and dust-proof, so no matter what type of adventure you're planning, lighting your tent or campsite will never be a problem again.

Fire starters

Sweetfire Tinder Matches by UCO Gear

Starting a fire with chemical-filled, toxic fire starters can have a big impact on the environment, releasing unnecessary and harmful chemicals into the atmosphere and contributing to global warming. These Sweetfire Tinder Matches by UCO Gear are strikeable fire starters made from a sugarcane byproduct—an ingredient used worldwide as a form of renewable biofuel—and are biodegradable. The matches have a burn time of seven minutes, which is more than enough time to get a campfire started no matter where you're camping. This no-chemical product means you're also avoiding adding any toxicity to the food you're eating, making them an all-around win-win.

Sleeping bag

Trestles 15° Sleeping Bag by Marmot

A sleeping bag is a true essential of a camping trip, and choosing the right one is crucial to guarantee a comfortable night's sleep and prepare you for the next day's adventures. This Trestles 15° Sleeping Bag by Marmot is designed for sub-par temperatures with synthetic insulation, has moisture resistance, and is lightweight for portability, but it is also made from 100% recycled materials. You are sure to sleep soundly knowing all of this!


Curious to know more about ecotourism and supporting our environment while you travel? Check out these incredible upcycled accommodations around the globe for inspiration for your next vacation!

Easy-to-make summer recipes while at home or away

By Eleanor Stanesby

Photo from The Gateway.

When temperatures are high, the thought of spending hours in the kitchen is dreaded by most. The already-warm nights are exacerbated by the oven and stove heating up the entire home, creating a flustered cook and sometimes a failed meal. Imagine when you throw in the additional pressure of cooking on vacation for a large group and in an unfamiliar kitchen, too!

Good food can be difficult to get right if you don't have a plan, so we've sourced some summer recipes that are easy, quick, refreshing, and something that the whole group will love, whether you're at home or away on vacation. They'll even leave time for you to ensure that you can achieve your sunbathing, reading, and afternoon napping goals this summer, too!

Dinner

No-cook zucchini noodles

A delicious zucchini recipe from Healthy Seasonal Recipes.

This no-cook zucchini noodle recipe is the perfect summer meal. With nothing but prep time, this meal is ready in just 15 minutes, and no cooking means no extra heat from the stove top or ovens. These noodles can be prepared multiple ways, no matter where you are or what kitchen equipment may be on hand, so you can even serve this meal on vacation. It's also a low-carb, low-cost recipe, with only three main ingredients: zucchini, pesto, and tomato—and seasoning, of course—all of which are easy to find, cheap to buy, and healthy! What could be better?

Fish tacos

A fish taco recipe from Foodie Crush.

This blackened fish tacos recipe offers the perfect opportunity to take advantage of the warm summer evenings and cook outside. The fish can be prepared on an outdoor grill, and after that, all you have to do is add fresh vegetables and seasoning. If you want to add a salsa, too, this recipe has the steps to an awesome, homemade creamy avocado topping. All these ingredients can be served separately, allowing the group to make their own tacos to taste at the table and take some pressure off of the cook. It's the perfect excuse to call up your friends and invite them over for a summer dinner!

Sweet treats

Chocolate peanut butter cookies

A no-bake chocolate peanut butter cookie recipe from House of Nash Eats.

Oats, peanut butter, and chocolate—what could be a better cookie combination than these three mouthwatering ingredients? Even better, these cookies are no-bake and can be created in just 15 to 20 minutes. If you're looking for a quick, no hassle dessert, this is the recipe for you, and if you're going on vacation, you don't even need an oven to whip up this heavenly creation. They're sure to be a hit with both kids and adults—the perfect way to end a hot summer's day.

Chocolate-covered watermelon

A chocolate covered watermelon recipe from Delish.

These tasty slices of chocolate-covered watermelon have got you covered when on the hunt for something refreshing to eat while in the heat. This delicious dessert needs only four ingredients: watermelon, chocolate, coconut oil, and flaky sea salt. Coconut oil may be hard to come by if on vacation, so this ingredient can be left out; however it does speed up the process from prep time to indulging. In a mere 10 minutes, you can have the ideal after-dinner snack for the whole group.

Frozen coconut s'mores

A frozen coconut s'mores recipe from Womans Day.

This recipe requires a little more work, but it'll be so worth it in the end. A summer s'more without the hassle and heat of a campfire? Sounds too good to be true! All you need is a freezer to achieve the ultimate frozen dessert. Made in batches, these frozen delights can be served to a large group, with the recipe designed to provide 32 servings, ensuring you won't need s'more once you've polished off this desert! If you love this combination of flavors, making this recipe is the ideal alternative in the summer heat.

Bonus recipe

Pink grapefruit gin slush

A summer drink recipe from David Lebovitz.

No summer vacation is complete without a delicious, chilled drink. This pink grapefruit gin slush is the perfect recipe for that lip-smacking, delicious summer drink. Ice cold, gin-infused, and sweet, there's no better homemade concoction to keep you cool. All you need to do is pour the ingredients together and put it in the freezer⁠! And now you don't have to worry whether your guests prefer their cocktails shaken or stirred.


Still trying to find the perfect spot for your summer vacation? Keep reading to find the perfect accommodation to complete your summer!

How to plan a glamping-themed party

By Eleanor Stanesby

A glamping party setup from Hostess with the Mostess.

Planning a glamping-themed party can be made simple with a few key items, a pinch of inspiration, and a dose of creativity. All you really need is an outdoor space—no matter whether your own backyard or out in the wilderness—to nail the nature element. As for the rest? There are no specific rules. You just need to be inventive and resourceful, and all of the party elements will come together! Keep on reading for some top tips on how to plan the most perfect themed event for both adults and children this year.

Rent a tent

Five-meter bell tent rental from Boutique Camping.

Renting a tent will truly transform your garden into the ultimate glamping site, and your level of commitment is sure to impress your guests. Boutique Camping allows you to rent a tent and get it delivered right to your front door. They ship worldwide, so no matter where you're located, you'll be able to have the perfect set-up to make it really feel like you've gone glamping.

Theme the food

S'more station from Sunset.

A s'mores station is always a good idea. Make sure to buy a plethora of marshmallows, Hershey chocolate bars, and graham crackers, as these are sure to be a big hit with guests. You can even add some extra ingredients to the station for a fun twist, allowing people to create their own special "glamping" s'more. Try anything from Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and other chocolate-based candies or cookies to other sweet treats like Nutella or honey.

A s'more trail mix recipe from Sprinkledwithpaper.

Why stop at s'mores when you can also have other s'mores-flavored snacks? This s'mores trail mix is just another easy way to stick with the party theme—same as a s'more—just mini!—but way easier to eat on the go. Check out this recipe, complete with free, printable tags in case you want to put this treat in separate little bags for each guest.

Find more glamping food ideas here, courtesy of Sunset Magazine.

Make invitations

Invitations are a vital step in party prep so that everyone knows you're throwing the best glamping gathering in town. If you're feeling creative, making your own invitations is the most wallet-friendly and thoughtful way to go. Make sure they stay on-theme and include all necessary information, especially if you'd like your guests to bring anything along.

Glamping invitation example from Etsy.

If designing isn't your forte, check out Etsy, where you can choose from a number of designs and edit them to personalize it for you and your guests. Our favorite route, however, is the eco-friendly, tech-savvy one—send an e-vite! The website Evite allows you to send the invitations directly to your guests' phones...for free!

Get creative

Glamping garden game from Linentablecloth.

Get the party started with some glamping games that everyone can participate in. Set up multiple stations, so all of your guests can play at the same time. If any of your guests have a competitive streak, Twister is a sure winner! A can of spray paint is all you need for this acrobatic garden game, which is definitely going to pull in some laughs.

Dominoes D.I.Y game from Linentablecloth.

Another great game with a fun DIY element is dominoes. The fun, pre-party twist is you need to collect and paint stones like dominoes before you play. Most often lost on younger generations, this well-known game will bring back some great memories for you older guests and allow everyone to bond over teaching the rest of the group.

D.I.Y cornhole game from Linentablecloth.

One last DIY game that is perfect for a glamping party is cornhole, a lawn game that will keep your guests competing and entertained all party long. The best part? With all of these different, interactive games and tasty snacks, your guests are sure to be off their phones and really creating some lasting moments with loved ones.

Our party picks

If you want to have your glamping-themed party go the extra mile, make a weekend out of it! Check out these perfect accommodations for the big event.

Located in Quathiaski Cove, British Columbia, this safari tent glamping site has the capacity for a group of 14 guests. This rental sits amid stunning woodlands and comes with a private hot tub to kick back and relax in when the games have finished and the night is winding down.

For an even larger event, this stunning vacation rental holds a staggering 34 guests. Set at the base of the Ruby Mountains in Nevada, your glamping party will have the most impeccable backdrop. What's more? With a food and beverage service to help you out, your job as a host just got even easier!


Have these accommodations inspired you to throw the ultimate, glamping-themed party? Find more options in your area on Glamping Hub!

How to help keep our beaches clean all year round

By Arran Wallace

Who doesn't love going to the beach? These areas of natural beauty, where land meets sea, provide hours of fun for adults, kids, and dogs alike. It's painful to see, however, the amount of trash left behind after a busy Saturday at the beach, knowing that the ocean will end up being the final resting place for all types of waste. In fact, 6.5 million tons of litter end up in the ocean each year—half of which are plastic products that will take hundreds of years to break down.

Marine and beach pollution come from a number of different sources, not just littering, including sewage, ocean mining, oil spills, agricultural runoff, toxic chemicals, air pollutants, and maritime transportation. Of this list, one thing we can easily and quickly change, though, is where and how we get rid of our trash, in order to help save our beaches, oceans, and marine life.

Check out our how-to guide on how to help keep our beaches clean all year round.

At the beach

The best reusable water bottles, as reviewed by Your Best Digs.

Reusable containers

One way to prevent the amount of trash left behind on the beach is to think carefully about what you take there in the first place. Avoid bringing unnecessary items to reduce the risk of leaving them behind, unintentionally or not. Invest in reusable water bottles that can be used for lots of different activities, and use Tupperware containers to carry your food instead of tinfoil or plastic wrap.

Some trash is bound to be produced by your trip to the beach, but sometimes the local beach doesn’t have adequate waste disposal and recycling services, so pack a trash bag with you to make sure you throw everything away, and easily hold onto it until you find somewhere to dispose of it properly.

Portable ash trays

Another major cause of water pollution comes from cigarette butts. Putting cigarettes out in the sand and leaving them there increases the likelihood that they'll blow into the sea, where they release toxins and pollutants, as well as generally adversely affect water quality and marine life.

A test conducted found that just one cigarette butt releases enough toxins to kill over 50% of the fish exposed to it for 24 hours. Moreover, their physical similarity to insects mean fish will consume them, and since they're unable to digest them, they will stay in their stomachs forever.

Avoiding all of this is as simple as investing in a portable ashtray, which you can then empty into the garbage when you dispose of all your other waste.

Peanut, the poor turtle deformed by a six-pack ring.

Avoid bringing and using plastic

Most people have probably seen the video of that poor sea turtle that had a straw removed from its nose, and six-pack rings are yet another way our drinking habits can negatively impact the lives of sea turtles. You can still enjoy your beer, but make sure to properly dispose of the rings and cut them up just in case.

If you find yourself at a beach bar, remember to turn down a straw if you're offered one. We were perfectly capable of drinking before 1888—the year when straws were invented—so we can easily give the turtles a break. Insist on being served in a glass, not a plastic cup, and enjoy your drink at the bar, with the shade and music, rather than taking it back to the sand.

Be careful with open flames

Everyone enjoys a good beach bonfire, but not everyone likes to see a beach cluttered with old fire pits that are blowing ash everywhere. If you do decide to have one, put the fire out thoroughly with water, and cover the embers with sand to prevent them from spreading. Once any rocks you've used are cool to the touch, move them back to their original locations, and fill the hole with sand. It's that simple, and now, the beach is ready for someone else to enjoy!

Burning your trash is also a bad idea—not only is it illegal in many places, but a low-temperature fire, such as a bonfire, also doesn't destroy trash. Instead, it turns it into tiny soot and ash particles that contain toxins, which are then blown into the air, spread around, and deposited into the sea, in addition to the surrounding soil and vegetation.

Volunteers at a beach clean-up organized by Ocean Conservancy.

Participate in beach clean-ups

The next time you're headed to the beach, why not set aside 30 minutes of your trip for a fun, group beach clean-up? You and your friends can go to different areas of the beach, maximizing the amount of beach you cover. You can even make it a competition, with a prize for the most trash collected.

On your own? No problem! Click here to check for organized ocean clean-ups near you. Ocean Conservancy is dedicated to reaching the goal of having trash-free oceans, and they have loads of information on how you can organize a clean-up yourself and what you will need before, during, and afterwards.

In 2015, volunteers in San Diego removed 197,788 pieces of trash, weighing 9,825 pounds, from their beaches. If that's how much trash was removed from San Diego alone, imagine how much trash could be removed from all of our beaches!

Away from the beach

Thinkbeforeyouflush.org, a website dedicated to raising awareness about the damage caused by the things we flush down the toilet

Although it's a great start, eliminating ocean pollution is not as simple as just disposing of our trash correctly and picking up what others have left. All waterways lead to the ocean, so garbage and waste products can make their way into the oceans via garbage disposals and sewage pipes.

We must be conscious of how we dispose of our waste at all times, especially of what we flush. In 2017, more than 5,000 wet wipes were found in a small area of the Thames River, which is just one example of a commonly flushed item that doesn't break down. Other examples include cotton balls, dental floss, pet litter, oils, and medicines, all of which have been flushed down the drain, into local rivers, and, eventually, the ocean.

While it's important for all of us as individuals to take action, we cannot exempt local businesses and global corporations from doing their part, too. Wherever possible, use the services of companies that have the best policies towards packing and plastic usage, and don't be afraid to tell your local café if you think they are being particularly wasteful. If dealing with an international chain, an online petition or letter and interaction via social media are powerful tools. Finally, remember to educate others, as only together can we hope to make a change.


Don't forget to check out some of our other blogs for tips and guides on a whole range of subjects!

Top 7 ways to beat the heat while traveling

By Eleanor Stanesby

When summer rolls around, many of us have the urge to pack up our things and go in search of an epic adventure. Soaring summer temperatures, however, can turn travel plans into a sticky situation. In order to combat the heat and ensure that all summer plans go off without a hitch, it's important to prep for warm weather pre-vacation.

Without further ado, check out our top 7 tips for beating the heat on your summer travels!

1. Dress appropriately

There's nothing worse than dressing wrong for the weather. Being uncomfortable can affect every part of your travel experience, and searching for the next patch of shade away from the scorching sun is not usually a fun past time. Make sure you pack loose-fitting, lightweight, and light-colored clothing for your summer trip. Think breathable materials, like cotton or linen, in light colors that won't trap heat. Not only will this tip save you from overheating, but packing just got a whole lot easier!

2. Stay hydrated

This may seem like an obvious tip, but many people don't realize how easy it is to get dehydrated in the the heat. Excessive sweating means we lose a lot more water than we're used to, which can become dangerous if you're on the move. Invest in a reusable water bottle that you can carry around with you, which will save you money and help the environment...a win-win situation! If you know your day will be filled with activity and the temperatures are predicted to be extra hot, you can even freeze your water bottle over night, which will you keep cool throughout the day.

3. Make use of natural resources

Whether you're lying on a beach or going on a hike, use the bodies of water around you to cool off. The area of the brain that regulates your body temperature is located at the base of the neck in the brain stem. Find a stream, a lake, or the ocean for some cold water, and cool your internal body temperature down immediately. Better yet, place a small wet towel on the back of your neck for a more time-effective method. One last top tip, is to run your wrists in the water for around 30 seconds for relief against the scorching sun.

4. Wear sunscreen

The highest-rated sunscreens, according to Consumer Reports.

Applying sunscreen may feel like a chore, especially if you have kids who won't stay still while you try to slather it on. If you're on the move, you'll need to stop and apply every couple of hours to avoid getting sunburned. Researching the best sunscreens is always a good idea, as some have more durability than others, and it will save both time and a painful burn by choosing the right one.

5. Carry a handheld fan

Handheld ice cream cone-shaped fan from Amazon.

If the place you're traveling to is known for being humid, a handheld fan may be the only option for some extra relief from the heat. This may seem a little "extra," but we think you'll be thanking us when your feeling cooler than the rest of your group. If you're worried about it popping up in photos, check out these cute handheld fans shaped like ice cream cones that are more than worthy of an Instagram post.

6. Eat cooling foods

Eating heavy, spicy, and protein-rich foods will only make you feel worse in the heat, as they have a metabolic effect that will cause you to feel warmer. Stick to light foods, such as fruit and vegetables, which both help with your temperature and won't make you feel drowsy. Treat yourself to an cold ice cream to cool your core temperature down and reward yourself with a sweet treat, too. You're on vacation—why not?

7. Avoid the hottest part of the day

The hottest part of the day is hard to withstand and brings with it many problems that are hard to avoid. Your best bet is to not be outside during this time of day. Become an early riser and get all your activities done in the morning while the temperatures are still reasonably low, or wait until late afternoon to take that hike you've been dying to do. You'll thank yourself later!


If you still haven't decided where to take your summer vacation, check out these getaways for the perfect trip to up your travel game!