Europe

Disgraceful Tourism

 Girls at Palm Tree

Girls at Palm Tree

We travel because it's a rare kind of high that can also enlighten, rejuvenate, and ensure the occurrence of adventure. Regardless of the road's discomforts or challenges, travel seems to always evoke an inexplicable positivity - whether that's from the possibility of new friendships or just the newness of a myriad of elements. The scope of potential world travel is tantalizing, and thankfully tourism has the ability to elevate developing communities through employment opportunities and tax revenue. Win for the wanderer; win for the welcomers. Sadly, not every traveler sees his or her voyage to a new country in such a positive, symbiotic light. Those are the ones who perpetuate the very dark and very bleak side of travel. I'm talking about the perverted patrons of the sex tourism industry.

This post was written in conjunction with Angeline Diamond of ECPAT-USA.

The Darkest Form of Tourism

 Kids at Palm Tree

Kids at Palm Tree

I'm not talking about backpackers who delight in a consensual tryst or the business traveler hoping to meet a cute gentleman in the hotel bar. I'm talking people whose sole purpose for travel is to engage in sex with minors, or they may take it one step further and transport someone for criminal sexual conduct. Ya know…real classy types.

Let's lay this out logically. Sex tourism increases the demand for prostitution. However, this demand is not easily met by women willing to choose this profession. Therefore, to meet demands, the supply of prostitutes becomes contingent on extensive human trafficking networks. These networks appear to be incredibly underground, which is why we don't hear about them like we do the drug trade. But sadly, the U. S. State Department says one million children worldwide are enslaved in the global commercial sex trade. Sex trafficking is considered one of the top three most profitable criminal networks in the world, generating about $4 billion dollars a year.

It's enough to make you writhe.

I feel rather morally comfortable while traveling, since I know for a fact I'm not engaging in anything related to sex tourism. But unfortunately, the travel industry often unintentionally contributes to this debilitating form of abuse. This doesn't mean anyone should point fingers and never leave their homes, but we as travelers, if we have any interest in our hosting communities, have a duty to act in ways that prevent the exploitation of the most vulnerable members of society: the children.

Kids are awesome, and to imagine a start to life wrapped up in such a seedy and life-threatening industry could induce nightmares and permanent travel guilt.

Know They're Out There

I've written about the creeps who often navigate to my site from google searches, like: cambodian naked boy, sex tourism friendly hotels, little boy with no shirt. If my blog were my home, I'd sit with an acidic potato gun on the front porch and fire at any creep who wonders on my lawn. To much our surprise, perverts aren't as easy to spot as Mormon evangelists (not that I'm encouraging the same activity to these solicitors…they're just easy to spot).

 End child prostitution

End child prostitution

Instead, if I'm hoping that the world becomes a better place within my lifetime, I'd be better off imploring the help of fellow travelers who have an ounce of morality or two - hence, my blog post to you today.

I was recently contacted by ECPAT-USA, a network of organizations and individuals committed to the fight for children’s rights of freedom. While I know it's often fruitless to call for agency from an anonymous online audience, I figured it could only be beneficial to mention the tools they provide to assist the travel industry in preventing the sexual exploitation of children.

This acronym, which stands for Ending Child Prostitution, Pornography, and Trafficking, represents a group that focuses on research, advocacy, and public awareness. In conjunction with UNICEF and UNWTO, they created "The Code of Conduct," which outlines policies that may be adopted by travel companies within their code of ethics to prevent the sexual exploitation of children. Over 900 companies worldwide are in support of the code thus far, yet there are many companies that still hesitate.

Seriously…these guys are hesitating to support actions that prevent sexual exploitation. I'd like to hear the rebuttal for that argument.

Here we are, at the end of my ramble, where you can choose to do a couple things. You can click away mentally and physically (I admit to doing it a lot). You can consider yourself more aware and decide to learn more on your own time (I like to do this, as well). You can also exercise your "take action" muscle and follow some ECPAT-USA recommended steps toward making the travel industry more responsible. Regardless of your next step, I appreciate your perusal of this content and hope you feel enriched for doing so.

Kick Those Creeps Where The Sun Don't Shine

  • You may print out The Code Postcard and drop it off with your travel companies, which declares that you support responsible travel practices and travel companies that feel the same way. The Postcard provides information on how they may become a signatory.

    • If you take this route, do let ECPAT-USA know where you sent the postcard. It helps them out.

    • Check out ECPAT-USA online and follow us on Twitter.

    • Research the internet for great blogs about current issues.

    • Talk with your friends, family, co-workers, and other travelers to promote awareness and create a greater force against these practices.

    • Purchase a TassaTag, a beautiful, fair trade plus luggage tag, which also increases public awareness and benefits ECPAT research and women in Thailand.

Do you have any questions concerning sex tourism around the world? If so, you may contact Angeline directly at angeline@ecpatusa.org. And if you have any other information, stories, or reflections on this issue, please add to our dialogue below.

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.

 Ireland

Ireland

Connemara'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.

 Scotland

Scotland

Inverness 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 Five

The Big Five

Stalking 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.

Consume & Update: The Go! Edition

I just felt like churning the butter for a couple awesome things this week.

Go, Remote Locations...and Disclaimers!

This article on the most extreme and isolated places to live in the world is mildly interesting, but what I found most humorous was the ending disclaimer. Gotta keep it PC!

Disclaimer: As a brand, Tripbase are accepting of all global cultures. This article is written from a Western perspective and is meant for humorous purposes only. No offense is intended.

Said about The Pitcairn Islands:

Notable also for the sexual assault trial of 2004, in which 7 men living on the island went on trial. With all but one of the defendants being found guilty of some charges, this incident had the unfortunate side effect of pretty much tying up most of the area's workforce (which consists of roughly 15 people in total). Seriously, sexual assault on an island that small? Not to mention the fact that most of them will be related...

Said about Tristan da Cunha:

Another interesting fact is that in the entire community there are only 8 surnames and 80 families, most likely leading to a horrific dating scene.

Said about Oymyakon, Siberia:

Other interesting facts include that it's so cold, that some birds can freeze solid mid-flight, plummeting to the ground like a rock. Spit will also freeze solid before it hits the ground at -50°C and a glass of water thrown into the air will freeze before it hits the ground.

Alright Undercover Reporting in North Korea! Go! Go! Go!

Even though this article was written in August of 2009, I still find it interesting. I'm enchanted by mysteries.

It took them two hours to inspect our luggage when the group entered the country and four hours to go through every picture on our cameras—and to delete the ones they deemed improper—when we left. They apparently didn't know that it is easy to switch out memory cards.

...On one occasion, I drew a banana on a piece of paper and showed it to a waitress; she had never seen one. She knew about apples, but she had never eaten one. I brought 150 Kit-Kat bars into the country, and I always took several out of my bag when I was alone with a North Korean. They would hesitate for a few seconds, look around to make sure that no one else was watching, and then stuff the Kit-Kats into their pockets.

Other Discoveries

Someone recently asked me if I saw Kevorkian's side, based on my newly appointed personal stance on pain and life. Interesting...

Can't post a Consume & Update without tips from Problogger: The Secret to Long-Term Blogging Success and Creating Facebook Landing Pages

Update on Nomadderwhere

Happy Independence Day, 'Mericans! I'm back to mental stability and a regular routine! Yesterday, I moved from my parent's home in Indianapolis to my hometown of Wabash. I'll be in a home sans TV, constant internet, and...well, furniture. It'll be Hermit-ville. It'll be lovely. Tomorrow's Video of the Week will fill in the blanks.

This week's thin herd of postings:

Things will be changing soon. The content tsunami cometh...

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

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.

Consume & Update on a Saturday?!

Normally I publish my community outreach on Sundays, but as tomorrow is a holiday, I thought I would switch it up a bit...just this week.

That "Rascal," Kim Jong Il, and His Antics

Far from simply a rascal, North Korea's dictator is one paranoid character, with due cause, and has recently been noted for traveling with ridiculously extreme caution...and luxury.

Kim's train is equipped with conference rooms, an audience chamber and bedrooms, with a pair of Mercedes-Benzes on standby, not to mention satellite phone connections and flat-screen TVs so the leader can be briefed and issue orders.

His precautions make sense, I guess. He's not the coolest man on the planet. And even he knows it...

One tell-all memoir written by a former associate claims that Kim once even banned secretaries from wearing hairpins in his office, fearing they might be used to assassinate him.

Am I going to get one some red list for blogging about this article? Yikes. And speaking of North Korea, did you know American tourists are now allowed to travel on the guided tours just like non-American Westerners can. I sure didn't until earlier this week. Would you go given you were in the Asia area and had some free time? Comment below!

And You Thought YOU Were Generous...

Fiji 0201

Charles wrote a quality piece this week at Vagablogging about non-Western hospitality that pointed to our often short-lived hospitality at home. We're taught to shower "pleases" and "thank yous" at everyone we encounter or interact with, and paired with gratitude and proper body language, this is the upmost level of appreciation we can muster.

But what if your in a culture that doesn't accept your onslaught of gratitude and undeserving attitude?

What if they just want to give you the hook up without receiving sainthood-status in your eyes? I think many Americans are incredibly kind and hospitable, but is Charles right? Do we not know how to accept or deal with non-Western hospitable nature based on our own belief that hospitality is somewhat short-lived?

Don't Waste the Soap!

A fresh bar every time, a couple hand washes, and you're done with it. What happens to a bar of hotel soap once you've checked out. It usually joins its 2 million brothers in a landfill, but Clean The World has decided to change this around. Intelligent Travel fills us in on the lathery goodness.

Still a devastating threat to children in developing countries, diarrheal diseases cause some 1.6 million of the 1.8 million childhood deaths that occur each year, according to the World Health Organization. Suitable drinking water sources, regular hand washing habits, and proper hygiene practices can eliminate these entirely avoidable fatalities.

Can't Feel Blue Looking at This!

Thank you, Vagabondish, for this eye candy from Norway's coast.

Coast of Norway

Other Discoveries

This is quite a doosie of an article: The Absurdity of Spiritual Enlightenment

Found this interesting simply because I've been studying Mexico's interesting approach to Catholic veneration: Say a Little Prayer for...Death?

Check out Jenny's new interview with SoSauce. Who is Jenny? Well, she's my new boss, silly!

Update on Nomadderwhere

 May 6th, 2010

May 6th, 2010

What on earth am I doing to you this week?!? Am I crazy?!?

Monday: The Nakavika Project Outtakes video Tuesday: Journeys of a Lifetime in May Wednesday: The Triple Importance of Cinco de Mayo Thursday: The First Hour of 2010 in the World Friday: Urgency and a Broken Hip Not to mention the Consume & Update on a Saturday?!?

I've been told it's much more thrilling to stay current with what I'm talking about, as opposed to the flashbacks to Fiji. And now that you know my big news for June, I've got to tell those Fiji stories mad fast, because while in Mexico you'll want to know what's going on in the moment!

My twitter is present day, my Youtube isn't far behind, but my blog for some reason is still experiencing New Year's 2010! Don't worry. The crazy schedule this month will make it all better.

As you can tell, I have many interests (personal travel narratives, reviews, inspiration, World Traveler Internship, ProjectExplorer, etc.), and I'll be writing about all these topics in the near future, hoping to find a balance and order with all of them, including their expression in multi-media form. If you have any ideas on how I can make my blog easier to follow, contact me!

1 Minute or Less Moments: This week on my Nomadderwhere Facebook Fan Page, I've published raw video clips of some fun moments with the kids and on the carrier with some of the boozing fellas.

 Nomadderwhere's Facebook Fan Page

Nomadderwhere's Facebook Fan Page

The Triple Importance of Cinco de Mayo

There are three reasons why I really love this day on the calendar, and aren't the final reasons in these sort of lists always the best?

First Meal in Florence Alone

Reason #1

Four years ago today, I flew solo across the Atlantic for the first time in my life...solo meaning without family or friends, not Amelia Earhart-style. After having studied abroad in Italy during high school, I found it absolutely necessary to return to Florence, my favorite city in "the boot," and study that which inspired me: art and the Italian language.

What began with that memorable flight was a sequence of events that eventually propelled me toward Semester at Sea and the lifestyle I now call my own. Living in Florence, I took the constant inspiration and my favored style of impromptu prose writing and created a travel voice for myself. The world and its elements became the ingredients of my artistic movement. I became an aspiring travel writer. That was May 5th, 2006.

Reason #2

Two years ago today, I boarded yet another plane to Italy; however, this ticket wasn't round-trip, unless you count round-the-world as such.

I suffered yet another travel-induced bout of insomnia, vibrated with anxiety, and took off on my solo venture toward self-understanding and global experiences. May 5th, 2008 marked the day I started my Big Journey, when only two days prior I moved a tassel to the side and earned my college degree.

Reason #3

Today, I'm not flying to Italy, nor am I bound for the boot anytime in the foreseeable future. Instead, this year marks the first time I understand what the holiday is about. Because the classroom wasn't my optimal learning environment (and my memory stinks), I never really grasped the holiday until now...now that it's my job to know all things Mexico.

I recently revealed how I landed my next travel endeavor, and now it's time to explain this dream job in a little more detail.

I'm going to Mexico in June, not because I decided to spend all my money again or because I got a free trip somehow. ProjectExplorer has deemed me worthy, thanks to my various venues for my travel documentation, of being a traveling producer, shooter, and photographer for their online educational programming for children.

I'll be one unit in a team of five, all collaborating skills and passions to create dynamic and innovative media that will educate classrooms around the world about the country of Mexico. Why Mexico? Because they invited us, silly!

Prior to take-off, I've been studying Mexico's many facets: its pre-Columbian civilizations, the grand capital of Mexico City, its legendary revolutionaries, and all things contemporary south of the border. Because of this duty, I know that Cinco de Mayo marks the day 148 years ago when:

Mexico drew its forces before the city of Puebla and began their assault on the French. The battle, lasting from daybreak to early evening, ended with a French retreat at their loss of nearly 500 soldiers, while Mexico saw less than 100 killed. The win represented a great moral victory for the Mexican government and her resistance to oppressive powers.

...in case you wanted to know.

DSC_0239

I've been frantically reading narratives on Mexico, such as David Lida's First Stop in the New World, as well as chatting with friends who would call Mexico their home tomorrow if they could. My training in academic research paid off for the job thus far, and soon I'll be applying my other learned skills in videography and education to the creative side of this gig.

Through our 80+ short films, hundreds of photographs, and numerous blogs on Mexico (see example site page here from the Jordan project), we're hoping children understand better the culture, history, and people of Mexico, and with that kind of education, we all know what awesome things can result. I dare say world peace, but world citizens also works.

And so, on this Cinco de Mayo, I may just learn how to make mole poblano (the classic meal of the holiday) or dumb it down to a simple celebration of Mexico with a cerveza in hand. Regardless, this year's holiday is a thrilling reminder of my immediate future with ProjectExplorer and our first trip together - to Mexico.

If you'd like to be a part of ProjectExplorer, participate in the Good Global Citizen campaign (the one that eventually landed me the gig) by making a video answering the question: What does it mean to you to be a good global citizen? You'll join the ranks of Ziggy Marley and Desmond Tutu if you do!

Source: History.com

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

IMG_0204

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.

Consume & Update: The Visual Edition

Prepare yourself for a very visual-centric post today. Perfect if you went to a horse race yesterday and are a wee bit feeble this morning.

Gastropalooza: Indian Style

An eclectic video on Indian street food that will either make you hungry, want to go to India, have a headache, or think a musical pig is sneaking up on you. Thank you, MatTV.

The Exciting News

I hope you followed the application process like a fox. If you did, you already know the exciting news...

 The New World Traveler Interns

The New World Traveler Interns

Not only am I pumped for these two lucky individuals, but I'm so thrilled that a fellow Semester at Sea-goer won the honor! And I'm glad that Natalie whipped out the big guns with her dance moves in both videos. This summer will be a treat to watch.

Travel Your Eyes Though Tibet

Some portraits, some editorial, some snapshots of interesting moments in Tibet; this is one interesting photo essay on China's rooftop from the Matador Network. The portraits are stunning, and I personally find any mountain culture thoroughly interesting.

Naughty Volcano Dirtying the Skies

Did you hear what happened this week with the skies over Europe? This is the culprit.

Other Discoveries

How very, very true: success in blogging is made of little victories.

For those of you in my same boat: 20 Ideal Day or Seasonal Jobs for Travel Writers.

What's Jerry Seinfeld going to joke about now? The Day the Free Meals Died

Update on Nomadderwhere

I can't believe I went to Chicago last weekend and didn't meet up with former applicant and current STA World Traveler Intern, Casey Hudetz! If I happen to make it up north again before this summer, I'm certainly going to make that happen.

And where am I this week? Right about now, I should be waking up from a rowdy weekend filled with galloping horses, tweed, and 90 pound men in pretty silks. Yes, I went to Keeneland to witness all the whinnies and snorts with my childhood friends!

1 Minute or Less Moments: This week on my Nomadderwhere Facebook Fan page I have published three more videos, and are they cool or what?

- The Christmas lunch in Nakavika, waiting to be served as we sit segregated in the community hall...boo

- Garrett, Mario and the twins taking a nap on our floor on Christmas day

- The awesome traditional architecture of the Fijian forts in Pacific Harbour

 Nomadderwhere's Facebook Fan Page

Nomadderwhere's Facebook Fan Page

Consume & Update: Football, Fishing, and Facelifts

The amount of reading and weeding I did this week compared to how much I displayed below is amazing. I spent hours on this one...you had better enjoy it. No really, enjoy :)

The Ongoing Football Debate

I think soccer is swell. American football is also a snazzy game. I think the American distaste for soccer on the ultra-popularity scale is confusing, and our "jump on the band wagon" mentality when it comes to World Cup fever makes us look all the more silly and stereotypically hard headed. AFAR magazine takes a moment to comment on this debate, but what I especially appreciated was the John Cleese rant at the end. Enjoy.

Heavy, Heavy Thoughts

I know I had issues in Fiji with communication and staying true to my belief in how humans should coexist and relay information. My friend, Amanda (see her Interview a Traveler), is struggling with similar issues in Bangladesh, a country that has real trouble in the verbal sector.

Alarmingly, what I found myself doing was adapting to another way that Bangladeshis communicate: through force...After several seconds of this “masculine” throw-down as I screamed, “Go, uncle, move on,” I raised my own hand and smacked the wallah in the back to snap him out of his red-blooded trance.

I hit another human being. I resorted to violence, the sort of violence I am trying to combat in my work. In all reality, he didn’t even respond to my hand smacking his back. He just pedaled forward, yelling at the man behind him. But was it appropriate? Though it is culturally acceptable, should I have hit him?

I admire her for vocalizing a phenomenon that surely comes up in many people's travels - probably something most try to repress. I know at one point I got caught up in a rowdy moment with the kids and thwacked my host sister with the back of my hand just as all the other kids did. She didn't flinch...she actually found it funny and smiled at me. I was silently horrified with myself.

Have you had any moments like the ones Amanda and I have had abroad?

Fire Dancing in Fiji

Nice work capturing the moment, Gary.

Sierra at Sea

Listen to this story...My friend, Sierra, is a world traveler, star documentarian, and commercial fisherwoman in Alaska. Right now, she's on board her father's boat, wrangling herring and braving an intense fishing season, one which recently put in her a whirlwind of drama. Check out this video she shot while on her father's boat, which was recently assaulted by another vessel, and then follow that with her story of how it all went down.

Other Discoveries

Help Gary Arndt plan his trip to Spain...where should he go?

I love Anthony Bourdain for his determination to get his shows RIGHT - especially after knowing what we went through in Fiji - and I'm also a big fan of his writing style...and when he writes about writing.

Schrute Farms on TripAdvisor...it's performing mighty well

The Ethical Traveler's Guidelines, in case you thought you were getting sloppy

Update on Nomadderwhere

As you may be able to tell, I've been busy this week. I hope you enjoyed my Carnival of Blogs, and thankfully no one realized I made a lingo error with the use of "Blogs" instead of the more apt title of "Posts." I said the wrong thing in my video and went with it. Eh.

A Big Thank You: I'd like to say thank you to Rusja Foster, who helped me photoshop my Carnival of Blogs icon. Yes, this is actually a picture of me circa the 1987 New Year, and I wanted to have a fun visual for the week-long event. Rusja got it done and done fast. She's also in the top 50 for UK's STA World Traveler Internship.

Potential Facelift: I'm in the process of giving my site a facelift, since my tabs above will soon not accommodate the vast array of info to come. I'd love to make this process of reformatting my site a little transparent. By that, I mean I'd like your input. Give me a little help by telling me what you like about this site, why you come back for more, and what I can do better in the future. It takes about 30 seconds...unless you're an overthinker.

Give Me Your Input

Updated This Week: You may have noticed new icons on the right sidebar that link to different topics of interest. I'm trying out some new button ideas for my future reformatting - plus, I think it's easier to navigate to what you want. What do you think about these images? Also updated this week are more of my static pages that needed a little dusting. Don't look just once and forget about them. They're always changing! Check out the following this week.

About, Garrett, Baby Steps, Travel Advice

1 Minute or Less Moments: Fiji is still unfolding before your eyes (in the form of video and written posts), which is why I'm on week five of posting raw video files onto my Nomadderwhere Facebook Fan page. This week, new videos are ready for your viewing eyes. Click on the icon below to watch the view from my bedroom window of Cyclone Mick, me "reporting live from the eye of the storm," and a coffee break amidst the worst of the wind and rain. Always a good time...

 Nomadderwhere's Facebook Fan Page

Nomadderwhere's Facebook Fan Page

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

Video of the Week: One Year at Nomadderwhere

Today is my 1,168th daily anniversary of travel blogging, but Nomadderwhere.com is but an infant still. Since I bought my own domain exactly one year ago, I've evolved my site extensively, far beyond what I was capable of from the get-go.

 Nomadderwhere Turns One!

Nomadderwhere Turns One!

I'm proud today to display my year's progress and hopefully inspire you to achieve progress in your own passionate plans.

From a simple blogspot to a self-hosted wordpress...

 Blogspot

Blogspot

 Wordpress.com

Wordpress.com

 In all her glory

In all her glory

...let's celebrate Nomadderwhere's first birthday!

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

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.

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.

Journeys of a Lifetime in January

Happy New Year! 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 Orinoco River Cruise: The dry season in January lends to the viewing of more land mammals along this river cruise through Venezuela. Boy oh boy...the description of this places includes words such as: expedition, canoe, venture, wetland and steamy jungle. I'm there.

The Mekong River: Laos is on a ticking clock toward Vietnam status, and it's up to you to seize the opportunity to view this country's incredible landscapes before the authenticity becomes manufactured. Nat Geo claims this is the most scenic stretch of the massive river through the Southeast Asia region.

By Road

Historic Spain: There's no bad time to see the architecture of historic, central Spain. January will wash out the summer tourist crowd and give you snow capped mountains in your photograph backgrounds. Give yourself one week to drive along this ribbon of highway, and remember to ask in Segovia about the suckling pig.

Crossing the Sahara: Get your visas ready and your car rented. You're about to drive across Morocco, Western Sahara and Mauritania to see some cultures and barren landscapes that present an awesome challenge to the "bring it on" type of traveler.

By Rail

Bangkok-Kanchanaburi-Nam Tok Line: This time riding the rail will bring you closer to the gritty, not further away. Taking this infamous route, known as the "death railway" from WWII, will remind you of the many POWs and lives lost from building the bridge at the River Kwai. It's not all gruesome and heavy-hearted; the landscape is Thai-rific.

The Palace on Wheels: India's glitzy region of palaces and architectural masterpieces will give you plenty of eye candy and good photographs on this luxurious train ride. It's not my favorite side of India, but many find the old British and Raj culture appealing. The Golden Triangle along with Udaipur and Jaisalmer makes for an awesome itinerary, though!

On Foot

The Shackleton Crossing: South Georgia is a speck in the Southern Ocean and looks like a challenge for weathered climber types like Jon Krakauer and Bear Grylls. I pretty much guarantee no one reading this post will attempt this climb, but I thought I'd give you some dream material for tonight's slumber.

Climbing Kilimanjaro: Africa's tallest peak and the only 8,000+ meter mountain that one could ambulate - climbing Kilimanjaro seems to be an achievement worth going for. Those who have claimed the summit unanimously advise climbers to take the longer route (Machame) for better odds of success and greater views.

In Search of Culture

Japanese Kabuki Theater: With make-up that would spook the Joker and costumes that could presumably stand on their own, the men of Kabuki theater become household names for their dramatic and powerful performances. Brace yourself; these shows look lengthy but worth it for a one-time experience.

Earth Architecture of Yemen: High rise earth architecture makes Yemen look pretty darn cool. Perched at the heel of Asia's wee bootie are homes made of sun-dried mud bricks and a culture sure to intrigue. Nat Geo recommends going with a reputable tour company and taking caution with photographing people. Should make for an interesting trip!

In Gourmet Heaven

Eat Your Way Around Sydney: After you recover from a surely intense NYE celebration on the beach, enjoy Sydney's January Festival and a slew of culinary jackpots around Oz's biggest city. If you're into Euro-Asian fusion food with top notch seafood, I'm guessing there are few places in the world better than Sydney.

Malaysian Melting Pot: And we thought we were a melting pot…maybe next January you'll be traveling up the peninsula of Malaysia to sample the converging tastes of many prominent food traditions: Chinese, Indian, Arabic, etc. Thanks to all the hawkers and street food artists, some call this country a snacker's paradise.

Into the Action

Following Che Through South America: Cross the Andes on two screeching wheels in the footsteps of Che Guevara, but make sure you remember to ride something a little more reliable than "La Poderosa." Buenos Aires to Machu Pichu will take you across some varying landscapes and surely on a journey fit with ceaseless inspiration.

Cross-Country Skiing in Lillehammer: Check out this "premier cross-country location" if you want to make like a Scandinavian and glide. Easily accessible from Oslo, renting all your gear is possible on location, and going in January ensures a helluva daylight surplus!

Up and Away

The Nasca Lines: It is only from the sky where you can truly appreciate the diversity of Peru's terrain, as one ecosystem bleeds into the next. Also from this vantage point you can be slapped silly by the wonder of these earth drawings that were created with pre-historic tools by the Nasca people.

Alpine Baloon Festival: Arrive in Switzerland in late January for a display that surely inspires painters, children's book illustrators and surrealists worldwide. A sky of balloons decorate the invisible Christmas tree in the Swiss Alp valley. Inquire about the nighttime flight of illuminated balloons while you're there!

In Their Footsteps

Road to Enlightenment: Follow Buddha's journey to enlightenment from his birthplace in Lumbini, Nepal to Patna, India, past the third-generation descendant tree where he attained nirvana. Ahh, the ease of traveling in the moderate chill of February around the Subcontinent.

Tramping After Mark Twain: A boat trip down the Neckar River could inspire you to write a Huck Finn sequel, just as Twain was inspired to write the original on this journey. Tramp across Germany and Switzerland, enjoying the chill and scenery of winter, on a journey that the famed American author used to "improve himself."

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 February 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.

Journeys of a Lifetime in December

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

Airboat in the Everglades: Get deep into the mangrove forests of Florida's backcountry where alligators seemingly get bigger as you go deeper; you may even catch the rare Florida panther if there's a blue moon out.

Lake Nicaragua: A freshwater lake surrounded by lush forest and volcanoes? Crocodile-like reptiles submerged below the jungle canals? Swordfish sport fishing in a mystic lagoon? Am I dreaming?

By Road

The Grand Trunk Road: Peshawar to Kolkata: a road some call "the great river of life." It's a highway beaded with historical and memorable cities that combine to make an incredible, South Asian road trip.

The Pan American Highway: It's pavement that spans continents, but taking a ride in Tierra del Fuego and reach the end of the world: Ushuaia. You'll see grazing grasslands and ominous, omni-present mountains. Pretty great, huh?

By Rail

El Chepe: Ride the rails through an unspoiled landscape four times larger than the Grand Canyon. Indigenous Indians of central Mexico line the way, giving you access to a brilliant Latino culture.

The TranzAlpine: Cross Arthur's Pass and witness a blizzard outside your train window on this mountainous journey through the Southern Alps of New Zealand. Sounds like it gets wild.

On Foot

The Headhunters' Trail: Stay in a longhouse with Iban villages. Wade through the tea-colored waters while admiring the limestone spires. Hope you still have your head upon the trip's completion.

The Levadas of Madeira: The levadas of Portugal are a network of watercourses that hydrate the paradiasical sugarcane fields. Apparently, moseying along these canals is a camera-friendly activity.

In Search of Culture

Colonial Virginia: Even if reenactments and period acting isn't to your fancy, Christmas just may be, and Williamsburg does this holiday justice.

Ancient Egypt: Show up for the peak Nile cruising season and enjoy the history museums to make sure your time in this ancient landscape is epic.

In Gourmet Heaven

Blue Mountain Coffee: It's the best coffee in the world. It's the best time to visit Jamaica. Those are two good reasons.

Vietnamese Cuisine: Imagine a leaf of cilantro floating on a sea of seasoned broth, handmade noodles sitting below the surface like a hundred Loch Ness monsters. Are you hungry for some pho yet?

Into the Action

Surfing in Hawai'i: You're going to need a wetsuit in that chilly water, but you're also going to catch some towering waves at hot spots like Waimea beach or the Banzai pipeline on O'ahu island.

Friesland's Eleven Cities' Tour: 16,000 ice skaters jump at the proclamation of the Elfstedentocht race, which only happens on the rare occasion in Holland when the ice is 5.9 cm thick. Await the call of the race anxiously and follow the races route along the footpath beside the frozen river.

Up and Away

Skyriding over St. Lucia: This Caribbean island will make you see colors. Real colors. Absolutely vibrant hues popping through the tropical air. Zipline around the canopies of the forest, and then save some time for some fresh product at a cocoa estate.

Angkor by Helicopter: Seeing the world's largest religious monument in a way that few experience, an enlightened view from above. See what can be done with incredible planning, gray stone and a herd of trained elephants for heavy lifting.

In Their Footsteps

Hemingway in Cuba: The Malecon was Hemingway's first view of Havana after sailing from America. Go and be moved by the same places this famous writer and Nobel Laureate frequented during his time on this vivacious island.

Alex Haley's Roots: See what Alex Haley found when visiting Gambia, a main topic of his Pulitzer winning book Roots. It would involve a boat ride and a village chief...and surely an incredible cultural quest.

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 January 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.

Journeys of a Lifetime in November

journeys

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. Every month I will pick out 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

Kerala Backwaters: A gorgeous chunk of an enthralling nation, Kerala is webbed with narrow, seemingly endless channels connecting large lagoons with lush banks. Prepare to live on the water and be sustained by veggie meals and coconut milk.

Nile Felucca Cruise: Aboard a white-sailed falucca on a historical stretch of the Nile, this trip will present mummified crocodiles, ancient architecture and a rural glimpse of Egypt unknown to most.

By Road

The West Coast Road: For me, nothing is more satisfying than seeing oceans and mountains converge. Driving along the west coast of the south island of New Zealand will give you all the vistas you could hope for.

The Forts of Oman: A round-trip drive from capital Muscat offers the viewing of thousands of castle and forts built with mud and stone. They'll have you thinking about Oman's strategic position and its ancient culture.

By Rail

The California Zephyr: "Through the Rockies, not around them" - this train route takes you through the Wild West, starting in Denver and ending in Salt Lake City. Mountains, grasslands, rocky outcrops, the natural works - bring your camera.

The Chiva Express: It's actually a specially adapted bus lacquered in bright colors and murals that transports people from the Andes to the tropics. Travel through diverse terrains while strapped in below or seated on top.

On Foot

The FitzRoy Massif: "Cross icy, rushing creeks, traverse valleys, and circuit lakes" - oh sweetness, who wouldn't dream of traipsing around Mount FitzRoy in Argentina? Remember, it's summer down there!

The Rigsum Gompa Trek: You know you're obsessed with traveling, traveling to the exotic, traveling to the seemingly unattainable areas, and Bhutan is just waiting for your wallet and your open eyes. Why not make that trek next November?

In Search of Culture

Temples of Thailand: It's still going to be hot but not nearly as humid if you travel to Thailand in November for some spiritual awakening along the spine of this content and enlightened country.

Cathedrals of France: The search for culture seems to often be inhibited by the hordes of crowd often present in Europe, but late fall should be a gorgeous ambiance for adoring massive works of stone and mastery.

In Gourmet Heaven

Search for Sushi: I'm still not sold on this culinary obsession, but they say there's no bad time to visit Japan for the real thing. I actually visited the Tsukiji fish market before it was closed off to visitors. That's one fish-crazy country.

Cape Winelands: Africa + Wine = Stellenbosch outside of Cape Town, South Africa. Remember this equation, and when you find yourself in that gorgeous city, you'll know to book a day tour and go after that pinotage!

Into the Action

The Belize Barrier Reef: Get ready for a seemingly endless list of awesome marine life: manatees, sharks, rays, turtles, crabs, fish, and all the coral you could shake a snorkel at!

Elephant Safari: Ride atop a slow-moving pachyderm with a panoramic view of the grasslands of Nepal. Does that spell out "exotic" or what?

Up and Away

Island-Hopping by Air: Fly above some gorgeous granite islands that change color in the sunset light. The south Indian Ocean delivers, and the Seychelles are a great place to see these magical tropics from above.

Great Australian Pub Crawl: Imagine a pub crawl without matching t-shirts, without clomping in your high-heels to each establishment, without ground transportation in between. That's right; fly from pub to pub in the Oz Outback. Whoa, that's serious drinking.

In Their Footsteps

Pablo Neruda at Home: Fly down to Santiago and visit the homes-turned-museums of Nobel laureate (of literature), Pablo Neruda, and you're sure to walk away a little more savvy of the political landscape and attitude of late 20th century Chileans.

A Voyage to the Galapagos: What comes to mind with the words "Galapagos," "Darwin" and "animal utopia?" Your upcoming, awesome vacation in November of 2010, that's what.

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 December 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.

Street Smarts: Transport Scams

 Rickshaws in India

Rickshaws in India

Walking around India with glowing blonde hair, parachute pants, and the backpack/daypack humpback/pregnant belly combo is a sure-fire way to indicate, “I’m not from around here.” What does this mean to the rickshaws slowly following your swagger or the cyclists hoping you’ll turn around and want their transport services? Some might see an honest service opportunity while others will only see dollar signs. Unfortunately, many cabbies, rickshaw drivers, and transporters have found ways of making ends meet through games of haggling, deception, and tugging at the heartstrings of traveling passers-by. Even catching a taxi on the streets near your hometown watering hole can prove difficult. All it takes is practice and charm to avoid a driver getting the best of you.

Striking the Deal

Each city, or country, has its own transport scam trends. The best way to identify them is to find someone you can trust – one who does not have an affiliation with transportation. Hotels, clubs, fancy restaurants and many like-establishments have an allegiance to drivers who charge more than the Average Joe Cabbie in order to supply the referrer a commission.

With six hours to spend in Bangkok before flying home, I wanted to shop, eat, and get to the airport by 4:00am in the most economical fashion. I utilized the rapport I created with a patch vendor on Khao San Road to find out what I should be paying for everything from taxis to Thai massages. In the midst of the haggle, I had his full attention as a customer with needs. He had no affiliation with the resident cabbies and nothing to gain from leading me into a scam. He just wanted to make the sale and move his merchandise away from my toxic, penny-pinching ways.

Anticipate the Game

Even if you do discover the correct price for a ride from A to B with a willing driver, with un-metered taxis you’ve only just begun dealing with the mind games of transportation. Some drivers sense your discomfort and attempt to exploit it for the reaction: “I’ll pay anything; just get me outta this cab.” Others may tap into your compassionate side and share their lives, accentuating the struggles, to bump another dollar on the fare. And then, there’s the classic lost-in-translation method that makes a cabbie agreeable and understanding when a price is set and miraculously lose his memory, or language skills, upon reaching the destination.

When it comes to drivers anywhere, I’ve found two things pay off: being amicable and ever-so chatty.

 Hot Buses in Brazil

Hot Buses in Brazil

Travelers who make small talk tend to be more comfortable with the situations they’re in, and when we appear comfortable, we seem savvy and less vulnerable to instant inflation. If I strike a connection with my cabbie, the likelihood of getting swindled lessens a considerable degree. Some respond to conversation very well, as to a breath of fresh air amidst a stuffy list of customers. Though you’ll find some that couldn’t be bothered to mumble, not everyone gives the driver the opportunity to share how he’s doing.

This, however, is his perfect chance to recommend places in town that commission him for your visits. Drivers can make the local bargain market seem like a myth.

It helps to anticipate what they may try and call them out beforehand; displaying your awareness of the games they play.

“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.

 Cyclists in Delhi

Cyclists in Delhi

And when you’re back on North American soil, be sure to watch the meter for extraneous button-pushing for luggage or extra people. Chances are, if you’re taking a cab at home, you know the best routes to take; so you’re likely to notice if your driver is taking you for a costly ride. Again, be a charmer and call him out with a wink and a smile.

When a driver begins telling you things that don’t make sense, making side comments on changes in the route, note the impending inflation tactics. “There’s lots of traffic this way” - “I’ve got twenty-two kids” - “I must go all the way around to the other side” - This is when you assure him how pleased you are that he’s a swell guy who is surely taking the best route and charging the fair amount upon which you both agreed.

The Transaction

When abroad, it’s important to make the final transaction with five simple steps:

1. Thank the driver kindly; 2. Ask any questions you may have about where to go next while you still have his money and, therefore, his attention; 3. Ask for the change beforehand, or as you hand the cash, making sure he knows you’ll wait for it; 4. Thank him again and compliment his integrity while shaking his hand; 5. And, if he gives you problems with the change, don’t let go of his hand and keep smiling (since so many drivers are softies for a smile).

I now look forward to the little battles because it’s not just my mission to pay the right price but to befriend and amuse the driver for the short time that our paths converge. Looking at these moments in your trip with dread will take away from your opportunities to make great exchanges several times a day. It’s unfortunate we’ve come to expect dishonesty from those on which we must rely abroad. Reward the drivers who exhibit their integrity, and hopefully this act will ripple to benefit future travelers looking for a ride.

Journeys of a Lifetime in October

journeys

I welcome you to a 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. Every month I will pick out 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

Yangtze River Trip to the The Three Gorges: A trip in early fall through some incredible, mountanous landscapes could coincide with October 3rd and the Chinese Harvest Moon Festival.

The Mangoky River: Madagascar's baobabs and the "slowly-slowly" mentality of the land give me two reasons to desire floating in an inflatable raft across the tip of the big island. October is the last month of reasonable weather before the ghastly heat sets in.

By Road

The Fall in Vermont: Does my longing to going on a fall foliage drive make me an old lady? Either way, I don't care if it means I get to log miles around a beautiful chunk of America and potentially camp out in the cool nights between drives.

The Dolomites: Northeastern Italy gets great weather and less tourists than usual in October, which is perfect if one desires to see sky-splintering peaks, Alpine pastures, and still speak l'Italiano all the live-long day.

By Rail

The Reunification Express: After reading Catfish and Mandala, making the 1,000 mile jaunt across Vietnam seems like a trip worthy of filling numerous journals and marking off loads of "once-in-a-lifetime" experiences from the list. This train would make this trip possible, that is if you're not a crazy/cool cyclist relying on your two wheels.

Trans-Siberian Railroad: Fall colors, warm days, and cool nights - that's quite a list of benefits for traveling from Moscow to Beijing in October via a world famous train ride. The trip takes one week

On Foot

Greenwich Village: True, this area can be enjoyed any time of year, but the crispy atmosphere of fall makes pleasant a couple days of perusing galleries, visiting Edward Hopper's house, and eating at former speakeasies, like Chumley's. Maybe you'll get inspired to "keep moving" while taking in Figaro Cafe, a hang-out of the "beat generation".

The Inca Trail: Dry weather meets the hearty soul that wants to trek through the thin air of the Andes in October. Machu Picchu, Huayna Picchu, and loads of misty sights are calling you...

In Search of Culture

Treasures of Jordan: October is just as great a time as any to hire a car in Amman and hit up some ancient relics of the past in the Middle East. Fancy yourself an Indiana Jones as you bound around the ruddy sandstone of the Treasury of Petra.

India's Golden Triangle: I can attest to the fact that going on this trip in the heat of summer is just plain mean to your boiling spirits, but alas, the relief that comes in October! Agra's Taj Mahal at sunrise, Jaipur's Amber Fort and Rajasthani culture, and Delhi's urban jungle are real experiences to be photographed, reflected upon, and absorbed into the mind forever. Read my blogs from the Golden Triangle here.

In Gourmet Heaven

Bourbon Trail: Another prime opportunity to see good fall color while sipping some classic American spirits. Even though we Hoosiers are supposed to make fun of Kentucky, I've always been a fan of the horse farms and Appalacian foothill country, and I'd imagine pumping some whiskey into the equation wouldn't hurt it!

Central Valley Wine: Go from fall to spring, harvest to planting season, with a trip to Chile for some grape guzzling. The Andes are supposedly visible from every vineyard in this region, which has a unique climate sure to cause some exciting fermentation to occur. Go skiing, walk along the beach, and then go find some good wine in the hills.

Into the Action

Polar Bears in Canada: October marks the start of a great bear-watching season annually, and Churchill is known for their outsized bears. Not as elusive as the tiger, but apparently just as easily camouflaged into their surroundings; a couple days looking for polar bears sound like thrilling days well spent.

Sea Kayaking off Baja: I know I'm going to be taking full advantage of being around Baja in October by partaking in a gorgeous and exciting activity: sea kayaking. Rocky cliffs edging an ample marine world in the blue Pacific waters; it's the stuff of dreams. Check back for upcoming blogs on this very activity.

Up and Away

Flying High in Paradise: Take a heli for a spin (don't worry, you're not driving) around the volcanic islands of Hawai'i, where you'll be dumbfounded by how green and undulating the converging ridges appear. Great weather and better prices will please you in October. I've experienced this flight and loved it.

Fly the Coral Route: Tahiti, Rarotonga, Samoa, Fiji, Auckland, Dreamland - it sounds like purging your wallet for an aerial island-hopping experience in the South Pacific couldn't disappoint if it tried. And with October providing some drier conditions, you'll be able to see the blue silk in 360 degrees around you.

In Their Footsteps

On The Road after Kerouac: Though my opinion on Kerouac's instant classic novel is still unformed, I can't deny the pulsing urge inside me to hop in a car and take I-80 as far as it will take me. Maybe that makes his work a success in that it instills the desire to move for the sake of moving. From New York to San Francisco, such a road trip would be quite a thrill to take while reading the novel and hitting up Denver and Chicago along the way, not to mention the great weather October would bring across the entire stretch.

The Silk Road: Avoid the extreme weather conditions by traveling in October through western China to Turkey and some of the world's oldest inhabited cities. The spanning cultures are sensory-linked with landscapes that could slap a yak with amazement.

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 November for the Journeys of a Lifetime you could partake in next year!

As this is a new series, I'd love to hear your feedback on the effectiveness of this concept. Leave a comment and be my new friend.