Go Backpacking http://gobackpacking.com Around the World Travel Blog Fri, 30 Jan 2015 03:51:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1 Plotting a Course for Travel in 2015 http://gobackpacking.com/travel-2015/ http://gobackpacking.com/travel-2015/#comments Wed, 28 Jan 2015 13:30:34 +0000 http://gobackpacking.com/?p=26628 Cuba, France, Italy, England and Scotland make the list as Ryan is plotting a course for travel in 2015. But can he make it work with his budget? We'll see.

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Lima Travel GuideDave's 160-page, all-original Lima Travel Guide is now available for Kindle and PDF.

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Visiting Havana

The Revolution Museum

Brazil, check. Peru too. That was 2014 for me, although technically 2015 as well, I suppose, because my Brazil trip carried over into the new year.

Nah, Brazil started in 2014, it stays in 2014.

So, looking ahead to travel in 2015. I read a recent New York Times story about 52 places to go this year.

Maybe one for each week of the year? Yeah, that’s realistic.

Pardon the sarcasm. Maybe it is for some folks but those are the people who represent a part of the world above my station.

I have to pick my spots, and I’m happy to say a couple of the places that interest me, and have for a long time, are on that NYT list.

In fact, they are Nos. 1 and 2. The only change I might make — might — is switching their positions.

Cuba has been No. 1 on my list for a long time, a trip that’s maybe the closest thing to time travel on the planet. I suppose you could argue that North Korea has stood still even longer, but I’ll just leave it off my list for now and enjoy watching The Interview repeatedly.

The history of Cuba fascinates me, everything from Fidel’s rise to power, to the Bay of Pigs, to President Obama making travel a little easier there.

I would enjoy seeing not only the colonial architecture, something I have enjoyed in so many places, but those classic cars will be fun to photograph as well.

Outside of Havana, I don’t know where I will go. I have some ideas, nothing certain.

I’ve thought about the Piñar del Río Province, where those famous cigars are made. A beautiful beach or two comes to mind as well because it is the Caribbean after all. Maybe I’ll go on a hunt to find out which city outside the capital has the best food.

I’ll figure it out at some point.

I know it’s easy to get there from Colombia, my current home.

If I wanted to be spontaneous and leave from Bogotá to Havana on Super Bowl Sunday, I’d pay about $500 on Copa Airlines. That’s about right. I’ve seen it as low as $400 from Medellín to Havana.

Once you get there, I hear it’s easy to get by on a budget. My friend Laz went recently and told me he had no problems finding Cuban pesos when he needed them, which meant cheaper food and drink.

Most of the time, you would use Cuban convertibles, the tourist money, and the places that accept this currency charge more, naturally.

Altogether, I’m probably looking at spending about $1,400 for a one-week trip, give or take $200.

I don’t care about staying in the nicest places when I’m traveling, but I do like treating myself to some good food now and then, which raises costs.

Milan, No. 1 on the NYT list, might be a little more challenging.

I do plan on being in the south of France at some point this summer, which would make it possible. I’ve read the train from Marseille to Milan is about seven hours, which would be covered by my Eurail pass (more on that later).

I worry a little about the cost. The 2015 World Expo runs from May through October and I have a feeling the summer months will be the busiest, a sure sign of high prices.

Perhaps arriving in the early morning, then leaving at night, on an overnight train will suffice. I don’t like toe-touch date lines but I gotta be realistic, I’ll be on a budget.

I’ll be conscious of that if I head to London and Edinburgh as well, the two places that fascinate me the most in the United Kingdom.

I don’t think I have to really explain London. In Edinburgh, I’ll see some pretty Scottish scenery.

Maybe, if I’m lucky, I can sneak in a trip to Barcelona as well, but time is a factor too, not just money, and my goal of the trip will be to learn French, at least enough to have a basic conversation.

Hence the reason my home base will be Paris.

A roundtrip plane ticket from Bogotá to Paris in mid-June costs $1,159, according to prices this month on Kayak.

While I’m there, I’d use a Eurail pass to get around. For a two-month Global pass, it’s about $950, according to the Eurail site.

That fits perfectly with my timeline. That means I could do London and Edinburgh for a long weekend. I could probably do the same with Barcelona.

After researching all costs, two months in Europe, with a home base in Paris, plus travel to Barcelona, Edinburgh and London, can cost up to $6,000, maybe $5,000 if you’re good at budgeting.

Or, if you’re me, maybe less as a friend who has an apartment in Paris has offered to let me stay there, and another friend with a home in the south of France has offered to let me stay at his house as well. That could cut the cost of the average trip by 40 to 60 percent!

That means I might be able to get by spending $3,000 to $4,000, maybe less, but I want to eat well while I’m out there.

If I go to Italy, that changes everything. I’m looking at another $500 for my trip, maybe more.

Therein lies the challenge. But it’s a challenge I’d like to have.

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Photo: Lisa Eldridge

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Lima Travel GuideDave's 160-page, all-original Lima Travel Guide is now available for Kindle and PDF.

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Five Weeks in the Amazon (Review) http://gobackpacking.com/five-weeks-in-the-amazon-review/ http://gobackpacking.com/five-weeks-in-the-amazon-review/#comments Tue, 27 Jan 2015 13:30:00 +0000 http://gobackpacking.com?p=26527&preview_id=26527 In Five Weeks in the Amazon, Sean Michael Hayes travels to Iquitos, Peru to partake in a series of 10 ayahuasca ceremonies with a shaman.

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Lima Travel GuideDave's 160-page, all-original Lima Travel Guide is now available for Kindle and PDF.

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Five Weeks in the Amazon

“Let me tell you about the trip that saved my life.”

I was hooked the moment I read that last line of the Introduction to Sean Michael Hayes’ Five Weeks in the Amazon: A backpacker’s journey: life in the rainforest, Ayahuasca, and a Peruvian shaman’s ancient diet.

In his first book, the former pro-skater from Canada, turned skate coach to the pro’s, details his experience traveling to Iquitos, Peru to partake in a series of 10 ayahuasca ceremonies.

For those not familiar with ayahuasca (aka yagé), it’s an Amazonian brew that includes the Banisteriopsis caapi vine and leaves of Chacruna, or other DMT-containing plant species.

Ayahuasca means “vine of the soul” and it’s been used for centuries by indigenous ethnic groups in the Peruvian Amazon to create a visionary state of mind.

Guided by shamans, those who ingest the drink can expect an altered state of mind for the next four to eight hours. This is often preceded by a physical purging that involves vomiting and diarrhea.

The author’s adventure begins in Lima, a city I’ve gotten to know well. It is against this backdrop that we’re introduced to the his personality, perspectives, philosophies and vices.

Things get more interesting once Hayes hops his flight to Iquitos, a city in the heart of Peru’s northern Amazon that is only accessible via boat or plane. I’ve yet to visit, so his vivid descriptions of the environment interested me in addition to his purpose for traveling there.

Speaking of purpose, he states early on “I want to know what is true, so instead of putting my faith in another man’s ideas of what’s true, I’ll search for the truth inside me.”

Five Weeks in the Amazon is as much about an inner journey as it is an outer one. The strength of the book is the author’s willingness to be share his thoughts and feelings in a raw and honest way.

It always catches me by surprise when someone has the guts to be so open, especially as it relates to mental health. In Hayes’ case it’s his struggles with depression. He also talks candidly about his failed marriage, loneliness and drug use.

At times, these themes weigh heavily on him and us as readers. It’s this openness about his reasons for traveling to the Amazon and partaking in the ayahuasca ceremonies that kept me reading.

Would he discover the meaning of life during one of the ceremonies, as one of my roommates told me he did last year?

He asks some big, philosophical questions of himself about life and his place in the universe. Would ayahuasca be the conduit to equally big answers?

If you’re at all curious about ayahuasca or enjoy thought-provoking travel memoirs, I highly recommend Five Weeks in the Amazon. It’s available for Kindle ($3.99) and in paperback.

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Lima Travel GuideDave's 160-page, all-original Lima Travel Guide is now available for Kindle and PDF.

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The Tripcipe App: A Digital Scrapbook for Travel Planning http://gobackpacking.com/tripcipe-app-review/ http://gobackpacking.com/tripcipe-app-review/#comments Mon, 26 Jan 2015 13:30:00 +0000 http://gobackpacking.com/?p=26639 Tripcipe, a new web and mobile travel planning app, allows you to find, save, and map information for your upcoming trips with ease.

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Lima Travel GuideDave's 160-page, all-original Lima Travel Guide is now available for Kindle and PDF.

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Tripcipe homepage

The start of 2015 brought with it new goals for me including more diligent travel planning, so I was excited to have the opportunity to test out another new web app for travel planning, Tripcipe.

The travel industry is booming in recent years—the US Travel Association reports 133,600 travel industry jobs were added in 2014 alone—and everyone wants a piece of the action.

It seems not a day goes by that we’re not learning of a new product or new technology to make every aspect of travel easier, more affordable, more accessible, and more enjoyable overall.

Travel planning apps are certainly no exception; these days they are cropping up one after another, each one hoping to earn a coveted spot as a must-have tool in travel planning—the Skype of the travel planning world, if you will.

Tripcipe (pronounced like recipe, I imagine) allows you to put all the necessary ingredients for your upcoming trips in one convenient place.

Lodging, sites you want to see, restaurants you’d like to try, where to shop, and anything else you might think of.

My Trips on Tripcipe

Where You Want to Go: Trips

Once you’ve decided where you’re headed on your next adventure, you’re ready to create a trip.

My upcoming travels are taking me to Seattle, New York, and Barcelona, among others, so I created trips for each of these destinations.

Then you’re ready to start planning what to do at each destination. Enter: Clips.

What You Want to Do: Clips

When you first create your account with Tripcipe, you’ll have access to bits of information procured by other travelers called “clips.”

A clip has useful information about a sight or activity—the name, address, the type of clip (Eats, Sleep, Activity, Shopping, or Other), a photo, the source URL, and any notes the user may have added such as prices or hours of operation.

In order to create your own clips, you must install the Tripcipe browser extension, a small green button that sits in the upper right-hand corner of your screen (you’ll be prompted to do this when you create your account).

Creating a clip with Tripcipe

Then, when you’re researching for your upcoming trip and come across something you want to save as a clip, you simply click the green button.

Much of the information needed for the clip will auto-populate—a photo (which you can change if you like, or even upload your own), the URL, and in most instances the address as well—so you just have to fill in the blanks before hitting save, and the clip will appear in your trips on the Tripcipe site.

Clips on Tripcipe Map

When you click on a trip to check it, you’ll see a list on the left-hand side of the screen giving details of each clip along with a beautiful Google map showing the location of each—just hover over one to highlight it on the map.

Explore

Tripcipe makes it simple to search by clip, trip, or site users by typing a keyword into the search bar. Because the site is still in private beta, there aren’t many clips to choose from just yet so most of my clips I created myself.

Another way to explore the site is to view recently created clips; much like a Pinterest feed, you can follow other users and see their most recent clips.

Seattle Map on Tripcipe

My favorite way to explore the site, however, is by using the map feature. You’ll find it under the Explore tab along with recent clips. Just type in where you’re headed and a map will appear showing all clips for that destination.

This might be what I like best about Tripcipe.

Say, for instance, I’m only visiting a place for a day or two. Seeing the attractions I’m interested in laid out on a map allows me to know exactly how far apart they are and whether I’d be able to see them in the same day or a short period.

If I know I’ll be getting around mostly on foot, I can look for attractions that are all close together geographically. I also used the map to compare locations of several different accommodation options to see which I liked best.

Tripcipe Mobile App for iPhone

The Mobile App

For iPhone users, Tripcipe’s free mobile app allows you to take your trips with you to refer to on the road (the Android app is still in development at time of review).

Edit your clips and access the source URL just as you would on your computer and filter by type of clips you want to view. The latter is a good option if you have many clips and your map appears cluttered.

While the app requires a Wi-Fi connection or data plan as of today, the ability to access content offline will be coming out in the next few weeks.

Users will then be able to access all of their information and maps whether or not they have Wi-Fi access or a data plan.

What Works

Using Tripcipe is like creating a digital scrapbook (sounds a lot like Pinterest again). I like that it allows me to put everything in one convenient place to refer back to, and I like how easy it is to create clips to save for later using the browser plugin.

The site layout is very clean and intuitive to navigate; the layout is quite similar to Pinterest in this regard as well.

Perhaps my favorite part is the visual aspect of it; the photos attached to each clip give me a good sense of what the activity, restaurant or accommodation is like, and being able to see the exact location on a map is very handy.

The mobile app is a great idea—having information like addresses and hours of operation on the road would be very helpful. Once the new release allows for trips and clips to be accessed offline, I would be inclined to use the iPhone app regularly.

Room For Improvement

Most current users are not adding notes to their clip, so it’s impossible to know whether they recommend the sight or activity or whether the simply thought it looked interesting and plan to research it further.

For me, this makes others’ clips far less useful and leaves much of the researching up to me. I found myself spending little time on the Tripcipe site itself and lots of time on Google and TripAdvisor.

Allowing users to check sites and attractions (either directly on the clip or by linking to TripAdvisor or other review sites) would make clips much more useful.

Conclusion

For seeing and comparing locations of attractions, Tripcipe is a great tool. However, with so many similarities to Pinterest (which has 70 million active users as of January 2015) I can’t quite make a case for using it as my go-to travel planning app.

Tripcipe’s map feature definitely outshines that of Pinterest (I’ve always found the maps on Pinterest so unwieldy) but until Tripcipe catches up in terms of useful descriptions and links to useful travel info (like the travel blog articles and reviews being added to Pinterest every single day), I’d probably be more inclined to create a pin than a clip and a board than a trip.

Ready to give Tripcipe a try? Sign up for a free account here and let us know what you think in the comments below.

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This review was brought to you in partnership with Tripcipe. As always, the author’s opinion is her own.

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Lima Travel GuideDave's 160-page, all-original Lima Travel Guide is now available for Kindle and PDF.

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Tremiti Islands: Italian Pearls of the Adriatic Sea http://gobackpacking.com/tremiti-islands/ http://gobackpacking.com/tremiti-islands/#comments Tue, 20 Jan 2015 13:30:00 +0000 http://gobackpacking.com?p=26290&preview_id=26290 Known as the Pearls of the Adriatic, the Tremiti Islands are Italy's only islands in the Adriatic Sea and as such have become popular with vacationers.

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Lima Travel GuideDave's 160-page, all-original Lima Travel Guide is now available for Kindle and PDF.

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San Nicola Island

San Nicola Island

Turquoise green waters greeted our morning ferry as we approached San Nicola, the most populated of the five Tremiti Islands, all of which belong to southern Italy’s Gargano National Park.

Known as the Pearls of the Adriatic, they are Italy’s only islands in this sea and as such have become a popular destination for vacationing Italians.

The lack of automobiles and the ability to cross San Domino, the largest island, on foot in a matter of 20 minutes only add to their charm.

The imposing structure towering above us in the harbor was the Abbey of Santa Maria a Mare (“Holy Mary on the Sea”).

Originally a fortress built by Charles of the Anjevin in the 7th century, the structure had been converted into a monastery in the 9th century by Benedictine monks. Evidence of inhabitants dates as far back as 2,000 BC.

Grotto

Approaching a grotto

Boat Tour of San Domino Island

Before walking the monastery grounds, we boarded another, smaller boat for a tour of San Domino Island, the largest of the Tremiti Islands and host to all the archipelago’s hotels.

I took a seat in the rear right of the boat, which turned out to be a mistake as we circled the island in a counterclockwise fashion, thus exposing the right side of the boat to incoming waves.

The sea spray didn’t last long as we were soon circling around to the calmer, protected waters of the island’s western side. We even entered a grotto similar to the one’s we entered on our boat tour the day before.

All along the coast, there was evidence of vacationers: sunbathers on lounge chairs set up on rocky outcroppings, cliff divers, rope ladders hanging down into the water providing access for swimmers and sea kayakers.

The second half of the tour involved another counterclockwise circle, this time around San Nicola Island, offering views of the cliff side monastery and goats clinging to impossibly narrow ledges.

At the end of the tour, there was an opportunity to go swimming and snorkeling off the boat, which didn’t seem appealing to me given the lack of space to disrobe and later dry off.

A dozen people per boat were taking part while the others watched and waited.

L'Architiello

L’Architiello restaurant

San Nicola Island

Back on San Nicola, it was lunchtime. Our group took a table in the corner of L’Architiello, which offered stunning views of the surrounding waters.

Red and white table wines were brought out, as we’d become so accustomed to during our week in Gargano.

Every morning I’d say to myself I’m going to skip wine at lunch today and every lunch I’d be unable to resist the casualness of which wine was being consumed. It’s a habit best left for European vacations.

The first dishes presented, family style, were tomato bruschetta and bruschetta with tuna and capers.

Pasta with clams

Pasta with clams

Next, it was pasta with clams. Normally I’m not a big fan of shellfish, but being presented with a plate full of fresh clams, I decided to give ‘em a go and found they were tastier than expected.

There’s something about the ritual of plucking the tender meat from the shell that makes eating them fun. And they’re not as messy as crab or lobster.

Plates of little fried fish, shrimp, scallops and calamari soon followed. I was already feeling too full to indulge in any more food, but gave each option a squeeze of lemon and a taste.

Dessert was plates of juicy plums and grapes.

Tremiti Islands

Tremiti Islands

The Abbey of Santa Maria a Mare

After lunch we posed for some photos by the water and walked up the cactus-lined stone path to the monastery. The sun was beating down and there was little shade to escape it.

San Nicola Island is the administrative center of the Tremiti Islands, on account of it being the only one home to permanent residents (approx 500).

The view of the water from atop the 75-meter hill was even more spectacular.

Entrance to the Abbey of Santa Maria a Mare

Entrance to the Abbey of Santa Maria a Mare 

A hundred or so meters from the view of the harbor was the entrance to the monastery, which again, had all the outward appearances of its original function as a fortress.

Inside, there was a church, the facade of which was undergoing renovations, and several spacious courtyards lined with covered arcades.

Chocolate and mint gelato

Chocolate and mint gelato 

Between exposure to the sun and our lack of time before the return ferry, I had barely enough time to stop for a chocolate and mint gelato on the way back to the harbor.

I’d devoured an incredible chocolate gelato with Nutella during our visit to Peschici, however mint gelato had until then eluded us. It was worth the wait.

Boarding the Picasso ferry in Vieste's harbor

Boarding the Picasso ferry in Vieste’s harbor 

On our way back, the buildings of Peschici reflected the day’s remaining sunlight off their white facades, kitesurfers could be seen zigzagging across the coastal waters and by the time we arrived back in Vieste, the harbor was aglow in the warmth of our last sunset in Gargano.

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My trip to Gargano, Italy was in partnership with Gargano OK.

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Lima Travel GuideDave's 160-page, all-original Lima Travel Guide is now available for Kindle and PDF.

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Air Travel Tips: From Start to Finish http://gobackpacking.com/air-travel/ http://gobackpacking.com/air-travel/#comments Mon, 19 Jan 2015 13:30:00 +0000 http://gobackpacking.com?p=26544&preview_id=26544 Whether you are planning a yearly vacation or deciding on your next location on a worldwide backpacking trip, air travel may be your best or only option.

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Lima Travel GuideDave's 160-page, all-original Lima Travel Guide is now available for Kindle and PDF.

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Silver Airways

Whether you are planning a yearly vacation or deciding on your next place on a worldwide backpacking trip, air travel may be your best or only option.

While it is much quicker than a journey by land or sea, ensuring that your flight goes as smooth as possible helps to set a relaxing tone for arrival at destination, as there tends to be many more problems or challenges that can arise versus traveling by bus or train.

Step 1: Booking Your flight

Not all the passengers on the same flight pay the same price. To put yourself on the lower end of the price curve, consider some helpful tips when booking flights and know which sites can offer you the best deals.

A recently published report (PDF) by Expedia, Inc. analyzes data powered by the Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC), which uses data from other industry sources to evaluate data and report on trends for the year 2015.

Overall conclusions stated that:

  1. Buying flights two months in advance for domestic and six months in advance for international gives you the best chance of finding the cheapest flight
  2. Tuesday is the best day of the week to buy air tickets
  3. The gap between premium and economy seat pricing is decreasing
  4. For various reasons there should be price drops on most North American and European destinations in 2015

Also important to consider is which search engine to use. There is no “best” one for all searches. Sometimes one may return less expensive flights for one search compared to another site and the next time perhaps it will be more expensive for a different journey.

The best advice would be to use various search engines over the period of a week or two to find the best results.

Depending on your travel plans there are also various search tools at your disposal, such as selecting “entire month” or “any destination” to find the lowest prices.

Here are some of the most popular search engines:

Ever notice how after a while you receive pop-ups or social media advertisements for the destination you have searched?

Sometimes websites will track your search history and raise prices for the next time you search for the same journey. To stop this either browse in private mode or delete cookies.

Also consider these factors when booking your flight:

  • How many bags are free to check and how heavy can they be?
  • If you plan to just bring a carry-on cabin bag does everything need to fit into one bag? Are you also allowed a purse/laptop bag? What is the weight and size limit?
  • Which airports will you be departing from and arriving to? How far are they from your current location/destination
  • Will it add a lot to the cost of the overall journey for a train/metro/bus/taxi?
  • Do you need a visa to enter the country?

Backpack

Step 2: Packing for Your Flight

Prepare by writing down all the items you absolutely need for your trip. What kind of activities will you be doing?

If you planning to backpack for an extended amount of time and don’t know exactly what to pack consider researching packing lists of past travelers.

Also consider these factors when packing for your flight:

Again, check the weight and size requirements of your carry-on and checked baggage to make sure you won’t incur extra fees.

Ensure that your carry-on luggage doesn’t have any prohibited items or liquid volumes over the limit.

Will it be an overnight flight? Do you have in your carry-on all necessary items for overnight such as contact lens case, face wash, toothbrush, lotions, change of clothes, etc.?

Also consider that if you are checking a bag there is always a chance it could be delayed or lost. For this reason always bring what you absolutely need such as chargers, and toiletries as well as enough clothes to last you a day or two in your carry-on.

Flight path

Step 3: Taking Your Flight

Time spent waiting for flights to board can seem to go on forever. While airlines recommend you arrive at least two hours ahead for your flights, many times you end up getting through check-in and security in less than a half hour.

Despite the usually quick process, there are times where it does take at least if not longer than the recommended time and therefore arriving at the airport with plenty of time for unforeseen circumstances is your best bet for a stress-free journey.

Many airports have optimized to cater to the passenger. There are restaurants, shops, massages, charging points, etc. inside the terminals.

Unfortunately, the prices are typically higher inside the terminal so packing for some wait-time will help to cut costs of the trip.

Always pack a few snacks that you can have if you get hungry. As well, a reusable water bottle is a great travel companion that you can refill at fountains once you have passed security.

If you plan on using your laptop or tablet see if there is a free WiFi connection at the airport. If not, consider loading some movies, music or books into your devices to keep you occupied. Is there a chance you have to sleep at the airport?

Recently, the Telegraph released an article featuring Airports of the Future. Perhaps one of these will be part of your journey in a few years.

What happens if your flight is delayed or even cancelled? According to a recent study, about “20% of flights were delayed worldwide in 2013“.

If your flight is delayed and you have a connection at the other end try to speak to an airline representative as soon as possible.

The staff at your connection location are probably already working hard to make sure you won’t either miss your originally scheduled connecting departure or you have a new flight that will get you to your final destination as soon as possible.

If you are not able to speak to representative in person, call the airline yourself. In the case your flight is cancelled, there will probably be a rush of people heading to the customer service desk.

To avoid the long lines, call the airline right away once you learn there has been a cancellation instead of waiting in line with potentially hundreds of other angry passengers.

Also consider that many times you are due compensation for a delayed or cancelled flight. Consider consulting Flightright to see if you are owed a compensation quickly and easily.

Step 4: Arrival at Destination

Once you land after however many hours in one seat, getting to your destination may be the only thing on your mind.

However, depending on your arrival location, size of airport and final destination, being able to finally say “I made it” may be still a ways off.

Once you leave the plane there is little to do besides following the rest of your fellow passengers through immigration and customs and to the baggage claim.

At this point all that’s left is to relax and enjoy the start of your travels!

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This post was written by Christine Tucker and brought to you by flightright. Photos: David Lee

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Lima Travel GuideDave's 160-page, all-original Lima Travel Guide is now available for Kindle and PDF.

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Inside the White House Summit on Study Abroad and Global Citizenship http://gobackpacking.com/summit-study-abroad/ http://gobackpacking.com/summit-study-abroad/#comments Thu, 15 Jan 2015 13:30:17 +0000 http://gobackpacking.com?p=26409&preview_id=26409 On December 9, 2014, The White House hosted 100 influential travel bloggers for a summit on study abroad and global citizenship.

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Lima Travel GuideDave's 160-page, all-original Lima Travel Guide is now available for Kindle and PDF.

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White House badge

White House badge

It’s been a little over a month since The White House hosted 100 of the most influential travel bloggers and digital media outlets in Washington, DC to discuss the importance of study abroad and global citizenship.

The experience was a whirlwind of networking, listening and discussions while also eating, drinking and trying to keep my suit and shoes clean despite the winter rain.

Why would the White House host a bunch of bloggers when there are dictators, wars and the threat of ISIS to manage? It’s a fair question, and having taken the time to attend, I can say it’s because they are thinking long-term.

Study, volunteer and work abroad programs often act as an introduction to traveling and living abroad for many young people. They’re the gateway drugs of the travel world.

But before we get into the summit itself, which was filled with high level officials and famous travel personalities, I want to rewind so I can take you through the full experience.

After all, it’s not every day one gets invited to a summit at The White House.

Working at Starbucks

Pre-summit workout

Arriving in Washington, DC

I departed Medellín, Colombia on Sunday, December 7, 2014 for Reagan National Airport, which I chose over Dulles for its close proximity to the city. Flying past the waterfront of Alexandria, Virginia, where I use to work, brought back a lot of memories from my pre-blogger life.

I quickly got a taxi for the short ride to Hostelling International’s Washington, DC hostel, where I had a dorm bed waiting for me.

The hostel is located a ten minute walk from The White House and recently underwent renovations. What I cared about most was the ability to get a warm and quiet night’s sleep after spending the prior 12 hours in transit.

The following day was a buffer I built in should there have been a flight delay. I spent my time working at the hostel and a nearby Starbucks.

I also stopped in the city’s Tesla Motors shop, conveniently located across the street from the hostel. The young salesman gave me a full rundown of this incredibly beautiful and efficient electric car we all hope will save us from global warming.

While we were both sitting inside, he asked me about my line of work, to which I said “travel blogger.” He responded that to travel for a living would be a dream. I couldn’t agree more.

Travel Massive Meetup

That evening, many of the bloggers in town for the summit attended a Travel Massive event at Poste.

I finally had the chance to meet Australia’s Caz and Craig, who I’ve known since 2010 and met one of my favorite travel writers, Rolf Potts, who wrote the book on Vagabonding.

And I saw old friends like Marilyn Terrell of National Geographic Traveler and Michael Yessis of World Hum.

Adventurous Kate

The one and only Adventurous Kate

Breakfast at the W Hotel

The next morning, I was up bright and early. I put on my new Colombian suit and recruited Nathaniel Boyle, one of my bunkmates along with Matthew Karsten and Lillie Marshall, to help me tie a windsor knot.

The weather was cold and wet, so we shared a taxi to the W Hotel for breakfast on the roof, which turned out to be a nice way to warm-up for what was to be a long and fast-moving day.

I ran into more friends including Stefanie Michaels who hosted me on my first visit to Los Angeles and new acquaintances like Paula Froelich of Yahoo Travel.

Here, we also received an official welcome from the fashionable Fran Holuba, summit organizer and the youngest member of the National Security Council.

The White House

The White House as seen from the East Wing

White House Tour

Our next stop was a White House tour of the East Wing decorated for the holidays. Thankfully, enough people had umbrellas to make up for those of us who forgot to bring or buy one (guilty as charged).

As you might expect, one can’t simply walk into the home of The President, therefore we had to navigate multiple security checks by Secret Service before reaching our main objective.

Dave inside the East Wing

Inside the East Wing

The tours are self-guided, with each room staffed by a member of the Secret Service who is also available to share historical info and take questions.

There were 14 decorated Christmas trees and while we were informed cameras were not allowed, apparently that’s not the rule around the holidays as there was a sign with a White House hashtag encouraging visitors to share photos.

Netanya Trimboli of Hostelling International

Netanya Trimboli of Hostelling International

Lunch at the National Press Club

Once the walk through had been completed, it was time for lunch at the National Press Club a few blocks away.

Lunch was even quicker than breakfast, though there was enough time for Hostelling International to introduce their Give Back, Stay Free initiative for January and February 2015.

“Qualifying groups of 10 or more people are eligible to receive one free night’s stay (up to five nights) at an HI USA hostel for each day its members spend volunteering at least two hours in the surrounding community.

The Summit

A little after 1 p.m., we walked from the Press Club to the Old Executive Office Building, where I spent a summer in the early 90s opening mail for President Clinton.

The agenda for the afternoon, the reason we were in Washington, was impressive. Fran highlighted the fact that it’s not often so many high level officials participate in an event like ours.

The video above features the first three speakers (in this order):

  • Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications and Speechwriting
  • Denis McDonough, Chief of Staff, White House
  • Evan Ryan, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs

Listening to Ben Rhodes again reminds me of how well each of the speakers articulated the government’s position while at the same time infusing anecdotes from their own lives and travels into their comments.

Study abroad 2012/13

Where students go to study abroad (2012/13)

Two questions he posed to us start the summit were:

How do we get more Americans engaged overseas?

How do we make sure we’re looking at the whole world, including emerging destinations in addition to traditional countries? (The UK, Spain and Italy account for 32 percent of study abroad experiences.)

Additional government speakers included:

  • Secretary Penny Pritzker, Secretary of Commerce
  • Tina Tchen, Chief of Staff to the First Lady
  • Carrie Hessler-Radelet, Director of the Peace Corps
  • Jonathan Greenblatt, Director of the Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation

Most of the remarks were prepared and highlighted the government’s case for promoting study abroad more aggressively.

Namely, it gives American students a competitive advantage in the workplace after they graduate and better positions the United States as a leader in global commerce.

And it’s fun. While I didn’t study abroad during my four years at Colgate University, I did try to make up for it by spending the summer after graduation traveling through Europe.

It was my first experience spending a significant amount of time outside my home country and gave me the space to see the United States, our culture and our politics from a European perspective.

White House

View of the West Wing of the White House from Old Exec Office Building

In between key government speakers were three panel discussions, which allowed for Q&A from the audience.

  • Panel #1:  Studying, Volunteering, and Working Abroad as a Civic and Economic Imperative
  • Panel #2:  Pushing Greater Diversity of Travelers, Destinations, and Fields
  • Panel #3:  Cultural Exploration

These discussions highlighted some important challenges to increasing the numbers of students studying abroad, specifically the problems posed by income inequality and the disproportionate number of white Americans studying abroad versus minorities.

There are no easy answers to these questions, nor was the Summit meant to solve such deeply rooted problems in U.S. society, at least not overnight.

The Summit was meant to spark a conversation, a conversation I’m happy to be a part of if it helps inspire more college students to study abroad and more Americans to consider the option of working or volunteering in foreign countries.

Departing the Old Executive Office Building, we found ourselves facing the West Wing, which was a cool moment I took the time to capture with a photo.

Group shot at Newseum

Group shot at Newseum

Reception at the Newseum

The evening’s reception and dinner were held at the Newseum, a museum dedicated to journalism, and sponsored by Turkish Airlines.

It gave us all a chance to continue getting to know one another, take some photos, and at this point, enjoy a drink or two and the food of Wolfgang Puck Catering.

Fran spoke again during dinner, as did a representative from Turkish Airlines. It was a wonderfully put together event and I only wish I had more time to walk through the Newseum’s exhibits.

All smiles with Travel Channel's Samantha Brown

All smiles with Travel Channel’s Samantha Brown

Study Abroad Mosaic

Have you studied abroad? Know someone who has? Why should students study abroad? Chime in and let your voice be heard. Click the ADD ME button to add yourself to the #StudyAbroadBecause mosaic.
Patent pending, Hyperactivate

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I received a complimentary stay at the HI Washington, DC. 

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Lima Travel GuideDave's 160-page, all-original Lima Travel Guide is now available for Kindle and PDF.

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Exploring London’s Hidden Food Markets http://gobackpacking.com/london-food-markets/ http://gobackpacking.com/london-food-markets/#comments Tue, 13 Jan 2015 18:43:19 +0000 http://gobackpacking.com?p=26490&preview_id=26490 This story highlights three of London's hidden food markets, including Ropewalk at Maltby Street Market, Brixton Village Market and KERB.

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Lima Travel GuideDave's 160-page, all-original Lima Travel Guide is now available for Kindle and PDF.

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Ropewalk

Ropewalk

It’s easy to see why London is so popular with backpackers and foodies.

With a rich variety street food stalls cropping up in every corner, visitors to the city are spoilt for choice.

Discerning travellers who want to go local should check out the city’s quieter food markets. Save a small fortune on holiday and experience London’s food markets while avoiding all the tourists.

Maltby Street Market: Ropewalk

Business hours: Saturday 9am-4pm, Sunday 11am-4pm

Most new backpackers arriving in London won’t know anything about Ropewalk at Maltby Street Market.

Discreetly hidden in the back streets of South East London, the local food market trades underneath a railway arch in Bermondsey. Situated only a short walk from the nearby Jubilee Line and close to London’s most popular hostels.

The Ropewalk’s street food displays will do wonders for your Instagram collection. Perfect for backpackers wanting to eat posh food without going over budget, Ropewalk serve everything from homemade ginger beer to oysters to Argentinian steak burgers.

Maltby Street Market is a refreshingly quiet food destination and unlike many of its mainstream rivals it’s not overwhelmed by tourists.

Brixton Village Market

Brixton Village Market

Brixton Village Market

Business hours: 8am – 11.30pm daily, except Monday, when they close at 6pm

Brixton Village Market is an increasingly popular destination for backpackers looking for a hungry fix in South London.

Serving freshly cooked meals with a distinctive Caribbean flavour, the street food market is bustling with Afro-Caribbean street stalls.

If you’re looking for a spicy hot lunch simmering with fresh organic flavours, then jump on the Victoria Line and go to Brixton.

Offering travellers a charming and budget place to eat out in London. The former Victorian arcade is home to over 20 cafes, restaurants and street stalls.

Opening late on Thursday and Friday nights, the market has live music and serves a global range of international cuisine in a warm, friendly atmosphere.

KERB

KERB

KERB and Street Feast

Business hours: 12pm-2pm, daily

Perfect for backpackers staying close to Kings Cross Station, the newly established KERB is a super trendy food market.

Serving locals and visitors freshly prepared street food, it’s a brilliant place to grab a bite to eat.

While KERB is a daytime affair, all good Londoners know that its sister brand Street Feast is the best place for late night eating.

Offering hungry travellers an evolving cast of mobile food traders, you can eat gorgeous pizzas, Korean American burgers and paella dishes for under $10.

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This post was brought to you by Hostelsclub.

Photos: Ropewalk – David Goymer, Brixton – Visit London

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Lima Travel GuideDave's 160-page, all-original Lima Travel Guide is now available for Kindle and PDF.

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4 Top Spots to Discover Before the Crowds Arrive http://gobackpacking.com/4-top-spots/ http://gobackpacking.com/4-top-spots/#comments Mon, 12 Jan 2015 13:00:00 +0000 http://gobackpacking.com?p=26483&preview_id=26483 If you’re keen to travel to a new nation in the coming year, read on for some of the top spots to consider, including Myanmar and Rwanda.

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Lima Travel GuideDave's 160-page, all-original Lima Travel Guide is now available for Kindle and PDF.

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Shwezigon pagoda, Bagan

Shwezigon pagoda, Bagan

If you’ve already visited a lot of the major tourist destinations across the globe, perhaps it’s time to consider thinking outside the box.

There are many countries around the world that were once regarded as too dangerous for travelers, or that have not had much tourist infrastructure in place, that are just starting to come into their own.

Whether you’re looking for picturesque scenery to admire, animal sightings to tick off your bucket list, or architecture and cultures to examine, there are plenty of unexplored destinations that you can visit now, before the masses descend on them.

If you’re keen to travel to a new nation in the coming year, read on for some of the top spots to consider.

1. Myanmar (Burma)

A fast-emerging destination that is sure to draw big crowds soon enough, Myanmar is finally back on track to lure tourists.

The country spent years oppressed by a brutal regime, and there was a tourism boycott in place for 15 years.

However, a few years ago, when pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi was released from house arrest, the boycott was lifted and the country previously known as Burma moved from a military to a democratic government.

Tourism numbers have been on the up and up since, with around a million visitors heading to the country last year, and seven million international tourists forecast to visit in 2020.

This beautiful, and culturally rich, nation is fast becoming one of the most exciting spots to visit in Asia. It provides an enticing mix of stunning scenery, fascinating temples, and cultural experiences for travelers to enjoy.

Due to many years of oppressive authoritarian rule, the country feels like it was stuck in a time warp.

Visitors can take in the slow pace of Yangon, and glittering golden stupas, as they explore this part of the world that feels like the Asia of old.

Volcano on Ometepe Island

Volcano on Ometepe Island

2. Nicaragua

When many travelers think about the largest country in Central America, they picture the violence of the 1980s Contra Wars that tore the country apart.

However, Nicaragua is no longer a dangerous place to visit as it once was. This very picturesque nation today has the feel of Costa Rica from three decades ago, and is the perfect place to travel on a budget.

Although Nicaragua is one of the poorest countries in the Americas, the nation actually boasts decent infrastructure, with well-maintained highways, easy Internet access and a good range of accommodation and restaurant options.

Journey to this “Land of Poets” to explore natural beauty that will take your breath away.

Check out cloud-forest covered volcanoes, tropical rainforests, cobblestone streets, palm-tree covered islands, and rows of colonial relics.

Note that, while Nicaragua has a couple of international airports, it is generally more affordable to fly into nearby Costa Rica and then head north by bus.

Mountain Gorillas

Mountain Gorillas (photo: David Lee)

3. Rwanda

Many travelers book tickets to Rwanda in order to set out on an epic wildness adventure — that of tracking the awe-inspiring gorilla.

The “Land of a Thousand Hills” is home to one-third of the remaining mountain gorillas in the world, as well as the same percentage of Africa’s bird species.

Due to the 1994 genocide, as well as reports of ongoing rebel activity in the regions of Rwanda that border the Democratic Republic of Congo, many tourists have been staying away from this beautiful part of Africa.

However, this nation is a land of vast beauty, epic wildlife watching, volcanoes, islands, tea plantations, and a fascinating culture.

The country’s government is investing heavily in tourism and infrastructure, and expects visitor numbers to grow rapidly.

Indeed, total revenue collected from the tourism sector in 2013 was $293 million, but this number is expected to reach $860 million by just 2017.

Glogosnica

Glogosnica near Jablanica with in the background the mountain Prenj, Bosnia and Herzegovina (photo: Michal Sleczek)

4. Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina was devastated by the brutal civil war of the 1990s, but this remarkably undiscovered region of Europe has since made great progress in restoring peace and stability.

If you loved visiting Croatia but found the crowds too much, especially in summer, make sure you put Bosnia and Herzegovina on your list for your next holiday.

This European treasure is also full of amazing scenery, fascinating history, and an interesting mix of people, but the country has not yet seen the same influx of tourists.

Visit Sarajevo to celebrate the city’s revival from the war; hike through the rugged wilderness of Sutjeska National Park; and turn back the clock when you enter the Herzegovina region in the south.

Skiers can also enjoy excellent snow during the winter months in this part of the world.

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This post was brought to you by Flights.com. Photos: Bagan – Stefan Munder, Ometepe/Gorillas – David Lee, Glogosnica – Michel Sleczek

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Lima Travel GuideDave's 160-page, all-original Lima Travel Guide is now available for Kindle and PDF.

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The Most Popular Posts of 2014 http://gobackpacking.com/most-popular-posts-2014/ http://gobackpacking.com/most-popular-posts-2014/#comments Wed, 31 Dec 2014 13:00:00 +0000 http://gobackpacking.com?p=26410&preview_id=26410 A list of Go Backpacking's 10 most popular posts published in 2014, plus a bonus list featuring the Editor's picks.

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Lima Travel GuideDave's 160-page, all-original Lima Travel Guide is now available for Kindle and PDF.

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Taking a turn behind the wheel on the Bolivian salt flats

Taking a turn behind the wheel on the Bolivian salt flats

Go Backpacking continued to grow in 2014, surpassing 1 million visits and 2.6 million page views in a single year for the first time.

Below are the most popular posts published this year, in descending order. As you’ll see, guest contributors continue to play an important role in our growth.

The 10 Most Popular Posts Published in 2014

1. 7 Tips on How to Crowdfund Your Travels (Francis Tapon)

2. How to Travel Norway on a Budget (Daniel Schjetne)

3. How to Backpack Cuba on a Budget (Marek Bron)

4. Pick-Pocket Proof Pants by Clothing Arts Review (David Lee)

5. 10 Things You’ll Need to Pack to Get a House for Free While Traveling the World (Michael Wigge)

6. Guatemala Travel Tips (David Lee)

7. How to Experience Japan for Less (Mark Wiens)

8. San Pedro to Uyuni: Booking My Trip to the Bolivian Salt Flats (David Lee)

9. Nicaragua Travel Tips (David Lee)

10. Living and Teaching in Phnom Penh, Cambodia (Adam Halliwell)

Budapest

Budapest as seen from St. Stephen’s Basilica

Editor’s Choice

In addition, I want to highlight the following posts which reflect the wide range of topics and destinations covered on Go Backpacking this year.

BoliviaSalar de Uyuni Salt Flats, Landscape Photo Essay, Cerro Rico and the Silver Mine Tours in Potosí (David Lee)

EthiopiaVisiting the Rock Churches of Lalibela (Mark Wiens)

HungaryTop 10 Things to Do in Budapest (David Lee)

IranVisiting Persepolis, Simin Dasht and the Caspian Sea (Adam Halliwell)

Latin AmericaTop 10 Destinations for 2015 (David Lee)

JapanRyogoku: Tokyo’s Sumo Town (Mark Wiens)

MyanmarWhat Not to Worry About When Planning Your Trip (Marek Bron)

The United StatesThe Shrimp Trucks on Oahu’s North Shore (Mark Wiens)

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Lima Travel GuideDave's 160-page, all-original Lima Travel Guide is now available for Kindle and PDF.

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My Travel Year in Review (2014) http://gobackpacking.com/travel-year-in-review-2014/ http://gobackpacking.com/travel-year-in-review-2014/#comments Tue, 30 Dec 2014 21:00:00 +0000 http://gobackpacking.com?p=26411&preview_id=26411 Dave recounts his travel adventures of 2014, including trips to Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Colombia, New York, Italy and Mexico.

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Lima Travel GuideDave's 160-page, all-original Lima Travel Guide is now available for Kindle and PDF.

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View of a volcano and Lake Atitlan from La Iguana Perdida

Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

We’ve got less than 36 hours left in 2014, and I’m only now catching my breath after a whirlwind finish to the year.

First and foremost, I want to thank everyone who lands on Go Backpacking and takes the time to read one or more of the stories published here.

We hope they inform and inspire you to get out and see the world, whether it’s exploring your own country or traveling abroad.

This year alone, we topped 1 million visits and 2.6 million page views!

I’m grateful to everyone who contributed this year, especially Mark Wiens, who after 164 stories and three years with Go Backpacking, ceased writing for us in order to focus on building his own blog at Migrationology.

Semuc Champey

Semuc Champey

Guatemala

After a relatively light travel year in 2013, I decided to kick off 2014 with a 6-week trip through Central America.

I began with Guatemala, which I’d visited briefly from Belize in 2006 to see the ruins at Tikal.

I spent two weeks walking the cobblestone streets of Antigua, admiring the views around Lake Atitlan, swimming in scenic Semuc Champey, soaking up the Caribbean vibe in Livingston and checking out the Maya world’s largest stone stelaes at Quirigua.

West End, Roatan

West End, Roatan

Honduras and El Salvador

I traveled overland from Livingston, Guatemala to Copan, Honduras, which required various modes of transport, including boat, bus and taxi.

It was tiring, and while the Copan ruins are nicely maintained, they weren’t as impressive as Tikal or the ones I’d seen in Mexico the year before.

From Copan, I made another full day’s journey overland to San Salvador, capital of El Salvador.

Exhausted from too many slow, uncomfortable chicken buses, I decided to limit my time in El Salvador to just two nights (long enough to visit the country’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site) and fly to Roatan, Honduras.

Most backpackers go to the smaller island of Utila for cheap partying and diving, but if I wanted to fly, Roatan would have to be my destination. It was overcast and rainy the whole week of my visit, save for one beautiful day of sunshine.

Volcanoboarding

Volcanoboarding

Nicaragua

Not keen to fly into the Honduran capital’s airport, considered one of the most dangerous in the world, I paid a premium to fly to Managua, capital of Nicaragua, instead.

By nightfall, I’d left the capital for Leon, where I checked the ludicrous sport of volcanoboarding off my bucket list.

I also visited Granada, found a slice of paradise at Laguna Apoyo, watched the start of an adventure race on Ometepe and chilled out in San Juan del Sur.

Colorful Cartagena

Colorful Cartagena

Medellín and Cartagena, Colombia

From Managua, I flew back to Medellín where I spent the next six months focusing on work, including: the Lima Travel Guide, Travel Blog Success and Medellín Living.

Medellín Living organized and hosted 17 events in 2014, bringing together hundreds of readers.

Highlights included our sell-out Thanksgiving dinner at Humo, our first charity fundraiser (we raised $1,650 for Mahavir Kmina, a local organization providing free prosthetic legs to Colombians) and the December 16th launch of the Medellín Guide, my first iPhone app.

But it wasn’t all work and no play. Watching the World Cup in Medellín was an absolute blast. I cheered on the USA and celebrated the Colombian wins too.

For Memorial Day weekend, my brother and best friend and his girlfriend flew down to Cartagena from New York City. Together, we rented a spacious apartment with rooftop deck in the heart of the Old City (thank you Airbnb).

It was my fourth time in Cartagena, yet it was the first time I slept within the Old City, visited Playa Blanca (a beach) and took a dip in the infamous mud volcano.

Eleven Madison Park

Me (far left), my brother (red shirt) and our friends Kai (center left) and Brent

Florida and New York City

In mid-August, I left Colombia to visit family, first in Florida and then New York.

Despite living out of a carry-on size backpack and sleeping on my brother’s sofa, I managed to assemble a suit and shoes appropriate for a 14-course dinner with wine pairing at NYC’s Eleven Madison Park, which was rated the #1 restaurant in North America this year.

It was also my first time at a 3-star Michelin restaurant. And given those accolades, you shouldn’t be surprised to hear it was far and away the most expensive meal I’ve ever eaten (a record I don’t expect to be broken any time soon).

The whitewashed city of Peschici

The whitewashed city of Peschici

Gargano, Italy

An invitation to visit and learn more about Gargano in southeastern Italy led me back to one of my favorite countries in Europe for a week in early September.

We visited the UNESCO-listed Sanctuary of Monte Sant’Angelo, wandered the back streets of Vico del Gargano, ate gelato in Peschici, took an adventurous boat ride through grottos and visited the Tremiti Islands.

Throughout the week, we were fed a never-ending supply of Italian food and wine. It was glorious!

Pool at Moon Palace Resort

Pool at Moon Palace Resort

Cancun and Playa del Carmen, Mexico

From Gargano it was a long, two-day journey to reach Cancun for the North American Travel Blog Exchange (TBEX) conference.

In the past, I’ve attended as a blogger, but this year I attended in three distinct roles:

  • Media partner (Travel Blog Success)
  • Speaker (blogging in Latin America panel)
  • Blogger

The conference was held at an all-inclusive resort for the first time, and as I was speaking, I was able to stay there at no cost.

It made life a lot easier. In the future, I’m going to be more open to spending money on accommodation when attending business conferences (even if they aren’t on the beach with an enormous pool complex).

Cactus milk with retama petals at Central

Cactus milk with retama petals at Central

Lima, Peru

After TBEX and a week of doing nothing in Playa del Carmen, I returned to Medellín from mid-September to mid-November to continue working on the Medellín Guide iPhone app.

I had initially planned to return to Lima in 2013, after spending six months there in 2011-12, but that trip never materialized, so I made it happen in November. I spent 10 days on a foodie mission to try some of the best restaurants in Lima.

The highlight was Central, which was ranked the #1 restaurant in Latin America this year, thus surpassing Astrid & Gastón.

It was half the cost of Eleven Madison Park (though I skipped the wine pairing this time), the lighting at lunch was perfect for photos and I felt as though the 17-course tasting menu was a step-above EMP in terms of presentation and creativeness.

I had so much fun, I’ve already begun thinking about a return to Peru in early 2015. There’s still a lot of places in the south I’ve yet to see (Huacachina, Nazca, Colca Canyon, Arequipa and Puno).

Me and Samantha Brown

Me and Samantha Brown

Washington, DC

The biggest surprise of the year was an invitation to attend The White House organized Travel Bloggers Summit on Study Abroad and Global Citizenship.

I’ll be writing about the whole experience in January, which included a tour of the East Wing decorated for the holidays in addition to the summit itself, which featured top level administration officials, plus some notable personalities like author Rolf Potts and The Travel Channel’s Samantha Brown.

Annual Reviews from Prior Years

Looking back at my review from last year, I noticed my idea for a three-month Asian adventure which never materialized.

It was certainly feasible, but I decided not to proceed in favor of focusing on growing Travel Blog Success and putting out the Medellín iPhone app before the end of the year.

Looking Ahead to 2015

At the moment, my plans for 2015 are wide open. I only know one place I’m going for sure, and that’s New York City April 30th for the screening of The Wireless Generation, a documentary by my friends Christine and Drew in which I appear.

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Lima Travel GuideDave's 160-page, all-original Lima Travel Guide is now available for Kindle and PDF.

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