Travel Feature

A Blind Trip to Pulga, Kasol and Kheerganga

Would you be ready to go on a blind trip? They are also called surprise trips and mystery trips. I have always been excited about the possib...

Travel Guides

Discover hidden myths, taste diverse food and sleep below a sky full of shooting stars and galaxies every night. Our guides will help budget travelers to travel more, and explore more destinations.

5 Best Places to Explore, Stay, and Eat in Scottsdale, Arizona

Scottsdale, Arizona has been given a variety of nicknames such as “a desert version of South Beach in Miami” and “The West’s Most Western Town.” The range of names Scottsdale holds reflects the town’s unique charm. Just 31 miles long and 11 miles wide, it manages to be everything from a quaint stop to appreciate Arizona’s vast desert to a place with amazing attractions in the form of parks, museums, shopping areas, and more.

Desert GetawayDesert Getaway

Scottsdale offers something for everyone and is definitely worth adding to your travel list.

1. McDowell Sonoran Preserve

The McDowell Sonoran Preserve is the picturesque Arizona desert that we all hope to explore someday. The vast, permanently protected, sustainable desert habitat offers some amazing hikes at varying levels of difficulty - there is truly a hike for everyone.

2. Gateway Loop

For example, the Gateway Loop is one of the most popular hikes as it offers compelling views that make for great photo ops, however, the terrain is very rocky. It is still frequented by inexperienced hikers but it is advised to go slow and bring your hiking boots and poles!

3. Brown’s Ranch

Alternatively, Brown’s Ranch is a much easier trail and still offers a chance to enjoy the desert scenery. Other popular trails that are known for great views include: the Bell Pass, the Sunrise, and the Wingate.

4. Butterfly Wonderland

If you still want a lazier day but are looking to explore, head over to Scottsdale's Butterfly Wonderland. Butterfly Wonderland is a great art facility that houses an incredible glass atrium, which provides the perfect tropical rainforest habitat for thousands of butterflies from all over the world that fly around freely.

It is the perfect place to explore, especially for a nice family day out. There is even an educational “Flight of the Butterflies” 3D movie that is shown regularly. For kids, there is also an interactive insect exhibit. And don’t forget to stop by the café and gift shop on your way out!

5. House of Broadcasting

The House of Broadcasting started as a niche site to see for budding show business stars but has become one of Scottsdale’s top sites to see. The House of Broadcasting highlights Arizona’s broadcast history. This is truly a gem of a museum, housing original TV cameras, radio equipment, and movie history memorabilia also donated from other states.

It also includes a fabulous collection of historic wardrobes. As you walk through the museum, you will be able to enjoy lots of pictures taken through these early broadcasting years. It is clear the museum was built from a true love of TV and music and educating those who are interested as it is a nonprofit with free admission but donations are welcomed.

Where to Stay:

The Four Seasons in Scottsdale appreciates Arizona’s dramatic landscapes and truly encapsulates the experience of a desert getaway with its adobe casitas. These casitas look out onto a backyard full of saguaro cacti as well as dramatic valleys and the iconic Pinnacle Peak. The hotel’s surrounding area features vibrant Native American art and history as well as landscape that is ripe for adventure, which includes two world-class golf courses.

As far as amenities, The Four Seasons offers free WiFi, 24-hour room service, a pool, a spa that offers locally inspired treatments, and more. The hotel is very family-friendly but is also great for a romantic weekend getaway as it truly has it all.

In fact, avid traveler, Ryan Gibbs said this about his stay at the hotel, “My family enjoyed a five-night respite at the Four Seasons in Scottsdale. Its location in the beauty of North Scottsdale and convenience to the world-class Troon North golf course makes this a prime luxury location for golfers as well.”

If you are looking for a hotel that is closer to the city center, the Embassy Suites by Hilton Scottsdale Resort is the place for you. The resort is less than a mile from Old Town Scottsdale, home to the Arts District, Entertainment District, the waterfront, and Fashion Square.

All of these areas loved to be explored by locals and tourists alike as they are the cultural and historical hub of Scottsdale. Additionally, the resort is only 12 miles away from Phoenix, allowing for further exploration of Arizona’s major cities.The resort is five minutes from Scottsdale Stadium and downtown Phoenix is 12 miles away.

The Embassy Suites features a restaurant, two heated outdoor pools, fitness center, and free made-to-order breakfast.

Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa is another hotel that clearly loves and appreciates the Arizona landscape as it sits amidst flowering cactus and is framed against the majestic McDowell Mountains. Moreover, the resort is surrounded by adventures and extraordinary nature that is eager to be explored.

You can splash into the Hyatt’s 2.5-acre water playground (complete with a sand beach and 3-story, high-speed water slide), golf, or hike on a local trail. For those looking to relax, enjoy the unique Himalayan Salt Room in the spa.

Where to Eat:

The Singh Farms offers delicious, fresh produce that is tough to match. Don’t miss their Saturday morning farmer’s market (9 am to 1 pm) and indulge in their organic fruits and vegetables, freshly baked whole-grain bread, muffins, cinnamon buns, preserves, soups, and more. The Singh Farms lovingly grow and tend all produce and products they sell and it really comes through in the food.

In fact, the farm is very popular with locals, who have been known to refer to it as “an oasis in the desert”. Singh Farms sits just east of the 101 freeway in Scottsdale and is easy to find and worth the trip.

For those with a sweet tooth, the Scottsdale Chocolate Tour is a must. The tour consists of six bakeries and chocolatiers. You will visit some of Scottsdale's best chocolatiers and have the opportunity to try and purchase a wide range of chocolates and delicious treats. The tour is a chocolate-lovers dream as you can sample truffles, cupcakes, and more while you stroll through Scottsdale’s adorable Old Town.

And, if you find you’re not able to eat all your goodies at once, you will be provided with a doggie bag in which to take home all your delicious treasures.

At Rancho Pinot, head chef Chrysa Robertson is known for always allowing seasonal flavors to shine through. As many restaurants no longer change their menu to highlight what is in season. The Rancho Pinot cooks simple yet eye-widening dishes that you can enjoy amongst Arizona’s desert landscape. Grilled quail with polenta at Rancho Pinot is a compelling plate of finesse and power.

Another local favorite is the ricotta-stuffed zucchini flowers that have a heavy fry and colorful crowning of a light tomato salad. The Rancho Pinot is definitely worth a visit if you are someone who loves to experience local flavors in order to get to know your vacation spot.

10 Best Skiing Resorts in Canada

Are you a fan of winter sports, such as skiing and snowboarding? If you are, we have in mind the perfect location for you. Canada is famous for world-class ski resorts across the country. Among the best skiing locations are the mountains of British Columbia and Alberta. The snow-covered peaks of the Rocky Mountains and the Coast Mountains are ready to amaze you.

The vast mountain ranges extends to the Banff, Yoho, Kootenay and Jasper national parks with many opportunities for hiking, kayaking and, above all, skiing. Luminous lakes, wildflowers and glaciers can be seen passing by while the steel train wagons rattle through the mountain passes and cross river valleys. Areas are crowded usually only on the weekends and holidays. The snow is generally drier and most ski areas groom better.

Revelstoke is a definition of next level adventure with the option to go cat-skiing or heli-skiing. The Revelstoke ski resort is something to look out for, with massive transformations on the way, to become the biggest and best ski resorts in the world. In the Rocky Mountains ski area, you can ski in shorts and a t-shirt by late March or early April and the conditions are fantastic.

skiing resorts in CanadaSkiing resorts in Canada

In this article, you can find the top skiing resorts in Canada, which attract skiers and boarders from all around the world, every season. Choose which one seems like the best fit for you, and start planning your perfect winter escape.

1. Whistler Blackcomb

You cannot deny that Whistler is one of the best places to ski in Canada. This premier skiing resort is in British Columbia's Coast Mountains, just a two-hour drive from Vancouver. Whistler Blackcomb is the largest ski resort in North America, and it's rated as one of the world's top ski retreats. It has perfect slopes, stunning hotels, excellent restaurants, and plenty of shops, so you can never be bored.

At the base, you will be able to explore Whistler Village and enjoy hiking, climbing, and visiting museums. Whistler is a good choice for any level of skier. The resort is massive, with five terrain parks, more than 150 features, and 90 rails. You will enjoy outstanding views from the PEAK 2 PEAK gondola ride, which connects both mountains and it is more than 3 kilometers in length.

Nothing compares to the feeling of stepping off a gondola and into your ski bindings at the top of a 2,300-metre mountain and looking out at the panorama of peaks all around you. Novice skiers might worry that this experience is out of their league, but not to worry — there are plenty of trails for beginners to enjoy the big mountain experience.

When you want to take a break from skiing, you can easily plan to visit popular Instagram spots in Vancouver and make some unique memories.

2. Sun Peaks

This is Canada's second-largest ski area. It spreads over three mountains, so you can expect a little something for everyone here, from steeps and cruisers to tree skiing. There are various runs, but Sun Peaks is primarily focused on beginners and intermediate skiers. If you're coming with your family, it may be a perfect choice for you.

There is a European-style village at the base where you will find suitable accommodation, great restaurants and a variety of facilities. It is convenient because you can find everything you need right at the resort.

3. SilverStar Mountain Resort

If you're looking for a family-focused resort with varied terrain, consider SilverStar Mountain Resort. It's located in the Okanagan Valley, just a short drive from Kelowna, one of the best cities to visit in Canada. It has a charming village at the base of the slopes, with buildings painted in bright colors and designs appealing to everyone.

This resort is suitable for all levels of ability, but it has slightly less beginner terrain than other major resorts in British Columbia. However, if you're looking for more expert terrain, you will find it right here. You will be able to enjoy frequent snowfalls of dry powder and good visibility.

4. Red Mountain Resort

This British Columbia resort is located near Rossland, and it spreads over two mountains. It's very popular among advanced and expert skiers and boarders. People come here for incredible tree skiing. It takes some time and planning to access this resort, but you'll be rewarded with uncrowded runs.

If you are a beginner or intermediate skier, you will still have plenty of runs. Furthermore, you'll be able to enjoy the charming town and reasonable prices.

5. Mont Tremblant Ski Resort

Mont Tremblant Ski Resort is one of the best skiing resorts in Canada. It's in the eastern part of the country, conveniently located just 1.5 hours from Montreal and less than two hours from Ottawa. The picturesque European-style village at the base has all you can wish for, from luxury accommodation and fine dining to high-end shopping.

If you decide to move to this area and settle down in Ottawa, don't miss a weekend getaway and head to Mont Tremblant Ski Resort to enjoy the best of Canada's skiing facilities.

6. Blue Mountain Resort

Blue Mountain Ski Resort is rated as one of the top ski resorts in Ontario. Your vacation here can be fun, with all kinds of activities and facilities. This resort stretches along the Niagara Escarpment. It's a popular resort for families. Blue Mountain Resort used to be a small-town ski hill, but it has grown into a luxury ski resort with excellent hotels and restaurants, as well as stores.

If you come here primarily for skiing, don't forget to visit famous Toronto attractions because this resort is just a little over two hours north of this amazing city.

7. Edelweiss Valley

Edelweiss Valley is conveniently located just over 30 minutes from the heart of Ottawa. This is not a huge resort, but it has more than a 650 ft vertical drop and a well-regarded terrain park. Runs in Edelweiss Valley are great for beginners. If you recently moved to Ottawa with the help of discountmovingottawa.com and you're searching for a perfect place to learn skiing, this is an ideal location for you.

It's not too crowded, and some of the trails are being lit for night skiing, so you can even hit the slopes after a workday!

8. Panorama Mountain Resort

If you're looking for a magical place, head to this mountain resort and its convenient and cozy alpine village. It's located about 3.5 hours' drive from Calgary. You'll have loads of adventurous activities in addition to skiing. It has diverse terrain to suit all abilities. Heli-skiing is also available. The village has a skate rink and pool complex with swimming pools, hot tubs, and water slides so the whole family can have great fun here - even off the slopes. Come see by yourself why Panorama is rated as one of the best skiing resorts in Canada.

9. Lake Louise

Lake Louise in the Rocky Mountains is not only great for skiing, but it's also one of the best places to snowboard in Canada. This place will reward you with amazing glacier views, steep and deep terrain, and satisfyingly long runs suited for beginners. You can find it some 60km north-west of the small and charming tourist town Banff.

Lake Louise is the biggest of the three ski resorts in Banff National Park. This year-round tourist destination has the largest terrain park in North America, which you'll find in Juniper Jungle near the base area. The resort has a dedicated children's area, so it's great for families.

Lake Louise Ski Resort boasts one of the most spectacular views in Canada. It is located in the heart of Canada's rocky mountains surrounded by pristine nature with 4,200 acres of skiable wilderness. It has got chilled runs, gentle slopes, challenging terrain, glades and gullies, bowls, chutes, you name it! Lake Louise is without a doubt one of the best places for skiing in Canada.

If you can't decide between Lake Louise and Banff, get a tri-area lift ticket to test out all the slopes in the area. Banff is only 45 minutes away from Lake Louise, which is home to all the nightlife in the area. Lake Louise has nothing going for it, in regards to parties and nightlife.

Banff's ski resort Sunshine Village consists of 3 decently sized mountains! The location is just incredible, with the most amazing view of Banff National Park wherever your eyes wander. The slopes are located about 20 minutes from town, so there is no ride-in-ride out access, which is a bit of a bummer.

10. Marmot Basin

The ski area is located just 20 minutes from the center of Jasper, with tons of shuttles running from town. Marmot Basin is located near the beautiful mountain town of Jasper. If you don't like crowds, you'll enjoy this resort. Ski season spans half the year here, starting in mid-November. It has the highest base elevation of any major Canadian ski area.

The terrain spreads across five mountain faces with impressive variety for you to enjoy many skiing days at your own pace.

Fun is guaranteed in each of the best skiing resorts in Canada

With epic and plentiful snowfall, amazing glacial scenery, and forested hills stretching to the horizon, Canada offers enormous attractions for skiers and snowboarders coming from all around the globe. Choose at least one of the top 10 best skiing resorts in Canada to visit this winter. You will enjoy it, and you will certainly come back again.

10 Must Have Essentials for Camping in Australia

Are you planning a camping trip to the great Australian outdoors? You should definitely go ahead with the idea. But the trip can be amazing and adventurous or a nightmare as it all boils down to what you packed. The camping accessories matter when you are out for the vacation somewhere between the lushy forest or beautiful beach. Whether you are a newbie or regular caravanner, you need to take care of the essentials you will need.

Camping in AustraliaCamping in Australia

To help you out from the confusion of searching through a lot of camping gears, we have listed down some must-haves or essentials that you should definitely carry while camping in Australia.

1. Annexes

When you return from a long hiking day, not having a proper and good place to sleep and rest can be a turn-off. Not just this, not having a shelter on hand in case of any emergency, heavy winds and storm may leave you at risk in the middle.

The top item in your checklist should be annexes. They will protect you from the heavy winds and sun rays anytime you are out. The annexe will also act as an extra space where you can rest and sleep without facing any problem during the night or in the daylight. Xtend Outdoors' Caravan Annexes are water-resistant and made from durable materials, making your stay outdoors more comfortable and easy.

2. Sleeping bag

When you come down at night, all tired from the travelling and activities, you ensure the night sleep is as comforting as it can be. But the insects around you, or the sudden fall in temperature might create problems from getting you a good night’s rest. At your rescue, carry a sleeping bag that is not so bulky or heavy, keeps you warm throughout the night and protects from the insects.

3. Flashlight or Lantern

You need to make sure there is proper light at your campsite when you return to the camp in the evening or night. If you want to read a book or play games, have dinner with your family you require some good light. If you need to find an item within the tent space or go to the washroom, you cannot do all this without proper light at your campsite. There are multiple reasons you might need a lantern around your area or a flashlight while camping.

4. First aid kit

While camping, you might get cuts or bruises that become infected if left untreated, scrape up your knees or blisters that require bandaging and even some bug bites. Before heading out, pack up your first aid kit with all the other necessities like scissors, adhesive, gauze soap, etc. If going for an adventure, you should be prepared for everything.

5. Repair kit & a pocket knife

The kit tools include a foldout blade, a screwdriver, can opener and pair of scissors. You can use each one of them while food prepping, cutting, opening up something. When camping, a pocket knife turns out to be a multipurpose tool. You can use it for trimming a rope, cutting a cheese slice, dealing with twisted vines, opening a sealed package, tightening up a screw and for many more unexpected things. You may get frustrated while doing stuff if you do not carry a pocket knife.

6. Rain gear

All the enjoyment and fun disappears with the bright sunny weather when it starts to rain. You need to keep track of the weather before leaving in the morning and be prepared with rain gear if there are any chances of rain. Or else you will certainly not like to get all soaked up and spend all day in wet clothes or forcefully head back to camp for changing.

7. Navigation tools

You may not be aware of all the roads and directions, when on the road, which can lead you to a problematic situation. To find your way to various places, you will require some help that leads you to the destination. A map and a compass can keep you on track and reduce the chances of getting lost during hiking.

Forgetting your way back to camp may leave you in between the woods with limited water and all confused, which is no joke. Make sure you have a way to return safely to the camp with the map and compass.

8. Sunscreen

You will indeed spend much of your time outside than you usually do. The harsh Australian sun can get your skin all burned up, because of which you will not be able to have fun and enjoy your best. Keep sunscreen with the highest possible SPF in your backpack, and lather up to protect your skin. Before leaving in the morning for hiking, make sure you apply it.

9. Camping chair

On the campsite, you may feel like sitting outside to enjoy the view and have a cup of coffee. You can carry your arrangement of sitting outside the caravan other than your tent, camping chairs. You can easily hang out with your tribe outside your caravan on these chairs and plan out further for the day ahead. These chairs are handy and will not load up your luggage in the caravan.

10. Awning clothesline

Camping between the forest or beach, might not give you space to dry out your clothes, making it all messy in the caravan or outside it. To be on the safer side, carry Xtend Outdoors Rollout Awning Clothesline, which is an excellent travel-friendly product that will get attached to your awning and provide you ideal space to dry your clothes when travelling.

Conclusion

There may be some more items to carry when you go out camping, but you need to keep a check on the list of things mentioned earlier. If you miss out on any of them, you may miss out on all the fun you planned.

About Author: Danny Smith is CEO and Founder of Xtend Outdoors Australia which manufactures and sell caravan annexes, awnings and accessories. He just loves caravan holidays and frequently blog about caravanning trips, parks and tips.