Travel Tech Essentials

There are a few things you just can’t not pack when it comes to tech. Though these might seem obvious, here are some options you might want to invest in for your next big trip.

Tablet

You can’t do everything on your phone and you don’t want to carry around a bulky laptop + adaptor. A tablet is the perfect compromise and the most efficient. With the iPad dropping weight and price, it’s more convenient now than ever to do all your work on. It’s also really good for watching Netflix (because why would you watch a whole show on your phone…) and all your social media uses. You also have the option of getting one with a SIM card slot if you really need it. The Asus Zenpad 3S 10 is a cheaper option with ample storage space and a micro SD slot to add even more storage. Also a lightweight number, it’s well worth the money. If you’re just looking for an e-reader, Amazon’s Paperwhite is a great option. It has a non-glare screen, ample battery life, and, most importantly, a built in light that doesn’t bother the people next to you on the plane that are trying to get some shut eye. 

External Battery Charger/Battery Case

If you’re traveling, chances are, you’ll be out a lot and your phone/iPad/whatever else is out with you and you won’t have the convenience of plugging in your charger into an outlet all the time. This is why an external battery charger is essential. God forbid your phone dies when you were just about to upload that boomerang. A lot of people choose to go with a smaller one thinking it’s more compact and lightweight. However, keep in mind that a slightly larger one will provide you with more power. This one from Ankar provides you with a higher capacity battery but still weighs less than a pound. You can also invest in a battery case if you’re just worried about your Snapchat. Just try not to get stuck in an unfamiliar place with a dead phone.

A Power Converter

Don’t fry your electronics when you’re traveling overseas. I’ve done this before and it’s heartbreaking when you’ve killed something you’ve spent money on. It’s a bit on the heavier side but well worth the investment. This one from BESTEK has four USB ports and three outlets. You’ll be set for Europe, the U.S., the U.K., and Australia.

Camera

If you want a quality camera and not just your iPhone, there’s always the cult favourite GoPro. If you’re looking for another option, there’s also the Nikon KeyMission 360 that captures immersive stills and 4K video. It has all your essential features such as time-lapse and loops. It’s also shockproof, waterproof, and freezeproof.

Streaming Stick

If you’re stuck at a hotel with nothing to do and very limited cable channels, you could always rent a movie but it’s usually way overpriced. Use the spare HDMI port on that set to stream endless viewing options. The Roku streaming stick lets you enjoy smooth HD streaming and their channels. Google’s Chromecast lets you use your phone’s 4G connection to increase your viewing pleasure. Now you can take Netflix on-the-go as well as sports apps, games, and music.

Earphones

The earphones they give you on planes suck. Bose’s QuietControl 30 wireless headphones offer adjustable noise cancellation. The neckband battery stays charged for up to 10 hours and prevents tangled wires. Of course it doesn’t have to be as bougee as these. Just pack a better pair of earphones that won’t hurt your ear drums. 

 

Dopp Bag Essentials for the Modern Man

Packing can be a daunting task for people who aren’t used to condensing their wardrobe choices into one twenty-four inch luggage bag. It’s hard to not pack a shoe for every hypothetical situation. Sometimes you pack too much and end up forgetting your toothbrush anyway. This is why everyone should always have an organized toiletry bag — enter the dopp bag, a one stop shop with all the essential masculine supplies.

This one’s for the fellas — a full list of all your dopp kit essentials so you can stop searching for your deodorant in the depths of your weekender.

Sivani No.321 Expandable Dopp Kit

Toothbrush and Toothpaste

Obviously this doesn’t need an explanation, because hygiene. Carry a travel brush that folds into itself and a mini toothpaste bottle (often found at the travel section of a drugstore). You can also pack a couple of Wisp travel brushes with the toothpaste already on the bristles if you need to brush on the go. If you can live without a bulky power brush, it’ll save a lot of space.

Deodorant

Again, hygiene. If you’re sitting in a plane or a car for an extended period of time, you will build odour. Think about the people you’re traveling with. Buy a travel sized deodorant and use it — often.

Body Wash (or Soap Bar)

Unless you’re adamant about the bar, I wouldn’t recommend it because of storage. Even if you put it back into a tin container after use, it’s still wet and mushy and, overall, a bit gross. Get yourself a pack of plastic travel bottles so you don’t end up bringing your whole shower caddy with you, and fill one with a body wash.

Shampoo and Conditioner

You can find these in travel sizes but the options are limited, so it’s best to just pour some of your trusted products into travel bottles. It doesn’t matter if they’re free, the hotel products are almost never as great and 99% will make your hair feel like straw.

Hair Products

This is personal preference, whether it’s pomade, serum, gel, etc.

Face Wash and Moisturizer

You can always use travel bottles/containers to store your face wash, scrub, and moisturizer. Certain brands also have travel sized versions of their products. The Clinique for Men Essentials Kit includes travel sized face wash, face scrub, moisturizing lotion, and anti-aging eye cream.

Sunscreen and Lotion

Sunscreen, because you need protection, especially if your itinerary includes a lot of beach time. Make sure your face is covered as well as the rest of you. Lotion, because you need moisturized skin.

Razor, Shaving Cream, and After Shave

Many brands sell electric travel razors that are compact and have a lid so it doesn’t shred up the inside of your dopp bag or cause any other damage. Don’t forget the shaving cream or after shave, which can also be bought in compact travel sizes as well.

Cologne

DO NOT pack a full bottle of expensive cologne. They can get stolen or just break in your luggage bag. I don’t know which is worse. Instead, use a perfume atomizer to bring the amount you need for your trip. This also saves a whole lot of space.

Grooming Supplies

A comb, tweezers, nail clippers, etc.

Lint Roller

It’s good to be prepared, especially if you’re going to be attending a formal event like a wedding.

Chapstick

Or lip balm. No one likes having chapped lips so if this is not already on hand, it should be in your dopp bag.

Extras:

Contact lenses: If you wear contacts, always carry an extra pair because you don’t know when it might decide to rip on you. Also buy a travel sized solution bottle because the regular ones are just way too big; Bandaids: Always good to have on hand; Chewing Gum/ Breath Mints: You can’t have enough; Tide-to-Go: Just in case you ruin that nice shirt at dinner.

So there you go, a full list of all your grown man dopp kit essentials. Happy travels and stay organized!

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6 Gay-Friendly Cities to Visit

Hey, straight cis people aren’t the only ones who need a vacation! Of course they generally don’t have to wonder if they might get beaten or killed on vacation just for holding hands with their partner or wearing clothes closest to their own gender identity. Still, LGBT tourism has becoming a thriving new business advent with cities around the world hoping to capitalize on wealthy queers looking for a fun getaway. In fact, many tourism websites of major cities now feature small blurbs about things for the LGBT traveler to enjoy. So whether you’re looking for international drag scenes, gay history, museums, nightclubs, or all of the above, here are six of the best gay cities to visit.

Prague, Czech Republic

While not quite as flashy or expensive as some other European tourist destinations, Prague is still a popular city for tourism due to its long history and breathtaking architecture. However, despite the breadth of history on display, Prague is still a remarkably progressive city within a country that has been generally progressive since the fall of communism, especially when compared to some of its close neighbors. Registered partnerships for gay couples were first introduced in the Czech Republic way back in 2006, and Prague held its first Pride Parade in 2011. Not to mention, the Czech Republic has been home to the huge annual multi-city queer film festival, the Mezipatra Queer Film Festival, for the last 17 years.

Philadelphia, USA

Philadelphia has had a thriving gay scene that dates back to the 1930s and ’40s, beginning with a few discrete bars and coffeehouses before emerging into a full-on “Gayborhood”, as it is affectionately known, with nightclubs, performance centres, bars, restraunts, and shops. In 2004 the city of Brotherly Love put out one of the first ever tourism ads directed toward LGBT folks, featuring the tagline “Get Your History Straight, and Your Nightlife Gay.”

Berlin, Germany

Prior to the Nazis, Berlin actually had a vibrant LGBT scene, with famous cabarets and a cosmopolitan flair for the diverse, not to mention the Institute for the Science of Sexuality (whose papers of groundbreaking research on gender and sexuality were all burned in 1933). It was a hub for gay European expats and artists such as the famous English writer Christopher Isherwood. Today, Berlin has revived this spirit with museums, arts institutions, clubs, and many queer bookstores.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rio has always been a popular tourist spot in general, especially for LGBT folks. In fact, it’s been estimated that around a million LGBT people visit Rio de Janeiro every year, and it’s not hard to see why. With its incredible beaches, rich nightlife with clubs and bars, many shops, luxury hotels, and historical neighborhoods, Rio de Janeiro has earned its well-deserved spot on many lists as one of the most gay-friendly cities in the world. Rio also has one of the biggest Pride Parades in the world and even gay-specific activities during the famous Rio Carnival.

Cape Town, South Africa

South Africa is frequently cited as being one of the most LGBT-friendly countries in Africa. Indeed, the post-apartheid constitution, written in 1994, outlawed discrimination based on sexual orientation and in 1998 the Constitutional Court of South Africa ruled that a law prohibiting consensual gay sex was unconstitutional, and South Africa has had marriage equality since 2005. Within Cape Town you can find beaches, nightclubs, and other fun attractions. Additionally, since 1994 Cape Town has hosted the Mother City Queer Project, a yearly costume festival meant to celebrate the multiple and diverse queer communities in Cape Town.

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

You might think that the much larger tourist attractions of cities like Guadalajara and Acapulco would be on this list, but in recent years Puerto Vallarta has become a beacon of LGBT tourism in Mexico, attracting both international visitors as well as domestic tourists. Sitting right on the western coast of Mexico, Puerto Vallarta boasts beautiful beaches, pride celebrations since 2013, nightclubs, bars, and restaurants.

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Natasha’s Guide to Road Trip Packing

In the movies and on Instagram, a road trip looks easy: just pack some stuff and hop in a car and go. Based on my consumption of such cinema classics as Easy Rider and Crossroads, I too was under the impression that road trips were all about spontaneity and the open highway.

They aren’t. Or at least they aren’t if you’re working on a budget of money and time. For our half United States/half Canada cross-country road trip, a friend and I booked all of our accommodations in advance, scheduled time off of work, and made checklists for what to bring.

Planning the route and accommodations was one thing, packing was another. I am by no means a light packer. I’m under the impression on every trip I go on that for some reason I’ll be changing outfits at least twice a day. That type of “I dunno, just bring it anyway” tomfoolery won’t fly on a road trip. We have a small car and half of it will be filled with camping gear. We need to economize, and since we’re camping for part of the trip, we’ll need outdoors-approved, weather-appropriate attire as well as the essentials for looking cute while in the cities.

Really, this should be titled “The Vain Millennial’s Guide to Packing for a Road Trip” as that’s exactly what it is.

Clothing

The best travel advice I’ve ever heard is, “Bring half of what you think you need, and twice as much money.” As much as I’d like to bring my entire wardrobe with me, I can’t do that. I do, however, need different options for different weather possibilities. It’s always a good idea to check the long-term forecast of wherever you’re travelling to to get a sense of what you need. I’m travelling through North America in June, so I’ll have shorts and dresses, but I’ll also bring a rain jacket, jeans, and some warm sweatpants because you never know with Western Canada.

As far as footwear goes, it’s sneakers and boots for hiking. Again, you have to judge what you’ll be doing. I know I’ll be doing a lot of walking and hiking in the woods. I’ll only bring one pair of cute shoes for nights out. Maybe two. Three as a complete maximum.

When you’re packing apparel for a road trip, you always need to think about comfort. So much of your time will be spent sitting in a car. You’ll want to be able to stretch, to breathe and, in all honesty, to let your gut hang out a little bit. You won’t want to wear tight jeans or a body con dress with heels. Unless you’re at your most comfortable in that, in which case, go for it.

We live in an age of travelling via Instagram posts, and maybe many of you absolutely are not more content with having outfit options for a couple of pictures, but I unashamedly am. If you are with me and think about this kind of thing, you need to narrow it down. Bring only two or three nice pieces to wear for photographic moments or nights on the town. Because really, the majority of time you spend on the trip will be sitting in the car, stretching at roadside stops, and walking around cities.

Beauty + Skincare

The best and easiest option is this: don’t bring any makeup. Just don’t do it. Idealistic but not realistic. I’m a person who loves their makeup and I’m bringing it. The key is, again, to downsize. Really only bring the essentials, the holy grail products that you know won’t fail you. Now is not the time to try out that new eyeshadow palette or three different foundations that look promising.

As far as skincare goes, the most important is sunscreen. If you know you’re going to spend any amount of time outside, bring it. Also bug spray. Leave your fancy five-step night creams at home. Since I’ll have makeup and will be outdoors, it’s also a good idea to bring makeup wipes or micellar water, something you can use to clean your face up without running water, even just to get the grime from the day off. Same goes with any kind of cooling or refreshing spray. When you’re jumping between being outside and being in a climate controlled car, you’ll probably not be feeling so fresh by day four. The only other necessary beauty product to bring in my opinion is a dry shampoo because it will keep you sane in the chaos.

Miscellaneous

A portable phone charger. I cannot stress this enough. You won’t always be near somewhere with an outlet and if your phone dies while stranded on a roadside you’re perfectly set up to become a side character in a slasher flick. This is especially relevant if you plan on using your phone as a GPS.

Obviously, since the main event of a road trip is the driving, I’d recommend bringing something to pass the time. Even if you’re going with your best friend, I don’t know if anyone can talk for nine hours straight. Consider the following: music, audiobooks, podcasts, maybe even a game you can play while driving.

As I’m camping on my trip, there could be a whole other section for camping-related equipment, but it’s pretty standard what to bring: a tarp, tent, bed rolls, sleeping bags, flashlight, matches, water, and a cooler to bring food in. If you are going camping it’s also wise to bring some warmer clothes. Again, you never know.

My last piece of advice could be considered the holy grail of road trip necessities: Advil and motion sickness medication. I’m not playing around. Driving for hours on end can have you pretty messed up pretty quickly. You want to be awake, alert, and having fun on this trip, not lying down in the back seat with a cold compress to your head.

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Toronto Photographers Raise $13K for Children in Haiti

The couple explores the works of Zark Fatah (left) and Misha Masek (right). Photo by Sveta Soloveva

Zark Fatah’s fifth annual photo exhibit CAPTURE[D] raised around $13,000 to fund Artbound, the foundation that supports charities through the arts. More than 300 people who came to the Waterworks building (505 Richmond St West) on April 28th were able to meet Fatah and three other photographers —Misha Masek, Mark Brodkin, and Peter Cordy — and to purchase the 50 featured pieces. Fatah said that 19 photographs were sold and that all proceeds will be donated to building a school in Haiti.

Fatah is better known as a Toronto-based entrepreneur behind hot downtown spots including Blowfish RestaurantEverleigh, and Hammam Spa. But during his exhibit, we talked only about photography and the idea behind CAPTURE[D].

Zark Fatah showcases photographs from his travels during the firth photo exhibit CAPTURE[D] at the Waterworks building. Photo by Sveta Soloveva

Sveta: Congratulations with another photo exhibit, Zark. Could you tell me what is new this year?

Zark: Thank you. This is the first time that I invited other photographers.

S: Did you do it all by yourself before?

Z: Yes, I did about 20 photos. I did three [exhibits] in Toronto and one in Vancouver. Then my friends said, Oh, it looks great! We would like to collaborate together sometime. So I invited friends specializing in something different. Mark Brodkin does beautiful landscapes. Misha captures amazing faces and characters. Peter Cordy has never showed his photos before — this is his first exhibit ever. He does wildlife. And I just picked something from the last seven years of my travels that reflect what I like. I like shooting people and catching a moment of someone else’s life.

Photo by Sveta Soloveva

S: Could you share a story behind one of your photos?

Z: I like shooting candid moments because it’s a fraction of someone’s life. Like a photo of this man smoking cigarette there [points at the black and white picture of a contemplative old man blowing smoke into the air]. I captured that moment wherein you don’t know what he’s thinking about; you don’t know what’s going on in his life. He just looks like he’s living an interesting life. You look at him and you can imagine that if you sit down next to him, he could probably fill your afternoon with amazing stories. I took the photo in Sydney, Australia, in the area called Kings Cross. It would be like Parkdale here, an area that’s a little bit sketchy. You don’t want to go there at night.

Wildlife photographs by Peter Cordy appear on the exhibit for the first time. Photo by Sveta Soloveva

S: You mentioned that a lot of people also like Green Eyes, the photo of a child you took in an Indian village. It looks like National Geographic-style photo. Have you ever done anything with NG?

Z: Not yet. I’d love to one day… The amazing thing about photography is that I don’t have the greatest memory, but I could tell you where I was and who I’ve been with in every one of the photos I’ve taken. The image is captured in my memory.

S: What does the name of this exhibit mean to you personally?

Z: I play on two things. Captured has to do with the moment. Also, I own restaurants, a night club, and a spa in this area, and my company is called Capture Group.

Photographer Misha Masek. Photo by Sveta Soloveva

S: How did you choose the other photographers for the exhibit?

Z: Well, I’ve known Misha for years. She’s great photographer. She travels quite a bit and goes to some really remote places. And Mark Brodkin…his landscape photography is just… He will travel so far and just sit and wait and wait for that moment. And Peter — I actually inspired Peter to start taking photographs. We were on a trip together and he saw how much I enjoyed it. That’s why now he keeps saying to me, You started this for me. It’s your fault [laughs]. He’s really excited to be showing his photos here for the first time.

S: What was the most difficult thing in organizing the event?

Z: It was challenging. I mean, obviously, we were doing something that was done before. But it’s just a lot of moving parts — we got four photographers, 50 photographs, the framing company, the lighting, and the operations of the bar. I had some help from my team, but for the most part it was a lot of organization.

The bar team adds more art into the photo exhibit with some creative drinks. Photo by Sveta Soloveva

S: You’ve been donating 100% of all the proceeds from CAPTURE[D] to charities. What are some results you’ve already seen?

Z: In November we raised $30,000 and built two classrooms in Nicaragua.

S: That’s amazing! Are there any other goals you are trying to achieve with CAPTURE[D]?

Z: It’s about awareness, so people know what we do and what Artbound is about.

Guests explore landscapes by Mark Brodkin. Photo by Sveta Soloveva

S: Who are your guests today?

Z: It’s a mixture of art lovers and friends who appreciate our work. There are people who come to our businesses and know what we do; and people who are supporting Artbound.

S: What do you enjoy most from organizing events like that?

Z: I’m in the events business, so I manage this building. So I’m always used to seeing how craziness comes together in the last minute. But most importantly, I’m super happy with these looks [looks at people hanging one of Brodkin’s landscapes]. You know, this is just unique.

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