Sometimes, I think Chicken Little was right. When I think about the number of disasters, both natural and man-made, that have occurred over the past ten years, it’s easy to believe sky is falling. As a travel writer, I’m especially sensitive to the effects of natural disasters on tourism. Travelers who were planning to visit such a destination usually cancel their reservations and choose an alternative, depriving the country of their valuable revenue during a time when it is most needed. This is happening right now in New Zealand.
Though Christchurch (which happens to be one of my favorite places in New Zealand) suffered two recent earthquakes, the country of New Zealand is sending a message that it is open for business. In support, travel bloggers are banding together for three days to promote the country by writing about their experiences in New Zealand, an effort that has been branded “Blog4NZ.” I had the good fortune to visit in 2007 and discovered that not only does New Zealand have some of the most exquisite scenery on earth, it has some of the friendliest people I have ever met. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I decided to put together a video slide show of my best photography from that visit.
Christchurch may not be in a condition to accept visitors yet, but the rest of the country is waiting with open arms. If you had plans to visit New Zealand, please know that the sky is not falling. And if you’re wondering where to take your next vacation, you can’t make a better choice than New Zealand.
Remember playing tag when you were a kid? Slapping someone on the back and yelling, “Tag, you’re it!” Well, I’ve just been been ‘virtually tagged.’ My friend and fellow travel blogger, Shannon Lane, was ‘tagged’ to participate in the meme known as My Three Best Travel Secrets (a meme, which rhymes with cream, is a catchphrase or concept that spreads rapidly from person to person via the Internet). From what I understand, the game was started by Katie of Tripbase.com, the lovely folks who awarded me second place in the category of best North/South American blog of 2009 in their annual Travel Blog Awards.
After sharing three great secrets about her home state of Louisiana, Shannon ‘tagged’ me to be next in line to divulge my best travel secrets. My first reaction was, “Only three?” How could I possibly narrow it down to only three. Should I talk about little known secrets in Sarasota, Florida, such as the $40 annual membership to GWiz Science Museum that provides FREE admission to over 300 other science centers throughout the U.S. as well as other attractions around the State of Florida? Or about my list of little-known coffee shops around the country that let me work on my laptop all day for the price of a cup of coffee, like Sippin’ Internet Cafe in Key West, Pastry Art in Sarasota, or Rev Coffee in the Atlanta area?
In the end, I decided to reveal my secrets for booking last minute accommodations and transportation around the world without breaking the bank. Frankly, I detest being locked into definite travel plans. My preference is to book the first night at a destination (two nights at most), and then wing it from there. Fellow travelers are always eager to share secrets about spectacular, little-known towns or sites they have visited and not being locked into reservations allows me to take advantage of these tips, but it also means I am often looking for last minute bookings, which can be frustrating as well as expensive. However I do have a few tricks to help with this process, which I’ve detailed below: Continue reading
“On mountaintop. Great view. On a small Caribbean island. Pineapple and wax apple farm. Building in construction. I live with my 3 kids. 3 German Shepherds 1 Dobermann, in the unfinished building. This is a child friendly environment. St.Vincent is a lovely island, non touristic. I can offer food and lodging for your help. I appreciate your assistance. Please come and help out with farming, construction, creating greenhouse, landscaping, plumbing, carpentry, organic planting, house stay, restoring antiques, handyman, domestic work, kids homework, kids activities, decoration, home reorganization….We speak Flemish, English, French, Dutch, but all nationalities are welcome to apply.”
The above is just one of hundreds of listings found on HelpX.net (short for HelpExchange), a website that connects host organic farms, non-organic farms, farmstays, homestays, ranches, lodges, B&Bs, backpackers hostels and even sailing boats with volunteers who exchange short-term work for food and accommodations. This particular listing is for a property located on the island of St. Vincent in the Caribbean, and the family has already hosted numerous volunteers, some of whom have posted reviews of their experience. Kurt wrote:
“I loved the saltfish and bread fruit. Accommodation is very nice, your own room and bathroom. There is plenty of work, maintenance of the pineapple fields and landscaping around the house and odd jobs. Trips to town are often and you will get to mingle with the locals. When taking the local bus…hold on it is a ride.” Continue reading
A live webcast of the dissection of the largest colossal squid ever caught is scheduled for April 30th at the Te Papa Museum of New Zealand. Weighing nearly 1000 pounds and measuring the length of a school bus, the behemoth was caught in Antarctic waters in February of 2007 by a fishing vessel trolling for toothfish with long lines – single lines with many baited hooks. When the crew raised the lines they discovered the colossal squid, which was hooked when it tried to eat a toothfish caught on the line. Because Continue reading
It seems a simple thing, crossing a street. But my idea of how to get across a busy street in the U.S., whether on foot or in a vehicle, is significantly different from methods employed to cross streets in other places in the world. For example, take a look at this video showing a busy street in India:
As I traveled around the world I was intrigued by the various means employed to cross a street. On my very first morning in Saigon, Vietnam I spotted a bakery across the street from my hotel. I stood at the curb for 15 minutes, waiting for a break in the monstrous traffic but the vehicles just kept coming. Just as I was about to give up, a local man stepped off the curb, walked out into the midst of the traffic, and slowly crossed the street as the vehicles weaved and darted around him. Eventually, I got up the nerve to try it and stepped out into the stream of traffic. Continue reading