Checklist: What to pack

Allright, as a lot of you keep asking us for this checklist … here it is!

What to pack on a backpacking trip!

We use this 2-pager all the time but be aware of these few basic points of attention:

  • Split up supplies with your fellow travelers that you only need once. Especially stuff like soap, tooth paste, first aid kit, insect repellent and sunscreen should be considered
  • When hiking is part of the trip, every gram counts. So doublechek whether you really need those extra shorts, that second swimming suit and all. After all, looking sharp is nice, but is it worth the weight? More experienced hikers will find weight cuts in travel towels and hiking clothes.
  • Part of the adventure can be to acquire stuff on location.  Have you ever used Romanian tooth paste or tried ordering sunscreen in a drug store in Bolivia? Just-in-time shopping can significantly reduce your pack weight!
  • Last but not least, this list is a compilation of every that we ever brought on a trip. We never pack every item on this list so feel free to skip any superfluous items.

 

Feel free to help us update this checklist!

Now go on and HIKE!

what to pack

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How to plan your adventurous holiday?

Allright, it’s almost that time of year again: SUMMER HOLIDAYS!

As people keep asking us to give them some guidance on how to plan an adventurous holiday: this blog post is for you guys! We also included two handy one-page checklists to structure your preparations. Enjoy!

How To Plan Checklist

Things To Do Before You Leave Checklist

  1. GOALS & LOCATION SHORTLISTING

Step1Start by deciding what kind of trip you want. Is this a leisurely escape, with lots of lakeside naptime, or a hard-charging quest to maximize miles? Determine how far you can travel and how long you can be away. Get inspired online at our Instagram page or through this 1-minute quiz from Buzzfeed.

  1. DESTINATION RESEARCH

Step2Search online for pictures and reviews to make sure the destination is the perfect match to your expectations. Check weather statistics, (avoiding hurricane season), cost of living, must-see attractions, travel advice from your country’s foreign affaires department etc. Only buy a Lonely Planet Guide once you’re fully sure of your destination.

  1. AIRPLANE TICKETS

Step3You can save a great amount of money if you wait for the appropriate time to book your flight. Check grouping sites like Momondo, Skyscanner or Kayak and check their forecasted price evolution. Set an airfare alert to warn you on bottom prices. Be flexible if possible and don’t book on Fridays or Sundays as they are always the most expensive. There’s no one magic number for how many days in advance you should buy. It depends too much on your destination. Although, in my experience, wait till 3-4 months in advance for the best results. Also, be aware that the cheapest flights aren’t always the best value. Long layovers, additional fees for luggage etc. can ruin your mood easily.

  1. SCHEDULING

Step4Schedule your trip if you want some peace of mind on whether you will be able to visit all highlights or don’t like to spend time during your holiday on searching for local transport or hotel reservations. I do this in Excel, with a day-to-day planning. (What to do, how to transport, where to sleep). Check the feasibility of your schedule by reading reviews on hiking trips, Google Map your route etc.  For longer trips (more than one month) a day-to-day planning would probably induce more stress than relieve any. Go with the flow and listen to the locals.

  1. BOOKING

Step5In some remote or exclusive locations like a mountain cabin, a reservation is indispensable. Also, for some trips you’ll require local train/plane/bus transport with limited seats. If you have a tight schedule, by sure not to let this element impede you. You’ll find all relevant links to transport companies, and travel times in a Lonely Planet. Also check the option of a rental car.

  1. PRACTICALS

Step6You’re almost done! Now it’s time for the more practical stuff. Follow this easy week-by-week countdown checklist for a hassle-free departure. Check our what-to-pack checklist (see link below) and go shopping for the things you need.

How to create memories that last

A map to wisdom! Joy! Happiness! Personally I hate the image of ‘you’ vs ‘where the magic happens’. I mean, what happens in that no-man’s land when you’re trying to take the leap?

Comfort Stretch StressI prefer to use this mental framework of comfort-stretch-stress zones. The mantra here is trying to carefully expand your comfort zone, by doing things in your ‘stretch zone’. Activities in your stretch zone will be different for everyone. They should be exciting and challenging, but not mortifying, feel awkward but not embarrassing. Experiences that happen in your stretch zone are the most intense ones and therefore last longer. That’s why we started this blog: to nudge you to take a bald step in your travels, try something new for the first time. Don’t ask yourself ‘why should I go on that jungle trip?’ but ask ‘Why not?’. This stretch zone is where the magic happens. And as you can see: it’s just one small step away from your traditional choices!

“You can only grow if you feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new” – Brian Tracy

More articles with tips and guidance to create memories that last are sure to follow. Stay tuned. To conclude, I’d like to quote a famous unknown:

“Never be afraid of the new, be stronger than your challenges, believe and keep on believing, never give up until you have given it all, get back up, learn from your mistakes, focus and keep on going … get away from the bad energies & surround yourself with the positive ones, the ones that inspire you & believe in you. Listen to & embrace knowledge from others. Treat others like you’d want to be treated. It’s YOUR life & it’s short, you are its conductor, do something you believe in and love. The world is yours, everything is possible, No excuses”

How to photograph the Northern Lights?

How? Well, that’s not easy to tell but I’ll try to inform you as easy as possible.

There are different possibilities which depend on which gear you have and what type of conditions you have (snow in front or not).

With a cellphone: Quite impossible, you will get it on photo, but dark and with a lot of noise.

A DSLR camera or full frame: Now we’re talking. Doesn’t matter what type, as long as you have a steady tripod and you can set your shutter time, aperture and ISO it is fine.

I took pictures with a Canon 70D, a camera with a crop sensor and a wide angle lens from Samyang, 10mm f2.8 (so basically it is 16,8mm). If you have a full frame, I would recommend a 14mm lens. You can shoot with f4 but 2.8 is recommended.

Focussing: Set your focus on MF (manual focus) and turn it on infinity (∞-symbol). But this is the tricky part, infinity is not always sharp, you have to turn is slightly to the left or the right (try it during the day while focusing on an object far away and look when you have your focusing ring on the right spot).

Try to shoot in M (manual) and set the f on 2.8 (4 or lower if you don’t reach 2.8) and set the shutter time on 6 seconds with an ISO of +-640. If you have strong lights and a snowy field in front of you, it might be too bright so try a faster shutter speed (f.e. 4s).

If you have a dark field in front of you and a less bright aurora or you shoot only in the sky, your photo might be too dark so you will have to pump up ISO or shutter speed.

Then, it also depends on the speed of the light. If it dances fast, a shutter time of 6 seconds is too fast. So pump up the ISO and try a shutter speed of 2-4 seconds. If the light moves slowly you can even go to 10 seconds and reduce the ISO so you have lesser noise.

If you’re shooting with a full frame, try ISO 2800 or 3200 and a shutter speed of 1,5 or 2 seconds, you won’t get too much noise with this.

So it basically is trial and error. Be sure to set up your gear, because before you know it, it might be there (and gone again)

Three more important hints to avoid unsharpness:

  1. Turn of your vibrate reduction (if it’s on a tripod it doesn’t need to reduce it, it will work on the opposite way, it will reduce something there is not.
  2. Turn of the noise reduction in your camera, it will take too long after every photo to process this and you will lose valuable time.
  3. Use a 2 seconds delay time, also for avoiding unsharpness.

Good luck!

(If you have more questions: feel free to ask!)

How to spot the Northern Lights?

You need 3 things to enjoy northern lights: Solar activity, clear skies and luck. On our December trip to Tromso we saw a few minutes of aurora borealis. Best chance of spotting is usally around September and March. We chased around the region by using these sources:

  1. Solar activity and magnetic field:
    Many sites use the KP-indicator for aurora intensity.
  • Magnetometer: Whenever peaks show up, this might be a good moment to go outside.
  • Aurora-service: short-term forecasting of Kp-values

Next to this KP-value you also need to take into account earth magnetic strength. Negative values are what you need.

2. Clear skies:
Clouds ruin the party. It doesn’t even have to rain or snow to be blocked from auroras. So when you’re checking weather forecast, try to get detailed info on cloudiness. Weather fronts are usually passing from NW to E-SE so sometimes there’s less precipitation in the mainland (aim for Skibotn or Kilpisjarvi).

  • Norway lights: Great app that boils it down to the essence: ‘Wait’, ‘Try’ and ‘Go’! They advise you for Tromso and some other cities in the North. Not very detailed though if you can drive 1 or 2 hours to the sites with highest potential.
  • AccuWeather: they have hour by hour reporting on all details for almost every village.
  • YR.no: Local weather forecast but not very trustworthy during night time, we found out.

3. Luck:
Even tho you have all the parameters right (or wrong), you can’t 100% rely on this data. Weather is changing rapidly in this region, and if you don’t have Wifi-connection while on the road, you should just be patient (and wait for gaps when it’s cloudy) and pray to the weather gods. We literally drove in a snow blizzard and enjoyed the dancing lights 30 minutes later.