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.