Review: Space Bags

Posted in Travel Tips on August 19th, 2012 by Vagablonding – Be the first to comment

The nice people who make Space Bags sent me some of their Dual-Use Bags for my review. Space Bags are clear plastic bags that you put your clothes in and suck all the air out of to make your clothes take up less space. With the Dual-Use Bags, you can suck the air out with a vacuum hose or just roll the bag up to push out the air.

I moved recently and decided to give the bags a try.

I used one of the large size bags, pictured here when empty:

Dual-Use Space Bag

To compress the size of all of this (about 20 articles of clothing, including a rain shell and fleece jackets):

Dual-Use Space Bag

Into this:

Dual-Use Space Bag

Using the vacuum suction method:

Dual-Use Space Bag

Pretty cool!

Pros:

  • Lets you fit way more clothes into a carry-on
  • Protects clothes from the elements and bugs
  • Also good for storing clothes you’re not going to wear for a while without taking up a lot of room
  • They’re pretty cheap

Cons:

  • Makes your clothes super wrinkled

Verdict:

Dual-Use Space Bags are a neat product, and I will definitely continue to use mine. Would I buy them on my own? Yes, now that I’ve given them a try. They’d make a great gift for a budget traveler!

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Southern Bonaire Loop and Lac Bay on Scooters

Posted in Bonaire on June 23rd, 2012 by Vagablonding – 3 Comments

Rented Scooter - Bonaire

East Coast - Bonaire

Cai, Bonaire

Sisters at Cai, Bonaire

Lizard - Bonaire

Lizard close-up - Bonaire

Egret at Cai, Bonaire

Flamingos - Bonaire

Flamingos - Bonaire

The flamingo in the middle totally photo-bombed this pic with his butt hole.

Flamingo butt - Bonaire

Dead tree - Bonaire

Windsurfing - Lac Bay, Bonaire

Willemstoren Lighthouse - Bonaire

Slave Huts - Bonaire

Slave Huts - Bonaire

Salt works - Bonaire

Salt piles - Bonaire

Salt mounds and pink water - Bonaire

Salt - Bonaire

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Diving at Front Porch, Bonaire

Posted in Bonaire on June 21st, 2012 by Vagablonding – 2 Comments

Beach - Bonaire

Wild Goats - Bonaire

Diving - Bonaire

Honeycomb Cowfish - Bonaire

French Angelfish - Bonaire

Peacock Flounder - Bonaire

Spotted Moray Eel - Bonaire

Spotted Drum Juvenile - Bonaire

Reef - Bonaire

Sand Divers - Bonaire

French Angelfish - Bonaire

Reef - Bonaire

Banded Butterflyfish - Bonaire

Diving - Bonaire

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Kralendijk, Bonaire

Posted in Bonaire on June 20th, 2012 by Vagablonding – Be the first to comment

words coming soon!

Kralendijk, Bonaire

Simon Bolivar statue - Kralendijk, Bonaire
Produce - Kralendijk, Bonaire

Lunch on the pier - Kralendijk, Bonaire

Pelicans - Kralendijk, Bonaire

Bird - Kralendijk, Bonaire

Pelican - Kralendijk, Bonaire

Pelican - Kralendijk, Bonaire

Pelican - Kralendijk, Bonaire

Trans World Radio - Bonaire

Trans World Radio mural - Bonaire

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Bonaire!

Posted in Bonaire on June 19th, 2012 by Vagablonding – 1 Comment

Bonaire shore

Traveling again, FINALLY! I’m in Bonaire, a small island off the northern coast of Venezuela, with my mom and sister. Bonaire is the B in the ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao) and is known for its fantastic diving.

wanna dive Bonaire

We arrived at the Flamingo Airport at 5:30 on Sunday morning, and all I remember is that I had the hiccups so bad people wouldn’t stop saying “boo” to me. Look, I was just thirsty! Thankfully the island has a desalination system that provides excellent drinking water, so no need to bring water purification systems or buy bottled water if you’re visiting.

We’re staying at Villa Makoshi, one of the seven brightly painted homes in the Perla Boneriano complex. The houses are clustered around a pool with sun chairs and short palm trees with the ocean just a 3 minute walk away. Only one other home is occupied right now, so we pretty much have the place to ourselves! We’re renting the lower level of the villa, which has two bedrooms with fans and air conditioners; a full kitchen; three bathrooms; a huge living room and dining room with couches, tables, chairs and a tv; a laundry room and a lovely shaded patio. It’s incredibly nice and costs $1174 per week (low season price).

Bonaire shore

It is very warm, mostly sunny, and quite windy here, making the air temperature perfect. The wildlife is abundant and photogenic! These 3 foot long iguanas posed for me.

Bonaire iguana

Bonaire iguana

I also had a photoshoot with some funny birds, look for those pics in the next post!

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7 Tips To Get Good Travel Deals You Might Not Know About

Posted in Travel Tips on January 21st, 2012 by Vagablonding – 3 Comments

I’ve got the travel bug again! While I don’t have the next destination nailed down quite yet, I thought I’d share some of the tricks I use to get the best deals on travel and to save some extra money in the process. The key is to combine these tips for maximum savings.

1: Compare Plane Ticket Prices on Kayak.com and Hipmunk.com
Find the best deals on flights through sites like Kayak and Hipmunk, they aggregate rates from many other sites and you can filter and sort them by price, flight length, and plenty more. This gives you a good idea of what rates should be, but don’t buy just yet, because you should combine the next two tips and save some extra cash on that flight…

2: Use Sites like FatWallet to Get Cash Back on Flights

After comparing rates on Kayak, try to find the same deal on a third party site like Hotwire. But you’re not done yet, next you should sign up for a free account on FatWallet.com, which lets you get cash back from purchases from a variety of websites, including travel sites like Hotwire, Expedia, and Travelocity. This can be up to 5% of the price of a plane ticket, for a $1000 flight that’s $50!

3: Always Use a Credit Card with Rewards or Cash Back

Remember to always use a credit card that has rewards or a cash back program, if not you’re throwing away money for transactions you’ll be making anyway. Plane tickets, advanced hotel purchases, train passes, there are plenty of opportunities to use a card and you’ll get somewhere between 1% and 3% for using the reward card. Add this to the 3-5% from a cashback website and you’ve got an extra 8% off that plane ticket!

4: Take Screen Captures of Good Deals to Negotiate the Best Rates

Taking a screen capture of good deals found on competing websites can help when negotiating rates for rooms, tickets, anything! Send the screen print along with emails and you’ll often find rates matched or beaten. On a PC just click on the Print Screen button and paste it into an email, if you are on a Mac like me then the same as Print Screen on Mac is the key sequence of Command & Shift & 3, kind of weird but you’ll get used to it. Send captures of the cheap deals and bargain through email to get the best rates before showing up!

5: Pay Attention to the News for the Region and Plan Accordingly

Pay attention to news for the region you intend to travel to. This is easy to do with sites like Google News , just search for country or area and to see what’s going on. Why does this matter? Local events directly effect prices of things on the ground in either direction. For example, January 23 may seem like a random date for travelers from a western country, but it’s the Chinese New Year this year and will drive up the prices of local hotels in China and other parts of Asia dramatically as locals enjoy their holiday.

6: Talk to People on the Ground

When in doubt, ask people on the ground in the region for advice. TravelFish Forums are great for Asia, LocoGringo for Mexico, and Lonely Planets forums are great for everywhere.

7: Consider Buying a Roundtrip Ticket… Even If You’re Going One Way

Did you know that roundtrip tickets are often cheaper than one-way tickets? Yup, as nonsensical as that is, it’s often the case, and you can save some serious cash by buying a roundtrip ticket even if you only intend on using it in a single direction. Plus there’s an added benefit, after you’ve made the one-way part of the trip, you can “miss” the return flight and sometimes even get a credit towards a flight elsewhere or on the airline in general.

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PADI Scuba Diver Certification in Roatan

Posted in Honduras on August 30th, 2011 by Vagablonding – Be the first to comment

The island rebounded impressively fast from Tropical Storm Harvey. After just a day and a half, the ocean was calm again and I got started on my PADI Scuba Diver certification at Anemona Divers. To get the preliminary certification you have to read 3 chapters in the Open Water Certification book, watch 3 videos, take 3 short quizzes, complete 3 confined water dives where you demonstrate skills you’ve learned, and go on 2 open water dives (the fun part!). They say you can do it in 2 days, but the book will take longer to read than you think so give yourself more time than that if you’re planning to get certified. Or better yet, do the book and video work online BEFORE your trip so you don’t have to spend precious vacation hours studying!

The PADI Scuba Diver certification allows me to go on dives to a depth of 40 feet as long as I’m accompanied by a divemaster or instructor. The PADI Open Water Diver certification allows you to go to a depth of 60 feet, and you don’t have to go with a divemaster, but you do have to go with a certified buddy. PADI is all about the buddy system. I’m thinking about getting this certification level next time I’m in the tropics, though I don’t plan on diving without a divemaster. I can get horribly lost in a grocery store, so diving without a guide just isn’t a good idea.

Oh, protip for Anemona Divers: if you pay cash, you don’t have to pay the 16% Honduran tax. The PADI Scuba Diver certification cost $210, plus the $40 book.

On our dives we saw puffer fish, big moray eels, a couple of king crabs, barracuda, a school of sardines that react as a group to your movements, yellowhead jawfish which are these funny fish that go in and out of holes on the ocean floor, and a lot of neat coral formations. We didn’t get clear pictures of all that, but here are the pics from our dives that are of posting quality:

Scuba Diving Roatan

Scuba Diving RoatanRoatan Reef

Scuba Diving Roatan

Roatan Reef fish

Roatan Reef fish

Also we did more snorkeling!

Snorkeling Roatan

Snorkeling Roatan

Snorkeling Roatan

Snorkeling Roatan

This was a fun and relaxing trip. We met some cool people, ate some good food, drank some Salva Vidas (the local beer), had a thrilling encounter with a cockroach named Houdini, spent a lot of time in the water, and heard some reggae songs so many times I fear I will forever be singing them in the shower.

Good times.

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Tropical Storm Harvey aftermath on Roatan

Posted in Honduras on August 20th, 2011 by Vagablonding – 4 Comments

Tropical Storm Harvey passed over us last night, blowing by with 60mph winds and a lot of rain. Didn’t even wake me up.

The storm washed a lot of sea grass onto the beach and walkways…

Tropical Storm Harvey Aftermath - Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras

Tropical Storm Harvey Aftermath - Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras

…and flung a Portuguese Man-o-War onto the beach! This is really rare because these guys are usually found only in the Pacific, Indian, and northern Atlantic oceans. They’re almost never this far south. It’s pretty lewd looking, if you ask me…

Man-o-war Tropical Storm Harvey Aftermath - Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras

Man-o-war Tropical Storm Harvey Aftermath - Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras

Man-o-war Tropical Storm Harvey Aftermath - Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras

Also did some damage to the dock in front of Foster’s

Tropical Storm Harvey Aftermath - Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras

Otherwise, all appears to be well on Roatan. Hopefully the sun comes back soon so I can get my scuba diving certification!

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Sand flea bites in Roatan, Honduras

Posted in Honduras on August 20th, 2011 by Vagablonding – 2 Comments

The sand fleas here are vicious. They will bite you while you’re walking on the sand, or even standing in the ocean. There are less of them on the docks, but you’re still not safe there. Bug spray kills the reef but if you don’t use it, they will bite the crap out of you, and the bites itch like crazy. The best thing to do is to use a bug spray without DEET, and wash it off before getting in the ocean.

Sandflea Bites - Roatan, Honduras
To treat the sand flea bites, you should take ibuprofen and Benadryl, and apply hydrocortisone cream to the bites. Don’t scratch them, or they will get inflamed and break open, possibly leading to infection. Touch them as little as possible to prevent irritation.

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Return to Roatan, Honduras

Posted in Honduras on August 20th, 2011 by Vagablonding – 2 Comments

I’m back in Roatan, the largest of the 3 Bay Islands off the north coast of Honduras. I was here with my mom and sister at the end of last March / beginning of April earlier in the year, and now I’m here with Ryan for 2 weeks. We’re staying at Las Rocas, which is on the northwestern end of West Bay Beach, not far from Foster’s, the place I stayed during my last visit. Our ‘Value Bungalow’ room at Las Rocas has a queen bed and a single bed, a mini fridge, wireless internet (for a flat fee of $35 per stay), and a bathroom. The bathroom sucks: the hot water in the shower smells really strongly of sulfur, like overpoweringly strong, and the toilet is constantly running. On the plus side, we have our own porch with a hammock and breakfast is included. Breakfast consists of unlimited coffee and a buffet of cereal, yogurt, pastries, and fresh fruit, plus a hot plate that changes daily (so far we’ve seen scrambled eggs with sausage, ham omelets, baleadas, pancakes with bacon, and the tipico plate – fried plantains + beans + white cheese).

The food at the Las Rocas restaurant is pretty tasty, and they have some good deals, like $7 margarita pizza, $7 fish quesodillas, an $8 chicken sandwich with fries, and a six pack of Salva Vida, the local beer, for $8 during happy hour.

Besides spending a lot of time lounging around Las Rocas and reading in the hammock while Ryan works, I’ve been sunbathing and swimming daily.

West Bay, Roatan, Honduras

West Bay, Roatan, Honduras

We also went snorkeling one afternoon. I’m hoping to get diving certified while I’m here, if possible.

Snorkeling off West Bay Beach, Roatan, Honduras

Snorkeling off West Bay Beach, Roatan, Honduras

Snorkeling off West Bay Beach, Roatan, Honduras

Snorkeling off West Bay Beach, Roatan, Honduras

Snorkeling off West Bay Beach, Roatan, Honduras

It’s been very hot here. Internet weather sites say there’s a heat index of 105, but I don’t think it’s quite that hot. The evenings have been stormy, with thunder and lightning.

Lightning - West Bay, Roatan, Honduras

We haven’t seen any super great sunsets yet (I think the sunsets on Gili Air spoiled us), but we got some cool pictures anyway.

Me on Foster's Dock - West Bay Beach, Roatan, Honduras

Foster's Dock - West Bay Beach, Roatan, Honduras

We made friends with a derpy momma cat, and have been feeding her daily. She’s very sweet and has the cutest tiny kittens.

Cat at Las Rocas - West Bay, Roatan, Honduras

There have been some reports of crime while we’ve been here. The other night 3 girls were robbed while walking between West Bay Beach and West End. The next day, a bartender/chef in West End was shot, but we don’t know how that played out.

Oh, also I got baptized. Yep, you read that right. I saw some other people getting baptized in the ocean in front of Foster’s and figured I may as well. Why the hell not, right?

Getting baptized in the ocean - West Bay, Roatan, Honduras

Getting baptized in the ocean - West Bay, Roatan, Honduras

 

 

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