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110,745 kilometers later: an update on Nomadderwhere

110,745 kilometers later: an update on Nomadderwhere

I'm watching the Vancouver Marathon from my apartment window and giggling as seagulls drift by at eye-level. Canada represents my final destination of this academic year, and though it was an exciting year and an important one for my own growth, I am glad it's behind me.

Traveling with a math expert this year introduced me to the beauty of slow data. With every car ride or room change, she plugged miles traversed or beds switched into a spreadsheet. By the end of 220 days "on the road," she presented to us the impressive numbers of our #cdtravels:

  • 110,745 kilometers of transit = 2.76 times around the world
  • Total hours on planes, trains & automobiles (not layovers or wait time): 246 hours / 6 work weeks
  • 50 beds roughly, averaging 4.4 nights per bed

If you're wondering why I spent the last year making an epic carbon footprint (not proud of that), take a peek at the TGS Changemaker Program and read my post on this curriculum development mission. If you're not sure how I went from travel media to writing curriculum documents for a high school, I understand your confusion. It surprised me, too. Here's something on my evolution.

Last year at this time, I was living in Florence, Italy with THINK Global School, plugging away at graduate school and enjoying as stable a lifestyle as I've achieved in the last decade. Between then and now, I changed jobs, visited ten countries, and wrote two years of projects with three colleagues.

Here's what it was like...

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Thoughts on a post-election media detox

Thoughts on a post-election media detox

Two months have passed, and I still don't know how I feel about America's new leadership, about the media outlets that edit and influence, about all the subsequent rhetoric and activism, about what constitutes a responsible citizen or, better yet, a content human being.

No answers came to me in that hiatus from informative networks for how I care to deal with differences of opinion that assume the guise—and sometimes form—of an attack. Walking away from a piece of writing seems to provide clarity of thought upon one's return, so why not this? In fact, I feel I distanced myself from dialogue to the point where I've lost sight of my convictions, especially as they continue to face the steady deluge of challenges brought on by world travel, by trying to be open to new and sometimes contradicting perspectives.

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Journeys of a Lifetime in July

Welcome back to my new monthly series on Nomadderwhere, one which highlights the incredible trips one could take in that current month - thanks to a vibrant book called Journeys of a Lifetime by National Geographic. Each month I pick a couple adventures from each section in the book in order to provide you inspiration for 365 days from now. Read the brief description to whet your appetite, and click on the trip name for further information (links provided by National Geographic...of course you could be a gritty backpacker and make it on your own).

Across Water

The Sepik River: Let's start off with a trip for the hairy-chested and callused travelers. Say hello to Papua New Guinea! Coast along one of the least spoiled and greatest river systems in the world, flanked by jungle and indigenous cultures with multiple languages and gruesome stories from village rivalries. Skip the capital city and board a cruise boat for four days. Sounds extreme…

Turkey's Turquoise Coast: I read "anchor at night in isolated coves" and got a little giddy. How does sailing the southwest coast of Turkey, admiring relics of 4,000 year-old civilizations, and enjoying Turkish breakfasts while watching flying fish go by sound? Sounds like a trip to convert any land-lover.

By Road

Route 12 in the Outer Banks: Windsurfers, I'm talking to you now…and hang gliders…and people who like beaches. There's a stretch of 80 miles on the coast of North Carolina called the Outer Banks that would entice all of you. Rocky seas slap the shores and create the perfect climate for wind sports. Route 12 runs the length of the barrier islands and can be driven in three hours.

IrelandConnemara's Sky Road: Ireland already pulls you in with its lovely people and tendency to indulge in some tasty brews, and while you're enjoying the emerald green of her landscapes and primordial beauty, take a drive through the Connemara peninsula for some added visual pleasures. White-sand beaches and high cliffs both make up its rugged perimeter, where the intense wild mingles with pub-filled towns and wild ponies.

By Rail

The Inland Railway: Board in Mora, head to Lapland. See one of Europe's last great wildernesses along the way. If you're into grand travel landmarks, you may enjoy getting the certificate upon crossing the Arctic Circle. Don't rush your week in Sweden, awaiting brown bears outside your train car window. And remember that touring in summertime allows for some awesome vistas with the 24-hour daylight.

ScotlandInverness to Kyle of Lochalsh: If you've never seen a hairy cow, now's your chance. Honestly, if you don't know what the Scottish Highlands look like, you're in for an awakening. You've probably dreamt about them without even knowing such land truly exists. I was enchanted by the simple beauty of the lakes and mountains. The landscape is haunting and hopeful at the same time. This train takes three hours and can show you the magic.

On Foot

Climbing Mount Fuji: No snow. No massive festival lines to the top. July is a great time to love on Japan's famous peak. From the looks of Japanese toilets, the rest stops on the way to the summit have got to be elaborate and…kush. Whether you start in the middle for the pre-dawn trek to the sunrise or do the whole darn thing all day long, allow yourself to think about the dormant volcano below you, not all the knick-knacks and novelty items you could get while up there.

Lake Issyk-Kul: I know you don't often find yourself crossing the Kyrgyzstani/Kazakhstani borders often, but you may want to tack this trip onto your pre-existing Stan tour (or your bucket list journey). What do you imagine a lake "cradled in the Mountains of Heven" looks like? You better bet it's not only picturesque but surrounded by incredible hikes through herb meadows and colorful vistas. I never knew the Stans were coated in natural splendor. Serves me right for watching Borat.

In Search of Culture

Amish Country: Do you hang with the Amish often? What gives? Maybe you should. Take off right now for Lancaster Country, Pennsylvania and find yourself some Old Order Amish folk to admire. Take the backroads, stop for some crafts and delicious food goods, and if you're around for a Saturday, try attending an auction. Don't ask me what they auction off; I want to be surprised when I hit that up.

The Painted Monasteries of Moldavia: Illuminated manuscripts are immaculate to begin with, but seeing a similar effect covering the walls of a quaint monastery in Romania's countryside would be time travel-esque. There are as many as fifteen monasteries with similar artistry on display, one of which earned the title of "the Sistine Chapel of the East." You won't have to search very hard to find the culture here in Romania.

In Gourmet Heaven

New York Deli Tour: There's an overwhelming amount of things to do and see in Manhattan, which is why fueling up is essential. Enter the New York deli scene. You've got your classic Katz's Delicatessen, your staple Carnegie Deli, and a slew of others both well-known and lower key. Go with friends and split sandwiches to save room for some cheesecake and other delicious goods.

Wine Route Through Hungary: Allow me to write a wine route haiku:

Ancient golden wines Aged in musty, moldy caves What could be sweeter

Since when have you needed to be persuaded to visit a wine country? You just needed to know it was there. And now you do. So go.

Into the Action

Horse Treks in the Andes: The choice isn't horse, foot, car, or plane. It's obvious you'll be traversing the Andes on horseback, but the question is where: through the grasslands and volcanoes of Ecuador or along old smugglers' routes in Patagonia. Since the Andes are the longest mountain range in the world, it seems the choices are virtually limitless. Regardless, to be that connected with the glory of nature would be a thrill for the masses…and the sole individual that feels real isolation and fresh air in their nostrils. Can you tell I pine for Patagonia?

The Big FiveStalking the "Big Five": Who are the "Big Five?" They were classified as so for being the most difficult to hunt: lions, leopards, elephants, buffalo, and rhinos. Chobe National Park in Botswana will satiate your desires to see these bad boys and stalk them with your newly purchased sniper (a.k.a. telephoto) lens. Don't expect to sleep in on this sort of safari, but you can expect an awesome mid-day nap when the rest of the animals snooze as well.

Up and Away

Over British Columbia: Vancouver is one of those cities that can be done by foot, bike, car, etc. but what shouldn't be neglected is the aerial view from the windows of a float plane. Sunset flights could be majestic, but daytime jaunts can bring you into view of eagles, seals, and porpoises going nuts in nature.

Buzzing over Kruger National Park: Nothing feels more like a defiance of all natural instincts and laws that flying over man-eating animals in a kite strapped to a lawn mower engine. And at the same moment, nothing is cooler than taking a microlight on a mini-safari over reserves like Kruger. It's certainly a new and interesting way to move about this earth and a surreal way to observe animals in their natural habitats.

In Their Footsteps

Across the Continental Divide with Lewis and Clark: I have no idea how Lewis and Clark could do it. But thank goodness they did; otherwise, who knows if I'd be alive (that'd be funny and make sense if I were actually related to William Clark, which I don't believe I was). It is, however, possible to see for yourself what the wild continental divide was like 200 years ago when they made their famed trek. Montana looks monumental in size, and it's always a trip worth taking to be amidst mass beauty.

Blues Pilgrimage in Clarksdale: It's the birthplace of the blues and chillin' in the Mississippi Delta, waiting to be explored by you. Morgan Freeman has certainly invested a lot in this region, which is decidedly understated but top notch in musical quality and food choices, among many other things, I would assume. You could also take Highway 61, also known as the Blues Highway, and make Clarksdale one stop among many on your musical pilgrimage.

How's that brain? Spinning with innumerable desires to traverse continents and climates? Pull out a pen and prioritize your life by putting one or more of these trips at the top of the list. And by planning a year in advance, you'll be quite able to save, prepare, and anticipate the rigors of your adventure in every way. Check back in August for the Journeys of a Lifetime you could partake in next year!

Where are you inspired to travel to next year? Leave a comment and be my new friend.

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Journeys of a Lifetime in June

Welcome back to my new monthly series on Nomadderwhere, one which highlights the incredible trips one could take in that current month - thanks to a vibrant book called Journeys of a Lifetime by National Geographic. Each month I pick a couple adventures from each section in the book in order to provide you inspiration for 365 days from now. Read the brief description to whet your appetite, and click on the trip name for further information (links provided by National Geographic...of course you could be a gritty backpacker and make it on your own).

Across Water

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The St. Lawrence: If you have an interest in Canada's most historical city, a passion for seafaring, and a love of the slow travel movement, take this river route from Quebec to Montreal, which exhibits its fair share of beautiful nature. Glacier-carved paths have never been so cool.

Eastern Caribbean Cruise: It looks like there are some very appealing options for the Caribbean other than the all-inclusive resorts. Sailing from Antigua to Puerto Rico sounds like one of them! And if you're not obsessed with sun-worshipping, don't forget the intriguing cultures, inland adventures, and fantastic diving opportunities are paired with a Caribbean good time. Not a cruise-goer? I don't think you should expect the stigma.

By Road

Lake Michigan Shoreline: Traverse one of the longest suspension bridges in the world. Motor from white sand beaches to the dunes, big cities to the Cape Cods of the Midwest. Would make for a great summer road trip for anyone unfamiliar with the highlights of the region.

Crossing the Andes from Bolivia to Chile: June will be a cold month for South America, but that also means seeing very clear skies reflected in the beautiful salt plains. With a title like "The World's Highest Road Journey," you know it has to be a memorable trip. To the Andes, baby!

By Rail

The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad: Sounds like the kind of trip a traveling family would enjoy taking: boarding an authentic steam train for a day though the Colorado Rockies. Of course, if you're a nature lover, it could also knock you down with its river/gorge/forest/mountain awesomeness.

The Qingzang Railway: I'm guessing you didn't think this is how you'd ever experience 15,000 feet. Linking western China to Tibet, this high-altitude train has oxygen supplies under every seat, in case you get a little woozy from watching a landscape of glaciers and Himalayan peaks. Note to the wise: you must prove your heart capable of making such a jaunt, preferably with legit paperwork.

On Foot

The Carpathian Mountains: Give yourself a week in Eastern Europe for some vampire hunting. Whether you believe in Romania's folk mythology or not, the day hikes through these mountains peppered with wildlife and culture-rich castles and related history. Let your imagination freak you out in Transylvania.

High Atlas Mountains: Pack mules lug your load while walking from village to village among the Moroccan mountain range. And if your particularly adventurous, climb North Africa's tallest peak at 13,670 feet. And, of course, there's no doubt this country harbors some pretty amazing cities with loads to unload in the form of exotic culture.

In Search of Culture

Athenian Ruins

Classical Greece: Imagine the birth of Western civilization in the actual places of its occurrence. And showing up in June could score you front row seats at a Greek play spoken in the original language, that is if you stop by Epidavros for the annual festival. And don't then call it quits after Athens; you've still gotta see Delphi, Mycenae, and Olympia.

Arnhem Land Cultural Safari: The oldest civilization on the planet have got themselves a nook all their own to cherish their history, culture, and way of life. To visit the Aborigines of Northern Australia requires registering and taking a guided, organized tour. And with that golden ticket comes a slew of coveted experiences from the Aborigines themselves.

In Gourmet Heaven

Trappist Monastery Beers: Investigate the subtle differences between every other [immaculately engineered] beer in the world and those with the Authentic Trappist Product label. Either you can rent a car and visit the monastery churches (not the breweries), or you can sit at a bar and try them all from the comforts of your stool. I guess one is more scenic.

From Pesto to Paella: Genoa to Valencia. It's very obvious the one bound for this gastro-adventure will come home 10 pounds happier. Order what's most fresh and special, the delicacy of the area, the meal everyone else is munching on. Rent a car and take your time. Savor those morsels!

Into the Action

Dutch Bulbfields: Cycling around Holland seems like an obligatory task when traveling there, but it's also said to be the optimal way to view the blooming extravaganza every spring, when tulips fill fields with brilliant colors. Stock up on your bulbs like you're heading to Costco.

Diving with Sharks: While some call it a truly crazy idea, I call it a darn good time. Jumping in a cage next to a boat surrounded by chummy water and fish the size of station wagons - what could be better for a thrill? Head down to Cape Town to see the scariest smiles in the world.

Up and Away

Floatplane to the Nahanni: Glide on into the first ever UNESCO World Heritage Site, located in the remote Northwestern Territories of Canada. Rock, rivers, wildlife, waterfalls - they all blend their extremes together to create an impressive backdrop for an adventure. Careful of the massive mammals that roam the lands.

The Burj Dubai: The world's fastest elevator, which happens to be a double decker, is fittingly situated in the massive column of the Burj Dubai, presently the world's tallest building. Observe the hazy, impressive city of Dubai from the 124th floor where you'll surely feel a bit of a sway to and fro.

In Their Footsteps

The Odyssey: Reading The Odyssey while buoying around the Aegean Sea may just inspire you with divine knowledge to know which real islands were the models for the fantastical ones from Homer's epic poem. Santorini? Crete? Give yourself three weeks to follow your own version of the journey.

James Joyce's Dublin: Joyce's book, Ulysses, is yet another reason why tourists love Dublin and its earthy goodness. June marks a great time to visit, as the Bloomsday Festival carries on with period costumes speckling the streets and activities based on the classic book attracting the true fans to the plate.

How's that brain? Spinning with innumerable desires to traverse continents and climates? Pull out a pen and prioritize your life by putting one or more of these trips at the top of the list. And by planning a year in advance, you'll be quite able to save, prepare, and anticipate the rigors of your adventure in every way. Check back in July for the Journeys of a Lifetime you could partake in next year!

Where are you inspired to travel to next year? Leave a comment and be my new friend.

Subscribe to Nomadderwhere's posts via RSS feed or e-mail

Journeys of a Lifetime in May

Welcome back to my new monthly series on Nomadderwhere, one which highlights the incredible trips one could take in that current month - thanks to a vibrant book called Journeys of a Lifetime by National Geographic. Each month I pick a couple adventures from each section in the book in order to provide you inspiration for 365 days from now. Read the brief description to whet your appetite, and click on the trip name for further information (links provided by National Geographic...of course you could be a gritty backpacker and make it on your own).

Across Water

Frontier Country: Hug Indiana's southern border via river barge to experience the wild, the musical, the historical, the classy and the rowdy. I'm talking about Nashville's music scene, the natural surroundings of former Native American land, and the Kentucky Derby, which takes place during the first week of May!

Cruising Milford Sound: Thank you, Ice Age, for carving out this amazing landscape. Waterfalls cascade from the mountaintops where rain forests cling. Sail, fly, walk, drive - there are seemingly no bad ways to experience this place.

By Road

Route 66 Through Arizona: Blare your Bob Dylan and rev your old fart engine. Cruise down America's "Main Street," and you may say some thoughts like: "Gee, that's a big canyon" or "Are these guys gunfighting for real?"

The Riviera Corniches: Rent a car and drive these coastal highways that carve into the famous French Riviera. I've got a feeling, if this is your kind of trip, you'll be doing a lot of chewing and swallowing between each drive. Sounds lovely.

By Rail

The Bolshoi Express: St. Petersburg to Moscow. The Hermitage, the Kremlin - see everything amazing from both cities, including the amazing scenery in between while aboard Russia's first post-Soviet luxury train. Won't you take me to SWANKY TOWWWN!

The Andean Explorer: From the old capital of the ancient Inca world to the highest navigable lake in the world, enjoy every high altitude chug to the clear skies from your cabin window. Stops are made to increase appreciation for the fresh air and local markets selling soft alpaca wool. I hope they play the Emperor's New Groove on the train!

On Foot

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Everest Base Camp: My friend's grandparents took this legendary journey on foot twice in their last decades, so don't write this off just yet as something you cant handle. Acclimate to the Nepalese world for a few days in Kathmandu, take the 8 day trek up 18,000 feet to base camp, and visit the tea houses and quaint high altitude villages along the way. The photo to the right shows my view of Everest from 107 miles away (it's the little pink dot above the blue mountains. She's a tall sucker.

Samaria Gorge: Herb-scented air wafts through this wildlife-littered cut through western Crete, and you could too, if you only knew it was there. Pass through the Iron Gates in May, and you'll be walking amongst many wildflowers and past very few people. The taverns at the end near the southern coast make for an excellent and compelling finish line!

In Search of Culture

Frank Lloyd Wright in Oak Park: The May tours fill up quickly for this bike trip through a western suburb of Chicago filled with the highest concentration of FLW architecture. Admire his radical Prairie Style creations with Cubist influences while also burning some cals! And it doesn't hurt that Chicago has quite a lot more to admire.

Renaissance Italy: If I tried, I don't think I could do Italy's Renaissance evidence justice. Florences streets and many, many palaces, museums, and churches; Siena's cathedral, town square, and civic building; Rome's Sistine Chapel and other works scattered across the Vatican...you know you need to go. It's just about finding the time. Well, next May will be your time to explore Italy back in one of its many hey days.

In Gourmet Heaven

Depachika Shopping in Tokyo: A depachika is a basement of a department store in Japan, and these floors are stuffed to the brim with top quality food merchandise, including cured meats and cheeses from Italy, cigar wafers, chocolates, and the most expensive and juicy melon you'll ever taste. Though you don't have to wait until May; this is year-round shopping.

The Baltic Gourmet: I find the cultures between prominent cultures fascinating. So what happens when the culinary traditions of Germany, Poland, Russia, and Sweden collide? You get the palette of meat, fish, root vegetables, sour cream, and dill that is enjoyed across the Baltic countries. Bus between Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia for the full gastronomic experience.

Into the Action

The Trans Canada Trail: Wow, this thing really is TRANS-Canada. Stretching from the Pacific to the Atlantic, and even up to the Arctic Ocean, you can either jump on for an hour of wildlife spotting and nature admiring or you can strap on a backpack and hike a massive chunk. And if you start in May, you've got the whole summer to blaze the trail. Keep in mind that in the Yukon region, summer offers 24 hours of daylight!

ATVs in the Namib Dunes: The ATVs just denote the tip of the adventure sport iceberg in Namibia, while adventure sports only cover some of what's available in this southern African nation. Visit the atmospheric Skeleton Coast, watch for dolphins, eat top notch oysters, stalk animals, and don't forget to motor around the dunes looking for that landscape of the Atlantic on the horizon.

Up and Away

Hoover Dam Air Tour: Take off in the morning to ride smooth air waves over this modern civil engineering wonder of America. Of course, if you take the sunset tour, you return to the neon-happy Las Vegas cityscape. After this trip, you'll finally be able to tell your friends you know what 5 million barrels of cement looks like.

El Teleferico: All other cable cars will feel puny compared to this one in Merida, Venezuela. Ascend the longest and highest of the global litter to sit atop Pico Espejo, an Andean peak. Block off your morning, because the cars only run from 7am until noon.

In Their Footsteps

Captain Cook's Polynesia: Jump on a ten day cruise of some lovely, isolated islands that surely beat your home landscape. Black pearls, underwater kalidescopic wonderlands, and evidence of Gauguin can't top the gorgeous surroundings, but they can certainly top the cake! The South Pacific isn't a place to see in a hurry. Sandwich your cruise with some extra days to be an islander and slow your life down.

Pilgrimage to Santiago: Join the thousands who have blazed this trail before you and become a medieval pilgrim to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. If you want to be really authentic, nix the shoes, but if you're not crazy, enjoy your hearty soles as your traverse the Iberian peninsula's north. Your first stop could include a bull run in Pamplona, but don't remember...a swift jab of a horn could do your pilgrimage in!

How's that brain? Spinning with innumerable desires to traverse continents and climates? Pull out a pen and prioritize your life by putting one or more of these trips at the top of the list. And by planning a year in advance, you'll be quite able to save, prepare, and anticipate the rigors of your adventure in every way. Check back in June for the Journeys of a Lifetime you could partake in next year!

Where are you inspired to travel to next year? Leave a comment and be my new friend.

Subscribe to Nomadderwhere's posts via RSS feed or e-mail

Journeys of a Lifetime in April

Welcome back to my new monthly series on Nomadderwhere, one which highlights the incredible trips one could take in that current month - thanks to a vibrant book called Journeys of a Lifetime by National Geographic. Each month I pick a couple adventures from each section in the book in order to provide you inspiration for 365 days from now. Read the brief description to whet your appetite, and click on the trip name for further information (links provided by National Geographic...of course you could be a gritty backpacker and make it on your own).

Read More

This year's popular posts

I'm very happy to report Nomadderwhere has come a long way since this time last year, when I moved from a simple blogspot to a bonafide domain of my own. Since that time I've changed my writing style and topics, grown a readership of surprisingly many (thanks to you), won the most amazing internship known to man, and turned this online outlet for my travel thoughts and work into something that may one day sustain me. For those of you just stopping by for the first time, this is probably the best post at which to start. According to my stats and Google analytics, these are the top posts for Nomadderwhere.

The Makings of a Travel Video...I didn’t study telecommunications or video art in college, nor did I have a good operating system while making my application video last year. If you’re new at this, like I was, don’t worry because if you have a computer, some travel footage and a passion to produce, you can make some mean videos...Bottom line is to be aware of the story you are crafting and make sure it gives people a reason to watch beyond 10 seconds and a reason to stick around until the end. The music helps me monumentally with this step of the process.

Ten Great Ideas for Chicago...I received word from two different people that Cafe Ba-Ba-Reebas! in Lincoln Park had the greatest and most authentic tapas in the city. Since my cousin is a budding foodie and my other friend lived in Spain and learned to cook there, I took their advice as fast as I took down my sangria. Rioja short ribs with manchego mashed potatoes, house meat plate with serrano, salchichon, chorizo, chicken & artichoke paella, crispy spicy potatoes with sun-dried tomato alioli, and warm potato & onion omelette - everything tasted so flavorful, even my friends who had been here before were amazed and raving. The thrill of good food doesn’t get old...

My Friend, Evan Witty...But he found more appeal in living with 100+ kids in a country he had no ties to. He wanted to move people and make physical and emotional necessities available to anyone. With that desire and an experience such as the one he had at Palm Tree, his life work was destined to be hugely impacting and awe-inspiring, and I'm so sorry we don't get to witness his next steps.But he passed with people who loved him and he loved in return, in his sleep on the beach in Cambodia...

Things I Didn't Know Before Coming to Greece...The Greek and Italian languages are nothing alike There’s no avoiding cigarette smoke in Greece…It’s everywhere In Greece, the party starts well after midnight and can continue into brunch time The water really is that blue...

Sometimes On the Road...You Miss Out...For some reason unknown to me and my surrounding web, I've decided it's okay to miss the things that matter most in order to blaze literal and personal trails towards anything from failure to success. This travel path can sound illogical and like a waste, but when I realize the passions I've acquired and the maturity I've obtained, I fear where I would be without all those 50+ flights to global destinations and potential moments of learning...

What is Nomadderwhere?...Nomadderwhere is a philosophy: it doesn't matter where you are, it matters that you're always learning and flexing with your surroundings, whether you're traveling or stationary. To capture this idea is to capture the art of travel, to know the importance of movement and to become self-aware...because you are the only constant in your world...

Street Smarts: Transport Scams...“So I know we agreed on 40 rupees to the Siliguri bus station, but I know you’re going to forget this deal, even though I wrote the fare down on my hand. I’m really hoping you’re an honest and swell guy who claims he has change when he really does.” With this sort of dialogue, it’s all about tone and appearance. Speak kindly and smile the entire time. It doesn’t work any other way. And a word from experience: the more you make them laugh, the better the fare becomes...

The Irony of my Lifestyle...Since I returned from a round-the-world trip on August 17th, I’ve done very little besides sit in front of screens – computer, TV, what-have-you. I seldom leave home or drive my car unless it’s purely necessary. Rarely do I step outside if not to summon my cat in at twilight, and the most exercise I get comes from group fitness classes at the gym down the street. I spent one weekend in northern Indiana with my best friends eating guacamole and floating on one long raft around Lake Tippicanoe, but that certainly can’t be all the excitement I can handle over a two month period. Why do I not carpe the diem when I’m not traveling?...

Reviewing Jon Krakauer's Into the Wild...What was certainly magnified by Krakauer's text was the reality that we humans harbor primordial desires, and it's on a sliding scale how much we allow these feelings to be heard and acted upon. It is my belief that travelers, adventurers, nomads and those hopeful to detach from the man-made structure of modern civilization are more responsive to those "calls of the wild." Unconventional living forces a constant reevaluation of one's life [and one's mortality], and when we are closer in mindset to our own expiration, it seems we connect closer to the motivations of our primitive ancestors...

Cruises, Destination, and the Authentic...Within the open ocean is a sea of 60-40 couples, incredibly perky cougars on the prowl, families with seven year-old twins and recent divorcees taking back their lives, not to mention a slew of Rascals scooting about. Of course, every cruise liner caters to a different demographic, which accounts for the vast differences among the commercial cruising fleets, but what they all share is the sense of ease that, in the mind of a “bare-bones” traveler, strips the so-called adventure down to physical displacement and cognitive retirement, which is in many cases the whole point...

Interview a Traveler: The Ski-Crazy Humanitarian...I work in an environment where people are stuck in one mindset. The monotony of everyday life can suck you in and but also give you the comfort of stability. I want to stimulate my mind and mix things up. My entire senior year of college I saved for my trip to Europe, and everyday I think back to the crazy things I did and the knowledge that I gathered and feel proud. Being young and having a flexible (and seasonal) job is a plus. So spending my money on travel is why it’s there...

The Birth of The Nakavika Project, Part 1...L: “I found an amazing flight deal I want to look further into. If the price is right, would you consider dropping the road trip idea and heading to Fiji to live in a village? We could do our own thing there, use our skills to start some effort from scratch, and I know we’re already invited and welcome to be there. I talked to them a week ago.” G: “Wow, Linz, you’re turnin’ the tables on me! This could be such a huge opportunity. Let me think it over…(30 minutes later)...I am completely, 100% behind this idea...

Plummeting Towards Earth...We landed perfectly, a few steps to a complete standing stop, and I yelled my amazement to all the men at the bottom who hear these exclamations every day. And that was it. I jumped out of a plane. Nuts. Simply nuts...

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Reviewing The Best Women's Travel Writing 2009

The Best Womens Travel Writing 2009
The Best Womens Travel Writing 2009

I don't normally buy these sort of books, and thanks to a friendly backpacker in Fiji, I didn't have to. Why don't I buy comprehensive anthologies of my favorite genre? Because it's not enough.

Five pages about a person's trip in Mexico just gets me in the mood; it doesn't take me there. Maybe I've read too many full narratives to now have an intolerance of anything shorter. Maybe I'm missing the point of anthologies - to sample other authors or witness the best of the best.

All I know is I read this on a beach in Fiji, swaying in a hammock under palm fronds and rustling coconuts. I could enjoy any book in that setting. And though I found a few stories lacking the substance, syntax and the snazzy wit I prefer, there were enough great tales between these covers to make the book worth lugging 7,300 miles home. Let me tell about a few of 'em!

Mexican Rain

by Pamela Alma Bass

In a town full of "whispered secrets," love and loss are inevitable.

My book sunning itself
My book sunning itself

Maybe it's my interest in Mexico. Maybe the fact that Pamela made me laugh out loud. But I think one of the main attractions I had to this tale was the perspective of the author and her choice to not describe a place just as everyone can. She took her personal connotations of San Miguel de Allende and illustrated its energy by taking the reader on a journey through her heart palpitations without the plain Jane explanations of where you are and what's going on. She assumes you can figure out the essentials between the lines of her prose.

It may come with the territory of exposing quite a bit of yourself in your writing. Pamela speaks to the reader as though they understand her sarcasm - just like an old friend would. Wouldn't it seem weird to talk about a romantic evening with a studly, foreign man and then hold back in a bubble of formality? I guess that's my interest; I like people who open up and tell it the way they experience it, not the way others expect to hear it.

Big Cats, No Guns

by Laurie McAndish King

In Africa, life is good - when you're not on the menu.

This story was much more about the substance than the voice. It might be the fact that she tells a relatable experience of a bush walk, but I certainly know I chuckled at this line:

'A good way of testing the freshness of dung, is to thrust your hand into the centre of it. If the dung is fresh, it will be warm inside.' Right. Life I'm ever going to employ this methodology. They didn't even provide a chart correlating temperature to time elapsed to distance traveled.

That's silly, Laurie. About as silly as the advice she relayed about walking safaris and that dreaded face-off between quivering biped and monstrously large beast. Standing your ground without a gun in your party sounds like a fool's direction, but that's the rule, so they say. And her character of Maureen with the new kicks and bright pink windbreaker walking around the African bush gave me a great visual. Illustrating her ironic presence there was as ominous as writing in a handgun in the story opener: something had to happen to that woman, especially since she apparently had an untied left shoelace.

Climaxing at a chance seen with dozens of other animals did the real trick. Great experience. Glad you lived to tell the tale, Laurie.

Lost in Jamaica

by Laurie Gough

In Negril, a town founded by hippies, the author explores its hedonistic ways.

Another Laurie! There must be something in the name that excites their travel writing to a level not often touched by most.

So here's the gist. Laurie befriends a local Jamaican woman and clicks with her family life - away from the drug tourists and resort hot tubs that muddy her prior exposure. Unfortunately, she burns her leg on the exhaust pipe of a motorbike and has to leave the authenticity of her experience to seek medical help.

And medicine she gets, albeit from a creepy old lady on the beach. We don't often picture 80 year-old women with wicker baskets to be drug pushers, which is probably why Laurie was caught off guard and couldn't deny the "somewhat pushy" entrepreneur her $2. Laurie ensues with an incredible explanation of her feelings while high as a skyscraper in Dubai. Not everyone has these sorts of travel experiences, nor does everyone necessarily want to, which is why I liked hearing her detail a mindset that frightens my curiosity.

The Bottomline

Open book; don't judge
Open book; don't judge

I could list my honorable mentions or go on giving away some of the best plots, or you could head to your local library and check it out yourself. Again, if I were into reading snippets of exotic life over and over again, I'd totally buy this great anthology, but I think I have a zest for the art of a novel, instead. Although, I'll make the point again that I now know a few more writers I'd be interested thanks to reading this collection.

Travelers' Tales has already published its 2010 edition of the same topic, The Best Women's Travel Writing, and is always accepting submissions for the next editions of their many annual anthologies.

Journeys of a Lifetime in March

Welcome back to my new monthly series on Nomadderwhere, one which highlights the incredible trips one could take in that current month - thanks to a vibrant book called Journeys of a Lifetime by National Geographic. Each month I pick a couple adventures from each section in the book in order to provide you inspiration for 365 days from now. Read the brief description to whet your appetite, and click on the trip name for further information (links provided by National Geographic...of course you could be a gritty backpacker and make it on your own).

Across Water

Sampo Arctic Icebreaker: Crunch across Finlands waterways in this 75 meter ship, and psych yourself up for a quick dip in the icy sea - protected by a thermal watertight suit, of course. Book well in advance. This looks awesome.

The Lower Zambezi River: What an incredible ride in between Zambia and Zimbabwe, where I actually saw elephants swimming, massive crocodiles sunning, and hippos pop out of nowhere - scaring the living daylights outta me.

By Road

From Cairo to the Cape: Africa is a trail map, and this is the main route. Bike it, overland it, drive it, but I beg you...don't walk through the Sahara. Give yourself at least two months, more like four, to make the trek, and you'll really feel like you know Africa.

From Delhi to Agra: Try shrine-hopping in India, avoiding the bulk of the heat and rain in March. Aside from the usual must-dos like the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort, be sure to visit Fatehpur Sikri to see a well-preserved palace complex with an interesting history...no, really!

By Rail

The Shinkansen: The mother of all train systems. The Japanese are so time-efficient, the driver will humbly apologize if the train arrives even a minute behind the expected TOA. All you'll be thinking on this trip, aside from how clean and swanky everything is, is scenery...scenery...scenery...ooooh, cherry blossoms!

Venice Simplon-Orient-Express: Definitely not for the backpacker type, this line from London toParis to Innsbruck to Venice is possibly the most luxurious train in the world (ex: bring your black tie). Mark off two days and one night in March 2011 and take one of the year's first rides across the Alps and Dolomites.

On Foot

The Grand Traverse: Amble the great divide between Fiordland and the Southern Alps in New Zealand's South Island, and make sure you get there in time for the clear views in March. A five day trek with camping lodges on the way; it sounds like you need to book ahead to witness this masterpiece of nature.

The National Mall: After Japan, why not doing the Grand World Tour of Cherry Blossoms (not a real trip) by hitting up D.C. thawing trail. Bring some stellar walking shoes to visit all the memorials, but don't forget your artsy scarf and cat-eye glasses for the museums next!

In Search of Culture

Venetian Legacy: After taking the luxurious train from London to Venice, why not continue onward by stepping back in time, to when the Venetians were on top of the trading world. Take a ferry to Cyprus, via Greece, to view the cultural and economic influences on the harbor cities - town halls, mansions, fortresses, and all things tall, flashy and handsome.

Moorish Spain: Wind around Sevilla, Cordoba, Granada and Ronda to observe the remnants of the region once called the most civilized and properous in Europe (for 400 years, I might add). The Moors were partial to using Arabic architectural elements, bling in the form of gold leaf, and serious tricks with water fountain construction.

In Gourmet Heaven

Malbec in Mendoza: I don't think I need to do too much convincing with this one. Here's all you need to know: Argentina, mountains, wine, meat...done. Oh, and I can't forget, the first weekend of March holds the Vendimia, or harvest, festival. Don't you dare miss that!

Margaret River Wine Region: Man, I'm all about the wine this month. Visit the very bottom left of Australia in March, and you'll not only have beautiful red teeth from all the lovely wine tastings but also ears ringing from the sweet music of local events and festivals. While you're there, why not check out where the Indian and Southern Oceans converge. Kir-Splash!

Into the Action

Dogsledding in Alaska: Go just about any cold month and experience your mushing fantasy; however, venture up to Alaska in March and try your skills on the Iditarod trail, which will be held at that time. Not sure how much of a spectator sport it is, with its 1,151 mile course, but surely the scenery and will of the competitors is awe-inspiring.

Vermont's Catamount Trail: Can you ski across an entire state? Why not give it a try? Because it's hard...but, boy, what a story you could tell your friends back at home, through your chapped lips. Take a month and meander up or down the trail through the Green Mountains, stopping in country inns along the way. Be sure and carb load with lots of maple syrup!

Up and Away

Heliskiing the Alps: It's exactly what it sounds like: skiing on new snow overlooking the entire mountain range of the European Alps. Whether you go through France, Austria, Switzerland, or Italy, it doesn't matter. Base yourself at one ski resort or move around across borders. All you're going to remember are the amazing views and the adrenaline rushes.

Microlight on my Golden Birthday

Victoria Falls by Microlight: I was fortunate enough to experience this on my golden birthday, when I turned 23 on the 23rd. Get up early in the morning, put on a helmet, and board a kite with a lawn mower engine attached. Fly into a surreal world above the trees where you can see hippos swimming, elephant herds wandering, and the world's largest waterfall spew water of gigantic proportions.

In Their Footsteps

Route Napoleon: Why march in March along Napoleon's footsteps post-exile in Alba? Why, for authenticity of course! Make your way from Cannes to Grenoble, although I imagine you won't be greeted by mobs of supporters calling you "emperor," Oh well, at least you'll see some pretty cool scenery.

Tolstoy's Russia: Witness what inspired Leo Tolstoy to create work, such as Anna Karenina, by following his trail of museums and influential cities. Be certain you take a day (or two) trip to Tula, where he was born and now lies today. Tula also marks the location of his experimental school, friends, favorite natural surroundings, the peasants he worked with, and his novels' conceptions and creations. Enjoy the brisk winds of Russia in March!

How's that brain? Spinning with innumerable desires to traverse continents and climates? Pull out a pen and prioritize your life by putting one or more of these trips at the top of the list. And by planning a year in advance, you'll be quite able to save, prepare, and anticipate the rigors of your adventure in every way. Check back in April for the Journeys of a Lifetime you could partake in next year!

Where are you inspired to travel to next year? Leave a comment and be my new friend.

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Journeys of a Lifetime in February

Welcome back to my new monthly series on Nomadderwhere, one which highlights the incredible trips one could take in that current month - thanks to a vibrant book called Journeys of a Lifetime by National Geographic. Each month I pick a couple adventures from each section in the book in order to provide you inspiration for 365 days from now. Read the brief description to whet your appetite, and click on the trip name for further information (links provided by National Geographic...of course you could be a gritty backpacker and make it on your own).

Across Water

Cruising to Antarctica: Start at the end of the world (Ushuaia at the tip of South America) and float toward the chilly marine life and frozen antiquity of Antarctica. You'd only do this once in your life, unless your a scientist, a mountaineer or crazy. Make that one trip count.

Pirogues and Pinasses on the Niger River: You're going to feel timeless and relaxed while floating on this great waterway of Africa. Mali makes for great camping, and the fare you catch from the river will make for excellent campfire dinners as well.

By Road

From Lisbon to Porto: Salt pans, flatlands, pine forests, wooded hills, vine-clad valleys - get a load of Portugal's western coast! Get in that car and go.

The Garden Route: South Africa's tip is not only an optical masterpiece with plenty of indigineous wild and plant life, but it's incredibly accessible for backpackers via city hostels and the Baz Bus for transport in between. Along this route are adventure activities ranging from the world's most beautiful sky dive drop zone to great white shark diving.

By Rail

Eastern & Oriental Express: Singapore to Bangkok...in style. Restaurant cars with high quality food and piano bars for sipping cocktails with a panoramic view - this could be an excellent way to see Southeast Asia's peninsula, maybe not my way. Sometimes the luxury is a nice break from the overhaul.

Darjeeling Toy Train: Locals in Darjeeling joke there's no other town in the world where a train passenger can step out of the car, take a leak and hop back in without breaking a slight jog. Locals also kid there's no other town in the world where the train gets caught in traffic jams. Darjeeling's toy train is scrawny for India's standards, but it offers views of the 3rd tallest mountain, Kanchenjunga.

On Foot

The Torres Del Paine: It's no secret I'm pining for a trip to South America's tip, to see Patagonia and Ushuaia in person. The Torres Del Paine National Park does nothing to hinder this desire. Nature trumps man once again. My hiking boots are ready.

Hill Villages of Chiang Mai: A trip up to the Thai mountain villages near Chiang Mai sounds fantastic to me, especially arriving at the end of the rainy season in February. If you're considering a trip, I'd be sure to do my research on tours vs. independent and the status of tourism's effect on the area. Anyone have experience with this region?

In Search of Culture

Maya Temples: Travel to Cancun for another reason this winter and begin a trip across Mexico, Belize and Guatemala to see the ancient remains of the Mayan jungle cities. I'd advise you to prepare by marrying the stairmaster in anticipation of the steep temple steps.

Musical Journey to Central Europe: Start in Czech Republic, mosey across Austria and end your musical quest in Hungary after becoming one with the natural and cultural inspirations of your favorite classical composers. Taking this trip is sure to give me flashbacks from my years at the piano bench, wishing the Mozart melodies in my books would be replaced by snazzy pop tunes. Thankfully, this never occurred.

In Gourmet Heaven

Cajun Cooking in Louisiana: February and Louisiana. There's only one thing I could be referring to…cajun food in Acadiana! Maybe after you unravel all the beads from your neck and find your shoes from the night before, head out of New Orleans for some real cajun food where the Nova Scotians originally settled and prepared their wicked meals.

Central Otago Wine Trail: Wine pilgrims, flock to the South Island of New Zealand for a Pinot Noir that gets international applause. And you'll surely hear your claps reverberate off the rugged, mountainous terrain that will surround your sampling session. I hope you don't choose to pair the wine with a nearby bungee jump, as the Kawarau Bridge sits tantalizingly close to all the grape festivities.

Into the Action

Tiger Safari: Ranthambore is a compact reserve in eastern Rajasthan - the perfect place to spot the 20-odd Bengal tigers terrorizing the wee other wildlife. Visiting in February beats the hot weather but comes just close enough to summer and its great conditions for seeing stripes.

Skiing Mont Blanc's Vallee Blanche: Sky down the highest Alp and the greatest run on the planet. Oui au…need I say more? I probably do…it's in France.

Up and Away

Skimming Ancient Australian Rain Forest: The rain in February awakens the ancient rain forest between Kuranda and Cairns near Australia's "Alfalfa" tip. Take the skyrail above the canopy for excellent views of the massive pythons and other wildlife dangling in the trees.

Nile Balloons: Early pre-dawn start, chilly desert morning, expansive views from a balloon in the sky, champagne breakfast - floating away from Luxor along the Nile does not seem like a shabby way to start your day in Egypt. Just think you could see more ancient temples and tombs before 9am than most people do their whole lives!

In Their Footsteps

Ansel Adams' Yosemite: Ansel Adams' parents gave him his first camera upon reaching Yosemite as a 14 year-old school boy. Visitors these days can visit the Ansel Adams Gallery and attend workshops on composing show-stopping photographs inspired by Adams' decades of work at this national park. Enjoy the snowy trails!

Jesus in the Holy Land: Visit a land where many religions converge, creating legendary landmarks of biblical proportions all over the country of Israel. Avoid the intense heat of the summer months by visiting in February, before the Easter crowd of pilgrims appears.

How's that brain? Spinning with innumerable desires to traverse continents and climates? Pull out a pen and prioritize your life by putting one or more of these trips at the top of the list. And by planning a year in advance, you'll be quite able to save, prepare, and anticipate the rigors of your adventure in every way. Check back in March for the Journeys of a Lifetime you could partake in next year!

Where are you inspired to travel to next year? Leave a comment and be my new friend.

Subscribe to Nomadderwhere's posts via RSS feed or e-mail