Essentials for Off the Grid Camping

Essentials for Off the Grid Camping

The one with the french film….

For the month of August, my boyfriend had to miss our long weekend for work. Couldn’t be more proud of how hard he works but certainly missed him on this trip! So for the long weekend I got in touch with my cousins who live here in Deutschland and they invited me along on a camping trip! I immediately jumped on the opportunity because I love camping. I used to go all the time as a kid but I haven’t been in years so I couldn’t have been more thrilled! Now instead of doing a post about camping I wanted to write a post about everything you will need for camping in the wild. Oh, did I mention we didn’t actually camp at a campsite? We decided to pioneer it! If you haven’t camped off the grid I highly recommend it! Going off the grid with no technology, appliances, or everyday comforts is scary but there’s no better way to get in tune with yourself and nature! Only an hour from Frieburg, we set off to France to camp at a beautiful lake for the weekend. The floor was our tent, the lake was our bath, and the forest was our….bathroom. The lake was gorgeous and we spent our days swimming, hiking the mountains, and picking wild berries. Now the last day of our trip resulted in an impromtu hike due to a french film crew! We were kicked off half of the lake by a film crew to film what looked like….a pornographic film. The actors were naked! Haha. I assume they were filming some kind of love scene but….this is certainly a story for the grand kids as they say. Now, as a blogger I can’t totally go technology free so I did manage to snap a few pictures to share. Hope you enjoy and hope this list of essentials is helpful!


Hammock – Talk about a view. My cousin and I used a simple cloth hammock that you would buy for 20 dollars at a market in Thailand or Chile. However, there are plenty of companies who make impeccably designed hammocks for adventure travelers that fit right into your backpack. Now be mindful that in a hammock you still need a sleeping bag and with a sleeping bag you’re head is still exposed to the air. Wear a warm hat because temperatures can plumit at night. They also make these great Mummy Sleeping Bags that are perfect for a hammock! Either way you’re warmer off the ground than on it.

Sub 7 Hammock


Mummy Sleeping Bag


Tent –  If you’d rather have your feet on the ground use Decthalon 2 second Pop Up Tent. Easy to use and easy to carry! Perfect for on the go and solo travel.

Decathalon 2 Second Pop Up Tent


Pillow – Inflatable is best and doesn’t collect moisture like a regular pillow! This one is designed especially for backpackers, Sea to Summit Inflatable Pillow.

Inflatable Pillow


Tarp – It very well may rain on your camping trip so being prepared is always a good idea! You can buy good ol construction tarp or they design specific tarps to your sleeping arrangements i.e hammock tarps, tent tarps, sleeping bag tarps, etc. It also makes for a covered kitchen in case of rain so you can cook.




Cooking over an open fire – There are many options for cooking over a campfire. One of the methods I enjoy using is a Campire Tripod. Easy to set up, great for tinfoil dinners, and you can place it right over a concentrated fire. Similar method is a Grill Grate. Finally, you can do it pioneer style with a dutch over. Just hang it on a stick over a fire, put on a pot of beans, and roast hot dogs on a stick!

Campfire Tripod Deluxe


Grill Grate


Lodge Camp Dutch Oven


Cooking using propane – Propane is already a reliable source for cooking. You don’t have to worry too much about rain and you can buy small portable ones that fit easily in a back pack like the CSI Minimalist cooking solution. The 2 Burner Stove is easily portable with a matchless ignition. If you want all the bells and whistles try the Coleman Outdoor Stove and Deluxe Burner. Bake and cook at the same time with a propane cylinder.

Halulite Minimalist Cooking and Eating


High Pressure 2 Burner Stove


Coleman Outdoor Gear


Dinning – For me, a dinning set should be compact and easy to carry. The options are endless from paper to plastic. CSI creates lots of compact dining sets like their Bugaboo Backpacker cooking, eating, and cleaning system or Stacking Cutlery Set. If you prefer to travel with even less try the Sea to Summit collapsible set. Not to mention whats a camping trip without some wine? Try these Silicone Wine Glasses that are easy to pack!

Bugaboo Backpacker and Stacking Cutlery Set



Sea to Summit 5 piece Cookset


Silicone Wine Glasses


Spices – Essential to make any meal delicious! Check your local grocery store for a multi spice blend or one that has several included in one container. Or you can DIY with a Spice Rocket.

Spice Rocket


Coffee – Essential! We forgot to bring a coffee maker so we had to cheat and stop at a french cafe! If you’re a coffee enthusiast like myself don’t forget to bring one! If french press and minimal work is your thing try this Double Shot Press Mug. If you prefer espresso use the Minipresso. Finally, If you feel like sharing you can always try an old school Brewing Coffee Pot.

Double Shot Pree Mug




Brewing Coffee Pot



Head Torch, Flashlight, or Lantern – preferably an LED. I typically borrow my boyfriends since he has one from the army but I strongly suggest a head torch! When we arrived to our campsite it was already pitch black and having a hands free flashlight was SO helpful! Especially when it comes to setting up a tent, finding fire wood, or trying to find a good bathroom spot in the middle of the night. A lantern also comes in handy! This Solar Powered Lumin Aid Packlight is foldable and easy to charge but you still need the sun. Or go for the ultra powered Coleman Quad LED Lantern that detaches to 4 individual flash lights.

Head Torch


LuminAid Packlight


Coleman Quad LED Lantern


Lighter – Speaking of light…make sure you don’t forget a lighter, matches, or fire starter! If you’re feeling really post apocolyptic survival status you should use The Solar Starter. Creates a fire from the sun…just hope there is sun! If not try this Fire Steel Key that helps you to strike a fire anytime anywhere.

Solar Starter


Fire Steel Key


Multi Tool and Knife – Having a multi purpose tool can be extremely helpful when camping. They typically contain everything from a can opener, to tweezers, to scissors, to a knife. You should also bring a larger stronger knife for cutting branches to use as fire wood. I typically just use my boyfriends because he has several but if you’re looking for the ultimate tool complete with all the bells and whistles get the Victorinox Swiss Army SwissChamp. They also carry a basic version on their website! A sustainable multi purpose knife that’s great for camping is the Kershaw 1660 Ken Onion Leek Folding Knife. The options are endless!

Victorinox Swiss Army SwissChamp


Kershaw 1660 Ken Onion Leek Folding Knife


Toilet paper and shovel – You know what the shovel is for….! But DON’T forget the toilet paper. Sea to Summit Trowel has a foldable shovel that fits in your pocket and has storage in the handle for toilet paper. I usually just travel with klennex portable tissues, wipes, or I bring an entire role with a brown lunch bag then later dispose of the paper in the fire. Wilderness realness ya’ll!

Pocket Trowel


The female urinal – I haven’t tried this! I thought it was a joke but people actually use it. Had to mention it. Would you try it?




Shower – The lake works for me but if you are mountain trekking and find yourself far from a major water source try the Sea to Summit Pocket Shower. It heats up in the sun so you can have a luke warm shower. Just hang it form a tree in the sun and pack it up when you’re ready to leave.

Pocket Shower


Towel –  Use it as a picnic blanket and to dry off. Don’t forget this item! Use a microfiber towel that dries off instantly if you’re traveling from place to place!

Outgo Ultra Compact Microfiber Towel


Multi Purpose Wash – Off the grid camping can mean limited showers or bathing in a lake. The Sea to Summit Wilderness Wash in Citronella acts as a body wash, dish wash, laundry wash and mosquito repellent. Sounds like a win to me!

Wilderness Wash


Shampoo & Conditioner – Since we already have our multi purpose wash all we need is our shampoo and conditioner and we’ll be clean as can be! Use this great Shower Caddy to easily carry them around in a travel sized container.

Shower Caddy



Bug Spray – Mosquito bites are a downside to the outdoors. I hate using bug sprays because they contain harmful chemicals so I often find myself just tuffing it out. I recently came across this great Bugscreen! Haven’t had the chance to use it myself but it’s organic and can be used not only on your body but you can add it to candles, use it for your pets, add it to lotions, even rubbed onto your picnic table to prevent wandering crawlers. Multi purpose gets a thumbs up in my book!



Anti-itch cream – Sometimes bugs happen…sometimes poison ivy happens. An anti-itch cream is something you may not need but in any event that you should you’ll be SO happy you have it! Better safe than sorry. Try this all natural cream below!

Avenoo Anti-Itch Cream


Sunscreen – Don’t forget this! It will make or break your camping trip! Try a clean sunscreen without harmful chemicals like The Sun Bum.

The Sun Bum


First Aid Kit or Survival Kit – Always important. If you’re hiking make sure you have all the survival essentials!

First Aid Kit


Happy Traveling

City Girl Riss

Tip of the Week: Travel Hack

Tip of the Week: Travel Hack

This weeks tip involves one of the most useful FREE travel apps! I personally have used this app on several journeys and it never disappoints. The app is called Ulmon and you can find travel guides for every major city. One of the best features is the offline maps. With current location GPS it makes navigating a big city effortless. In addition, you can pin major landmarks, museums, attractions, restaurants, your hotel and more! In London, the pins made it easy to organize our trip by neighborhoods so we we’re able to take the tube sparingly, save money, and make the most out of our weekend. The app also provides recommendations on places to eat and drink. I download it before I leave for my vacation and I always use it! Another tip when looking for apps is to type in your city of choice and explore through the options! Sometimes cities offer their own apps especially designed for tourism.

I’m always looking for travel apps so if you have any favorites drop a comment below! I’d love to hear them!


Happy Traveling

City Girl Riss

Lagos, Portugal: What to Do

Lagos, Portugal: What to Do

The one with the delayed flights….

Luftansa….How I hate thee! Every time I’ve flown with this airline we always arrive to our destination late. This time we had no choice but to fly with them. As per usual, we were disappointed. Our flight was delayed not by just a few hours but we didn’t end up arriving till 1am…so we lost an entire day. Heartbreaking when you only have a weekend. Thank god they gave us that 10 euro food voucher…..that didn’t even cover half of my meal. I could go on and on but moral of the story: Don’t fly Luftansa!

Typical blogger disclaimer: Sorry this post is so delayed….. I’m still figuring out this whole go pro thing and a good portion of my pictures we’re on there! I’m getting to that need a new laptop phase…..Just gonna ignore it until I run into a pile a money….like an adult.

On to the good stuff! I have been planning this trip for a year now! I’ve been dying to see the Algarve coast. There are many places to stay along the Algarve coast and they all offer spectacular beaches. We flew into Faro, Portugal. Faro is a great town to stay in if you aren’t for the hassle of traveling after a long flight. If you prefer a smaller more quiet town I’d recommend Albufeira which is on the coast between Lagos and Faro. We decided to take the trip and rent a car to stay in Lagos. We we’re so happy we did! We used the car to travel to other excursions and explore. Since we only had two days we didn’t get to do everything but that means I’ll just have to go back again!

Since we didn’t get to our Airbnb till late at night we decided to sleep in a little bit. Then drove back towards Faro to visit Aquashow Park! Now, we haven’t been to a water park in years but we certainly had a lot of fun! It’s a decent park but our main reason for traveling was to swim with the sea lions. A good friend of mine recommended this and it was well worth it! You essentially act as a trainer and get to do all sorts of fun things with them. You can’t bring your own camera but a professional photographer takes amazing pictures and they sell them for a decent price after the session.



We then later decided to take a walk to Ponta Da Piedade, the southern tip of Lagos. It’s quite a hike if you’re up to it! We made it just as the sun was disappearing but you can also take your car, view the light house, and eat at the cafe in the daytime. Renting a bike and cycling on the cliffs is also a great idea.

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Our last day we decided to do a Kayak Tour. It was so gorgeous out and the beach did NOT disappoint. We Kayaked all the way around Lagos for 3 hours seeing beautiful caves, grottos, and beaches. Afterwards the boat pulled us back to shore. We stopped at one private beach and we’re able to snorkel and do a little exploring. Now you can also go to the beach Batata and rent a kayak or stand up paddle board and make your own adventure. The caves and grottos aren’t hard to miss as there are often boats and kayakers visiting so don’t be afraid you’ll miss out on everything the Kayak tour offers. We spent the rest of our day hanging out at the beach, Batata, before we had to catch our flight. There’s plenty of beautiful beaches to enjoy further down from Batata, such as, Pinhao, Penaso Dona Ana, Camilo Beach, etc. Camilo is more crowded if you prefer a beach with lots of space try Sao Roque. Hope to be back again soon!

Where to eat:

Rockefella’s – Great grill spot!

Cafe Odeon – Best Breakfast.

Must try – Vihno Verde – Tastes like a sparkling reisling


Happy Traveling,

City Girl Riss

Tip of the Week: Packing Hack

Tip of the Week: Packing Hack

As I’ve mentioned in some of my other blog posts, I’m a big advocate for traveling with a carry-on. It’s easy to transport, no fee, and it’s always guaranteed to arrive at your destination (if you put it in the overhead compartment.) Packing everything in a carry-on can prove to be a pretty big challenge. In my other posts like What to pack for a summer vacation / Spring Vacation I talk about how I’m able to fit so many clothes in said carry-on! One of my biggest challenges however has always been packing active wear! Adventures are one of the best parts of traveling. Trying new things is a thrill and anything involving nature is magical. That’s right, I’m 24 years old and I said the word magical. NO SHAME. With that being said, I find it hard to pack active wear because it’s not very versatile! I have cute workout outfits but they tend to look out-of-place if you’re not being active. Always stopping back at your hotel can be a hassle too so I’d rather just wear one outfit the whole day. My solution to this problem is Lulu Lemon, a company created for Yoga athletic gear! They make a tank top with a cute built-in sports bra! It’s still a bit on the workout looking side but it saves me the trouble of having to pack a sports bra which takes up room in my carry-on! Plus, the patterns are gorgeous. You can also get it in full black which makes it more functional. In addition they also have some great bottoms that don’t scream I just got back from the gym. Definitely more on the high side end in terms of price but with the tank tops you’re getting a shirt and a sports bra! It’s certainly a favorite by the dance community! Can’t walk into a NYC dancer call without seeing the Lulu’s.

Happy Traveling,

City Girl Riss

TIp of the Week: Beauty Hack

TIp of the Week: Beauty Hack

As I realise that summer is coming to an end, I start to reflect on all of the great experiences I’ve had in 2015! I’ve also made the revelation about all the great tips that I’ve been keeping secret! Okay, maybe not keeping a secret but just oblivious that some of my summer rituals are actually beauty hack GOLD! Or worth a try in my opinion. If you didn’t know, I’m a bit of a health nut. I try to eat as clean as I can and I try not to drench myself in toxic chemicals. I struggle between being super strict and lazy! I want to be the healthiest person I can be but some days its just WAY easier to go to the drugstore and pick up whatever I can get my hands on. This hack, however, is super simple. I recently became aware that most sunscreens are toxic and chock full o’ chemicals. NOT COOL. So I went on EWG*, a non-profit organization dedicated to educate people on the cleanest produce and consumer products, and looked up clean sunscreens. Unfortunately, I don’t have access to all of the great sunscreens this website recommends but I was shocked to find out that banana boat was one of the most toxic products available! I’ve been using banana boat for years! My favorite product was ALWAYS their tanning oil SPF 4. I did some more research on safer alternatives and came across using coconut oil! TA DAAAAAAAAA!! The answer to my prayers! It naturally deflects some of the suns rays and works just as well as any other tanning oil I’ve ever used. Not to mention that it’s extremely moisturizing so that my legs feel silky smooth after the beach and not like sand paper. It’s perfect for summer and it makes you smell good enough to eat! So go to your grocery store and buy extra virgin organic coconut oil right away! You won’t be sorry!

If you get around to trying this hack, leave a comment! I’d love to hear your feed back!


As always,

Happy Traveling

City Girl Riss

5 things I’ve learned from living in Germany

5 things I’ve learned from living in Germany

As some of you may know, I’ve been living in Germany on/off for the last 3 years. Although it’s been a roller coaster, it’s also been an experience in my life that I’ve truly come to cherish. The move from NYC to a small town in the middle of nowhere Germany was a big change for me. I’ve lived in smaller towns before but I’ve never felt so uncomfortable with not having all of the “american” comforts I’ve grown up with. It only takes crossing an ocean to make you appreciate everything you’ve taken for granted….like Chipotle! However, I’ve adjusted and learned to truly appreciate and love this German lifestyle. After watching the 2016 First Republican Presidential Debate, I’ve thought a lot about all of the great things that Germany has given to it’s citizens. I’m not here to compare the homeland and the Deutschland, rather, celebrate and share some of the great accomplishments and things I’ve come to adore about this country.

Let me start by saying that these are only a few great things about germany….I could go on and on! No country is perfect but I like to think that this is a country that has a lot of accomplishments to rejoice about.1237877_10151873476600746_497566969_n

A statue by our local Church in Bad Windsheim

1) Education – IT’S FREE! Just like our public schools from kindergarten to 12th grade education is free. Germany goes even further and offers free college tuition! Again, not a perfect system but FREE COLLEGE! Just recently it became free for american’s to go to a german college and free education is definitely a reason to smile. After all, the future of a country depends on its young generation to acquire knowledge and better the country. They say knowledge is power right? So education is one of the best investments in my opinion. It’s here that I’ve learned just how benifical this can be. After all, I’m still trying to pay off my student loans…


My apartment Building in my town, Bad Windsheim

2) Recycle – Definitely a learning experience! Here, you have to recycle. It’s the law. If you do not recycle you will be fined. Seems a bit dramatic but there’s nothing dramatic about saving the planet. It wasn’t until I actually started separating my trash that I realised just how important it actually is! I have 1 big garbage can for food waste, 2 medium-sized garbage cans for paper and plastic, and then 2 small garbage cans for glass and aluminium. Which would you guess is the first to fill up? If you guessed food waste…you’d be wrong. The plastic garbage fills up within 3 to 4 days! Although, I don’t just recycle plastic bottles. Anything that is made of plastic is recycled including milk cartons which I actually assumed was cardboard at first. The food waste fills up every 2 months. Most germans put their waste in a small container and then at the end of the day bury it in the garden for fertilizer. Full circle as it should be! If everyone made an effort and recycled…the world would be a cleaner place! It also doesn’t take a lot of extra effort. Just one short trip to the recycle center!


Skiing in the Alps at the border of Austria and Germany

3) Vacation – Who doesn’t like to vacation?! On my travels I have noticed that on every tour or hotel I encounter I always run across americans, chinese, and germans! Now America and China have huge populations but Germany is a small country. The reason they vacation so often is because their country gives them so many holidays! They truly believe that all people need vacations and time off from work to improve mental happiness. This is common in many countries in Europe. Scientifically they have some of the happiest citizens in the world. Seems like it’s working to me! I can only speak from my experiences and one of the perks of working for the army in Europe is that we get a 4 day weekend every month….if we don’t have to train. It’s during this time that we are able to travel and although I feel like I need a vacation from vacations sometimes I couldn’t feel more mentally rejuvenated after them.


Bad Windsheim Christmas Market

4) Health – I would like to make a shout out to Germany’s universal health care! Also not perfect, but giving people the right to basic care and the right to live a healthy/full life is something to celebrate! I have not experienced it myself but my uncle is a neurosurgeon and psychologist so I have gotten some insight about the system. Now it can be argued that citizens pay a hefty amount in taxes here but it’s almost a fair trade-off when you don’t have THOUSANDS of dollars in debt from student loans and everyone has the right to get health care.


A lake I found with a friend on a road trip to see monkeys!

5) Nature – From national parks to an individual town planting hundreds of flowers every spring …Germany isn’t short of beautifully scenery. I’d have to say that for me visiting lake Obersee in Southern Germany was where I really learned to appreciate that beauty. The lake, known as the kings lake, is flanked with beautiful mountains that could echo a pin drop. The reflection on the water is so clear that you could bird watch from a puddle. The hikking doesn’t disappoint either with huge fields that will make you want to frolic tand sing the hills are alive! It’s also the place where Hitler crafted his beloved Eagle’s Nest on a nearby mountain. Nature and preservation is a big priority in Germany! Game hunting is extremely regulated and controlled. They protect their animals. They even build “nature” bridges for animals to cross highways. It’s also against the law to destroy Bee Hive’s. You have to call in and get someone to remove the hive for you so that you don’t harm any bee’s. In truth, without their pollination nature wouldn’t be such a pretty picture. It’s here I’ve learned that nature is something to be respected so that my children and their children can enjoy it for years to come.


Lake Obersee

Aside from the above photo, all the others photos are my favorite pictures that I’ve taken during my stay. They we’re all taken in Bavaria and many are from my town, Bad Windsheim. For more photos like this follow me on instagram @ citygirlriss

Happy Traveling

City Girl Riss

Tip of the Week: Travel Hack

Tip of the Week: Travel Hack

The most important tip I can give to anyone traveling is to STAY HYDRATED when traveling! Sometimes it’s easier said than done. You get caught  up in what you’re doing and then next you’re feeling light-headed. If you’re traveling outside of the US you will find that in many places tap water is not free! Typically this is because the tap water isn’t the safest to drink so instead you buy a bottle of still water. Not the biggest bump in your day but buying water at restaurants and then buying a bottle of water every time you go to the beach or go on a tour can add up in money and plastic! What I like to do is go to a convenience store or a supermarket and buy a big gallon of water or two and bring my own water bottle (BPA free of course) and save myself the trouble! I drink water before dinner and enjoy a nice glass of wine instead! This way I’m saving a few dollars and I’m staying hydrated. Can’t recommend this tip enough!


Happy Traveling

City Girl Riss