All posts by Vago Damitio

Vago Damitio  (@vagodamitio) is the Editor-in-Chief for Vagobond. He jumped ship from a sinking dotcom in 2000 and decided to reclaim his most valuable commodity, time. He bought a VW bus for $100, moved into it and set out on a journey to show the world that it was possible to live life on your own terms. That journey took him from waking up under icy blankets in  the Pacific Northwest to waking up under palm tress in Southeast Asia. Three years later, his first book, Rough Living: Tips and Tales of a Vagabond was published. After diving into the Anthropology of Tourism and Electronic Anthropology at the University of Hawaii (with undeclared minors in film and surf) he hit the road again in 2008. Since that time,he's lived primarily in Morocco and Turkey, married a Moroccan girl he couchsurfed with, and become a proud father. He's been to more than 40 countries, founded a successful online travel magazine (this one!), and still doesn't have a boss. Life is good. You can also find him on Google+ and at Facebook

The Glorious Caravan Lifestyle

It’s that time of the year when people are thinking of heading back to school and work from their summer holidays, but there’s still plenty of time for the last hurrah of summer, so don’t give up the caravan lifestyle yet! If you’re in the US, you may be on your way back from  Burning Man – the festival is all through now  and if you haven’t been to Nevada’s third largest city (that only exists for two weeks of every year) you can make it next year if you get your motor home or caravan in shape now.

Burning Man Caravan

First of all, let’s make sure we have some definition. A motor home is a house with an engine, in the states we call them RVs. A caravan, on the other hand, is a house on wheels that you tow behind a truck – commonly called a 5th wheel, camper, or (in the UK especially) a caravan. Back in the old days a caravan was made up of a fleet of camels or a huge merchant group, but that’s not what we’re talking about here at all. We’re talking about RVs and campers and mobile homes and fifth wheels. If you’re RVing in the UK, one thing you don’t want to forget is to make sure that your caravan is insuredIf you’re caravaning in the USA, check out AAA (The American Automobile Club) – they offer roadside assistance and RV insurance.

In addition to insurance, there are a few other things you won’t want to forget before you head out on the road for that momentous trip before life takes off again. Roadside assistance isn’t going to help you a whit if you don’t have a cellphone that gives you coverage wherever you are going. International sim cards are cheap and easy, but you’ll want to make sure that you have an unlocked GSM phone or you may get a terrible surprise. Also, if you’re heading to Cornwall in the UK or Napa in California – don’t forget that you need to have a safe place to park before you start drinking the tipple or sampling the wines – while you can still boondock in many places, local rules and regulations are making it harder and harder to just roll up somewhere, park, and camp – make sure that you know where you will spend the night. You don’t want to get caught in a situation where you’ve had a few too many and then you have to move the rig! On that note, it may be wise to keep a designated driver.

Burning Man

Make sure you know where the spare tire is and how to change it! A few years ago we got TWO flats on the way from Burning Man and since it was a Sunday in small town Nevada – there was nowhere to go. Lucky for us, we did find a Walmart and they were able to repair our flat tires. That’s where roadside assistance would have really come in handy.  By the way, you can usually boondock in Walmart parking lots, which is why you see so many RVs and Caravans in them.

A couple additional notes before you head out on your way. Seatbelt laws apply to RVs too, so when the vehicle is moving, passengers should be seated and belted in. For caravans, there should not be any passengers in the trailer while you are under way, so while the glorious road life of a caravan gypsy is exciting – legally you can’t be moving around while the vehicle is moving around. This can be a costly mistake if the police catch you!

When cooking in your mobile home, make sure that you have plenty of ventilation and have a fire extinguisher handy. Have you ever seen those burned out shells of caravans on the side of the motor ways? Guess how those fires happened? Usually from someone cooking and not having an extinguisher.

While it may seem like a good idea to climb up on the roof and sunbathe, the truth is that you can damage your RV or caravan severely by walking around on the roof. Take care not to fall through and make an extra skylight! Most of all though – have fun. Living in a caravan can be one of the most enjoyable ways to take a holiday – whether you are heading to the last of the summer festivals, out to the playa, down to the sunny Costa Brava or the French Riviera, or over to the chilly Irish coast – drive careful, park where you can wake up and enjoy the beauty of nature, and don’t forget to have friends over for martinis!

Happy Camping!

Burning Man Photos Courtesy of Robert Scales via Creative Commons License

 

uk roadtrip

The Best UK Road Trips

Going on a road trip is one of the best adventures, and the cheapest, you can have to break up the everyday routine of university life or work life. Just hop in your car, fuel up and drive towards the different sights UK has to offer. Whether you are in England, Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland, there are a number of trip routes that offer interesting sceneries.

England road trips

Take the M5 from Bridgwater and head west to A39 to start your Atlantic Highway road trip. Take in the watercolour sceneries of Somerset and feast your eyes on the wild hills on the east or the Atlantic coastline to the west. Pack your surfboard and head on to Newquay in Bude, Cornwall. Watch out for the rocky shores of Combe Martin or the charming villages of Brendon Hills and Selworthy village.

uk roadtrip

From Bude, drive on to Mousehole, at the tip of Cornwall. Take Route B3306 to Land’s End and experience the rolling green plains dotted with grazing cattle. Have a hearty dinner of fresh fish and potatoes at the Gurnard’s Head and treat yourself to some Cornish tea. However, if you only have half a day to spare in your busy schedule, there are other road trips available. From London, another route takes you from the A23 to Brighton, which has superb shopping, a buzzing nightlife scene, and a glorious stretch of coastline.

Wales

Wales is a small country but with a variety of vistas. Drive across the Denbigh Moors through the EVO Triangle composed of the A543, the A5, and the B4501, three roads forming a triangle. It was called such as it is EVO magazine’s favourite car testing grounds. Drive through the smooth winding roads and enjoy the peaceful scenery of the moors.

Take the A493 and see the sweeping vista of jagged cliffs lining the Atlantic coast. Visit the Church of St. Cadfan in Tywin or the Dysynni Valley beyond it. Wales is so small you can go from the north coast to the south coast in half a day.

Scotland

Explore the Highlands from Invergarry to the Isle of Skye and enjoy a view of the mountains. Check for snow-capped peaks during the cold season, and some lambs enjoying the grass at the foot of the mountains. Visit Loch Ness in Inverness on your way from Glasgow, Scotland’s capital city. Take the scenic coastal route from Edinburgh to Berwick-Upon-Tweed which takes just under two hours. North Berwick features two medieval castles open to the public—Tantallon Castle and Dirleton Castle.

Northern Ireland

Aching to escape the busy city life of Belfast? Put your car in gear and drive out through the A2 towards Northern Ireland’s coastal route. Just follow the brown road signs saying “Causeway coastal route” and the road will take you through the coastal towns. Visit Carrickfergus Castle in the town of Carrickfergus. Built in 1777, this Norman castle is open to visitors from 10am to 4pm daily. Explore the Giant’s Causeway and decide for yourself whether to believe the legends portraying giants as the builders of the causeway, as stepping stones towards the sea. However, scientific theories suggest that these unusually-shaped stones were actually created by violent volcanic eruptions from 60 million years ago. Whatever the truth, it’s a splendid sight to behold.

 

Copper Canyon Mexico by Eli Duke

Mexico: spectacular blend of science and nature

Many people head to Mexico for sun and sand – but not me. Well, not entirely anyway! What most excites me about Mexico is its amazing natural attractions, from its rainforests and cenotes to gigantic canyons and dazzling marine life. I think that discovering these is an essential part of making sure your trip to Mexico is the holiday of a lifetime.

To give you an indication of just how wonderful the landscape here is, scientists have long been flocking to the destination for research purposes. You see, the sheer variety of environments and life here is truly staggering – think volcanoes, reefs, deserts, caves, 50 national parks, nearly 30,000 species of flowering plants, 1,000 species of birds… I could go on. Of course, while all this is great in terms of scientific learning, it also creates the perfect basis for a luxurious holiday of discovery and adventure! Below, I’m going to give you a few useful tips on things to do and see during your stay.

Copper Canyon

Copper Canyon Mexico by Eli Duke

Let’s start with one of my personal favourites, Copper Canyon. You’ll find this in the state of Chihuahua, tucked away in the Tarahumara Mountains. Also known as Las Barrancas del Cobre, Copper Canyon is so-named for the greenish copper colour of its canyon walls – but this somewhat unusual hue is hardly the only amazing thing about the place.

What really strikes me about the canyon is its size. Spanning some 59,545 km in total, this network is actually longer than the Grand Canyon in the US, which should give you a pretty clear picture of just how incredible it is. Plus, the whole area is not only awash with stunning natural attractions, but it’s also the home to several indigenous peoples who have made the canyons their home.

You can get here via a train line called the Chihuahua al Pacifico, which covers 628 km in total. The best way to explore the area is, without doubt, by taking a guided tour. The beauty of doing so is that you can select one that’s relevant to your interests. For example, you could opt to go horse riding, or instead pay a visit to the second tallest falls in Mexico, the Basaseachi Waterfalls at 245 m high.

Scuba diving…

One of my favourite things about Mexico is that it’s just as beautiful below the water as it is above. Whether you’re an experienced diver, would like to learn or would prefer to stick to snorkelling, you simply can’t miss the landscape beneath the waterline. And, since there is an absolutely huge range of dive sites to choose from, you should have plenty of opportunity to go exploring. As an example, the ever-popular holiday resort of Cancun has 24 diving spots alone .

If you fancy seeing sunken shipwrecks, though, you should take a trip to either the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic coast, where there are many. Personally, I think the Parques Marino Nacional Arrecifes de Cozumel is a pretty unbeatable place to go, being home to part of the second largest coral reef system in the world.

… and other attractions in Cozumel

An added advantage of going to Cozumel is that it features lots of other spectacular landscapes that are just waiting to be discovered. For instance, it is where you’ll find Chankanaab Park, where you can meet sea lions, dolphins and manatees. Plus, this park also has spectacular botanical gardens. Take a stroll through these and you can see plants from more than 20 countries – a truly amazing display.