The first time someone travels it can be stressful, so this holiday season give the traveler in your life some awesome gifts that not only look great but also serve a purpose. This guide will get not only cover the traditional but also the obscure to ensure that that traveler in your life is able to survive travel mishaps and thrive.
A RFID Protection Wallet
A great investment is a travel RFID protected wallet. These wallets are not only cute (and come in an array of colors) but they also serve a very important purpose, protecting personal information to ensure that no one can “read” your personal information. In the world of scanners that can fit in your pocket to collect information, a good RFID blocking wallet will keep your identity, and your credit cards safe. There are a lot of options out there, but I really like this one which has a clip for a strap and keeps everything from cash to your passport protected. Because they come in so many styles and colors you can pick and choose what you think your new traveler would want!
External Battery Chargers
I cannot, cannot say this enough. You will at some point need an external battery charger. I prefer ones that are not cases, but I know others prefer the battery cases. If that’s something you think that your traveler will want opt for that. I prefer external chargers that I plug into my phone instead of the cases because I can carry several without sacrificing too much space (plus my phone charges faster!). My partner prefers a case citing the ease in which he can choose to use the case or not.
In terms of the usefulness, external packs allow for you to spend less time charging indoors and more time exploring. I use my phone for everything from maps to translating to facetiming family members so it’s essential that I have access to something that will keep my phone charged an available. I cannot tell you how awesome it is to FaceTime a family member while walking around to show them the country.
Packable Rain Coat
If your recipient likes to go to places that are typically rainy or stormy or just so happened to choose somewhere where it’s monsoon/typhoon season (me). These coats are not waterproof per se, but mine has held up to torrential downpours in Taiwan where I’ve stayed quite dry despite horrible conditions. The best part being I can pack it up into a small (dry!) package if I’m out and can dry it at home when I get back! Plus who doesn’t love something that can fit in your day bag when you’re walking around without sacrificing space!
Personal Keychain Alarms
The safety of the traveler in your life should be a top priority. Many countries ban violent methods of protection (mace, knives, brass knuckles) meaning that you may not be able to even bring these products into the country. Instead, I’ve found that personal alarms which are loud are perfect, reusable, and small enough to carry on you without accidentally triggering it. There are a lot of these on the market so finding one to fit the recipient’s tastes isn’t difficult, there are even alarms that look like cute key chains!
This is especially a must for any women traveling to foreign countries or within the USA where they may not be able to carry other forms of self-defense! This can also deter criminals from mugging you as these alarms are loud enough to draw attention, even at night!
Day Bag Care Package
This is definitely a stocking stuffer that anyone can use. When you’re overseas or even in your home country these small items are definitely a life saver. I would suggest finding a cute carrying case so that you can keep things organized (not unlike a make-up brush carrier) that you can fill with the following: hand sanitizer, travel tissues, Pepto Bismol or loperamide (anti-diarrheal OTC), and a bottle of sunscreen SPF 50 or more. These items can all be packed in a carry-on.
As I’ve said in previous posts, hand sanitizer and travel tissues are my top 2 items to bring with me wherever I go. Often times, bathrooms in other countries or our own will forget to restock or not even stock soap or toilet paper. By bringing these items you’re preparing for the inevitable, a bare bathroom. You can sometimes find really cute tissue packs too!
I always carry loperamide or Pepto Bismol on me if I’m out and about. Food isn’t always prepared in the cleanest of settings and these can help prevent you from having a bad reaction to food. While they aren’t the most romantic of items they will come in handy when your traveler feels unwell.
Mini sunscreen bottles are very important in climates where there is a lot of sun or even cloudy days with high UV indexes. Show someone you truly care about them by caring about their health. Don’t forget, even if you have darker skin, it’s still important to use sunscreen to help prevent aging and exposure to UV rays!
Small, yet Versatile Microfiber Towels
I love having access to microfiber towels when traveling. Not only do they dry quickly they’re much smaller than regular bath towels, making them useful for staying in hostels or heading to the beach for the day. Most come with a bag or case so as to separate the item from clothes, which is great if you’re trying to keep things clean. These towels are a life saver and in places where large bath towels are few and far between a necessity.
I prefer the IKEA brand towels as they have a carrying case and come in two different sizes, great for tall and short people alike.
A Great Camera Bag
If you travel with a decent camera as I do, you’ll want to protect it while having it accessible. I love using my camera bag because I can carry my laptop, phone chargers, on the go bag and packable rain coat and still have room for my wallet and other items. Try to find a bag that is not only decently priced but also has a locking feature for your valuables to avoid pickpockets. I suggest choosing a cross body bag or a backpack that is small enough to carry in front of you in a crowd. Alternatively, you can choose a camera carrying case that is removable from a day bag to add more versatility to the mix.
The cafe is located on a bustling street in downtown Tainan, and is adorned with a small sign in the front. When you enter, you are greeted by a hostess who will ask if you have a reservation. I did not, however, I was walking in on a weekday as a solo party after lunch time. The interior is homey, with many warm colors invoking memories of fall. The hostess will show you to your seat where you will have a chance to explore their expansive menu of both sweet and savory foods (the menu is both in English and Traditional Chinese). Once you've decided it's time for them to get to work! You are able to watch them make your food. The process is difficult and hard to master, but the workers at Autumn are diligent. It does take a little time for them to make the pancakes so if you're in a rush be mindful of that.
Depending on the type of pancakes you choose you may have different toppings and sides. I chose the Fruit Seasons Limited option, which was a mango garnish with a sweet cream on top paired with what I believe was some sort of dairy dessert. This is a feast for the eyes and the stomach. The mango was sweet and almost candy-like, while the pancakes were pillowy and were lightly sweetened so as to not overwhelm the palate. Once I was done taking the obligatory photos I probably finished the dish in under 10 minutes.
The food itself is great, the cost is a little pricey for Taiwan, with the entire bill costing around 400 NTD or $13 USD, the cost breakdown being 240 NTD ($6) for the pancakes and 120 NTD ($3) for the black currant blueberry drink.
Overall, if you're looking for a delicious dessert restaurant in Tainan this is it! If you are interested in making a reservation, you can visit their and enjoying some delicious pancakes you can visit their facebook, here.
In the oldest city in Taiwan sits a small two room Japanese Style Inn off the beaten path in an alley. However, looks can be deceiving. The staff of the hotel were some of the kindest people I've met to date, they allowed me to stay in the room after I cancelled by mistake because I had already paid and then offered a second night at a discounted rate of 1,000 NTD which is around $33 USD. One night at the hotel is around 2,500 NTD (~$70). When I arrived at their separate check in office, I was pleasantly surprised as to their customer service. The front desk attendant not only called a taxi for me to the rooms, but also provided me with money to cover the taxi fare. He then showed me to my room where he explained (In English!) what I needed to know. Their customer service went above and beyond for me despite the issues I caused. The first night I was there an earthquake hit around 20 miles south. Immediately, hotel staff contacted me to make sure I was okay.
This hotel features only two hotel rooms, one for four people and another for two people. I had the option of either, but chose the two person room. Not only are you provided with the room, you are also given a yukata that you can try on (I did and could not get it right). The room had four sets of slippers provided, two for the bathroom and two for the main living area. The room features beautiful wood paneled walls in the bathroom with Japanese soaking tub. Between the bathroom and the rest of the area there is a full size zen garden complete with rake and rocks. In the main room there are two areas, an entryway and a living space. The entryway and living space can be divided by wooden pocket doors that help provide privacy. In the entryway, the hotel provides the following items for your use bottled water, water purifier, electric kettle, traditional tea pot with cups, and tea. However, they ask that you do not bring in outside food or drinks to their hotel as it brings in unwanted bugs and there is no food storage. In the main living area they provide a dehumidifier, oil diffuser, sitting table, television, and two fluffy Japanese style floor mattresses that you can set up yourself in any configuration (I chose to stack them because I wanted to be higher off of the ground).
The hotel is centrally located, a few blocks from major attractions such as the Taiwanese Museum of Literature, Chihkan Tower (Fort Provintia), Blueprint Park, Autumn Cafe (home of awesome souffle pancakes), Hayashi Department store, and Tainan old street. A short motorbike, taxi, or bus ride away are several of Tainan's famous night markets, home of glorious gluttony. Despite it's location, the hotel is very private and quiet.
If you're looking for somewhere to stay in Taiwan that is affordable and swanky with awesome customer service, this is the place for you, I cannot recommend them highly enough!
Disclaimer: This was originally posted on the Independent Philly website as coverage for the Bacon Beer Classic.
Booze, bacon, and brotherly love. The Bacon and Beer Classic had it all. Occupying the Piazza, the festival transformed the space into a bacon lover’s paradise with all manner of meaty and boozy options available to food connoisseurs. At $45-55 (with a $9.95) per ticket, the price was perfect for any beer drinker or bacon enthusiast as it included a variety of beer from the standard Sam Adams lager to the more crafty Harpoon Camp Wannamango Pale Ale and creative spins on the classic bacon strip.
The event itself curated vendors from all over the Philadelphia area and gave them a chance to share their love of meaty goodness and liquid bread. Upon entering the event, security was a bit concerning at times, not due to the lack of personnel on location, but rather the inconsistent checks at the door for credentials for media and press. When visitors were not drinking beer or eating bacon, the venue offered samples of Glenlevit scotch and Vitamin Water for attendees. Scattered around the venue were yard games typical of beer gardens as well as sections of avant garde style chairs that probably did not help with vertigo as they were fashioned like a top, while fun as a concept, probably not the best moment to try your hand in spinning in one of those. Bacon and beer vendors were scattered around the venue, with an entire side dedicated to sponsors, Black Label Bacon.
Sponsored by Black Label Bacon, Lyft, Glenlevit, and many other companies they did not miss a beat with their bacon variety. For the bacon enthusiast, this is a veritable heaven and should be treated as such. Not only did they have the standard bacon strip, but they also had several vendors peddling more deconstructed versions, including a bacon covered churro straight out of your wildest dreams. By far one of the most popular tents of the evening was Passanante’s Home Delivery Service, who served up a filet mignon and a chicken sandwich, both of which were stellar options for anyone who was willing to wait 20 minutes for a bite. Black Label Bacon also had a host of delicious options including the crowd favorites, the Pecanwood and jalapeno bacon. For those who are more interested with the liquid options, they were not disappointed.
Festivalgoers had the chance to bob for bacon or compete in the bacon eating contest. The bacon eating contest was a hit, six contestants put their eating abilities to the test, consuming heaps of bacon in a race against the clock and each other. Lindsay from Harleysville was the winner of the competition, winning a year’s supply of bacon. One of her favorite flavors of bacon that was available that evening was the brown sugar bacon, a deliciously salty and sweet treat. When asked about her favorite beer, the triumphant victor listed the Saranac Brewery Cold Brew Coffee Lager, a festival hit amber lager with a hint of coffee flavor. Many other visitors had also cited this lager as a crowd favorite of the evening, tying with the Camp Wannamango. Grace, Megan, Bryan, and Paige, from Penn State, considered the best beer of the evening to be a tie between the Evil Genius Beer Company’s Stacy’s Mom IPA and the I Love Lamp Hefeweizer, both of which were citrusy similar to the Blue Moon Pale Ale. Jeff and Rod of Philly stated similar sentiments, however, their main criticism is that the range of beers offered did not reflect what they considered to be the best of brews offered by several of the companies in attendance. The event was well worth the price point and the time as it represented the best of the Philadelphia area, as well as, some nationally recognized companies. In the future, the Bacon and Beer Classic Philadelphia is definitely an event to look out for as it gives lovers of booze and bacon the chance to expand their knowledge of local brews and styles of bacon. Overall, I look forward to seeing what the event has to offer in future years as it continues to grow.