Thursday, July 26, 2007

Reverse Culture Shock: Coping with the Return Home after Extended Travel

After an extended period of time traveling away from home, how does one adjust to returning back to "normal" life?

For me it was really difficult to return back to Texas after traveling the world for three years. I've finally managed to wake up in the mornings and instantly figure out what bed I'm in and what city I'm in (my own and Houston are the correct answers) as opposed to waking up in my bunk in my coffin sized cabin on a yacht anchored off some Caribbean island that we arrived to that morning.

It hasn't been easy adjusting to normal life, but here are a few suggestions I have for fellow travelers trying to fit into society:

1. Know What to Expect

Get ready before you even return home. Know that life is just going to be different and so are you.

2. Establish a routine

The best way to begin re-familiarizing yourself with your own culture is to get into a similar routine that you had before you left. Before I moved to St. Maarten I would attend church on Sundays and then go to Starbucks afterward as my reward for actually making myself go to church! When I moved away to the Caribbean, I lost this routine. Since I have come back to the states, I've returned to this routine and I find it comforting. Obviously, you don't have to do what I've done, but think back to a routine you had before you left, say movie night every Friday with a group of friends. There is comfort in routine and you might find this as a good option to the return of "normalcy." This behavior also gives you a sense of control. More than likely you are going to feel a little out of whack with the rest of society for a while.

3. Surround Yourself with Friends and Family

You will find that most things will be the same as when you left, but a few things will have changed. Maybe your friends will have moved, gone through changes in their own lives, but the basic values that you and your friends shared that made you friends in the first place have likely not changed. After all, they have known you your whole life while the new friends you made while traveling only have known you for a few days or months. They may not really know you at all other than you are good with finding the best pubs to crawl.

While you may have different understandings and beliefs since you left, you are still in many ways the same. Your core has not changed. Surrounding yourself with friends and family will breed a familiarity that you may not have had in a while. Your friends and family will give you a sense of balance that's necessary for re-adjustment. Try not to talk too much about how great it was to see the Mona Lisa at the Louvre or how you went to the best party ever on New Years in Thailand. You'll only alienate yourself because they just won't understand. Only fellow travelers will really understand you then.

4. Keep in Touch

Stay in contact with your friends that you made while traveling. If they have returned home too, they are probably going through the same feelings of reverse culture shock as you. They are the ones that you can re-hash your travel tales.

5. Stay Busy

Don't sit around mourning that you've returned home from a fun filled adventure never to return again(like I did!). Allow yourself to get out there and experience your new city and to find new friends.

6. Recognize You're Not Alone

Remember that experiencing difficulty in re-adjusting to home is very common. You may find yourself getting upset with "how things are done" back home. This is normal. Try to look at your own culture with the same open-mindedness you had when you were traveling to new countries. Realize that in time, you can manage to re-adjust to your home while keeping the great experiences and life lessons that you had while traveling and remain the same person with just a little more understanding than the rest.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Budget Travel: Featured Caribbean Inn

The Pineapple House is quite popular in the Antigua yachtie scene, but it's not just yachties that stay there.

Built along the side of a hill amoungst beautiful landscaped trees and flowers, the open air cottages have a million dollar view of multi million dollar yachts docked in Falmouth Harbour.

The cottages are open and breezy, you'll never need air conditioning. The most beautiful beaches on the island are a five minute walk in one direction and the best nightlife and shopping on the island are five minutes away in the other direction.Rates start at $1,100 a week in November. The Pineapple House is only open November 15 to May 15.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Working on a Yacht FAQs

Hi Jerri,
I accidently stumbled upon your blogspot after I googled "yacht crew and antigua"....haha anyways...I graduate from the university of florida next saturday, and my plan is to head down to the caribbean and work in yachting like you did....and i'm also pretty much flat broke like you were when you went to barcelona ( i listened to your podcast)...i've been down to fort lauderdale and have registered with the crewing agencies and everything, and i've gotten offers to work on boats,but i havent been able to accept any because of school. i love st maarten to pieces (i went there on vacation with my family about 3 years ago and fell in love with the yachting industry, and had a great time hanging out with all the yachties!), and i'm considering buying a one way ticket to the island. since lived there before, i was wondering what you think the chances of me finding a job are? i'm very torn because i love the caribbean and want to work there and i'm worried that if i stay here in fort lauderdale i'll miss my chances of getting work that goes to the caribbean because its not exactly the high season any more.....anyways, any advice you can give me would be greatly appreciated.....thanks!!

Congratulations on graduation! Working on a yacht is the perfect just out of college job in my opinion. Why don't you save yourself the money and get a yacht to fly you out to St. Martin instead of buying one yourself or find a boat delivery leaving from Ft. Lauderdale? If you go to St. Martin on your own, where would you stay? There are crew houses there in St. Martin, but I never stayed at them so I can't recommend any. Hotels are going to be pretty expensive. But you must know that to fly in to Antigua or SXM you MUST have a roundtrip ticket. It's required. If you get to the airport and check in and they see you don't have a return ticket you'll be required to buy one there or they won't issue you a ticket at all. And you'll pay full price for it!

High season starts in November and the boats start crewing up in September and October to go to the Caribbean. There is lots of work there, it's just a matter of working hard to find it...walking the docks and talking to the yachties. A lot of boats will be leaving from Ft. Lauderdale soon just in time to arrive in St. Martin to have the owners on board for Christmas and New Years. They are looking for crew to do deliveries.

I wish you the very best of luck! I know you're going to find a job really easily. I definitely do not think you are going to miss your chance in the Caribbean and you are going to have the time of your life!! Good luck, and please keep me updated!

Hi Jerri!
I'm a fellow traveler writing for a bit of advice. i'm leaving minneapolis (managing a hostel and working at a co-op), and want to possibly get into yacht work like yourself... can you recommend any means of getting started, if possible, this time of year?

Glad to help! First, I recommend checking out some crew agency websites. They list the positions available on yachts, typical salaries and what to expect. You can register with the agencies for free, interview with them in person or over the phone, and they will look to place you on a yacht. The usual ways people start on yachts is by working as either a deckhand, stewardess or chef or combo of all three! These are the agencies that I worked with. They are all located in Ft. Lauderdale.

Now is a good time to start looking for work for the Caribbean season when all the yachts will looking to crew up to head to St. Martin, St. Barts, Antigua and the USVI. Some yachts will fly you out of whereever you are (minneapolis) or your best bet is to go to Ft. Lauderdale. You can day work there while looking for a full time job and pulling in anywhere between $10-15/hr. And if you need a place to stay there are crew houses where all the yacht crew go while looking for work.

Great for networking and so much fun! Basically, they're hostels. Anyway, check these sites out. They should be really helpful. Remember it's really hard work, but the payoffs are so worth it! Best of luck to you and let me know how it goes!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Laurel Canyon, LA, CA

A few months back I got lost on a drive from Santa Monica to Beverly Hills. Most people who know their way around would think that's crazy, but it's sad and true. Somehow I found myself in Laurel Canyon. At the time, I didn't really know what Laurel Canyon was but driving through it I thought to myself, "I would have never imagined to find a place like this right here in LA."

This video with Michael Walker, author of Laurel Canyon, talks about the history of Laurel Canyon and a little bit about what this surprising and refreshing little community tucked back in the hills of LA.

My favorite Caribbean bars (I'm a former yachtie. I'm well qualified)

I talk a lot about my favorite hotels on One Girl, but I never talk about my favorite bars. Maybe because it's a part of my life I'd like to forget...if only I could remember! So here's the top 6.

Foxy's, Jost Van Dyke, BVI
Quite popular with the yachtie crowd and majorly popular with with the New Year's crowd. Foxy's is big time, even though it's on the smallest of the four main BVI islands.

Sunset Beach Bar, St. Maarten
Watch the beautiful sunset in St. Maarten and get sand blasted by Air France taking off at the airport all at the same time. For some reason, people seem to love this.

Skullduggery's, Antigua
Watch out for their espresso martinis...they're lethal, but in a good way!

Duffy's Love Shack, St. Thomas, USVI

Famous bar with the best nightlife in St. Thomas.

Woody's, St. John, USVI
Kinda feels like a college bar and grill. Hang around long enough and you might catch a glimpse of Kenny Chesney

Soggy Dollar Bar, Jost Van Dyke, BVI
Home of the original Painkiller. Why is it called the Soggy Dollar? Apparently, sailors can't get their tenders into shore easily so they just anchor out and swim to shore. Then they have to pay for their drinks with soggy, wet dollars.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Philanthropic Travel: Why didn't I think of that?

I'm secretly harboring the fantasy that one day I will grow up to be like Angelina Jolie. Ha! Who am kidding? Isn't everyone? I admire her for a lot of obvious reasons, but mostly I like her because of her heart. I love her love for Africa. I also love Oprah's love for Africa. Both of these women recognize the beauty of the African people and beauty of that continent. It's so magical it can only be seen to be truly understood. The amazing thing about these women is that they have achieved so much success in wealth and in their careers, but they give so much of their time and money to those less fortunate.

The other day I was talking to my best friend, Kristina, who just recently came back from Nairobi and Zanzibar. I was telling her about Exquisite Safaris and what a great idea I think it is to introduce people to the communities they are visiting. She agreed that philanthropic travel is a great idea, because she has actually been looking for tours like these but couldn't find them. Often times, when someone wants to travel to another country and volunteer at an orphanage or school they must stay in a budget accommodations. Not everyone wants to sacrifice in that way and that's completely understandable. Someday, if I can afford it, I plan on traveling this way, too. Until then, I'm completely content with sleeping in the back of my jeep or dorms with 12 other people all snoring in unison. Would Oprah and Angelina travel like this? Hmm, doubtful. So, why haven't more tour operators and the travel industry catered more to people who want to volunteer in under served communities while on their travels but who don't want to sacrifice some creature comforts? I think that Exquisite Safaris is definitely on to something big!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Eco Travel: Featured Caribbean Tree House Accommodation

If you've always dreamed of living in a tree house here's your opportunity to try it on for size. 3 Rivers Eco-lodge on the Caribbean island of Dominica is a unique and adventurous place to stay on your next island vacation.

Nestled in the heart of the Dominican rainforest, 3 Rivers Eco-Lodge offers a variety of choices for accommodation. From private cabins, camping areas, dormitories, home stays and even a treehouse in the sky, the independent traveler looking for an alternative experience is sure to not be disappointed.

Electricity and heated rainwater showers are available and provided by the solar panals installed on property.

If you are looking for a true and affordable return to nature, you should definitely check out 3 Rivers Eco-Lodge. Then again, shouldn't nature always be affordable?

Disclaimer: This post sounds like I'm being paid for it! I'm not! It just came out that way!

Best islands to live on

Islands, the magazine, has a top 20 islands to live on list in their July/August issue. While I have lived on an island, St. Martin, West Indies (French and Dutch sides), and spent a lot of time on other Caribbean islands (On getting Island fever; Losing Identity in St. Thomas; St. Thomas USVI; Off to St. John, USVI), I swore I would never do it or think about it again. In my opinion, living on an island is fantastic in theory, but not so wonderful once in reality. I'm torn between this opinion and my absolute love for the ocean and beautiful beaches. So I've concluded that I could be happy with just owning a very tiny cottage on a small lot of land right on the beach. Once again, this is best if practiced in my imagination, because beach front land is so expensive and hard to find. If I ever do carry out this fantasy my requirements are that the island must be easily accessible. Meaning I don't want to have to fly to the main island, then take a ferry to the next island and then take a puddle jumper to the next closest island, then take a tender to my wonderfully secluded beach front getaway on a paradise island. Because what if I forgot to go grocery shopping on the main island and the only store on my island is sold out until the next shipment arrives arrives in two weeks? I guess if my cottage was fully staffed year round with chefs, housekeeping and massage therapists who can think ahead for me I could survive, just like Richard Branson's Necker Island. Where was I going with this? Oh, yeah. Best islands to live on...

The top twenty islands are:
Penang, Malaysia
Utila, Honduras
Pico, Azores, Portugal
St. Kitts
New Zealand
Taveuni, Fiji
Long Island, Bahamas
Union Island, St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Big Island, Hawaii
Norfolk Island, Australia
Cedar Key, Florida
Isla Colon, Panama

I've actually considered Dominica, I have a strong dislike of the Bahamas (although the people are nice), and I've always been in love with New Zealand. And why would I want to live on an island that is essentially Florida? Although, I do like Key West, but it's not on the list. I think I could handle New Zealand, but Dominica just seems too small for me.

The factors considered when compiling the list ranged from weather, number of expats, and starter housing prices. Fiji prices started at $50,000 for five acres of land near the beach. Too bad it costs a kajillion dollars to get there! Aruba seems pretty reasonable. I was surprised to learn that a three bedroom ranch style house starts at $85,000. Apparently, it's also pretty easy to buy there as long as you can pay cash.

So, there they are. Twenty great islands that are easy to get to and are reasonably affordable. Shh! Don't tell anyone so that the tourists don't catch on, move all at once and ruin the secret hideaways for us real travelers who truly appreciate these places! Let's just keep telling them how great St. Thomas, USVI is!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Never Ending Sun

These guys have decided to film a never ending sun. Very cute idea. I would help, but I don't wake up in time for the sunrise and I don't intend to start now. But I will post a link to their site and wish them luck!

Never ending sunrise website and blog.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Geotourism is the new travel trend

Apparently, the newest trend in travel is "geotourism." Just a step beyond ecotourism, geotourism is tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place—its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and the well-being of its residents. So instead of staying in a hotel where all the garbage is made into compost and electricity comes from solar panels, geotourism is more about full immersion into a culture.

In an article on Yahoo Travel called Geotourism trend: Authentic travel, the author points out that geotourism is a type of travel that allows travelers to understand the uniqueness of the places they visit. Instead of seeing McDonald's and Wal-Mart, you go to locally based businesses owned by locals employing locals. Excuse me while I get sarcastic here.

Wow! What a concept! That's what travel is in the first place! Basically, it seems to me that all we have done is go full circle in travel trends. From all-inclusive getaways, to theme parks, to eco-travel, to geo-travel. Although, to me geotourism isn't really a trend, I still definitely support the idea of travel to learn more about other cultures and history. I can't get the book Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain out of my head right now. I will try not to be so cynical and realize that I am just being a travel snob. The redeeming aspect of this article is that they listed links to the center for sustainable travel at my favorite magazine, National Geographic. Maybe it's just a form of marketing: buy the new and improved travel with new packaging. Maybe I should be happy if people embrace the idea of "geotourism" as I have always endorsed travel with purpose. If so, get out there and geotravel, people!

Budget Travel: Featured Caribbean Inn

Many people don't realize that prices go down significantly during the low season (July 15-November 15) in the Caribbean.

The Turquoise Shell Inn in Simpson Bay, St. Maarten has special rates of only $95 per night or $590 for the week (tax included!). You will get a 1-bedroom suite with a fully equipped kitchen. All rates are based on single or double occupancy. That's an amazing offer!

For more information check out their website.

Friday, July 13, 2007

7 World Wonders

The 7 World Wonders were announce on 7.7.07. They are:

Great Wall of China, China
Petra, Jordan
Christ the Redeemer, Brazil
Machu Picchu, Peru
Chichen Itza, Mexico
Colosseum, Italy
Taj Mahal, India

Sadly, I've never been to any of them!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Problems with blog

I've made a few changes on my blog recently in my template. Then today I noticed that some of the new feature I installed aren't working. Mainly, my expandable posts (where it says "Read More"). I'm sorry to my readers (all two of you!) for the inconvenience. Hopefully, the blog will be working fine again soon. To access the full post instead of clicking on "read more" you can still click on the heading which will take you to the permalink with the full post.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

One Girl

The new site...for now

Friday, July 06, 2007

Travel on

It always surprises me when I find out that a blogger that I have been reading leaves comments on my page or writes about One Girl, Her Backpack and a Passion for Travel in their blog.

Pam, travel maven and author at BlogHer and publisher of her own website, Nerd's Eye View, quoted a snippet from my post, Wandering Aimlessly vs. Pursuit of Purpose, in her article, Why Travel? I've been following Pam's writings for a while so I was shocked when I saw my own quote in her July 4th post! Thanks Pam. Love the article! One of my favorite topics!

Changes at the One Girl Blog

Well, I have some good news! Part of the reason I stopped my podcasts was because I haven't gone anywhere lately so I didn't really have much to talk about (but that is about to change) and partly because I felt that the quality of the podcasts just weren't up to par! The good news is that I have found someone (actually an old friend from high school) who is a Grammy winning producer who has offered to help produce the "One Girl, Her Backpack and a Passion for Travel" podcasts! He's also offered to do video as well which leads me to more good news.

I have been looking for funding for a while to do a TV show about travel. I wanted to start my show in the Caribbean then move down into Central and South America. Well, I have raised enough funds so far to do a few shows, hire a crew and a CO-HOST! We have the production all line up and now all we need is the crew and possibly some more money (of course, who doesn't need more money?)! My friend's services definitely don't come cheap, but he's known me for a long time and knows I've been wanting to this for at least 10 years! So here's the timeline: Starting in November we'll be leaving for the Caribbean with me, the crew and co-host and begin shooting a few episodes. The episodes will be available at the new website (which is also in development right now). Check back often. I'll keep you updated on the progress!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy Independence Day

This blog is about traveling and I never talk much about my personal life or politics other than things that go on when I'm traveling. I have been to over forty countries and I have liked most of them. When I travel overseas and walk through customs for the first time and I hear them say, "Welcome back to the United States!" it makes me so happy. I love coming home to the States.

In my travels I have met so many people that have so many negative opinions of the United States and I have always defended my country. If we as Americans don't defend our home, who will? I know it's unpopular these days to offer much support for the United States. Even if I don't agree with the beliefs of the president or my neighbors I have the freedom to do so without fear of persecution. (Well, not much at least!) I'm not always proud of the things that happen in America or the things that some people do. But we are a good country, a GREAT country. My grandfathers fought hard for this country so I could have a good life. I love my country. I am proud to be American. I love my fellow Americans. What I wish for our country is that Americans would travel more to other countries and realize how truly blessed we are to have peace and freedom in this country. Happy Fourth of July America!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Send a Child to School in South Africa

If you've read my blog much you know that I was in South Africa a few years ago and fell in love with Coffee Bay. Here are some of my past blogs from the trip:

Surfing in Coffee Bay, Transkei, South Africa

More South Africa

Letter to dad:South Africa

While I was there I stayed at a backpacker called The Coffee Shack. Not only was the place really comfortable and the people truly friendly, but the the area that The Coffee Shack is located, the Transkei, can be described in no other words except magical. The locals were truly beautiful people. I just loved it there. I honestly didn't want to leave. South Africa is poor, but this area of South Africa is the poorest. I've been thinking for a long time that I wanted to help that area out in some way (Itching to do Something) and now I've found a way.

Coffee Shack has started a scholarship fund for students in the Coffee Bay area to attend senior secondary school. A large percentage of students do not go on to complete their education because there are no secondary schools in the immediate area. The closest school is 20km away. Many of the local families cannot afford to send their children away due to the costs of transport or boarding fees.

Each year Coffee Shack selects one student who will receive a full 3 year scholarship to attend senior school. This scholarship is aimed at the poor and disadvantaged children who would not normally have the chance to attend senior secondary school. The students' background and surrounding circumstances are a deciding factor in the selection process. The scholarship covers annual school fees, uniforms, books, stationery, food and boarding costs amounting to approx R5500 per year.

Here's what I suggest to you dear readers. I'm going to donate at least $100 to the scholarship fund, but I feel that if some of you are interested we can sponsor a student for all three years. I've set up a pay pal account for donations.


All we need is $2343 US dollars. So easy! I suggest that if each reader donates $5 or $10, based on the number of visitors this site receives, we will have enough to sponsor a student within six weeks. What do you think? 100% of the donations will be sent to Coffee Shack's Scholarship fund as soon as we receive $2343. I will keep a permanent post with the total on the page so everyone can track progress. Please donate if you can!

Where the Hell is Matt?

Yahoo has a feature article for their People of the Web series about world traveler Matt Harding who is famous for dancing around the world. Here's one of his videos from his site. How cute is he?

Sunday, July 01, 2007

So You Want to Work as Crew on a Yacht? (Part 2)

Beside the many websites that have information about crewing aboard a yacht, there are actually a few books out there that former yachties have written. The book that got me started in yachting was Crewing Aboard a Superyacht - A Guide to Working Afloat.

Crewing Aboard a SuperYacht

This book covers everything you need to know when starting out on a yacht as crew from what kind of luggage to take with you (collapsible) to tips about working out in small places!

Some other books I have seen out there that I wish I had when I was first starting out are

The Insiders' Guide to Becoming a Yacht Stewardess: Confessions from My Years Afloat with the Rich and Famous


What Every NEW Yacht Stewardess Should Know!

Obviously these books are geared toward stewardesses but I'm sure they have information for chefs and deckhands as well, especially if you are female.