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Category Archives: Travel

Save Money on Long Term Airport Parking without Sacrificing Ease

There’s not anything that is more annoying than to arrange a great vacation to a fascinating place, and go understanding that, because of all your persistent effort, you actually saved hundreds of dollars over what you are able have spent. Not just was the break completely fabulous, but you know that you could not have obtained less costly airline tickets, as you looked as well as patiently waited as well as observed the sites for the greatest option and also overlooked a whole night of sleep by using a 2:00 a.m. flight! You invested an equal amount of time trying to find an affordable but nonetheless well-rated and comfortable motel, also. You went almost floating along in a golden bubble till you returned back home and were met with an airport parking statement that could as well have gotten an exotic sucking noise as an example how all of your cost savings just went all the way down the drain.

Your next trip needn’t be this way. You will find web sites on the Internet offering a complete education in relation to the right way to locate cheap airport parking, and that also provide airport parking coupons. Do you reckon you already know all the tips to finding inexpensive car parking? It’s virtually certain that really you really don’t. Keep to the links and discover how you genuinely may save a fortune the very next time you choose to take a flight on parking at the airport, as well as do this without giving up efficiency!

7 Most Beautiful Places in Alaska

1. Denali National Park and Preserve

Encompassing six million acres of pure Alaskan interior wilderness topped by North America’s highest peak (Denali, 6910m), this national park is Alaska’s ultimate showstopper. Bisected by one solitary ribbon of road, this pristine ecosystem plays home to a menagerie of wildlife – from wolves to bears, caribou to Dall sheep – which is often easily spotted on a bus ride through the park, or on a ranger-led programme.

2. Glacier Bay National Park

Alaska is famed for its Inside Passage cruises, and for many visitors passing through this UNESCO-listed national park en route is the highlight of their trip. Here, you can watch in awe from a boat (or kayak) as the majestic Margerie Glacier calves hundred-tonne icebergs into the tidewater while orcas, sea lions, seals and other marine animals frolic in the crystal clear waters surrounding it. Bring your binoculars to spot bears on the shore, and mountain goats on the cliffs above.

3. The Alaska Highway

Stretching 1387 miles from Delta Junction, southeast of Fairbanks, all the way to Dawson Creek in British Colombia, Canada, the Alaska Highway (also known as the ALCAN) is considered one of the world’s top scenic drives. Constructed during World War II, this well-maintained road winds through some truly spectacular terrain, offering excellent wildlife viewing and countless other photo opportunities along the way.

4. Katmai National Park and Preserve

If you’ve seen one of those photographs of a brown (grizzly) bear perched on the edge of a waterfall snagging salmon in mid-air, there’s a good chance it was taken in Katmai National Park. Brooks Falls, to be exact – Alaska’s most famous bear viewing area. Unconnected to any town by road, the park – also famed for its fishing, hiking, rafting and kayaking possibilities – is most commonly accessed by floatplane. This grizzly has caught a starry flounder.

5. The Arctic Coast

Alaska is known as the Last Frontier, and nowhere does this seem more fitting than on its Arctic Coast. Here, along this starkly beautiful stretch of rugged tundra, Alaska Native communities live side-by-side with one of the world’s greatest predators: the polar bear. The Inupiaq village of Kaktovik, located on Barter Island just off the mainland, is one of the best places to spot these vulnerable mammals, which congregate here in large numbers in the summer while they wait for the Beaufort Sea to freeze.

6. Ketchikan

It’s known as the salmon capital of the world, but Alaska’s southernmost city is also an attraction in itself. Backed by the lush, forested slopes of Deer Mountain and facing the buzzing Tongass Narrows waterway, picturesque Ketchikan hugs the shoreline of Revillagigedo Island for 30 miles, with many businesses located in pastel-hued overwater bungalows accessed via suspended walkways. Native Haida, Tlingit, and Tsimshian arts are visible everywhere throughout the city – from museums to totem parks – adding to its cultural appeal.

7. Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge

Its lush, green hills and mountaintop vistas that give Kodiak its ‘Emerald Isle’ nickname are pretty enough, but the island’s key draw is a brown bear subspecies that lives nowhere else. Spanning parts of Kodiak, Uganik, Ban and Afognak islands, the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge offers unparalleled wildlife-watching opportunities (from Kodiak brown bears to puffins, red foxes to sea lions) on top of some of the best salmon fishing in the state.

7 Ideas For Cheap Vacations in The US

Museum madness: Washington, DC

Price-wise you can’t do any better than free, and in Washington, DC, some of the best museums don’t cost a dime. Along the National Mall you’ll find ten Smithsonian Institution museums and galleries, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial and the U.S. Capitol Building. Free admission to these museums means you can save your money for the Newseum or International Spy Museum. Stretch your dollar by staying at The Embassy Row Hotel, where off-season rates can be a steal.

An art escape: Santa Fe, New Mexico

Creative types make note: Santa Fe is it. Artists draw inspiration from the nearby mountains and 1.6-million acre National Forest, filling the town’s 250 galleries with works. Don’t neglect the culinary creativity of Santa Fe either; hit the Santa Fe Margarita Trail (with 31 stops) and sample some of the earthy, chile-laden cuisine of Northern New Mexico at Tia Sophia’s and El Parasol, where you can feast for under $10. And if you want to save on your room, try a Route 66 classic like the El Rey Inn.

Island isolation: Put-in-Bay, Ohio

An island getaway in Ohio? Indeed. Put-in-Bay sits in Lake Erie just a few miles from the Canadian border and it may just be Ohio’s best-kept secret. Midwesterners are notorious for frugality, and they love Put-in-Bay for its views, the killer fishing, and all the hiking, biking, kayaking and swimming. Accessible only by boat – bring your own or take the Miller Ferry – it’s the kind of place where you can book a B&B for as little as $100 a night in summer.

Back to nature: the Appalachian Mountains, Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania’s Appalachian Mountains are a wild and beautiful part of the state. As well as holding 230 miles of the Appalachian Trail, they’re also home to several state parks and forests – including Pine Grove Furnace State Park, the trail’s mid-way point. Outdoor activities abound here, and one of the best places to make the most of them is Buck Valley Ranch. Surrounded by 2,000 acres of state game land laced with hiking and biking trails, the property is also close to the C&O Canal Trail and Potomac River if you want a long ride or a day on the water.

Big-city cool: San Francisco

To see San Francisco on a budget, visit in the fall or late spring and you’ll find that both the weather is good and the hotels are cheaper. This city was made to be explored on foot, and there are numerous fascinating neighborhoods to discover, from hectic Chinatown to quirky Haight Ashbury– check out our two-day itinerary for starters. And don’t forget the best free activity in San Francisco: people watching.

Foodie delights: Denver, Colorado

After a day in Denver, you’ll be ready to move here. Now that you’ve been warned, know that dining in the Mile High City can cost you a pretty penny, but it doesn’t have to. Visiting a spot like Avanti Food & Beverage, a European-style food hall, will give you some big bargains. The fried chicken sandwich at The Regional, Brava! Pizzeria’s margherita pizza and the overstuffed arepa from Quiero Arepas will all fill you up without setting you back. At dinner, splurge and head to Rioja, an outstanding restaurant where your money will be well spent.

Unbridled hedonism: Las Vegas

Typically you don’t see “Las Vegas” and “cheap” together, but keep in mind that “cheap” is a relative term. To do Las Vegas right, you’ll need to spend a little money, but if you plan carefully it might not be as much as you’d think. Check out our list of the best places to stay, keep an eye out for package deals (including freebies like meals and fully stocked mini-bars) and get the Pocket Rough Guide to Las Vegas for the low-down on which shows, buffets and bars are really worth the splurge.

The 7 Best Beaches in Portugal

1. Praia de Tavira, Ilha de Tavira (The Algarve)

Linked to the mainland by ferry, the superb Praia de Tavira, is located on the Ilha de Tavira, a sandbar island that stretches southwest from Tavira almost as far as Fuseta.

Strung along this are miles of soft, dune-baked sand, without a hotel in sight. The main part of the beach is dotted with umbrellas and pedalos for rent, and scattered with a handful of bar-restaurants.

In high summer this part of the beach can get very busy, but you only have to wander fifteen minutes or so to escape the crowds. Come here out of season and you’ll probably have the place to yourself.

2. Praia da Marinha and Benagil (The Algarve)

The stretch of coast between Armação de Pêra and Centianes is strung with a series of delightful cove beaches that have mostly escaped large-scale development. Of them two stand out: Praia da Marinha and Benagil. A classic cliff-backed warren of coves, the only trace of development on Praia da Marinha is the seasonal beach restaurant.

Follow the clifftop path on from here as it winds round to the next bay at Benagil, a pint-sized village with its fine beach sitting beneath high cliffs. Fishing boats can take you out to an amazing sea cave, as large as a cathedral, with a hole in its roof.

3. Nazaré (Estremadura)

Now a busy seaside resort – with all the hustle and trimmings that you’d expect with that title – the former fishing village of Nazaré has a great town beach. The main stretch is an expanse of clean sand, packed with multicoloured sunshades in summer, while further beaches spread north beyond the headland.

The water might look inviting on calm, hot days, but it’s worth bearing in mind that swimming off these exposed Atlantic beaches can be dangerous. Nazaré has a worldwide reputation among surfers seeking serious waves – this is where the world’s largest-ever wave was surfed. 

4. Foz de Minho (The Minho)

Just 2km southwest from the charming, sleepy town of Caminha, Foz de Minho – Portugal’s northernmost beach – is a hidden gem.

Located on an idyllic wooded peninsula where the broad estuary of the Rio Minho flows into the Atlantic, here a wooden boardwalk hugs the water’s edge, leading to a sheltered river beach. Wander slightly further on for five minutes through the pines, and you’ll reach a great Atlantic beach, with a little fortified islet just offshore and Spain visible opposite.

5. Praia da Figueira (The Algarve)

You’ll have to walk to get here, but it’s worth it to find this often deserted beach. The small village of Figueira, is the starting point for a rough track to Praia da Figueira, that lies below the ruins of an old fort. This is one of the least-visited beaches along this stretch of coastline, mainly due to the fact that it’s not reachable by car. The walk takes twenty to thirty minutes, with the path passing through some lovely countryside.

6. Praia de Odeceixe (The Algarve)

Sleepy out of season, the charming village of Odeceixe comes to life in the summer when it draws a stream of surfers and holidaymakers, lured by it’s magnificent beach, which lies just 4km west of the village.

In the summer take the road train to Praia de Odeceixe, or follow the road on foot through the river valley to the broad bay framed by low cliffs. The beach here is one of the most sheltered along this stretch of coast, where you can enjoy fantastic surfing, and relatively safe swimming.

7. Comporta (Alentejo)

Tucked into a remote part of the northern Alentejo, a drive west of the historical port town of Alcácer do Sal, is one of the region’s best beaches.

Here at Comporta, deserted sands stretch as far a the eye can see – a magnificent, swathe of soft beach that is served by a couple of seasonal café-restaurants, which double as popular hangouts for wealthy Lisboetas.

The 7 Most Beautiful Places in Italy

1. Florence

This Renaissance beauty has it all. For starters, there’s the glorious architecture – who could resist the cheerful pink-and-green facade and iconic cupola of the Duomo, the photogenic Piazza della Signoria with its statement statuary, and the Ponte Vecchio’s jumble of shops spanning the river Arno? For most, though, Florence’s biggest draw is its staggering hoard of world-class paintings, frescoes and sculptures: according to UNESCO, thirty percent of the world’s most important works of art are to be found here.

2. San Gimignano

Tuscany has no shortage of winsome hill-towns but San Gimignano stands tall above the rest for its distinctive skyline, bristling with medieval towers, and its remarkably intact historic centre, a gorgeous assemblage of honey-coloured stone buildings. Its winding backstreets hold frescoed churches and Gothic palazzi, and beyond the city walls on all sides, the hills are blanketed with vineyards and olive groves.

3. Lake Garda

With a more down-to-earth feel than glitzy Como but with plenty of class, Lake Garda is the largest of Italy’s spectacular lakes. Rugged mountains encircle its deep blue waters, with boats zipping between the pretty towns that hug the shore. You could base yourself here for a week or more – choose between luxury spas and faded waterside hotels – or day-trip it from Milan. Whatever you do, make time for a Spritz overlooking the lake, preferably at sunset.

4. Positano

The Amalfi Coast is wildly beautiful, and the few towns strung along its length are ideal vantage points for taking in the coast’s dazzling ensemble of craggy cliffs, lush forests and dramatic seascapes. Chichi Positano is the pick of the towns: a dramatic huddle of pastel-coloured houses tumbling down to the sea, its centre a warren of stepped lanes framed by pink bougainvillea and lined with smart boutiques.

5. Puglia

With its crystalline seas, white-sand beaches and hidden rocky coves, Puglia is many Italians’ favourite place to soak up the sun in the summer months. Its interior is just as beautiful, with wooded hills, wildlife-rich lakes, and endless olive groves: the region produces around forty percent of Italy’s olive oil.

6. Capri

The legendary island of Capri, beloved of the emperor Tiberius, any number of artists and writers in search of inspiration, and legions of modern-day celebrities, has star appeal in spades. Away from its twin centres, Capri Town and Anacapri – bursting with designer boutiques and chichi cafés – picturesque lanes wind past Roman ruins and grand villas, with staggering views over the deep blue Mediterranean.

7. Venice

No one forgets their first glimpse of Venice: however many times you’ve seen it in pictures, you can’t prepare yourself for the sight of a city of stately marble palazzi sitting pretty atop a dazzling green lagoon. Mesmerizing in sunshine, moodily atmospheric when wreathed in mist, colourful at Carnevale, unforgettable when it floods: Venice is never anything short of a knockout.

The 7 Most Visited States in the United States

7. Illinois with 1,442,000 visitors

Illinois makes it onto this almost solely because of the appeal of its largest city, Chicago. Each year 1.378 million international visitors travel to Chicago to discover America’s second city, which is known for its deep-dish pizza, blues bars, sports teams, unique architecture and laid-back attitude. That said, Illinois is losing ground in the tourism race, as its lack of other key-note attractions has caused it to experience a lackluster growth in tourism arrivals – only 3% since 2012.

6. Texas with 1,570,000 visitors

Texas is the only state on this list to move up positions in this year’s rankings, as Texas has surpassed both Illinois and Massachusetts to become the sixth most visited state in the United States. With 1.57 million visitors, Texas received 17% more international visitors in 2013 than it did in 2012, which is one of the largest increases of any state. Houston and Dallas are the state’s most visited cities, the two of which account for 73% of the state’s visitors.

5. Nevada with 2,915,000 visitors

Virtually every visitor to Nevada in 2013 also visited Las Vegas, which is such a huge tourist destination that 2.9 million international visitors is just a drop in the bucket. Once international visitors arrive to Las Vegas they can expect to share the Strip with tons of American tourists, as Las Vegas is the most popular domestic travel destination by a mile.

4. Hawaii with 3,172,000 visitors

Though Hawaii gets a huge amount of domestic visitors, its international visitors pale in comparison to states like California and Florida. Which is not to say that Hawaii’s beaches are lacking in appeal. But the state doesn’t have the urban appeal of Florida or California and its isolated position in the Pacific limits its visitors to mostly Asian travelers.

3. California with 6,472,000 visitors

California is only one of three states to receive more than 5 million overseas visitors. Combined, the three most visited states in America account for an astonishing 73% of all overseas visitors to the United States. So why do visitors come in such huge numbers to California? Well, it’s the state with the best air connections to Asia, it has a host of amazing national parks and its two chief cities, San Francisco and Los Angeles, have great international reputations.

2. Florida with 7,209,000 visitors

Florida is also holding its position as the second most visited state in America, with 7.2 million visitors in 2013. The numbers make perfect sense when one considers the sheer amount of tourist attractions that can be found in Florida: the beaches and nightclubs of Miami, the amusement parks of Orlando, Disney World and the natural beauty of Key West.

1. New York with 9,804,000 visitors

Like the previous year, New York once again received more international visitors than any other state in 2013 with almost 10 million visitors or 30% of all foreign visitors to the United States. As the numbers exclude any Canadians who might pop down to Buffalo for shopping or to use the airport, New York’s incredible numbers speaks volumes about the ability of New York City to captivate foreign visitors.

Discover Morocco’s Floral Festival

Fruit trees teeter over the trail, laden with figs, dates and oranges. Barley and alfalfa sprout from the orange earth, watered by channels beside the path. Pomegranates dangle from overhanging branches. But the women aren’t here to pick fruit; they’re here to harvest something more fragrant.

‘Can you smell them?’ asks Ait Khouya Aicha, as she pads into a meadow fringed by walnut trees, and heads for a tangle of shrubs. She pulls down a branch: it’s covered by flowers from trunk to tip, shocking pink against the deep-green leaves.

‘These are the roses of the Asif M’Goun River,’ she says, cradling a blossom in her hand. ‘They are famous around the world. But to understand why, you must smell them.’ Pulling on thick gloves, she snips off the flower and breathes in the scent. The perfume is heady and sweet, with notes of honey and treacle.

‘The fragrance is best in the morning, but we must work quickly,’ she says, dropping the flower into a robe gathered around her waist known as a tachtate. ‘The sun will burn the petals, and then the perfume will be ruined.’

Within half an hour, Aicha and her companions have stripped the bushes of blossoms and four sacks have been filled to the brim. They head back to the village, sharing round a bag of dates and nuts for breakfast. Twenty minutes later, they arrive at a backstreet garage that doubles as the village’s rose co-operative, where owner Ahmid Mansouri inspects the blossoms, weighs them on battered scales, and adds them to a heap covering the concrete floor.

‘These are good roses,’ he says, puffing on a crooked roll-up. ‘But last week we were harvesting twice as many. Next week they will be gone. And that means one thing. It is time for the Festival of the Roses to begin.’

No-one is sure how roses first came to this remote corner of Morocco, high in the Atlas Mountains, six hours’ drive southeast of Marrakesh. According to legend, they were carried here centuries ago by a Berber merchant from Damascus; the species that grows here is Rosa damascena, the Damask rose, which originates from ancient Syria and has been celebrated for centuries for its intense perfume.

However they arrived, the M’Goun Valley – or the Vallée des Roses, as it’s known in Morocco – has become famous for its flowers. Every year during the main growing season between April and mid-May, the valley produces between 3000 and 4000 tonnes of wild roses. They’re everywhere: sprouting up from the hedgerows, blooming along stone walls, tangling the borders between farmers’ fields. Each day before dawn, women gather the roses by hand, and sell them to co-operatives dotted along the valley. Some are bought by local distilleries to make rose water, soaps and pot-pourri, but the majority are bought by big French perfume houses, for whom the M’Goun roses command a special cachet.

It’s an intensive – and expensive – business: around four tonnes of fresh petals, or 1.6 million flowers, are required to make a single litre of rose oil, and with each litre fetching around 12,000 euros (£10,000), the rewards are obvious. But with intense competition from other rose-growing areas, especially in Turkey and Bulgaria, the M’Goun Valley needs to find ways to catch the noses of overseas buyers – and that’s where the Festival des Roses comes in.

It’s the day before the festival, and all along the Asif M’Goun, people are preparing for the party. Halfway along the valley lies the village of Hdida, a cluster of terracotta houses framed by crimson peaks and the blue thread of the river. It’s a hive of activity: girls sit cross-legged on the steps, stringing roses into bracelets, necklaces and heart-shaped garlands, while women stick labels onto rose water bottles and pack dried petals into canvas sacks. On the streets, farmers load crates of flowers onto the backs of battered trucks, before puttering off for town with a crack of the exhaust and a cloud of black smoke, waving to children peeking from gateways as they rattle past.

Everyone in the village has a task to do, and Naima Mansouri is no exception. Head shrouded in a pink jellaba, hands traced with henna tattoos, she’s making pot-pourri for the festival. She packs canvas bags with dried petals, tying each one with ribbon and adding a sticker for the village co-op. At the back of the room, petal-filled baskets are piled against the wall, and a copper still glints in the shadows.

here to find the world’s best wi-fi

Dream landmarks with wi-fi

Awesome – you finally made it to your bucket list destination! But the internet has demands: ‘Pics or it didn’t happen’. On top of that, sharing video of your trip as it happens is more popular than ever, thanks to real-time services like Snapchat Live Story and spread to Facebook Live, Instagram Stories and WhatsApp Status. If you’ve got no service when you’re ready to broadcast, you’re out of luck.

Don’t worry though. These top picks of picturesque architectural wonders have outdoor wi-fi for immediate sharing ­– the Eiffel Towerand Cathédrale Notre Dame in Paris; the Taj Mahal in India; theSydney Opera House in Australia; and Petra, the city carved out of stone in Jordan.

Wi-fi from . . . phone booths

Now that most people use their own phone and wi-fi device, what to with the hundreds of public telephone booths? In New York, public phones have been upgraded with ‘LinkNYC’ tablets for maps, browsing the net, and travel information. Fast free wi-fi will be offered at 7500 converted payphones (‘Links’) across the city, creating the largest network of high-speed hotspots in the world.

Similarly, many of those iconic red telephone boxes in the UK have been converted to phone repair shops and charging stations and will offer (tiny) mobile work spaces to rent, complete with power, a printer and wi-fi. In Australia, wi-fi access at converted phone booths comes at a price and only to certain customers.

World’s highest hookup

Saying ‘Guess where I am?’ live from Mount Everest in Nepal must earn even more bragging rights. If you’re on your way up, you’re in luck – wi-fi being trialled at the base camp of the highest mountain on Earth to share your adventure with the world. Two notable runners up areJapan’s iconic Mt Fuji (which has hotspots dotted around it) and the sacred mountain of Girnar Hill, a well travelled Jain and Hindu pilgrimage site in India that has wi-fi on its walking trails.

Widest wi-fi options

Travel-friendly Japan shares the bandwidth bounty with visitors like no other country, whether you’re zipping on a bullet train, in a club, or crane spotting along an icy ravine. Tokyo has consistently ranked in the top three of many lists for fastest wi-fi cities in the world in recent years. Tokyoites were early adopters of consuming most of their media on mobile devices, and they naturally expect blazing speeds. They have the infrastructure to back it up.

Local trains often provide wi-fi with a quick email signup, and the usual wi-fi suspects are here with cafes, restaurants, thousands of convenience stores, hostels and tourist offices all giving away free access. Prepaid SIM cards for travellers with gigabytes of data are little surprise but having them available at the ubiquitous convenience stores makes for another easy way to get online. If that wasn’t enough, tourists can access free wi-fi from hundreds of thousands of hotspots across the country through two free apps (Travel Japan wi-fi; and Japan Connected free wi-fi) produced by mobile providers.

Battery-powered portables

Tools like the ‘MiFi’ or ‘wi-fi egg’ (for its goose-egg dimensions) are rechargeable-battery operated devices will give you (and your friends) wi-fi wherever you can get a mobile signal. That means internet on your laptop or tablet on a ferry ride, isolated ocean cliffs or remote ryokan(traditional Japanese inn), if you really need it. You can pick up and drop off a wi-fi egg from international airports; and plenty of hosts of sharing economy accommodation, such as AirBnB, provide a wi-fi egg because they don’t have landline internet to offer.

These devices are also increasingly popular in Korea and China, and are now available in France, Canada and the USA. Plans can cover a whole region so, for example, you can rent the one device and never be without wi-fi for a big Europe trip.

The most innovative internet cafes

While internet cafes have edged into obscurity throughout much of the world (other than high-intensity gamer dens), Japan continues to find innovative ways to keep this category going. The country boasts large internet cafes that double as manga libraries where you can peruse the comic library by the hour while drinking unlimited free refreshments.

Another popular use is renting private computer booths to sleep in, lying on thin mats. There are even on-site showers for rent. You have to get in quick on weekends when revellers who miss the last train home crash in an internet booth.

 Posting pics from planes and trains

A growing number of airlines offer free wi-fi on board, letting you plan last minute trip details, and chat to neglected friends. Free wi-fi is on flights by JAL, Emirates, JetBlue, Norwegian, Turkish Airlines, Philippine Airlines, Hong Kong Airlines and Nok Air. Some such as Air China and Qantas only offer wi-fi on domestic flights, and China Air doesn’t allow phones to be used. If you need to continue online, there is a cheeky app, WiFox, that maps wi-fi passwords used in airport lounges around the world.

7 Tips For Tackling Your First Bike Tour

Save the date and start planning

Deciding to go really is the hardest part. Setting the date (and having a rough idea of duration) helps concrete your trip, giving you a deadline to work towards. First-timers should head off during the warmer months and – unless you’re keen to channel Sir Ranulph Fiennes – pick an easy route for the first week or two. Training before your tour helps, but it’s not imperative – you’ll get fit on the road.

Buy the right kit

Invest in the essentials: a good free-standing tent, a decent touring bike, waterproof panniers (bike bags) and a cooking stove. Opt for a sturdy, steel-framed touring bike with steel front and rear racks to hold your panniers. Your bags should be hard-wearing as they’ll carry everything you need such as the tent, stove, sleeping bag and mat, electronics and clothing.

Every gram and inch counts. Opt for lightweight gear and use dry bags to compress your clothes. Resist the urge to overdo it and blow your budget on gear that might not last; real kit gems such as baby wipes, mosquito spray and chlorine tablets often cost virtually nothing.

Plan the right route for you

Wherever you’re planning to cycle, consider ditching main roads as they’re busy and often uninspiring. Countries such as the Netherlandsare renowned for their flat and bike-friendly trails, while thrill-seekers tend to make a beeline for the likes of Tajikistan and Patagonia.

Tap into regional resources and infrastructure such as Europe’s Eurovelo bike routes (eurovelo.org/routes) which offer excellent off-road rides. The USA’s Adventure Cycling Association (adventurecycling.org) and England’s Sustrans network (sustrans.org.uk) print terrific maps with alternative routes and amenity lists.

Avoid unnecessary detours

Once upon a time a wrinkled, dog-eared, hard-copy map was the ultimate bike tour companion. Now, it’s a reliable GPS or navigation app. Opt for a durable and multi-use GPS product designed with adventurers in mind.

Smartphones are also a fantastic option if you’re likely to have regular access to electricity and the internet. You can download maps that don’t just show you the best roads, but the best off-the-beaten-track routes for cycle touring. The Maps.me app is detailed, easy to use and now shows the route elevation on the bike option in most countries.

Create a budget and start saving

Bike tours can cost very little; if you’re willing to live on rice and porridge and wild-camp at every opportunity, then a budget of a few US dollars a day is achievable.

Visas, hotel stays and restaurant visits add up, but if you’re hoping for a happy medium (a lean food budget and plenty of low-cost or free accommodation with occasional splurges) then expect to spend about $15-$20 USD a day depending on the country. Factor in travel insurance and emergency money for bike repairs and kit replacements.

Set your own personal goals

World cyclist Jonathan Kambsgaro-Bennett (jkbsbikeride.com) says the question he gets asked most is how far he pedals in a day. His answer? ‘It depends on the hills, the wind, the road and about a million other things… Especially the wind.’

Setting daily distances can be tough but having a rough idea of what you want (and are able) to achieve will help you plot an itinerary. Many bike tourers average between 60km and 80km per day, depending on conditions, while those just starting out may aim for much less. Besides the weather and quality of the roads, your personal goals should also influence the decisions you make along the way – and will often push you to keep going.

Become a camping pro

Pitching a tent in the wild after a long day in the saddle can be stressful. Fortunately, fatigue often overrides fear – and the more you do it, the easier it gets. Some places welcome wild camping as long as you’re out of sight (Scotland, Iran, Japan) while others forbid it which makes a stealthy camp much tougher (Switzerland, Australia and the USA) – it’s worth being aware of the laws wherever you choose to cycle.

While a nice, secluded, flat piece of turf near a river is the goal, anything can make a fine camp spot and the key to overriding those initial fears is to keep well hidden and off private property, or to simply ask the landowners for permission to camp. Locals are often keen to help – and if you have their blessings, you’ll sleep like a baby. Check out world cyclist Tom Allen’s top tips on how to wild camp.

Exploring Norway’s north on the Nordlandsbanen

A journey on the Nordlandsbanen will allow you to experience fascinating tales of the past, to be stirred by the power of nature, and to taste the fresh flavours of the region.

The journey

Though perhaps less well-known than the Oslo-Bergen train ride, the Nordlandsbanen, which stretches northwards for 729km between regal Trondheim and spirited Bodø, could certainly lay claim to being the more unique route. As well as being Norway’s longest train line, it also crosses the Arctic Circle, one of the few railways in the world to do so.

An efficient service and spacious, comfortable trains make it a delightfully sedate way to make the ten-hour journey, but it’s the huge diversity of scenery that’s most appealing. Gently rolling, emerald-green fields rest under huge skies, and Norwegian flags whip proudly over the pillar-box red hytter (cabins) dotted haphazardly over the hillsides. Moments later, the train will track its way through dense woodland, a wall of pine trees on either side of the train breaking just long enough to snatch a two-second-long postcard of mist haunting the treetops in a shadowy forest beyond.

Then, coasting out of a tunnel, the ground falls away to one side, and suddenly a 100m-high waterfall appears. Plummeting into a churning white froth below, the roaring deluge plays out silently on the other side of the train window. Such spellbinding scenes speed past repeatedly, and then evaporate into the distance, only to be replaced by another a few moments later.

Highlights of the Nordlandsbanen

All aboard at Trondheim

Before you board the train in Trondheim, take some time to explore the picture-postcard pretty city itself. The compact centre is relatively flat and easy to explore on foot or by bike. Marvel at the mighty Nidaros Domkirke, an ornate Gothic cathedral built on the burial ground of the much-revered Viking King Olav II, then linger as you cross over the quaint Old Town Bridge for views of the 18th-century waterside warehouses.

Trondheim’s old-world charm continues at Baklandet Skydsstasjon. Owner Gurli serves up hearty, homemade fare such as super-fresh fish soup and silky-smooth blueberry cheesecake. Wash it down with that most Nordic of spirits, the potent, herby aquavit: there are 111 varieties to choose from here. Meanwhile, across town, sleek Mathall Trondheim (mathalltrondheim.no) – part store, part bar-restaurant – offers a more modern take on classic Norwegian cuisine, serving up a variety of smørbrød and a good selection of craft beer.

Verdal for Stiklestad and The Golden Road of Inderøy

After a little less than two hours on the train from Trondheim, alight at Verdal for Stiklestad, the location of the famous battle of 1030 that saw the demise of King (later Saint) Olav. It’s now home to the Stiklestad National Cultural Centre, which hosts a variety of events throughout the year, and the 11th-century Stiklestad Church. This ancient place of worship was reputedly built over the stone on which Olav is said to have died.

Verdal (or alternatively Steinkjer, the next stop along) also makes a good jumping off point to explore The Golden Road – a route through traditionally agricultural Inderøy – which brings together a collective of sustainable culinary, cultural and artistic attractions, such as farm shops, restaurants and art workshops.

Swing by Nils Aas Kunstverksted (nils-aas-kunstverksted.no), a workshop and gallery dedicated to one of Norway’s most celebrated artists. Aas’ famous statue of King Haakon VII stands near the Royal Palace in Oslo, but a collection of his pieces is also on display in a small sculpture garden just a few minutes’ stroll from the workshop.

The highlight of the road, though, is the aquavit tasting experience at Berg Gård (berg-gaard.no), a working farm with its own distillery. Book ahead to get rosy-cheeked while tasting this fiery spirit, flavoured with herbs and spices such as caraway, cardamom and anise, as the owner explains the artistry and innovation involved in creating it.

Must-see Mosjøen

A further three-hour train-glide north brings you to diminutive Mosjøen, nestled in the imposing Vefsnfjord and surrounded by wooded peaks. The oldest part of the town, Sjøgata, is almost an open-air museum in its own right: saved from demolition in the 1960s, the beautifully-preserved 19th-century wooden buildings tell the tale of a historically prosperous town, of hardy fishermen and thriving sawmills, a story echoed at the small but informative Jakobsensbrygga Warehouse museum.

Nowadays in Mosjøen the main industry is aluminium, and a factory hums somewhat incongruously amid its pristine surroundings. Nevertheless, the surrounding hills of the Helgeland region beckon visitors to explore. Hike up the 818m-high Øyfjellet for spectacular views of the town and beyond.

The town makes for a scenic spot to overnight and break up the journey to Bodø. With its cosy nooks and unique, one-room museum, Fru Haugans Hotel, northern Norway’s oldest inn, has occupied a peaceful spot on the Vefsna river since 1794.

Blink and you’ll miss it: crossing the Arctic Circle

From Mosjøen the landscape seems to change in preparation for the Arctic Circle crossing, as lush trees give way to the rolling, rocky terrain and barren peaks of the Saltfjellet mountain range.

With no defining geographical features to signal your passage across The Circle and into the chilly wilds of Arctic north, you may have to use your imagination. But keep an eye out for the two large pyramidal cairns either side of the tracks, and Polarsirkelsenteret, a visitor centre visible some distance from the train line, to indicate that You Were Here.