Robert Q Travel Byron's Blog

Explore Alabama's Southern Cooking rom sophisticated seafood to decadent desserts, Alabama’s signature dishes have loyal fans the world over. That’s because they bring together centuries of Southern tradition with a fun and modern twist. read more
When in San Jose del Cabo, one thing that you should never miss is sampling the best Mexican cuisines in the city. read more

Dutch food might not exactly stick out in a sea of incredible European cuisine, but Amsterdam can claim bragging right to a variety of dishes that you just have to try if you visit. 

Not sure where to start? Luckily, Lilotchka of Jaunted.com posted a great little article, "From a Dutch Oven: Five Meals You Absolutely Must Eat in Amsterdam."

Now, I'm sure there are more than five, but the ones listed here look so darn good. 

Starting with apple pancakes - "appel pannenkoeken" in the morning, you can eat your way through one tasty day while touring this dynamic city. What stuck out to me most on the list was "Rijstafel" for dinner. As the author writes,

"Indonesia used to be a Dutch colony, and now Indonesian food is one of the most popular ethnic cuisines in Holland. A rijstafel (rice table) is a sort of Indonesian tapas – you’ll get a bowl of rice and about a dozen other small dishes, which can include everything from tofu to chicken satay to spicy beef. They’re large, so split one with your date."

Looks so yummy! Get started with your trip today with Robert Q Travel Byron! 

Madrid [Travel Video] from Blog The Glob on Vimeo.

Wondering where you'll travel to this summer? There's no end of places to visit but one place I'd recommend is Madrid. This capital city is vibrant and fun, full of things to do and sites to see. From the incredible architecture to the amazing food, this can be a perfect vacation. 

Check out this video by Blog The Glob and get inspired! And start your trip today with Robert Q Byron!

They say that you're never really lost, only temporarily displaced. 

But when you’re circling the same city block for the fifth time, or cold and wet in the woods without cell service, “displaced” seems like a gross understatement.

All is not lost. Here’s how to keep your bearings whether you’re in the great outdoors or the middle of an urban jungle.

Techie Tools

Getting lost is so 2007. Handheld technology has made getting around incredibly easy. You can download a GPS (Global Positioning System) application for your Smart Phone, usually for free.

Here are The 9 Best iPhone GPS Apps and more on GPS Tracking.

SmartPhones not only help you navigate through the streets but also point you to the best shops and restaurants. If you pass an interesting looking café, within two minutes you can search for customer-reviews and menus online and determine if that’s where you want to eat.

Not everyone has a SmartPhone though, so if you're doing a lot of driving, on a road-trip or otherwise, I highly recommend investing in a GPS Navigator like TomTom

For outdoor adventures, store the location of the trailhead onto your device before starting your hike, using the “track-back” feature to find your way back to your car.

However, phones often don’t get service out in the woods, batteries die and systems fail. Which is why you should …

Get a Map!

Hikers, hunters, snowshoers and skiers should carry and know how to use a map and compass

As for urban areas, nowadays almost every major city produces a map designed to help travelers get around. They’re easy to find, easy to use and best of all, FREE. You can find them at a tourism office, but oftentimes many local shops and restaurants will have them out for grabs.

These maps are nice because they point out major landmarks, popular restaurants and other must-see sights. Sometimes they come with coupons. They’re usually colorful and unique, making them a cool souvenir for your trip.

Before You Go

Always Always have a game plan. By no means should you map out your entire trip, but know where you want to go and what you want to see. Check out maps online to get a feel for the cityscape. If you’re going to a foreign country, learn some basic phrases and street sign words

Before you set off on an outdoor hiking adventure, let a local contact know where you plan to go and when you plan to return. Check weather conditions and pack accordingly.

Familiarize yourself with the area before heading off. If you can figure out your cardinal directions when you get lost, and you remember that located on the eastern most edge of the park is the trailhead you started from, it'll be easier to ...

Orient Yourself

First off, if you get lost - do not panic. This of course is easier said than done but keeping your composure will make a big difference in your situation.

If the sun is out insert a stick in the ground and mark the location at the end of the shadow. That end will move west to east. Climb a tree or get to the top of the highest point and try to see where you are.

At night you can use the North Star (Polaris), the brightest star in the Little Dipper, to head north.

It is possible to “find yourself” and get back on your own. However, make sure you are 100% certain you’ve figured out your location and the direction you need to go. This is especially important when you’re …

Lost in the Woods

If you’re not certain, don’t become more lost. Stay put. By moving through the woods you increase your risk of animal, insect or snake encounters.

It also makes it more difficult for search parties to locate you. Many times people wander from their original location to outside of the search party’s radius. Any search party will attempt to retrace your steps. If you do move, leave clues behind to make you easier to track, like spelling out words in rocks. Make these markers visible from a distance.

Your greatest and most immediate danger is weather. Find a compromise between staying visible and having protective shelter. Get out of the cold and rain but not hidden entirely from view. Under a large tree is good. Build a survival bed from plant material; laying on the bare ground will rob your body of precious heat.

Don't ration your water or food. You You can survive on 4-6 liters of water a day, and not eat for days on end without any long term damage. Don’t expend a lot of energy and eat minimally. Be careful what you forage - remember it’s safer to go hungry than to eat something poisonous.

Build a fire not only to keep warm but to attract attention (use green leaves which produce a thick, white smoke). The two things you should always have on you in the outdoors are matches and a plastic garbage bag (for insulation from rain and cold).

Lost in a City

Cities on the other hand can be fun to get lost in. Sometimes you discover things you wouldn’t have otherwise.

The best part about getting lost in a city is that you're surrounded by people who live there. Your best bet is to ask a public official like a police officer for assistance. 

You can also try to ask locals. If you feel unsafe, ask store or restaurant employees instead of random people off the street.

It's generally pretty easy to orient yourself in a city environment, especially if the streets are on a grid system. Also the many landmarks (hey, that's where your pictures might come in handy!) can help you trace your steps. However, it can get tricky when you don't speak the language.

If that’s the case, one tip is take some stationary or matches from the hotel you’re staying at, along with postcards or picture books purchased from a gift shop of places you want to go. Using your map you can have locals point out the location of the images from the postcards.

If you get very lost, try to hail a cab and show them the hotel name and address posted on the stationary or matchbooks.

Before ou resort to calling the cops for help, call your hotel (write that number down!). Almost every hotel has at least one employee who speaks some English. They deal with travelers all the time and know their way around the city.

More Resources

1st Special Response Group: What to do if Lost

Nomadik Outdoor Life Guide: Outdoor Navigation Basics

Bonus!

One of the many advantages to booking with an experienced travel consultant is the 24 hour assistance. At Robert Q Byron, we're here to help make your trip unforgettable. 

So many things to remember!

Once your flight is booked and hotel reservations made, you realize that there are still a dozen or so important details to take of before you leave. 

That's why we put together this handy travel checklist to help you stay organized and stress-free.

 


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1) Call your Credit Card Company and/or Bank to let them know you’re leaving the country. 
Most have anti-fraud services in place, so if foreign withdraws start popping up in your account a red flag is going to go off and your account might be frozen. Let them know where you’re going and how long you’ll be there.

2) Place a stop or hold on mail and deliveries.
A pile of newspapers on your front lawn is a clear message to thieves that you’re away from home.

3) Write down emergency numbers
… For you and for those back home. Give family, friends, neighbors and/or house sitters a way to reach you should an emergency occur. This includes both your new cell number if you’re using a SIM card and the number and address of the hotel you’re staying at.

For yourself: write down any numbers you might need during your trip. This includes family, friends, Doctor, bank, credit card companies and sitters. If you’re friendly with your neighbors ask them to keep an eye on your place.

4) Prep your home
If you have a security system this is the time to use it. Set some lights in and around your place on a timer to make it look like someone is home.

Throw out all garbage and go through your fridge for food that will expire. I also highly recommend cleaning up your place before you go. There’s something to be said about coming home to a clean and tidy home after a long trip.

If you have lawn or pool maintenance, either put the service on hold or let the company know you will be out of town. Turn your thermostat off or set it at a base temperature that will keep your pets and plants alive and healthy.

5) Set up pet care
Figure out if a friend can watch your pets from their home, or if they can come over regularly to take care of them. For more info, check out this Lazy Traveler’s Guide to Leaving Pets at Home.

6) If you’re bringing your laptop, back up all data before you go.
Use a cloud backup service like Syncplicity (2GB free) or Dropbox (also 2GB free). You can also save stuff to your Google account in Google Docs.

Clean out the memory card on your camera and save those to your computer or an online program, like Flickr or Globetrotting Tips.

7) Learn some of the basics of the local language.

8) Pack maps, guides and public transportation schedules. 
Do some research beforehand about your destination so you know what you want to see while you’re there. Tentatively plan out the first few days - you don’t need a rigid schedule but rather a loose idea of the sights, restaurants and other local spots you want to check out.

9) Check the weather. 
Especially if you’re not familiar with your destination, it’ll help you determine what to pack.

10) Pack only essentials

  • The minimum amount of clothes that can be easily mixed and matched throughout the trip. 
  • Extra contact lenses, lens solution & glasses. 
  • Camera, batteries & recharger. 
  • Voltage converter, small flashlight, cell phone & charger. 
  • Any RX, vitamins & anti-diarrheal medications.
  •  

If you have a medical condition that might cause some delay at the airport (like a metal implant or liquid insulin capsules) bring the appropriate doctors note. Meet with your Doctor before your trip and ask for a written or typed, formal note on the Doctor stationary with the Doctor’s signature at the bottom. The note should be as specific as possible.

If you have a disability, let the airline know ahead of time. For every official staff member that asks for your ID, show them your paperwork proving your disability or condition.

11) Pack your carry-on. 
Make sure you have your identification, credit card(s), flight tickets and hotel reservation information / confirmation numbers. If you have them, bring your list of frequent flier numbers and any insurance cards. Don’t bring any more credit cards than you need to. Buy quart-size zipped lock bags if you plan to bring any liquids (under 3oz).

12) Get some cash. 
You should bring credit cards too, but always try to have some cash on you for cab fees and other incidentals. Find out what the local currency is and try to bring some if you can.