The savvy among us have always known that many of the best travel experiences occur within a 50-mile radius of home. For some of us, however, it’s a discovery we need to make again and again.

For years my wife and I have talked about spending a night or two in a local hostel, but until this weekend we didn’t find the time to do so. But a pre-New Year’s hike in the Marin Headlands just north of San Francisco, where we live, took Paula into the hostel to see what was available and voila, we were booked for two nights in early January. Continue reading »

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Birdwatching, California, Eco Friendly Travel, Family Travel, Feature, Hike/Backpack, Hostels, Marin County, North America, San Francisco, Travel, United States

2009 has only just begun and few feel capable of predicting how the struggling economy will affect travel, beyond deep discounts.  The landscape has changed and we all need to be on our toes to get the best deals. I came across an article on the Baltimore Sun website which offered five helpful New Year’s resolutions for the savvy vacationer:

I will beware of bankruptcies.
I will figure on fees.
I will get an edge through e-mail.
I will diligently monitor the U.S. dollar.
I will plan ahead to get a passport.

Did you know you might be charged for more legroom on flights?  Another obvious, but often overlooked issue, the fact that the fluctuating dollar could drastically raise or reduce the cost of a hotel room abroad. Or, that on June 1, tighter border rules take effect. Most Americans returning by sea or land from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean will need a passport, a passport card or other secure document. Check out the article: Vow to make the most of your 2009 travel dollar to find out more about this list of travel tips for 2009.

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Air Travel, Budget Travel, Canada, Cruises, Family Travel, Mexico, Travel Tips

Pitcairn Islands Postage StampWhen Fletcher Christian and his fellow mutineers were looking for a hideout from the Royal Navy, they decided that Pitcairn was the most isolated island in the South Pacific. Thus on 15 January 1790, HMS Bounty deposited eight Englishmen and 18 Polynesian companions on the island and the ship was promptly burned to avoid detection. Eighteen years were to pass before another vessel called at Pitcairn. By then only one member of Captain Bligh’s original crew, John Adams, was still alive, and he was eventually pardoned by the British Admiralty.

Arguably, Pitcairn is still the most isolated corner of the South Pacific. The nearest inhabited island is Mangareva in French Polynesia, 490 km northwest. Easter Island is 1,900 km east. There’s been talk of building an airstrip on Pitcairn for years, but it’s still just talk. What’s new is that between now and March, 2009, Pacific Expeditions Ltd will operate five cruises from Mangareva to Pitcairn aboard the RV Bounty Bay. It’s the only sure way of getting there as cruise ships sometimes promise Pitcairn but are unable to land passengers due to weather conditions. My Pitcairn Islands Travel Guide has lots more information on Pitcairn, Henderson, Oeno, and Ducie, the four components of Britain’s only remaining South Pacific colony.

Leave a Comment | Filed Under South Pacific, Travel

January is a time for the dreaded dance of the New Year’s resolution. Gyms are packed, nicotine patches in short supply, folks are scrimping and saving and many look to their waistlines for resolution inspiration. For many, the battle of the bulge still reigns supreme on 2009 to do lists. There is no better time to re-evaluate your diet and exercise routine.

So, I read with interest, a buried article on the MSNBC site, with the headline entitled: Indian airline fires 9 overweight crew members. It is no surprise to me that India is catching up on the obesity epidemic as many Indians have moved into the middle class. In general, weight in India is often a sign of prosperity. In fact, diabetes is a huge concern in a country, once known for famine, where now 35 million people and counting are suffering from the preventable disease. Interestingly, all the attendants fired were women and even though India has laws aimed to protect against discrimination based on factors including caste, gender, and religion, there are no specific ones about weight. Food for thought.

Continue reading »

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Air Travel, Culture, Food, India, Overweight travelers, Travel

Every picture tells a story,” goes the Rod Stewart song from 1971, and how true that is when you add a little context to an image that grounds it in its historical place. Chris Epting makes a habit of finding spots in the United States notable for cultural incidents—both earth-shaking and privately meaningful—and capturing them in intriguing photographs that become all the more compelling when he adds his thoughts about the image, incident, and location.

What’s that photo mean of the intersection of Highways 41 and 46 in Cholame, California? What are the Trona Pinnacles in Trona, California? What significance do the front steps of the Elmira Shelton house in Richmond, Virginia have? Continue reading »

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Culture, Desert Travel, Feature, Gettysburg, North America, Pennsylvania, Richmond, Southern California, Travel, Virginia

Where will we travel this year? What are the “hot” places? Naturally this depends more on you than on anyone or anything else. The media can tell you what they think are the emerging spots for exciting travel but it all comes down to what you like and what you want to do.

That’s the whole idea behind Triporati, helping you discover places based on what interests you. But it’s still fun to see what others think are the best places for the coming year, even if it’s only to decide where not to go.

Lara Dunston, Triporati’s Persian Gulf and Eastern Europe expert, has been culling media lists of top travel destinations for her “Cool Travel Guide” blog. Check it out and see who recommends Algeria, Beirut, Cartagena, Istanbul, Oman, Tallinn, Tel Aviv, and Vilnius. Then see what Lara recommends.

Personally, I like Mürren, Switzerland for winter sports and Bohol, Philippines for a tropical adventure.

2 Comments | Filed Under Adventure Travel, Feature, Travel