Austin, Texas. Music capital of the U.S., one of the fastest growing cities in the country, and one of our all-time favorite places. We even got to live there for 8 months! And yes, it was a pretty great 8 months. Despite the traffic and often difficult parking situations, it's definitely worth a visit. There's always something going on (and I do me always) and you couldn't possibly get bored in this city alive with art and music and festivals and outdoor activities. Of course, not all of the options are budget friendly, but you'll find more free and cheap things to do here than just about anywhere else, so head to Texas and get to it! No cowboy hat or boots required. Here's our guide to Austin on a budget.

Getting Around in Austin:
  • Austin International Airport: It's not huge, but it does the job and it's not far from downtown, so you can easily get to and from the city center when you arrive. The airport in San Antonio might be cheaper if you don't mind the 1½-2 hour drive.
  • Parking: If you'll be driving around town, keep in mind that parking is almost always pay to park. There are pay to park lots (which are usually more expensive than metered parking unless you're going to be parked for more than 5 hours) and plenty of metered parking around town. Meters usually run about $1 per hour and are in plentiful supply, but be prepared to walk as you'll rarely find a spot precisely where you want to be, especially on weekends.
  • Pedicabs: Austin is one of those cool places where you can hail a pedicab, a person on a bike pulling a trailer that usually holds one or two people. They're cheaper than cabs and often more convenient when you're downtown because you probably won't need to go far and they can be found everywhere! Prices are usually clearly marked somewhere on the cab, so check it out!
  • Bike rental: There are certainly storefront locations to rent a bike in Austin, whether for a few days or a few hours, but there are also quite a few B-Cycle rental racks around town where you can grab a bike for a quick ride and drop it off at another rack near your destination. If you only need the bike for 30 minutes or less it doesn't cost you a penny.
  • MetroBus: Starting at only $1 per ride, the MetroBus is a viable transportation option in Austin. It'll get you all over town and you can even park at one of the many park and ride lots and head downtown if you're not feeling up to combating traffic.

Free Things to do in Austin:

There's soo much to do for free in Austin. Just pull up Meetup, The Austin Chronicle or any number of websites to find scores of free concerts, craft fairs, festivals and activities. We promise you'll never be bored.
  • Toms: Yes, the shoe store. But it's also a coffee shop. One of only two in the country, actually. But besides selling boots and lattes, they also host events every month that range from yoga for kids to craft and cocktail nights. There's even a free movie out in the yard once a month. Just sign up for their e-mail newsletter on the website and have the schedule e-mailed to you before you get to town.
  • Theatre: Zilker Hillside Theatre offers several free shows a year on, you guessed it, a hillside. Bring your blanket and a picnic and see musicals, Shakespeare and orchestras in the warmer months. Keep an eye on their Facebook page for upcoming events. Present Company also offers free Shakespeare at various locations at various times of the year and is always quality.
  • Comedy: There's usually a free comedy show or two per week ranging from stand-up to improv. One takes place at Austin Java every Saturday night and features up and coming and established comedians. Grab a beer or a coffee and get ready to laugh.
  • Movies: I'm a sucker for free movies in the park. Somehow it's even better when there's a stunning view of the city in the background. Austin Parks Department and the Alamo Drafthouse offer several outdoor movies each spring, summer and fall and the Alamo, together with Do512, also hosts free Sound and Cinema events with movies and live music.
  • Swim: While many swimming holes and natural pools charge admission, it's free to swim in Lady Bird Lake! A popular spot is just down the trail from the famous Barton Springs Pool where on warm days you'll find lots of people (and their dogs) enjoying the water and the scenery. You might even make a few new friends! 
  • Music: So much music! Austin is the live music capital of the world, after all. On any given night (and I many any given night) you can find live bands playing at bars, convention centers, events, festivals, even on the street all over the city. There's something for everyone from metal to classical. Our fave is Jazz at the Elephant Room. It's free Sunday-Thursday.
  • Holiday Festivities: In December there are a wealth of free things to do to get you in the holiday spirit. The Trail of Lights is a big hit every year and during the week admission is free. Mozart's Coffee offers a free light show (coffee and specialty hot chocolate is available for purchase) set to music in the evenings.
  • Take a hike: There are plenty of places to take a relaxing or invigorating stroll in Austin, including around Lady Bird Lake, the Greenbelt and Mount Bonnell. Check out a list of local favorites on the Austinot blog.
  • Mayfield Preserve: If you've never seen a peacock up close, here's your chance. You can wander around the park and gardens surrounded by the colorful birds, then take a hike around the grounds if you like. Don't forget your camera!
  • Blanton Museum of Art: Every Thursday admission to this museum is free, so take an afternoon and stroll through the exhibits.
  • Bullock Texas State History Museum: On the first Sunday of every month learn about the early days of Texas for free.
  • Street art: There's plenty street art to see in Austin, so print out our handy guide and get going! There's lots of iconic artwork around the city to enjoy.
  • Festivals: All year round there are festivals in abundance in and around Austin. And Austin festivals are not taken lightly. From the Lavender Festival near Fredricksburg to the Zilker Kite Festival in the spring to Eeyore's Birthday and South by Southwest events every March, there's always something going on. My favorite is definitely Texas VegFest. You can find a handy list on

Our Favorite Things:

Spend the cash. It’s not much for these attractions and it’s worth it.
  • The Alamo Drafthouse: Never has going to the movies been such an experience. It's a theater and pub all in one. There's a bar in front of every row of seats and you can order real food and alcohol (including some vegan selections) right from your seat.
  • Live Theatre: There's plenty of it in Austin, but if you want it on the cheap you'll have to keep your eyes peeled. Hyde Park Theatre and Salvage Vanguard Theatre are two unassuming little theatres that look more like warehouses to the untrained eye, but produce a few interesting shows a year that offer a "pay what you can" night on some Thursdays where you just show up and offer whatever you want to pay in exchange for a ticket. Sign up for the theatres' mailing lists to make sure you know when those plays are.
  • Improv: There's live comedy in Austin almost every day of the week, but there are a few places you can catch a show for next to nothing. Coldtowne Theater, The Hideout Theatre and The New Movement all offer shows for as little as $5. Some are even family friendly!
  • Barton Springs Pool: It's $5 per person ($3 for residents), and it's worth is to spend an afternoon in the natural spring-fed pool that stays at a bracing 70 degrees year-round. It's beautiful, it's refreshing, and you can see the city skyline from the pool or the green grass surrounding it.
  • McKinney Falls State Park: It's $6 per person to get in (all Texas state parks are), but you can spend the day navigating the trails, admiring the falls, or swimming in the swimming hole. Not as cold as Barton Springs Pool, but still super refreshing on a hot day. I could relax here for hours.
  • Kayak on the lake: It's fun to take in the view of the city skyline by water, so rent a canoe or kayak and start paddling! You can usually find a deal on Groupon or Living Social that will keep the cost under $15-$20.
  • Main Event: often a little pricy, this playland for all ages offers bowling, laser tag, black light mini golf, a restaurant and bar and rock climbing and on Monday evenings you can enjoy unlimited play for $10 per person.
  • Blue Starlight Mini Urban Drive-In: There's just something about a drive-in movie that is so fun and relaxing. Maybe it's the throwback to simpler times. It's $5 for walk-in admission and $15 more for a car slot. There are package deals available, too, and you can usually score some savings on Groupon.
  • Trivia: Technically trivia is free, but since you really ought to at least buy a drink or a basket of fries, we'll say it costs a few bucks. There are plenty of places to play in the city, but we enjoyed an evening of hilarious team names and embarrassingly incorrect answers with Geeks Who Drink most.

Grab a Bite:

There is no shortage of excellent options for dining in Phoenix. But not all of them are cheap, so we rounded up a few quality options that might save you a few bucks.
  • Wheatsville Food Coop: Yeah it's a grocery story, so what? It actually has pretty great hot food, including vegan stuff. The popcorn tofu is killer. But they also have tacos and other sandwiches, smoothies and a hot bar for a quick meal. Hey, if you're cooking your own food while you're in town, it's also a great place for good produce.
  • Austin's Pizza: We like Austin's Pizza because they have whole wheat crust AND vegan cheese. Don't expect Domino's prices, but if two or three people are splitting a pie you can still cash out for under $10 per person.
  • Chilantro: Food truck alert! This one's delish and their kimchi fries are practically world famous. They serve up tacos and burgers with your choice of filling (including tofu) and everything tastes great.
  • Conscious Cravings: Also a food truck, this one serves up strictly vegan fare. It's less than $7 for a meal like a portobello or seitan wrap and it's definitely tasty. There are several locations so check their website to find one close to you.
  • Frank: Like hot dogs? You'll love Frank. Grab a hot dog or sausage dinner for under $10. The best part? They have a vegan chili cheese dog option.
  • Vegan Nom: The best vegan tacos in town. Seriously. So good. They range in price from $3-$6. Try the Del Rey. You won't regret it.
  • Bistro Vonish: Another awesome food truck, this one serves up elevated vegan cuisine. Kolaches, pizza with aged cashew cheese, orange french toast, this stuff is legit. Prices are a little closer to $6-$10 per meal, but it's totally worth it.
  • Arlo's: For the best veggie burger ever, check out Arlo's. They have a bacon cheese burger that will change your life. Meat eaters approve. Josh said it reminded him of a McDonald's burger from childhood, only way, WAY better.
  • Torchy's Tacos: OK, I get it! Not everybody wants to go to a vegan food truck for dinner! So go to Torchy's. It's an Austin staple and offers killer tacos. There are breakfast tacos, the Republican, Democrat and Dirty Sanchez and they still have options like the Fried Avocado and Independent that you can request be made vegan.
  • No Va Kitchen and Bar: An more upscale and classy establishment, this restaurant offers Taco Tuesdays where diners can snag two delicious tacos for $6. At those prices you can enjoy a cocktail to go with your dinner! The options rotate, but there was a vegetarian option while we were there and the omnivores agreed that the pork taco was killer.
  • Amy's Ice Cream: If ice cream's your thing, don't miss this local legend where the employees (Scoops) perform tricks with ice cream.
  • Sweet Ritual: If dairy free ice cream's your thing, then you'll want to stop by this place inside a Juiceland (also a good place to grab a quick bite or smoothie to go) where you'll find flavors like Unicorn Poop and Cinnamonkey Elephantastic.

Ways to Save:
  • Austin Chronicle: This weekly entertainment paper is an Austin staple. Not only does it have relevant local news, but events, reviews, features, and an events calendar where you can find plenty of free things to do in the upcoming week. Pick up a free coffee just about anywhere.
  • Find events like music, theatre and more on this website based on when you want to go, who's with you (family events, anyone?), even how much you want to pay (there's a free events tab). Pretty much anything and everything that's going on will be listed here.
  • For events targeted to your interests, search for upcoming events ranging from book clubs to kayak water polo, rock climbing to nature clubs. Most of them are free and because Austin is so big, there are hundreds to choose from.
  • Groupon and Living Social: There are so many deals for restaurants and activities in Austin it's crazy. You can often find great deals on movie theatres, rentals, restaurants and spas, among other things.
Is there anything we missed? Add it in the comments below. Enjoy your trip!

I love a good road trip. Sans highway, of course. The kind of road trip where you can slow down and take in the sights, pull to the side of the road to take a picture next to the world's largest rocking chair, and roll down the windows and blast your tunes. But not just any music qualifies as road trip music. It's got to have a beat, it's got to make you want to sing at the top of your lungs, it's got to keep you awake for those long stretches of road and make you feel alive! So I have compiled an ultimate road trip playlist full of songs that will make the miles fly by. Yeah, there's a lot of classic rock in there, but you know what, I dig it, so I blast it. You'll also find a lot of songs that have to do with travel, adventure, or that just plain make you happy. It is by no means a definitive playlist, but I think it's a pretty good start. Find the jams on itunes and burn yourself a DVD of these perfect road trip songs!

1. "I've Been Everywhere" - Johnny Cash
2. "Bohemian Rhapsody" - Queen
3. "Carry on Wayward Son" - Kansas
4. "Don't Stop me Now" - Queen
5. "Foreplay Long Time" - Boston
6. "Mr. Blue Sky" - Electric Light Orchestra
7. "The Prime Time of Your Life" - Daft Punk
8. "High of 75" - Relient K
9. "Mustang Sally" - Wilson Pickett
10. "Life is a Highway" - Tom Cochrane
11. "Born to be Wild" - Steppenwolf
12. "American Pie" - Don McLean
13. "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" - The Proclaimers
14. "Sweet Home Alabama" - Lynard Skynyrd
15. "Highway to Hell" - ACDC
16. "California Girls" - Beach Boys

China is huge and amazing. There's so much to see and so much history (way more history than in the US, anyway). Whether you see it all at once or over as many trips as your wallet can handle (dang, flights to China are expensive!) we promise you won't get bored. Here are a few must-sees to add to your itinerary.

Photo by Colin Capelle | CC BY 2.0

1. The Great Wall, Beijing

This one's a no-brainer. If you're going to bother going to China, you better make time for this bad boy. Its total length is over 13,000 miles and building started in the 7th century BC, but no, it can't be seen from space.

Photo by See-ming Lee 李思明 SML | CC BY 2.0

2. Forbidden City, Beijing

It's the largest ancient imperial palace complex in the world and shouldn't be missed.

Photo by Ana Paula Hirama | CC BY-SA 2.0

3. Terracotta Army, Xi'an

One of the top contenders for the eighth wonder of the world is this army of over 7,000 soldiers, chariots and horses in full battle regalia. It's more than 2,200 years old and is one of the most noteable and mysterious finds of the 20th century.

Photo by Wilson Hui | CC BY 2.0

4. Shanghai

It's China's biggest, most modern city and it's packed with upscale hotels, restaurants and shopping. Of course, there's plenty of history to take in as well including the Jade Buddha Temple and the beautiful Shanghai Yuyuan Garden.

Photo by Mulligan Stu | CC BY 2.0

5. Yangtze River

It's the third longest river in the world and if you'd rather cruise along the banks of China than hike them yourself, it'll be the trip of a lifetime.

Photo by Grey World | CC BY 2.0

6. Guilin

Flanking the Li River and surrounded by mountainous peaks is this idylic out-of-the-way local. You want rice paddies? Find them here.

Photo by gill_penney | CC BY 2.0

7. Giant Pandas, Chengdu

Sure you can see them in zoos all over the country, but that pales in comparison to watching them at Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding and Research Center or volunteering at Dujiangyan Panda Valley. 

Photo by Greg Walters | CC BY 2.0

8.  Lhasa, Tibet

For a religious experience whether you're trekking out to Mt. Everest on the border of Nepal or taking in Tibetan temples, Lhasa is the place to be. Don't miss the spectacular natural landscape or the monk rituals.

Photo by BarbaraWilli | CC BY 2.0

9. Hong Kong

Kinda part of China, but kinda not, it's not only one of the biggest, most important cities in China, but in the world. It has shopping, outdoor recreation, nightlife and even Disney World. If you have no desire to rough it in China, this is the place to go.

Photo by Grey World | CC BY 2.0

10.  Yangshuo

With a landscape that's practically other-worldly, this city nestled in jutting hills and mountains is practically paradise for anyone who wants to spend some time in the great outdoors. Cruise the river or hit the trails for an up close and personal look at the beauty of nature.
Julie Wernersbach and Carolyn Tracy, proud vegans and authors of "Vegan Survival Guide to Austin."
Austin, Texas is a foodie mecca. There are so many amazing local restaurants, food trucks and taco stands that you couldn't possibly enjoy all of them if you stayed in the city for five years. And while all that quality cuisine is pretty great in and of itself, what's even greater is the quantity of vegan options. No matter what side of town you're on there's a vegan-friendly grocery store with a hot bar, a vegan food trailer, vegan restaurant or vegan ice cream shop just waiting to satisfy whatever cravings you might have and it's all delicious! But where to start? Terradrift had a chat with Carolyn Tracy and Julie Wernersbach, two vegan Austinites whose book, "Vegan Survival Guide to Austin," was recently released, and they were more than happy to point us in the right direction.

Terradrift: How long have the two of you been vegans and how long have you lived in Austin?

Carolyn: 16 years. I made the transition pretty soon after deciding to become vegetarian at age 13. I've lived in Austin a collective 9 years or so.

Julie: About three and a half years. I stopped eating meat in college, when I worked in a university dining hall, and stopped eating dairy not long after I moved to Austin. I've lived in Austin for four years and have been vegan here for three and a half of those years. My first apartment was right around the corner from Toy Joy on 29th and Guadalupe. I remember seeing the smiling ice cream cone painted on their cafe window advertising vegan soft serve and thinking, man, this town really DOES have everything!

Terradrift: Yep. Austin is a very easy place to make the leap from vegetarian to vegan. In the time you've lived here have you seen the vegan scene change much?

C: Absolutely! While we've had really great options like Bouldin Creek, Casa de Luz, Wheatsville and Mr. Natural around for a long time, there are now vegan options in practically every neighborhood in Austin. It's a vegan boom town!

J: I haven't been here as long as Carolyn has, but even I can attest to the recent proliferation of vegan food trucks and vegan-friendly menus in Austin. It's so easy to eat vegan here! New spots seem to open up all the time and existing trucks and restaurants are always working up new options. There's always something new to try. It's never the same old veggie burger.

Tasty (vegan) lunch from Mr. Natural.
Terradrift: Good. Vegans cannot live by veggie burgers alone! How would you describe Austin as a travel destination for vegans?

C: You could spend your entire trip tasting all of the vegan food and treats Austin has to offer (which sounds like a perfect vacation to me). Plan to check out some of the great hiking spots within city limits, too!

J: Austin is a must-visit for vegans. You can head out for your day of adventure and know you're going to run into a great lunch/dinner/snack option while you're surveying the site. Add to that all of the swimming holes, music and people watching there is to do in and around Austin and you have the perfect, relaxing trip.

Terradrift: Where are some of your favorite places to dine on a budget (like under $8-10 per person)?

C: Since Austin is such a casual place, it's easy to eat vegan on a budget. Specifically, I recommend Bouldin Creek for El Tipico, Mr. Natural for a taco salad, brunch at Counter Culture and Shhmaltz for falafel or a vegan Reuben.

J: Vegan Nom for all of the awesome tacos. All of them. Arlo's for one of the most important veggie burgers you'll eat in your life.

Vegan tacos from Vegan Nom are not to be missed!
Terradrift: Awesome! Now that we've got savory out of the way, how about sweet? Where’s the best budget-friendly place to satisfy a sweet tooth?

C: An ice cream cone at Sweet Ritual is my final answer.

J: Sweet Ritual is a must. Wheatsville is also reliable for vegan cookies, chocolates and assorted sweet stuff. I love the vegan truffles they keep at the checkout lines. Total impulse buy, totally worth it every time.

Vegan ice cream at Sweet Ritual is an ice cream lover's dream.
Terradrift: Oooh, truffles! Now, if visitors are going to splurge on a meal, where should they shell out the extra cash?

C: See a movie at the Alamo Drafthouse and check out their new vegan menu!

J: The Clay Pit has a ton of great vegan options. It's one of Austin's best Indian restaurants. You can dress up a bit, feel swanky and also feel confident that when you tell your waiter, "I'm vegan," your meal will be prepared accordingly. 

Terradrift: That's such a relief. What’s your favorite thing about the vegan scene in Austin?

C: I appreciate that people are willing to put in the hard work day in and day out making it so very easy to be vegan in Austin.

J: The community's genuine spirit of support for fellow vegans and vegan businesses here in town. Vegans Rock Austin, Austin Vegan Drinks, the Austin Vegan & Vegetarian Association all work to keep the scene thriving and its businesses open. 

Austin's all-vegan grocery store, Rabbit Food Grocery. (Is that s'more fudge I see?)
Terradrift: Vegan picnics, VegFest, it's all amazing! Say someone is just passing through Austin for a week or weekend. Where can they pick up your book for some quick and easy guidance?

C: Austin's first totally vegan grocery store - Rabbit Food Grocery stocks Vegan Survival Guide.

J: BookPeople, the big indie bookstore downtown on 6th and Lamar (a destination unto itself).

Terradrift: Absolutely! We could spend all day in there! And thanks for the guidance, ladies! Happy eating in Austin and vegan diners rejoice!

Here at Terradrift, we love to head into the great outdoors and spend some time enjoying nature. We love to load up the car, fill up the backpacks, and get out and explore. And while campsite rental and backpacking permits are certainly much cheaper than spending a few nights in a hotel, ensuring you have all necessary gear and equipment to survive the trip can definitely add up. So we recently interviewed Steve Caldwell at Campmor to find out the best way to go about acquiring all the gear you need (and none you don't) in preparation for a camping or backpacking trip on a budget.

Terradrift: Steve, you've been working for Campmor, the recreational equipment retailer, for almost 30 years! What's so great about the company?

Steve: Campmor employees use the gear and clothing they sell. Because of this a shopper has the opportunity to consult with a seller with over 35 years of experience which lends context to the amazing content an outdoor consumer would want to tap into.

Terradrift: Oh, yeah! Real-world experience and advice is so much better than a page full of reviews on Amazon. How much camping/backpacking do you do throughout the year?

Steve: I would say that I probably go camping and/or backpacking about 30 times a year. Living on a property in the Catskills, NY there is always somewhere new to explore.

Terradrift: Sounds amazing! Where have your outdoor adventures taken you and what has been your favorite trip?

Steve:  Since 1974 I have been exploring. In that time I have:
• Climbed all of the high peaks of the Adirondacks. An all-night hike along the Adirondack Range Trail by moonlight with my dog was a very memorable trip. Mountains have another personality by moon light.
• Sea kayaking the Maine Island trail was also an awesome experience. Kayaking up the coast of Maine, island hopping and eating lobster boiled over a single burner stove and harvesting mussels and rose hips as you go.
• Chasing Aoudads over a mesa in Palo Duro Canyon in the Texas pan handle. Stalking up as close as I could and running after these sheep until they came to the edge of the mesa and they go right over the edge. Running up to the edge and watching these amazing animals bounce down 700 feet to the bottom of the canyon and up to the mesa across the canyon in 5 minutes.
• Hiking from Lake of the Clouds hut just below Mount Washington to Crawford’s Notch on a clear morning in July. Love a stroll in the sky.

Terradrift: So fun! But let's get right down to it. How can those gearing up save money when buying lots of equipment at once?

Steve: First, what do you have in your closet, clothing wise? There may be a lot of stuff in there that may work for your trip.

Terradrift: Sure. Like synthetic workout gear, wool socks, baseball hats. That kinda stuff. Go on.

Steve: Second, always be careful of the need to have the newest, lightest stuff. The newest, lightest stuff can be less durable and more expensive than things you have already been using for previous trips. If you are gearing up from scratch: For tents get one that has aluminum poles, have good coatings over 800 mm with a full coverage fly. This will leave a lot of choices at a reasonable price with good durability. Sleeping bags: You can spend a lot of money on sleeping bags. Look for the style of sleeping bag you will be comfortable in and determine the carry size and weight. If you keep to these requirements when you look for a bag you can bypass the hype and get the bag you want for the price you want. Campmor will price the gear you need to get the most out of your hard earned dollar.

Marmot Trestles 15˚ Mummy Sleeping Bag

Terradrift: So definitely use the things you already have, but for the stuff you don't, what are some items that you consider absolutely necessary when going camping or backpacking?

Steve: Necessities break down like this:

Where will you sleep to stay dry?
a. Tent
b. Tarp
c. Bivy
d. Shelter

How will you get water to drink?
a. Treat your water with a chemical
b. Filter your water
c. Boil your water

How will you nourish yourself
a. Prepackaged foods
b. Store bought foods
c. Food you put up

How will you navigate?
a. GPS
b. Compass

Will you be warm when you sleep?
a. A good sleeping bag
b. A good sleeping pad
Appropriate clothing for the trip
First Aid
Repair kit

Gregary Wander 50 Internal Frame Backpack

Terradrift: So at least one item from each category. Makes sense. What items do you think beginners can do without?

Steve: People generally over-pack food and clothing. A Camping trip is different than a backpacking trip. Camping trips you can take a lot more luxuries. Survival kits would be an example of a thing that is purchased so as to be prepared, however, a properly packed backpack negates the need for a survival kit, so it becomes redundant. Fixed blade knives are also unneeded. They are heavy and look cool but they do not provide the utility for the weight. A small knife that is very light may not look as fearsome, but is a lot lighter and does the same work. The last would be camp furniture that is very packable. Though there are some well-engineered concepts, generally a foam or air pad will suffice and be lighter and more compact.

Eureka Amari Pass 2 Tent

Terradrift: Multi-functional items are always a plus for money saving and cost cutting! If beginners need a ton of new gear at once, what items should they not skimp on?

Steve: Don’t skimp on your shelter, your sleeping gear, food, water, appropriate clothing, first aid and navigational gear.

Terradrift: Makes sense. Nobody wants to be exposed, freezing, starving, thirsty, naked, bleeding or lost in the wilderness. So what are things in outdoorsy folk’s gear arsenal that need replaced regularly?

Steve: Good question! Trekking poles bend and snap and need replacement. Water filters if used heavily will need replacement. Tents, tarps and packs need patching and repairing. Skill up on doing repairs and familiarize yourself with the proper maintenance of your gear to get the best life out of it.

Terradrift: Good tip for saving some cash: Repair instead of replace. What’s your favorite item in your gear closet?

Steve: The Sawyer Gravity Flow System. I use this to put up the water I will carry through the day. Very light and effective water filter.

Sawyer Gravity Flow System

Terradrift: We got ourselves a Sawyer last summer. Very handy. Is there a tool or piece of equipment in your gear closet that you bought and never use or that wasn't a good use of gear dollars?

Steve: I don’t tend to hold onto things I do not use. However, trekking poles are often necessary and I have broken many a pair. This is annoying. I have made a 6’ Red Oak walking staff. It never breaks and if I have the option I use it instead.

Terradrift: Ooh, classy. What are some general ways people shopping for gear can save?

Merrell Chameleon 5 Mid Ventilator Waterproof Hiking Boot

Steve: Seek functionality and durability over brand names. Also, Campmor has everyday low prices.

Terradrift: What are some of the best deals you’ve found on gear at Campmor?


Compass: (You can navigate with a map for a fraction of a GPS)
Silva Explorer Type 3 Compass

Eureka Amari Pass 2 Tent

Sleeping bag:
Marmot Trestles 15 Degree Mummy Sleeping Bag

Gregory Wander 50 Internal Frame Pack

Merrell Chameleon 5 Mid Ventilator Waterproof Hiking Boot -Men's
Merrell Moab Waterproof Low Hiking Shoes - Women's

Esbit Solid Fuel Stove and Cook set
Century 20,000 BTU Economy 2 Burner Stove

Terradrift: Awesome! Thanks for the tips, Steve. I know Campmor is always the first place we look for good prices on new gear. Now we'll know just what to look for the next time we're in the market!

*Sponsored Post
Austin has more than its fair share of street art. Seriously, everywhere you look there are murals on the sides of buildings and colorful tags on abandoned architecture. And get this: most of it was commissioned and/or completely legal! It's obvious that Austin loves its art scene and with street art at practically every turn that scene is thriving, but there are a few iconic sites in the city that shouldn't be missed. I've listed out some of my faves (and even mapped them out for you) so you're not driving and zigzagging all over creation and trying to find this stuff. So enjoy and check out the most famous street art in Austin!

1. Greetings from Austin. South 1st Street and Annie (Pictured Above)

Maybe the number one tourist photo op in the city, this over sized postcard on the side of a business on South Congress is iconic Austin. Just be aware that on weekends you might have to wait your turn to snap a pic. If you're checking out street art, this should be your first stop. While you're there, take a stroll up and down South Crongress for a peek at plenty of other works of art. Corner of South 1st Street and Annie St.

2. Don't Mess with Texas. 6th Street and SB I-35 Access Road.

Just don't. But do go check it out. Why? 'Cause it's fun, that's why. Near the I-35 on-ramp.

3. Love You so Much. 1300 South Congress.

Simple, but popular, sooo many couples and families snap a pic in front of this one. There's not much to it in the way of art, but sometimes a simple message is all you need.

4. Jeremiah the Innocent (Hi, How are You). 21st and Guadalupe.

This guy is just fun. Everybody loves him. Pay him a visit. Corner of 21st and Guadalupe.

5. Hope Gallery. 1012 Baylor Street.

We use the term "gallery" loosely here. It's really just have the walls of an old, abandoned three-story building downtown that is basically a free for all for artists and taggers near and far. Because it's one of the few places artists can spray legally, the artwork is always changing and the "gallery" will never look the same as the last time you visited. It's popular on the weekends, so be prepared. You might even witness and artist in action!

6. You're my Butter Half. 2000 E Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

Isn't that sweet? And cheesy? It's farther removed from Downtown than many of the others, but still worth a visit. Snap a photo of you and your sweetie.

7. Austin, Tx. 3700 Guadalupe.

Located on the side of Planet K Gifts, this is a nice mural with colorful depictions of all Texas has to offer. It's good stuff. Plus you can go inside the gift store and buy yourself some black lights or a phone cover with a marijuana leaf on it and who doesn't need either of those things?

Your favorite spot not on the list? Add it in the comments below!
Have a friend or family member on your gift list that's constantly hopping across the pond and back? Maybe spends a lot of time on airplanes? Is always trying to learn a new language for their next adventure? These folks are hard to buy for, I know. You don't want to get them the latest cheesy gadget or (yet another) neck pillow, so what is a good gift for world travelers? Check out this list for a few creative ideas!

1. A scratch-off world map 

These are amazing. I want one even though I already have a huge world map (and no place to hang it, currently). But if your traveler likes to keep a visual record of where they've been they can simply scratch off a layer of paint (or something) over the country from which they just returned and a colorful new depiction of that place shows up! Or, if you'd rather go the DIY route, get a big 'ol antiquey-looking world map and a box of push pins.

2. Travel journals

If your wanderer tends to notate their ramblings, wrap up a slick travel journal or a whole set of them. I tend to like the smaller ones; they fit in s tightly packed backpack or suitcase better and having one trip chronicled in a notebook instead of many keeps things organized.

3. A good backpack

I've said it before and I'll say it again: if there's one item that every traveler needs (and need not skimp on) it's a quality backpack that will last for years and miles through planes, trains, luggage carousels, taxi rides, hikes across the countryside and day trips to family get-togethers. This one caught our eye because it's a brand we're pretty into (plus it comes in colors that aren't easily misplaced or mistaken for somebody else's pack) and promises to stick around as you hop from continent to continent for a very long time, but any quality pack will do.

4. Photo Books

Or rather, gift certificates for sites that sell photo books like Shutterfly, Snapfish, Mixbook or Mosaic. That way after they've spent all their money abroad they can still come home and have all their memories printed in a classy book.

5. Fun luggage tags

Why would anybody want to taint their luggage with those awful paper name tags the airlines give you at check-in to identify your bags when there are so many unique and exciting tags to chose from. There are tags for snarky travelers (No, this is not your bag), witty travelers (I just love being a broad), millennial travelers (I can LOL in 10 languages) and just about everyone in between (monograms, cute animals, vintage designs, etc.). Pick one that suits the recipient and gift away!

6. A towel

Douglas Adams said it best in his famous "Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy" when he stated, "A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have." Of course, that goes for those of us who aren't leaving planet Earth, as well. It has infinite uses and we, for one, never leave home without one.

7. Foreign Coin Jewelry

They might have spent all their foreign currency before the flight home (or maybe they didn't, but what are they really going to do with all that spare change?), but they can always hold the memories close to their heart, quite literally, with a necklace or pendent made out of a coin from the country they visited. Take a peak on to find pieces made out of coins from Greece, Germany, Brazil and everywhere in between. You could do the same with charms.

8. Shadow boxes

Do you know someone who just returned with half a suitcase full of memorabilia from their trip? Are they armed with ticket stubs, candy wrappers, programs, maps, and trinkets? If you're a do-it-yourselfer, pick up a shadow box, steal their stash, and organize it all in a creative display for them to hang on a wall or prop on a shelf. That way they'll be able to wax nostalgic about their excursion for years to come.

9. Map watch

Love. Love, love, love. And we're sure you will, too. If coin jewelry is a tad to feminine for the traveler you know, how about a watch instead? You should never be without one when traveling and this ones proves just how worldly you are. I can't think of anything that would make this watch cooler.

10. Language learning tools

If someone you know is in the beginning stages of planning for a trip to a country that doesn't speak English, consider the gift of language. Tools like Rosetta Stone, phrase books or audio learning tools could really come in handy when they're trying to find chopsticks in a market in China. Besides, the ability to speak another language far transcends the purposefulness of a single excursion outside the borders of the US.

Happy gifting!