28

Mar

Join in Progress

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Many say I’m living a dream.  And many say that quitting everything to travel around the world, is just not possible and too hard for them to do. To that I say – rubbish! I did it. You can do it.

I think in fantasy this is a dream trip for many. But in reality, the packing, leaving everything behind, quitting, figuring out finances, and saying good-bye for a year or more is just way too much of a brain drain and risk for most. But it really is just the decision to do it that is the biggest hurdle – the rest just happens, life happens, and it can be amazing.

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So, if you are thinking of making a change in your life or taking off for an extended trip, put on your Nikes and ‘just do it!’ If you are already planning a trip then good for you – because the hardest part is over – deciding to do it and figuring out how to make it work for you. I would definitely say it is not that hard and is cheaper and easier than you think. If you have the opportunity and the freedom to just go – grab the chance now while you can.  Don’t put if off for tomorrow, because we all know something will always come up to get in our way. It’s easy to say ‘carpe diem’, ‘seize the day’ and all that jive or forward on the motivational emails that swirl around, it takes guts and chutzpah to try and make it your life everyday.

So, for those just tuning in now…thanks so much for stopping by.

Here’s the 30 second/300 word recap:

I am a three-time Emmy-award-winning Television Writer/Producer/Photographer. I produced a variety of shows including a lifestyles and entertainment magazine show on ABC Chicago for the last ten years. After nearly fifteen years in Television, I decided to take a sabbatical of sorts (read: I quit), which turned into 2+ years traveling and working my way around the world.  I have written about the adventures that ensued as I schlepped my bag around the globe on this website which has had hundreds of thousands of hits and subscribers from all over the world.  I was recently interviewed for ABC’s Good Morning America.  My site was listed as one of the “Travel Blogs I can’t live without” in 2008 and top twenty “most-inspirational’ blogs of 2007” by nationally syndicated columnist Chris Elliot and I was also featured in the Chicago Daily Herald, the NJ Daily Record, Women on the Road, “Panorama Europeo,” a radio show broadcast in Italy, Spain, and Argentina, and on Chicagoist.  Furthermore, my articles and photographs have been published by Sunset Magazine, Smithsonian Online, The Dallas Morning News, The Boston Globe, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Go Nomad, Brave New Traveler, and The Savvy Gal.

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During the last two and a half years, I took Spanish and surfing lessons in Costa Rica, rode through the narrow fjords and icy glaciers of Chilean Patagonia, hiked up a snowy volcano in Ecuador, swam with dolphins off the coast of New Zealand, climbed high atop the Harbour Bridge in Sydney, sand-boarded the dunes of Dubai, kayaked between the pristine islands of Belize, climbed like Moses to the top of Mt. Sinai in Egypt, and successfully accomplished a two-week bicycle tour through the countryside and rice fields of Vietnam.  I have also found work in many places-I served up coffee and sandwiches in a café in Melbourne, taught private business English lessons in Istanbul, performed proofreading work for a Turkish media conglomerate, acted in an American documentary being filmed in Istanbul, worked as a research assistant at the University of Cologne, was a pet sitter and an ‘extra’ in Los Angeles, did public relations for an English immersion company in Madrid and did some English voice recording for a publishing company in Berlin. All the while I’ve been documenting my trip with photographs and articles from the road/train tracks/rickshaw/camel.

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So dive in and take a look back at the more than 200 posts here and take a ride with me on the trips and tips, the people and places, the laughs and adventures around the world. I hope it will inspire you and show you that the world in which we all live is an awesome place. And stick around…because, I promise, there is much more to come…

17

Mar

Love is in the Air

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prop plane to buch 1 1 150x150 Love is in the AirI have an idea to combine a dating service with airline seat booking. Don’t you see where I’m going? When choosing seats instead of just being boring and choosing things like ‘aisle’ or ‘window’, you would have to enter things about your sexual orientation, your age, your hobbies and interests (even if one of those is perhaps a desire to join the mile-high club). This way, potential dates might sit on either side of you…and you have the whole flight to get to know one another…with nowhere else to go…for 7 hours. Okay, maybe it’s not such a good idea. But I think it could work. And, of course, the airlines would only charge an extra $25 per seat for this service. And maybe if you get married – you can get a free roundtrip ticket to your honeymoon destination. C’mon Easy Jet, Ryannair, Virgin, or Jet Blue…seems like something right up your alley.

Bonus Free Random airline flying tips:

  • Ask for the exit row: I always do. I don’t care if I’m 5’4″, first come, first served buddy.
  • When traveling as a couple in a 3 seat configuration, book the window and aisle seat. A single person will rarely book the middle seat unless the flight is full-then you can just move together if necessary.
  • www.seatguru.com – A great site with graphic seating charts of most airlines’ jets and with ratings and tips to help you pick the best seat.
  • Favorite Flight Booking Sites (they don’t charge fees – like Orbitz & Expedia – and they are aggregator sites meaning they look at all the airlines and other sites for you):

    Within Europe:

  • After checking these sites, ALWAYS go to the actual airlines’ website and check the cost – oftentimes the cheapest is there.

If you have any airline tips, please leave a comment and share. Thank you!

10

Mar

The Eagle has landed. I repeat, the Eagle has landed.

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tijuana 21 150x150 The Eagle has landed. I repeat, the Eagle has landed.That’s right. Like a good bout with déjà vu, I am back in the good ol’ U.S. of A.  I have actually just arrived at the Washington Dulles Airport and am trying to make some quick observations and judgments (yes, judgments) on the cross section of people before me. Now, granted, I am in an airport. It is probably more international than the average American main img 3795 1 1 150x150 The Eagle has landed. I repeat, the Eagle has landed.street. But now I sit waiting for my domestic connection to vacation hotspot, Newark, New Jersey and am surrounded by a majority of Americans. So who do I see? The basic answer is a little of everything: fat people, fit people, sloppy people, well-dressed people, short, black, tall, white, on and on. Possibly a bit less stylish and civilized than those I left hours ago in France, but probably also a bit friendlier. American really is the least homogonous place I’ve seen in a long time and hence we are back to the oft-used term of melting pot. America truly is one big fat creamy stew of all kinds and you just can’t put a label on it – many try to and many labels stick, but I am here to say – peel them off! As I traveled, I met a lot of folks who think they know who Americans are, but I think we are practically indefinable.

My traveling days are over…at least for now. Well, maybe just on a hiatus. Okay….a ten day hiatus, I am soon going down to Virginia (dragging the same damn bag) to see my brother, sis-in-law,  and cutie-pie nephew, Nick.

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Then I will fly over to visit silverton 14 6 1 150x150 The Eagle has landed. I repeat, the Eagle has landed.my mom in Colorado for some nice hugs and laughs. Then I will be back in New Jersey for my dad’s nuptials and then finally, in May, I return to my beloved Chicago where I suppose I will hang out for awhile and see what materializes. And believe it or not, I’m ready, so ready in fact that I counted down the days (good thing they were numbered – that made it easier). ‘What?’ you say. Yes. I’m tired, mentally tired. And it all goes in line with what I’d learned the first ‘go around.’ I need to do things – work, volunteer, anything that makes me local and keeps me in a place for a few months. On this leg of the journey, I traveled because I had a free ticket so I figured why not? But then I traveled more like a tourist which taught me again that that’s not what I want to be.  Don’t get me wrong, I had great times and met more and more interesting and fun people, saw beautiful places from France to Egypt and Estonia to Israel, but I suppose for now I need to hang up my walking shoes.

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I have been traveling on and off now for 2 ½ years or 29 months or 124 weeks or roughly 875 days.  Sometimes I travel fast…jetting on cheap budget European airline to my next city and sometimes I travel slow – getting an apartment and a temporary job and not touching my bag for several months.  But, I think, as marathon runners often say, ‘I am finally hitting the wall.’ And scary and limiting as it may be, perhaps it is time to ‘plant some roots’ again and see how it all feels – I’ll probably feel like a caged monkey and possibly it won’t be long until I’m off and running again.

3

Mar

Happy Little Denmark

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When you think of the happiest places in the world, visions of swaying palm trees, sandy beaches, and fruity drinks copenhagen 35 3 1 150x150 Happy Little Denmarkprobably come to mind. But, no, the happiest place in the world is more like a gray, rainy, chilly place where the locals never get their hopes too high – they figure if they don’t expect much, things will always be good. Over the last several years, the little nation of Denmark has come out on top as the ‘happiest country on earth.’  I spent just a couple days in this happy hamlet – and I have to say it was gray, cold, and wet. But laughter did fill the air and the people I met, well, did seem pretty darn happy.

Check out the news reports here:

The Happiest Country on Earth…on CBS’s 60 Minutes

Happy Danes from ABC’s Bill Weir

1

Mar

Fancy a Fika?

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stockholm 57 8 1 150x150 Fancy a Fika?Perhaps, one of my favorite things about Sweden is the Fika. A Fika basically translates into ‘going for a coffee.’ But it is so much more than that.   It is a cultural institution and is a way to take a break in the middle of the day to meet and chat with friends and get that all important jolt of, not necessarily caffeine but, social interaction. Here it is incorporated into everyday life and it seems like with everyone ‘going for a fika’ no work is getting done. People meet at one of Stockholm’s hundreds of coffee bars and hang out to have coffee and some of Sweden’s delectable pastries. In fact, it is Sweden, not France or Italy, that is said to be one of the world’s highest coffee consuming nations.

stockholm 77 12 1 150x150 Fancy a Fika?There is something about this ritual that is so very nice – especially in winter. I mean, yes, many of us already ‘go for coffee’ in the middle of our workday, but it’s often more of a ‘grab and go’ takeaway Starbucks affair. Here in Sweden, your boss expects and wants you to go take a break, sit for awhile, and catch up with your friends and co-workers and oftentimes will be the one shooing you out the door.

During my time in Stockholm I even took a commuter train up to the charming university town of Uppsala (about 40 minutes north) just for a Fika. Uppsala University is the oldest in Sweden and one of the highest rated universities in Europe. I was invited to a Couchsurfing gathering there and I couldn’t pass up to opportunity to see the countryside of Sweden, meet some nice people, and enjoy some yummy food and coffee. My new friend met me at the train station and gave me a great walking tour of his charming old town. Then we tucked into Hugo’s Café for a four hour fika filled with games, a lunch sampler of cous cous, pasta salad, and garlic bread and some tasty warm drinks. It was a great day and proved my new catchphrase (soon to be taking the globe by storm):  It’s never too far for a fika. So shutdown your computer now and go take one.