Websites have become a major source for travel information. But sometimes getting travel advice and gear from real people, at real places, is the way to go.
The Web has become the go-to source for vacation-travel information, recommendations and gear over the last decade. But sometimes there’s a glut online, said Jake Haupert, president of the Seattle travel agency EverGreen Escapes, which is part of the recently opened Adventure Hub & Winery.
“There is just so much information online,” he said. “It’s hard to distill down and identify what you’re looking for.”
Even hostel-hopping wanderers need concrete travel advice and trip planning sometimes. The good news is there are plenty of resources in the Seattle area with physical locations such as Haupert’s.
Each place has different strengths — gear, books, maps, travel consultants. Most share a common goal: “Number one, we want to create a sanctuary for people to come and be inspired to travel,” said Haupert.
Adventure Hub & Winery
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The Adventure Hub & Winery, which opened this spring in Seattle’s Sodo neighborhood, combines the winery Elsom Cellars; Haupert’s EverGreen Escapes; and Kaf Adventures’ training and information center for hikers and climbers. Kaf also has gear-rental for mountaineering and hiking.
EverGreen Escapes can book everything from Pacific Northwest small-group tours to African safaris. Kaf Adventures offers trips and training for climbers of all skill levels, from indoor rope-handling courses to more intense mountaineering and bouldering.
“What we bring to the table is that ability not only to understand the destination and have destination knowledge,” Haupert said of the Adventure Hub, “but having that personal engagement in the office helps us understand who the client is and what they’re looking for.”
The Adventure Hub is loosely separated into three parts — for the three businesses — in what used to be an auto-body shop. Elsom Cellars winery (which moved from its original home in Woodinville) is the third business and it provides a mingling space, an outdoor patio and a tasting room for wines from its full-production winery at the Adventure Hub.
The Adventure Hub also holds occasional information nights for different destinations, most of which are free (coming up May 21 is a talk on traveling to Ethiopia).
Adventure Hub: 2960 Fourth Ave. S., Suite 115, Seattle. evergreenescapes.com/adventure-hub
Wide World Travel Store
This cozy store in Seattle’s Wallingford area is packed with travel-related books and maps, about 2,500 travel books (guidebooks, mostly, but nonfiction and fiction selections, too) and 1,000 maps, organized by country and city.
Get lost in reading about Paris, Stockholm, South Africa or the Olympic Peninsula.
Wide World Travel also sells travel accessories such as electrical adapters, airplane pillows and small luggage. The store hosts free events with guest speakers on most Tuesdays and Saturdays through late April and May. Paul Barach, author of “Fighting Monks and Burning Mountains,” will speak April 28 at 7 p.m. about hiking the 750-mile Shikoku Trail in Japan.
4411 Wallingford Ave. N., Seattle. wideworldtravelstore.com
Rick Steves’ Travel Center
European-travel specialist and author Rick Steves has a flagship store full of his guidebooks and travel gear in Edmonds, his business base.
Consultants can help you plan a trip ($50 per half-hour), and there’s a peaceful little library section where you can consult Steves’ travel books. Steves runs guided tours throughout Europe (you can get advice and make reservations through his travel center) and also has free travel classes every week, featuring destinations such as Eastern Europe or Belgium and the Netherlands, or topics like art history or photography. Reserve seats for the classes online.
130 Fourth Ave. N., Edmonds. ricksteves.com
Want to pack small and light? The Savvy Traveler store in Edmonds, just two blocks from Rick Steves’ center, is a good go-to. Its offerings range from helpful and practical to fun, yet slightly unnecessary, such as a plastic wineglass that breaks down into a marginally smaller dome. Along with miniature versions of everyday items, the roomy store has some guidebooks, clothing and luggage.
112 Fifth Ave. S., Edmonds. savvytraveleredmonds.com
Metsker Maps in downtown Seattle provides the indecisive traveler with the oldest trick for picking a destination: Eyes closed, hover your finger over one of the dozens of globes. Spin it; where your finger stops is where you go.
For a somewhat more informed destination decision, browse through the store’s array of maps, from national parks to foreign countries. There’s a good selection of Western U.S. maps and guidebooks, too.
This shop near Pike Place Market is a dream for travelers exploring the U.S. or going abroad, and for armchair travelers who want a stylish poster or globe. Metsker Maps also has a branch at Sea-Tac Airport.
1511 First Ave., Seattle. metskers.com
More places for info, gear
For a wide selection of travel-friendly clothing and gear, REI always does the trick. The flagship store is at 222 Yale Ave. N., Seattle, plus stores in Issaquah, Redmond, Lynnwood and Tukwila. rei.com/stores
Need backpacks, laptop bags and other small luggage? Tom Bihn is a local designer and manufacturer (4750 Ohio Ave. S., Seattle; tombihn.com).
Other places for luggage, beyond the department stores, include Bergman Luggage (881 Bellevue Way N.E., Bellevue, plus a downtown Seattle branch,; bergmanluggage.com) and Tumi (575 Bellevue Square, Bellevue; tumi.com).