Travel Tips

Q&A: traveling after graduation - live chat!

Q&A: traveling after graduation - live chat!

I just wanted to drop you a line and say hello! We had chatted a bit before, but I just wanted to let you know that I admire your love for travel and your pursuit of that passion. I will be graduating from undergrad at Columbia in a couple of weeks and would love to hear your thoughts on graduating and how you thought about pursuing travel as a career/intense hobby after graduation. I know I won't have winter and spring breaks to escape to the jungle or dazzling cities, but I would certainly hope to continue to do so somehow.

I hope you are well! Wishing you all the best for wherever you may be. -Natalia

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The road called and demanded a Boston weekend

boston map

boston map

I haven't traveled somewhere new for the sole purpose of leisure in a long time. Ironically, my mind doesn't focus on potential trips I can take myself on without a 'work' angle - work being a very fuzzy concept often mistaken for hobby. Moving to New York and the east coast was a strategic escape from the Midwest region that I've already traversed and learned to appreciate. In this portion of the states, aside from the city whose Indian name is Big Apple (or more accurately, Manna-hata), I've only meandered through Rockport, Maine. And I'm not even sure a trip centered around a daunting photojournalism course counts for leisure.

I wanted to be surrounded by unknown territory and be inspired to constantly day trip or weekend elsewhere. There were music festivals to attend, mountains on which to frolic, friends and family to visit - an abundance of excuses.

Well, the inspiration and excuses weren't strong enough for the first eight months, but the road called me this weekend. Yes, she dialed me up - on Skype - and said:

skype with road

skype with road

Lindsay, it's Road here. Look, you've been flying over the North Pole and crap, hitting up Caribbean islands and such, all while your home base is here in the States...in the unknown land of New England! Why have you neglected me? I suggest hitting the...me for Boston this weekend. Why not? Join the rest of the working world and take a weekend. Make me screech --I mean proud.

Her video was super choppy, but I got the message. In the name of the road and seizing my potentially fleeting New York days, I booked some Megabus tickets to Boston to visit my good friend, Katie, and of course the puritanical motherland.

Museum cocktail parties, national park hikes, fancy sandwiches, ocean air - I'm not really sure what side of Boston I'll see this weekend, but if you have any recommendations, how about leaving a comment and spearheading a Nomadderwhere, user-generated guide to Boston! I took the same approach when re-discovering Chicago in 2009, and your comments facilitated a unique week. And I don't mean to draw uncouth connections between Beantown and the Windy City...

Consume & Update: Poetry, China and Band-aids

What a smorgasbord! There is great material across the travel community this week, and here are some of the highlights.

Poetry in Motion

This looks like a truly lovely opportunity:

Imagine being given one year to travel outside North America. That’s exactly the situation I’m now in after being chosen as the 2010 Amy Lowell Poetry Traveling Scholar.

The Amy Lowell Poetry Travel Scholarship is brand new to me and seems like the most incredible chance for those who breathe and move to the rhythm of their reflections. The application is due October 15th for those hoping to receive this honor and travel starting in the Fall of 2010. Where would you travel?

Happy 60th Birthday to One of the Oldest Civilizations on Earth!

Dan Chung creates a video for the Guardian, based in the UK, one which displays the beauty that comes from the interpretation and presentation of little moments in reality. This video displays the reasons why I became interested in photography. Of course, that's all on an unrelated note to the fact that this is about China's 60th birthday. Man, are there a lot of people in China...

Eye Candy

Shannon Stapleton's photograph of a surfer in New York makes me smell fresh air just looking at it.

Spreading the Love

Rolf Potts, author of Vagabonding and feature writer of Ask Rolf on World Hum, answers the question: How can I convince my friends to travel overseas?

...the best way to win over travel skeptics is to humbly allow your overseas journeys to deepen your life. Over the course of many years, as you return from exotic places energized and inspired—with your body (and bank account) intact—your friends may start to take an interest. Once they start barraging you with questions of how and when and where (instead of just why), odds are they’re seriously starting to consider their own international trips...

...A good strategy at this point is to answer the “who” question for them—i.e. offer to have them meet up with you during one of your own journeys. Your companionship and confidence will help allay their fears on that initial overseas trip, and odds are they’ll catch the travel bug in the process...

Wisdom from the Pros

Dan and Audrey of Uncornered Market take a moment to lay out seven habits of highly effective travelers for those of us ready to learn from two people with a lot of miles. And what are these magical tips?

1. Adapt Constantly

2. Make Plans A, B, C, D, E...always

3. Work a Way In. Leave a Way Out.

4. Negotiate and Compromise

5. Tune In. Filter Often.

6. Have Less. Do More.

7. Find a Common Language

Obviously these somewhat cryptic tips have descriptions to be found on the post as well as references to specific instances when Dan and Audrey implemented their tricks. You could be reading - and learning - for hours.

Other Greats this Week

Celebrating in Rio from Intelligent Travel

Hermail: a free e-mail based service that allows any woman anywhere in the world to connect at this site with other females who love to travel.

Vagabondish displays a beautiful photo of Popa Taungkalat Temple in Myanmar

Update on Nomadderwhere

I didn't think it would be possible, but only a couple months after the internship, I'm back on the road! Actually, I'm back on water. I am currently at sea off the west coast of Mexico with my parents and about 4,000 other 60-somethings playing shuffle board and shooting skeet off a Princess Cruise vessel. Stories and photographs will come in the next couple weeks, and if you have any questions about destinations such as Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan or Cabo San Lucas (or questions about cruises or Mexico), comment below!

Want to help out Nakavika? Under the tab entitled "Behind it All" sits Nakavika village in Fiji, a community at the end of an undulating road through the Namosi highlands, surrounded by thick tropical jungles and topped with a transformative sun. Education is an emphasis for these residents, but health seems to be an afterthought. In the coming months, I hope to plan another trip to Nakavika, Fiji and figure out a sustainable means of providing first aid supplies. If you have any advice on books about first aid, setting up a system for restocking supplies, fundraising and collecting Band-aids and Neosporin, e-mail me at Lindsay at Nomadderwhere dot com. You are also most welcome to donate to this project by going to Nakavika Village and purchasing a box of Band-aids or a tube of antibiotic ointment.

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.