In hiking north-america USA

Bryce Canyon: awesome and unique

Bryce Canyon: view over Bryce Canyon amphitheatre

Nothing prepared us for the absolute magnificence Mother Nature created in Bryce Canyon National Park. We headed there straight after hiking Angels Landing in Zion National Park, not able to wait a second longer to contemplate the explosion of colours that paint the extra-terrestrial landscape. Once again, Pinterest and Instagram had done a wonderful job, skyrocketing our expectations.

Bryce Canyon scenic drive

The drive from Zion National Park to Bryce Canyon National Park was hands down one of the most epic scenic drives we’ve ever driven… absolutely gorgeous!

Once arrived at our hotel, we still had a couple of hours until dinner time and decided to try to see some of the famous viewpoints before it got too dark. Unlike some of the other national parks, like Zion where you have to take a shuttle bus in order to get to the viewpoints, you can drive to all of them yourself in Bryce Canyon. We spent the next two hours chasing the sunshine and visiting as many viewpoints as possible. We were able to enjoy all of the park's major overlooks in a rather short amount of time as you basically just get out of your car and take a leisurely stroll out to the edge of the pavement. No need for serious hiking.

Bryce Canyon Bryce Point

Bryce Canyon Bryce Point

The 18-mile scenic drive offers several pull-outs and viewpoints, lining the edge of the main amphitheatre, which can become quite busy during peak season (July and August). We definitely wanted to see the most popular viewpoints like Sunset, Inspiration point and Bryce Point. Not many visitors continue south past Bryce Point but we loved Natural Bridge, Agua Canyon and Rainbow Point.

The amazing hoodoo viewing made for a perfect first day at Bryce Canyon. Our first look over the Bryce Canyon amphitheatre took our breath away. I mean, we were gobsmacked, our mouths dropping open and forming the perfect ‘O’. It must be one of the most out-of-this-world natural landscapes we’ve ever seen, even surpassing the extra-terrestrial landscape of the Quiraing in Scotland.

Bryce Canyon Agua Canyon

Bryce Canyon Natural Bridge

If you’re limited in time, the scenic drive through Bryce Canyon is a superb choice and can be done in half a day either by driving your own car or riding the convenient free shuttle bus.

An out-of-this-world sunrise at Bryce Canyon Sunrise viewpoint

The next day we had a 2,5h drive to Page on our agenda where we wanted to tick Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend off our to-do list. This left us with an entire morning to explore the famed Bryce Canyon hoodoos.

Bryce Canyon Sunrise

Bryce Canyon Sunrise

Morning came and we arrived first at the scene in order to catch the earliest sunbeams at Sunrise Point. The moment the first streaks of daylight peak over the Amphitheatre walls and highlight the golden colours of the oddly shaped hoodoos below, is simply magical. The viewpoint was quite crowded but there seemed to be a common understanding to enjoy this moment in pure silence with only the sounds of nature as a background soundtrack. Though still drowsy from sleep, excitement for our nearing hike through the enchanted forest of hoodoo clusters below got me all giddy and excited!

Descending into an incredible alien landscape

After a quick return to our comfy bed in order to catch up on some well-deserved zzz’s, we prepared ourselves to hike down into the field of hoodoos. We'd seen amazing photos from the Navajo Loop trail and were thrilled to get up close to some of the famous rock formations like Thor's Hammer. Slowly descending into the canyon we realized how tall these skinny spires of rock actually are. They seem so small from up above! Check out this video by At Home In Wild Places of the Navajo Loop and Queens Landing trail for an impression.

Bryce Canyon, Navajo Loop hike

Bryce Canyon, Navajo Loop hike

Bryce Canyon, Navajo Loop hike  Bryce Canyon, Navajo Loop hike

Bryce Canyon, Navajo Loop hike

These spires seem to change from different angles – one moment they’re shrouded in a purple haze and look like fairies and other mythical creatures might actually live here, and the next the sun turns the canyon into a hellish landscape where alien life might be lurking behind the corner. We had indeed embarked on the Navajo Loop which we combined with the Queen’s Garden Trail.

Bryce Canyon, Navajo Loop hike

Bryce Canyon, Navajo Loop hike

The trail is consider one of the best trails in the world and we absolutely agree with that. You can walk between hoodoo clusters and even through them via obvious man-made openings in the limestone rocks. Sadly we just missed the remaining snow (in June!) which would only have added to the extraordinary experience we had in Bryce Canyon National Park. The route is fairly easy with a steep incline at the beginning and steep ascent at the end, giving you reason to pause, take a breath and take in the astonishing views. Oh, and of course immortalize this moment by taking the most amazing photos you’ll take during your Southwest road trip.

What to know before you go to Bryce Canyon

  • Bryce Canyon National Park is located in southwestern Utah off of UT-63. When coming from Zion National Park, you’ll drive one of the most amazing scenic drives we’ve cruised so far!

  • From mid-April to November, Bryce Canyon National Park offers a free shuttle service to all the major viewpoints in the park. You aren't required to use the shuttle here like you are at some other parks (like Zion and the Grand Canyon), meaning you can still choose to drive your own car if you want. Just be aware that during peak season, the parking areas at most of the viewpoints are very small and fill up quickly.

  • Bryce Canyon, Navajo Loop hike

  • If you plan on catching sunrise, don’t forget to set your alarm clock at the crack of dawn and take a fleece blanket or warm sweater with you as it can be quite cold.

  • When you plan to go hiking, bring some hiking shoes, especially when there is still snow in the canyon. The sand will turn quickly into mud and you’ll thank me for not going out and about in you tennis shoes. Also, Bryce Canyon is at a pretty high elevation, which means it can often be chilly – even during the summer months.

  • There are not too many hotels right near the entrance to Bryce Canyon. But if that's where you want to stay, your best bets are Ruby's Inn and the Best Western PLUS Bryce Canyon Grand Hotel. Both are just minutes from the entrance to the park.

After seeing all the above photos, you might not be surprised to hear that we think Bryce Canyon National Park deserves some of your time when on a road trip through the Southwest. It's pretty darn unique as far as national parks go!

Have you ever been to Bryce Canyon National Park? If not, would you like to go?

Bryce Canyon National Park Pinterest visual  Bryce Canyon National Park Pinterest visual

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In hiking north-america USA

We hiked Angels Landing and survived!

I have to confess that a part of me was secretly freaking out when we woke up early to start our climb to Angels Landing. I had been looking forward to this hike since we started prepping our road trip. Angels Landing is one of the world's most renowned hikes, worthy of all bucket lists. But the closer we got to actually doing the hike, the more I started to doubt if I was going to cope with the toughness and 1000-foot drop-offs on each side of the 5-mile trail. After all, six people have died hiking to Angels Landing.

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In travel preparation

The 'why I love to travel' story

'So what is it that makes you travel so much?', people often ask me!

It's actually easy to answer: I'm a curious guy eager to know what the world is all about. As a little kid I solved this by reading... a lot. While reading, my imagination would take me anywhere I wanted and I could explore almost anything I wanted. Everytime I read a story taking place in a country I never heard of before, I took my world atlas and an encyclopedia for children to learn more about the places all those exciting adventures were happening.

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In north-america

Why we eloped abroad and had the marriage we actually wanted.

Wedding pictures taken by New York Dream Weddings

My husband and I were together for 7 years before we got engaged, and were engaged for 4 years before we got married. That fact alone got a lot of eyebrows to shoot up. I lost track of how many times we were lectured on the fact that we seemed to be engaged forever or questioned on when the wedding was finally going to take place.

Truth is, when we first got into this marriage thing, we didn’t really know what we were doing. I mean, yes we found endless lists on ‘how to plan your wedding’, we had many friends and family members wanting to help or inspire us with how they organized theirs and of course I’m not even talking about the aw-inspiring pictures on Instagram and Pinterest… I’m talking about realizing what WE wanted to do, what OUR dream-wedding looked like. We had enough opinions on what the magazines and the rest of society wanted for our big day to look like, but us? We didn’t even give a single thought. We just followed along what everyone else was doing. Were we wedding brainwashed?

Hugo Boss Wedding Dress  Hugo Boss Wedding Dress

Slipping the ring on the finger

For a while we jumped on board of the “big blow-out wedding”-wagon, visiting venues, thinking about guest lists, even going bridezilla on certain occasions. After a while though, we felt something was off, we got so overwhelmed by it all and really weren’t having any fun planning what should be the happiest day of our lives. We wanted to have fun on our wedding day!

So we decided to change course and reflected upon what made us happy, what we enjoyed doing in our life… our answer was crystal clear: we love to travel!

Saaing I-do at the Brooklyn Bridge

Bling Bling shoes

This was our epic face palm-moment that shook us awake. Why hadn’t we thought about this sooner? We wanted to get married while doing the thing we loved most; traveling.

Kissing in front of the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Skyline

Getting married in front of the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Skyline

Bye bye big wedding celebration and hello elopement abroad!

Read: How to spend 4 perfect days in New York

Why not have a normal wedding abroad you say? In the end we decided to elope simply because we felt weddings have lost the art of being about love. The bottom line was, we didn’t need a room of witnesses to publically declare our love, just living our life together is a testament to that. For my husband and I that meant having a quiet intimate moment between just the two of us, sharing our most personal vows to one another. That was our dream wedding.

Getting married abroad

Where did we end up getting married? We got married at the Brooklyn Bridge Park, overlooking the Manhattan Skyline while we said our I Do’s.

In the end we got the dream wedding we wanted, and though it wasn’t exactly what society thinks a wedding should look like, we did it anyway and it made us happy. There are those who dream of throwing a big wedding with tons of guest and a wedding dress fit for a princess. Others perhaps like the kind of wedding we had; small and no-frills. One choice isn’t inherently better than the other, it’s an intensely personal decision that a couple must make together.

What we’re trying to say is, be brave enough to choose the wedding you want and don’t get sucked in the vortex of choosing what is mainstream accepted by society.

Are you planning on eloping to New York?
We used New York Dream Weddings for our wedding arrangements!

Phone:     1-917-446-3224

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In belgium citytrip europe wander guide

Wander Guide: Leuven, Belgium

Grand-Beguinage Leuven

Leuven is one of my favourite places in Belgium. The city is downright charming and bustling with energy from the numerous students attending its famous university. I first became acquainted with Leuven during my teenage years when it was my go-to place to hang out with friends and buy the types of clothes the cooler students were wearing. After growing up a bit and digging a little deeper, I discovered Leuven had far more to offer than shopping. Rich in history and culture, the city carries strong remnants of past medieval times. Its architecture is on a level I still can’t wrap my head around and the cosy cafés and bars offer Belgium’s finest beers. The city left me utterly fascinated.

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In travel preparation

How to choose the best type of luggage for your travel adventures?

So you bought your flight and maybe got some hotels booked? Great! Only thing left is figuring out what to pack for your trip. But let’s be honest… it’s a struggle right? You’re not alone. Knowing what and how to pack for your travels is something that stumps even the most seasoned travellers.

Determining what to pack and what to leave behind can be quite overwhelming. Depending on your chosen travel destination or type of adventure, you may even struggle to decide on the most basic thing: what type of luggage to travel with?

To help you get some insight, we created three packing profiles to help you on your way! Even better, we asked for some packing advice from experienced travel influencers, each with their different way of traveling. We asked Lloyd & Yaya from Hand Luggage Only and Nick & Hannah from Salt in Our Hair for their expert's opinion on what type of luggage to use!

If you fancy some packing-ninja magic to make sure that your piece of luggage is filled with all the items you need for your trip, be sure to download our wonderful hands-on packing checklist here.

Itinerary: If it’s a short trip, a business trip or a trip to a warm destination and we have the opportunity to wash our clothes regularly, we prefer to travel with carry on only.

Organization: Trying to fit a lot of stuff into carry-on can be quite a challenge. That’s why we always roll our clothes to save space and always use packing cubes (must be our favorite travel gear). It helps us keep everything organized.

Efficiency: Because we don’t need to check in our carry-on luggage, it saves us time at check-in and at baggage claim. Perfect if we’re already limited in time! Moreover, it saves you some cash too. During shorter trips, we don’t feel the need to pay extra for check-in luggage (we're looking at you Ryanair!) so that's a double win. Ha!

Protection: In a way, we always feel our belongings are much safer when they stay with us during the flight. Hence, another reason why traveling with hand luggage only is our preferred luggage type for shorter trips and destinations close by. Even when we do have a bag checked-in, we keep our more valuable belongings - our camera, laptop, medication - in our carry-on.

Mobility: The type of carry-on depends on the destination really. Most of the time we opt for a wheelie suitcase but in some cases wheels just aren’t that practical. Anyone who has tried to haul along a suitcase on wheels over European cobbled streets or Paris subways with stairs only, will know what we're talking about. In that case, a daypack or a small duffle bag will suit our needs!

Blog: Hand Luggage Only | Instagram.

Itinerary: When we know we're going to be situated in one place for a while, we’d rather use a suitcase instead of a backpack. Especially if we’ll be driving a (rental) car. The fact that a suitcase fits perfectly (well, most of the time) into the trunk of a car is a plus.

Organization: Stuff seems to be moving around in large suitcases. That's why we always use packing cubes! It's such a life saver to keep everything organized. If we're not using any, the content of our suitcase will be fine for 2-3 days but anything longer than this and we have a chaotic pile of crumpled clothes!

Protection: If we're carrying valuables around that don't fit our hand luggage (second laptop, souvenirs, drone,...), a hardcover suitcase will definitely have our preference! The hardcase just offers that extra bit of protection when airport crew starts throwing around your luggage on and off the plane.

Access: Oh, the lie-flat access of a suitcase is so much easier than a backpack! It's just so time-saving to get your hands on everything at once.

Mobility: Yes, wheelie suitcases (small or large) can be a pain on certain terrain. But, it can be a good solution when carrying heavy luggage. Instead of having it relegated at your back, as with a backpack, the weight is now relegated at your feet and often to your side. Though this can slow your mobility down a bit, the biggest difference is that it relieves pressure off your back.

Itinerary: if we'll be bouncing from place to place or hotel to hotel, we’d much prefer the simplicity of a backpack. You can just simply throw it on and go. If we're planning on doing some treks during our travels, we also opt for a backpack. It's the most practical way to carry all our belongings.

Organization: Confession time! We have never mastered the art of packing a backpack and not getting totally crumpled clothes. Not even our precious packing cubes bring solace to this monstrous task. However, we do love the side pockets and all the different placements on a backpack, though. Everything, from our toiletries to our power adapter, has a particular spot where it resides.

Efficiency: Backpacks usually have to go to a special ‘Odd Sized Baggage’ conveyor belt at the airport to avoid the straps getting caught in any machinery. This can often take longer and the special conveyor belt can be located in a weird place. This was the case on our trip through Brazil and we lost precious time because of it.

Protection: The soft fabric of a backpack won’t protect your belongings against the bag being thrown around. When traveling with a backpack, we opt to not carry any valuables like laptops in the backpack.

Access: Okay, we know there are new models out there that have bottom access as well, but let's be honest, it will never be as practical as a suitcase. Most of the time you only have top-first access to your belongings while everything at the bottom is much more difficult to reach. This requires you to unload the top before they can get to the bottom.

Mobility: No doubt, it's so much easier to do stairs with a backpack then with a suitcase! You can run with it to catch your flight, climb over fences during treks,… A backpack is also especially easy to travel with when moving around by public transport. When it comes to mobility, this is the best option.

Fashion: We need to confess that we feel somewhat foolish when arriving at a super nice hotel looking like we're about to leave for a multiday trek through the wilderness. Luckily, after check-in we can just throw on a nice dress and a nice pair of pants and blend right in.

Blog: Salt in Our Hair | Instagram.

We do not have one particular type of luggage we swear by, we travel with all three depending on the destination. While deciding on what type of luggage to carry along for our next trips, we always ask ourselves the following questions:
  • How long are we traveling for?
  • What will we be doing on our trip: stay in one location, hop around, participate in a trek,... ?
  • What stuff are we bringing along on our trip?

Just remember, the best luggage option is the one that you can carry around comfortably!

Tired of overpacking? Here's our ultimate packing checklist for guys and girls!

Happy packing!

Illustrations by Ilka Verhelst

What type of luggage do you travel with?
We'd love to hear about them in the comments!

Pin me for later!

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In europe itinerary Scotland

How to go on an awesome epic road trip through Scotland

hiking Pap of Glencoe
The sound of bagpipes, plaid kilts that adorn strong legs, good whiskey, an absolutely incomprehensible but oh so charming accent 😊 and of course the well-known, jaw-dropping, amazingly beautiful surroundings. Scotland is an awesome destination for an epic road trip! We’ve tried to cover as much as possible during our 7 day road trip so join us on our trip through this amazingly mystical and magical place.

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In award

Nominated for the Blogger Recognition Award 2017!

Yeey, Along Came An Elephant has received another award, the Blogger Recognition Award!

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