Popular Posts

Let's Speak Haitian Creole!

My first language post arose from a desire to document and transmit the full experience of being in a relatively unknown culture: tribal Fiji. I didn't expect many people to find such a write-up relevant, but it dawned on me after hundreds of hits that lesser-known languages need some limelight, too. One could travel to Haiti and speak French; there would be virtually no gap in communication. But, I didn't have the luxury of French and instead opted for downloading some free software to learn Haitian Creole. Because I've spent the last eleven years learning languages that pack very few superfluous letters, the concept of learning French and not pronouncing half a word seemed absurdoix. Creole being a mix of many languages, including Arabic, Spanish, Taíno, and some African languages, it reads more phonetically and becomes more accessible than its' base.

Visit Haiti. And when you do, use your Creole. In the meantime, I'm going to attempt to process my four day rare experience through Port-au-Prince, the Central Plateau, and Jacmèl.

Haitian boy in the Central Plateau, in Thomonde
Haitian boy in the Central Plateau, in Thomonde

The Basics

Alo: Hello Bonjou: Good morning Kòman ou ye (pronounced co-mah-oo-ee): How are you? Mwen trè byen, mèsi: I'm fine, thank you. Mwen rele Lindsay: My name is Lindsay. Good evening: Bonswa Eskize mwen: Excuse me/Sorry Mwen regrèt sa: I'm sorry. Wi: Yes Non: No Mèsi: Thank you Tanpri: Please Goodbye: Orevwa

Driving around Haiti
Driving around Haiti

Getting Around

Ou ka ede mwen? Can you help me? Kijan pou mwen ale nan...? How to get to...? Direksyon: direction Mize: museum Taksi: taxi Otèl: hotel Kafe: café Mache (pronounced mah-shay): to walk Mwen ta renmen peye ak kat kredi: I would like to pay with credit card. Ayewopò: airport Estasyon: station Mwen gen kèk kesyon: I have some questions. Rezèvasyon: reservation Mwen pèdi: I am lost. Ki kote li...? Where is...? Mwen bezwen èd: I need help. Non ri a: street name Gichè otomatik: ATM

Man wearing a mask at Carnival in Jacmel, Haiti
Man wearing a mask at Carnival in Jacmel, Haiti

Conversation

Kijan ou rele? What is your name? Ki laj ou? How old are you? Mwen se ameriken: I am American. Mwen ta renmen...: I would like... Ki lè li fè? What time is it?

Playing in the waves on the beach in Jacmel, Haiti
Playing in the waves on the beach in Jacmel, Haiti

Learning While Speaking

Mwen pa konprann: I don't understand. M ap aprann Kreyòl: I'm learning Creole. Pale Angle (pronounced pah-lee ahn-gleh): to speak English Mwen vle aprann Kreyòl: I want to learn Creole. Mwen pa konnen: I don't know. Mwen pa te konnen li: I didn't know that. Sa bon pou konnen: That's good to know. Tradui: to translate Mwen pa ka li Kreyòl: I can't read Creole. Li difisil pou mwen pale Kreyòl: Speaking Creole is difficult for me. Ou trè sèvyab: You are very helpful. Mèsi pou fason ou ede m avèk Kreyòl mwen: Thank you for helping me with my Creole. Kòman yo di...an Kreyòl? How do you say...in Creole? Sa sa vle di...? What does...mean? Mwen ap sonje: I will remember that

Painted numbers on the outside of Edeyo school in Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Painted numbers on the outside of Edeyo school in Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Numbers

Youn: one De: two Twa: three Kat: four Senk: five Sis: six Sèt: seven Uit: eight Nèf: nine Dis: ten Onz: eleven

Girl at the blackboard at Edeyo School in Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Girl at the blackboard at Edeyo School in Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Time

Jodi a (all 'di's are pronounced tzi): today Demen: tomorrow Ayè: yesterday Midi: noon Lendi: Monday Madi: Tuesday Mèkredi: Wednesday Jedi: Thursday Vandredi: Friday Samdi: Saturday Dimanch: Sunday

The Central Plateau of Haiti
The Central Plateau of Haiti

Develop Vocabulary

Etazini: United States Tanperati: temperature Vyann poul: chicken Pwason: fish Vyann bèf: beef Dlo: water Byè: beer Soulye: shoes Manto: coat Chapo: hat Grangou: hungry Vit: quickly Bra: arm Janm: leg Tèt: head Lajan: money

Practicing my Creole on the beach in Jacmel, Haiti
Practicing my Creole on the beach in Jacmel, Haiti

And once again, you're now as fluent as I am! Doesn't take much. Put your skills to use and visit. It's the best way to learn a new language, and it's something Haiti needs: your presence to develop an honest perspective on a country that is richer than we recognize.

All photos © ProjectExplorer.org, 2011

Andrew Zimmern and the Transformative Power of Travel

Andrew Zimmern and the Transformative Power of Travel

I've been a big time fan of Big Tony B. since the No Reservations series began in 2005. His approach to travel television and subjective, experiential authenticity abroad felt so relevant amidst a sea of market-y documentation. His conceptual thread continues to be pretty darn obvious, which makes it easy to instantly jump on the Bourdain train. But for his fellow Travel Channel host (and our Creative Council member), Andrew Zimmern, I had a harder time identifying what truly made him tick and drove him to produce what he does. Thankfully, I had a recent opportunity to hear Zimmern clarify his concept in an illuminating way. Poised and ready with my notepad, I asked my mom sitting next to me at the IUPUI convention center what she knew of Zimmern.

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Q&A: The truth about Semester at Sea

Q&A: The truth about Semester at Sea

Hi Lindsay,

I have just been accepted by SAS for the Spring 2011 voyage, and I randomly chanced upon your website. I am currently having a hard time trying to decide between a Semester at Sea program and a study abroad program in Berlin.

I know they sound very different, but I think they appeal to different parts of me, which makes it even harder to decide. Hence, I have some questions about your experience if you don't mind answering:

1. When you were traveling around the ports, did you feel they were too touristy? I don't want to limit myself to only exploring typical tourist destinations.

2. How strong were the academics? I know that the main experience comes from the ports, but I still want to learn and enjoy my classes. Did most people take classes seriously?

3. I wanted to clarify this with you. I heard that SAS had a reputation of being a "booze cruise" or a "party boat" in the past. How did you feel about that from your experience?

I just thought that it would be good to consult with someone who has been through the experience. Best, Alyssa

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Jobs for world travelers: TV host in paradise

I know many of you amongst the Nomadderwhere readership jumped on board after seeing the World Traveler Internship. A year after my WTI, I still receive messages from people in search of such great opportunities in the travel world or wondering how to snag such jobs that require some online savvy and marketing know-how. Therefore, when I hear about new marketing schemes that send people on the road for free or for pay, I'm inspired to pass the info along to you, the reader. A friend forwarded this opportunity my way, and I think many of  you will find this an idyllic work and living situation.

The "52 Week Paid Vacation"

Here's the write-up:

Travel website ParadiseHunter.com is scouring the globe for a host for our upcoming Travel TV Series "Paradise Hunter". We're looking for someone with enthusiasm and a passion for travel. The job requires you to tour the world in search of your personal Paradise. Try the food, the activities, and see the sights of a dozen countries. On the way, interview locals and expatriates who live in each country to get a sense for what life is like there.

The salary for the year is $60,000. In addition, during the final episode once you've found your paradise, you will get to pick a property in that country worth up to $150,000.

No acting experience is necessary. Open to anyone 18 years and older. Applicants are required to submit a 60-second (or less) video showing why they would be perfect for this job. We recommend viewing the competition details before applying. To submit your video application and to see more details on the job, visit the "52 Weeks Paid Vacation" competition at http://www.ParadiseHunter.com.

My Two Cents and Advice

ParadiseHunter.com

ParadiseHunter.com

This, to me, sounds like quite the offer for a specific type of person. What comes off as a year of paid lounging and a couple on-camera appearances is most likely a very labor intensive position. This is for someone very comfortable with being on camera and essentially acting. One look at their sample episode and it's clear they shoot these episodes with many retakes, lots of set-up, and expectations of the host to be prepared for the work involved.

If you're unaware how much work goes into shooting travel shows like this, I advise you to watch No Reservations: Making of Kerala, India.

Many of these online contests seem directed toward the obsessed traveler, the people who endure the "good enough" jobs for now while endlessly searching for ways to break out of their ruts. Those people have the most heart, the most motivation, and are most likely to publicize the crap out of their application video. That makes great marketing sense for the companies involved.

The thing is, these companies need someone with very specific skills, in this case hosting and production skills on top of travel savvy and work ethic. If you have all those things, you will be way ahead of the majority of applicants.

Screen shot 2010-10-05 at 2.11.51 PM

Screen shot 2010-10-05 at 2.11.51 PM

This is an online contest, meaning you will likely spend many hours promoting your material, fighting for votes, and hearing some stupid comments regarding your person and your work. This is the nature of online competitions for such jobs. Those who go for them have to have very thick skins and be prepared to commit a solid amount of time and effort into winning. And of course, no public vote is safe from the whims of the operating party, in this case ParadiseHunter.com. If you're not who they're looking for, the public vote doesn't matter.

After all that, if you're not dissuaded, I suggest checking out my application advice for the WTI, which applies to most travel online competitions, as well as my grooming post. If you have any specific questions or want further advice, feel free to contact me.

Additional Advice:Vijaya Selvaraju has some hefty experience in going for TV spots through online competitions. Here are the words of wisdom she would have loved to hear during her go. [Passion should never be extinguished. These tips are to help you gain a solid understanding.]

Vijaya Selvaraju

Vijaya Selvaraju

Go in with an open mind and the possibility that you may not walk out of the competition as the grand prize winner. Despite how much energy you invest in a competition like this, there are thousands of people who are doing the same.

For the most part, the minds behind these competitions already have a description of who they want their "winner" to be. No matter how qualified you are for the job, the fact that you are not a "male with brown hair", could quickly put you behind the pack. Just know that these competitions are casting calls, and that you are one of many.

Voting makes up a large portion of the competition, as competitors are encouraged to rally their friends, peers, and colleagues to gain as many votes as possible. I have personally observed (one too many times) that this is usually insignificant and simply a marketing ploy to get as many people to perpetuate the details of the contest as possible.

Keeping all of these things in mind, there is still the chance that you will make it to the top. Imagine how satisfied you will be knowing all the hoops you jumped through to make it happen.

Links for more information: Apply, The Job, FAQs, The Competition, The TV Series.

Q&A: Grooming for the World Traveler Internship

Q&A is a new series on Nomadderwhere that uses questions posed by readers and commentators to address topics of travel, alternative lifestyle design, blogging, and other interests. You can expect this series one or two Saturdays a month right here on Nomadderwhere.com. To send in your questions, contact me or send me a link to your video question on Youtube!

The videos and fun blogs posted by you and Chris this summer were wildly entertaining and made me smile as I watched each clip. Your spunkiness and energy definitely reflects on the viewers as you took us along the adventure!

To give you an idea of my foundation, I do use twitter and take travel photos everywhere I go. Since January, I have been capturing video on my digital camera for memories of being silly with friends, monologues of what is going on and practice STA Travel footage! I keep a journal on my side at all times, just in case I want to jot down specifics of something interesting that happened.

I have yet to upload videos on youtube (have videos on websites, professional interviews, promotional video used at my university, etc.), written on an online blog, or utilized flickr to post some of my favorite photographs.

Lindsay, I am willing to do anything and plan to fully prepare and engage myself in creating video montagues of all my experiences in New York, Los Angeles, everywhere I go and travel from here on out! I can send you anything your way if you would like. What should be my next step? -K

I'll start off with the obligatory disclaimer.

I am not a part of the selection process for the World Traveler Internship, nor do I know for sure what they look for each year. Instead, all I can provide is my honest opinion of what qualities help an individual prepare for and seem more suitable for the job.

On that note, let's look at the job in basic terms.

The World Traveler Interns are meant to:

- Experience a number of travel adventures and showcase their experiences daily with videos, pictures and blogs. - Describe everything they do with the ultimate goal of inspiring other students and young people to become world travelers.

Now, let's think about the job in the less obvious way.

What's a more accurate understanding of the internship?

- The interns help sell the products STA offers; therefore, this is a marketing job for a strong, global company. - The interns will be constantly changing time zones, producing a lot of work, dealing with cultural, technological, physical, mental barriers constantly, and experiencing more in 2.5 months than most do in years, if not lifetimes. This is a hard job. - And the obvious one....this is a job.

Now, let's do a mental exercise.

Imagine you are one of the judges, one of the marketing department employees at STA, looking at the hundreds of eager applicants and trying to decipher via online property who you can count on to do the best job possible. It's not about granting a prize that doesn't affect you; the interns have big shoes to fill.

You would probably want interns who:

- Know this isn't a free trip and can prove they have the work ethic to get things done well. - Can create videos, photos, and blogs that engage the STA clientele to the point of convincing the sale...not to mention have social media savvy to work the venues of the content - Exhibit the skills of an ambassador: charisma, eloquence, diplomacy, and a personable nature.

Take these points and roll with them. This is what I worked off of when preparing my application in 2009.

Planning for Next Year

If you want to hold the coveted internship for 2011 (or beyond), don't wait until the application pool opens up. Start now proving STA you're the ideal candidate. Here's how to begin:

Start a Blog

Brainstorm a title, and steer clear of something generic like Trisha's Travel Blog. Begin compiling your travel stories (or any topic pertaining to young people and living adventurously), whether you open up old e-mails to your mom while on the road, rewrite stories from your personal journal, or just start thinking back to your times abroad or stateside. You'll want to have a lot of stories in the bank to prove your commitment to documentation.

Warning: If this doesn't feel fulfilling, if it feels forced and uninspired, write about what you truly care about...and if it still feels wrong, maybe you're not meant to blog. Not everyone is a mental exhibitionist.

Tools: Start a free blog at Wordpress.com, and if you are set on a name, buy your domain through Wordpress as well for about $15.

Publish Your Photos

IMG_0198

You're going to need visuals for your blog and proof you can click a mean shutter. Pick your best 100 shots and publish them online, linking to them on your posts about the same topic. Photos of yourself on the go are also good proof you like being active.

Tools: Start a free account at Flickr, and you can always upgrade to the premium account later (which allows you to download an unlimited amount of work). I don't direct people to my account actively. It's like a workspace or storage unit you can pull from.

Self-Promotion

Whether you already tweet or not, you'll inevitably feel weird using Twitter to self-promote and network. It will work in your advantage to have a lot of followers that are interested in your travels and personality. Fill out your profile fully, choose a good photo, befriend and follow people that do what you love in the travel field, start talking to them and RTing their good tweets. Start linking to your Flickr photos and online work, being sure to use catchy wording to inspire clicks.

Don't see Twitter and Facebook as places where you plea for people to look at your stuff and love you. See them as tools for free marketing. Think like a marketing professional.

Twitter Self-Promotion

Twitter Self-Promotion

Tools: Twitter through the web works fine, but TweetDeck is my favorite platform for organizing all my favorite tweeters and easily performing all tasks (RTing, replying, linking, etc.). Also, install the Twitter application on your Facebook page to automatically update your Facebook status when you change your Twitter status.

Showcase Your Videos

Start making them! Use Windows Movie Maker, iMovie, Final Cut - whatever you have - and start taking your raw footage and assembling great little snippits of life. In short, the creation of these videos is about trial and error. Start off making something, then take a step back and wonder:

Would I watch this whole thing over and over?

Would I watch this or like this if I wasn't my friend?

Does this video have me on the edge of my seat?

Would an 8 year-old with ADD sit through this whole thing?"

My first videos were pitiful slideshows. I've learned from my own mistakes over a long period of time.

Get started there, and let's see how you evolve into the ideal candidate!

httpvhd://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sL5yh0wO3mw

Was this Question and Answer post helpful to you? Would you like me to expand on any points above? Any other questions about anything? Comment below or contact me by either writing a message or sending a link to your video question!

This year's popular posts

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

The Makings of a Travel Video

The Makings of a Travel Video

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

Ten Great Ideas for Chicago

Ten Great Ideas for Chicago

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

My Friend, Evan Witty

My Friend, Evan Witty

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

Things I Didn't Know Before Coming to Greece

Things I Didn't Know Before Coming to Greece

...The Greek and Italian languages are nothing alike There’s no avoiding cigarette smoke in Greece…It’s everywhere In Greece, the party starts well after midnight and can continue into brunch time The water really is that blue...

Sometimes On the Road...You Miss Out

Sometimes On the Road...You Miss Out

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

What is Nomadderwhere?

What is Nomadderwhere?

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

Street Smarts: Transport Scams

Street Smarts: Transport Scams

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

The Irony of my Lifestyle

The Irony of my Lifestyle

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

Reviewing Jon Krakauer's Into the Wild

Reviewing Jon Krakauer's Into the Wild

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

Cruises, Destination, and the Authentic

Cruises, Destination, and the Authentic

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

Interview a Traveler: The Ski-Crazy Humanitarian

Interview a Traveler: The Ski-Crazy Humanitarian

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

The Birth of The Nakavika Project, Part 1

The Birth of The Nakavika Project, Part 1

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

Plummeting Towards Earth

Plummeting Towards Earth

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

Ten Great Ideas for Chicago

I traveled with my parents recently to Chicago, Illinois for a week of displacement and the entertainment that ensues. My time was enjoyable and low key, full of new discoveries and ample free wifi time at Borders for work. I thought I would share some of the things that made this trip stellar. Here are ten great ideas for Chicago (the order is chronological).

1. The Megabus

Megabus from Indy to Chicago

Megabus from Indy to Chicago

$1 Seats on Megabus

$1 Seats on Megabus

Instead of driving the 3+ hours along the Chicago Skyway and through the cornfields of the Region, my mom snagged us discount seats on this double-decker bus equipped with AC, free wifi, a bathroom, and a full skylight across the entire second deck. Aside from the woman talking loudly on her phone for the last 10 miles, the ride was fantastic and well worth the normal ~$20 ticket price. However, we bought ours on a special promotional deal for $1 each. You read right...

2. The Signature Room

Chicago from the Signature Room

Chicago from the Signature Room

Riding the elevator up to the 96th floor of the Hancock Building is a tad typical for an out-of-towner to do (a Chicagoan friend laughed at me later for doing this), but I think my two other friends from Chicago (who accompanied me on this excursion) would agree: the Signature Room at sunset is cliche for a valid reason.

Not only was the wait tolerable, but we snagged the best table in the house, at the very southwest edge of the building closest to the sinking sun. We ordered schmancy cocktails and took photos of ourselves with Chicago's pastel skyline. People continuously bumped my back trying to get in for that final shot of the disappearing star, and though I wanted to shout, "YOU NEED A TRIPOD!," I followed the mantra of "serenity now" and enjoyed the view for all it was worth. And ladies, note the best city view is actually from the ladies room! Just another reason why we're better...

3. The Best Tapas in Town

Cafe Ba-Ba-Reebas!

Cafe Ba-Ba-Reebas!

I received word from two different people that Cafe Ba-Ba-Reebas! in Lincoln Park had the greatest and most authentic tapas in the city. Since my cousin is a budding foodie and my other friend lived in Spain and learned to cook there, I took their advice as fast as I took down my sangria.

Rioja short ribs with manchego mashed potatoes, house meat plate with serrano, salchichon, chorizo, chicken & artichoke paella, crispy spicy potatoes with sun-dried tomato alioli, and warm potato & onion omelette - everything tasted so flavorful, even my friends who had been here before were amazed and raving. The thrill of good food doesn't get old.

4. The Blues at Kingston Mines

Duke Tumatoe's crowd

Duke Tumatoe's crowd

Though I haven't sat in a classroom for 1.5 years, I flashed my international student ID (courtesy of STA Travel, ha) for a $5 price cut off my cover into Chicago's oldest and largest real blues joint. It was an older, very relaxed crowd that felt completely opposite to the environment we'd previously been in at a local college bar.

Duke Tumatoe claimed the late shift that Saturday night and had people dancing like flopping sardines in the little space allotted just in front of the stage. I had some beers, put my hands up, and let my boots do some stompin'. I like the blues, and I love atmospheres like this one.

5. Brunch in Lincoln Park

John's Place

John's Place

Sitting on the sidewalk, orange leaves falling into my hair, I ate some high quality granola, yogurt, fruit and poached eggs with good company. Regardless of where you dine in this neighborhood, I think this is the ultimate way to take in a good weather day in Chicago. John's Place isn't a Mecca of breakfast food but it's no exception to the rule either. My advice is to find a similar place with a relaxed atmosphere, and you're guaranteed to spend the rest of your day in a fairly good mood.

6. Carnivale for the Taste Buds

Carnivale

Carnivale

This restaurant embodies the essence of the word and the party. What seems to be a massive warehouse, covered in brilliant paint with lights the size of elephants, makes up the main arena for the festive food consumption. I got on those caiprinhas without a lick of hesitation but let our waiter guide me to the best entree of the house: the pork chop.

The pork chop at Carnivale

The pork chop at Carnivale

My cousin hit the bullseye twice, once with the tapas joint and twice with this "nuevo latino" recommendation. He and his newlywed, Ashley, joined us in tackling the awesome appetizers, entrees, and the final kahuna: a three-layer, ice cream cake with chocolate syrup. I forget what it's called because I pulled a "Homer drool" upon seeing it placed on our table.

7. The Art Institute of Chicago

This is no hidden gem; this is an obvious item on on the list. The AIC is up there on the list of the nation's best art museums and truly has the ability to impress most, if not all, art lovers. Caravaggio's The Supper at Emmaus now sits in an oversized room with many of its similar style and proves itself superior to all. Caillebotte's Paris Street, Rainy Day begins the long line of impressionist works through the central galleries. I made a little video to illustrate the AIC experience. Come on along with me...

8. The Siskel Film Center

The Siskel Film Center

The Siskel Film Center

Whether this attraction is popular or not is a bit ambiguous judging from the Monday night crowd of tens, but its location lends to the idea that everyone knows about the Siskel Film Center (across from the Chicago Theater). It calls itself "Chicago's premier movie theater" and shows world-class international, independent and classic cinema.

My parents and I viewed the film Afghan Star, which is:

A sleeper hit at this year’s Sundance Film Festival...In an Afghanistan recently freed from the Taliban, the equivalent of American Idol has become the national obsession. Two men and two women make it to the finals, and the country’s first baby-steps into democracy involve voting for their favorites via cell phone. The excitement is at fever pitch, then one of the female contestants performs an unthinkable, horrifying, death-defying act: she lets her head-scarf slip a bit and she dances on national TV.

9. Three Happiness in Chinatown

"Little" Three Happiness

"Little" Three Happiness

Don't be confused by the massive restaurant of the same name that smacks you in the face upon getting to Chinatown. That's not the establishment I'm referring to. Apparently, locals refer to it as "little three happiness," as the acclaimed restaurant seems but another modest family-owned joint among many.

I had no idea what to order and hoped the lady would sense I was up for anything, even the pot-o-love created for their employees' lunches. The waitress treated me very kindly but assumed I wasn't too experienced with Chinese food (since I told her I had no preference and wanted her recommendations). I asked for spicy and got medium...along with silverware. Slap in the face! I put my ego aside and just enjoyed what she brought me: schezwan chicken with vegetables over steamed rice. I don't think I left a grain of rice on the plate, nor a drop of tea in the kettle.

It was worth it just to get away from the high rises for a few hours and see a neighborhood less visited than most. If only Indianapolis had similar 'hoods.

10. The Silver Palm and the Little Pigs

Three Little Piggys at the Silver Palm

Three Little Piggys at the Silver Palm

At a sorority sister's recommendation, I took the blue line out to The Silver Palm Restaurant, a stop on my list thanks to the Chicago episode of No Reservations. As my friends and I strolled into this train car-turned-dining room, ginger gimlets and margaritas on our lips, I felt the challenge summoning me. I ordered the house speciality: the Three Little Pigs sandwich. After Tony's rave review, I had no choice but to order:

"This is a work of genius, in an evil way.... A two-fisted symphony of pork, cheese, fat, and starch... that sandwich is the greatest sandwich in America. This is the apex of the sandwich-making art... the sandwich that dreams are made of."

I did it. I can't believe I ate the whole thing. I couldn't lie on my stomach that night, but I felt pure satisfaction after its consumptions, quickly followed by meat sweats.

Other great ideas for Chicago (courtesy of my friends):

Mahzoh ball soup at Frances on Clark Street Walk along the lake to Millennium Park Have a wine-centric meal at BIN 36 The Greek Islands restaurant in Greektown on Halstead The Museum of Contemporary Art Playing a game of Whirlyball Having lunch behind the Civic Opera Building The Violet Hour Bar Seeing Jersey Boys or the Million Dollar Quartet Going to Nookies for Omelets Staying up until the wee hours and ordering a chocolate shake at the Weiner Circle Hot Doug's for a Chicago-style hot dog The Map Room with its wild selection of craft beers Great hibachi restaurant called Ron of Japan's on Ontario

What do you think about my ten great ideas for Chicago? Any personal experience with these or do you have one to add to this ever-growing list? Comment below, and thanks for reading!

Cruises, Destination and the Authentic

Do travelers cruise?

Do travelers cruise?

I have very mixed emotions about cruise travel. There's the old side of me that remembers fantastic family vacations at resorts and on cruises, memories caked with the residue of absolute joy. And there's the new side, the backpacker side, which silently writhes and struggles in the wake of "money travel" and the foreign concept of the land not being of much interest.

The Perspective

Freshly disembarked from the Sapphire Princess in L.A., I will begin by saying there were great meals, belly laughs, excellent massages and very friendly crew members from whom I reaped beneficial information and fun stories.

Even though I traveled with my parents, an often rocky experience in the past decade of vacationing, the cruise atmosphere made it incredibly easy to enjoy a day without the stress and difficulty of decisions. I'm very glad I got on board for this trip.

The Annoyances

There are certain aspects of cruise ships that strike a backpacker as unsavory, commercial and completely unauthentic. What was once a battle against man and every ounce of mother nature is now a floating casino and spa with absolutely no thought to the nautical experience (aside from the slight inconvenience of the ship's roll and maintaining balance in the shower).

The term "cruise director" is synonymous with a lacquered, cheesy grin and a clipboard listing about 70 daily activities, many of which you would never consider if not marooned at sea.

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

Getting in touch with the open ocean

Getting in touch with the open ocean

The Difference

Not all water travel is cruise travel, however.

Many land-lovers refer to Semester at Sea as a "glorified booze cruise," a term which would never be used to sum up the voyage by an actual participant in the program.

Aside from the fact that drinking is forcefully limited, it's an experience of measuring the Earth's waistband and the notches in between, a chance to see how small the world really is and how connected we land mammals actually are to each other.

It's one with a solid emphasis on the nautical experience, which cannot be ignored when the smaller MV Explorer sends alarm clocks and water bottles flying around cabins with an extreme roll.

It's a shared journey with about 700 other college kids, and even though some of them are unfortunately disconnected to the concepts of self-awareness and cultural acceptance, one can discover amazing insights on board from fellow travelers hoping to be moved by all that movement.

The Realization

Ocean, Sky and You

Ocean, Sky and You

Every week, thousands of new suitcase-luggers board cruise ships for a trip made so often the water highways display hull marks. These are no new trails being blazed.

And it's rarely the destination that makes the difference on these journeys. In fact, the cruise is the reason why people board, not the fact that the ship ports every other day for four hours in Mexico.

But does anyone really still believe in this "off the beaten path" business? There's virtually no land or odyssey undone after these hundreds of thousands of years of human existence, and in the last millennium, such journeys have been documented in detail by the first eyes, the most enlightened eyes, the most knowledgeable eyes, and the newcomer's eyes that relates to the common denominator.

And if you are somewhere no one else has been, chances are you're not going to make it back.

Tour companies boast trips that take paying customers into the unknown - along with twenty other strangers who all have the similar delusion. There are the locations and transportation methods that the majority frequent and utilize, and there are those that self-proclaimed travelers justify as less common and, therefore, enviably adventurous.

Voyages begin every hour of the day that press the boundaries of previous limitations, and what once was a trail blazing experience will soon, if it hasn't already, become a valiant attempt at something potentially more extraordinary.

Land-lovers beware

Land-lovers beware

The Lingering Question

Water travel enabled civilization to spread, discoveries to occur and still manages to remain the most "green" method of mass, extended travel today, and somewhere in this evolution of usage, cruises became the bearers of romance novels, geriatric shoes and illegitimacy as a means to discover the world and the self.

Is it because we backpackers envy and despise those with money to spend without readjusting life plans?

Are we hurt by the devolution of water travel to its Disneyland appeal?

Or do we believe we must bleed for our passionate pursuit of world exposure?

The Authentic

I take a morsel of offense to the approach of the "authentic" often exercised by cruise-goers or unaware travelers. Tourism sustains an incredible amount of countries' economies, and I have to assume a massive proportion of this help comes from the cruise culture in ports of call.

Coastal cities with active harbors have many similarities: overpriced day tours, suave salesmen hanging out by the docks, boardwalks or shop-lined thoroughfares to facilitate the flow of traffic towards the art galleries and jewelers abroad, and manufactured local culture [where blocks away people continue to live their true lives].

To sail away from a port believing the nice man who sold you authentic tequila or Mayan-inspired jewelry was your connection with something real and authentic from that country would be to rob you of the opportunity to see past the cruise port facade and notice the way that man actually lives, the way he views his life and culture.

The Point

Authenticity. Who seeks this, and is it possible that there are those who really don't want to find it? Is this what separates the self-proclaimed traveler from the ones who take vacations or [dare I mention the ever-present debate of] tourists?

We meet multi-cultural resort and cruise workers and feel worldly for interacting in a melting pot, but to what extent have we flexed to meet their alterations of personal culture?

Is the point of a cruise the ease and only the ease, and if so, is the cruise destination the cruise itself? If so, I'm not sure I like that.

A Backpacker's Guide to Cruises

For some, this title is ironic, polarizing, an oxy moron, a moot point. Backpackers don't cruise, are you kidding me? Gasp - cough - lean against a wall in disbelief... I think backpacking is a mindset as well as an art form exhibited in the travel arena. What happens if Grammy wants the whole family to sail together to the Caribbean? And how about a reunion with your best friends from college? Sometimes it really is just about enjoying yourself and traveling conveniently, and instead of wasting energy debating the gross consumerism and inauthenticity of commercial, mass travel, why not go along for the ride - just as you would on the top of an Indian bus.

Ship Knowledge

The ship's bow

The ship's bow

Quickly, here's your ship direction guide:

The bow is the front. The stern (or aft) is the back. Port is the left-hand side. Starboard is the right-hand side.

To remember this, port and left both have four letters while you point to the stars with your right hand.

As soon as you embark, get a lay of the ship - just as you would seize the town upon setting your bags by your new dorm bed. Ask the crew where you can find whatever's important to you: a relaxed bar atmosphere, the least crowded pool, the coolest free stuff to do on board, and more.

If you get seasick, go to the stern to the lowest level possible and try to stay outside in the fresh air. If you take dramamine, prepare for the subsequent, 2-hour nap. Stay hydrated, and bring packets of lemonade or drink mix if you don't like chlorinated tap water.

Click with the Crew

Cruise ship crew

Cruise ship crew

Even if your ship is a Cialis commercial, don't forget that there are hundreds of people on board who see the world the same way you do. Those would be the crew members - people who have figured out how to travel and make money simultaneously. They work (more or less) ten hour days, seven days a week, and when someone interacts with them that doesn't fit the mold of the cruise-afficionado, it's a breath of fresh air they stick around to relish in.

I had long talks with the spa workers, the waiters, the bartenders - they all enjoy engaging in conversations that don't involve pool towels and premium wine tastings. These are the people who will tell you what to do in port and where to find the best value food/internet/just about anything.

Packing

Get your sherpa on!

Get your sherpa on!

As this is a backpacker's guide, be sure to bring your ...backpack. Don't think just because you're following the crowd that you should pack like them also. Wearing a backpack will make it easy to carry on your own luggage and not have to drop it on the terminal and wait for its arrival later. Plus, collapsible luggage can fit under your bed.

Remember there's a laundromat aboard. You don't have to pack seven of everything for a week trip. You also have free shampoo and a clothesline in the shower. Pull out your hostel skills and wash your delicates in the sink. Did you know shampoo is quite alright for washing cotton clothes (and probably others)?

What to bring:

Note: This packing list is optimal for a week in a hot climate.

Cruise Footwear

Cruise Footwear

Footwear: sneakers for the gym, walking in port, and around the slippery deck and sandals that work going to the pool and to dinner

Cruise ship attire: one pair of comfy pants (that can hopefully pass as dressy), one pair of shorts (exercise-friendly), a bathing suit, 2 - 4 t-shirts (some classier than others), a sweatshirt, one nicer outfit that doesn't wrinkle too much(if you're traveling with grandparents or a pinkies-up crowd)

Undergarments: 2 - 4 pairs of underwear (wash in sink or laundromat), 2 pairs of socks, and you ladies can figure out your own bra situation

Other essentials: a scarf/colorful pashmina if you're a lady, antibiotics and cipro for traveler maladies from the port, laptop (for media storage or if you like paying $.50 per wireless minute), a bottle of wine (that's all you're allowed as a cruise passenger), a cover-up and/or sarong, and all the obvious items like cameras and a toothbrush

Traveling in Port

Preparing for Flight

Preparing for Flight

This will be one of the most aggravating aspects of cruise travel for the natural vagabond. Be prepared that you'll only be spending roughly five hours more or less in your cruise destinations. Here's how to maximize your time on land:

1. Do your research before you sail. Get familiar with the layout of the city and figure out the one thing you'd like to do in the port city.

2. Read the newsletter delivered to your room the night before a port. Note the sunrise time (wake up for all sunrises!) and when people can begin disembarking the ship. If there is a tender (a smaller boat that takes people from the ship to shore), listen to announcements and get in line early for one of the first boatloads. Tenders take longer.

3. If you want to pay more for convenience, go with a cruise-sponsored trip, but if you're sticking to your backpacker guns, know there are plenty of salesmen past the gangway willing to haggle and offer the same trip. It will probably be cheaper, but you may have to lean on them a tad for making it back in time to the ship.

Find the real city

Find the real city

4. Find the main area of town where they funnel cruise-goers and keep walking a few blocks until you find the real city.

5. Don't buy liquor and expect access to it on the ship. They will package it for your final night to avoid losing out on alcohol sales at sea. Research other contraband in order to avoid losing anything you purchase as well.

6. The less baggage you have in port, the fast you can get through the line to get back on the ship.

7. If you have to tender, get in line 75 minutes before the ship embarks just in case the line is huge. If the ship is docked, line up a half hour or more prior.

Avoiding Extra Costs

Cruises today range from tens of thousands per voyage to incredibly affordable [considering the included service, transportation, lodging, food, and amenities offered for free]. I'm frankly amazed that for almost $100 a day my trip was actually possible.

Lots to Oggle

Lots to Oggle

This is only the upfront cost, but if you follow the road rules of the backpacking type, it's possible to exercise, eat constantly, witness comics and flamboyant performances, learn from pros and entertain yourself for days for no extra charge (unless you can't resist a frosty brew).

Aside from gratuities for your cabin steward, one could avoid the ship charges altogether! But we all know that's not the point of a cruise.

Why Cruise?

I can see only a few reasons why a backpacker would travel on a cruise: a family trip, a reunion or trip with a group of people, or pure pampering in an all-inclusive setting.

For these trips, a cruise is an incredible way to travel, but since backpackers are often about roughing it, immersing themselves in the destination, paying pennies, and moving solo/in pairs, it doesn't always make sense to float on the ocean with 3,000 other people your parents' age.

Getting in touch with the open ocean

Getting in touch with the open ocean

Here's what some backpackers said about cruises...

@nomadicmatt: Cruises aren't really a backpacker thing but in their own right can be a fun time. I've been on a few. lots of food!

@heyitsbryan: not my fave

@mattyingram: cruises make me feel like I'm in a straightjacket, listening to ABBA, watching someone on a treadmill. I need to breathe! [I don't like having limited time in ports] you do get to see more places without moving...but thats part of the fun, the crazy places you stay and crazies you meet. It constantly changes, and you have freedom to move.

@thetravelbee: Well, I'd like to take one, it sounds like fun! I have never been on one.

One thing that is sure to upset the backpacker majority is that the schedule port cities aren't really the "destinations" of the voyage. For many on board, it's not about the land but being at sea with all the amenities and excitement. I was in shock when people chose not to get off the ship in Mexico, blaming the weather or schedule engagements on the ship, but one can't get too obsessed with this.

Yes, for the backpacker, it is about the journey, just as much if not more, than about the destination. When the journey is too easy and the destination isn't enjoyed, what's the trip all about?

Getting away from "it all"

Did this guide help you? Have you had any personal experiences with cruises in the recent past? Do tell.

Reviewing Jon Krakauer's Into the Wild

Reviewing Jon Krakauer's Into the Wild

Jon Krakauer is the reason I traveled to India in 2008 to see the Himalayan mountains. Into Thin Air was a personal account of a terrible occurrence on Mount Everest that for some reason led me to adore and venerate the world's ability to form this mountain range. So before I even picked up its predecessor, Into the Wild, I was on Krakauer's side and knew it would be a story deeply connected to my own.

After holding off watching the movie for a year [hoping to read the book first], I finally caved and let tears soak my cheeks as I watched Chris McCandless follow a desire that couldn't be silenced. Since the book came second, I fear the story's impact was compromised, but only by a fraction.

Read More

The Irony of my Lifestyle, Part 1

Sometimes it's a mind clarifier to point out the inaccuracies in your own life - that blend of irony and confusion that makes up your unique mindset. Bottom line: I'm all confused. You probably are too. Let's talk amongst ourselves...

Carpe Dimes and Nickels

Carpe Lake Tippy

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

Why do I not carpe the diem when I'm not traveling?

This isn't to say Indianapolis is a humdrum city. Since I've been home, I've been inspired to visit Indy's Fringe Festival and multiple cultural celebrations (including Irish and Greek), camp outside in the brisk fall evenings, take bike rides along the Monon Trail, enjoy the friends I have in town and a myriad of other activities; however, I only managed to accomplish two of these list items in all this time.

National parks pepper the state of Indiana like acne on a teen's face, so why do I not pack up my Coleman tent and get out there?

This is my favorite season and type of weather, reminding me of football season and my affinity for the smell of dead leaves. Why do I never leave the house?

The Imbalance

After spending 2.5 months concentrating solely on experiencing the world, maybe I was burned out and needed some time to document those moments still unprocessed, but I completed my purge of World Traveler Internship memories a month ago and had relaxed my fair share by that point as well. The fact of the matter is when I'm back in Indiana, regardless of season or how many friends I have in town, I live like a hermit but continue to pine for the adventure of another country. And it's not always a desire to romp around the Andes or dog-sled in Siberia; I often wish for the simplicity of a small town in Mexico or reading a book in an Italian piazza - fundamental activities I could easily do at home with the same level of perceived exoticism.

In Alain de Botton's book, The Art of Travel, a man travels around his own bedroom as if it were any other place in the world, where he experience the known as if it were unknown, not just pretending but actually opening the eyes to a new perspective. It's a conscious choice to see your own native surroundings as banal and yawn-inducing, and for those of us who live for the next departure date, making this decision to spent your home days pining will give your emotions a roller coaster ride throughout life. My happiness chart would look like a sine curve - with the peaks occurring on the road and the low points while sitting at home.

Living it up in Indiana

Living it up in Indiana

Indianapolis isn't exactly a hub for tourism. Though we have two (or three) of the five highest grossing national sporting events each year, people don't flock to this area for nature and culture above other locales. But if I were to approach this city (or even state) as a traveler would, I'd be filling my days with gourmet cafes, nature hikes, museum visits, excursions to small towns for chili cook-0ffs and elaborate Independence day celebrations. I'd be jet-skiing across Geist on weekends and having barbeques with friends regularly. Free gallery nights and dairy farm tours, baseball games and tailgating...I think I've made my point. I've been lazy.

I turn my adventurelust on and off as well as my wallet's accessibility at home. In my mind, I can't silence the thought that one night's dinner and movie in Indianapolis could fund a week or more living in India. A cocktail here cost four times as much as one beer in Cambodia. If I were traveling and had no desire to experience anything because of proximity or cost, I'd be pretty darn bored, and most would consider this approach to be a waste of time on the road. So why do I not consider my state a destination?

Thus far, I've failed to mention the activity that does retain my attention day and night while in Indy: computer work. Since August 17th, I've switched to and designed a self-hosted website with (almost) daily posts of various media, read books on travel writing, written articles for and connected with many publications and companies and developed a plan for future humanitarian/documentary work overseas. It's when I'm gone that I wish for the connectivity of free wifi and a good computer at home, so I suppose I try to make the most of it when stationary. But this isn't living.

Am I doing at home what is essential for me to live the life abroad? If I'm desiring to document travel, do I not need to be completely wired and figure out other passive means of generating income online? This is how I justify all the time spent indoors, away from those activities which truly sustain my spirit. In reality, if I consider myself a good traveler, I need to ensure the love of discovery is naturally infused into each day, regardless of location.

In an attempt for equilibrium, I will challenge myself to live a little at home, because I do love the excitement that can occur under these skies. Cornfields don't have to grace your eye with familiarity; they can be just as thrilling as the south Indian farmland. And it doesn't have to cost a trip to Mexico to enjoy the delights of nearby.

The Makings of a Travel Video

Assembling Videos

Assembling Videos

It's quite possible that in the next couple of months, I'll be approached by online strangers wanting to know the inside scoop on the World Traveler Internship. I know this will happen because I did the exact same thing for the last two years. And though I've tried to describe the application process to those interested - offering a few tips for standing out from the crowd - people may still wonder how they should tackle the less intuitive art of video-making that is crucial for this position.

I didn't study telecommunications or video art in college, nor did I have a good operating system while making my application video last year. If you're new at this, like I was, don't worry because if you have a computer, some travel footage and a passion to produce, you can make some mean videos.

The Software

If you work on a PC, chances are you have Windows Movie Maker, which can also be downloaded for free online. Allow yourself some time to get comfortable with this program by throwing together mini-videos and utilizing effects such as titles, transition and audio to get your blood pumping. Don't be lazy and press Auto Movie, and there's no substitute for just throwing yourself into the program; it's the fastest way to learn.

For those lucky ones with Macs, iMovie is the included video editing software that doesn't require a big learning curve for newbies. Also take your time in investigating this software and its capabilities by making short videos, and don't forget to utilize the online tutorials from Apple. iMovie 09 has quite a bit more to manipulate than its previous generation of 08, and iMovie HD is quite a different set-up as well. Get comfy...then get cracking.

Steer Clear of Slideshows

Some of your first creations may be more like slideshows than travel videos. Though I value the static visual quality of photographs in a video, you have to keep in mind why you're using this medium: to display motion and create a specific mood or impression with the entire compilation. In the three years I've been at this, I've thankfully learned this lesson, because videos like the following are a lot like making your friends and family suffer through a slow playback of each painful slide taken on your holiday.

Options for Beginning a Video

Hopefully you will begin to regard video-making as an art form, one you take seriously enough to hone a personal style and technique. In order to find the most conducive method to starting each new video, try these options out:

  • Write out the purpose of each video, identifying who will watch it and for how long you think their attention will last.

  • Take a look at all of your video footage, photographs, audio clips, etc. and decide on the most descriptive or entertaining morsels from your trip. If you're using Windows Movie Maker, just upload the best raw material into your work space on the program. If using iMovie, peruse the footage and use the favorite selection button with the star. Pulling the good stuff aside at the beginning could speed up the actual assembly of the video and allow you to see what crucial material needs to be included.

  • Start with a song (this is my method). Once I know what destination or experience I'm documenting and possibly the mood I want to exhibit, I browse my music to find something people would love to listen to that also has a great introduction. When I know the flow of the first ten seconds of audio, I then know how I will incorporate my video's title or introduction. I prefer to use one song instead of layering different music from (gasp) various genres. Use the climaxes, tempo changes, and character of the song(s) to your advantage in manipulating the emotions of the viewer. Make your choice of soundtrack appear deliberate.

Using Effects to your Advantage

Editing a video

Editing a video

I struggle with the following concept every time I sit down to a new video: Know when to use simplicity and when to use pizzazz

Applying ten different types of transitions to the same video is like saying "Look what I can do!" and showing how many ways your computer program can shift from one clip or photo to another. Decide upon a couple transitions you can use that tie into the mood or theme of your video and stick with them. When making a video on ziplining, I used the transition that slides the previous clip to the left in order to accentuate that act of shooting across the line.

When making a destination video of India, it was all about over-stimulation - to replicate my impression of the country. I used a flashy title, dream-like filters, harsh light effects, muted colors, half speed and double speed shots, and just about every polar-opposite effects iMovie 09 allowed. I left transitions abrupt to give the video SOME semblance of continuity, and the final product was very reflective of my actual experience, thanks to using the editing tools in the right manner.

Crafting a Story

Another technique I use in the assembly line is to throw all my quality material in the "pot" and begin lining the clips up in order and adding effects/transitions as I go. At one point, you'll have to step back and evaluate the story that is being created. Are you using your best material at the end and building the tension throughout the video's length? Are you making a statement at the beginning and supporting it with the remaining time?

In my opinion, destination videos should be statements from the start that are supported and strengthened as someone continues to watch its entirety.

Travel experiences need a slow build-up to the climax; however, pulling a Memento by using reverse (or scattered) chronological order could amplify the story and all its elements.

Bottom line is to be aware of the story you are crafting and make sure it gives people a reason to watch beyond 10 seconds and a reason to stick around until the end. The music helps me monumentally with this step of the process.

When it came to the creation of my application video, I formed it into a résumé.

0:00 - 0:04 Establish my name 0:04 - 0:11 Give people a reason to take me seriously 0:11 - 0:23 Flash back to last year's application video, accentuating my drive and familiarity with the program 0:23 - 1:00 Prove I already do this job well; there's no gamble in choosing me 1:00 - 1:12 Travel Experience 1:12 - 1:34 Skills and Interests 1:34 - 2:06 Competence and Entertainment 2:06 - 2:27 Reiterate previous points to stall for musical climax 2:27 - 2:50 Crowd appeal, entertainment, humor 2:50 - 3:21 Lasting impression of why I'm different from the rest (This is a specific type of video, but it shows how I crafted years of travel and talking shots into a cohesive unit with a universal, entertaining storyline.)

The Art of Detail

Once your video forms into a solid story with great visuals, come back through with the figurative X-Acto-knife and make sure all cuts are perfect. Make sure no syllables are cut off spoken words. Be sure that transitions don't reveal unwanted visuals or audio. If you timed your content to match your soundtrack, double check that every clip is synced perfectly. It's human nature to focus on the imperfections of an otherwise fantastic piece, so leave nothing to distract your viewers from all your hard work.

Testing for Success

If you're posting a video with music that isn't your own, test its copyright eligibility by making a private Youtube account that lacks any search terms that would identify what you're creating (for instance: I posted my application videos before the fact under the terms Raven Simone and Gaming as to not attract those searching for WTI or my videos). If you're music puts up the red flag and gets taken down, that's certainly going to be a problem for you if your video is a submission for a contest. Re-do!

video

video

Is your video really as good as you think it is? Let people who know you and people that don't take a gander at your work before you publish it mainstream. If family members love it and strangers don't, it lacks the adequate information that hooks people into what you're showing them. Give people a reason to listen to your work from the start. Family already have a reason to be engaged in what you create. If both family and strangers find it compelling and worth a second or third view, you know you've created something stimulating that exhibits skills that get people thinking. And of course, if no one likes it, it just plain sucks. Don't expect that just because you made a video with movement and audio it means people will like it. Assume everyone has ADD and far too little time to spend looking at your stuff.

Market your Great Content

Stand behind what you made and allow anyone who may be interested to access your creation. Youtube it. Vimeo it. Display it on your website. Of course if your video is for personal purposes, this obviously doesn't apply to you or that video, but be sure you give your hard work its due acknowledgement. It's awful when you spend hours or days on a video only to let it gather dust on a buried blog post. Display it for all to see and tweet about it.

And what about better programs like Final Cut Express and beyond? I'll report on those when I know more about them!

Did this post help you with your video-making needs? Comment below on anything I missed!

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.

Plummeting towards Earth: Day 51

The Moment of DIsbelief

Adrenalin junkies. Sometimes it seems like its a requirement to be heavily inked, fully pierced, leather-skinned, and a big fan of phrases like "that was so sick", "unreal, man", and "aw, dude, I've heard about that jump --it looks so ill!" These guys and gals flock to freefalls, half pipes, and semi-dangerous situations around the world, looking to cause that big release by pursuing adventure, sometimes at a lofty price. I never thought I would be one of these people, but then again, I never tumbled out of a plane voluntarily...until now. It seems a little daring or presumptuous to try describing a feeling that can only really be experienced to be known, but my awesome job is to tell you what there is in the world to do. Well, alright then. I'll give it a go.

You go up in a plane. You don't land with the plane. You sit backwards without a seatbelt on a tiny aircraft (where the pilot also wears a parachute), and as the altimeter reaches 10,000 feet, you open the latch to send the door flying upward. Then you throw your knees over onto the wheel step, rock backwards, and tumble towards Earth. All of these things sound very wrong, no? They are. We, as humans, were not made to do these things. If we were, we would have evolved wings or really big nostrils to float us down to land. But that's the whole thrill. Sky diving is doing what you're not supposed to do. Plummeting towards Earth is a bad idea, one that can result in a massive boo-boo, and you should totally do it.

For some odd reason, I wasn't all that worried about this, the biggest freefall of my life. Carly Mills, of STA Travel (as well as our hilarious travel partner this week), was petrified, and I think being around someone who was more nervous than I made my worries seem pretty easy to handle. I don't think I gave much thought to the image of the open air under me, and that certainly helped. I knew I'd be safely brought down to South Africa by my tandem partner, Donovan from Skydive Plett, who had jumped over 6,600 times before. Whoa, boy, that's over 55 hours of airtime.

And not only was this my first time flying through the skies, but we were jumping at one of the top two highest ranked drop zones in the World (along with Cape Town). The scenery was teal, mountainous, and capable of making your heart fly higher than it already does after a 35 second free fall. We were supposed to look for whales up there while parachuting to safety, but I was too engaged in my own disbelief of what just happened.

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

I'm hooked. I'm going again soon. Darn this new expensive hobby! A big thanks to Skydive Plett!

Sometimes while on the road...you miss out

Spiders with glowing orange backs crawling inches from my nose, building forts across the rock ledge where I sprawled to overlook a 30-foot waterfall. A canopy of greens I'd never see at home shading from a sun that could surely turn me crispy. One rock thrown over the edge to crash dramatically on the mammoth boulder below. Swimming with new friends and little children from a remote Fijian village. Shivering and scaling up a stair-step waterfall where tropical meets ideal. And my friends and family were celebrating a wedding, one I was supposed to be standing in as a loyal maid to the main lady.

I could feel the world's size, the expanses of air between myself and the place I was expected to be. But a job made it possible and necessary for me to be living a dream in the South Pacific. This was June 6th, 2009.

Head of lead in the shadow of a monument honoring the Scottish hero, William Wallace. Having climbed a weaving trail, removing my jacket, putting it back on. Seeing the sprawling city below and angry for the discomfort of my mindset. Watching two Dutch boys throw a neon green frisbee around the corner of the tower.

Could have been a part of a classic scenario: waiting room of the maternity ward, wearing pink for the occasion, and being the token crier of the family when the baby is in sight. New country. Tapping into old roots. Could have loved the day I was living, but once again, it was the visceral knowledge that I should be elsewhere for that moment in time.

However minute or gigantic the moment is, I like to be there, but instead it was August 7th, 2009, and I was living out the World's Best Internship on our second to last leg. I saw my niece's face for the first time from a picture text viewed from the internet. The girls beside me were fully aware that I was crying hard there in the middle of the hostel lobby. I missed it.

As my dad would put it, the opportunity cost of this travel position could be measured in once-in-a-lifetime experiences that I've been anticipating for years and possibly decades. But not only did I have the chance to see what other people rarely get the chance to see, the entire summer was wrapped in a bow called "priceless opportunity" and "dream occupation". After months of work and hope, I received what would soon rip me away from life moments I've been living to look forward to. If I missed this position though, I would have been happy for those few days and depressed for the rest.

I could list the things that have enriched me and my life from this World Traveler Internship, but I think that list isn't realized and cannot ever be completely. In the last three years, I've been abroad for 13 months: 3.5 with Semester at Sea, 7 with my Big Journey, and 2.5 thanks to STA Travel. This is the first time I've missed a main event, but I've never cursed the ground I'm on, the plane that's taking me, the disease I've acquired, the money I've lost, or the waistband of this great globe for being so darn large.

For some reason unknown to me and my surrounding web, I've decided it's okay to miss the things that matter most in order to blaze literal and personal trails towards anything from failure to success. This travel path can sound illogical and like a waste, but when I realize the passions I've acquired and the maturity I've obtained, I fear where I would be without all those 50+ flights to global destinations and potential moments of learning. Learning that people are all the same, but some defy all presumptions and change your outlook towards mankind. Learning that the world can look as you dreamt and can also look like the neighborhood moral pool of Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, and every fool sans brain or heart. Learning that my mind truly trumps this body, and I can handle much more than I used to. Learning that I've got a massive knot in the noggin that needs continuous care for its eventual untangling.

It's always possible that I could learn while standing at the chapel in Selma, Alabama or in the waiting room of Community North Hospital, but it's a fast track elsewhere, when your support group is distant, and your mind is used to the new. And I always hope this travel "bug" will wriggle free from my weary soul, but that's certainly not the case for one afflicted as I am.

And to be honest, it doesn't matter where I am, I think about where I could be. Luckily tools are available to connect my present coordinates with every other one in the world, and this makes it easier to travel when time is precious. It's not often that people get an opportunity like this to see the world, and when they do, they shouldn't ever say no, regardless of reunions missed and babies unknown. There won't ever be a next time for any of these chances, but there's hope you will learn and grow faster and in time for whatever needs your passion.