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If you’re traveling to China, expect a few hiccups.

Not just in the language department; Mandarin is consistently rated as one of the hardest languages for native English speakers to learn.

I’m talking about hiccups in accessing the internet while you’re traveling in China. You won’t be able to simply type in and voila, there’s Facebook.

Or Twitter. Or Instagram.

Oh no, if you navigate to those sites that like you’d normally do at home, expect a big fat “Page blocked” error. Except that error is displayed in Mandarin and you won’t have a clue as to what it says.

And no matter how hard you hit your device or laptop — the well-known ultimate way to solve any technology meltdown — it won’t make a difference.

Let me explain.

What’s the Deal with China’s Internet?

The Chinese government has enacted several pieces of legislation and projects designed to censor internet usage in China. More than 60 internet regulations have been created by the Chinese government, specifically to block people in China from using social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, to name a few.

This censorship is part of a large crackdown on free speech and social liberties. This large crackdown is called the Golden Shield Project and it’s been around for two decades. When the internet arrived in China in January 1996, the Chinese government began blocking foreign websites by August 1996.

That censorship hasn’t stopped or slowed down since then.

In 1997, Wired magazine coined the term “the Great Firewall” and it’s stuck ever since.
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The first year we spent in San Diego, I thought it would be a good idea to try to spend the long weekend of Memorial Day at Yosemite National Park. This brilliant idea came to me in late March and came to discover I wasn’t alone in my camping desires. Hundreds, if not thousands of other travelers had the same idea. With one quick swipe of the keyboard I learned that only minutes after the campsites’ booking availability opened in the wee hours of the 1st of January – everything was booked. Lesson learned!

As a former high school social studies teacher, I can tell you that when teaching American History to sixteen year olds, there’s often a strong focus on the early 1900s, the time of Theodore Roosevelt, his Square Deal domestic policy and the four categories it entailed. One of those, was conservation – specifically, the formation of National Parks. Perhaps we should each thank Mr. Roosevelt every time we are lucky enough to set foot in these spectacular settings. Whether you’ve heard about them, visited once or are proud owners of your annual park pass, the national parks of the United States are significant, inspiring, educational and offer experiences far wider than their borders.

Whether you’re planning the epic American road trip, like my husband and I have done twice -in different seasons and on different routes- or using an urban center for your home base and then doing day, or weekend, trips to explore the national parks, you’ll find options here.

The planners amongst your crowd can find the most visited sites in the past year, by checking out National Geographic’s listing.

Fourth graders, can visit for free. Follow the Going to the Sun road in Glacier, the Scenic Loop in the Badlands, and the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway in Yellowstone. See your first moose, be a spectator on a bear’s home turf, and be transported to far away lands with the wind of a trail. Channel your inner explorer and go in search of mindfulness and meditation, triumphs and trails, wildlife and wonder, geocaches and golden light, exploration and experience.

Whether you base yourself in a nearby urban center or take a few days to venture out of the city and into the country – a visit to any of our national parks is nothing short of spectacular.

Although travel, adventure, and accommodation style vary – the rules in the parks are the same for everyone.

  • All are equal and welcome on the trails
  • Take only pictures, leave only footprints
  • Pick up your own trash
  • Follow sign and trail guidelines – they’re there for a reason
  • You are a visitor – this is the animal’s home turf
  • DO NOT disturb/touch/harm/pet/snuggle/rescue/grope/feed wildlife-This is not a zoo
  • Find out rules and restrictions for bear spray
  • Follow regulations for permitting
  • Always tell someone where you’re going
  • In winter, keep your extremities covered
  • Respect nature, wildlife and rangers

Listed below are some of the hundreds of spots the US has to offer. Keep in mind there are always new sites being added to the listings. Also, remember that there are many state parks, monuments, and local historical spaces to see nearby the national parks – be sure to research the entire surrounding area of visitor sites, state landmarks and more before you book your journey.

For more detailed information about all of the national parks, monuments, memorials, historic parks and newly added spaces, head over to the national parks website.

Daypack Packing List

Even if you’re just taking a day trip to the national park nearest your city, you’ll want to pack a daypack with the essentials. Include the following for a fun, safe day in the great outdoors:

  • A small trash bag: Pack out what you pack in, and pick up any other trash you see
  • Bring more water than you think you need
  • A hat
  • Snacks
  • First aid items to treat minor injuries
  • Don’t forget bug spray
  • Sunscreen


Known for some of the country’s best blueberries, bagels and batsh*t crazy politicians, the northeast shares it’s love of constitution with love of conservation. Although there are fewer full scale national parks set in this region, those that are present ignite the senses and stir the same sense of wonder as their western counterparts.

Check out the waterfront views of Acadia and grab some lobster roll and clam chowder in nearby Bar Harbor. Listen to the deafening noise as the falls crash and spray flies at Niagara Falls. Hike the trails at Shenandoah and immerse your fears and anxieties in the solace of nature. Spend a few days experiencing the quick pace of Manhattan, or the history in every street in Washington DC.

If you’re headed north, pack layers and rain gear and keep in mind that Acadia is still cold and snowy in April and comes to life a bit later in the spring. If you’re so inclined, don’t forget to stop a bit further south in Maine for a special sweet treat of Wicked Whoopie Pies.

New York





Washington DC

All of these are right in town and accessible via public transportation.

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Finding wifi on the road is a pain in the ass. You waste half your day wandering from cafe to cafe sipping 3€ lattes while you try to upload that one hilarious picture of yourself in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Looking for “free” travel wifi is infuriating, inefficient, and oddly kind of expensive.

Don’t waste your precious vacation time begging for wifi passwords like Oliver Twist. Hack the matrix, fellow traveler. Here are 14 ways to find free travel wifi that actually works.

Free Travel Wifi Apps

free travel wifi
The easiest way to find free wifi is with your phone. Duh, right? Well, if you don’t have a great T-Mobile travel plan, and don’t want overages, you can’t use your phone plan the whole trip. If you need to download a few larger files or actually get some work done, wifi is still your best option.

Download WifiFinder: Offline Maps of Wifi, Yelp, and Foursquare and let the supercomputer in your pocket find it for you.


This app finds wifi. Sounds simple enough, but there are a lot of “free travel wifi” apps out there, and they are not created equal. Wifi Finder lets you download offline wifi maps, check wifi connectivity and speeds, and it updates hotspots regularly so you don’t waste time tracking down old spots. This app is a solid inclusion to your “travel app folder,” especially if you know ahead of time that you’ll be in one city for a while.

free travel wifi

Yelp: Cheap Wifi Finder

I hate yelp. About 99% of the time it’s people whining about the consistency of their eggs benny, but one of the only good features about Yelp is that it can find wifi. Just type “Free Wifi” into the search bar and specify the city and country, and you’ll most likely get dozens of results. Some people even vet and compile these lists. Is it weird that someone spent hours fact checking the wifi at these places and collected that info for free? Sure. Is it helpful? Absolutely.

Here are some sample city wifi lists:

Bonus Travel Wifi Tip: Select “$” for cheap places with wifi. If you’re fancy you can even select “outdoor seating.” Freaking Yelp…

Foursquare: Wifi Password Finder

Looking for free wifi on Foursquare functions similarly to Yelp, but with one notable exception—you can get wifi passwords. Foursquare users typically leave reviews for cafes and restaurants. If you check reviews for restaurants with free wifi, you’ll often find travel homies that have hooked you up with the password for free. No purchase required.

Foursquare isn’t a long term free travel wifi plan, but it can help you out in a pinch.

Free Travel Wifi Hacks

Sometimes you can only get free wifi for a short, set amount of time—like 15 mins. On a crappy connection, that’s only enough time to shoot of two or three emails, which almost feels more frustrating than no wifi at all.

If you want to trick the man and get around this barrier, you have to change your Mac address when time expires. If that’s too complicated, just try clearing your browser cookies and logging back in. A lot of the time, that will work. Click to continue…