Saturday, December 30, 2006

Frommer's 2007 Top Destination Picks

Frommer's Top Destinations for 2007 as listed in the full article here

* Krakow, Poland
* Tokyo, Japan
* Minneapolis, Minnesota
* Panama
* Asheville, North Carolina
* Ethiopia
* Portland, Oregon
* Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands
* Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
* Glen Canyon, Utah
* Zurich, Switzerland
* Portland, Maine

Friday, December 29, 2006

How Cool Are These Sandals?

I know I'm throwing you a lot of products lately. But I keep thinking of all the cool travel products there are out there and I want to share. I just found these Reef Sandals called "Stash" in December's issue of Caribbean Travel and Life In the heal of the shoes you can store a key, credit cards, or cash. The Stash sandals are for women, but don't worry, Reef makes storage sandals for men, too.

The "Dram" holds up to three ounces of liquid. Like a shoe flask. Hmm, I bet Homeland Security will love that. Although the shoes aren't available until March 1, 2007 you can pre-order them from KonaSports.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

What is your favorite city?

I was talking to my grandmother the other day about favorites places I've been and she asked me if there was any places I didn't particularly like. I guessed Tokyo because it was so expensive. But what is my favorite city? Very hard to's like trying to pick your favorite child, but I would say Sydney and New York City are my top two choices. Boston, Cape Town, Buenos Aires, and San Diego are probably my third favorites! It's hard to say.

The Backpack I Use

Kelty Illusion 3500 Backpack for Ladies
This backpack has been to almost every continent with me! I love it because it's so incredibly light, roomy but not too big for me. I'm 5'4" and medium size and it does not swallow me like the guys backpacks do. I tried on every pack they had at Bass Pro Shop and REI and this was the winner. Most backpacks I've seen are pretty bulky, but not this one. In fact, I had a lot of the other backpackers in South Africa asking me where I got such a cool bag. Well, I got it from Bass Pro Shop in Ft. Lauderdale but none of them had heard of it before! Anyway, I have had a few people ask me on here what I recommend for traveling, especially when you're working on a yacht. This one! I recommend this one! You can get it from Bass Pro Shops. I think the link below should take you there.

Kelty Illusion 3500 Backpack for Ladies

One Girl Mentioned On Amateur Traveler Podcast/Blog

I've listened to the Amateur Traveler podcast for awhile. Mostly to get ideas on how to make my podcast better (when I'm actually making it at all!) and just to listen to the travel stories.

At the end of the episode 71, Chris mentions One Girl, Her Backpack and a Passion for Travel and the short entry I wrote, So You Want to Work on a Yacht?. Be sure to listen to the whole episode about Liverpool!

Thanks Chris!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

New Year's Resolution 2007

Here were my resolutions and accomplishments I wrote last year

2005 accomplishments
• Backpacked alone across South Africa including surfing for the first time!
• Drove from Texas to Miami in 2 days
• Drove from New York through the Appalachians to Atlanta then Ft. Lauderdale
• Went to St. Kitts, Nevis, all the USVI and BVI
• Spent an entire summer in The Hamptons in New York and New York City
• Spent a month in Boston
• Went on a Safari and was chased by elephants
• Started doing yoga classes in NYC

Things I didn’t accomplish

• I didn’t start a new travel business
• I didn’t run a marathon, 10k, or even a 5k
• I didn’t return back to Texas
• I didn’t see anyone in my family for an entire year
• I didn’t go back to school for my MBA
• I didn’t lose (or gain) weight
• I didn’t go to church
• I didn’t go to medical school

Things I want to do in 2006

• Take yoga classes in Thailand, kayak in Antarctica, and hike across New Zealand
• Visit all my friends on the West Coast
• Visit all my friends back in Texas
• My first triathlon
• Ride a bike across Africa
• Sail across the Atlantic

And here's what happened:

2006 accomplishments

•Reached my 6th continent before I turned 25
•Started my travel business
•Returned back to Texas
•Saw my family for the first time in 2 years
•Drove from Boston to Miami to New Orleans to Houston
•Saw Madonna in concert
•Saw Dave Matthews in concert at Fenway
•Went to Cape Cod and Nantucket
•Went to Tokyo and Kyoto
•Got a little better at my Spanish
•Rode the bullet train
•Spent a lot of time in Antigua and St. Thomas (added some new islands to my list)
•Spent 4 months in Boston
•Bought a surfboard
•Moved into an awesome loft in downtown Houston

Things I didn’t accomplish

•I didn’t hike New Zealand, bike across Africa, sail across the Atlantic, or kayak Antarctica
•I didn’t gain or lose weight
•I didn’t visit any friends on the west coast
•I didn’t run any races, in fact, I stopped running altogether

Things I want to do in 2007

•Take flying lessons
•Kayak Antarctica
•Start running again
•Buy a house
•Move back to somewhere with a beach (that’s not the Gulf of Mexico-unless it’s in Mexico)

How Can We Afford To Travel?

I'm reading a really interesting book right now called Generation Debt: How Our Future Was Sold Out For Student Loans, Credit Cards, Bad Jobs, No Benefits, and Tax Cuts for Rich Geezers-and How to Fight Back, by Anya Kamenetz.

The author is in her mid-twenties, a Yale grad and journalist. She started writing this as an assignment when she was freelancing at Village Voice in NYC. The basic idea of the book is how the generation between the ages of 18-35, the "Boomerang Generation," is in financial trouble. With the average student graduating from college to low-paying jobs with about $20,000 in student loan debt and almost $3,000 in credit card debt it seems like this generation is in for a lot of trouble in the future. It's called the Boomerang Generation because as soon we graduate from college we have to move back home again because our debt is too high to live independently. I can attest to these numbers, but mine were a lot higher.

After I graduated from college I traveled. I lived in Barcelona and the Caribbean. Then managed to work my way around the world. In all that time, I had student loans, a car payment, and credit card debt, but I found a way. I lived very frugally. Rarely in my travels did I meet other Americans my age traveling. But I met tons of Brits, Kiwis, Australians, South Africans, Germans, well, a little bit of lots of nationalities really. They always said to me, "Where are all the Americans?" "Back home paying off student loans," I'd guess. If it had not been for working on yachts, I'd be in the same predicament as my friends. I called my best friend Curtis one day to complain about my job. He had been unemployed for a year, working only temp jobs, with a master's degree in conflict mediation. I'm complaining about the long hours and being far from home on a holiday. He says, "Jerri, what are you looking at right now?" I was on a boat in New York. "The ocean," I replied. He says, "So stop complaining! I'm looking at a parking lot. I can't even afford gas to get to work!" Then I realized how lucky I was.

It hasn't been easy though. In order to avoid paying rent, I've lived in rooms the size of small apartment bathrooms, with other people, and no privacy and essentially very little freedom. I even lived in a hotel room above a septic tank that had to be pumped weekly. And the only way they could pump it was backing the truck up to my front door and attaching a hose to a hole under my bed. I can't even begin to tell you how disgusting that was. But it was free! But extremely gross. Especially when they forgot to put the cover back on the hole in the ground. Anyway, the point of this is, that we have to make sacrifices. If the easy life was handed to us on a silver platter as soon as we graduated from college, we would have nothing to appreciate.

Traveling is expensive, but it can be done. So no more excuses and stop blaming everyone else for the problems our generations faces. Show some initiative, some moxie and just go! Oh, and stop spending all your money trying to keep up with everyone else. You never will catch up! Especially when they're spending all their money competing with you.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Accomodation in the Caribbean

So I was just reading the New York Times article, "The Caribbean, on the Cheap." It had some pretty good links for cheap(er) hotels, flights and transportation. I've discussed ways to get to the Caribbean in previous posts that are a little more economical for the readers of this blog than for readers of say, The New York Times. I didn't however discuss cheap places to stay in the Caribbean, because frankly, it can be pretty expensive unless you are going with friends or a partner or you know someone there already. Also, the places that are the cheapest to stay either don't publish their rates on the Internet or they don't even have a website. (Remember, you can always at least attempt to negotiate. As a former hotel office manager, I can tell you that rates can go down for the right person.)

The New York Times listed Surfer's Haven Bahamas on Eleuthera Island which has bedrooms at $25 a night in high season! Seriously, you just can hardly beat that anywhere.

After reading this, I remembered that El Momo on the beautiful island of Saba has rooms available at $50 for single occupancy in high season.

Then, if you are a equipped with your own tent you can stay at Cinnamon Bay in gorgeous St. John, USVI. Cottages there start at $110. At Maho Bay Camps in St. John up until December 15 you can stay in a tent for $56 single occupancy or $75 double.

So, there are a few cheap options for staying in the Caribbean. Surfer's Haven sounds like the best deal. You're on the beach, near the surf and it's cheap. What more could you ask for? Well, maybe if it wasn't in the Bahamas... But in my opinion, it sure beats Atlantis.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

A new adventure

My move to St. Martin has been postponed. I have been interviewing with a few yachts. One very cool yacht I have my sight set on has no set itinerary other than worldwide. It's an expedition yacht so it's not actually used with owners on board. It's commercial. Either way, if I get the job I'm leaving, but I don't know where I'm going! It doesn't get better than that!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Is traveling for ourselves or for others?

I live on my computer. I have a Mac PowerBook G4 and we are inseparable. Just like my trusty black Old Navy Flip Flops, my computer has traveled with me around the world. And then one day, just like my flip flops, she decided to die. One morning, I turned her on, but she just wouldn't wake up. So I took her to my favorite store in the Houston Galleria-no, not Banana Republic, close second though-the Apple store, and they decided something was wrong with her RAM and they sent her off to be fixed. Five days later she comes home looking nice, shiny and new.

While I'm very happy to have her back alive and well, I have a massive problem. All my music, videos, documents and photos are gone. All my pictures from around the world, every place I have ever been, all the videos I've ever taken of my friends acting crazy, all my thoughts I've ever written down while doing boat deliveries or on the train, my favorite songs from my favorite albums are gone. Music is recoverable, but expensive, but my pictures are priceless. Who knows if I'll ever go back to Australia to dive the Great Barrier Reef? Will I ever have the opportunity to see Kyoto again and a real live geisha? And most of all, how can I prove that I ever went to those places in the first place?

This seems like a vain question, but I really worried about this. How can I show people these amazing things I have seen? And why is it so important to me that I have these pictures to share? Is it because I'm egotistical and want to show all the places I've been to that others haven't? I'm worried that part of this may be true. But, deep down, I know it's not. I travel for the love of it. I travel because I meet interesting people, I witness incredibly beautiful places, I see history, and cultures, and life. I travel because it inspires me. It has absolutely nothing to do with anyone else. The reason I want these pictures is to remind me how wonderful life has been and to encourage me to continue to experience more. And I want my photos to share with others my love and passion. Because I want them to feel the excitement and exhilaration that I feel. The feeling is indescribable, but maybe it can be shown through pictures. I suppose that's partly why I need my photos.

I will accumulate more pictures as I travel in the future, but I'll mourn the ones I lost. At least I have the memories, right? But, oh, how I'll miss the picture of that geisha!

Monday, November 27, 2006

So you want to work on a yacht?

Check out these websites. They have pretty comprehensive information.

Work on a Boat

Extraordinary Jobs

Kim at Extraordinary Jobs even has an ebook about crewing on a yacht.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

My Favorite Hotels

I love going to amazing hotels in beautiful places. Here's a list of my favorite hotels and hostels so far.

The Westin Kyoto, Japan

This is supposed to be the best hotel in Kyoto and I can see why. The room I had was incredible with the biggest bed I've ever seen! It was so comfortable. The hotel had its own little Zen Garden, the room service was expensive (of course), but the most impressive part was how courteous the housekeeping was. I believe that the true measure of a great hotel is the housekeeping. Whenever I saw the housekeepers in the hall they would give me very big smiles and bows. Of course, I know this is a sign of respect all over Asia, but why can't Western hotels be the same?

Hotel Tom Beach, St. Bart, Caribbean

Although I didn't stay at Tom Beach Hotel, I did have lunch there and used their beach, the famous St. Jean which is spotted with celebrities. The airport is so close by that planes fly right over your head when taking off. It's perfect!

I liked that the hotel was decorated in deep, rich and vibrant colors. The pool lounge area was padded with comfy pillows and beds covered in willowy curtains.

Coffee Shack, Coffee Bay, South Africa

The Coffee Shack come close to near perfection. If you enjoy the idea of an earthy, laid back beach bungalow I can't imagine anywhere better. Coffee Shack is a backpacker, which means no creature comforts. But what you give up in room service you make up for in location and culture. I went for one day and stayed for a week.

Library Hotel, Manhatten

The Library Hotel in Midtown Manhatten is located on Madison Avenue and 41st Street, also known as Library Way, just down the street from New York Public Library, Bryant Park, Pierpont Morgan Library, and newly renovated Grand Central Station.

The hotel emulates a library with each floor a new subject and each room a variation of that theme with books in that subject placed on shelves. I stayed on the History/Social Sciences floor in the Psychology room, which is one of the smaller rooms. But the best room I imagine is the Erotic Literature room.

I enjoyed the fact that they offer turndowns every night, an office with internet access, and complimentary wine and cheese every evening.
However, my room was a bit too small for the price (it felt very European).

Claridge Hotel, Buenos Aires, Argentina

I felt first class staying at the Claridge my last few nights in Buenos Aires. My room was absolutely huge, soft and comfortable. I had complimentary treats in my room (I thought) and English and Spanish channels on cable, including MTV International and CNN International. After not speaking English for a week, I enjoyed hearing the news in "American."

Rates for the room, room service and concierge were perfect. The view from my room overlooked the pool and I found the staff to go way beyond their way to make my stay nice. They also spoke perfect English. Housekeeping was friendly and very good. English teas served at 4pm!

Ferntree Rainforest Lodge, Daintree, Australia

The beautiful area of Australia where the Great Barrier Reef meets land. Nice property as long as you don't mind sleeping or showering with lizards.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Travel Channel's 5Takes Tiffany Burnett

I don't know about you, but when I can't travel the next best thing is to hear about other people who are. If you've ever watched the Travel Channel you may have seen the show 5Takes where they take 5 ordinary people and send them on a journey to document their adventures as Travel Journalists (TJs they like to call them). It's kind of like MTV's The Real World but with purpose. Last season, the 5 TJs explored the Pacific Rim. The season before that it was Europe. The show is fantastic, the locations interesting, but what really makes the show so enjoyable to watch are the people.

The crew from the Pacific Rim seemed to have a real passion for traveling and exploring different cultures. The show is over and the TJs have returned to their normal lives, but one in particular, Tiffany Burnett is turning Travel Journalism into her career. She has a blog and podcast as well as a few videos on YouTube that are excellently filmed and entertaining. Basically, she's making a career out of my dream job.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

How to pass your carry on of toiletries with flying colors!

Great advice from Spa Diva.

After 3 weeks of brutal illness and work travel, I am back! I am now writing from my parents home in Longview, WA, capital of bad chinese food, meth addicts and paper mill polluted skies. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

If anyone is about to brave travelling during the holidays and stand in those long, noisy security lines, this topic is just for you!

Today, I would like to discuss how to make your life easier when travelling with beauty/toiletries. I wasn't sure how to pack after they banned liquid items and especially after friends were telling me that their expensive makeup, cleansers and moisturizers had been confiscated. Honestly, I think some of the TSA employees used this to their advantage and I wasn't about to let them take my favorite expensive tube of lipstick.

If you are like me and refuse to stand in long lines to check your small bag knowing you'll just have to wait again upon arrival to pick through all the other bags that look just like yours, then these tips will be useful and save you from crying over your favorite moisturizer that was taken away from "Dry skin Deanna," who works for TSA just so she can steal your beauty bag. Not this time!

1. Check TSA's guidelines. Then print them out with the TSA logo showing. That way, if they do question your favorite shampoo under 3 oz., you can remind them of THEIR rules and regulations, that you did follow them and then throw out the word, THIEF!

2. Head to your nearest beauty counter, esthetician and hair stylist for samples of the products that you use. They'll be much easier to fit into that quart sized ziplock bag, than trying to cram all your 1 to 3 oz. sizes of shampoos, moisturizers, cleansers and's just not going to happen!

3. If you can't get any samples, then I recommend heading to the Container Store. Find small containers, to put your beauty products in, and label them. Not only for the sake of getting it through security, but so you don't end up applying your hair gel to your face, mistaking it for your makeup remover.

4. Don't think that just because the tube or bottle is half empty that it qualifies for sample size. Oh no, it will get thrown away. That expensive tube of whitening toothpaste will end up in the toiletry graveyard for sure!

5. Check your drugstore or places such like Target for travel sizes of toiletries. I was at Sally's Beauty Supply and they had a wonderful display of tiny lipsticks, glosses and nail polish next to the register.

6. Personal creams and lubricants should be 3 oz. or smaller and if they are not, they will get confiscated. A well suited man behind me was quite angry for losing his KY jelly. That's no joke! Again, place it in a smaller container or make sure the tube is travel size.

Make sure you drink up your coffee, juice, water or self medicating shots of liquor before you enter the security line because it will get thrown away. I saw a woman used as an example yesterday for holding up the line because she forgot to remove her juice bottle from her bag. And be prepared to spend no less than $2.00 on a small bottle of water. I spent $3.25 yesterday for my small bottle of Fuji.

Also, wear comfortable clothes, clean socks and stink free shoes! I think the man, who was in front of me, had been wearing his socks for about a week.

My bag passed with no problems and it was loaded with 2 bags of samples. (Yes, I'm gutsy.) Make sure to print out those guidelines and highlight any that apply to your bag.

Happy flying and safe travels!!

Travel Gear - Essentials for Backpackers

I was thinking about writing about how to find the best backpack for you when traveling, but then I found this blog.

Backpacks - A backpack is your best investment. You'll be essentially living out of it, and therefore if anything happens to your backpack you're in serious trouble. Spend the money and get a strong durable pack and when you hit the road you'll soon realize how important a good pack is.

There are certain things you need to look for when purchasing a backpack, because after all it's a big investment and your most important one. You'll want to make sure it's proportionate to your body and is comfortable enough to carry 30 pounds or so in. Make sure the straps are comfortable as well, otherwise you may have bruised shoulders to contend with. Always make sure there is a waist strap. This strap is very important as it shifts something like 40% of the weight from your shoulders to your hips, and makes the pack much easier to carry.

Chances are you'll be spending at least $150 for a decent backpack. That's about what I spent on mine and it's lasted me five years and 30+ countries so far.
Questions you should ask when buying a backpack:

Is the backpack waterproof? If the backpack isn't water proof, you can always cover it with a garbage bag or poncho when travelling. But if possible, definitely get the waterproof backpack.

Is the backpack comfortable? If it isn't comfortable now, think about when you're carrying it for hours. You don't want to strain your muscles or get some other injury from a backpack that doesn't fit well.

Is there a waist / chest belt?
Using a waist belt shifts the weight of the pack off your shoulders and onto your hips. This helps a tonne! Make sure the backpack sits directly on your hips and is comfortable.

Is there a daypack?
Many backpacks come with detachable daypacks. This is definitely useful, but you can also just bring your own extra backpack and stuff it inside your big backpack if there's room.

Warranty? What does the warranty cover? For how long? You certainly don't want your new backpack to fall apart on you in the first week. Make sure you get a quality pack from a reputable brand, with a comprehensive warranty.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Holiday Travel: TSA hopes 3-1-1 will keep lines moving

By John Helton

(CNN) -- Airline security officials want to get out the 411 about the 3-1-1 to keep airport traffic flowing smoothly over the Thanksgiving holiday.

The Transportation Security Administration banned liquids from carry-on baggage in August after an alleged terror plot using liquid explosives, was exposed. The TSA adjusted restrictions in September with a campaign called "3-1-1 for Carry-onsexternal link."

The "3" stands for the three-ounce limit for containers of liquid or gel; the first "1" stands for the one-quart, clear, zip-lock bags required to hold the containers; and the second "1" indicates one bag per passenger.

Wait times in security lines have increased 10 percent overall since the restrictions were put in place.

Going into the busy holiday season, the TSA said it is working with the entire travel industry to include the 3-1-1 message in communications with their customers.

About 25 million people are expected to fly between November 17 and November 28 -- that's about a 3 percent increase over last year.

Airline and government officials say they have done as much as they can to inform passengers. Now it's up to the passengers to keep the lines moving.

"Amazingly, a lot of people still have not gotten the word," said Chuck Cannon, public affairs director at Denver International Airport.

Cannon said he went through a security checkpoint recently and saw a passenger that he presumed to be a business traveler, "and he had his stick deodorant and shaving cream that he had to throw away and I thought to myself, 'Where have you been?' "

Judy Graham-Weaver, AirTran's public affairs manager, said that her biggest concern was that people who haven't flown since last Thanksgiving haven't paid much attention to the restrictions.

"I still hear people when I fly when I get on the rental car bus calling on their cell phones telling people, 'They took this from me and I didn't know you couldn't have that,' so I know there are a lot of people out there who still don't know what they're allowed to have."

TSA spokesman Christopher White said in an e-mail response that the majority of the agency's 43,000 security officers will be on duty over the weekend. The agency limits vacation during peak travel times and requests that officers work overtime, he wrote.

"What it comes down to is, if they get it right and familiarize themselves with the rules for carrying on liquids, we could have a very uneventful Thanksgiving," said Bob Parker, spokesman for Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. "And if they don't, we could have lines out into the garage. It really comes down to passenger behavior."

Parker said it was easier to deal with the outright ban on liquids put in place immediately following the exposure of the terror plot in August.

"Now there's the opportunity for discussion," he said. "I waited in line about five minutes behind a woman who didn't understand why she couldn't take her half-full 6-ounce tube of shampoo on the plane."

White estimated each physical inspection of a carry-on bag takes three minutes.

"Even if you add 10 seconds to each person, that adds up," Parker said.

About 30 percent more bags were checked in immediately after the ban went into effect in August, most airlines said. The rate fell to 15 to 20 percent after the 3-1-1 rules were put in place.

Parker also said the smaller bags being checked because of the restrictions are causing holdups because they are more likely than bigger bags to cover routing codes and cause bag jams.

Parker said he thinks the increase contributed to the rise in the number of mishandled baggage complaints, which almost doubled between September 2005 and September 2006.

The simple increase in total checked baggage can also slow down the system.

"The size of the door is the same," Parker said. "If it takes 20 to 30 percent longer to get the bags off the plane -- at peak time that could mean people waiting 30 to 45 minutes for their bags."

Airline officials say they have adapted to the security changes and are offering advice to their customers to help them through terminals -- most are distributing 1-quart bags to passengers who need them.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

I'm moving back to St. Maarten!

So, all this talk about the Caribbean on my blog has made me miss the Caribbean. In light of that fact, I have decided to move back to the Caribbean. The Caribbean is home to me, like Texas, and I miss it so much. So starting December 1, this blog, my podcast, One Girl, Her Backpack and a Passion for Travel, and my Travel Consultant business, Via Via Travel, are all moving back to St. Martin. Yay! I'm looking forward to having a tan again!

Cheap Packing Tips

· Roll your clothes that you don't mind wrinking-underwear, t-shirts, jeans. It creates more room in your bag. Another alternative is to take a zip lock bag and place your clothes inside. Then you can "vacuum pack" it so it takes up less space.

· Layer your clothes longways instead of folding. Your clothes are less likely to wrinkle and you have more space.

· Place a piece of tissue paper between each layer of clothing will help prevent wrinkling.

· Always carry your travel documents, medication, jewelry, traveler's checks, keys and other valuables in your carryon. These items should NEVER be packed in luggage you plan to check.

· Buy small containers to put your shampoo, conditioner and lotion in. You won't need your entire bottle of Pantene for your one week vacation. And, if you run out, odds are there are stores in the country you are in that sell shampoo. Then put them in a plastic or zip lock bag.

· Layer your "breakables" hairdryer, flatiron in between soft items like clothes so they won't get damged during transport.

· Always carry your travel documents, medication, jewelry, traveler's checks, keys and other valuables in your carry on. These items should NEVER be packed in luggage you plan to check.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Travel Essentials

****One Girl's Travel Essentials****

-Ear Plugs: Even if you do not normally use them, a seat near the engine or a crying baby will make you glad you had them.

-Eye Mask: This can block out a bright movie screen and let you have a good night’s rest. Also can come in handy in your hotel.

-Flannel Pillow Case: Makes that airline pillow a little more like home. Also can be used at your hotel in lieu of that starchy white pillowcase.

-Toothbrush/Toothpaste: If you have a flight with meal service or when you will be going to sleep, this can instantly give you a wave of freshness, especially if there is a cute boy sitting next to you.

-Slippers/Socks: Depending on what type of shoes you wore on the plane, bring slippers and/or socks to keep your feet warm. Slippers will also make that walk to the bathroom that much more sanitary.

-Entertainment: Be sure to bring magazines, books, music players (CD or MP3 players), paper and a pen, and other items to entertain yourself. Never rely on the in-flight movie!

-If you wear contacts, bring your glasses, contact solution, and your contact case with you on the plane. As unglamorous as it might seem, your eye will thank you for sparing them of the dryness and pressure.

-Zippered Carry On Bag: Nothing is worse than when you are flying and your carry on spills under your seat or in the overhead compartment with all your belongings inside.

-Water! Especially when flying, anything else you drink will either dehydrate you or make you sick.

-Layer your clothes. If you are wearing a tank top, t-shirt and have a sweatshirt you add/subtract as needed. Sweatshirts are sometimes even better than pillows!

-Lotion: Traveling dehydrates your skin and you’ll smell better after that 14 hour flight!

Friday, November 17, 2006

List of Major Islands in the Caribbean

I've made a list of the major islands of the Caribbean. Keeping the islands straight can be a bit confusing.

Antigua and Barbuda
British Virgin Islands (BVI-Tortola, Jost Van Dyke, Virgin Gorda, Anegada)
Cayman Islands
Dominica (not the same as the Dominican Republic)
Dominican Republic (on the island of Hispanola)
Haiti (on the island of Hispanola)
Puerto Rico
Saint Kitts
Saba (pronounced Say-buh)
St. Bart
Saint Lucia
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
St. Maarten/St. Martin
Turks and Caicos
U.S. Virgin Islands (St. John, St. Thomas and St. Croix)

Caribbean Packing List

When I was working in the office at a hotel in St. Maarten, our guests would often e-mail me pre-arrival asking what they should pack for their trip. For first time visitors to the Caribbean, it's hard to imagine that when you're visiting the Caribbean you really don't need long sleeves at all, unless maybe you're going to the movie theater then you might need a light sweater, but that's it! So, I've made a list of items and clothing you should pack when traveling to the Caribbean. Depending on what your itinerary is you can modify this list as you see fit. If you are staying at a low key hotel, you probably won't need anything fancy. Ladies-maybe bring one nice dress, guys-sports coat or nice button down shirt and slacks. Just remember to make it simple. One other suggestion that I have-Remember that you are visiting another country where people live and work. If you are going into a town don't dress as if you are at the beach such as wearing board shorts and no shirt or a bikini with just a sarong. It's inappropriate and disrespectful to the locals.

Women's Packing List

• socks
• camisole/slip
• purse and bag for the beach
• belts
• scarves
• walking/tennis shoes
• walking sandals
• rubber sandals for reef walking and beach
• evening shoes
• costume jewelry and extra (preferably waterproof) watch (leave expensive jewelry at home)
• swim suit
• swim suit cover-up/pareo/sarong
• thongs/flip flop shoes
• work out clothes and jog bra
• tank tops, t-shirts
• shorts
• capri pants
• slacks
• 1 light sweater
• light rain coat (or you can go without and just run for shelter)rains is usually light and short
• blow dryer (check with your hotel, you may be able to save space in your bag)
• comb/brush
• hair gel
• shampoo
• conditioner
• shower cap
• body wash
• deodorant
• toothbrush
• toothpaste
• dental floss
• mouthwash
• tweezer
• make-up and make-up bag (you really don’t need heavy makeup)
• make-up remover
• cleanser
• moisturizer and freshener
• nail polish and remover
• nail clippers and file
• razor and shaving cream

Men's Packing List

• underwear
• undershirts
• pajamas and robe
• exercise/walking socks
• black dress socks
• belts
• walking shoes
• walking sandals
• rubber sandals/shoes for reef walking and beach
• evening or dress shoes
• "docksider" casual shoes
• sport jacket (depending on if a restaurant you’re going to requires it)
• regular tie
• dress shirts
• swim suit
• swim suit cover-up
• work out clothes/T shirts
• shorts
• casual shirts
• slacks (casual and dress)
• light rain coat (or you can go without and just run for shelter)rains is usually light and short
• comb/brush
• shampoo and hair products
• bar soap in plastic container/body wash
• deodorant
• toothbrush
• toothpaste
• dental floss
• mouthwash
• tweezers
• nail clippers and file
• razor and shaving cream

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Working in the Caribbean

So, I just moved back to my home state of Texas and the huge city of Houston after living off and on in the Caribbean for the past 3.5 years. I first moved to the Caribbean to take a job managing a hotel in St. Maarten, Dutch West Indies. I didn't want to go! In fact I cried as I reluctantly packed up my first "working girl" apartment in Dallas. I know most people without the commitment and given the opportunity would jump at the possibility, but I was afraid to leave my family and the conveniences of modern life i.e. Starbucks, Barnes and Noble, Banana Republic.

There are two ways basically (as in most countries) to work in the Caribbean: legally and illegally.


So you're going to the Caribbean with no jobs offers but you have some good skills like office work, computer skills such as web design, bartending, SCUBA instructor, or waiting tables. Once you have established yourself with a place to live you can start meeting the locals. Do not, under any circumstance, tell people you are there working illegally! But you can meet people who own businesses who may be looking for an office assistant or wait staff. Remember "don't ask, don't tell." If any one does ask, tell them you have applied for your papers and you're waiting for them to come through.


Well, this one is going to be tough and also depends on the island. I'm going to tell you about St. Maarten because I only know this way firsthand. First, you have to apply for residency and it's a lengthy and costly process. Even if you establish residency you are not allowed legally to work unless you have a potential employer willing to sponsor you and they can prove that they can't find a local who can do the same work. Another way of going about gaining residency is to start a business, which of course costs money and you must apply for a business license. If you're planning on doing it right, then you should definitely use the choice. If you choose to work illegally in the Caribbean you risk deportation at your own expense!

If you're a US resident you can of course work in the USVI or if you're a French national you can work in St. Martin, Guadaloupe, St. Bart, or any other French held island, same goes for those from the Netherlands.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Travel Trends 2007

TripAdvisor TravelCast Top Ten Hot World Destinations for 2007

1. Pamukkale, Turkey
2. Parga, Greece
3. Ayr, Scotland
4. Campeche, Mexico
5. Marrakech, Morocco
6. Naxos, Greece
7. Puno, Peru
8. Soller, Spain
9. Salvador, Bahia, Brazil
10. Fes, Morocco,

TripAdvisor TravelCast Top Ten Hot U.S. Destinations for 2007

1. Anna Maria, Florida
2. Kailua, Hawaii
3. Siesta Key, Florida
4. Macon, Georgia
5. Breckenridge, Colorado
6. Millinocket, Maine
7. Vail, Colorado
8. Bishop, California
9. Franklin, Tennessee
10. Eureka, California

Getting to the Caribbean

Getting There

There are several ways to travel to the Caribbean-For simplicity sake, I'm going to assume you're either coming from Europe or the US. If you're up for the adventure you can hope on a boat leaving from Florida or Antibes or just about any other big boating city, but these are most likely to have boats doing deliveries to the Caribbean. You can either get paid as crew or you can pay for room and board (on a smaller type boat). Lots of people are looking for travel mates on their private boat. Sometimes you can just pay for your own food. Check out Crew File. They have classified listings for boat captains looking for crew (paid and unpaid).

You can also fly, or course, to the Caribbean. American Airlines, Caribbean Sun, Continental, Delta, Northwest, United and U.S. Air, I know for sure fly to the Caribbean from the States. From Europe, you have just as many options: Air France,
British Airways, Iberia, KLM, Lufthansa, and Virgin Atlantic all fly through. Check around and you can find some great deals on these airlines. There are also smaller, puddle jumpers that fly from island to island. I know Winair the best. I think I use to date on of their pilots, unfortunately not long enough to get a free ticket anywhere...

Last, but not least, you can take a cruise. You don't get nearly as much freedom and time to explore once you get to the island, but you do get to see more islands quicker. All the major cruise ships go to the Caribbean and you can get some nice deals on ships leaving from Ft. Lauderdale.

More later on about where to stay once you get to the islands and what to spend your money on and what is a waste.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Backpacking in the Caribbean Series

When I was in college I had a huge world map covering a wall in my apartment and, of course, it had thumbtacks in all the places I'd been. Which at the time was like four including my hometown! I was explaining to a friend who was visiting my apartment how I wanted to go everywhere. Then as I was looking at the map I decided I wanted to go everywhere but the Caribbean. I had no plans or interest on ever visiting the islands. Well, it's funny how things in life workout isn't it? I've lived and worked in the Caribbean for the past three years and I love it!

The Caribbean is the playground for the rich and those who wish they were rich. I've had a healthy disdain for people in the past who take cruises in the Caribbean because I always felt that it wasn't truly traveling. I've changed my mind...I'm no longer a travel snob. Traveling is traveling no matter how you do it.

Because the islands can be difficult to get to and expensive once you do get there, most backpackers, I assume, don't have the means and resources to experience. Over my next few blogs I'm going to talk about some resourceful ways to travel, work and live in the Caribbean. It can be done, I know because I have done it myself.

If you are like I was once-one who truly could find no redeeming quality in going to the Caribbean-I'll explain to you how this region of the world has just as much history, art, culture, and adventure as any other "more desirable" place in the world if not better. Every single island has a different vibe and I promise you can find a place of your own. Unless, that is, that you hate warm weather year round, beautiful beaches, the ocean, pina colodas and friendly people. Well, then I'd have to say this blog is not for you. Maybe you should check out...well, I just googled "I hate the caribbean" and there weren't any listings. Maybe you could start your own blog.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Edible Adventures

Last night I was watching the Travel Channel-seriously what else would I be watching?-and Edible Adventures came on before Bourdain. So, I'm interested because it's about Costa Rica and I wanted to see if they were going to the Nicoya Pennisula. Maybe I missed that part, but the host, Stephen Brooks, was super entertaining and interesting. I loved watching how to make goat cheese and the whole process of harvesting coffee beans and how he made chocolate cake starting with cacao beans.

The show was so interesting. I'm sure it's coming on again sometime on the Travel Channel. You can also check out the website for the company Kopali Organics co-founded by Brooks.

Traveling Solo: Just Go

I'm a huge fan of traveling by myself. Sometimes I think maybe there is something wrong with me because of it. I worry that it makes me anti-social or perhaps a control freak-I have to do it my way or no way...OK. So some of this is true. I want to be able to control where and when I go somewhere. If I want to make up my mind and leave within 30 minutes to drive across the country I can. I know that's extreme, but I really enjoy that freedom.

Maybe I'm afraid of commitment...that's a whole other issue! You can talk to my ex-boyfriends about that! I like to call it independent. I hear of some women who have never traveled alone and it makes me sad. They don't know what they are missing. I don't know many guys who have this same issue.

Part of the allure of traveling is discovery...not only discovering new places, but also discovering yourself. That's difficult to do when you're busy trying to accomodate the wants of other people you're traveling with as well. I have made some of the very best friends by deciding to go it alone on trips by myself. Meeting people in backpackers seems to be the way to go. You can always travel with a new companion and then when you want to go your separate ways, no one's feelings are hurt. It's understood that this is just the way it is. I'm starting to see a habit emerge here.

Booking Your Flight

Finding a flight: Booking a flight is the most crucial part of your trip. If you can’t get there, how are you going to have any fun?

You can do this in one of two ways: through a travel agency or on your own. If you decide on the latter, read on.

• If possible, avoid traveling on “peak days” which tend to be more crowded and more expensive due to demand. Instead, opt for the lesser traveled days like Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday.

• More connections equal a lower price. If you don’t mind, it can save you a couple of hundred dollars.

• Check travel comparison sites like,, Yahoo! Travel, and which can check several airlines at once for the lowest fare.

• Note that most airfare is non-refundable unless clearly mentioned (more expensive tickets usually have flexibility).

Once you have decided on a flight, most airlines will let you select a seat. Most airlines have three seats in each section so your options are an aisle, middle, or a window seat. Aisles and windows both have their advantages and disadvantages: window seats can get cold due to the location but allow for one to sleep against the plane’s window pane if desired; aisles have easy in and out access but then you have to deal with the beverage carts coming down the aisle. There are also some other seats which are not as well known:

Exit-row seats
: Located on all aircrafts, these rows have additional space in between the seat in from of them due to their purpose as an escape route. This creates a great amount of leg room for taller girls! Please note, that you must be 16 years of age or older to sit here per FAA regulations.

Bulk-head seats
: These seats are the ones that have a wall in front of them versus another row of seats. The advantage to this is that you can be confident that no one will recline their seat as you are enjoying your meal and you have a little more room for your feet. The downside is that all your carry-ons must be stowed in the overhead compartment during take-off and landing per FAA regulations. You are usually able to hold a small purse or bag in your lap.

Business and First Class
: If you have the extra money, Business and First Class can be a great addition to your trip. With amenities such as lounge access at the airport, seats that recline to a bed, and complete five-course meal service, you will hardily notice a ten hour flight! Check the airline’s website for information on specific features.

Premium Economy
: A relatively new development, premium economy can be an economical way to travel in style. Typically, you will enjoy premium check-in and boarding and have a seat that is a little larger and roomier than that of coach. If you have the extra money, it can make getting there a little more enjoyable.

In the very back rows
: For most travelers, the back of the plane is the least desirable location. It can be noisy because you’re right on top of the jets, you’re first on when boarding, but last off once you arrive. You’re also near the gallery where the flight crew prepares your meals. For the savvy traveler, it’s the next best thing, if you play your cards right, to First Class!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Working Your Way Around The World

Other resourceful ideas for making money and working your way around the world.
1. Fruit picking in New Zealand
2. Scuba instructor in Australia
3. Bartending at an Irish Pub in Europe
4. Working on a private or charter yacht in the Mediterranean or Caribbean
5. Building websites for local companies anywhere in the world
6. Managing a hostel anywhere
7. Au Pair in Switzerland
8. Travel writing for magazine or travel guides like Lonely Planet
9. If you play an instrument play for money on the street or in parks
10. Writing and publishing local guidebooks or newspapers, make money through ads.
11. Or start your own business…(Remember: Think Globally, Act Locally!)

My plan is to start a Tex-Mex restaurant in J-Bay. A little piece of home in paradise! OK, I'm not really planning this. You can steal this idea if you want!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Your First International Trip: Deciding Where To Go

There are many factors to consider in the process that may encourage or discourage your final destination decision. Here are some factors to consider:

Language: Are you comfortable being in a place where you don’t speak the language? Or do you want somewhere where English is predominant?

Distance: Take into consideration the actual flight time so you don’t spend a majority of your trip at the airport (although airports can be quite fun). Also, if you cross the International Date Line, you will lose a day when you travel there from North America.

Cost: Take into account world currencies so you know approximately how much you would be spending. In some cases, you will be paying more for things whereas in some places you can live like a king on just dollars a day.

Type of facilities: Do you want to stay in an American-style hotel or assimilate into the local culture by staying in a family-owned establishment? Typically, you’ll find the high-rises in metropolitan areas and the smaller, quaint places in the more remote locations.

Type of tours: Is your trip going to be all about exploration or just relaxing at the beach? If you are going for the more active route, be sure that there are tours and activities to satisfy your needs.

Climate: Check the season (remember that anything in the Southern hemisphere will be opposite North America’s seasons) and what the highs and lows are for that season. Also, make a note of when the wet and dry seasons are you can avoid monsoon-like conditions if that’s not your cup of tea.

: Be sure to check with the government and consulates to determine the safety and health of the country you are interested in visiting. You may have to get some vaccinations or take preventive medications, so be sure you are okay with that before you beginning planning.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

From JFK to Chicago for $36

Because this is too good to pass up! JetBlue's website

NEW YORK, Oct. 26, 2006 -- JetBlue Airways today is pleased to announce it will begin nonstop service to Chicago's O'Hare International Airport from New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and LA/Long Beach Airport effective January 4, 2007. Chicago will be the low-fare, low-cost airline's 50th destination, and the first new destination the low-fare carrier will launch in 2007.

JetBlue is the only airline to offer 36 channels of free DIRECTV programming on every flight to/from Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. To celebrate this with our customers, JetBlue will offer a special $36 fare on its new flights between Chicago/O'Hare and New York/JFK and LA/Long Beach. This special fare will only be available for the next 36 hours.

Just in case customers miss JetBlue's 36-hour, $36 fare, the low-fare carrier continues the celebration with introductory ``O'Hare Fares'' to New York/JFK and LA/Long Beach from Chicago/O'Hare. JetBlue's ``O'Hare Fares'' to New York/JFK will start at $59 each way. Regular fares will range between $89 and $249 each way. JetBlue's ``O'Hare Fares'' to LA/Long Beach will start at $89 each way, with regular fares ranging between $129 and $349 each way. On JetBlue, all fares are one-way, and a Saturday night stay is never required.

006-Costa Rica, What is Eco-Tourism to you?

Episode #6

(28 mins) One Girl, Her Backpack and a Passion for Travel

Costa Rica and Eco-Tourism

Monday, October 23, 2006

004-Boston, New Orleans, Miami, Houston

Episode #4

(25 mins) One Girl, Her Backpack and a Passion for Travel

I'm discussing my drive from Boston down the coast to Miami, then my drive from Miami to Houston. Also, highlighting a few interesting magazine articles.

One Girl in Costa Rica

Finally, I'm going to Costa Rica! I'm leaving on Oct 30 and coming back November 11. Well, I've had these frequent flyer miles that I need to use forever before they expire and I have decided to redeem them for a flight to Costa Rica on American Airlines. My flight in total is going to be $30! Then I'm taking the bus from San Jose to the Nicoya Penisula where I'll be staying at Casa Zen. The goals for this trip are: getting better at my surfing, yoga, and travel research! How exciting!

I found Casa Zen after reading aBudget Travel Magazine article about secret hotels in Costa Rica and thought that this place sounds just like me!

My criteria for finding a place to stay in Costa Rica were:

• Surfing is a priority
• Yoga is a priority
• Casual, fun atmosphere important; party scene OK, but not like Ft. Lauderdale Spring Break
• Hammocks are preferred
• Safety is the utmost importance
• The hotel doesn’t have to be on the beach but I must be able to walk there in about 2 minutes!
• Cheap! (and here’s where I ran into my problem-it’s hard to find a place with all the above requirements that is affordable. When I say affordable I mean hostel prices!)

I'll be covering my pre-departure in my podcast and then when I get back look forward to more information about Costa Rica and the backpacking scene!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

003-Boston, Argentina and Antartica

Episode #3 (28 mins) One Girl, Her Backpack and a Passion for Travel

This podcast I'm discussing my last few months in Boston, my future trip to Antarctica, and my friends tour company in Argentina.

001-One Girl, Her Backpack and a Passion for Travel

Episode #1 (12 mins)
One girl, her backpack and a passion for travel is a brief introduction to the podcast and the host. The podcast will discuss travel for those who want to live the lifestyle of a traveler and not a tourist.

Traveling to Caribbean? You need your passport now

If you're a US citizen and have been traveling in the Caribbean just by using your birth certificate, you’re about to have to stop!

According to the US State Department website: On January 8, 2007, U.S. citizens traveling by air between the U.S. and Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Bermuda will be required to present a valid U.S. passport, Air NEXUS card, or U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Mariner Document.

It is anticipated that on January 1, 2008, U.S. citizens traveling between the U.S. and Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Bermuda by land or sea (including ferries), may be required to present a valid U.S. passport or other documents as determined by the Department of Homeland Security. While recent legislative changes may permit a later deadline, both the Departments of State and Homeland Security are working to put all requirements in place by the original deadline. Advance notice will be provided to enable the public meet the land/sea border requirement.

So what happens if you don’t have your passport and are trying to get back into the US?

Under the law, the new documentation requirements may be waived under certain circumstances. These exceptions include individual cases of unforeseen emergency and individual cases based on “humanitarian or national interest reasons.” In addition, the State Department has processes to assist U.S. citizens overseas to obtain emergency travel documentation for those with lost or stolen passports.

For the general public, people who apply for entry but do not have appropriate documentation will be referred for secondary screening at the port. In secondary, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers will evaluate any evidence of citizenship or identity the individual may have and will verify all information against available databases. However, to prevent delay at the ports of entry, we would encourage all U.S. citizens to obtain the appropriate documents before they travel.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Via Via Travel

Well, finally, after planning this for three years I have opened my own travel business, Via Via Travel. Right now, the only travel products I'm offering are cruises and hotels in the Caribbean and Central and South America. I also have access to vacation villas in the Caribbean presently. While the business is absolutely going to be organic and ever growing, I plan on branching out into eco-travel, adventure travel, and luxury travel products. And ambitiously, I would like to have my own Via Via Travel luggage line and travel products. Eventually, I'd like to offer tours and packages around the world especially in South Africa-my favorite country in the world. Further services that we presently offer-exclusive hotel discounts, cruise promotions, and reduced rates on car rentals and flight bookings.

Also, look for my friend Kristina and my travel e-book coming out in late November. The book will be available on Via Via travel as well as Kristina's site, Frugal And Fabulous.

I'd love to hear from my readers on what you think about my new website as well as any other questions, comments and concerns.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Letter to Midland, Texas

Dear Midland,

For the most part you are a physically unattractive city and slightly boring. Furthermore, you are the hometown of George W. Bush and Laura Bush (but don't worry I won't hold that against you). However, I have found that you have one redeeming quality: you have pretty good radio stations. Specifically, 95X plays decent music. I just thought I would let you know.


A visitor to Midland, TX

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

005-Traveling Around the World

Episode #5 (30 mins) One Girl, Her Backpack and a Passion for Travel

I'm talking about how I got started traveling and where it has taken me over the past three years. I'm discussing a little about how I got started working on yachts and answering some listener's questions.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Travel music for your iPod

As long as I have been traveling I've taken music along with me. When we would go on roadtrips when I was young my parents played Kenny Rogers and Willie Nelson. I still think of those trips when I hear The Gambler. While I still love Kenny and Willie, I've progressed a little in my musical tastes. The first time I traveled in Europe I listened to a lot of David Gray, Fuel, U2 and Daft Punk. In Barcelona, I listened to John Mayer everyday on the train into the city. To keep awake when I was standing watch while yachting, I listened to Green Day. The music I chose depends on my mood, but here's a sample of some songs I like to listen to when I'm traveling.

Pimpin All Over the World- Ludacris
Good Riddance Time of Your Life- Green Day
A Brokedown Melody -Jack Johnson
One Road to Freedom- Ben Harper
3x5- John Mayer
Wide Open Space- Dixie Chicks
Learning to Fly- Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Wheels- Cake
Move Along- The All-American Rejects
All These Things I Have Done- The Killers
The Middle-Jimmy Eat World
Pump It-Black Eyed Peas
Breakaway- Kelly Clarkson
What You Waiting For- Gwen Stefani
God Is a DJ-Pink
Something More- Sugarland
When You Come Back Down-Nickel Creek
Somewhere Over the Rainbow-Isreal Kamakawiwo’ole
Tu Vuo Fa L‘Americano-Renato Carosone
Babylon-David Gray
G.E.A.-Xavier Rudd
The Fallen-Franz Ferdinand

Monday, September 18, 2006

Another Amazing Girl Traveling the World

I just read a really inspiring article entitled, "How To Sail Around The World and Surf" about 26 year old Liz Clark in National Geographic Adventure. The article mentions her blog Swell Voyage where she has documented her adventure over the last 5 months. Liz writes

The voyage of Swell is a return to the essence of surf exploration. It is the pure enjoyment of elemental pleasures and absolute indulgence in the enlightenment of travel. It is a journey to promote respect for our natural environment, especially the ocean, to appreciate cultural differences, to challenge myself, and to inspire others to face their fears and live out their dreams.

The article is in the print magazine of National Geographic Adventure along with 10 other inspiring people living their dream adventure. If you can't do it on your own for whatever reason, check their stories out and live vicariously.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

West Texas Turtle

This turtle was thinking pretty hard about crossing the road. I tried to convince him not to. I waited to see if he had made up his mind but it was taking way too long, so I just decided to leave him. My life has been reduced to talking to turtles on the side of the road.


Monday, September 04, 2006

Baz Buz, South Africa

While in South Africa, just about every backpacker that I met along the way was traveling by Baz Bus. All you need is a one way ticket to some specific destination (say you're going from Cape Town to Johannesburg). With that ticket you can take the bus and hope on and off wherever you want along that route. I haven't found any other form of transportation anywhere as perfect for backpackers and independent travelers like Baz Bus. You'll meet plenty of friends along the way and have the trip of a lifetime.

Travel Tips

I was thinking today about what I've learned while traveling. Below is a list of things to keep in mind when traveling.

General Travel Tips:

•Make two sets of color copies of your passport, airline tickets, and the front and back sides of your credit cards. Leave one copy with a friend or family member and keep one copy separate from your actual passport and documents. If anything is lost or stolen, you will have the numbers to cancel your credit cards and proof of your airline tickets.

•In our technology-based day in age, you can also scan in the above documents and email them to yourself (as long as you use a web-based email account). You will then be able to access then without using a phone!

•If your passport is stolen or lost, immediately report it to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. They can assist you in getting a new one. It is also recommended to carry extra passport-sized photos of yourself to expedite the process.

•Be sure to take advantage of airline frequent flier clubs. Not only can you earn free trips but you also are less likely to get bumped from a flight if you are a member of the airline’s club.

•If you are going to be traveling for a decent amount of time and plan on making calls home regularly, consider renting a cell phone. You can have the freedom to make local calls and some plans even allow free incoming calls.

•If you have a detailed itinerary, let friends and family know where you are going to be at all times. You know where you are, but they don’t and that can be stressful.

•If you trust the hotel you are staying at, keep your valuable in the safe in the front office.

•Never put your luggage or any other valuables in the trunk of your car, especially if it is a rental car. Sometimes car rental companies actually burglarize their own cars making more money off what they steal and the insurance to cover the damages, than actually renting the car to you.

•If you are flying in or to notoriously corrupt country, ask the airline you are flying with to wrap your luggage in plastic wrap. No one is getting into your luggage to steal anything without a lot of hassle.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Lost on the Tokyo Subway (again)

I know I have this posted, but here it is again.

Lost on the Tokyo Subway

Friday, September 01, 2006

Atlanta and the Georgia Aquarium

Last weekend, I had the chance to visit my best friend, Rose, in Atlanta. I absolutely love this city and wish I could have stayed there longer than just a few days. To me it seems like a young professional's dream city. Plenty of trendy bars, places to shop and lots of newly built condos-and of course IKEA!

Rose has a membership to the newly opened Georgia Aquarium and I've been dying to check it out. So we went on a Saturday afternoon to the world's largest aquarium which is not really the best time to go if you can't stand crowds or kids. I don't care and I didn't really have a choice anyway. The layout was fantastic with different exhibits across the building. I loved the beluga whale tank, but was a little disappointed with the way too small South African penguin area. In my opinion, you can never have enough penguins!

The main attraction is the Ocean Voyager. An acrylic tunnel leads you through the 6 million gallons of saltwater like you're walking on the bottom of the ocean floor. At the end you'll come to the gallery with the second largest viewing window in the world at 23 ft. tall by 61 ft. wide and 2 ft. thick. The aquarium houses four whale sharks about 15 ft long. They are the largest species on earth and can grow to as much 40 ft.

I have to say the aquarium was astonishing. I've seen many, altough the Sydney Aquarium is still my favorite. However, if you're in Atlanta, you must go.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Everything's bigger in Texas, y'all!

Texas Flag

In the past two weeks, I've driven, with my car packed with every possession I have including my surfboard, from Boston, MA, through NYC, Washington D.C., Savannah, GA, down to Miami. From Miami I drove to Atlanta, GA, to stay with my best friend Rose then to Birmingham, Alabama and down to New Orleans for the 1st anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Took a tour of New Orleans, which I must add, is horrendous. Then I drove into Houston where my family lives. I can go no more! I stopped at my grandmother's apartment and have been crashing here for three days. She's got a great place in Houston with one caveat-it's a retirement community. I'm like Cameron Diaz in that movie "In Her Shoes" and my gramma is Shirley MacLaine.

Once I get settled in, wherever that may be, I'll upload pics of everywhere. Right now, in the fiasco that is the back of my Jeep, the cable for my camera is lost. I'm also planning a podcast, if I could only find my microphone. Hang tight! This girl is no longer living out of just her backpack, I'm living out of my car. My life used to be so simple!

New Orleans

I spent a few nights in New Orleans in the French Quarter on the one year anniversary of Katrina. I took some video of Bourbon Street which I'll upload later and went to St. Bernard Parish and the 9th Ward. Check these pictures out! For lack of a better expression, it looks like a bomb went off. Everywhere.

House on a Camaro
House on Car washed up to another house
Junk in the Garage

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Safety Girl

I'm not really sure how I ran across this website, but I think the Safety Girl Roadside Emergency Kit is a really cute idea. How many times have you been in your car and in a hurry and realized you needed anit-perspirant? I'm totally serious! This has happened to me! This kit contains directions for changing a flat tire as well as tampons and chocolate. Of course, the chocolates going to melt in the summer, so you have to eat it right away! I think this a really great gift idea and know my friends would love it for their birthdays. It also contains:

* Space® Brand Emergency Blanket
* Safety Matches
* 5 Bandages
* 2 Antiseptic Wipes
* Instructions to Change a Flat Tire
* Instructions to Jump Start a Dead Battery
* Emergency Contact List
* Accident Record
* Safety GirlT Pencil
* Purified Water
* Professional Nail File

* Ritter® Sport Chocolate
* Zox Breath Freshener
* Balm of Gilead Lip Moisturizer
* Balm of Gilead Aromatherapy Headache Remedy
* OxiClean® Instant Spot Remover Wipe
* Dove Anti-perspirant
* Speedy Clean Cleansing Wipes
* Sight Savers® Eyeglass Lens Cleaning Tissue
* 3 o.b.® tampons
* Emergency Sewing Repair Kit

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

If only knew how often I've visited their website for ideas and news. Now, today, turns out they've actually looked at mine. And, amazingly, even liked it! It's like finding out your favorite celebrity already knows who you are. Like Madonna telling me she thinks I am cool! That's how I feel about having an article about my blog on Anyway, aside from checking out the fabulous things Pia had to say about this blog, go there for all the other interesting articles, hostel bookings and travel forums. Here's what Pia wrote:

"Travel blogs are springing up left right and centre – backpackers telling their story as it happens, from the road.

We think they’re great and we’re always looking for particularly good ones to feature in our ‘cool travel blogs’ category.

When I saw the heading: One Girl, Her Backpack And A Passion For Travel, I was pretty sure it was going to be just up my alley.

Catchy titles are like that.Turns out I was right. The author of this cool travel blog, Jerri Stephenson, from Boston, Massachusetts, has been travelling for some time now, making money as she goes:

‘I’m truly living out of a bag. I have no physical address to call home and never thought my life would come to this.’

She has just started making podcasts about her adventures, and is planning an epic trip to Antarctica early next year. Check it out. You go, girl!"

Where do I go from here?

I've decided to leave the wild world of yachting and go back home for a while. Not too long though in case I accidentally get sucked in and never leave. I'm still going to travel, just not by boat anymore! A door has shut behind me and I'm looking for another one to open up soon. Until then, this is what I have to look forward to!

I'm leaving here (Boston):

Boston Harbor

I'm returning here (Abilene,Texas):

Friday, August 18, 2006

Another girl traveler

I found this site today and am blown away. Megan is traveling around the world, blogging, sketching and living the life of a full-on adventurer. Check out her photos and her art which are so incredible and inspiring. Once again, I'm finding myself jealous of other travelers getting to go to cool new places.

Monday, August 14, 2006

001-Intro One Girl and Her Backpack

Episode #1 One girl, her backpack and a passion for travel is a brief introduction to the podcast and the host. The podcast will discuss travel for those who want to live the lifestyle of a traveler and not a tourist.

This is my first podcast. Let's see how it goes!

Promo One girl and her backpack

Sunday, August 13, 2006

003-Boston, Antarctica and Argentina

Podcast #3 This podcast I'm discussing my last few months in Boston, my future trip to Antarctica, and my friends tour company in Argentina.

Episode #3 One Girl, Her Backpack and a Passion for Travel

National Geographic Literacy Study

I read a USA Today snapshot the other day that said 70% of Americans between the ages of 18-24 have not traveled outside of the US in 3 three years. Then today I ran across that survey on the National Geographic website. Here are some more interesting facts:

• Only one in ten (11%) corresponds with someone in another country
• Only two in ten (22%) have a passport
• Six in ten (62%) say they can’t speak any language other than their own native language fluently

Friday, August 11, 2006

Boston City Plaza and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Upload videos at Bolt.

Free Yeah Yeah Yeahs concert in Downtown Boston!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Thinking about Swaziland

As I was backpacking across South Africa about a year and a half ago my friend Martin and I made a detour into Swaziland. While there we went on a tour in the country side by Quad Bike. I was just thinking today about the guy that started the company, Rich, who took us on the tour and was wondering if his venture was still going strong in Swaziland. I looked the company up online and was surprised to find them. Looks like they are doing great! Rich was very excited about the future of tourism in Swaziland and passionate about showing travelers the harsh realities of a country affected so strongly by AIDS. Check out his site and especially his pics! It's gorgeous there!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Antarctica: My Final Destination

Acting on a complete whim, which is my modus operandi, I booked a trip to Antarctica last night. I had been thinking that I would set my goal back to get to Antarctica until I was 30 years old, but last night decided that I couldn't wait that long. Instead, I'm now going in March 2007. My trend has been to buy trips for my birthday present to myself since I was 16. They started small like going to Dallas to go to the Galleria, or going skiing in Colorado for my 18th, Canada, 19th, Trip across the country, 20th, NYC, 21st, Mexico, 22nd, St. Barts, 23, South Africa 24th, Japan, 25th, Antarctica, 26th. These trips I guess are becoming a little more eccentric and most definitely more expensive.

This trip will be a little difficult in planning. I have a rule that I'm not allowed to repeat countries unless absolutely necessary. Having already been to Argentina, I'm thinking I have to go to Chile first and down to Ushuaia in Argentina this making my trip more complicated. The following list is the brief itinerary.

Day 1 Arrive Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina
Arrive in Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. Embarkation on 'Explorer' begins in the afternoon at the port in Ushuaia.
Day 2-3 Drake Passage
Our adventure begins with a 400-mile crossing of the passage that bears the name of the 16th-century English explorer Sir Francis Drake. The 'Little Red Ship' is at home in this part of the Southern Ocean.
Day 4-7 Antarctic Peninsula & South Shetland Islands
Experience some of the best wildlife viewing and scenery in the world as you set foot on the Antarctic continent. Take two excursions per day (conditions permitting), and encounter Gentoo, Chinstrap and Adelie penguin rookeries, Weddell, Crabeater and Leopard seals, and Orca, Humpback and Minke whales in the cold Antarctic waters.
Day 8-9 Drake Passage
Today we begin our journey north to our home port of Ushuaia. Review the highlights of our Antarctic experience with our lecturers and staff, and keep your eyes open on the observation deck for some final whale sightings.
Day 10 Depart Ushuaia
Our adventure comes to a close, as we say our goodbyes as we disembark in Ushuaia.

Friday, July 28, 2006

I'm showing up in other people's travel dreams

My friend Danial, the one who is from Nova Scotia and my surf buddy, told me that last night he had a dream that he was in in Japan and lost. In his dream he was really stressed and didn't know who to call to help him find his way and ended up calling me back in the states for directions. He said, "I don't know why I called you when I have friends that actually live in Japan." I take this as a compliment. Unfortunately, when he called me I wasn't of any help and actually got him more lost. Should I take another person's dream as a sign that I should become a travel agent?

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


So I went to see Madonna in concert last night. And if anyone knows me, you know that I am obsessed with Madonna! Front row seats baby!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Dave Matthews and Fenway

Upload videos at Bolt.One of the little perks of my job is that I occasionaly get to go to events happening at Fenway. The girls that I work with and I all went to see Dave Matthews and Sheryl Crow last night. Well, we missed Sheryl but got to see all of Dave and it was incredible! I haven't seen him since 1999 when I think my boyfriend at the time and I saw him at Smirnoff. Thanks Barry! I forgot how much I love Dave and was surprised that I knew all the words to the songs even his new stuff.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

My new favorite blog!

These guys are super travelers and are doing what I've wanted to do for so long: backpack across Africa. Their videos are hilarious and entertaining! Check them out!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

I want to buy this hotel

El Momo Cottages is a small eco hotel on the magical Caribbean island called Saba. It includes 6 small wooden Cottages, a pool, a breakfast area / restaurant and a nice house to live in for owners/managers including the office, outdoor living room and great terrace. Located on a steep and green mountain with lots of tropical garden and amazing ocean views from everywhere. Only disadvantage are lots of steps. Please check out
This is a great place for nature lovers who seek a healthy lifestyle in paradise. Saba has no crime, no mosquitos and has the best climate in the world!

Cape Cod

Monday, June 19, 2006

Martha's Vineyard

For Father's Day weekend we headed over to Marth's Vineyard for a way too short trip. The weather couldn't have been more perfect with warm but breezy sunny days and only a scattering of clouds. I'd never been to the Vineyard before and really had no preconceived ideas of what it was like other than thinking a lot of wealthy and/or famous people vacation there. I didn't see anyone famous that I know of although I wouldn't know anyone famous unless they were pointed out to me but I suspect I saw a lot of wealthy people.

We were anchored outside of Edgartown which seems like a nice little town. We were joined by a few large sailing yachts that I remember seeing down in Antigua and I'm sure are now in Newport, RI. The harbor had some pristine looking beaches with kids out playing in what I imagine is some pretty cold water. There were some really large houses on the beaches but actually not as large as I'm used to seeing. I'm suspecting that this town is the place where most of the vacationers like to go shopping. There were some nice boutique stores out of my price range as usual selling lots of girly things. In fact, if I didn't know better, I might have actually thought I was walking through the streets of St. Barts.

We ended up going to Murdick's Fudge and bought about $50 worth of fudge for us three girls. It was tasty but I'm not a huge fan of fudge so the rest of the crew, who apparently are fans, devoured the sweets in less than a day! Before the night was over we ended up with the rest of the crew at Wharf's Pub for a pint, or two or in some case 7 or 8! Sadly, we had curfew at 10 pm to take the last tender into the boat. If I have the opportunity I would love to go back to the Vineyard and explore a little more around the island. I hear strawberry picking is fun!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Boston: We have arrived!

We got into Boston on May 29th after a week underway from Ft. Lauderdale. The trip up was incredibly smooth and actually pretty pleasant. My roommate and I are way into Scrabble these days so between our watches that we have every six hours we were down in the crew mess playing Scrabble which I lose everytime. Around Cape Hatteras the weather definitely changed. We went from nice warm, tropical weather to there being a slight chill in the air during the day. Then when we arrived in the Cape Cod canal it was all fog straight up into Boston. It cleared up just a little as we were passing under a bridge for me to take some pictures. We saw a man and a woman walking along the waterway pushing a stroller and some kids playing on a playground. It was really gorgeous.

When we arrived in Boston we immediately all got off the boat and kissed the ground! Trapped in small places in the middle of the ocean drives you crazy slowly. Like typical yachties we then went out and got piss drunk! We've only been here a week and it's been raining the entire time. Then the chef got the flu and now we all have it. So even if we wanted to go out here in Boston we couldn't manage to get out of our beds. I had to miss a day of work but it's not like I do anything anyway. Once we get settled into Boston I'll tell you a little more about venues and sites nearby like the IMAX and the aquariam. We'll also be heading to Nantucket pretty soon which I'm super excited about. My roommate and I are also planning some trips to NYC, Provincetown and Newport, RI. So prepare yourself for a jampacked summer!

Boston Harbor

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Podcast on hold

I'm in the process of making my next podcast. I know it's been about a month but I'm waiting for some music I can use and I'm developing the website. SO!!! I'll be back soon. Until then, I'll still update my blog when I can. We're leaving for Boston soon so I'll have something to write about after that!