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How To Do Napa Valley Right

If you’ve never had the pleasure of enjoying a perfect weekend in Napa Valley, you’re missing out. Let this article be your guide once you do!

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Whether you’re going for a romantic getaway, a girls weekend, or some quality mother-daughter time, Napa Valley in California wine country can be a perfect weekend vacation. As an experienced Napa-head myself, let me teach you how to do Napa right!

STAY AT A B&B OR DON’T STAY AT ALL

Come on now, people. We’re talking a weekend in wine country here. There’s no place for hotels! A charming Bed & Breakfast will only amplify the quaintness of the whole experience. There are plenty of reasonably priced options available in the area. And if you can sneak out on a Friday, it always makes for a better weekend if you can wake up at your B&B on Saturday morning.

ACTIVITIES GALORE!

I know it’s hard to believe and potentially even unnecessary to mention, but there are plenty of great activities in Napa Valley that don’t involve wine tasting. I know, I know. What’s the point, right? Well, some people like a little variety, OK? So if that’s you continue reading. If you only care about the wine maybe skip the next few paragraphs.

Oxbow Public Market: This lively market is perfectly nestled right against the Napa River. It’s full of plenty of vendors selling all sorts of fresh produce and also contains numerous delicious restaurants. So this is a great place to grab a quick lunch or get some ingredients to make your own lunch later.

The Silverado Trail: This beautiful trail just about runs the entire length of Napa Valley. It has amazing views and can be a perfect place to clear your head and get your calm on. And if you’re more of the active type, it’s great for biking!

Greenhaus Day Spa: What’s a weekend getaway without a trip to the spa? Greenhaus Day Spa in downtown Napa is widely considered the best spa in the area. Get the full treatment with a relaxing massage, a cleansing facial, and the all-important mani-pedi combo.

WINERIES ON WINERIES

Now, let’s get down to why we’re really here. If we’re talking about Napa Valley, we’re talking about wine. There are plenty of amazing wineries and vineyards in Napa, but here are our personal favorites.

O’Brien Estate: This is one of the most popular wineries in all of Napa and actually requires booking your tasting in advance. But trust me, it’s worth it! Make sure you try the Chardonnay and the Cabernet Sauvignon as they are just to die for.

Pride Mountain Vineyards: This vineyard requires a bit of a drive, but it’s worth it. The whole property covers about 235 acres and has gorgeous views in every direction. When it comes to wine, their claims to fame are their Cabernet Sauvignon and their Merlot.

V. Sattui Winery: While the wine her is truly excellent, this spot is also great for a picnic lunch. You can grab everything you need in-house: the cheeses, the fresh bread, the antipasto spreads, and a nice bottle of wine and then grab one of the many picnic tables outside and take it all in.

OK, is anyone as excited as me to head back to Napa? How’s next weekend look for you? Great! See you there.


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Guides

Avoid These Common Mistakes When Visiting Vietnam

If you’re taking a trip to Vietnam anytime soon, don’t make these rookie mistakes. 

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Not many people realize this, but Vietnam is actually a wonderful vacation destination. It’s a beautiful country with a lovely culture and lively cities. Not to mention the incredible history and amazing architecture. So if you’re adventurous, you definitely need to check out Vietnam. But if you do, make sure you don’t make these common rookie mistakes!

DON’T AVOID THE STREET FOOD

A lot of Westerners will go to Vietnam and just assume any street food is dangerous and not to be trusted. But in reality, it’s some of the best food in the country. And it’s the heart of Vietnam’s culinary culture. There are, of course, some stuff that should be avoided. But as long as you stick to sweets, breads, and anything hot, you’re good. Also, you can never go wrong by going wherever the crowds already are! And these places definitely get crowded as they’re always popular with the locals.

DON’T FORGET TO TAKE IN THE SCENERY

There are plenty of amazing cities like Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Hoi An, and Hue that are definitely worthy of a visit. But while you should definitely check out at least one of them when you go to Vietnam, do not make the mistake of not checking out the countryside. There are beautiful mountain ranges, long, warm beaches, and, of course, the incredible Mekong River Delta. A vacation in Vietnam without a trip outside of the city should be a crime.

DON’T VISIT DURING TET

Get is the Vietnamese New Year. And while it can be an interesting time to visit the country, it’s probably not the best time. Why? Because almost everything shuts down during Tet. All of the lively markets, historic monuments, and breathtaking temples will likely be closed. So, unless you’re going to visit family or friends, Tet is the worst time of year to visit Vietnam.

The exact dates of Tet change year to year, as well. So just do a little research and make sure you take your trip before or after.

DON’T DRESS TOO CASUALLY WHEN VISITING MONUMENTS, SHRINES, AND TEMPLES

Vietnam has some wonderfully warm months and is a great place for a hot summer vacation filled with days lounging on the beach. But if you also plan on visiting some of the historic shrines, monuments, and temples in that same trip, don’t make the mistake of going in your bikini or board shorts. For the most part, it’s just plain disrespectful. But at some places, it’s downright against the rules and will get you kicked out.

So cover those shoulders, lose the hat, and be polite!

DON’T SKIP THE BEACHES!

The beaches in Vietnam are some of the most beautiful and relaxing in the entire world. And while there are the hotspots like Da Nang and Nha Trang, there are plenty of other amazing beaches in the country that are much quieter and peaceful. Some of the lesser-known but must-see beaches include Phu Quoc, Hue, and Hoi An.

And if you’re really adventurous, the dune-covered beaches of Mui Ne are a sight to be seen and the go-to waters for avid windsurfers.

DON’T IGNORE THE TROUBLING HISTORY

While Vietnam is quickly becoming a popular vacation destination with lively cities touting vibrant nighttime activities, there is still a complicated past to Vietnam. We’re all aware of the Vietnam War, but the Communist country has plenty of other troubling activity in their past. But, while we think we know all there is to know about America’s involvement with the country, there is a lot to be learned from the Vietnamese perspective.

So if you venture to this beautiful and complicated country, don’t be so foolish as to not take the time to learn about their own past, their own mistakes, their own tragedies. There are plenty of amazing museums and historical sites throughout the country that are worth a visit. So be sure to do a little research on wherever you end up and check out at least a few of them while you’re there.

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Why You Should Always Learn The Language While Traveling

Here are some great reasons why learning a little bit of a language can go a long way when you’re traveling to a foreign country.

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When leaving the country a lot of people don’t usually bother to learn the language of the country they are about to visit. While it is true that you can get by pretty much anywhere just by speaking English, it is rude and a little presumptuous to not at least try. You don’t have to become fully fluent in any language before you visit their country, but if you just learn a few key phrases then you can at least appear to be trying and that will work wonders for you.

If you’re still not convinced, here are some great reasons why learning a little bit of a language can go a long way when you’re traveling to a foreign country.

YOU’LL MEET THE LOCALS

It is extremely hard to really meet someone if you don’t speak their language. Unless you’re an award-winning charades player, speaking the same language is the only way to connect with a stranger. Some locals will, of course, speak English, but then you’re limiting yourself to who you can meet and who you can hang out with based on who is able to communicate with you. When you speak the language, you will be able to communicate with anyone and you will be able to get a lot further than you would without the language.

Human connection is what makes life special, so if you enlarge the likelihood of your human connections then not only will your trip be more memorable, but you open up the opportunity for some unique and amazing experiences. Meeting locals is a must when you travel.

YOU MIGHT FALL IN LOVE

When you speak the native language, you open up the world of romance. Meeting a special someone is always fantastic when traveling abroad, or honestly, even when you’re at home. Don’t miss the once in a lifetime opportunity to experience foreign romance by not knowing a few key phrases in a different language.

If you can string together a few compliments then maybe cupid will strike and you’ll be sucking face in no-time. This obviously isn’t a guarantee for romance, but if you don’t speak any of the native languages then it’s almost a guarantee for no romance. So why not help give yourself a chance?

THE FOOD IS BETTER

The food is better because you actually know what is in it. Instead of crossing your fingers every time you order a dish and hoping you didn’t just order pig anus stew, learn a little of the language and order with confidence. When you don’t know what you’re saying, you will probably just order the same dishes you know and play it very safe at restaurants.

While you can still definitely get some great food this way, you will not be able to branch out and try something you’ve never tried before which is very limiting. My favorite foods have been dishes I’ve never heard of before and then once I tried them I was sent into culinary bliss. Let your palate explore the area in which you travel by learning a bit of the language before you venture off.

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The Best Backpacks For Your Next Adventure

If you’ve got an adventure coming up that requires a reliable backpack, look no further than these six great options. 

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One of the most important elements of any traveling experience is also the most frequently overlooked… the backpack. It’s with us at all times and typically holds our most important items. But more often than not, most travelers just grab that same raggedy old backpack they’ve had since high school.

But there are so many options out there! And certain backpacks are better for certain experiences. So read through this list and make sure you have the right backpack for your next adventure!

THE JANSPORT RIGHT PACK

It’s safe to say just about everyone has had a Jansport backpack in their life. It is the most popular backpack in the world and honestly one of the most durable. This particular model is known as the “Right Pack.” It’s very affordable, has a large main compartment, a sleeve specifically for laptops, and plenty of room leftover in the two front pockets. If you need a reliable backpack and you’re working on a budget, this is the pack for you.

THE PATAGONIA ARBOR PACK

This is a great option if you want something reliable and durable, but still don’t want to lug around something huge and heavy. This pack is water-repellent, compact, and has a significantly padded compartment for laptops.

TOPO DESIGNS KLETTERSACK

This is one of the toughest packs out there. It’s built from leather and nylon and is great for long trips on foot or camping and hiking. Thanks to the extra straps it can easily carry a rolled up blanket or heavy jacket. It also has a very cool look so you can still look hip while wearing it in the city.

CHROME URBAN EX 18 BIKE PACK

As the name suggests, this pack is ideal for the avid biker. It’s waterproof so you don’t have to worry about precious cargo getting damaged. And despite being relatively compact, you could still fit a laptop, camera, and a sweater or jacket with ease. If keeping your things safe and dry is a major concern, get this pack!

JANSPORT DRIVER 8

Surprise! The most popular backpack brand in the world is making a second appearance on this list! And this backpack is a fantastic option for a carry-on bag as it operates as both a standard backpack and a rolling suitcase. So this backpack will give you exactly what you need from airport to the top of Mount Everest and back.

OSPREY AURA AG 65

If you’ve got a backpacking trip across Europe planned after college to find yourself, this is the only pack you should be looking at. Osprey has long been one of the most trusted models for long backpacking trips, and this one is especially nice as it’s designed to fit naturally to the contours of the human body. It also includes a rain cover that can protect your all-important stuff no matter what conditions you may find yourself in.

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