What to Pack: Top 10 Travel Essentials

what to pack top 10 travel essentials

Packing is typically people’s least favorite part of travel. Traveling for several months straight and unpacking and repacking my bag every few days has given me some insight on things that can make not only packing, but traveling a bit easier. Here are my top travel essentials! What do you not leave home without?

TSA Cable Lock: This is one of the best and cheapest investments you can possibly make. I purchased two: one for my big luggage and one for my daypack. The locks made me feel secure while in transit (on the plane, bus, train, etc.) and while staying in hotels and hostels. In places that didn’t have safes, I would either put everything in my bag and lock the bag itself or I’d throw my stuff in a locker and use one of the locks for that. I found the cable lock to be the best, as the ones with the stiff metal enclosure are difficult to fit through some zippers and some lockers.

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Photo Friday: Cowans Gap State Park

cowans gap pennsylvania

A couple of weeks ago I visited Cowans Gap State Park in Pennsylvania for the first time. There are plenty of hiking trails there, up through the mountains and around the lake, which offer some gorgeous views. But, my favorite view of all, was when I left Cowans Gap. Just down the road from there, you’ll see a scenic overlook sign next to a gravel road. When you take that to the very end and park, you can walk up to a few rocks on a cliff where you’re rewarded with one of the most stunning views I’ve seen in Pennsylvania. I can’t wait to go back again in the fall to see all the leaves changing, but I loved seeing the mountains, lush vegetation, and beautiful skies.

Like the photography on Meganotravels? Check out my Etsy shop to order prints!

Books to Inspire Travel (and Love)

books to inspire travel

When I was growing up, I had a wicked imagination. It ran wild with all sorts of ideas and stories, so it’s only fitting that I had and still have a deep and profound love for the written word and for well-crafted and well-written books.

In the past few years, I’ve read some incredible books. Ones that have not only inspired in me a love of the world, but also a love for the characters, and a deep desire to have just that: love. Love, in this context, doesn’t necessarily mean in a romantic way or even for another person, but just in general. A love of language, of culture, of countries, of people. So, because I’ve gotten great joy and felt deep connections to these books, I wanted to share them with you. Here are some books to inspire travel (and love) in your lives as well.

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Photo Friday: My Travelin’ Pup

dog in texarkanaIt’s my little guy’s seventh birthday in a couple days, so I thought I’d make this week’s Photo Friday all about him.

In 2010, I was ready to adopt a dog. I’d wanted a Pomeranian for years because I thought they just looked like the cutest and happiest pups imaginable. I scoured the internet for months, checking every adoption site around Austin and within a 3-hour radius to try to find the perfect addition to my little family. And then that’s when I saw this photo and fell in love.

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How to Photograph the Northern Lights

how to photograph the northern lights

ISO 400; 18mm; f/3.5; 30 seconds

Seeing the Northern Lights was one of my all-time favorite experiences. It was one of those things I’d dreamed about for years and after watching them for a bit, I wanted some photos to remember the experience.

Photographing the Northern Lights isn’t difficult, but it takes the right equipment, the right weather, the right settings, and a bit of trial and error.

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Photo Friday: Jemaa el Fna, Marrakech

jemaa el fna marrakech morocco games

When I visited Marrakech, Morocco, one night I met up with my lovely friend and fellow travel blogger, Jill, and her beau Mike for a night in the square: Jemaa el Fna.

There’s so much to see in Jemaa el Fna, at all hours of the day. You’ll find people touting spices and cookies; orange juice stands; women who will chase you down and try to put henna on you; snake charmers; pop-up restaurants; monkey handlers; and cross-dressing men who dance in front of audiences. But one very popular past-time seems to be this odd game where you have a weighted ring tied to the end of a string that dangles from a wooden pole. You then try to get this ring around the cap and neck of a bottle of soda, which are arranged in a circle, and if you get it–you get to keep the soda! It’s a pretty inexpensive game, but also a mildly irritating one because it’s a lot more difficult than you’d think! The men who run the stands make it look so easy, but stand around and watch the people try it for a few minutes and you’ll see that it’s not. The guy who ran the place even explained to us how he did it, but none of us could figure it out.

If you’re hanging out in Jemaa el Fna, spare a few dihram and give it a shot!

Like the photography on Meganotravels? Check out my Etsy shop to order prints!

Best of Austin: Tacos, Bars and Restaurants, and Entertainment

best of austin

It’s been almost exactly one year since I left Austin behind in search of something that fits me a bit better, and while I haven’t quite found it yet, I feel like I’m well on my way. I don’t miss Austin with the great pangs of sadness that I thought I would, but there are a handful of things that I miss on an almost daily basis and I wish I could take them with me wherever I go. So, with that, I’ve compiled a list of what I think is the best of Austin. If you’re headed to Austin, be sure to check out the following places!

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Photo Friday: Northern Lights

northern lights thingvellir iceland

Well, the Northern Lights season has officially begun, and because of that, I thought it’d be appropriate to share a photo I took of the Northern Lights in Iceland last October.

If you’ll recall, I spent a week zipping around the South coast of Iceland trying to spot the elusive Northern Lights. It finally paid off on my last night there. It was spectacular–and it wasn’t even one of the high activity nights. Seeing them dance in the sky above me was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had in my life, and I look forward to the day when I get to see it happen again.

I’m working on a post right now about how to shoot the Northern Lights, so be on the lookout for that if you’re headed somewhere to spot them! It’s not terribly hard to catch them, it just takes a little trial and error to get the right settings!

Ethics of Travel

boat dubai fountain dubai mall burj khalifa

When I visited Dubai a few months ago, I ran across quite a few naysayers; people who disagreed with my choice to travel there because of their moral objections to the city. As a traveler (and wanna-be anthropologist), my goal is to visit and observe a place and its people. I am not there to pass judgment or to tell people how to do things better or differently. It’s my belief that every country–its culture and its people–are different and should be respected for those differences. But given the response I got from some when I decided to go to Dubai, I began to think about the ethics of travel–both with regards to Dubai and in general.

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Non-Touristy Things to do in Philadelphia

non-touristy things to do in philadelphia

No matter what you’re into, Philadelphia has a ton of things to see, do, and eat. But if you’re sick of the normal tourist trail and want to see something that won’t have crazy lines or crowds (i.e., the Liberty Bell), check out these equally awesome options.

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