National Geographic expands line of adventure travel maps

The National Geographic Society has always been a great source for maps. Their Atlas of the World, which will see its ninth edition released this week, is almost legendary in its size and scope, and the organization’s flagship magazine has incorporated detailed and interesting maps for decades. Now, the Society has announced plans to expand its line of adventure travel maps, offering travelers far more options than are currently available.

Nat Geo Maps has been handling the map duties for the organization for more than 95 years, although their AdventureMaps line is a relatively new edition to the inventory. Those high quality products are designed to appeal to the more adventurous traveler who is looking to explore a destination independently and is more likely to be seeking out the closest national park rather than a restaurant or museum. The maps are waterproof, tear resistant,highly durable, and environmentally friendly, which makes them the perfect companion for a traveler looking to drive the backroads or hike the backcountry of their chosen destination.

Until now, the selection of those destinations has been limited to popular spots in Central America, the Caribbean, and the trekking regions of Nepal. But last week, the Society announce a major expansion to the AdventureMaps line that will see nearly 60 new destinations added to the list by 2012, with more than 30 arriving by summer of next year. New locations will include Argentina, Bali/Lombok/Komodo, Brazil, Chile, El Salvador/Nicaragua/Honduras, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa and Thailand, with more countries located in Africa, the Middle East, South America, Asia, and Europe to follow.

The maps are designed from the ground up to put the information that adventure travelers need right at their fingertips. For instance, they offer insights into the terrain which they’ll be traveling through as well as points of interest relevant to their needs such as surf locations, trail heads, and dive sites, amongst others.

Expect the new maps to begin showing up in stores soon with a suggest retail price of $11.95.

On a personal note, I own several of these maps already, and I’m always impressed with how durable they are and how much information is packed into such a relatively small foot print. They really are great products and I can’t wait to check out all the new destinations that they’ll be delivering soon. If you’re planning a trip abroad, I can’t think of a better map to bring along with you.

New international travel phone service from National Geographic

National Geographic and Cellular Abroad have joined forces to introduce a new option for those who need to stay in contact while traveling the world. The National Geographic Travel Phone includes an unlocked Motorola handset, a charger that comes complete with international outlet adapters, and a Nat Geo SIM Card, all for just $99. A second phone, dubbed the National Geographic Duet, is also available and includes all of the above, plus dual SIM Card slots, a larger screen, upgraded performance, and additional features for $179.

The new pay-as-you-go service works in more than 150 countries across Europe, Asia, and Africa, and includes free incoming calls in more than 70 countries, plus 30 minutes of credit for outgoing calls in most countries as well. The service comes complete with two phone numbers, one based in the U.S. and the other the U.K., and both are always active and do not require a monthly fee. The U.S. based number also works for text messages and call-forwarding too.

For more information on both handsets and the Cellular Abroad service check out this page. You’ll not only find a list of countries in which the phones will work, you’ll get a breakdown on the costs and services, and a handy calculator to help you determine just how much you’ll pay when calling from one country to another.

For frequent travelers, this looks like a great option for staying in touch while abroad. The list of countries where these phones work is quite impressive, which can save you time and hassle when looking for SIM Cards after you arrive at your destination.

National Geographic awards prestigious medal for first time in 30 years

Earlier this week the National Geographic Society honored Dr. Roger Tomlinson and Jack Dangermond with the Alexander Graham Bell Medal, an award that hasn’t been given to anyone in 30 years. The two men are visionary pioneers in the area of geographic information systems (GIS) who have had a massive influence on the way we think about geography and the use of geographical data to analyze problems.

The Alexander Graham Bell Medal has only been given once before and that was way back in 1980 when explorers and mountaineers Bradford and Barbara Washburn were honored for their efforts to fill in the blank spots on maps. The award, which is obviously named for the famous inventor who also happened to serve as the Society’s second president, is awarded for extraordinary achievement in geographic research. Tomlinson and Dangermond certainly epitomize that.

Tomlinson, who is known as the “father of GIS”, first conceived and developed the concept while working with the Canada Land Inventory back in the 1960’s. His work would go on to change geography as a discipline and he now consults with nations and scientists from around the world on the best ways to manage natural resources and project urban development.

Dangermond has had a similar impact on the way we view geography, founding the Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) with his wife back in 1969. ESRI now has the largest install base of any GIS software program, with more than 1 million users, spread out over 300,000 organizations, including businesses, NGO’s, governments, and more. Those organizations use the software to analyze and project trends in environmental changes, shifts in urban development, and our impact on the world around us.

The two men are rock stars in the world of geography, and their influence is felt across the discipline without question. The fact that it has been so long since anyone else was awarded the Alexander Graham Bell Medal is a testament to the impact they have had on the science. Congratulations to both men.

[Photo credit: National Geographic Society]

Get a one year National Geographic subscription for just ten bucks

As a traveler, no publication ever got me more interested in seeing the world than National Geographic. Already in its 122nd year, the yellow border of this magazine is recognized in as many countries as it has written about.

Despite all the advances in technology, and the decline in print, there is something fantastic about carrying reading materials the old fashioned way – and if you head over to, you’ll be able to order a one year subscription to National Geographic for just ten bucks.

The promotion takes $5 off the normal price of $15 – and you may not see the final discounted price until the final stage of the payment process.

Best of all – your subscription will help the society, and all the fantastic work they do helping people discover more of our planet.

Subscription page / promotion details

The North Pole is moving!

According to National Geographic, a new research study shows that the magnetic North Pole is changing positions at a surprisingly quick pace, sliding towards Russia at a speed of about 40 miles per year. Traditionally, the Pole has been located in Northern Canada, but these rapid shifts are causing it to jump dramatically.

Scientists believe that changes deep within the Earth’s molten core are to blame for the shift, although it is difficult to measure and track those changes. Researchers have detected a disturbance on the surface of the core that is creating a “magnetic plume” which is responsible for the change in the Pole’s location, but how that plume was created remains a mystery.

The shifting of the magnetic pole is not quite as problematic as it once would have been. For centuries the North Pole has been used for navigational purposes, but for the most part, standard compasses have been replaced with sophisticated GPS tracking systems. Still, many explorers, mountaineers, backpackers, and the like still prefer using a compass over an electronic device. As the pole shifts position, they’ll need to learn to take into account its new location when plotting their course.

At this point, scientists are unsure exactly how far the pole will move or if it will become a permanent shift in location. The mysterious plume could dissipate and cause the pole to return to its original position, not far from Canada’s Ellesmere Island, or it could continue to move for years to come.