A Few More Tips for Hiking in Glacier National Park

by Alex Schnee
( September 23rd, 2014 )

Montana Glacier Park

I spent yesterday up in Glacier National Park hiking with some old and new friends. We are having a beautiful Indian summer here in Montana, and we’re taking advantage of it as much as we possibly can. I wrote a bit about hiking in Glacier and some tips for defending yourself against bears a few weeks ago, but I thought I would talk about a few more tips when hiking Glacier. You know, one can never have too many tips!

Make sure your phone is charged.

Whether you plan on using it for pictures or you need it for emergency reasons, you should make sure your smartphone is full of battery and ready to go on your hiking adventure. It can be a pain to carry a lot of things, especially if you are hauling around some large camera equipment, but this is one thing (like bear spray) that you don’t want to really leave behind.

Respect the trail and nature.

Trails tend to be there for a reason. We would all like to think we’re intrepid explorers ready to go off the beaten path, but the truth is, any national park has been combed over—there are people who are paid to do that. We are not they. Sticking to the trail and trying not to step on any foliage and disturb wildlife is really important. Leave the exploring to the park rangers and people who are supposed to be there—that way you can preserve the park for generations to come and you’re less likely to encounter something you’d rather not.

Watch out for other hikers.

You might not think of it this way, but hiking is kind of a team sport. Part of hiking etiquette is making sure that you leave plenty of room for others enjoying the trail to pass. Simply stepping to the side and letting them through is all you need to do. (Just a warning: Montana hikers are extremely friendly and will say hello whether you feel like talking or not.) Also, if a fellow hiker on the trail doesn’t look so great and you’re worried about his or her safety, it’s a good idea just to check in—better be safe than sorry!

Leave no trace of food.

Bears have the incredible ability of finding any source of food within miles. When you leave food on the trail, you’re basically bear baiting an area where people are! Make sure that after you have your lunch everything is cleaned up and that you haven’t left anything behind.

Have any more suggestions? Have a favorite hike in Glacier or another national park?

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City Lights: Tips for Making the Most out of Your New York Trip

by Alex Schnee
( September 18th, 2014 )

New York Travel

I went to Sarah Lawrence College, which is about a thirty-minute train ride from Grand Central Station in Manhattan. Over the two years I was there, I had an experience of a lifetime (living in New York as a student was a lot less stressful than I can imagine living there as an adult would be). I’ll head back there in two weeks to see some friends and to make some new memories there. Here are some of my tips for the Big Apple:

Take a deep breath.

New York can be an overwhelming city if you have never been there before. I almost had more culture shock going there than when I went to Europe for the first time. With everything going on and so much to see, you can find yourself freaking out a bit. Taking a deep breath and thinking about what you really want to do while you are there. Putting together an itinerary can be a good idea in a place like New York, as well. I’m usually a more go-with-the-flow traveler, but in a bustling place with so much to offer, having a plan can help to make your trip less stressful.

Take advantage of the museums.

New York boasts some of the best museums in the States, and it would be a shame not to check some of them out when you are there. The Metropolitan Museum of Art will keep you busy for an entire day or more, and MoMA is the location to see some of the most famous works of modern art in the world. If you’re more of a science person, the Museum of Natural History and the nearby Hayden Planetarium is the perfect place to learn something new.

New York is expensive.

Unfortunately, this is just a reality that travelers are going to have to face when they arrive. You can still often find some good deals on hostels and food if you don’t choose to stay in the middle of Manhattan, but it will still probably cost more than what most are used to paying. As hard as it can be for a Gen-Y traveler to pay a little extra for certain items, it’s part of the experience. Living in New York for two years made me realize that I didn’t want to end up staying there long term. However, it still remains as one of my favorite places in the world to visit, and probably always will be.

Do you have any tips for traveling to New York City? What is your favorite thing to do there?

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Needing Reinforcements: Using a Travel Agent

by Alex Schnee
( September 16th, 2014 )

Travel Agent Services

It’s so easy to book everything online in the new internet age that I think sometimes we as Gen-Y travelers totally forget that there were once people who used to book trips for others. Here’s an even crazier thought: they’re still around.

Knowing when is a good time to hand the reins over to someone else to find the right plane tickets and hostels can be a challenge. When we are surviving from paycheck to paycheck, forking over another fifty or sixty dollars to have a travel agent help us can be like cutting off an arm. However, it’s not always easy to know whether you are getting the best deals or if you have everything in place when you are taking a big trip, and getting a second opinion can really be helpful—we might end up saving more money in the long run.

I usually book things on my own, and since I’m still considered to be of “student” age, I can get some good deals without having to bother someone. However, my dad and I are headed to Iceland in a few weeks, and coordinating our already crazy flight patterns (a definite downside to student pricing) has turned out to be a little bit more than I wanted to take on as both a traveler and while working. I’ve contacted my travel agent and put him to work on finding a good way for us both to get there and back, and I think he will do a better job than I ever could.

Which kind of goes to show that the profession of a travel agent is not quite dead—even for twenty-something travelers. It also brings to mind how much more you have to take on when you are choosing to go with someone else rather than on your own. Sometimes, there is just too much going on for you to focus on—and having someone give you an idea of the best possible option and what can make your trip go easier and go more smoothly. I’m lucky to have a great travel agent for those moments when I feel like I’m in way over my head, but I understand how other Gen-Y travelers might not choose to hire someone to help them, as well.

What do you think? Do you have a travel agent you like to use or do you feel like you can get by without one?

Image courtesy of Michael Coghlan.

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