• Hartley's Travel Hacks: 20 Tips to Beat Jet Lag, Avoid the Crowds, Meet Cool People and Get to Know a New City in No Time

    As exciting as it is to day dream about your next trip, there are plenty of times when actually being on the road can feel like a chore. If you don’t know what you’re in for, you’re likely to end up paying too much for things, standing in long lines and generally feel worn down, overwhelmed or let down by the experience.

    Fortunately, it only takes a little bit of effort and know-how to avoid the biggest, most common travel inconveniences.

    Over the last few years (and tens of thousands of miles!) I’ve discovered a number of small tips, tricks and hacks that can make your trip much more exciting, rewarding and enjoyable.

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  • NH 4000 Footers 'Bonus Points': A Scavenger Hunt of Awesome Experiences in New Hampshire's White Mountains

    A few weeks ago, I had the chance to feed a Gray Jay out of my hand on the summit of Mt. Cabot. I had first witnessed other hikers performing the ritual on the summit of Mt. Willey a few years ago, and often read about the experience in facebook groups and message boards dedicated to hiking in New Hampshire’s White Mountains.

    After the bird hopped around on my fingers, grabbed the Frito in its tiny beak and flew off, I felt like I had successfully completed one of the many unofficial items on the NH 4,000 footers list. 🏅

    Which got me thinking: what are the other experiences that every White Mountains peak bagger should aim for?

    On the drive home, I started putting together a list.

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  • Hiker's Guide to First Aid Kits: Essential Safety Gear You Should Pack on Your Next Backcountry Trip

    You probably already know that a first aid kit is one of the most essential pieces of gear you should bring on any backcountry hike.

    But if you think that tossing a store-bought kit straight into your pack will get you out of any emergency situation, you’re in for a pretty terrible surprise if something actually goes wrong.

    First Aid Kit Cartoon Diagram

    Backcountry first aid kits are pretty different from urban emergency kits.

    Anyone who is venturing more than a few hours away from civilization needs to be fully prepared for handling the most common emergencies and injuries on their own.

    Even if you find yourself in a truly dire situation, search and rescues teams often take several hours to reach your location by foot. You should have the gear and knowledge to prevent bad situations from getting worse, and to get yourself out safely.

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  • 12 Facts of Trail Life Only True Backpackers Will Understand

    1. Showering isn't really that much of a necessity

    It's not even really worth it to clean off. At some point, you stop worrying so much about “getting dirty” and feel… free.

    2. You've told your backpacking partners stories that you'd never admit to in the frontcountry

    No need to have your guard up when you're out in the woods Long hours on the trail lead to dishing intimate secrets and tales you’d never admit to otherwise.

    3. Dehydrated food can actually be quite delicious

    Some of the most delicious meals I've ever eaten were made in a single pot Really, anything tastes good on the trail. In fact, some of the most delicious meals in the world are made in a single pot over a small stove.

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  • The World As My Classroom: Lessons Learned While Traveling Around the Globe for 3 Months

    What makes traveling so exciting? For me, one of the big reasons is the exposure to new ideas and ways of life. Living in a new place and exposing myself to the local culture often makes me question things I’ve always done without a second thought.

    It’s a great way to get a new perspective on every day situations.

    While some describe those moments as culture shock, it doesn’t have to be shocking if you take the perspective that everyone is just living their life how they think is best. I liked to use it as an opportunity to think more deeply about my own culture.

    I kept a little notebook with me on my 3 month trip and jotted down things I learned along the way. There were many different moments between France, Thailand, Australia and New Zealand that made me step back and question something I had never thought twice about.

    These are the highlights.

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  • Diamond Head Sunrise Hike: The Best Place to Watch the Sun Rise on Oahu, Hawaii

    The Diamond Head sunrise hike is a classic, must-do activity while you’re on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. It’s a very popular, short hike that draws people from all sorts of backgrounds for the incredible view and scenery.

    I even saw a proposal happen up there once and it was a very fitting setting. 💍👰🌅

    Make sure you check out my tips for beating the crowds and snagging a more secluded view.

    View of the sunrise part way up.

    The hike up to the views on top of Diamond Head is a bit less than a mile one way, with about 400 feet of elevation gain. You can check out my Strava GPS data from the hike here to see the elevation profile.

    Most reasonably fit people will complete the hike up in 20 to 30 minutes. Make sure you check the sunrise forecast to see how much time you have to complete the ascent.

    If you’re really worried about the difficulty of the hike up Diamond Head, here’s what the sign says at the trailhead:

    Strenuous and challenging, the hike to the summit is not recommended for anyone with heart or respiratory problems. This is not a casual stroll in a tree-shaded park.

    You’ll be parking and starting the hike from inside the Diamond Head volcanic crater, and then ascending up to the southern edge of the rim. From the top, you’ll be overlooking the mountain ridges on the tip of Oahu to the east and Waikiki Beach to the west.

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  • Roy's Peak Hike: Incredible Views Over New Zealand's Lake Wanaka

    I first read about hiking Roy’s Peak in Backpacker magazine several years ago, but New Zealand seemed so far away from Boston back then. But when I found myself planning a road trip through New Zealand with my fiancée recently, I knew I had to add this hike as a stop on our list.

    From what I had read, I had fairly high expectations for how the hike would go and honestly, I’d say that it lived up to the hype. 👍

    Roy’s Peak is a slow and steady climb that can feel monotonous at times, but it’s totally worth it once you reach the top. There’s a ridgeline section before you reach the actual summit with some of the most incredible views I’ve ever seen, over Lake Wanaka and the surrounding mountain ranges. Most hikers stop there for pictures before turning around and heading back down.

    The hike to the ridge and back is about 8.2 miles round trip with 3200 feet of elevation gain. It’ll take most hikers between 3 and 5 hours to complete the whole thing, depending on how often you stop for breaks. Check out my Strava GPS data for the elevation profile.

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  • Discount Camping Gear: The Best Sites for Getting a Good Deal on Hiking and Camping Equipment

    If you’re trying to go backpacking on a budget, it can be overwhelming once you start adding up the prices of all the hiking and camping gear you need.

    Two-hundred-plus-dollar jackets, backpacks and tents aren’t really in the price range of what many adventurers are looking for, especially if you’re just getting started or aren’t fully committed to the hobby yet.

    Fortunately, there are plenty of sites online that offer deep discounts on name brand gear, or great prices for solid, more affordable brands.

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  • Beginner Backpacking Blunders: 16 Myths Every Hiker Believed at Some Point (and Many Still Do!)

    When you’re just starting out as a beginner backpacker, it can sometimes feel like there’s an endless set of guidelines to follow and skills to learn. While some of it may become intuitive, there are a certain set of myths and misconceptions that seem to linger for most people.

    Here is a list of the most common beginner backpacking myths that I’ve seen. If you’re guilty of believing some of these, fear not! Even more experienced backpackers follow these myths from time to time as well. 😉

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  • Boston Hiking Groups: The 10 Best Places to Discover Trips and Companions Across New England

    Whether you’re on the North Shore or the Cape, or even further north in New England, there are tons of great communities for finding hiking trips and other outdoor adventures in Boston and across New England.

    While the groups listed here are mostly “based” in the Boston area, most overnight trips tend to head north into Vermont, New Hampshire or Maine where the more remote, challenging terrain lives.

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