6 Tips To Make You A Better Travel Photographer

Travel Photography

If you love taking photos, then traveling to a new place will surely inspire you to bring along your camera and capture the sights. To make the most of your trip, here are a few tips that we think will help take your photography to the next level:

Travel Photography Planning

Have A Plan
Tools like Instagram, Pinterest, Flickr, Google Image Search, and Unsplash are great ways to gather inspiration about the place you’re going to visit, pick a few ‘must-visit’ spots that you want to photograph, and see what other photographers that visited before you found interesting. Just search for your destination, and save anything that you like or are inspired by. If you want to get even more prepared, you can create a Custom Google Map with the locations that you want to visit, which helps give a general sense for where the hot spots are in that city, and can help you navigate from one place to the next, or see what’s close by if you’re doing some exploring.

Travel Photography Exploration

Get Lost
While a good plan and a shot list are great to have, they can also mean you’ll just end up taking the same photos that everyone else took. To find something truly unique, it can sometimes help to just wander around a city and see what captures your eye. Remember to save a few hours here and there for unplanned exploration, and you may end up discovering something new that everyone else visiting the ‘must see’ lists overlooked.

Travel Photography Golden Hour

Wake Up Early, Stay Late
The early bird gets the worm, and the early photographer gets beautiful photos that aren’t filled with tourists! By getting to a location just as the sun is rising, you’re more likely to beat the crowds, and you’ll also get that ‘golden hour’ light that makes everything look extra dreamy. Not a morning person? You can also stay somewhere a little later than most, and you’ll often catch a location as it empties out, with another golden hour opportunity to capture the perfect light.

Travel Photography Tripod

Support System
A lot of travelers like to pack light, but a good travel tripod, like this one from MeFOTO, can greatly expand your photography options, and doesn’t add a lot of weight to your day pack. If you want to take low light photography, capture video, take super-sharp landscapes, or experiment with more advanced techniques like HDR or panoramas, you’re going to want the ability to lock your camera in place while you adjust settings, take a few different test shots, or pan around from a fixed location. Plus, if you’re traveling solo, a tripod allows you to get inside your shots, which can add some extra flair to whatever you’re trying to capture.

Travel Photography Backup Hard Drive

Have A Backup Plan
When you travel, you should hope for the best, but plan for the worst, which means backing up your photos so that you don’t lose them if your camera gets damaged, lost, or stolen. Unfortunately thieves like to target tourists, and if you’re traveling with camera gear, that makes you a prime target, so bring along a small external hard drive, like this Western Digital My Passport Wireless Pro that can read directly from SD cards, that you can back up your camera to each night, and then if something happens to your camera, you’ll only lose the photos that you shot that day, and not everything from your entire trip.

Travel Photography Composition

Master Composition
There’s the Rule of Thirds, leading lines, symmetry, repetition, framing, and more, and for every helpful rule in photography, there’s a great photographer who will tell you that rules are made to be broken! In general though, it can be helpful to get familiar with some of the more classic ways of composing a photograph, since that will increase the likelihood that the image you capture has that “Wow!” factor you’re looking for. Instead of trying to explain every style of composition, here’s a good video that shows examples of some of the most popular:

2019’s Top Travel Trends

Certain locations will always be top tourist destinations, but other places get trendy as travelers search for their next great adventure. In the past, travel trends have included adventure travel that was focused on experiences over destinations, wellness travel that focused on healthy activities, and slow travel that focused on the journey over the destination with transportation methods like sailing, train rides, bicycle tours, and horseback safaris.

So what travel trends are going to be the focus of 2019? Here are a few that might be the inspiration for your next trip:

2019 Travel Trend - Avoiding Overtourism

Avoiding Overtourism
You want to be a traveler, not a tourist, so many people will focus on less-popular destinations, off-season travel, and generally trying to reduce the impact their travels have on the greater world. As famous beaches and island cities take drastic steps to slow down their tourism industries, it’s becoming more important than ever to consider the effect your stay will have on the places that you visit, to make sure they’re available for the next generation as well.

2019 Travel Trend - Augmented Travel

Augmented Travel
Thanks to more affordable virtual reality hardware, and the fact that the smartphone in your pocket can enable some pretty impressive augmented reality experiences, tech-enabled travel is growing in popularity. You can travel to Mars aboard NASA’s Curiosity rover, travel back in time with Paris Timescopes, or bring history to life when you visit Washington, DC‘s Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History’s 1881 Bone Hall with the Skin & Bones App in hand.

2019 Travel Trend - Following Your DNA

Following Your DNA
Services like 23andMe and National Geographic’s Geno 2.0 allow you to test your DNA and find out your ancestry, and shows like Who Do You Think You Are? have popularized the idea of tracking down your ancestors to find out more about where you came from. Together, this will result in travel where people take tests to find out their genetic history, and then plan trips to visit those places in person, to help connect themselves to a little bit of their historic past, and give the places that they visit a special and very personal meaning.

2019 Travel Trend - Bite-Sized Travel

Bite-Sized Travel
It’s hard to get away from work for weeks at a time, so travelers are starting to look at three-day weekend road trips and micro excursions as a way to get away without all of the stress and commitment of a huge trip. Thanks to cheap transportation, on-demand accommodations and car rentals, and curated experiences with locals, you can do a lot without spending a lot of time in one place, and get back to the 9 to 5 before your boss is any wiser. Plus, a quick getaway is a good excuse to explore unique accommodations that can be their own reason for a trip, such as tree houses, mushroom domes, and tiny homes.

2019 Travel Trend - Electric Road Trips

Electric Road Trips
With the increased popularity of electric vehicles, and the fact that charging stations are popping up all along popular road trip destinations, travelers are starting to hit the road in a much more environmentally friendly way, and stopping to see the sights as their vehicles charge up for the next leg in their journey.

2019 Travel Trend - Dark Sky Destinations

Dark Sky Destinations
Our cities are filled with more lights than ever, which means it’s getting harder and harder to really get off the grid and find a spot where you can see more than just the Big Dipper when you look up into the sky. In response, some areas are starting to create designated ‘dark-sky spaces‘ where all lights are forbidden, which allows travelers and stargazers to enjoy the constellations and the vastness of our universe like never before.

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

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

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

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.

United Motorcoach Association LogoAmerican Bus Association Logo