I'm very excited to speak at TravelCon, a travel conference in Austin, TX put together by Matt Kepnes of Nomadic Matt & Lynan Saperstein of Experience Experts about how how my blogging has led me to become an independent travel agent focused on selling sustainable travel. I'm going to share the lessons I've learned and also show you how you can do it too!
Tucked away between Italy, Austria, Croatia and Hungary lies this hidden gem of a country. Greener than green and bluer than blue, it's easy to fall in love with the easy-going and peacefully bucolic yet jaw-dropping country side. And did I mention that the wines and the food are seriously delicious?
Prayers from the mosque’s loudspeakers meld with reggaeton blasting from multiple car windows and techno music that reveals a party taking place on the second floor of a nearby McDonald’s. This is Casablanca. And in this city—immortalized in a film by vintage Hollywood—one is affronted by a cacophonous yet complimentary swath of cultural influences that make up Morocco, a country directly south of Spain in Northern Africa.
Video may have killed the radio star, but the online travel agencies such as Orbitz have definitely NOT killed the travel agent.
There have been several articles circling the Internet that have been brought to my attention with various opinions regarding dating girls who travel, read and write. Definitely inspired by the collection of articles (listed below) surrounding why one should/should not/do/do not date these types of free-spirted, free-thinking girls, I think it's time for me to write my own response.
Visiting so many different places may keep your mind off of the sweeter, better things Traveling across the globe and being able to visit new places regularly is a great adventure that everyone should experience at some point in their lives. You learn so much from the different people you meet, and you get the chance to reflect on the many things you’ve done as you immerse yourself in different cultures and environments.
But at some point, you begin to miss home, and you long to be in a place that shelters you in the same way the places you visited as a child did. For some, these may be restaurants they’d frequented with their families when they were younger, before they set off on their own exploration of the world. For others, it could be libraries, churches, or even motel rooms. Even stranger, for many others, it could be a bingo hall.
Buses and coaches have got a lot of advantages over other forms of transport. Usually they are cheaper than the cost of petrol and parking cars; cheaper, more frequent and more flexible than planes; cheaper and more reliable than trains.
I quit my full-time job in LA to travel and work freelance so that I could have a flexible schedule to work on my blog. I want to encourage a certain type of travel - a more responsible, mindful, greener art of travel. Of course, when traveling, there's no such thing as not leaving a carbon footprint at all. It's actually quite impossible. However, there are things we can do to travel as green and eco-consciously as possible.
I also wanted to dispel the myth that luxury travel fosters a disconnect between tourists and the land and people they visit. Luxury travel has the potential to be an intimate nature experience, culturally rich, and also environmentally responsible. It's all about finding the right travel providers and doing a bit of research ahead of your trip. My goal is to educate travelers that high-end travel does not have to be exploitative. And when it's not, your experience is all the more rewarding and special. Travelers can have a really fantastic vacation where they stay in luxury accommodations, eat fine cuisine and get the most out of the destination through adventure tours but also have a meaningful experience that does not deplete the resources of the place they're visiting. I hope you stumble upon something in FreshTraveler that will spark your interest in this type of travel and please let me know if you have any questions at all about how I can make this easier for you to travel with a lighter carbon footprint.
By supporting companies such as Coati Travel, an eco-travel company based in Costa Rica, we can travel well and travel responsibly.
In fact, they are currently offering eco-interested travelers the ultimate adventure with a chance to win an amazing Dream Green Vacation to Costa Rica. One lucky winner and three companions of their choice will be invited to experience the pristine natural beauty of Costa Rica with its lush rainforests and idyllic beaches, lodging at a boutique hotel in the hills of San José and the Cayuga Collection’s top luxury sustainable hotels, and regional flights on the world’s first carbon-neutral airline, Nature Air.
Get more information on how to enter online at www.coatitravel.com/dream
A quick glance at the ingredients of a candy bar can show you whether you're eating empty calories. As delicious as it may appear, empty calories are of no benefit to your health or the health of the people around you and I urge you to use the same analogy with travel. Be mindful of your travel choices and do not become an empty traveler.
As someone who has traveled my whole life, believe me when I say, eventually you will come to see that most five star hotels have the same amenities - 24-hour room service, cabanas by the pool, several onsite restaurants with a seasonal menu crafted by a celebrity chef, an in-suite jacuzzi tub, and luxe toiletries that make your skin tingle all over. After a while, keycard after keycard becomes almost impossible to differentiate.
What makes a quality place in my eyes is not the number of amenities it offers nor the number of shopping boutiques that are available onsite, but the quality of what is available. The quality of service and the quality of the food. This is why I tend to like boutique hotels over larger ones. They are small enough where you know the name of all the people who work hard to ensure that you have the best stay possible. In my experience, at a smaller place, you also get the privacy and space that you need to decompress and rejuvenate from the stresses of work or city life. However, I don't rule out larger hotel groups either. But when I choose to stay at a hotel chain, I like to know their values are aligned with mine and I stay at the ones that encourage a healthier, active and mindful lifestyle.
A mindful traveler takes the time to be conscious of his or her surroundings and is curious about life beyond the walls of the hotel. I urge you that when you travel, be more mindful in your travels and expand your horizons any way you know how. I believe that if we are all mindful travelers, seeing from an ever-curious, dynamic and fresh perspective (as FreshTravelers!), tourism can be a powerful force in both helping developing economies grow and also in helping depressed economies get back on their feet. Together through travel, I believe we can cultivate a higher level of understanding, open-mindedness and bring more peace, to both ourselves and in our world.
It's as simple as biking or taking public transportation instead of renting a car
or renting the most fuel-efficient car possible.
It's about a little prior research to find a locally-owned boutique hotel
or purchasing items from locally-owned businesses
or supporting the bigger hotels that treat their employees well and take the time to invest in the surrounding community.
It's about supporting the businesses who contribute positively to their surrounding community, regardless of whether they are big or small. It's not a 'BIG versus SMALL' or a 'ME versus YOU' mentality. It's about creating a win-win situation for everybody. This is the mindful way that I explore life. This is also the way that I choose to travel. I choose to travel to hotels and support travel businesses that are socially-conscious.
Since 2005, the adventure travel sector has grown. It is currently the fastest growing sector of the travel industry. Even during times with economic challenges, people who can afford to travel will travel... but they travel differently... for educational value, for learning, and they do it responsibly. In a way, the economy is forcing people to make more conscious choices.
Eco-tourism will continue to grow and expand. What Mother Nature offers is more fascinating than what theme parks can create. When you vacation in nature, you become grounded, your creativity increases, you are healthy and feel much better. Then when you come back to the concrete jungle, you bring what you learn back to others.
In terms of changes in the eco-travel industry since 2005, there are now more options available for luxury travel and more tourism properties are interested in getting their sustainability rating as a marketing move. This is a positive trend, with many luxury oriented properties being serious about sustainability. Boutique travel is growing, as well as luxury hospitality with a cultural aspect to it. Another change is that there are more and more people that are interested in understanding sustainability. Before, clients were mainly just interested in being in nature, now you have to educate your client on your sustainability practices to maintain your credibility as an eco-property. Also, more people are willing to pay for that education.¨
------ Steve Jacobus, the CEO of Coati Travel
Until August 31st, 2013, Coati Travel is offering a FREE eco-trip to Costa Rica for four people. See below for details on how you can enter! Best of luck and I hope you win! And if you do, please share your photos or stories with me. I'd love to feature it on FreshTraveler!
I believe in feeling your best (and looking your best) when you travel so I asked my best friend since middle school, Achara Kirk, an actress and model based in LA who is an incredible beauty product junkie (she always had the biggest and heaviest make up bag when we were growing up!) to review some travel sized beauty products for my blog. So watch this space for more natural and effective travel-sized products that enhance your natural beauty and you can bring with you everywhere.
Urban Decay Naked Basics Palette
Guest Post by Achara Kirk
When I heard that Uban Decay was releasing their Naked Basics eye palette I wanted to jump up and down with joy. Now here was an eye palette that featured all matte, neutral shades and didn't have all of that glitter and sparkle that seems to dominate in most make-up palettes. Don't get me wrong – I enjoy a bit of glitz and glamor in my make-up when I'm going to hit the town, but for everyday I like to keep it clean and simple and the Urban Decay Naked Basics palette delivers exactly that.
At first glance the palette is slim and sexy and the perfect size for travelling. It has a nice metallic sheen and suede like feel which makes it feel oh so luxurious when you hold it in your hand.
Inside, there is a large mirror which is perfect for on the go applications. The compact features seven beautiful complementary matte shades, including four never before seen colours.
The Urban Decay website describes the colours as follows:
“Venus (soft, off-white demi-matte), Foxy (cream bisque matte), Walk of Shame (very light nude matte), Naked2 (taupe matte), Faint (warm, dusty brown matte) and Crave (deepest, darkest brown/black matte).”
This description of the colours is spot on. My favorites are Naked2 and Faint, which I use to contour my eyes and then Venus to add some highlights to my eyelid and brow bone and finally a little bit of Crave to line my eyes. And voila! A perfectly gorgeous doe-eyed look for the day.
All of the eye shadows have the velvety smooth and pigment rich finish that I have come to love and associate with Urban Decay. The shadows blend beautifully and they are wonderful for contouring and enhancing your eyes. The colors work well for a natural day look and you can build it up with the darker shades for a sultry, smoky night time look. These shades work well on my dark brown eyes and would also compliment lighter coloured eyes and really make them pop. So basically, it works for everyone!
The Urban Decay Naked Basics palette will definitely make it into my travel make-up bag as it has everything that I need to create a gorgeous everyday look (although I will probably also pack a few other more colorful or sparkly eye shadows for those nights when I need a bit more pizazz). You can buy this palette at Sephora, Ulta and at www.UrbanDecay.com. And best of all this little beauty comes with a totally affordable price tag too – only $27! Bargain!
Hey guys, Sorry that I've been a bit MIA from my WordPress blog. I've been traveling and hard at work on my revamping my blog and launching my newsletter! I've been spending that last few weeks scouring templates, logos, fonts just to make it ABSOLUTELY PERFECT. And after all my hard work, it's finally done! I would like to present to you, my newsletter and please sign up for monthly updates!
If you missed it - Click here to read the Costa Rica issue!
No phone, no air-condition, a beach with no people. This was exactly what I needed to get away from the usual busy, busy, busy of my life in New York and rushing around from airport to airport catching plane after plane… I needed to slow down and remember who I was again. The beach brought back memories of my childhood home. Raised by the beach at what was the sleepy resort town of Pattaya Beach in Thailand, I remember a lot of my early childhood spent on the beach, in the water and ordering room service at a place that was a lot like Blue Osa.
Now that I was almost 30, and spending almost 10 years in the United States, 6 years of that in university getting my Bachelors and my Masters, I needed to reconnect with who I really was inside. So I spent time writing some poetry:
With head in the sky and my feet on the ground. I know that I'm safe and sound.
Who I am has nothing to do with how I look, my degrees, resume, or the amount in my bank account.
I know my value is measured by my character and drive.
I'm a girl in love with the world and I'm alive.
It's taken a while, but I've allowed myself to be just myself without judgement and I wanted to build a business around who I authentically am. I am doing it.
Out of the rainforest, I emerged anew and rejuvenated. More grounded and ready to rock it. The biggest change from this much needed time to myself was that I changed my position at FreshTraveler from "Host, Writer and Producer" to "CEO and Founder". I have bigger dreams and ambitions for my business. I realized I was thinking too small and playing it too safe. I didn't just want a web series or a blog. I didn't just want to exist online. I want my brand to also exist in reality. I want to build a lifestyle brand and as I embark on that exciting journey, I am more grounded stronger than ever to face any challenge.
Instead of taking what life gives and throws at me, I realized I can CREATE my life as anything that I want and ANYTHING is possible. So here I am, creating my ideal life - online and in real life - as a FreshTraveler.
As promised to those of you who attended the "So You Want to Build Your Business Through Travel Blogging" session at the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA)’s 42nd Annual Writer's Conference at The Roosevelt Hotel in New York City, here are a list of questions covered (and more) during the panel. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to leave it in the comments section. When and why did you start blogging at Fresh Traveler? What were you doing professionally before that? Is your blog a full-time venture?
I bought the domain name FreshTraveler.com when I was a senior at Emerson College and developed it for a senior thesis project. I wanted to create an online series that featured off the beaten path adventures. For the whole story, read this post: About FreshTraveler: My Path to Building a Meaningful Life that is Authentically Mine
I put the blog on hold while I pursued my MFA and after I quit my job, pursued it full time – working freelance to support it mostly doing production work. But I pursue freelance work because I wanted to have flexibility to travel and work with hotels on their marketing – I create content (written, photos, and videos) for hotels and other tour operators to use for their online promotion. This is called branded content.
Then, I create additional material for my blog – separate from what I create for them. I want to maintain the credibility of my blog being something that I experience organically. I don’t want someone to pay me to say something I don’t mean. I don’t accept that. That’s not credible travel journalism.
How do you arrange travel? Did you go on FAM trips and other types of sponsored travel?
So, first of all, a FAM trip is familiarization trip. According to the Travel Industry Dictionary, it's a low-cost or free trip or tour offered to travel agents by a supplier or group of suppliers to familiarize the agents with their destination and services. Example, a resort property or group of hotels and restaurants in Aruba might team up with an airline or tour operator to offer a discount FAM trip to the resort or to Aruba.
I’ve gone on FAM trips (more when I first started) and I am subscribed to a few newsletters that offer low cost trips for people in the travel industry. There are pros and cons. Pros, FREE TRIP, (woo hoo!) everyone likes that. CON: You’re on their schedule. I don’t like that. Especially if I am doing video. I talk to the organizer and tell them up front that we’re making videos and that we need more time to explore.
The next model I am working on is working in conjunction with a travel company/tourism board and doing my own individual press trips – getting their suggestions but also doing my own research online, then crafting an itinerary based on how I want the series of videos to be like.
I think of each of my trips as a film project with three phases - pre-production, production, and post-production phases. I used to shoot doc style – which means hours and hours of rolling the camera but now I prefer traveling with an itinerary. Especially if we are there for only a set number of days and if the videos that I make are only going to be 3 mins long. I just need to make sure that I have enough b-roll and camera coverage.
I like working on a sponsorship model. It’s much easier getting people to sponsor accommodations and meals than airfare. Although for Mauiva AirCruise, we got everything covered. Airfare, meals and hotel.
So far, I haven’t been sponsored individually by an airline although I would like to be, I have been on group trips that have been sponsored by an airline. Also, if you work with Tourism Boards, they can get you that connection to the properties or stores that you want to go to, but you have to do the convincing that you’re worth their dime.
Have you run ads and / or sponsored posts on your blog? Can you talk about how these work in general terms, and how much revenue they can reasonably generate?
No. I will not run ads or sponsored posts on my blog. I will take sponsors for video content.
What other benefits did you enjoy as an independent travel blogger?
I control what I write. I control the video production on my blog. This is important to me.
Tell us about other opportunities which have resulted from exposure through your blog.
I have received work offers – both copywriting and video, from the content that is on my blog and it is much easier to work with Travel and Tourism Boards when you can show them what you do with the content.
How did you begin working with “Best of the Road” and the Travel Channel? How did they discover you? How did you convince them that your blogging experience would be a benefit to being chosen for the program?
For Best of the Road, I submitted an audition video and they picked us.
What was your experience with that program, and how were you compensated?
We were not paid in cash. We were sponsored but the exposure was huge, especially for a young blogger. I went from a brand new blog with 45 likes to 400 in a few months without needing to harass people on a daily basis. Also, it really helped establish my credibility as a travel blogger and put me in front of people who saw what kind of work I could produce.
What other work do you do writing about travel?
I guest post on other people's blogs and websites. I also copy write for travel related products like apps and hotel websites. I also answer a lot of emails about travel as I am now everyone's travel advisor.
How do find travel writing gigs? What sources do you go to? What kind of pay can someone expect from these assignments?
You pitch to travel magazines, websites, etc. Here are some articles to help you craft your pitch.
How to Pitch a Travel Magazine from Vagabundo Magazine
The Do’s And Don’ts Of Submitting To Online Travel Magazines from Matador Network
Some magazines like Travel and Leisure have a special format to follow, so my advice is to follow it.
I know it may be scary to write your first one but just do it! If you want a one-on-one tutorial, I also offer sessions via skype or in person if you are in New York City. Just email me at email@example.com for rates.
Depending on what you're good a doing, you can get paid for your skill. I emphasize your skill because whatever that is going to support you financially while you build your blog.
Here are some links to help you:
Odesk and Elance has freelance writing gigs – travel apps, blog posts, copy, hotel descriptions, etc. You just set up a profile or you search for jobs. One of the jobs I applied for was writing Halloween Costume copy. Now that was fun.
If you're outgoing and like people you can be a tour guide. Vayable is a platform where you can design your own tour and set your own price.
If you're more of a slow traveller and like spending more than a few months in a location, here's the Facebook group for you - Modern Day Nomads. I <3 them! I've applied to several of their freelance gigs. They have everything from long term to short term jobs as well as artist grants and even housesitting posts!
If you're really serious about leading a nomadic life and traveling full time. Here's a link to more resources that I've collected.
Please explain how these writing jobs fit into the “bigger picture” of your overall revenue-generation model.
These jobs float you but also allow a flexible schedule where you can take care of your blog. I sometime work on 2 computers, one to monitor my blog and the other to work on my PAID assignment.
It was important for me to establish myself as an expert in something for people to listen to anything I was saying regarding travel or screenwriting or filmmaking so a gig like writing for a travel app that encouraged me to research off the beaten path restaurants, etc. just increased my knowledge base AND I got paid for it. You get paid more for video work than you do writing. In writing, you get paid more for apps and copywriting than you do for writing articles most of the time. But that really depends on the magazine or the site that you are writing for.
Have you changed to a Tumblr format recently? (I remember it being a more traditional blog last year, with longer posts, although I could be mistaken). If so, why did you make that change? Is it part of a time-saving strategy, perhaps?
I have a tumblr but I also have wordpress. The Best of the Road blog was hosted on Wordpress on their own blog. I learned a lot from blogging for them. I originally started off with tumblr because I simply wanted to do video production work but now I am writing more and wordpress is a better place to showcase my writing and it’s much more social media friendly.
What is the connection between travel blogging and screenwriting? Has travel made you a better writer and/or storyteller? Have you found inspiration on your travels?
In my videos, I tell a travel story visually. It’s a series of beautiful shots that are strung together with a story. I think people remember stories more than a series of pretty shots although it is arguable that online people like looking at non-sequential videos that don’t necessarily tell a story. I try to balance it and look at it as a challenge in short form visual storytelling. I also use it as a test and a challenge to learn from for when I want to make my own full length features.
What would you tell someone just beginning a travel blog? What should they realistically expect?
A blog is a platform. It’s a soap box. There’s something you want to say and you say it there.
It takes TIME to grow. Experiment but also know what you want. Think about the end goal but stay consistent with your message.
I wanted to get a TV show, but also to build a lifestyle brand FreshTraveler – a new type of travelista or internationalista who travels globally and shops locally. You have to have products to sell offline or online.
Look at your blog as a business. Matthew Kepnes of NomadicMatt.com once wrote that blogging was like owning a restaurant. The blog is the window and you have to have menu items for your customers to order from. Here's a great article he wrote called An Open Letter To Travel Bloggers Who Want To Make Money.
You need to have a niche. I wanted to encourage a different type of travel. A spontaneous, off the beaten path, fresh kind of travel and encouraging more people to take risks and get out of their comfort zone and enjoy life. Like visiting an organic farm in the middle of the desert in Baja, California. But how do I do this: by showing people that it’s possible and not unsafe and how much fun I have while I do this and then also making it easy for them to find those adventures.
How did you go about securing a sponsorship from Rand McNally, tourism boards, and others? Put another way… how do you get people to pay you to travel and write?
I enter a lot of video contests. As for securing a sponsorship from Rand McNally, I made an audition video for the contest. I also get on FAM trips (those are press trips that tourism boards in conjunction with marketing agencies put together) to give different sorts of press a taste of the country. I get invited to these trips, usually after you develop a relationship with the marketing or public relations people. Other ways that I have gotten to travel is to reach out to properties that I like boutique hotels and tour companies that I like to see if they can sponsor me while I am on a trip there. I tend to like these individual press trips better because then I don’t have to follow a set tour schedule because it takes time to do video.
Is travel writing your primary source of work or do you combine it with other income sources?
It’s hard to make money just writing. I travel write, copy write and make films. I make most of my money with script consulting and my video production work. You can also make $ selling stock footage. Here's a great article from Lights Online Film School on How to Sell Stock Video Footage.
You specialize in video blogging. What advice can you offer someone about how to get started with vlogging if they’ve never done it? Do they need expensive equipment? What software do you use to edit the videos?
You don’t need expensive equipment. You can even use a smart phone for your blogs. I use Final Cut X to edit but you can use iMovie or Abode Premiere. My advice is to just do it. I think a lot of people stop themselves because they are intimidated that the footage is going to look bad or the sound is going to be bad if they don’t know what they are doing. I say collect the footage first and then fix it in post-production or delete it and retake. That's the magic of modern movie-making.
What is the value of a vlog over a traditional text-based blog?
There are a few things. First of all, you are able to connect with your intended audience in a way that you can’t with text. You are able to have your followers connect with you vicariously not just through writing but by experiencing the travel “with” you. An example of a video that does this particularly well is when I went kayaking with dogs in Costa Rica.
SEO wise, content with video often appears higher on the google ranking.
In your opinion, what are the best markets for travel writers (and is there more available than travel magazines)?
It really depends on what your interest is in writing. But I really believe that you have to find your niche and your special angle and lens on travel. Other kinds of magazines (business, automobiles) have travel sections that you can also write for. I have found in my experience that the best markets for me are the off-the-beaten-path unexplored unchartered territories because they are dying for the exposure. I just got back from an individual press trip to Cabo in Baja California and the tourism board was really excited to work with me because I told them that I was going to Cabo but I did NOT want the Spring Break experience. I wanted the off the beaten path experience and they were really excited to direct me to less explored parts of Baja like the beaches of La Paz or the small town of Todos Santos. But they were also probably really excited because I am going to do a film screening of the short film of my travels in New York later this year.
How do you pick the next location you’ll travel to and write about?
Well, my goal is to travel the whole globe according to the FreshTraveler ethos which is off the beaten path for a fresh mind, body and spirit. But when I pick the next location, I always ask myself these questions.
1) have I been there yet?
2) is there an angle here that is local and unique?
3) is it visually interesting?
I tend to like active adventures because they are more fun to film and edit. The more movement, the better. Also, the crazier, the better. I see what opportunities come up and I weigh them against each other. I get invitations to certain places by the press or from friends. I tend to favor the travels with my friends and the individual press trips over the FAM trips (although FAM trips are a great way to meet other travel writers so I don’t discount them) because you have more control over your schedule and also not all people want to be on camera so that's a problem or else there's the people who always want to be on camera and that's a different problem altogether. And oh, I also do an airfare check and if I see a cheap flight to a destination that I've always wanted to go to and I'm free to go, I buy the ticket first and worry about where I am going to stay later.
If you have any other questions, feel free to ask in the comments below and I will answer them.
You've decided that you're a hundred percent ready to live that gypsy wanderer life that you've always wanted. You've sold your stuff or are in the process of selling everything you own so you can be merrily free of all possessions, except your laptop and internet connection. Or you want to be nomadic with your clan. Whatever your reasons are, there are thousands and thousands of different online resources to help you.
Although I travel quite a lot, I haven't committed to being a full nomad yet. Although it's been quite tempting, I often miss New York City and crave that sense of community of spending time with friends and family. But I'm compiling this list of online resources in no particular order, just in case I want to get up and go.
I'm going to continuously be adding on to this list so come back for more and if you have any ones to contribute, leave it in the comments below and I'll incorporate it into this list.
Nomadtopia - practical advice and inspiration (Amy Scott's website)
Amy's interview with Helen Hunter Mackenzie about living and working anywhere in the world
Suitcase Entrepreneur - tools to run your business from anywhere
Location Independent - the original website and creators of the term "location independent professionals"
Location Rebel - from Sean Ogle of Location 180
House-sitting, Home Exchange, Places to Stay
CoolJobsCanada.com (primarily hospitality industry jobs)
Freelance Work Online
Apartments in Buenos Aires: http://www.bytargentina.com/re/propview.php?view=5143
Location Independence/Long-Term Travel with Kids
Homeschooling, Unschooling, Alternative Education
Book: The New Global Student, by Maya Frost: http://mayafrost.com/new-global-student-book.htm
http://worldnomads.com - travel/emergency insurance (Amy Scott is using)
http://www.integraglobal.com/ - comprehensive int'l insurance outside US/Canada (Carrie McKeegan uses)
45 Jobs you can do while traveling
I am giving up traveling and my travel blog FreshTraveler because I have fallen in love with a surfer and am staying in Costa Rica. We are going to live by the beach, fish mahi mahi and red snapper from the sea, and I will grow organic veggies behind our wall-less beach shack on Playa Tamales. I am living my dream of never having to wear shoes or a put on a bra ever. You are welcome to come visit us (there is a lot of sleeping space on the beach during low tide, but please watch out for the crabs!). Or alternatively, Blue Osa Yoga Retreat and Spa is only about a 2-hour walk away from our humble shack.
Please don't try to convince me otherwise...
I thought about this for a long time and this is absolutely something that I have always wanted to do for April Fool's.
Have a good one!!
[youtube=http://youtu.be/cFrh0XjzcnA] Hey guys! Here's a 3-minute preview of my travels to Nicaragua this past February. I had way too much fun editing this video so I hope you enjoy it! There's going to be more to follow!
I also entered this video into a contest by MyDestination.com to win a 6 month trip ALL-EXPENSES PAID TRIP around the world so please VOTE to help me WIN by using your social media clout and CLICK HERE TO VOTE!
And please remember, if you haven't yet please subscribe to me on Youtube and follow me on Twitter!
Gracias and muchos besos in advance! xoxox
21. Dine and Boatwatch by the Intracoastal at Deck 84 (840 E Atlantic Ave Delray Beach, FL 33483, (561) 665-8484, deck84.com) I watched the boats go by as I savored some tuna tacos. This restaurant’s casual atmosphere is a great place to do some boat watching. Also a good place for happy hour.
22. Rent a Boogie Board/Surfboard/Kitesurfboard and enjoy the waves. I’m not a skilled surfer and wasn’t up for a land-only kitesurfing lesson so I grabbed a boogie board from Richwagen’s Bike & Sport (298 NE 6th Ave. Delray Beach, FL 33483, (561) 272-BIKE) and hit the mellow waves.
23. Relax with a fancy spa treatment at N Spa (10 N Ocean Blvd Delray Beach, FL 33483, (561) 278-8111, nspas.com). This was the best! I was treated like a queen at this place. Definitely not cheap, but worth it. I did a touch therapy, a customized heart-centered healing to improve my mind. The therapy included massages with pure coconut oil, rosemary, ginger, and pure Fijian oil. The chandeliered waiting room also has goodies like chocolate fondue and fruit to snack on.
24. Sweat it out at Hot Yoga class at Hot Yoga of Delray (3205 S Federal Hwy Delray Beach, FL 33483, (561) 266-2075, hotyogaofdelray.com). This was my first experience with Hot Yoga and it was better than I anticipated. At first I thought, no way am I going to be in a hot room in Florida when I could be frolicking on the beach! But I really enjoyed it, the heated room enabled me to get into poses that I wouldn’t normally and really got me to sweat out my stress! This was also a really good way to meet some good-looking, health conscious locals!
25. Buy food at the Convenient Drive Thru Food Store. Located in Pineapple Grove, this barred drive-through serves up gum, soda, chips and other items you can find in your local convenience store. Even if you don’t have a car, they service patrons on foot, I walked right up to it to get a pack of gum.
26. Dine at the Seagate Beach Club (401 South Ocean Boulevard, Delray Beach, FL 33483, (561) 330-3775, seagatedelray.com) But in order to do this, you have to be a guest at the Seagate or go with a club member. Unless you’re an expert networker or have a pre-made connection, the prior is easier than the latter. If you are at the hotel, take advantage of this beautiful beachside club and dine on the patio.
27. Try the crab cakes at 50 Ocean (50. S. Ocean Blvd, Delray Beach, FL 33483, (561) 278-3364, 50ocean.com). This second-floor restaurant above Boston’s on The Beach boasts an ocean view, fancy cocktails, and wonderful crab cakes.
28. Ride a boat down the Intracoastal and catch the sunset. Rent a boat from Alex Warner of Delray Boat Club (777 Palm Trail, Delray Beach, FL 33483, (561) 865-7797, delrayboatclub.com) or make friends with a local and hop on their ride.
29. Play Russian Roulette at Candyfish Sushi Bar (8 E Atlantic Ave Delray Beach, FL 33444, (561) 330-4236, candyfishsushi.com) Here’s how it works: The sushi roll comes with a huge glob of wasabi hidden inside one piece and whomever at the table gets the wasabi-filled piece has to take the sake bomb that comes with the order. Warning: not for the faint-hearted. Watch this video of me and Brian Cox of TheTravelVlogger and giving it a go. Be sure you click on 'Candyfish Sushi' after the intro!
11. Indulge in beers and pizza at Mellow Mushroom (25 S.E 6th Avenue, Delray Beach, FL 33483, (561) 330-3040, mellowmushroom.com). If you love pizza and you love beer, this hippie pizza chain place is a must-try. With 20-40 beers on tap and 50 or so varieties of bottled beer, you can even get your own custom-made pizza.
12. Listen to jazz at Brule Bistro (200 NE 2nd Ave Delray Beach, FL 33444, (561) 274-2046, brulebistro.com). This classic French-influenced American spot in an artsy section of town called Pineapple Grove offers jazz on weekends. It’s a nice place to relax, have a crème brule, multiple glasses of wine and listen to music.
13. Have seafood linguini at Caffé Luna Rosa (34 S Ocean Blvd Delray Beach, FL 33483, (561) 274-9404, caffelunarosa.com). Known for their breakfast and their brunch, Caffe Luna Rosa also serves up a delicious pasta dinner. Sitting by the ocean also means you’ll get that cool ocean breeze.
14. Listen to reggae on Monday nights at Boston’s on the Beach (40 S Ocean Blvd Delray Beach, FL 33483, (561) 278-3364, bostonsonthebeach.com) Another bonus: you can have their Ipswich Clams without the New England winter weather!
15. Go shirtless and grab a drink at Sandbar (40 S Ocean Blvd Delray Beach, FL 33483, (561) 278-3364, bostonssandbar.com) This is a bar where you can go shirtless and shoeless. Even if you’re too shy, you can check out all the shirtless, shoeless eye-candy while sipping on one of their special build-your-own mojitos.
16. Get your hair cut/head massaged/nails done at Naked Hair Salon (10 SE 1st Ave Delray Beach, FL 33444, (561) 265-3396, nakedhairsalon.com) This eco-friendly holistic salon is my favorite salon on earth. The ultimate in eco-friendliness, owners Adam and Janine Rose Shuman, created this concept after Janine got sick from the chemicals in all the hair products while working at a traditional salon. Everything in the shop made of all natural, human-friendly ingredients, and even their nail polish is formaldehyde-free. Watch me get my haircut dry with their special technique in this video (coming soon!).
17. Eat oysters at City Oyster (213 E Atlantic Ave Delray Beach, FL 33444, (561) 272-0220, cityoysterdelray.com). Nothing gets you through a rough emotional time like having oysters and wine with friends. So gather some friends (old and new) and sit down for a feast.
18. Try the Tuna Tartare Ice Cream Cones at 75 Main (270 E Atlantic Ave Delray Beach, FL 33483, (561) 243-7975, 75main.com). A novel idea and a substitute for those without a sweet tooth at this sister branch of the celebrity-frequented Southhampton hotspot.
19. Cruise down Atlantic Avenue at dusk. Peruse the shops like Waggs to Riches (waggstoriches.com), the pet store for totally spoiled and pampered pets. At night, the streets come alive with different scenes, making hopping from sports bar to enoteca effortless. People are ridiculously friendly so it's very easy to make friends.
20. Do sunset yoga on the beach. Every Sunday Jai Healing Arts (jaihealingarts.com) offers sunset yoga classes at the far North end of Delray Beach. Once I did savasana (corpse pose, final relaxation) under a beautiful open sky while the energy of the earth was cooling, doing it at a yoga studio will never be the same!
by Patricia Serrano Delray Beach, FL is the ‘rehab capital’ of the USA, the Most Fun Small Town in America, and also an ideal place to get over a breakup.
There is a quote by American novelist Edward Dahlberg (1900-1977) that reads, “When one realizes that his life is worthless he either commits suicide or travels.”
I love my life way too much to commit suicide, so when I come to a low point in my life, such as a breakup, loss of job, or just plain bad weather, I always find myself traveling to recover.
The first time I visited Delray Beach, FL was at the end of June with Rand McNally and USAToday’s Best of the Road. I was there for three jammed-packed days, fresh from the wounds of a break up, and because of that, I was busying myself with non-stop activity trying to determine the Most Fun Small Town in America with my awesome gal pal, Anna Haas, to keep my mind off things.
Being tasked to pick the most fun small town in America isn’t so easy, especially when there are so many awesome other small towns to choose from. So, after our roadtrip was over, I couldn’t help thinking – did we really make the right choice?
November in Brooklyn – I’m freezing and still not fully recovered from my horrible break up. I’m cooped in my cold apartment because of Hurricane Sandy. My mind’s racing with toxic romantic memories and I need out, pronto. What’s the first thing I think of? My summer memories of Delray Beach.
I couldn’t stop wondering about how much warmer Delray Beach was in the winter than New York. And how much warmer the water was. So, I checked out weather.com and got these results.
So, I did the natural thing and bought a one-way ticket down there ASAP.
I spent the next three weeks exploring the town at my leisure without the pressure of having to squeeze 10 activities a day into an itinerary. I thought 3 weeks would be more than enough time to fully explore this town like a local. I also went there at the perfect time – early November, the very beginning of tourist season so places weren’t jammed packed with Northerners flying south. I spent those three weeks getting to know numerous Delray locals and discovering the spots that they hang out in. I also spent a lot of my time here just giving myself a break after an emotionally tumultuous year. Delray Beach is definitely a destination to do some major relaxing, being the rehab capital of the United States.
Here are 50 things that I did while nursing my emotional health in Delray Beach. All the activities here were recommended to me by local Delray residents.
1. Get up early in the morning for a stroll during Delray Beach’s sunrise. There are many things to do for early risers on the beach. Early morning classes in yoga, boot camp and even stand up paddleboarding. By 7:15am, there are already lots of people on the beach. Just seeing the sunrise in the morning makes me smile.
2. Mark some turtle nests. Do your good deed for our eco-system. These species are endangered! Numerous leatherhead and loggerhead turtles nest on Delray Beach as early as March until late August. It takes approximately one to three hours for the female turtle to lay a hundred ping-pong sized eggs.
3. Ride around town on the Delray Downtowner (561) 702.8519, delraydowntowner.com). This is the town’s 100% electric eco-friendly transport carts. Although convenient, the service runs with limited hours and within a certain radius so I would call in advance to check how far these electric carts travel. Hours: M-F 5pm-11pm; S-S 11am-11pm. You can even go to their website and reserve a table at a restaurant on Atlantic Avenue and book a ride to and from that restaurant online.
4. If you’re in town for Thanksgiving as I was, why not have a No Drama Thanksgiving Buffet at the Marriott Delray Beach (10 N Ocean Blvd Delray Beach, FL 33483, (561) 274-3200, marriottdelraybeach.com). No turkey to prep, no table to set, no dishes to wash, no family to squabble with. Utter peace during one of the most hectic holidays of the year.
5. Lounge out by the pool. Need I say more? If you’re vacationing in Florida, I fully believe you need to be in swimwear at least 55% of your vacation. All that vitamin D from tanning does wonders to my mood.
6. Sunday brunch at the Holiday Inn Highland Beach (2809 S Ocean Blvd Highland Beach, FL 33487, (561) 278-6241, highlandbeachholidayinn.com) . It’s about a 20-minute bike ride off the main Atlantic Avenue strip, but it’s secluded and you can’t beat the beachfront view. They also have the most extensive Sunday brunch I’ve ever had, complete with unlimited oysters and mimosas! A lot of local residents in the neighboring towns come out here to brunch, so it’s also a great way to meet the locals.
7. Swim in the cenote at the Sundy House (106 S Swinton Ave, Delray Beach, FL, (561) 272-5678, sundyhouse.com). This 11-room luxury boutique hotel has a beautifully landscaped fresh water pool that is modeled after the famous natural swimming holes in the Yucatan peninsula.
8. Cruise along the ocean on a rented bike from Richwagen’s Bike & Sport (298 NE 6th Ave. Delray Beach, FL, (561) 272-BIKE, delraybeachbicycles.com). Cruise down the A1A during the day. This scenic and historic coastal highway stretches 328.9 miles with loads of lush and tropical scenery of the Atlantic Ocean. Very therapeutic.
9. Sit in a cabana on the beach and bask in the SoFlo Sun. You can lay on a beach towel for free but if you want a less sandy experience, rent a cabana for the day. Oceanside Beach Service (beachservice.com) manages the beach rentals that range from $3 per hour for a single chair to $25 a day for two.
10. Eat sushi at Buddha Sky Bar (217 East Atlantic Avenue, Delray Beach, FL 33444, (561) 450-7557, buddhaskybar.com). This discreet Asian fusion sushi bar is on the third floor and yes, here in Delray, the third floor is a high enough to be called a sky bar. Under the glass-incased rooftop, you’ll have magnificent views of Atlantic Avenue all the way to the ocean.
Inspirational Guest Blog by John Chuidian
So far, I’ve only opened up my travel guides for Southeast Asia once the entire time I’ve been here. There’s something about hearing stories from locals and fellow nomads that is more up-to-date and informative than the politically-correct slant of travel guides, while at the same time, without the rudeness of online interactions on Lonely Planet and CouchSurfing.org forums. Then there is just going with that gut feeling to go to a place that looks or sounds like an adventure which gives a bigger satisfaction for the surprise at the uncertainty of every day. It’s never a dull moment since I’ve just been going with the flow of the universe—wherever it takes me—living by my ideals, without compromise, giving every moment 100%. From spontaneously walking into a volunteer project in eastern Indonesia and offering a hand to help out for a couple hours, knowing that it’s now or never and should let a girl I run into in a cafe that I fancy her, or jumping off a waterfall with my GoPro camera attached simply because it’s there, I am fearless and free. Those two emotions come from stepping outside of my comfort zone and realizing how restricted I was when living a settled life before as a lowly graduate student in America looking to find a way to be fearless and free.
It was part of the great misunderstanding we all had in our program in international relations. We all loved travel for one reason or another, were intrigued by at least one other culture, willing to learn another language, but couldn’t get a job that allowed us to travel or live wherever we wanted. So we swallowed the allegorical Kool-Aid [see: Jonestown cult’s mass suicide] in the belief that we would be in a better place. Less than a year into my program, I discovered a few things that led me to walking out of my program.
First, that nobody needs a license or permission to travel outside of having a passport and visa. Second, travel is not expensive, bringing too many things and buying too much is. Third, I am only young once, and if I waited to be finished with school, out of debt, employed in a good career, and have my own house, I’ll be traveling after I retire at the earliest.
So I cut my losses, sold most of what I had and stored my books in a friend’s garage, packed up my camera and laptop with some clothes into a backpack and small suitcase, and told myself:
“If I need money, I’ll make some; if I feel lonely, I’ll make new friends; I am captain of my own ship.”
So why sail through stagnant bogs where risk is high and rewards are low, simply because those are the known paths? I’d rather chart myself through unknown waters where the risks are higher and the rewards could be greater or lesser, but the journey is the destination, as Dan Eldon once said.
Having been doing this for about five months now, I can honestly say that travel is not just good for the soul, but it’s a way to reinvent myself while finding out that I do have skills and talents that make a difference in the world. As I gaze into the ocean on the beaches of eastern Indonesia, I see the great shades of blue where the sky touches the water which reminds me of how vast this tiny planet is.
I realize I am not the sum of my failures or accomplishments, my life savings or student loan debt, my job or my worldly possessions, I am who I am right now.
Who I am to the people I have encountered, worked with, helped, befriended, and loved in these four months is many things, but if you asked them, those definitions would include “fearless”, “compassionate”, “loving and kind”, “eccentric”, “artistic”, and “unique”. Of course, if you asked others, you might hear other stories, because even when you meet like-minded people, you will encounter those who misunderstand or misjudge, and it’s perfectly fine: I don’t have to be friends with or loved by everyone, I just want to be around those who see the moon and the stars the same way I do, who howl at the madness and joy of existence like all Jack Kerouacs and Allen Ginsbergs out there.
In September, I called up United Airlines and told them I was ready to let them have their seat back because I wasn’t going to return to a life of certainty, which would be ostracized for dropping out of school, without a job or a home, and in the same place I’ve known for years. No, I’m ready to live in perpetual anxiety and excitement knowing that I some days, I’ll go through the rain and feast on tree frogs, that it’s a trial and ordeal to survive for the day I see new lights. And I will do so knowing that if I’m going to die, I’m going to leave this world doing what I wanted, which is to travel, to make a difference, and make art. I could easily try to get a job and pay my dues, work towards a comfortable life in the world I left behind, but essentially, I’d be working hard to buy myself bigger and fancier cages.
So why settle for a fancy fishbowl when I need to grow by getting into the sea of life?
I will never be alone, because I have the company of Dante, Kerouac, Marcus Aurelius, Buddha, Bach, Tori Amos, Bjork, in my audio books and music collection in my iPod; their words, their ideas, their music are what give substance to the nebulous thoughts and musings I have whenever I look out the window of a bus going up and down steep hills and rocky roads and see the world beyond. I will never be lonely, because of all the people I meet, if I am thinking of them, they are certainly thinking of me too, even if not at that same moment.
Travel more, and find yourself connected to yourself. Travel more, and find yourself connected to the world. Travel more, and find that we are all connected, and always have been.
There is a thing called “Paradise” out there, that many travelers seek when “getting away from it all”. Paradise, I’ve found, is a place called “Home”, which is that perfect moment you realize you’re exactly where you want to be with the people who matter, a time that you could stay in forever. Home and Paradise for me is knowing that I’m moving from one perfect moment to the next, making more of those times, and sharing them with everyone I care about and through my art. I’ll continue to do that because as I’ve discovered, being able to write honestly is better than writing fancily; being “there” to take a picture in a place that people would be too scared to go into is better than having a fancy camera; and that a good story shines through in any photography, blog post, or video. The experience is priceless, and the skills are lucrative. It is living each day like this that tells me that everyone would be happier if we all let go and realized that we already have it all— because the world is ours.
Check out more of John Chuidian’s travels and global nomad adventures on his blog heyitsjohnnyc.com