The Best Road Trip Gear

We spend A LOT of time on the road, so at this point, we’re pretty much road trip experts. If you’re planning to hit the road and see the sights on your own, here’s a list of the gear that we think will help make your trip safer, more comfortable, and best of all, more fun!

If you’d rather leave the driving up to the experts, give us a call to find out about our upcoming trips, where you can see the sights from a luxury motorcoach, and make your next vacation easier and more enjoyable: (828) 595-9691

Lifeline AAA Excursion Road Kit

Lifeline AAA Excursion Road Kit
Be ready for ANYTHING the road has in store for you with the Lifeline AAA Excursion Road Kit. In addition to a first aid kit, which is always good to have on hand, the kit includes jumper cables to deal with a dead battery, a tire inflator to make sure you’re always topped up, a flashlight, gloves, tools, and even safety triangles that all fit into a nicely designed bag. If you run into any issues, this kit probably has what you need to fix it and get back on the road.

ENO DoubleNest Hammock

Eagles Nest Outfitters – DoubleNest Hammock
Nothing beats a relaxing nap in a picturesque area, and with a travel hammock from ENO, you’ll be ready to lounge just about anywhere. Made of strong yet lightweight material, the DoubleNest Hammock is big enough for two people to relax together, yet it stuffs down into a pack the size of a softball when it’s not in use.

iOttie One Touch Car Mount

iOttie Easy One Touch Qi Wireless Fast Charge Car Mount
Smartphones have become a crucial part of any road trip, as they can give directions, control the soundtrack, help find the closest gas station, take photos, and so much more. If you want to keep your phone front and center so that it’s easy for both the driver and passenger to control, you’re going to want a smartphone mount, and if you have a newer device that can charge wirelessly, why not also get a mount that can charge your phone while you’re using it? This Qi charger from iOttie holds your phone securely in a wide variety of easily-configurable angles and distances, and also includes the latest wireless charging capability so your phone will always be topped up and ready to go when you arrive at your destination.

Zojirushi Stainless Steel Travel Mug

Zojirushi Stainless Steel Mug
Having hot coffee is a great way to start the day when you’re looking to put some miles behind you, and if you don’t want to have to chug down your full cup before it gets cold, you should definitely bring along a travel mug. This mug from Zojirushi is one of the best, and can keep a hot beverage hot (and a cold beverage cold) for hours and hours. It’s actually surprising the first time you go to take a sip a few hours after pouring coffee into it, only to find that your coffee might be still too hot to drink! You can get the mug in 12, 16, or 20-ounce sizes depending on how much coffee you typically drink, and there are a wide range of colors available to match your personal style. There’s even a handy lock on the lid that makes sure you don’t make a mess if you happen to knock it out of the cupholder and onto the floor of your vehicle.

Rumpl Puffy Blanket

Rumpl Puffy Blanket
With a good travel blanket, you’ll always be ready for a spontaneous picnic or an unplanned outdoor concert where you need a little extra warmth. Rumpl is one of the original ‘puffy blankets’ and is designed to provide optimal warmth in a variety of conditions and climates. It’s cozy, lightweight, durable, waterproof, and resistant to odors, stains, and pet hair, and packs down into a water resistant stuff sack that compresses the blanket into a tiny, 2.1lbs package. Best of all, if you’re always arguing with your driving partner about the proper temperature to keep the inside, you can use the Rumpl blanket to stay warm, and keep both people happy at their ideal temperature.

Therm-a-Rest Compressible Travel Pillow

Therm-a-Rest Compressible Travel Pillow
This travel pillow is perfect for catching a little shut eye in the passenger seat, and compacts down into a small pack that’s perfect for providing comfort without taking up a lot of space. Inside, foam filling expands to 4-inches of support for your head, neck, and back, and the brushed polyester cover is soft against your skin while still being easy to clean. Pair it with the Rumple blanket, and you’ll be catching some zzz’s in no time!

Tile Mate

Tile Mate with Replaceable Battery
If you’re the type of person who occasionally misplaces your keys (or wallet, or purse, or really anything important that you might bring along on a road trip) then you should definitely check out Tile. These devices help track down any missing item, and can emit a sound if they’re close by, or ping other Tile devices if you’re further away, and need to locate a lost item. Attach one to your keychain, one to your bag, and one to anything else you want to keep track of, and rest assured that you’ll arrive home with everything you left with, and won’t get stuck somewhere looking for your car keys. Best of all, while Tile used to have a fixed battery that required a whole new device every few months, the new Tile uses a replaceable battery that can be easily swapped out when the old battery dies.

Hudly Heads-Up Display

Hudly Wireless Heads-Up Display
While certainly not a necessity, the Hudly Heads-Up Display is a unique way to make your drive easier by providing directions, vehicle info, and more, right in your line of sight but without blocking your view of the road.

Opinel No.10 Stainless Corkscrew Knife

Opinel No.10 Stainless Corkscrew Knife
A pocket knife is a great tool to bring along on a road trip, since it can help you out in a wide variety of situations and doesn’t take up much room in the vehicle, and the Opinel No. 10 Corkscrew knife has the added benefit of being able to open up a bottle of wine if you decide to end the day of driving with a celebratory glass of vino. Opinel has been around for more than 100 years, so it’s a brand you can trust, at an affordable price you can love!

Deck of Cards

Deck Of Cards
A good road trip isn’t complete without a deck of cards, so you can play bridge, poker, go fish, or a thousand different variations of solitaire while you’re stopped for the night, waiting for food, pulled over to enjoy the view, or just making new friends at a rest stop.

Rand McNally Road Atlas

Rand McNally Road Atlas
Sure, your phone is going to work great in most situations for getting directions and providing navigation, but if you’re going to spend a lot of time on the road, it’s a good idea to have a backup method of finding your way that doesn’t rely on batteries that can die in the middle of nowhere! Rand McNally is a trusted source of accurate and easy to use maps, and this Road Atlas covers every U.S. state and Canadian province, an overview map of Mexico, and detailed inset maps of over 350 cities and 20 U.S. national parks!

6 Unique Travel Souvenirs To Remember Your Experience

Step into any gift shop in any city, and you’ll probably see a slightly altered version of the exact same items: Magnets with a city name on them, snow globes with the most popular tourist destination inside, or picture frames that look like they were designed in the ’80s.

Instead of getting another forgettable tchotchke that you’ll stuff into the back of a drawer and never look at again, here are six ideas for unique travel souvenirs, gifts, and keepsakes that will help you remember your travels in a fun way that you’ll actually want to share:

Travel Books - Unique Travel Souvenirs

Books
Instead of bringing a book with you when you travel, make one of your first stops at each new destination a local bookstore, and pick out a new book to read. You can try to find a book that’s set in the destination you’re visiting, or ask the storekeeper for a recommendation and let fate take over.

Not only will this give you something to do while you’re relaxing during your travels, but you can bring each book home to start a collection that will remind you of the places that you’ve visited.

You can also write on the inside cover of each book, to add dates, times, and places that you visited, and memories or experiences that you never want to forget.

Themed Photos
Taking photos while you travel is a no-brainer, but to turn them into a unique travel momento, pick a theme that you’ll always do whenever you visit a new place.

Maybe, like Matt Harding, you pick out a favorite dance move, and video yourself doing that move at every new place that you visit:

Or maybe you have a favorite travel shirt or hat that you always bring with you, and you can wear that in front of your favorite monument. Or maybe you jump up in the air with your arms raised above your head in front of your favorite view. Just pick something fun and unique that you enjoy doing, and you’ll look forward to finding just the right spot to take your photo at.

Travel Postcards - Unique Travel Souvenirs

Postcards
Many travelers get asked by friends and family to send back postcards from places they visit, but you can also send postcards to yourself as a way of remembering the places you’ve visited and the things you’ve seen and done.

Pick out a postcard that reminds you of your favorite experience, jot down a few of your favorite memories on the back, pick out a unique stamp that reminds you of the place you’re visiting, and then mail it back home. In addition to the postcard itself, the marks that the post office will put on the card when they mail it will become part of the keepsake.

Restaurant Menu - Unique Travel Souvenirs

Menus
Remember the favorite meals that you ate while traveling by bringing home the menu from that restaurant. You should always ask before taking a menu, and you can even offer to buy one if you want to increase your odds of the restaurant saying yes, but it’s a great way to remember the places that you visited, and something unique to frame and hang up on your wall back home.

Unique Kit Kat Flavors - Unique Travel Souvenirs

Photo by FlyingToaster

Local Food
Everyone loves to try new restaurants, eat new foods, and sample the local food scene when they travel, so why not bring some of that food home with you?

Whether it’s olive oil from Spain, unique Kit Kat flavors from Japan, chocolates from Belgium, kangaroo jerky from Australia, or a bottle of wine from Italy, edible snacks are a great way to re-live your travels, and it’s something that you can easily share with friends and family back home, which they’ll probably enjoy a lot more than looking through another travel photo album!

(Just make sure you look up any restrictions on what you can bring back to your home country, since you may need to declare certain items, or provide proof of where they were purchased from.)

Beach Sand Collection - Unique Travel Souvenirs

Beach Sand
If you’re the type of person that always seems to vacation at beach destinations, you can bring home a handful of sand from each beach that you visit, and display them in small glass bottles.

Not only will this make for a unique decoration, as each bottle will have different colors and textures based on what the sand is made from, but it makes for a great conversation starter when someone visits your home and notices your new collection.

Unexpected Ways Your Smartphone Camera Is Your Most Important Travel Accessory

Smartphone Camera

You probably think about your smartphone camera as a convenient way to capture travel memories, but there’s a lot more that you can (and should!) do with your smartphone camera than just capture memories.

A smartphone is one of the most powerful tools that any traveler carries with them, and in addition to doing things like looking up directions or calling for reservations, it can be used to keep records of everything related to your travels, to help protect you or make your trip easier in a number of ways.

Here are a few ideas for how you can use the camera in your smartphone, and what to take photos of to improve your next trip:

  • Inside Your House – Before you leave for a trip, take a few photos of everything inside of your home. Unfortunately many criminals target people when they are traveling, and if there’s a break-in, you’ll have a record of all your possessions for an insurance claim. (And if you’re the type of person who always worries that you forgot to unplug your hair dryer or turn off the stove, you’ll have an easy way to reassure yourself that you took care of everything before you left.)
  • Your Luggage – If your bags get lost, it’s a lot easier to track them down when you have an actual photo of what they looked like, including any identifying marketings, instead of a vague description of “black suitcase with wheels”. Make sure to take photos of any tags that are attached to the bags too, just in case.
  • Everything In Your Luggage – If your bags get lost or stolen, it’s a lot easier to file for an insurance claim if you have a photo of exactly what was inside. This is especially true if you travel with expensive technology, cameras, jewelry, or clothing.
  • Everything In Your Wallet – Take a picture of the contents of your wallet, including the front and back of every credit card, identification card, insurance card, and your passport if you’re traveling internationally. That way, if your wallet gets lost or stolen, it will be a lot easier to remember what was inside, and get them cancelled and replaced.
  • Everyone Traveling With You – Start each day with a group photo! Not only is this a great way to capture a daily memory, but it’s also a great way to remember what everyone looks like (“Jimmy’s wearing an orange shirt!”) if you need to scan a large crowd to find someone if you get separated, of you’re asking security to help with the search.
  • Where You’re Staying – When you check in, whether it’s a hotel room, or especially an Airbnb, take a picture of what the room looked like before you moved in. That way you can easily dispute any damage that existed before you got there.
  • Your Room Number – If you’re in a large hotel, it can be easy to forget what floor or room you’re staying in. To make it easy to remember, just snap a quick pic of the room number when you check-in, and you’ll have an easy way to remember.
  • Your Parked Car – The last thing you want to do when you return from vacation is try to remember if you parked in 129 Red or 192 Blue. Instead, take a photo of your car with the aisle or space number visible, so you can immediately tell exactly where it’s parked.
  • Your Rental Car – Even if you do a walk-around before driving off the lot, you might not notice every chip or scratch, so it’s best to have a record of exactly what the vehicle looked like before you took possession, so that you have evidence in case they try to blame any damage on you. In addition, if you have a photo of the license plate, it will make it easier to do things like fill out a parking pass when you check-in to your hotel.
  • Screenshots Of Digital Information – It’s super convenient to keep things like boarding passes and reservation confirmations on your phone, but if they’re in your email or in your phone’s browser and you end up in a place with weak or no internet, you may not be able to access them quickly or easily. Instead, take a screenshot of anything important, including boarding passes, hotel or rental car reservations, phone numbers for anywhere you plan to visit, maps and directions, etc. so you can access them even if you don’t have a good internet connection.

Unfortunately smartphones are also a popular theft target for criminals when you’re traveling, so it’s a good idea to send a copy of the photos you take to someone you trust, like a friend or family member, whose phone number you have memorized, and who you can call at any time to have them send you a copy of your photos.

You can also put your email address or a friend’s phone number on a sticker that you attach to the outside of your smartphone when you travel, so that if you happen to accidentally leave your phone somewhere, a good samaritan who finds it will have an easy way to get it back to you, even if the battery in your phone has died.

The Ultimate Foodie Road Trip

Orbitz gathered the 70 restaurants with the best regional dishes, as determined by Foursquare data, and then calculated the shortest route between the restaurants to create The Ultimate US Foodie Trip:

Pack your bags, pack your hunger, and hit the road!

5 Best Roller Coasters In The United States

Recently we announced the addition of Carowinds in Charlotte, North Carolina to our list of destinations that we serve, and we look forward to helping thrill-seekers visit the 400-acre amusement park. With 13 different rides, Carowinds ranks 5th in the world for having the most roller coasters in one park, so it’s a must-visit destination for anyone who loves world-class attractions and heart-pumping adventure. If you’re the type of person who can’t get enough of the adrenaline-fueled excitement that a good roller coaster provides, we wanted to share our picks for the top five best roller coasters in the United States.

Fury 325

Carowinds, Charlotte, NC

Fury 325 Roller Coaster

You don’t have to go far to ride the world’s tallest and fastest giga coaster, because it’s right here at Carowinds in Charlotte, North Carolina! Fury 325 lifts riders to a peak height of 325 feet, then sends them down a dramatic 81-degree drop, into a massive 190-foot tall barrel turn, and a high-speed S-curve reaching speeds of up to 95 mph. You’ll also experience an astonishing 91-degree overbanked horseshoe turn, and the “Hive Dive” that takes riders underneath a pedestrian bridge at the entrance to the park, so that every park visitor can see what’s ahead of them. Fury 325 is North America’s longest steel coaster, at over 1.25 miles long, and you’ll get plenty of time to enjoy it, since the average ride time is 3 minutes and 15 seconds. You’ll even cross the North and South Carolina state line in the middle of the ride, for an interstate travel experience you won’t soon forget!

Lightning Rod

Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, TN

Lightning Rod Roller Coaster

Another top roller coaster in the Western North Carolina area, the Lightning Rod at Dollywood is the world’s first wooden roller coaster with a magnetic launch system. That means that unlike other wooden coasters, which clackety-clack climb up an initial hill and then use gravity to gain speed, Lightning Rod launches riders from zero to 45 mph, and actually gains speed as it climbs up the first 20-story-tall lift hill, and then sends riders over twin summit airtime hills before sending them back down the main 165-foot drop. With 3,800 feet of track and top speeds of 73 mph, it’s also one of the fastest wooden roller coasters in the world. And unlike a lot of coasters that weave through asphalt jungles, Lightning Rod was designed to weave through the trees and over the hills and valleys surrounding Dollywood, so you’ll feel like you’re on an adventure through the wilderness.

Steel Vengeance

Cedar Point, Sandusky, OH

Steel Vengeance Roller Coaster

Regularly named the best roller coaster in the United States by riders at CoasterBuzz, Steel Vengeance is the world’s first steel-on-wood hybrid roller coaster to stand over 200 feet tall, creating an entirely new category of thrill ride they call the hyper-hybrid. With 10 world records, it’s the world’s tallest, fastest, steepest, and longest hybrid roller coaster, and has the most airtime of any roller coaster in the world! You’ll climb to a height of 205 feet, before flying down the 90-degree initial drop at up to 74 miles per hour. There are 4 inversions, almost 30 seconds of airtime (the most on any roller coaster on Earth) and countless ricocheting movements left-to-right, up-to-down, and side-to-side.

El Toro

Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson, NJ

El Toro Roller Coaster

Rated the best roller coaster in the United States by CoasterCritic.com, El Toro is easily one of the best wooden roller coasters in the world. The ride begins with a climb to 176 feet, followed by a 76 degree drop, which is the steepest drop of any wooden roller coaster in the country. As you will race through the coaster at up to 70 miles per hour, El Toro sends you over a series of nine insane hills designed to give you maximum airtime, with ‘ejector’ airtime that launches you out of your seat and makes you feel like you’d fly away if the restraints weren’t holding you back. Unlike other wooden roller coasters that are built on-site, El Toro was built using prefabricated track, which makes it smoother, faster, and more exciting than any wooden coaster you’ve ridden before.

Twisted Colossus

Six Flags Magic Mountain, Valencia, CA

Twisted Colossus Roller Coaster

When it debuted in 1978, the twin-track Colossus at Six Flags Magic Mountain was the world’s tallest and fastest wooden roller coaster. However, as other rides continued to evolve, Colossus was no longer thrilling riders like it used to, so the designers re-imagined the whole ride and turned it into a steel-wood hybrid coaster called Twisted Colossus that made it one of the best coasters in the world yet again. By turning the twin-track coaster into a single track, Colossus riders get to race through twice as many thrills along the massive 5,000-foot-long track, including two 80-degree drops and almost four minutes of ride time. Best of all, if operators time it right, two trains can “race” each other through the track, including one of the most unique features of any roller coaster in the world: A “Top Gun Stall” where the two trains spin around either other, one directly over the top of the other.

Attending The World Equestrian Games In Tryon? Here Are The Best Day Trips, Tours, And Activities In Western North Carolina

Tryon International Equestrian Center

The World Equestrian Games are coming to Tryon, North Carolina, just south of Asheville. This two-week event is the major international championship for the eight core equestrian disciplines of show jumping, dressage and para-equestrian dressage, eventing, driving, endurance, vaulting, and reining.

More than 500,000 spectators are expected to attend the games, which gives people a chance to explore the surrounding areas and see what makes Western North Carolina so special. If you’re attending the World Equestrian Games in Tryon, here are a few ideas for what you can do when you’re not watching ‘The Greatest Equestrian Show On Earth’.

NOTE: During the World Equestrian Games, we’re offering transportation to and from the Asheville Airport, transportation to and from hotels and the games, and tours in the Asheville area. We can also customize any of our transpiration options to fit your needs. For more information, please call us at: (828) 595-9691

Hike To A Waterfall
There are thousands of waterfalls in the mountains of Western North Carolina, and sometimes it can feel like a challenge to find a hiking trail that doesn’t have a waterfall on it. For a great list of the most popular waterfalls, visit WNCWaterfalls.info, and make sure to check our our favorites, including Linville Falls, the most photographed falls in North Carolina, Looking Glass Falls, a popular swimming spot, Sliding Rock, where you can slide down the natural waterslide, and Skinny Dip Falls, where you can jump off a rock into the cool mountain waters – with your bathing suit on, of course!

WNC Cheese Trail

Follow The Cheese Trail
Spend the day exploring the country roads of Western North Carolina on the WNC Cheese Trail, and sample some of the south’s best cheeses, directly from the cheesemakers themselves. You can try cow and goat milk cheese, fresh to aged, pasteurized and raw, from artisan and farmstead producers. These are small businesses, so it’s good to contact the farms before visiting to make sure they are open and accepting visitors at the time you plan to visit, but the cheesemaking community in WNC is vibrant and growing, so it’s a delicious way to check out the local area.

Zip Through The Trees
There are a few zip line tours in Western North Carolina, but our recommendation would be Navitat Canopy Adventures, a world-class eco-adventure with huge zip lines that criss-cross through a secluded 242-acre mountain cove with 1,200 feet of elevation change. Navitat has been named one of the best zip line tours in the country, and features zip lines up to 350 feet high, from 360 feet to 3,600 feet long, and speeds up to 65 mph! There’s even a side-by-side zip line where you can zip alongside friends or family to share the experience together. In addition to the zip line tour, your day includes rappeling, suspended sky bridges, and panoramic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Stop By A Brewery
Western North Carolina is known for having more breweries per capita than any place in the country, so it’s no surprise that people love their beer here! You can start the Asheville Ale Trail with a brewery tour to get up close and personal with the entire brewing process, then sample tastings of a wide variety of local beer styles. If you’re ready for something a little different, there are also a few local cider companies that have recently opened up and are making some amazing ciders! If you’re looking to visit a few different breweries, give us a call and schedule one of our Brewery Tours, where you can leave the driving up to us, and we’ll make sure you get there and back safely and comfortably.

Mount Mitchell

Summit the East’s Highest Peak
There are plenty of amazing hikes in the Western North Carolina area, but if you want to bag a mountaintop, Mount Mitchell is the highest peak in the East, at 6,684 feet. You can park near the summit and walk up if you just want to check out the views, or hike the three-quarter-mile Balsam Nature Trail for a more involved experience. If you want to add a little extra difficulty, you can also hike the 4.3-mile Deep Gap Trail nearby, which rewards you with panoramic views atop the neighboring Mount Craig, the East’s second highest peak. For more hiking options, check out AshevilleTrails.com, where you’ll find details on some of our other favorite hikes, like Craggy Gardens, Graveyard Fields, and Max Patch, where you’ll cross paths with the famous Appalachian Trail.

Gift Guide: Travel Gifts A Frequent Traveler Will Love

Gift Guide: Travel Gifts

Giving a gift to someone who travels frequently can be tricky, since they probably have a lot of travel gear and gadgets already.

There are plenty of useful, fun, and convenient travel gifts that can surprise even the most seasoned globe-trotter though, so here’s a list of eight gifts that we think are perfect for any traveler in your life:

Trtl Travel Pillow

A New Kind Of Travel Pillow
Everyone knows what the typical travel pillow looks like, with an inflatable or memory foam ring that locks around your neck and keeps your head in place. The Trtl Pillow is nothing like that, and looks more like a scarf than a donut. With an internal support system and soft fleece wrap, it’s scientifically proven to hold your neck in a better position than a standard travel pillow, and it’s also lighter, machine washable, and takes up less room in a bag than a standard travel pillow.

Winsor & Newton Cotman Brush Pen Set

A Water Color Set That Fits In A Pocket
The Winsor & Newton Cotman Brush Pen Set is perfect for the traveling artist, with 12 high quality pigments in a variety of colors, an ergonomic brush with its own water reservoir, and a slim, curved case that’s designed to easily slip into a pocket for art on the go.

I Was Here: A Travel Journal for the Curious Minded

A Travel Journal To Inspire Creativity
Scribbling memories into a beautiful journal is the goal of many travelers, but for the non-artistic, it’s usually easier said than done. I Was Here: A Travel Journal for the Curious Minded makes it easier for everyone to capture their memories in a fun and exciting way, thanks to unique and fulfilling journeys that can be undertaken in any city, and prompts to record every whimsical discovery along the way. It’s sure to bring out the creative adventurer in every traveler.

Scratch Off World Map Poster

A Fun Way To Remember Adventures
With the Scratch Off World Map Poster, travel memories become a beautiful mix of shapes and colors, showing what destinations have been visited, and making it easy to pick out the next place to go. With scratch-off country flags, stickers, and even accurate cartographic details on the foil, it’s perfect for sharing stories and dreaming about new adventures. (For something similar but with a different aesthetic, check out this Cork Globe.)

DJI Mavic Air Drone

A Drone That Fits In A Day Bag
If you really want to spoil someone, get them the DJI Mavic Air. This drone packs maximum features into a minimum size, with arms that fold in to make the Mavic Air the size of a water bottle when it’s not in use. It’s the perfect gift for an adventurous traveler, and will allow them to take photos from places they never thought possible.

TuffTaag Luggage Tag

A New Bag Tag
Luggage tags are a necessity to help identify bags and make sure they get returned in case they get lost, but many luggage tags are made from flimsy vinyl or other materials that don’t stand up to the rigors of travel, and they don’t do much good if they fall off the bag! The TuffTaag from ProudGuy is made from reinforced aluminum with a steel cable to withstand even the harshest conditions.

Amazon Kindle

A Bottomless Book
Everyone loves to read when they travel, but bringing along paperbacks isn’t always convenient. Giving someone an Amazon Kindle allows them to bring their entire library with them in a device that can fit in their pocket, and read whenever and wherever they want, thanks to convenient features like all-day battery, a built-in front light, and instant translations.

Vapur Eclipse Water Bottle

A Water Bottle The Fits Anywhere
The Vapur Eclipse is the perfect water bottle for traveling. It rolls up into a clip that’s attached to the cap, it has a wide mouth opening that’s easy to fill and clean, and it’s light, flexible, freezeable, reuseable, and dishwasher-safe. Best of all, it’s made in the USA!

For more gift ideas, check out our list of 10 Travel Accessories To Make Your Next Trip A Breeze.

14 Instagram Accounts To Follow For Beautiful Travel Photos

14 Travel Photographers To Follow On Instagram

Instagram is a great source of travel inspiration. You can easily fill up your bucket list with new destinations, new experiences, and new sights to see when you follow people that are traveling the world and posting beautiful travel photos and telling amazing stories on Instagram. If you’re looking for your next adventure, these are a few of our favorite accounts to follow for travel photography:

Alex Strohl – @AlexStrohl
Alex is one of the most followed travel photographers on Instagram, and it’s easy to see why with a feed that’s filled with amazing locations and beautiful sights. With a mix of colors and styles, his photos are as beautiful as they are inspiring.

Renee Hahne – @ReneeRoaming
Renee travels with her husband Matthew, often in an old VW van, and they explore the world from their home in Seattle. With breathtaking scenery and photos that would look equally at home in a fashion magazine, her Instagram account will inspire you to visit new places and travel together with people you love.

Chris Burkard – @ChrisBurkard
Chris is equal parts travel and adventure photographer, and his Instagram feed will jump from stunning landscapes to surfing, skiing, and rock climbing. If you’re looking for a little adrenaline with your travel photography, check out his feed.

Emilie Ristevski – @HelloEmilie
Emilie (and her hats) travel all around the world from her home base in Australia, and her photos have a softness and a color palette that make every place she visits look like a magical wonderland.

Matt Cherubino – @MattCherub
Matt is another Instagram travel photographer that mixes incredible landscapes with extreme sports and adventure, and his feed will make you want to grab skies, hop in a kayak, pilot a snowmobile, or put on a snorkel and explore the world.

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Above and below, Tongan cave style.

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Jason Charles Hill – @JasonCharlesHill
If you ever want to feel like a small speck on a massive world, check out Jason’s photography. He captures the grand scale of nature’s beauty that will make you wonder how some of these places exist in real life and not just a fantastical movie world.

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Mountain bound, Patagonia..

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Andrew Ling – @AndrewLing
Andrew’s work focuses on light and the way it interacts with the world. From snow-covered mountaintops kissed by the last light of a sunset, to early morning rays shooting through Monument Valley, to the glow of wildfires burning in Glacier National Park, he’s a master of color and lighting, and uses that skill to show the beauty of his travels.

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Wish you were here

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Jarrad Seng – @JarradSeng
Jarrad has a unique style that shines through his travel photography, and his photos tell stories that show how travel can be as much about adventure as a chance to see new places.

Nick Cooper – @CoopsFrootLoops
Nick’s photography often focuses on water, from the warm and sunny beaches at his hometown of Perth, Australia, to the waterfalls of Yosemite, to the bay waters of San Francisco. If you’re the type of traveler that loves the feeling of sand between your toes, or a quick dip in the ocean, you’ll love Nick’s travel photography.

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we could, forever

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Benjamin Everett – @Bejamin
Benjamin is a master of composition, with each photo a perfectly framed look into a unique place in the world. His feed will make you want to stand in every place he’s stood, and see every sight he’s seen, so be prepared for an overflowing travel bucket list!

Annapurna Mellor – @Annapurnauna
Annapurna’s photography focuses on the people she meets when she travels to new places, and it brings the stories of untold people to life in a beautiful and humanizing way. Her photos remind us that we’re all just people sharing the same world, and making the most of what we have.

Natalia Horinkova – @_Nata_
Natalia is a travel photographer that focuses on the people who live in the places she visits, and the smiles on the faces of the stories she’s sharing will bring a smile to your face as well. Her photos will inspire you to visit new places and meet new people whoever you go.

Theron Humphrey – @ThisWildIdea
Theron travels everywhere with his coonhound Maddie, so if you’re the type of person who loves animals as much as you love travel photography, definitely check out his feed. Together they explore places near and far, while Maddie enjoys the scenery just as much as Theron does.

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I'd drive down any backroad with her

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Donal James Boyd – @DonalBoyd
Donal is a wildlife photographer that travels the world to document nature and the amazing animals that inhabit this planet, and his feed is filled with up close and personal looks at these unique creatures. His goal is to promote conservation, and it’s easy to see why we should work to protect the environments that these animals rely on to survive.

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Symbiosis.

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Secret Spots and Hidden Gems of Orlando, FL

Ask anyone about traveling to Orlando, FL and they’ll probably talk about Walt Disney World, Magic Kingdom, Universal Orlando, SeaWorld, Legoland, or any one of the dozen other theme parks in the area. But if roller coasters and Mickey Mouse ears aren’t your idea of a perfect vacation, there are still plenty of things to do in Orlando. Here are a few of our favorite secret spots and hidden gems that you won’t find in every guidebook and “must do” list.

(To plan your visit, check our our Orlando, FL trips. And for more city travel tips, check our our Secret Spots and Hidden Gems of Washington, DC.)

Hanson's Shoe Repair

Hanson’s Shoe Repair27 E Pine St.
No, you can’t get your shoes repaired here, but if you know the password (Hint: Check their Twitter) you can get into the only speakeasy in Orlando and enjoy some of the best cocktails you’ll find anywhere. Located in what may be the oldest building still standing in downtown Orlando, acquired by Andrew Hanson in 1894 for his “Hanson Shoe Repair Shop”, Hanson’s Shoe Repair is really like stepping back in time to a classic speakeasy, and you can grab a drink and relax with friends on the rooftop patio.

Jack Kerouac Project

Jack Kerouac Project1418 Clouser Ave.
This otherwise nondescript home is where Jack Kerouac typed the original manuscript of Dharma Bums, his sequel to On The Road. It’s now a writer’s retreat, and though it’s technically not open to the public, Kerouac fans who ask nicely can probably get in for a quick tour of the home.

The Thirsty Topher

The Thirsty Topher601 Virginia Dr.
Located in what they specifically call “Not The Shitty Tourist Part” of Orlando, The Thirsty Toper is a beer & wine bar that was built by bartenders and run by beer nerds. With 24 taps, Cicerone certified servers, no TVs, no WiFi, and no distractions, it’s a place that focuses on enjoying tasty beer, meeting your neighbors, and having a good time.

Epic McDonald’s6875 Sand Lake Rd.
No, it’s not a fancy restaurant masquerading as the fast food giant. BUT, this McDonald’s is something special: It’s the world’s largest ‘entertainment-style’ McDonald’s, and a perfect travel destination for McFoodies! This 19,000-square-foot McDonald’s features a two-story play area with slides, tunnels, and climbing features, an arcade, a 30-ft tall illuminated Ronald McDonald, and a singing animatronic of the chain’s 1980s moon-headed Mac Tonight spokesman. In addition to the McDonald’s classics, which you can customize with a “Create Your Taste” menu, there are also waffles, paninis, pizzas, pastas, and even breakfast omelets available to order.

Player 1 Video Game Bar

Player 1 Video Game Bar8562 Palm Pkwy.
This beer bar features a rotating selection of classic arcade cabinets, as well as a large variety of consoles from every era, and you can play them all for a small $5 cover charge. In addition to arcade games, they feature a great selection of craft beers, sakes, meads, and wines, and on some nights the staff even cosplays their favorite video game and pop culture characters.

Wallaby Ranch

Wallaby Ranch1805 Deen Still Rd.
Since 1991, Wallaby Ranch has been the first and largest aerotow hang gliding flight park in the world. Instead of running down the side of a mountain to launch your hang glider, they use a system called aerotowing, where hang gliders are towed into the air with specially designed ultralight towplanes. You and an instructor are towed 2,000 feet in the air, and then set free to glide around for 15 minutes on your way back down to Earth. It’s a great way to see Florida from new heights, and you can even control the glider if you want the chance to “fly” yourself.

Presidents Hall Of Fame

Presidents Hall of Fame123 S. Highway 27
This roadside attraction started life in the 1960s as a wax museum, but now includes animatronics, White House replicas, and Americana miniatures. The highlight of the museum is the miniature White House, a hand-made model that stretches 60 feet across, and features working televisions, crystal chandeliers, and an updated Oval Office to match the decor of each new administration. It took more than 500,000 man hours to research, design, and construct, and Ronald Reagan once called it, “a national treasure.”

Ready to join us on one of our trips to Orlando, FL? We can take you to all the secret spots and hidden gems, and make sure it’s a vacation you never forget! To book your trip with WNC Travels, click here or give us a call at (828) 595-9691

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