Michael Hodgson

Adventurer, curious traveler, photojournalist, and lover of gin. Winner of multiple gold, silver, and bronze medals from NATJA for travel writing & photography excellence -- earning medals every year since 2018. Gold medal winner 2021 to 2023 in the IFWTWA Travel Photography Awards, Best in Show award winner in the 2023 photography awards, and winner of the Excellence in Journalism award in 2022. Winner of a Juror's Award and Best in Show in the 2023 California State Fair photography competition. Still searching for the perfect gin and tonic.
Choosing the best travel insurance for your trip

Choosing the best travel insurance for your trip

You’ve booked your trip for a dream vacation, but you’re just not sure about buying travel insurance. After all, it seems like an added expense and how do you know which is the best travel insurance for your trip anyway? Let’s stop right there. You need travel insurance when you travel, unless you are so wealthy you can afford your own medical expenses and possibly the expense of medical transport back home. Find out why we like Global Rescue and why travel insurance is so important to you.

The best travel technology: Power banks to portable drives

The best travel technology: Power banks to portable drives

With smartphones, cameras, computers, tablets and more, travel technology threatens to add weight and bulk to any travel bag. Our travel technology guide will show you what we use and why with buying recommendations for compact and light power banks, battery chargers, travel adapters and portable drives.

The best railbike adventure – Find railbikes near me

The best railbike adventure – Find railbikes near me

Railbikes have been used on railroad tracks since the 1800s. It wasn’t until recently that individuals and companies began designing railbikes and offering railbike trips for the public. Railbiking companies are numerous. Our guide will help you to find the best railbike adventure near you and to understand what railbiking is.

Why I hate ticks and how to prevent tick bites

Why I hate ticks and how to prevent tick bites

It’s not all that hard to realize why I hate ticks. The very thought of walking through woods and fields infested with ticks makes my skin crawl. Perhaps it is because of a tick’s predilection to attaching itself firmly to its host, in this case me, and then draining a seemingly prodigious quantity of blood from those dark and moist places where I would rather not have something alien nibbling. Even with my skin dipped in insect repellent and clothes soaked in permethrin, I am on edge.

A love for travel began with my mum

A love for travel began with my mum

My love for travel and adventure began with my mum. I still take time on her birthday, on Mother’s Day and on International Women’s Day to honor her and thank her for all the gifts she gave me. Gifts that have made me a better traveler, journalist, photographer and, I hope, a better man.

Houmas House: a luxurious plantation country estate

Houmas House: a luxurious plantation country estate

Houmas House estate is a New Orleans area attraction located in Louisiana’s River Parishes. Once one of the biggest and richest plantations in Louisiana’s plantation country, it’s now a destination for lovers of architecture, gardens and fine dining, as well as an entertainment venue.

Goodbye Berlin – Hello to a world forever changed

Goodbye Berlin – Hello to a world forever changed

In two short weeks, we went from happy travelers to anxious escapees. Therese and I held hands and stared out the airplane window. It was goodbye Berlin. Hello to a world forever changed. From Tegel airport to London Heathrow to Los Angeles and then home, each airport provided a glimpse of a world turned upside down because of COVID-19.

Fear of COVID-19 – traveling in the age of coronavirus

Fear of COVID-19 – traveling in the age of coronavirus

Should we be traveling in the age of coronavirus? We make our living as travel writers and photographers. For us, it’s either travel, or find another line of work. But the fear of COVID-19 is real. How do we travel and still stay safe from coronavirus? Read our personal essay on learning to stay calm and travel despite a fear of cornonavirus.

What to do in Bergen: The ultimate Bergen city guide

What to do in Bergen: The ultimate Bergen city guide

Our What to do in Bergen city guide will help you make the most of your upcoming visit. It is so very easy to fall in love with Bergen. Visit Bryggen a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Theta Museum, the Bergen Maritime Museum, Bergenhus Festning, and ride the Fløibanen funicular for starters.

Things to do in Oslo: a pocket Oslo city guide

Things to do in Oslo: a pocket Oslo city guide

Our Oslo city guide will help you make the most of your visit. Central Oslo is compact, cozy, walkable and enjoyable, especially with our Ultimate City Guide to Oslo. You’ll see Norway’s Resistance Museum, Akershus Fortress, The Viking Ship Museum, the Royal Palace, Vigeland Park and so much more.

A sacred place: the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

A sacred place: the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

To visit the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is like stepping into a real-life Jurassic Park. The Gwich’in people call the Arctic Refuge, “The Sacred Place Where Life Begins.” You have to see the Arctic Refuge for yourself to believe it. This story was awarded a Silver Medal for travel writing by the North American Travel Journalists Association.

Travel photos – Instagram is turning us into idiots

Travel photos – Instagram is turning us into idiots

Armed with digital cameras and smartphones travelers are able to detail every idyllic moment of every trip in all its “Instagrammable” glory with often ridiculous travel photos. In truth, Instagram is turning us all into idiots as we embark on a frantic search for the most Instagrammable moment.

The 7 best things to do in Doha, the capital of Qatar

The 7 best things to do in Doha, the capital of Qatar

Looking for the best things to do in Doha? Now one of the fastest growing cities in the world, Doha, in the tiny country of Qatar, is worthy of a best place to travel nod. Know what to do in Doha with our 7 top tips including the Souq Waqif, The Pearl Qatar, the Doha Corniche, and the Museum of Islamic Art.

Fear and loathing while climbing Moosedog Tower

Fear and loathing while climbing Moosedog Tower

I have an inability to say “no” when presented with an enticing adventure and story angle, no matter how far outside my comfort zone the adventure is. Which is how I found myself discovering fear and loathing while climbing Moosedog Tower in Joshua Tree.

Hiking With President Bush: a walk on the wild side

Hiking With President Bush: a walk on the wild side

When I received a phone invitation to go on a hike through the Giant Sequoias in California with President George H.W. Bush during the summer of 1992, my initial reaction was, “Right, who is this, really?” I could name any number of wonderful friends who would make such an “official” offer while doubled up with mirth and glee – eager to hang any appearance of gullibility over my head for a lifetime.

Meet the Spoon Family – Leipzig, Germany

Meet the Spoon Family – Leipzig, Germany

Meet the Spoon Family — This classic neon sign was installed in 1973 at the former East German company headquarters of VEB Feinkost Leipzig, a food manufacturer of canned soups, vegetables and other items. After the Berlin Wall came down the sign fell into disrepair. It was declared a cultural monument in 1993.

Stasi Prison in Hohenschönhausen Berlin a house of terror

Stasi Prison in Hohenschönhausen Berlin a house of terror

The Stasi Prison in Hohenschönhausen is a memorial in Berlin to 44 years of terror and political persecution at the hands of the GDR. This prison was in a restricted military area in Soviet occupied East Berlin and was never marked on any East German map of East Berlin. The former prison of the Ministry of State Security (Stasi) is preserved as a memorial and is unlike any other memorial in Germany. It is a must-see destination.

My Travel Tales with Frank Hugelmeyer

My Travel Tales with Frank Hugelmeyer

It doesn’t take you very long to determine Frank Hugelmeyer is pretty comfortable traveling to exotic places. Apparently, that’s what happens after spending your childhood on a sport fishing boat and then 30 years or so promoting the sporting goods, fitness, outdoor and RV lifestyles across the globe.

My Travel Tales with Kevin Wenning

My Travel Tales with Kevin Wenning

Kevin Wenning is our guest on this episode of My Travel Tales. Kevin decided to create his bike photography tours when he couldn’t find a cycling vacation that catered to photography enthusiasts. You’ll hear about bike touring with cameras, and four tips you can use right now to make any photo better on any trip you take. And what does this experienced bike guide and photographer always pack with him where ever he goes in the world? Listen in to find out.

My Travel Tales with Ajay Jain

My Travel Tales with Ajay Jain

Ajay Jain is our guest on this episode of My Travel Tales. In the summer of 2007, with a camera and notebook in hand, Ajay left behind a corporate career for good and began driving, eventually ending up in Kunzum La (a very remote pass in the Indian Himalayas). He was so taken by the destination he named his business after it. Since then, he has been traveling all over India, and also covering a fair amount of the world, chronicling his journeys in blog posts and in his photography books. You’ll hear all about his beloved Indian Himalayas and much more in our conversation.

My Travel Tales with Tim McGuire

My Travel Tales with Tim McGuire

Tim McGuire is our guest on this episode of My Travel Tales. Listen in to find out how the search for an easy college class while playing Division 1 soccer at San Diego State University led him down a path of adventure, travel, and now as part of the executive team at Eagle Creek. Learn too why even an experienced world traveler like Tim can end up in the wrong country while simply trying to get back to his hotel. And what does this experienced adventure traveler always pack with him where ever he goes in the world?

My Travel Tales with Soraya Shattuck

My Travel Tales with Soraya Shattuck

Since witnessing ivory being set on fire in Kenya as a child, Soraya Shattuck has been driven to help the travel community understand, minimize and mitigate negative impacts of travel. Listen in to Soraya’s My Travel Tales episode to learn more about her and the Adventure Travel Conservation Fund.

My Travel Tales with Shannon Stowell

My Travel Tales with Shannon Stowell

Shannon Stowell is our guest on this episode of My Travel Tales. Listen in to find out why Shannon decided to buy the Adventure Travel Trade Association in 2004, why he feels a deep connection to Kurdistan, what place he has dreamed of since childhood but has yet to visit, five things he always travels with, why a visit to Barentsburg on Svalbard in Norway was surreal, and a few surprises including the “hot chili pepper incident” at an ATTA event.

My Travel Tales with Jen Taylor

My Travel Tales with Jen Taylor

Jen Taylor, former brand manager and director of creative development for Mountain Khakis is our guest. Learn about Grand Junction, her favorite travel destination, riding motorcycles, how a fish taco inspired her next great idea, and five things she always travels with.

Know what it’s like to go bike touring in Europe

Know what it’s like to go bike touring in Europe

While no bike tour company is exactly alike — and no two tours will likely ever be identical, there is common ground when bike touring in Europe. Follow along with us as we give you an idea through photographs and quick tips what a day in the life bike touring in Europe is like.

Do I need travel medical evacuation insurance coverage?

Do I need travel medical evacuation insurance coverage?

Do I really need additional medical evacuation insurance coverage when I already have travel insurance? There is no simple answer, like with many insurance types. The best traveling advice is to weigh risks and expense, and consider your own philosophy and tolerance. We have additional medical evacuation coverage with Global Rescue, no questions asked.

Discover Black Dragon Pool Park in Lijiang

Discover Black Dragon Pool Park in Lijiang

The waters of the Black Dragon Pool in Lijiang come from a spring fed by Jade Dragon Snow Mountain that serves as a picturesque and often-photographed backdrop to the pool on clear days. Within the park are ancient monuments such as the Longshen Temple, the Deyue Pavilion, the Suocui Bridge and the Hanyue Stage.

What to see in Lijiang – a quick video tour

What to see in Lijiang – a quick video tour

Old town Lijiang is not unlike Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco in its tourist-trap draw; however, as you will see in this video, like Fisherman’s Wharf, if you look, you will find plenty of history and beauty amid the almost unimaginable concentration of shops and vendors. The maze of streets and canals of old town Lijiang invites you to get happily lost — and lost you will get. Hopefully, the sound of running water from the many canals will serve as a soothing backdrop to the press of tourism from mostly Chinese tourists. If you were wondering what to see in Lijiang, this video is a good place to start.

Whiskey and color inspires artwork in old town Lijiang, China

Whiskey and color inspires artwork in old town Lijiang, China

It was while wandering old town Lijiang with iPad in hand that I became fascinated with the colors and textures of an old restaurant with the word “whiskey” emblazoned over its windows. I am not really sure what street I was on as I had been happily wandering for several hours in this tangled world of artistic inspiration.

Kirkenes Travel Tips: An Arctic frontier at road’s end

Kirkenes Travel Tips: An Arctic frontier at road’s end

Kirkenes is quite literally an Arctic frontier at road’s end, located as far northeast as possible in Norway, close to the Varangerfjord. It is both the endpoint for the northbound Hurtigruten ferry and the northern terminus of the E6, the main road that runs north-south between Kirkenes and Oslo.

The Schiffshebewerk Niederfinow near Berlin, Germany, is an engineering marvel

The Schiffshebewerk Niederfinow near Berlin, Germany, is an engineering marvel

The Schiffshebewerk Niederfinow was completed in 1934 and is part of the Haavel-Oder waterway connecting the Elbe and Oder river basins. The waterway begins in Berlin at the Spandau lock and opens into the West Oder at the border area between Poland and Germany. Watching ships being raised and lowered in this ship elevator is amazing. A true engineering marvel.

Kirkenes – Arctic light becomes artist’s delight

Kirkenes – Arctic light becomes artist’s delight

Kirkenes is located in the farthest (and iciest and darkest) reaches of northeastern Norway, a stone’s throw from the Russian border. It is approximately 250 miles north of the Arctic Circle off the Barents Sea. The small town serves as the northernmost port for the Hurtigruten coastal ferry and the northern terminus of the E6, the main road that runs north-south between Kirkenes and Oslo.

Picturesque Mousehole Harbor a favorite of artists

Picturesque Mousehole Harbor a favorite of artists

Mousehole has retained much of its charm with narrow streets, art galleries, quaint shops and half-timber cottages. The harbor wall and two breakwaters are there to shield the Mousehole village from winter gales and pounding waves as well as to create a peaceful shelter for visitors to sit and stroll.

Colorful Buildings Along Trondheim’s Nidelva River

Colorful Buildings Along Trondheim’s Nidelva River

Trondheim is a colorful city, and while it is the third largest city in Norway, it feels much more intimate than its size might imply. The Nidelva river runs through the city, beside the Nidaros Cathedral and past an historical area called Bakklandet situated on its banks north of the Old Town Bridge.

Travel to Bolivia, land of stark contrast and breathtaking beauty

Travel to Bolivia, land of stark contrast and breathtaking beauty

If travel to Bolivia is not on your current dream destination list, it needs to be. The fifth-largest country in South America, it is land-locked and bordered by Brazil, Peru, Chile, Argentina and Paraguay. Two ranges of the Andes, as well as the Amazon basin, split Bolivia, creating a uniquely diverse mix of cultural, scenic and natural wonders. But it is the stark contrasts in climates and experiences – from legendary sunsets on the shores of Lake Titicaca to the modern and hip tropical vibe of Santa Cruz to the expansive salt flats near La Paz. Bolivia magically weaves heritage, architecture, culture and natural wonders into an experience that relatively few tourists experience even today.

Stone Forest in Yunnan great day trip from Kunming

Stone Forest in Yunnan great day trip from Kunming

A UNESCO World Heritage site in part since 2007, the Stone Forest (“Shilin” in Chinese) in the Yunnan province of China is considered to be a unique natural wonder and represents one of the best examples of karst rock formations in the world. Simply put, it is magical, mystical place where culture, legend, and natural history share the stage with limestone rock formations that will delight visitors of any age.

Experience tranquility inside the Yuantong Temple of Kunming

Experience tranquility inside the Yuantong Temple of Kunming

Take a tour of the Yuantong Temple, considered the most famous Buddhist temple in Kunming, Yunnan Province, China. Unlike other Buddhist temples into which you ascend, Yuantong is unique in that you enter into the temple grounds from above and descend from the city streets along a garden path and into the center, a large pond with wondrous stone bridges and surrounded by magnificent buildings.

Fear of Flying: The cockpit is no place for loud bangs

Fear of Flying: The cockpit is no place for loud bangs

BOOM!!!… The unmistakable sound of an explosion or other impact came from the cockpit. Immediately the plane began to shake and, within seconds, we were executing a very tight turn and initiating a steep descent heading back toward Salt Lake City … and, I hoped, for the airport. She looked at me with very wide eyes. “You have an explanation for that, right?” Her fear of flying was real.

Spectacular Hong Kong skyline from Victoria Harbor waterfront

Spectacular Hong Kong skyline from Victoria Harbor waterfront

While my wife and I were wandering along the Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade during a 17-hour layover in Hong Kong (we were on our way home to San Francisco following an adventure in mainland China), I became entranced. I, like most others out that night, could not tear my gaze from the colorful and dramatic skyline of Hong Kong Island across the busy waters of Victoria Harbor.

Everyone Loves a Parade! Musikfest Bregenzerwald

Everyone Loves a Parade! Musikfest Bregenzerwald

Everyone loves a parade! This parade took place in July 2016 in Egg, Austria, and is part of a festival known as Musikfest Bregenzerwald. This festival takes place in a different village every year in Bregenzerwald and is organized by the village hosting the event. Each village in Bregenzerwald has its own musicians group and each marches in the parade.

Quick Prenzlauer Berg travel guide to a Berlin hotspot

Quick Prenzlauer Berg travel guide to a Berlin hotspot

One of our favorite areas in Berlin is the artsy cool Prenzlauer Berg. Our Prenzlauer Berg travel guide will point you to the top things to do in this Berlin hot spot. Kollwitzplatz and Kastanienallee are particularly beautiful Prenzlauer Berg streets. Farmers markets, street festivals and more are regular occurrences.

Kanisfluh Sunrise in Bregenzerwald Austria

Kanisfluh Sunrise in Bregenzerwald Austria

On July 11, 2016, HITravelTales was part of the jury for the Scandinavian Outdoor Awards (ScandinavianOutdoorGroup.com) and was fortunate enough to be able to experience a spectacular sunrise from the summit of Kanisfluh in Bregenzerwald, Austria. Enjoy our hike with headlamps as the sun begins to crest the horizon and then the beauty of the area as the sun’s rays bring to life the color of this amazing place.

International Donaufest Fireworks In Ulm 2016

International Donaufest Fireworks In Ulm 2016

The International Donaufest (Danube) Festival has been held since 1998 and occurs every other year. Ulm city center and the banks of the Danube river are turned into a sort of international festival to celebrate the coming together of regions and countries along the Danube that rely on the river — Bavaria, Austria, Hungary, Serbia, Croatia, Bulgaria and Romania. The festival last 10 days and includes a massive fireworks display. HI Travel Tales was there this year to witness the fireworks extravaganza from the banks of the Danube.

Dragon Gate and Western Hills in Kunming

Dragon Gate and Western Hills in Kunming

HITravelTales.com team visits Dragon Gate and Western Hills Xishan Park just outside of Kunming, China. Not every must-see travel destination is so easy to get to. And that can make the journey even more of an adventure. Dragon Gate in the Western Hills (Xishan Forest Park) on the outskirts of Kunming, China, is one of those. The reasons we can list are many – green hills with forested walking paths, a breather from the sensory chaos of the city, temples and pavilions dating back to the 11th century, views of the region from about 8,200 feet (2,000 feet above the city itself), winding stone staircases, strolling monks, gardens, sculptures and also grottoes and tunnels carved out of the mountains rock face. Watch the video for a quick taste of all that is waiting for you here.

Yuantong Temple watercolor inspired by tranquility

Yuantong Temple watercolor inspired by tranquility

Considered one of the most important and famous Buddhist temples in the Yunnan province of China, the grand Yuantong Temple in Kunming delights the senses. It was as I leaned against a wall gazing at the pavilion, mesmerized by the peacefulness and subtle magic that I was inspired to create the watercolor of the Yuantong Temple.

Travel Packs: A perfect choice for adventure travel

Travel Packs: A perfect choice for adventure travel

If you are off to New Zealand, the Ardennes Mountains or South America and you’re going to be gone for a while hopping on and off planes, trains, automobiles, donkeys and boats, chances are you might want to look at buying into the category of travel packs, rather than schlepping wheeled luggage or a duffel with straps.

Colorful Signal Island snorkeling in New Caledonia

Colorful Signal Island snorkeling in New Caledonia

New Caledonia’s Signal Island (Ilot Signal) sits within what Conservation International lists as the world’s largest marine park. Within this park and nestled a mere 20 kilometers (just under 12.5 miles and 8 nautical miles) from New Caledonia’s capital city of Noumea, Signal Island is a unique marine reserve that offers its visitors unprecedented snorkeling in close proximity to a diversity of coral and tropical fish as well as hiking among sea birds and flora that is not easily replicated anywhere else in the world.

North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve – Wildflowers and waterfalls

North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve – Wildflowers and waterfalls

Table Mountain reserve boasts one of the most spectacular waterfalls in California and an amazing display of California wildflowers in the spring, yet the North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve (just “Table Mountain” reserve to locals) is surprisingly unknown. If you want blankets of colorful wildflowers, including periodic super blooms, Table Mountain delivers.

Table Mountain California full of wildflowers and waterfalls

Table Mountain California full of wildflowers and waterfalls

Located in the foothills of the northern Sierra Nevada, just 7 miles north of Oroville (approximately one hour drive north of Sacramento), the 3,315-acre Table Mountain preserve looks rather non-descript from afar. From Oroville, you can see the dark basalt (volcanic) cliffs and a hint of a flat plateau above, but little more. But get closer and you will experience spectacular wildflowers and amazing waterfalls.

8 tips to avoid bed bugs when traveling

8 tips to avoid bed bugs when traveling

If you travel smart it is wise to know how to avoid bed bugs when traveling. This article provides the best and most practical traveling advice for avoiding bed bugs and also knowing what to do to get rid of bed bugs if they hitch a ride in your luggage back home.

Eight reasons to visit Trondheim

Eight reasons to visit Trondheim

How many reasons do you need to visit Trondheim, Norway? Trondheim is one of Norway’s oldest cities and also boasts a vibrant cultural life. Despite its size, its historic city center still feels intimate. Visit Bakklandet, Old Town Bridge, Nidaros Cathedral and walk the Nidelva River.

Travel Sickness Prevention: Tips to smooth the journey

Travel Sickness Prevention: Tips to smooth the journey

Anyone can get travel sick, even if you “never” do. The good news is there is a tried-and-true playbook for travel sickness prevention. The bad news is there is no cure for travel sickness. Also known as motion sickness, car sickness, sea sickness, and air sickness, the malady can come on quickly.

British insults: Yeah, I deserved it

British insults: Yeah, I deserved it

British insults. To be able to deliver the classy and thoughtful zinger of an insult is of course a time-honored British tradition. My moment of being on the receiving end of an artful insult happened on a misty mountaintop in the Lake District of England.

Dry Tortugas National Park in Florida – Fort Jefferson 360 view

Dry Tortugas National Park in Florida – Fort Jefferson 360 view

Almost 70 miles west of Key West, Florida, lies a cluster of seven islands, composed of coral reefs and sand, called the Dry Tortugas. With the surrounding shoals and water, they make up the Dry Tortugas National Park, an area noted for bird and marine life and shipwrecks. Fort Jefferson, its central cultural feature, is one of the nation’s largest 1800s masonry fort. Video shot in 360 with a Kodak Pixpro SP360 camera.

You’re not married until Facebook says so

You’re not married until Facebook says so

For more than 11 years, my wife and I have shared a home, a bedroom and countless happy moments traveling around the world together. My daughter, who was at our wedding, knows us as married. We were married by a minister, so we presume God knows we’re husband and wife. The state of California has even issued us a marriage license. And goodness knows, my wife’s parents and my parents both thought we were married too. But despite the overwhelming evidence that I am, in fact, a happily married man, I just learned no one is married until Facebook says so.

Cuddling with a koala at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

Cuddling with a koala at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

Roll your eyes if you must, but I’ve always dreamed of holding a koala. Not sure why that has been so important to me … perhaps the stuff of childhood fantasy. But I got my wish to cuddle with a koala in October 2013 during our stay in Brisbane, Australia at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, located a few kilometers away from Brisbane City Center.

Confused by color naming – am I now color blind?

Confused by color naming – am I now color blind?

I reached for my reading glasses and, keeping my dictionary and a color wheel pinched from my daughter’s old Crayola art set handy, I resumed paging. There was a sweater in “gaucho,” a pant in “Zen,” a shirt in “Dijon” (what, no Grey Poupon?), and a pullover in “storm.”

Nine tips to stay healthy when flying

Nine tips to stay healthy when flying

Ebola, measles, flu, blood clots and more seem to lurk everywhere. Read the news and you begin to imagine a thousand ways to get sick when sealed in a flying aluminum tube with 300 of your new best friends. Really, though, there is no need for fear and hysteria. Here are nine tips from HI Travel Tales to help you stay healthy when flying and help you arrive for your holiday or business as rested as possible.

Five essential travel apps for the globetrotter

Five essential travel apps for the globetrotter

Traveling takes planning and time. But it also takes flexibility, patience and an ability to adapt on the move. Here is our list of essential travel apps we use to keep travel stress to a bare minimum, and up the ante on travel fun and adventure. Keep travel stress down.

Theta Museum in Bergen: tiny room with a huge story

Theta Museum in Bergen: tiny room with a huge story

It was a secret room then and, for many, it remains a secret museum and hidden room today. It is the itty-bitty Theta Museum, a minute 170-square-foot (16 square meters) low-ceiling room hidden away on an upper floor of the Bryggen wharf area in Bergen. The museum was the headquarters of the Theta Group, an important part of the Norwegian Resistance during WWII. Fascinating in its story, the room was reconstructed exactly how it looked when it operated with a few young men and one woman from 1940-1942 as their secret headquarters.

Allez French restaurant delight near Placerville California

Allez French restaurant delight near Placerville California

We could not have imagined what French culinary delight we were about to experience as we walked to the front door of Allez! Located just a few minutes from Placerville in the California Gold Country not far from Sacramento, Allez French restaurant is an intimate bistro owned and operated by Christian and Jennifer Masse. Christian is as French as they come — and Allez’s chef. It had just enough “quaint” to offer a casual European bistro feel.

Essential Travel Comfort Items To Pack

Essential Travel Comfort Items To Pack

No one likes to travel in discomfort, and frankly, being airplane and airport experts ourselves, you can trust the HI Travel Tales team when we tell you, acquiring select travel comfort items might be the most important travel item purchases you’ll make.

A Jazz National Historical Park? Yup. Free music anyone?

A Jazz National Historical Park? Yup. Free music anyone?

Who woulda thunk that New Orleans is the musical home to a U.S. National Park. But it is, under the auspices of the National Park Service, called the “New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park.” It is surprising how so many visitors and even locals we encountered had no idea a national park music program exists right in the French Quarter, even though its concerts are always listed on music calendars.

Visit Fiji: Koroyanitu National Heritage Park tropical paradise

Visit Fiji: Koroyanitu National Heritage Park tropical paradise

Visit Fiji’s Koroyanitu National Heritage Park. There are so many wonderful places to see in Fiji. On the western side of Viti Levu, Lautoka may be the second largest city on Fiji’s largest island, but don’t just stay in town. To help plan a perfect adventure escape, scroll down through slides featuring some of our favorite moments during a visit we made to the village of Abaca and Koroyanitu National Heritage Park in Fiji.

Discover paradise and waterfalls in Fiji’s Koroyanitu National Park

Discover paradise and waterfalls in Fiji’s Koroyanitu National Park

There are six villages within Koroyanitu National Park that cooperate as part of an ecotourism project funded by The New Zealand Official Development Assistance Programme (NZODA) and Japan National Official Committee of the Pacific Economic Co-operation (JANPEC). The villagers maintain the landscape and tracks, and subsequently earn tourist dollars through overnights in the villages, guided walks, and selling souvenirs and official pamphlets describing the villages and park. So pay your admission happily since it supports the park and the people.

Snorkeling in Fiji along the coral reefs

Snorkeling in Fiji along the coral reefs

There are so many wonderful places to see in Fiji. And snorkeling in Fiji along the many coral reefs are but one. Click on any photo to enlarge it. Scroll through each slide to enjoy and read the captions full of useful information to help guide your next visit Fiji snorkeling exploration.

Cornwall: View from garden lawn of St Michael’s Mount

Cornwall: View from garden lawn of St Michael’s Mount

It is easy to lose yourself for a few days when visiting Penzance and surrounding areas along the eastern coastline of Cornwall, England. A few of our favorite places to visit in Cornwall include Mevagissey and Pentewan (including the Lost Gardens of Heligan), down to Penzance, St Michaels Mount (where the above image was quickly painted into my journal), and Mousehole.

Messing About in Boats: White water rafting on the Green River

Messing About in Boats: White water rafting on the Green River

“Hang on,” yelled our river guide Kevin with a grin. Leaning hard against the river’s pull, the oars bent slightly and the raft heaved to, taking a line that would carry us clear of the rocks, but right into the heart of the maelstrom. Heartbeats kept pace with the increasing speed of the raft as Kevin launched us into the jumble of waves. The raft bucked and heaved, so much so that in the middle of the rapid I managed to execute a nearly perfect back flip with a twist, landing smack in Kevin’s lap.

Oversized carryon and butts in my face – the joy of air travel

Oversized carryon and butts in my face – the joy of air travel

I was just settled into my airplane seat and in the process of unfurling the USA Today when a voluminous leather satchel came swinging through the air – narrowly missing my head. At his feet was an oversized carryon so huge it could have doubled as a walk-in closet at my house. How on earth did he imagine this would ever fit?

Natural Learning: Seeing nature through a child’s eyes

Natural Learning: Seeing nature through a child’s eyes

There is no need to be an entomologist, botanist, or ecologist to appreciate what nature has to offer through natural learning – or to teach your kids appreciation for the natural world. It starts with learning to see nature through a child’s eyes. Here are a few suggestions to make your next family backyard wander or park romp that much more meaningful, thanks to the senses.

Star Gazing With Children When Traveling

Star Gazing With Children When Traveling

Star gazing with children is a wonderful experience, made even more special by being able to discover stars and constellations together. For many youngsters seeing a million pinpricks of light twinkling against the inky-black backdrop of a night sky is a new experience.

Harvard killed any ‘sex is exercise’ pitch dammit

Harvard killed any ‘sex is exercise’ pitch dammit

Thanks a lot, Harvard! In almost less time than it takes to click into a website, the Harvard Men’s Health Watch cut the legs out from under my most persuasive pitch for having sex – “Honey, sex is exercise and good for me.” Since my wife loves me and does care about what’s good for me, that line is a proven winner.