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How To Plan A Day Trip To Seward, Alaska

You may not have heard of Seward, Alaska until you’ve been or are planning to visit Anchorage. Located about a 2 and a half hour drive south from Alaska’s most populous city, Seward is a town of about 2,100 residents living on the Gulf of Alaska fjord. It’s an excellent hopping off spot to see wildlife, eat at local restaurants, and start an entire Alaska adventure.

Here’s how to plan your day trip to Seward.

Getting To Seward

There are several ways to get to Seward from Anchorage.

  • Car: This is the most flexible way to get to Seward although not the least expensive if you’re renting a vehicle. The road to Seward is mostly flat and relatively straight, just beware of wildlife and keep your eyes on the road. (Moose are common.) The benefit of driving is you can stop at one of several scenic pull-offs like Beluga Point.

  • Train: The Coastal Classic Train moves across some of the most beautiful scenery in southern Alaska. The train runs from early May to mid-September and takes about 4 hours. Most of the boat tour operators are in sync with the train schedule and depart and arrive with train travelers in mind. A dining car is available and prices for a one-way trip run a little over $200.
  • Bus: Following roughly the same seasonal schedule as the trains, a 3 hour bus ride is about $70 one way on Seward Bus Lines. Times vary and some routes are specifically designed for sightseeing. The bus good alternative to the train if you’re traveling in a larger group.

Planning A Day In Seward

One of the most popular things to do in Seward is to take a boat tour of Resurrection Bay and out further to see nearby glaciers. I’d recommend Major Marine Tours (you can see why in the video above) which offer a variety of half and full day wildlife excursions. If time isn’t an issue, the full day tour gives you a much better chance of seeing larger marine life like orcas and other whales, plus takes you out to several local glaciers. All of these glaciers are receding so you may be taking a look at an endangered piece of history.

major marine tours

  • Full Day Tours: Range from 6 to 8.5 hours and cost $180-$250 and go into Kenai Fjords National Park. Meals are included as are assigned seats but you’re free (and encouraged) to roam around the boat, especially when wildlife is pointed out.
  • Half Day Tours: Roughly 4 hours, these tours are usually specifically designed to catch certain types of wildlife sightings, particularly killer whales. Very seasonal (May and June are the best times) half day tours are ideal for those looking to maximize a day around Seward. Cost is roughly $100.

Keep in mind to coordinate your transportation times with any boat tours. There’s plenty of parking available for cars; otherwise check with the bus or train company to see if the ride you’re booking aligns with a particular boat tour.

Where To Eat In Seward

Seasonal, as many things are in Seward, the warmer the months, the more options you’ll have for food. One staple is caffeine with breakfast at 13 Ravens Coffee, appropriately located in a converted train car right by the water. (To be fair, most every place you’ll probably be visiting in Seward is.) A larger meal in a place with limited seating (so get there early) is Mermaid Grotto. After about 9am the service slows down and the seats fill up but another alternative nearby is The Cookery for local foods by Chef Kevin Lane.

Further up the road for those of you driving is the Exit Glacier Salmon Bake, which is as much of an experience as it is a place to eat.

Spending The Day In Seward

In case you’re still hungry after your day in Seward check out the best breakfast in Anchorage or the best pizza places in Anchorage. Seward is an inviting town you won’t regret visiting, especially if you make the most of what it has to offer.

How Much To Tip Movers, Hairdressers, And More In The U.S.

tip jar

Tipping is a confusing in the United States. For visitors it can be hard to understand why the “typical 15%” isn’t always the right amount not to mention industries from hotels, hairdressers, tattoo artists, to nail salons all have their own tipping etiquette. You could argue employees should be paid a living wage where salaries don’t have to be subsidized by customer tips (and you’d be right) but until that’s the case, here’s how much to tip in the United States for common services.

Bars & Restaurants

Unless it’s clearly stated otherwise, a minimum 15% tip is expected at all restaurants and bars. You may leave 20% for exceptional service or up to 25% on smaller purchases, like a cup of coffee. At bars, leave at least a dollar per drink is there is no table service. At cafes without table service there is often a tip jar. The 15-20% rule does not generally apply in these circumstances, leaving small change or a few dollars (based on the cost of your overall order) is acceptable.

This map is now available in app form! TipFox is available on the App Store and Google Play.

 

tipfox ios app store     tipfox google play android
Barbershops & Hairdressers

The standard rule of thumb applies to barbers and hairdressers which is to say expect to tip 15-20%. Tips at barbershops and hairdressers are typically given in cash (so be prepared) but some will accept tips by credit card when you’re done. In cases where tips are collected by credit card it’s important to ask how the tips will be distributed to make sure any assistants who may have helped you are also being tipped.

Salon assistants (for example, those washing your hair) may not be getting a share of the tips being collected. It’s best to check with the receptionist to be sure but if they’re not, then a standard $5-10 is appropriate for each assistant who’s personally attended to you. For hairstylists who are spending more than 3 hours with you (working on cut, color, or other services) then you may want to consider tipping more, around 22-25%.

For quick touchups (like bang trims) that are shorter than 10-15 minutes, a tip of $5-10 is still considered a common courtesy.

Movers

Moving into a new place? For movers transporting your things over long distances (anything further than across town) 15-20% of the total cost of the move is expected. For shorter, across town moves, 5-10% is more common. For difficult moves or particularly good service, a tip of 10-20% of the total cost will be appreciated. Alternatively, flat fee tips are generally acceptable. In those cases, $20-30 per crew member (for shorter moves) and closer to $40 for longer moves (between cities or cross country).

spiral stairs

In case a piano is part of the move, $20-40 per mover. For furniture deliveries typically $5-10 a person is expected but consider $10-20 if there’s assembly involved or otherwise more difficult circumstances (e.g. spiral stairs).

Tattoo Artists

Getting some ink? A 15-20% (generally closer to 20%) tip is expected. Tips should be given once the work is complete.

Massage Therapists

A 20% tip of the total cost is expected. Some spas will have the tip included in the rate (so be sure to check with reception) or will not allow tipping at all. Double check to make sure you know the rules.

Nail Salons

Tips of 15-20% are expected. For shorter services like manicures or new nail sets tip closer to 20-25%. You should check with your technician if tips are left at the front desk or given directly to them. Keep in mind most places will prefer cash, so arrive prepared.

Food Delivery

A 15-20% tip is expected. For fast food deliveries under $10 a $2-4 is expected.

Going Abroad?

Tipping is a global phenomena everywhere except where it’s not. Be sure to keep up with how much to tip for everything around the world before your next trip and download TipFox which puts specific tipping advice automatically on your phone (available for iOS and Android).

The 4 Best Places To Eat In Thamel Kathmandu

Thamel is Kathmandu’s backpacker district but that doesn’t mean this part of Nepal’s capital city doesn’t have some of the best food travelers can eat. Vibrant and full of local, some locally a hole in the wall, options, these are 4 places you should eat in Thamel.

1. Tibetan & Nepali Kitchen

tibetan and nepali kitchen thamel

There’s plenty of space inside but you might miss this family run business cooking up amazing thali (tasting of local curries), thenthuk (wide noodle soup), and of course momos. Tibetan & Nepali Kitchen is cozy inside with the kitchen in partial view and the food served on order with quick turnaround times.

2. Mo Mo Cave

mo mo cave thamel kathmandu

You’ll have to walk through some construction and under a building with a questionable foundation but believe me, the momos at Mo Mo Cave are worth it. Momos take time here in this small family operation that makes the best momos, small, steamed or fried dumplings with vegetarian, chicken, or beef options. Eat here at least once when you’re in Thamel and it probably won’t be your last visit.

3. Himalayan Java

himalayan java

More on the beaten path, this small coffee chain is a little hipster with a lot of local love for good reason. The coffee at a place called Himalayan Java (as one would hope) is good with pastries to match, not to mention excellent free wifi. A nice place to relax, especially during the slower afternoon hours.

4. Yangling

yangling kathmandu thamel

Almost combining a little of the above, Yangling serves up hot Tibetan classics with some local favorites. Yangling’s crowded and the tables slightly messy from the meal someone had before you but the food is tasty, comforting, and served fairly quickly. Being on the edge of Thamel, depending on where you’re staying, Yangling is a longer (10-20 minute walk) but if thupka (thin noodle broth soup) makes you’re heart sing, it will carry your feet away.

More Food For You

A few other places worth mentioning are Black Olive Cafe for breakfast and if the weather is nice, a warm patio to get your day started. Speaking of morning, next to OR2K which has a large variety of Westernized vegan and vegetarian dishes, there’s a small coffee stand with no name. It’s right on the corner here and hard to miss on the ground but if you want freshly brewed local coffee with Thamel’s unique flavor, this coffee stand has your name on it.

How To Use Travel Blogs To Plan A Trip

travel blog pizza

There are a lot of travel blogs on the Internet but as websites keep procreating, many independent sites get lost under search garbage. Travel blogs used to be a primary source of vacation planning until everyone and their weird relatives hopped on Facebook to scream at each other. Still, there are many independent creators focused on writing specific and personalized information about the places you want to go.

Here’s how to find and use travel blogs to plan a better trip than a bland web search can get you.

The Benefit Of Blogs

As clearly biased as this is going to sound, blogs are probably the most free places online. Generally independent from the pressures of algorithms (like YouTube), few worries of shadow banning, and not being like based, many blogs are run by people who inherently enjoy sharing information. Blogs typically live and die by Google search results and since competing with larger sites on common searches has become more difficult, crafty bloggers tend to get specific. Really specific, like the “the best way to get a taxi in Istanbul.”

best taxi istanbul

Blogs are often updated more frequently than tent pole pages in mainstream media because there are a lot of travel bloggers, blogging about somewhere you want to go, at any given time.

Finding Good Travel Blogs

Sifting through abandoned blogs and sites made purely for search engine optimization (SEO) to find quality travel blogs isn’t too difficult. To find a site first, enter in the search term you’re looking for (e.g. “best places to eat in Moldova“) followed by “travel blog.” This sounds silly I know, but entering in “best places to eat in Moldova travel blog” will get you past Google’s generic recommendations and a bunch of bland TripAdvisor recommendations.

Ratings from those sites, short reviews written by anonymous people, and everything being 4.7 stars doesn’t actually give you useful travel advice. But by searching through travel blogs you get detailed articles such as solo female travel in Bangladesh by locals, expats like Turkey’s For Life, and travelers who’ve extensively explored a destination (how about Alaska).

tokyo japan

It’s a good idea to look at the dates of posts to see how recent they are and check the latest posts to see how fresh a given blog is. A lot of blogs don’t add dates to posts because of a misguided understanding of SEO (please, stop doing that) so seeing how active a given blogger is on social media can help with your site freshness check.

How To Use Travel Blogs

Many travel blogs have information categorized by destination or country, mode of travel, or even cuisine. Depending on the site design, I recommend going to the “blog” or “about” pages. The blog page will usually show you recent topics and the about page will give you an idea about the person writing everything. Does the blogger travel like you, have the same interests when visiting a city… there’s a lot you can learn.

Some travel bloggers also run diverse tours and can be contacted with feedback – a lot of us are happy to help. Your question might even turn into an entire blog post about how to use travel blogs to plan your next trip.

Although they’re not as easy to find through a Google search (try DuckDuckGo anyone?), the blogosphere is thriving, independent, and full of useful advice and thoughtful creators. Once you find a blog or blogger that vibes with you and is especially helpful, make sure to sign up for their newsletter, YouTube, or other social channels to keep up in between trips and have a handy resource before the next one.

4 Great Sci-Fi And Space Documentaries To Binge On Your Next Flight

This post is part of Geek Takeover Week 2021.

what we left behind

The truth is out there… there really isn’t a lot of great science or sci-fi adjacent content on most inflight entertainment systems. Fortunately, the Internet gives us access to all there is to see out there including some of these excellent science and sci-fi crossover documentaries you can download before your next flight.

1. The Phenomenon

There are plenty of UFO documentaries and programs out there but most come light on facts and heavy on cheesy animations. The Phenomenon though only focuses on events where there is tangible evidence and is very compelling. It’s hard to dismiss the interviews with former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Christopher Mellon. The Phenomenon will have you looking out your airplane window just a little more closely.

2. Woman in Motion

We all know Nichelle Nichols as Lieutenant Nyota Uhura on the bridge of the Enterprise but you might not know what an impact the actor had on our real-life space program. Both inspirational and educational Woman in Motion embodies the best of the possible future Star Trek envisioned.

No products found.

3. Never Surrender

Playwright and screenwriter David Mamet has said there are only 4 perfect films and Galaxy Quest is one of them. The Galaxy Quest documentary Never Surrender though is almost as good. Never Surrender looks behind the scenes of filming and looks back on the impact of Galaxy Quest 20 years after its release.

4. What We Left Behind

Armin Shimerman who played Quark on Deep Space Nine knew audiences would come to appreciate the show but right about now. DS9 wasn’t the most beloved Trek when it was on the air but streaming has certainly brought many to realize how good it really is. What We Left Behind is a serious, funny, and honest look back with engaging cast interviews.

A few other honorable mentions to add for Trekkies are Chaos on the Bridge and The Captains but besides those, there is a lot to explore behind the sets of our favorite fandoms.

The Best Way To Unclog Your Ears After A Flight

All of us are familiar with the odd sensation in our ears that occurs during and after a flight. Blocked or “clogged” ears can be a nuisance or even painful but with some preparation plus moderation, nothing that has to ruin your next airplane ride.

Dr. Saba Ghorab has over 14 years of education and specialized surgical training as a board-certified and fellowship-trained in Otolaryngology; Head and Neck Surgery (also known as ENT or ear, nose, and throat). She recently joined an episode of the foXnoMad Podcast and describes how to deal with clogged ears. You can watch a clip here or listen to the full episode below.

Prepare Before You Fly

Having sinuses that are de-congested as much as possible before you fly puts your inner ear in the best condition to deal with pressure changes at altitude. Dr. Ghorab recommends a decongestant spray 15 minutes before your flight, particularly if you’re prone to allergies. Treating any other common sources of congestion or inflammation, like symptoms of a cold, can also help.

Chewing gum and yawning often to physically open the Eustachian tube in your inner ears will help it equalize with the changing pressure as you go up or down in altitude.

Use Moderation

You can (and should) hold your nose and blow to further open your Eustachian tubes but remember not to overdo it. We’ve talked about what can go wrong if you hold your nose and blow as hard as you can so lighter, more frequent attempts are better than one massive attempt. Keep at it, be patient, and don’t force the issue. For most stubborn cases of clogged airplane ears time will usually do its magic eventually, with a little help from you.

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About Anil Polat

foxnomad aboutHi, I'm Anil. foXnoMad is where I combine travel and tech to help you travel smarter. I'm on a journey to every country in the world and you're invited to join the adventure! Read More

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