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4 Reasons to Visit Santa Rosa in 2017

4 Reasons to Visit Santa Rosa in 2017

I have a confession. Every time I visit California, it feels like returning home. In my early twenties, when wanderlust just started to take over my life I moved to Ventura, California. I spent a year traveling around Southern California with some of my buddies. Even till this day, it remains one of my funniest years.

However, we didn’t get to explore a lot of Northern California. This winter I thought what better time to escape the frigid cold of southern Ohio then to head to Northern California, to attempt to drink my weight in wine.

When you talk about California’s wine scene, most people’s minds immediately think of Napa Valley. I wanted something a little more low-key, so I headed to Santa Rosa, in Sonoma County. This area of California’s wine country is a little lesser known, yet, by all accounts is Napa Valleys equal.

Santa Rosa this area has a lot more to offer than just buttery reds and crisp whites. I could have easily spent a couple of weeks exploring all the adventures around this stunning area of Northern California.

4 Reasons To Visit Santa Rosa

Santa Rosa California Redwoods

The Redwoods


The Redwoods are as stunning as you would expect.These ancient trees are the tallest on the planet and can grow up to 250 feet. Being the adventure addict I am, I couldn’t turn down the chance to Zipline through this lushes forest.

I spent the morning with Sonoma Canopy Tours over a hundred feet in the air swinging from tree to tree. I won’t forget standing in the branches of a redwood as we watched the sun burn off the morning fog that hovered over the sleeping forest. It was a fun and exciting morning as we reached speeds of 25 mph zip lining across the forest. It was one of those brisk mornings you don’t want to end.

A big part of this tour was that it was also educational. Our guides taught us a lot of the forest and the area surrounding Sonoma County. Overall it was a really cool experience.

Now, I have done zip lining all over the world, but this was a bit different. You had to slow yourself down using a glove on one of your hands. I’ve never had to brake by myself on a zipline, and it added a fresh new element to it.

The Wine

You can’t visit Northern California without visiting different wineries, am I right!? I spent my second day in Santa Rosa biking to a few different wine tastings with Getaway Adventures. The bike path follows the old railway track of Santa Rosa and showcases some of the beautiful landscape and vineyards in the area.

Plus, you’re burning off all those wine calories as you consume them.

My favorite wineries on the tour are.

Hook and Ladder – They use cool climate grapes, which I learned are some of the best in the world for wine. They had lovely red wines (My favorite was the Tillerman)

Dutton Goldfield. – Excellent and well balanced wines, and the heritage of the people who own the winery and vineyard dates back to the beginning of wine in Sonoma County.

The Food

Santa Rosa has some mouth-watering places to eat. Every night I found myself overindulging in the delicious cuisine. One restaurant, in particular, was Belly: Left Coast Kitchen and Taproom. The chef/owner, Gray Rollins is also the touring chef the rock band Linking Park. He has also tour and been the chef for Kiss and Prince.

After eating his food, it is easy to see why! I could eat the sweet bread, with cinnamon butter every day for the rest of my life and be happy. Everything is the restaurant was delicious, and I highly recommend checking it out.

A couple of other restaurants I loved in Santa Rosa include

​Hopmonk Tavern​

​Jack and Tony’s Restaurant and Whiskey Bar –

The Landscape

The landscape of Sonoma County nothing short of incredible. It is less than an hour away from the famous Pacific Coastal Highway. There are lush green forest, vibrant vineyards, and tall mountains all throughout the county. I knew that Northern California was gorgeous, but I was still completely taken aback by it.

I drove around all day just venturing off on different roads to see what scenic views I would find next.

It was a humble moment for me when I visited the grave and estate of Jack London at Jack London State Park.

Jack London's Estate

Jack London’s Estate

The literary icon who wrote famous books like White Fang and Call of the Wild had an enormous impact on me in my early twenties. These books nurtured my desire for adventure and kindled my imagination.

Jack London’s books, along with Jack Kerouac and Ken Kesey, fuled a two-month road trip I took from Ohio to California, then California to Alaska back to Ohio. I even came face to face with a grizzly bear in Alaska!

Santa Rosa was a much need break from my backpacking life. I enjoyed every moment of my week in Santa Rosa. From good wine to epic vista’s Santa Rosa a place to check out.

Santa Rosa Tips

Rent a Car – I rented a car from enterprise  for my time in Santa Rosa and it was awesome. It gave me a lot more freedom to travel around and experience what I wanted.

Where to Stay- I stayed at the 50’s style hotel called The Flamingo. It is worth checking out.

Time – It is worth taking at least a few days and exploring the area fully.

Check out Visit Santa Rosa for more exciting reasons to visit!

 

Backpacking Europe Guide – Everything You Need to Know

Backpacking Europe Guide – Everything You Need to Know

Backpacking Europe changed my life. The exhilarating experience opened my mind to all the possibilities the world held for me, and completely changed the course of my life.

I fell in love with the remarkable sights, cities, and diverse cultures.  I wanted to immerse myself in all of them. No matter when I am in the world I always feel a tug pulling me to Europe

Over the years, I have backpacked through Since then I have spent about two year traveling through Europe on countless trips. I have also learned the do’s and dont’s of backpacking Europe.

This is a complete Europe travel tips will give you everything from money saving tips to the best cities to visit when backpacking Europe. This guide will help you have the trip of a lifetime.

Common Questions When Backpacking Europe

Traveling through Europe
Is backpacking through Europe safe? – A lot lot of people tell me that they would love to go backpacking across Europe, but they’re afraid or nervous of what can happen so far from home.Don’t worry you will be fine.I have never once felt threatened, scared, or nervous.

What do I need to pack when backpacking around Europe? – It varies on what time of year you are visiting. Winter you need heavy gear which cost a bit more. Luckily there are some great travel gifts you can ask for as presents. However, you can find Europe travel tips packing list here.

Ok, so once you have finally saved enough for your European Vacation and are ready to set out backpacking Europe.

Cost of Backpacking Europe

That’s the key question isn’t it! How much does it cost to backpack Europe? It is also a really tough question to answer because everyone travels different.  I typically, budget around 1,500 – 2,000 USD a month in Europe.

Depending on the country and city you are visiting prices vary drastically. Countries like Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Switzerland tend to be more expensive. Likewise major tourist cities like Paris, Rome, Venice, Barcelona, and Vienna also cost more than the smaller, lesser known towns and villages .

Also keep in mind that Western Europe in general in more expensive than Eastern Europe.

There are so many factors that go into answering the question ” How much does it cost to Backpack Europe” that I wrote a entire post on the subject.

Travel Insurance

Before leaving home, you need Travel Insurance..I know a lot of people that have risked traveling without insurance and have regretted it. .Here are a few (of many reasons) you should always travel with insurance.

Travel insurance covers things like….

  • Trip Cancellation – Travel Insurance covers trip cancellation in case any unseen circumstances come up, and you need to return home.
  • Theft – It covers theft up to $500 for each item. Keep your valuables and electronics safe while traveling.
  • Health – Nothing is more annoying then getting ill without insurance while traveling through Europe.
  • Real life example – I once got sick in Ireland because i forgot to buy insurance I had a 400 Euro bill.

Never again will I go backpacking through Europe without insurance.

I always use Roam Right or WorldNomads. They are recommenced by prestigious travel companies like Lonely Planet and Nat Geo Adventure.
Where to Stay When Backpacking Europe

Backpacking Thailand best travel insruance

Hostels are sociable, nice, and cheap. I’ve meet countless friends in hostels all across the globe. However, Europe is the place where I feel in love with hostels. I highly suggest checking them out. Websites like hostelworld let you see a ton of reviews so you can find the best hostel for you.

Where to Stay When Backpacking Europe

Generator Venice

Hostels

I have a massive soft spot for hostels. I love the atmosphere the vibrant atmosphere, cheap price,how easy it is to make friends.  Hostels are your cheapest option, and more than likely you will leave will a ton of new friends from all corners of the world. Without a doubt the best place to book hostels online is Hostelworld.

Bear in mind these quick tips when booking backpacker hostels in Europe.

  • When looking for the cheapest hostels, keep these travel tips in mind.
  • Typically, The average hostel dorm room cost between $25 -$45 a night.
  • Dorm rooms are cheaper. Naturally, private rooms are more expensive.
  • Camping hostels usually give you more space and are also less expensive.
  • Hostel prices go up on the weekends.
  • Location is a big part of this price difference. For example, a hostel in Paris, France is almost double the price of a hostel in Nice, France.
  • One Europe Travel tips I recommended you follow is book your hostels early. I have slept on the street a few times because I waited until the last minute and everything was full..

Airbnb – Airbnb has taken the accommodation world by storm. It is a fantastic option when traveling through Europe.

Guess what use this link, sign up to Airbnb, and get $35 off your first stay for FREE.

Hotels – Sometimes hostels get old and you need your own space. For hotels I find great deals on tripadvisor.

Eating in Europe

Food in Europe

The food section will be brief simply because that expense is totally up to you.

You can always grab fresh bread and cheese to save money and only spend $15 a day on food while backpacking through Europe.

The bread and cheese is actually an amazing meal.

If you are going to restaurants three times a day you can expect to spend $25-$40 a day on food.

However, I recommend a mixture, eat bread and cheese, and cook your own meals a lot, but also go out to eat a few times a week.

By doing this your average cost of food should be $15-$25 a day on food when you are backpacking Europe.

Getting Around Europe

So you have your flight booked and are getting ready to plan your backpacking Europe trip! You might be wondering what is the best way to get around Europe?

I like companies like Busabout and Eurail. By purchasing these tickets, you pay the biggest part of your travel expenses before you even leave home. You’ll only need money for subways, trams, or day trips. Most big cities offer day passes on their public transportation. These are some of the cheapest ways to get around Europe.

Backpacking Europe Companies.

Busabout- A Hop on Hop off bus service popular with backpackers.

Eurail Train passes that go all around Europe. These passes give you the most freedom! You choose when and where you want go.

G Adventures – Open of the top travel tours company in the world.W Check out my full G Adventures Review 

Intrepid Popular tour company, specializing in small group tours.

Contiki- Popular bus tour company around Europe.

Train – You can buy tickets as you go. Depending on how much ground you are covering while exploring the best cities in Europe it could be more expensive or cheaper.

There are many cheap ways to save money backpacking through Europe. If you know the right companies.

Budget For Nightlife

I won’t lie to you, partying in Europe is awesome, and Europe is massive on the backpacker’s party culture.

In almost every hostel you can find a bar, a group of people playing cards while drinking their own wine, or others going on a nightly pub crawl.

While I like my nights out, trust me, getting lost in the insane parties of Europe will drain your bank account faster than anything.

This is an important Europe Travel Tip: Drink less. I promise you will be able to travel longer, and enjoy your travels without having nasty hangovers.

Top Cities to Visit When Backpacking Europe

1-Rome

Backpacking Europe Travel Tips

I am passionately in love with the eternal city. Rome has so many ruins, such good food, and the people are amazing. When it comes to cities one Europe travel tip, I suggest you do ‘go to Rome.’It isn’t the cheapest country in Europe, but if you know how to travel Italy on a budget, it isn’t too bad. Walks of Italy also has some fantastic walking tours of Rome.

Related Travel Tips – Backpacking Italy Travel Tips / Walks of Italy Review / Italy Budget / How Much to Budget for a Month in Italy

2-Barcelona

I once met a backpacker who had just come from Barcelona In one sentence; he told me that he had gotten robbed while he was there.In the next, he said it was still his favorite city. That immediately made the city soar to the top of my list of cities to visit while backpacking Europe, and I wasn’t disappointed.  The food, atmosphere, fountains, of Barcelona is wonderful. I feel in love with this Spanish city.

3-Budapest

I have never met anyone who hates Budapest. It is clean, cheap, and has a fantastic nightlife. Budapest is on the border between eastern and western Europe and isn’t on the Euro.Budapest is incredibly cheap. I personally think Budapest is one of the best cities in Eastern Europe.Budapest is a must when backpacking through Europe.

4-Prague

Backpacking Through Europe

Prague is a picturesque city in the Czech Republic. It has a charming town square and a larger than life castle.For the main city in Europe, it is also cheap. Next to Venice, I think it is the perfect city to wander around and get lost in when backpacking Europe.

5-Amsterdam

Amsterdamn

Amsterdam was nothing like I expected. The city has a small town feel, is completely clean, and full of fun activities like riding bikes up and down the canals is a highlight anyone should have when backpacking Europe.
At night the city comes alive with parties and pub crawls. Amsterdam is amazing to explore in the day, before heading out for a big night. Amsterdam is a backpackers dream.

6-Paris

 

Ah, the city of lights. I have found that people either love or hate Paris. Honestly, it took me a couple of visits to warm up to the city, but now I have fallen in love with the city.
There are such amazing sights in Paris. Plus the outdoors cafes are tempting, plentiful, and overflowing with great food. Even on a cloudy day, Paris is beautiful.

Related Post: France Travel Tips / Best Day Trips From Paris How Much Does it Cost to Travel France

7 – Istanbul

 

The first time I went to Istanbul was simply because I was running out of money and needed to duck out of the Euro Zone. When I arrived, I couldn’t believe I didn’t come sooner.. Istanbul is a clash of Europe and the Middle East. If you are curious and thinking about backpacking the Middle East, Istanbul is the perfect introduction.

8-Berlin

Berlin is the whole package. It is a cheap city with a lot of history and fun, quirky bars. Also, you will find the best kebabs in the world in Berlin, and as backpackers, kebabs are your best friend.
Berlin is one of the best backpacking cities in Europe.

9-Venice

Venice at night

Venice is a city of alleyways and canals. While a lot of people hate how touristy Venice has become, I still find it an amazing city. Venice at sunset is stunning. The best thing to do in Venice is wandering around and get lost, and trust me; you will get lost. This is one main reason why it is in the top ten European destinations.

10-Bruges

Bruges is just a beautiful medieval city, with good chocolate and french fries.When looking to travel to the best European Cities, it would be a shame if you missed this city when backpacking through Europe.Many of these cities are the Top 5 European Cities For the First Time Backpacker

11 Unforgettable Adventures When Backpacking Europe

Now you are aware of the top cities when backpacking through Europe, but what about all the adventures? This list includes European adventures that will get your blood pumping, but also adventures that are a little more tame for the less crazy among us.

1-Running of the Bulls

Yea, this isn’t one of the tame adventures I was talking about. Running with the Bulls is an extremely intense experience. That being said, it is also one of my highlights of backpacking Europe. I would do it again in a heartbeat, and if you are looking to test your limits, this is the adventure for you.Make sure to read my running with the bull’s tips before you go.

2-Oktoberfest

When I think of my 5 days I spent at Oktoberfest when I was backpacking Europe, three words come to mind: wild, crazy, and hazy. This is the world’s largest beer festival, and it is one hell of a time. This is a double whammy. Not only do you get to visit Munich, another one of my top European Cities, but you also get to have a beer adventure at the same time. I mean Munich can get messy during Oktoberfest, even the best drinkers might need an Oktoberfest Guide.

3- Road Trip

One of my favorite ways to get around Europe is by driving. I did this a lot on the Mongol Rally, even without a clutch.The roads are nice and in some places you don’t even have speed limits. Driving, hitchhiking, or ride shares are all ways you can backpack through Europe. Plus, it is easy to rent a car in Europe.

4-Sail Croatia

Another one of my travel highlights and an exceptional place to relax. You can spend a week sailing up and the down the stunning Dalmatian coast with a group of other backpackers. You can read my full Sail Croatia Review.. Croatia Sailing was one of my favorite tours in Europe. It was full of good people, stunning destinations, and adventure. The Datamation Coast is most beautiful coast I have seen while backpacking Europe. Busabout which I mentioned earlier has an awesome Sailing Croatia Tour.

Read more – Busabout

5-The Alps

One of the most impressive mountain ranges in the world, the Alps border France, Italy, and Switzerland. They are worth visiting for the view alone when traveling across Europe. Of course, there are many adventures to be had here as well, and they range from ultra mild to extreme.

6-The Greek Islands

Relax on the beach, rent a quad bike and explore, or jump on a sailboat. The Greek islands are beautiful and have something for everyone. Don’t miss them when backpacking through Europe.
Europe Travel Tip– My favorite Islands are Santorini, Ios, and Crete.

7-La Tomatina

One of the top adventure festivals in Europe, La Tomatina, might be the biggest food fight in the world. The whole city turns into a mess as thousands of people spend the day throwing tomatoes at one another.

8-Music Festivals

Sadly, I have never been to a music festival in Europe, but I hear nothing but great things about them. This website will give you more guidance than I can.

9 – Climb Mt. Olympus

This two-day climb is easy enough that you only have to be moderately in good shape to make the ascent. The landscape is beautiful, and you can’t help but imagine Greek mythological gods coming to life and walking out of the wood as you climb. Travel Tip – There is a hostel halfway up the mountain, so you don’t need a tent or camping gear.

10- Raft Pub Crawl

A lot of travelers go on pub crawls, but not a lot of them do it by rafting down a river and stopping at bars along the way. This can be done in Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic and is an adventure that shouldn’t be missed. Hand Gliding in Switzerland Imagines riding on a huge kite while viewing beautiful Switzerland below. Can life get better? I think not. Honestly, any pub crawl is a right of passage for anyone packing through Europe.

11- Resorts

If skiing and snowboarding is your thing then countries like Austria have some great places to shred the slopes. However, if rushing down a mountain with  pieces of wood and plastic strapped to your feet doesn’t sound like fun don’t worry there are some breath-taking resorts when you spend winter in Austria that offer much more than just skiing. .

 

An In-Depth Guide to Choosing the Best Backpacking Gear

An In-Depth Guide to Choosing the Best Backpacking Gear

I get a lot of questions about my travel gear. The truth is that because of the nature of my work I carry more gear than the average traveler ever needs. A big part of my job is capturing the perfect photo, lining up epic video footage and more.  In fact, I lug around an entire backpack that’s devoted solely to cameras, tablets, wires, external hard drives, etc.

Chances are you won’t need everything on this travel gear list. That being said I do have some favorite items, brands, and devices I recommend. These are pieces of travel gear that everyone will find helpful.

Hands down, one of the most important items of your travel gear is luggage. It is vital to pick quality luggage that caters to your needs. This is stuff you will be carrying down city streets, through busy airports, and loading on and off buses.

For the most part, I still travel with a backpack. But when my family comes to visit they use hand luggage so I have plenty of experience carrying their luggage from A to B. ( I’m a nice guy what can I say)

There are long stretches of time where you can’t get to your luggage. Times where you have hours of sitting there with nothing to do or walking over ten miles a day. Getting the durable, and high-quality clothes that were designed with these types of situations in mind is something to think about when getting ready to travel.  That being said you don’t need a completely new wardrobe just a few items to wear in certain situations.

Travel Insurance

It is vital to make sure you are protected when backpacking around the world. Travel is unpredictable so it is not smart to travel without insurance.

For travel insurance I recommend Roam RIght

Backpacking Thailand best travel insruance

Best Backpacking Gear: Backpacks

It is important to have a good travel backpack.

A couple things to look for are multiple compartments, water resistance, internal frame, and padding.

As I go into depth about why these are important in my post about finding the best travel backpacker,

These are a couple I highly recommend.

Osprey Farpoint

Travel Gear

Why I like it: Osprey is my favorite backpack brand. I like the Osprey Farpoint because it has zippers you can lock, a day pack you can unzip, and has light wire suspension.

Amazon Rating 4.7 out of 5

Osprey Porter –

Why I like it: The Osprey Porter is much smaller than the Farpoint for those seeking a smaller backpack. It is simple and comfortable. The porter is great for both long and short trips and one of the best backpacking gear.

Amazon Rating 4.8 out of 5

Kealty Redwing

Why I like it: Kealty is a brand that is known for making extremely reliable and durable. They backpacks are great for organization and high quality.

Tortuga Travel Backpack

Why I like it: I like Tortuga backpack because of you can carry it on a plane.

Travel Jacket – This jacket was designed with travelers in mind. The jacket is also water resistant, as well as cool looking. A couple features about this jacket that won my heart is the number of pockets. (There are two pockets on the chest that you can open from the outside or inside of the jacket)  These pockets are the perfect size for a passport, wallet, or phone.

However, I think my favorite feature of this amazing jacket is the huge side pockets. There are big enough that I can fit a paper back book or even a 7″ tablet inside the pocket comfortably. If I am on the go, I don’t have to open my luggage to stuff these items in. I just pop them into these massive pockets, rush off, and easily pull them out on the plane. It is awesome!

REI

REI is well known amoung travelers.  fantastic website with top of the line travel gear. They offer everything from clothes to backpacks.

Ex Officio

I Love Ex Officio. They make high quality clothes with travelers in mind.  I love their stuff. The best backpacking gear they make is the Storm Logic Jacket. It doubles as a neck pillow! How cool is that feature.

Prana

This is another high quality brand that offers many styles and well made products. They make cool clothes that will stand the test of time, and a great products to consider when looking for the best backpacking gear.

Patagonia

Patagonia is not the cheapest brand on the list but I don’t mind spend the extra cash to support a good cause. They are socially responsible and they have a mission to help preserve the environment. So while not the cheapest clothes you are supporting a good cause, ever purchases means that you donated to charities.  On Black, Friday Patagonia donated 100%  of their profits to grassroots conservation efforts. In that one day, they raised $10 million to help the environment.

Best Backpacking Camera Gear

Canon EOS Rebel T6

Canon Rebel T 6

Canon is my favorite brand of camera. I find the camera’s extremely user-friendly. They deliver high-quality shots and aren’t too expensive when you compare them to other SLR’s. There are definitely high quality camera on the market but they are pretty expensive.The price of the canon fits into a budget and the pictures are high quality.

Check out the Canon EOS Rebel T6

Steady Camera – DJI Osmo

DJi Osmo best backpacking gear

If you are looking to make an epic video of your travels this awesome product by DJI takes some amazing steady shots. It has a long battery life, gets smooth shots and pans. Plus it is simple and easy to use.

I am in love with my DJI Osmo

Drone: DJI Mavic

Mavic Dji Best backpacking gear

Drones are awesome. They help you get some amazing aerial footage of the world. DJI is the world leader, and the Mavic is a portable drone. The drone folds to the size of a water bottle making it easy to travel with it. Hands down the Mavic is my new favorite piece of backpacking gear.

A couple awesome feature of the Mavic are that it will track you. So if you are going on a epic hike just send the Mavic into the air, tell it to track you, and start walking. it really works.

 

Check out the Mavic here.

Karma – A product I would like to recommend is the Go Pro drone because it is a drone, but also doubles as a steady cam. I’m a big fan of the Go Pro Camera’s and but no experience with the Karma because I have not tested it.  However, feel free to research it. I know the drone itself is cheaper but if you have to invest in a Go Pro camera it becomes around the to around the same price of the Mavic.

Here is a quick clip of my first flight wit the Drone. I am not controlling it at all. It is tracking me. How cool is this! 

 

Day Pack-  A day pack it good because you can lock up most of your belongings and just take out what is necessary.  I think a day pack is among the best backpacking gear when traveling.

The day pack is for carrying the camera, drone ,and items that are essential to your day.

I use this awesome ManFrotto Pack

Man Frotto Backpack

How much to do I need to pack for traveling?

I have a basic packing list that includes

2- Pair of Jeans

4- T shirts

1- Hoodie/Sweater

1- Light/Heavy jacket ( depending on where I am going)

1- Pair shorts ( 2 if I am going to a summer destination)

1 – Pair of board shorts

4 – Pair of socks

1 – Travel Buff

4- Paris of Exoffico underwear

This is most of the travel gear I carry on the road. Though the gear I have might not be the same gear you need. Look at what you will be doing, the weather, and get the right gear.

Experiencing an Onsen and the Rules of Visiting a Japanese Bath House

Experiencing an Onsen and the Rules of Visiting a Japanese Bath House

Let’s talk about proper Japanese Bath House Etiquette. Now, I am not a luxurious traveler. Loud hostel dorm rooms, red eye flights, and uncomfortable day long bus rides are all part of my weekly routine. One luxury I do allow myself is breathing in the steamy air and soaking in the scorching water of a hot spring or bathhouse. Sometimes we all need to wash the road off us!

Am I right?

It goes without saying that visiting the famed bathhouses in Japan was a huge bucket list item for me. Recently I paid a few of these bath houses a visit. I had an incredible day as I soaked in every moment of my bathhouse experience in Aomori. (pun intended) I was fresh of a plane after a whirlwind 48  hours in Tokyo. A bath was just what I needed.

However, as travelers, there are a few rules and customs to pay attention to before visiting an Onsen or Sento (bathhouses) for the first time. They are one of the reasons I fell in love with Aomori.  In this post we will talk about proper Japanese Bath House Etiquttte.

Bath houses I visited in Aomori. 

A Few Rules before visiting an Onsens: Japanese Bath House Etiquette

Onsen Etiquette

Japanese Bath House Etiquette – Are Tattoo’s Allowed in a Japanese Bath House Tattoo’s

Blessed Tattoos

“Are Tattoo’s allowed in Japanese bath houses?”. This is probably the most common question when it comes to visiting a bath house. Sadly, no. If you have tattoo’s most likely they will deny you entry to the bath.

Tattoos have a bad reputation in Japan and are often seen as a mark of being in the Yakuza so entering with them is not proper Japanese Bath House Etiquttte. That being said there are still a few ways to visit the Japanese bath with tattoos.

A few ideas on how to visit a Onsen with a tattoo. 

1- Get a concealer patch. It is possible to find patches that cover your tattoo’s.
2- Ask if there is an empty bath. I have a huge Sak Yant on my back and a handful of other travel tattoos. Luckily when I visited Hakkoda Hotel they had an empty bath that they let me use.
3- Some places might not mind. One bath house in Japan they let me go in even without concealing my tattoo’s. It’s important to be polite and ask. Never just assume you can go in with tattoos.

Wash Before Entering the Bath.

There are little stools and buckets around the path. Use the bucket and nearby hose to wash and rinse yourself off before entering and exiting the bath.

Clean yourself thoroughly. The whole point of washing yourself off is to make yourself clean enough to bathe with other people.
No clothes

No Clothes Allowed

Onsen’s and Sento’s are a no clothes activity. You will be naked surrounded by naked strangers. If this bothers you then you’ll need to opt for a hotel room that has a private bath house. However, these rooms are expensive (at least a few hundred dollars a night), and you will not get the full Onsen experience.

A much cheaper option is to cover yourself with a small towel until just before you get into the bath. Then rest the towel on your head, or around your neck until you are ready to get out.

Nowadays most Onsen and Sento have separate baths for men and women. Traditionally bath houses were co-ed and some still follow this are. Make sure to know what type of bath you’re going into, or you could be in for a surprise.

Show Respect

Respect is a huge part of Japanese culture, and it is important to show as much respect as possible when visiting this wonderful country. This applies to a Japanese Onsen as well. Many people come to the baths to unwind and relax their mind.

Silence is appreciated but talking quietly is fine. Don’t yell across the bath, or splash around in the water. A good rule to have proper Japanese Bath House Etiquette is to imagine your in a flooded library.

Rinse and Repeat

Many of the bathhouses have a cold water pool. Once you have had enough heat, send a shock to your senses by dipping in the frigid water. You will immediately wake from your hot water coma. After the cold water jars you awake head back to the bath and bask in comfort as the warm water engulfs you.

Leave Your Things in the Dressing Room.

Don’t stress about leaving your clothes, wallet, and phone in the changing room before entering the bath area. Theft in Japan is extremely rare. Nobody is going to take your things.

Even hiking in Aomori, I was amazed because if someone dropped something on the trail, the next person to see it would place it on a rail or rock. That way when the person came back for it they would find it easily. People respect each other too much in Japan to steal stuff.

Watch What Other People Do

If in doubt mimic your neighbors. If you are worried, you are doing something wrong just imitate the people around, and you will be okay.

An Onsen is a great traditional experience to have when traveling Japan. This mini guide will help you be prepared for what is expected when taking a Japanese bath and help you get the most out of your time.

What do you think of these rules for a Japanese Bathhouse? Is this an experience you would like when visiting Japan?

5 Vital Things Travel Protection Covers

5 Vital Things Travel Protection Covers

Ever wondered what those travel agents were trying to sell you when they smiled so sweetly and asked you to spend more money? “It’s in case of emergency,” they say. “You won’t regret it!” You never fall for it, right?

Well, here’s the actual scoop on the fine print. Travel protection can be a sound investment for many trips. Here are several vital things that travel protection covers.

Flight Delays and Cancellations

Flight schedules are never guaranteed. Bad weather in Minnesota can ground flights in Chicago. With travel protection, however, you can recoup the total price of the airline ticket. Agents can also help you get another flight with little to no hassle.

If the flight is delayed by more than six hours, many plans also cover the costs of extra food and lodging. Some even arrange accommodation for you and pay up front so you don’t have to submit a claim for reimbursement.

With most plans, however, the fine print clarifies that they don’t cover “known peril.” If the Weather Channel predicts the storm of the century the week before your big trip, it’s too late to buy travel protection.

Prepaid and Nonrefundable Tickets

Unless you have travel protection, nonrefundable tickets can be a nightmare. If your trip includes expensive concerts tickets, a five-star hotel, or a day at the spa, you could benefit from investing in travel protection. In the event of trip cancellation, many plans reimburse up to 100 percent of the cost of the nonrefundable items you’d miss. In the event of trip interruption, many plans reimburse up to 150 percent of the cost.

Travel Medical Assistance

Even if you’re only traveling in the U.S., the unexpected can still happen. Travel medical assistance plans offer a wide array of options from emergency care to essential transportation. Check with your health insurance provider to make sure that you’re covered at your destination, especially if you’re traveling overseas. Additional protection can supplement your primary health care plan, since most providers don’t offer coverage outside of their jurisdiction.

Travel medical assistance can be a godsend if you fall down the stairs and break your arm on your way to the top of the Eiffel Tower. Invest in additional protection from Medjet Assist, and you can rest assured that the company will arrange emergency transportation back to your home and your trusted doctors.

Lost and Damaged Luggage

You always feel that moment of trepidation when you check a bag full of Christmas gifts or expensive wine for the family. It’s freezing cold where they live, and no matter how hard you tried, your big down coat didn’t fit in your carry-on. What happens if you go to New York City but your bag goes to Kentucky?

Travel protection can cover the cost of buying new clothes in the event that your luggage gets lost. Many plans also insure the full cost of items in your luggage if they are damaged or stolen in transit. There are limitations, however, so consider insuring grandmother’s diamond necklace under your standard homeowner’s policy.

Cancel for Any Reason

This type of policy is the most expensive, but it’s also the most blind. If you’re afraid that your husband is going to flake out on that two-week getaway because his football team got into the playoffs, consider protecting your investment with a plan that covers trip cancellation. If the cost of the trip largely outweighs the cost of the policy, then the policy could be worth your while.

Most policies that cover cancellation for any reason require purchase within 10 to 30 days after making travel arrangements. They also require cancellation within 48 to 72 hours before the trip was scheduled to start. If you’re planning a big vacation but you aren’t quite sure you’ll pull it off, look into travel protection plans as part of your trip planning process.

These are only some of the standard travel mishaps that are out of your control. Regain control by insuring that you, your travel companions, and your possessions all get where they want to go.

For more specialized concerns like traveling while pregnant, going on cruises, or making multiple trips, talk to a travel agent to get further information. You’d be surprised at what many policies cover. Happy voyaging!

5 Reasons I Feel in Love with Aomori Japan

5 Reasons I Feel in Love with Aomori Japan

If I told you, that Aomori is one of my favorite places in Japan. My guess is that you would probably shrug your shoulders and ask “where is Aomori?”. It’s not surprising. A couple of months ago, I would have had the same reaction. In fact, Aomori seems to be a well-kept secret among the skiing and snowboarding crowd.

Aomori Japan

Aomori is a little haven is at the northern most point of the main island of Japan. It is famous in Japan as apple country, but more on that later.

When I close my eyes and think back at my time in Aomori, I picture the winding mountains, huge Nebuta floats, and the thick forest. The time I had in this breathtaking area was relaxing and peaceful.

Here are 5 reasons I feel in love with Aomori

Nebuta Museum and Festival

Learning all about the Aomori Nebuta Festival was a highlight. Nebuta’s are massive floats made of only wood, paper, wires, and lights, They tower over ten feet high, and are equally as wide.

They depict traditional images and stories from Japanese culture like Dragons and Samurai. Each year entirely new floats are made for the festival in August. The floats are paraded through the town and even sent down the river.

Japanese Nebuta

The museum showed off a few of these incredible masterpieces. While I didn’t get to see the actually festival the displays at the Wa Rasse Museum wet my appetite enough, that I can’t wait to come back and check it out.

The Apples

Yes, you read that right. Apples. Aomori is famous in Japan as Apple country, and they are seriously the biggest and best apples I’ve ever had.

Each delicious bite was better than the last. Not only are they sweet and crisp but they’re huge, and can barely fit into the palm of your hand. Apples are everywhere is Aomori and in any form imaginable.

I saw everything from apple pastries, jams, hard candies, chips, and bread. Image your favorite food in Apple form, and there is a good chance you can find it in Aomori.

The Landscape

One of the things I look for when choosing destinations outside of major cities is the landscape. I have seen hundreds of different types of landscapes from the windy plains of Mongolia to damp caves in Ohio, so you will believe me when I say I found Aomori stunning.

The area is surrounded by winding mountain roads, larger than life views, and thriving forest areas.

One thing I like about Aomori is that every season hits at full strength. Now, I am not a huge winter guy, even the thought of snow sends a shudder down my spine, but I think it might be the most beautiful season to visit Aomori.

Strong winds push the snow around the mountains covering the tiny trees making them steep snow mound.

When you see dozens of these together, Aomori has an unearthly feel to it. There wasn’t enough snow to see this phenomenon for myself during my visit, but the locals we talked to and the pictures I saw convinced me that I need to head back to Aomori to see this phenomenon for myself.

To get the best views take a ride on the Gondola that ventures high into the mountains.

The Hiking

I visited Aomori in fall. All throughout the forest, the leaves were changing. There were vibrant reds, golden yellows, and mossy greens everywhere I looked. I fell in love with these woods and with the leaves so beautiful we decided to do some hiking.

I spent a few hours on an easy trail beside a rushing stream. It sprinkled during as we walked but the woods were too nice to give the rain too much of my attention. Along the trail, there were waterfalls were of all shapes and sized pouring down from the mountains.

Aomori Japan

The landscape of Aomori is untouched which only adds to the charm of the area.
Hotspring Resorts I recommend,

The Bathhouses.

Hot Springs and Japanese Baths houses are famous in Japan and Aomori has a few of the most popular in the entire country. I got to spend an entire day checking out a few nearby hot springs and resorts.

Sitting in the warmth of my watery haven I watched the frigid wind blow snow through the mountain passes below. It was one of those moments I sat back, appreciate how lucky I am and take in everything.

Many of these hot springs and resorts offer rooms at prices not much more than hotels. If you are splitting it with a friend, it is extremely affordable. I highly recommend them if you are looking for a weekend getaway in Japan.

They have a variety of rooms like Japanese style rooms ( a large room with doubles as a living/bedroom), western style, and family rooms. Some of the rooms even had their personal hot springs.

Onen bathhouse

A few Bathhouses I recommend in Aomori.

All of these bathhouses also double as hotels. Comfortable rooms attached to steamy bath houses. What more could you ask for?

Aomori is a great place to relax and get a small taste of the landscape of Japan. There is enough hiking, hot springs, museums to keep you busy, and it is also the perfect place to relax.

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