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!