Category: Travel

Osprey Daylite Daypack Review: Road Tested After 1 Year Of Heavy Use

The Osprey Daylite Daypack is a small backpack designed for hiking or short sightseeing excursions but built with features more common in larger bags. Most daypacks are usually very simple, lacking comfort and versatility; falling apart soon after you’ve forgotten how cheap the price was.

Although I generally treat my electronics tenderly, the luggage I carry it around in takes a beating. Reviews of backpacks when they’re new can be useful but seeing how they hold up after an extended period of travel shows you if they’re really worth the their price. This is my review of the Osprey Daylite Daypack, after a year of torturing traveling with it to over 10 countries.

Good Size For Many Uses

My primary carry-on backpack, the Swissgear Scansmart 1900 is very accommodating to all of the electronics I travel with but not very practical for lighter daily use or doubling as a sports bag. Since I’ve been using the reliable Sojourn 60L as my primary check-in luggage for years, I decided to try the Osprey Daylite, hoping it too would be worth the sightly higher price tag.

osprey daylite daypack

The Daylite is 22 x 22 x 45 centimeters, holding roughly 13 liters in two main compartments. It weighs 450 grams (~1 lbs), has mesh shoulder straps, and a foam back to help keep your back cool. (Nobody likes excessive lower back sweat.) The chest and waist straps (38-55 centimeters) keep the Daylite close to your body so it doesn’t smack into you back and forth when hiking – additionally they help make the Daylite a very comfortable backpack to jog with.

osprey daylite daypack  Osprey Packs Daylite Plus Backpack, Black

buy from amazon

13 liters is a good size to carry a pair of shoes, plus some extra clothes; the main compartment of the Daylite also holds the Swissgear Hanging Toiletry Kit (which makes for an ideal electronics organizer) perfectly when placed sideways. The smaller front compartment has a few dividers, good for keys, but they actually make the front pocket fairly useless. Being on the outside, it’s a tempting target for pickpockets so you’re not likely to store anything of importance there. Unfortunately, the front pocket with the dividers is just too small to be useful for much else.

Dual side pockets for water bottles and the hydro-bladder on the back remind you Osprey designed the Daylite with hikers in mind. With that in mind, the Daylite isn’t waterproof, although it’s very water resistant and can easily keep its contents dry after hours of strong rain.

Tougher Than Expected

Stretched, drenched, tossed about, the Daylite looks nearly new after a year of using it almost every day. Aside from some slight color fading on the interior pockets you can see in the video above, the Daylite looks flawless – especially after a wash. Add that as another benefit to the Daylite: being machine washable then drying in less than a few hours in open air. (Much faster than these quick-dry towels.)

For sightseeing, the Daylite lets you be selective about what you take from your hotel room when you’re out and about so you can travel light and leave your non-essential valuables locked up. A bit more expensive (they cost around $60) than a lot of other daypacks, for the price the Daylite is a versatile daypack that’s sure to last over many, many years of use.

Where To Find Bottled Water In Havana, Cuba

havana cuba

You might be thinking a post on where to find bottled water in Cuba’s capital city, Havana, is a weird or stupid thing to be writing (and reading) about – unless you’ve already taken a trip there. Finding bottled water in shops, or shops in Cuba is difficult, because there aren’t many.

Particularly if you’re staying in a casa particular (local home with rooms for rent) or Airbnb (somehow that is an option too) stocking up on bottled water is something every traveler without a plan should be prepared for. Tap water isn’t a safe option but fortunately, bottled water is easy to get, if you know just where to look.

Some Big Hotels

The reason there aren’t many shops in Havana, is because there aren’t many shoppers. Cuba uses a food rationing system (the allowance for eggs is 5 per month, for example) so the larger international hotels are often where you can find Western snacks and water. Some hotels, like the Hotel Presidente, gouge customers with high prices on small bottles of water you’ll sweat out fast – Havana has an average annual temperature of 23C/75F at 76% humidity.

To stock up on larger, 2 liter bottles of water, you can go to the Havana Libre hotel, recognizable from its massive blue lettering.

havana libre hotel cuba

Havana Libre is located off the busy Calle 23 at 23 Calle L E 23 and 25.

Outside of the Havana Libre hotel, immediately to its right if you’re facing it straight on, is a small shop where you can find 2 liter bottles of water on most days. The shop isn’t open late, so if you get thirsty, you can stop by the diner in the Havana Libre hotel, which is open 24 hours. Water purchased at the diner is only a slightly more expensive than from the shop.

Internet Or Water No One Stop Shop

In the evenings, the outside of the diner is illuminated with the glow very old mobile phones, as the Havana Libre hotel is one of the few Internet access points in Havana. Keep in mind if you do want to get online, to purchase your Internet access cards elsewhere – the Havana Libre Internet cards are more than double the price and limited to only the hotel’s connection.

havana cuba sunset

Perhaps not so ironically for Cuba, the Hotel Presidente, which rips people off for water, has Internet access cards for the standard foreigner rate. (There are two currencies, one for locals and Cuban nationals.)

Plan For The Unexpected

I’ve written before that Cuba is not what you think it is. Prior to a trip to Cuba, you’ll need to plan differently, as the country follows its own logic. Simple advice like this can save you an hour upon arrival at Havana’s international airport. Knowing where to find the Internet can get you online, occasionally, slowly, and oddly without much media censorship. There are other – mostly nameless – places to get large bottled water too, the kind you can take back to your room when you get thirsty. And if you find them, grab a few, because it might be a while before you see another.

How Long Does It Really Take For A Quick-Dry Towel To Dry?

What might seem like a silly question at first can be an important one for your time management when traveling. Microfiber, or quick-dry, towels are designed for campers and frequent travelers when they’re not likely to find a drying machine. Although they’re called “quick-dry” – and do dry faster than cotton, for example – the amount of time it takes varies widely depending if they’re hanging in a hotel room or by the beach.

Knowing the amount of time it takes to the average microfiber towel to dry in a variety of conditions can help you plan prior to packing. (A towel that’s even slightly damp can make your entire backpack smell of feet by the time you reach your destination.) As you can watch in the video above, I ran several experiments in order to determine average dry times indoors and out so you have a good idea of how many hours before prior to packing to hang your towel.

The Test Conditions

I ran four basic drying experiments with the REI Co-op Multi Towel Lite Large I’ve been traveling with for years in several common travel conditions.

  • Test 1: Indoors on a clothesline.
  • Test 2: Indoors hanging from a hook.
  • Test 3: Outdoors in the shade.
  • Test 4: Outdoors in direct sunlight.

rei quick dry towel

The ambient temperature in all the tests was between 20-22C (68F-72F). The Multi Towel Lite was completely dry at the beginning of each test; I took a shower, then used the quick-dry towel. I then hung the towel, set a stopwatch, and checked in occasionally to see the progress of water evaporation. These were the results:

  • Test 1: Indoors on a clothesline: 8 hours 5 minutes.
  • Test 2: Indoors hanging from a hook: 7 hours 58 minutes.
  • Test 3: Outdoors in the shade: 2 hours 43 minutes.
  • Test 4: Outdoors in direct sunlight: 36 minutes.

Indoor Versus Out

It’s probably not surprising that drying the towel outdoors was less time consuming. Though the difference in drying time – nearly 6 hours – might be a bit unexpected. How the towel was hung didn’t make much difference but it’s clear outdoors is preferable; even if the outdoor temperature is the same or less than indoors.

The Over-Under

Add more time obviously if you’re got longer hair needing more water absorption from the towel. Of course, you can shave even more time off by wringing the towel, or placing it near or (carefully) on a heater. Indoor drying times though are going to be 8 hours, in ideal conditions like I had during these small experiments. I suspect I greatly underestimated dry times in general, which has probably cost me a few extra laundry washes on several trips.

So, if you’re going to be using a quick-dry towel, keep in mind to schedule your shower a bit earlier on travel days when you might not have access to a balcony or backyard. Don’t pack more than two weeks of stuff, even for longer trips, and following the 80% rule might give your clothes just enough air not to stink for times you’re feeling a little less patient.

Everything That Makes It Popular In Summer Is Why You Should Visit Prague In Winter

prague music video

The capital of the Czech Republic, Prague, is the 20th most visited city in the world, a fact that’s overwhelmingly evident when you arrive. The 1.2 million resident population of Prague is joined by over 7 times as many tourists annually, making an otherwise great city to visit overcrowded, expensive, and feeling more like a tourist trap than an authentic travel experience.

Cities and touristic sites are often popular for good reasons – Prague is no different. But you can significantly reduce the negative aspects of Prague’s popularity by planning your trip there in winter, ideally, January.

A *Lot* Fewer Tourists

According to Prague’s tourism board, the most popular month for the city is May, the least being January. The number of visitors in January is half that of May; nearly 60% of all tourists in Prague arrive between the late spring and early fall months. Prague is still crowded in the winter but the famous Charles Bridge has fewer touts, tourists, and it’s not the human traffic jam-pickpocket paradise it can be in June.

prague astronomical clock

Hotels Are Significantly Cheaper

Less visitors means airlines and hotels drop their prices, the latter on average by 20-40%. Prague is not a cheap city, sorry, that was way back in 2013, and accommodation prices there probably keep the beer consumption rates among tourists the highest in the world. Beer and food are inexpensive – there’s a lot of competition for that – but hotels are where you can really save or get swindled, depending on the time of year. (Airbnb rates seem consistent throughout the year, though this hack might help you save on apartment rentals.)

Colder That A Cool, Wet Summer

Prague is cold. Even in the summer, the average temperature is only 16 Celsius (60 Fahrenheit) so it’s not exactly a tropical paradise. Winters are cold, solidly stuck around 0C (32F) with the sun being something you’ll probably never see. In other words, Prague, which is stunning on occasional warm days (if you don’t mind sharing it with millions of people shoulder-to-shoulder) isn’t a place you’ll be visiting for its spectacular weather. Actually, it rains nearly twice as much during the summer months anyway.

Obvious Advice For Extraordinary Crowds

Of course, less demand means better deals in pretty much any part of the world – though with Prague, it’s becoming more difficult to escape the crowds. Winter visitors increased by 9% from 2016-2017, so the advantages of traveling to Prague in winter for your sanity (did I mention how crowded with tourists this city is) could be diminishing. Still, a warm jacket in exchange for much shorter lines and less expensive hotels might be well worth considering before booking a summer vacation in Prague. The same goes for Iceland as well, which has even more reasons to visit in the winter.

The Best Travel Case For The DJI Mavic Pro Drone Is A Toiletry Kit

The DJI Mavic Pro drone is ideal for travelers because it’s extremely portable with folding arms that covert it into the compact size of a liter water bottle at its smallest. Unfortunately though, nearly every case made for the Mavic is bulky at best, taking away the Mavic’s main advantage for travel. The Mavic Pro is one of the tech gear I travel with and after testing numerous cases, found the SwissGear Hanging Toiletry Kit to be the best soft case for Mavic.

swissgear hanging toiletry kit  SwissGear Hanging Toiletry Kit – Black

buy from amazon

You can see in my full review why the the SwissGear Hanging Toiletry Kit might be the ideal case for your Mavic, in the video above.

How To Take A Day Trip To Andorra From Barcelona

andorra

Most visitors to Barcelona, Spain, aren’t aware that they can easily visit the sixth smallest country in Europe by taking a day trip to nearby Andorra. A trip to Andorra is inexpensive, easily arranged, and can be a nice addition to your stay in Barcelona. Here’s how to get to Andorra, why you might want to go, and what to see while you’re there.

Morning To Night, No Flight

There’s no airport in Andorra at all, even in its capital Andorra la Vella, the primary destination for most day trippers. You could rent a car, which isn’t recommended during the cold months as the roads up to the highest capital city in Europe through the Pyrenees mountains are best handled by a driver who knows them well.

andorra bus

A better option is to take a bus, there are many servicing Andorra from Barcelona, and I can recommend ALSA. You can book in advance through their website and check schedules – basically buses leave the Barcelona Nord station in the morning around 7am, and return either in the afternoon around 3pm or 7pm, depending on your preference. A round-trip costs about 60 euro and when departing Barcelona, sit on the left side for a beautiful view of the Punta de Rialb lake, 80 minutes into the trip. (Depending on the route you take, it varies given the driving conditions.)

To Ski Or Not To Ski

Andorra is primarily a ski destination. Snowboarders and skiers who take one look at the mountains overlooking Andorra la Vella will immediately have visualizations surfing down them. For everyone else, a day trip still has a few good options. From the small bus station (here’s how to pin it on an offline Google map) you can grab a coffee with breakfast at the nearby Granja Tuite 42 cafe.

La Noblesse du Temps andorra la vella

From there, if you point yourself toward the La Noblesse du Temps Dali sculpture, you’ll pass through the shopping district if that’s of interest to you. Otherwise, head to the La Noblesse du Temps, and directly to its left you’ll see one of two tourism centers in Andorra. Ask for a map to Rec de l’Obac, a walking path that overlooks the entire city. The Rec de l’Obac is definitely a sightseeing calorie burner so the uphill walk is not for everyone. The scenery though is amazing as well as fresh air – both much more memorable than slightly sore calf muscles.

Small Enough To See

Andorra la Vella is only 12 square kilometers (5 sq. miles) in its entirety so you can see most of what a tourist looks for in one day with time to spare. I’ll have a longer post coming up with more recommendations of what to do in Andorra but even wandering around on your own its hard to miss much. In case you do finish up quickly or get a bit chilly, most tickets can be changed without charge at the ticket office at the bus station for a 3pm departure. Otherwise, be sure to make the 7pm back, or be prepared to spend a night in town.

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About Anil Polat

foxnomad aboutI'm the blogger and computer security engineer who writes foXnoMad while on a journey to visit every country in the world. I'll show you the tips, tricks, and tech you can use to travel smarter. Read More


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