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11 Strategies for Crafting the Perfect Urban Camping Trip

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Urban camping is a great compromise for travelers who want to spend the night outside while still being close to the amenities and culture a new city offers. This new trend allows travelers to find shelter in parks and on rooftops. You may not be able to stargaze, but the twinkling lights of the city will do in a pinch.

1. Find the Right Rise

It’s important to do your research before heading out into the urban wilderness. Search to see what campsites are available in your city and check availability. If you want a nice view, look for rooftops, but if you want something that resembles actual camping, seek out a park that offers camping permits or special camping events.

2. Research Your Site’s Perks

Many urban camping programs will offer communal meals, public restrooms, guided hikes, or in some rare cases, electricity! It’s important to know what is available so that you can pack and plan accordingly. Call ahead or research online to see what facilities will be available to you.

3. Pack Wisely

After considering what will be available to you, make a list of all the things you still need. Consider the weather, environment, and activities when packing your bags. The key is to get everything you need, but still pack lightly. (Unlike backwoods camping, you’re probably not going to need an axe or snowshoes in the city.) Get everything together a few days before in case you think of last minute additions or realize you don’t have something you thought you did.

4. Bring Your Friends

A friend is a great addition to a camping trip. Besides company, they can help carry shared items like first aid kits and cookware. Coordinate your packing lists so you don’t have redundant items weighing you down – it’s unlikely you’ll need three tents.

5. Plan Your Menu

You probably won’t have access to a fire-pit, so the meals will have to get a little creative. Dry foods like oatmeal are ideal and great for breakfast. Jerky, protein bars, and bagels are great to help you through the day. If you don’t want to go without a hot meal, there are some flameless cooking devices on the market you can check out.

6. Combat Hard Concrete

If you’re bringing a tent to set up on concrete, you will have to find a way to keep it firmly on the ground. Try using rocks or sandbags to weigh down the tent on all four corners.
To ensure comfort, extra bedding between you and the ground is a must. Find a mat or egg crate to lay down under your sleeping bag. It’s important that whatever you bring does not take up too much space or weigh you down.

7. Pack an Extra Phone Battery

You have a better chance of finding an outlet in the city than in the middle of the woods, but it can still be a pain. If you want to keep a charged phone handy, consider bringing a backup battery or even a backup cell phone. If you have a friend with you, you can alternate turning your phones on and off.

8. Spruce Yourself Up

You might not have access to running water, so consider alternatives until you can get reach a shower. Baby wipes and dry shampoo will help you stay fresh while you camp out on the concrete. For oral hygiene, try disposable toothbrushes that don’t require water.

9. Plan for the Weather

Even if the forecast looks good, always bring along your rain gear just in case. Make sure to bring a rain jacket and a waterproof bag for your valuables. For added protection, try packing everything in two black garbage bags before putting it in your backpack.

10. Make Use of Your Surroundings

Since this isn’t the wilderness, there is plenty of architecture to take advantage of when building your campsite. Look for structures that can provide shelter. Overheads and ledges are great for providing shade and shielding you from the rain in soggy weather.

11. Always Have a Plan B

You never know when something can go wrong, so make sure you have a backup plan ready – it never hurts to know where the closest hotel rooms are.

Whether you’re pitching your tent on a roof or backpacking through a national park, the new Mercedes-Benz GLA is as multifaceted and versatile as you are. Learn more at mbusa.com.

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11 Ways to Train for Your Next Ski Trip Without a Slope
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At first glance, city life wouldn’t seem to offer many opportunities to prepare for your next skiing expedition. Think again. With these 11 exercises, even city dwellers can get into prime shape for the slopes.

1. Lunges

Skiing hits your quadriceps harder than any other muscle group. Spare yourself days of soreness by building up your quads before you take on the mountain. Lunges are the perfect exercise for this. While standing up straight, step forward until your front leg makes a 90-degree angle. Keep your back straight throughout. The trailing leg shouldn’t touch the ground, but your knee should come close. Alternate between legs. You can do this in reverse as well, meaning you’ll be taking a step back, rather than forward, to initiate the move.

2. Side Lunges

When carving down the slopes, your inner and outer thighs are called into action over and over again. Prepare with side lunges. Like the standard version of this exercise, start by standing up straight. Step out to the side while keeping your back upright. Bend the outer leg, but don’t overwork the knee. Keep your shin perpendicular to the ground as you engage your hips to ensure your joints aren’t overloaded. Return to standing position before performing a side lunge with the other leg.

3. Squats

Keep your shins upright and, like with side lunges, bend at the hips while performing squats. This way you’ll only be working your quadriceps and glutes—and not your knees. Skiing automatically puts you in a half-squat position, so it’s best to get used to this movement and position so you won’t be taken by surprise when you get off the lift. Plus, squats engage your core—something that gets put to the test with every turn down the mountain.

4. Calf Raises

Your calves are what prevent you from tilting forward and tumbling down the mountain, so it’s wise to give them some attention. While standing upright, raise your bodyweight on your toes and then slowly come down. You can perform this with the balls of your feet on a step or a curb to free up a broader range of motion.

5. Box Jumps

Find a sturdy box that’s a comfortable enough height to, well, jump on. Explode off the floor with both legs and land on the box in a squatted position. This is important: make sure you keep the landing as soft and as quiet as possible. This will protect your knees while also working the muscle groups that you want to be engaging. The result? Power for the slopes and a good deal of endurance.

6. Cycling

Not only will riding a bike help your posture and cardiovascular health for skiing, it will also build key muscle groups that will be heavily engaged on the slopes. If it’s an option in your city, mountain biking on park trails is a great way to prepare for the high altitudes you’ll experience on your skis.

7. Incline Jog

This endurance-builder is also a way to engage your quads and hamstrings—two areas that you’ll get to know well on a ski trip. Set the treadmill at a (manageable) incline and start slow—this exercise does not call for sprinting.

8. Stair-Climbing With a Heavy Backpack

Like the incline jog, this lung-buster will both build muscle and prepare you for all-day tests of endurance on the ski slopes. If you work in an office building, skip the elevator and pack a little more than you’d usually bring to work. It’s a slog, but you’ll be well prepared for cross-country journeys when you’re off the beaten track.

9. Core Exercises

Sit-ups, crunches, bicycle sit-ups, wood chops, medicine ball throws—if it works your core, it’ll help you ski. Having a six-pack is nice, but it’s not the goal for skiers. Your core is responsible for giving your power and control in your turns. It’s what keeps you going where you’re going and can help prevent spills that come after lazy turns.

10. Push Ups

Skiing isn’t all legs. You’re going to be pushing off with your poles, so don’t ignore your arms. Push-ups, with your elbows tucked to your sides, will give you a stronger chest and stronger triceps. Translation: You won’t have to be pulled to the next lift by your kids.

11. Stretching

Stretching immediately before and after skiing is incredibly important when it comes to preventing injury. But don’t wait till you get to the chalet to stretch. Increased overall flexibility will help prevent the aforementioned injuries, but it will also make skiing more comfortable and, as a result, more fun.

Whether you’re zooming down the slopes or searching for design treasures at an urban market, the new Mercedes-Benz GLA is as multifaceted as you are. To learn more, visit mbusa.com.

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11 Techniques for Capturing Great Nature Photos in a City
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Cities may not seem like the ideal place to go to photograph nature, but you can find a surprising amount of flora, fauna, and incredible views in any urban landscape. You just have to know where to look.

1. Become an Early Riser

Sunrise is the best time to capture nature. Photographers often call this period the “golden hour” because it yields the best light. Animals are more active in the early hours before the city wakes up, so you can capture them with the best possible light. The morning dew on the grass is also definitely a plus when capturing plant life.

2. Always Keep Your Camera Ready

You never know when the perfect opportunity will arise. A squirrel can pop out of a recycling bin, or a flower will be perfectly in bloom on your walk home. Take advantage of these fleeting moments by always carrying your camera with you.

3. Look to the Sky

Even if you don’t have any animals or plants handy, you can always check out the skyline. If you find a good vantage point on a bridge or rooftop, you can capture a great shot of the sun setting over your city. Try to photograph the sky at different times of day and different seasons to get a good variety of colors.

4. Buy a Ticket for the Botanical Gardens

The best place to photograph exotic flowers is at your local botanical garden. Most large cities have at least one that is open to tourists, and you can spend an entire day snapping amazing shots of varied flora. Visit year-round to take advantage of the different flowers in bloom as the seasons change.

5. Look for Bird Nests

Unless there is one outside your window, finding a bird’s nest can take a lot of time and patience. A common practice for discovering these avian structures is to first find the mother bird. Females can usually be identified by their less flashy appearance and smaller size. Watch out for birds collecting twigs, leaves and litter in the early morning, because this indicates they are building a nest.

If you can’t catch any birds in the act, you can always find a nest that has already been built. Common city birds like pigeons like to nest on cliff-like structures like on ledges, under bridges, or on top of air conditioners. Or keep your eyes open for more exotic species – Brooklyn, Austin, and Miami are all home to feral parrot populations.

6. Pay Attention to Your Surroundings

When photographing the perfect sparrow or flower, remember that the background is important too. Make sure the area surrounding your subject does not distract the eye or conflict with the focus of the picture.

7. Anticipate Your Subject’s Movements

Sometimes it’s difficult to photograph animals when they won’t stop moving. Wild animals are likely to be scared of you, so it’s best to move slowly and quietly. You can learn a lot about an animal just by observing it. If you know how an animal moves, you can anticipate where it’s going to go, and be ready for the best possible picture. Bribery also helps—if you’re observing ducks in a park, bring some breadcrumbs to lure your subject in.

8. Visit the Zoo

It’s a shortcut, but like a botanical garden, the zoo is a great place to capture things that you otherwise would not be able to see in the city. Pick your favorite animal and get a feel for your surroundings. Common obstacles include glass, cages, distance, and the sun. A tripod and proper lens go a long way and help you overcome these problems. Besides the animals in the enclosure, also check out the visiting wild animals, like squirrels and ducks.

9. Check Out Neighborhood Gardens

Explore your neighborhood to see if there are any gardens nearby. The perfect flowers to photograph could be just down the block from you. The flowers adjacent to apartment buildings and gates will give your pictures a great contrast. There are also community gardens in many neighborhoods where you can volunteer.

10. Go to the Dogs

If you have a dog, or know of one you can borrow, take it to the dog park. It’s great practice for shooting less domesticated animals. You can get some great pictures of your dog interacting with canine peers. Try to go on a sunny day so you can use a fast shutter speed to really catch the pups in action.

11. Practice at Home

If you have pets or houseplants, take pictures of them. Things in your own home are great to photograph because you can alter the surroundings for your shot. When photographing animals, focus on capturing their personality. The best way to showcase the uniqueness of your pet is to capture them when they are displaying their most dominant traits. Once you’ve mastered that, your photos will really show what makes your pet so special.

Whether you’re searching for the perfect shot in an urban area or trying to capture the sunrise from a mountaintop, the new Mercedes-Benz GLA is as multifaceted as you are. Learn more at mbusa.com.

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