What a horrible story. The instructor told her, "No jump," she thought he said, "Now jump," and she jumped and died.
THIS is why you should choose to do activities with the more professional company, not the cheaper and more ramshackle option. The pricier companies are more likely to have an instructor who speaks more than broken English and says, "Don't jump right now, it's not safe, you're not secured," instead of, "No jump."
Could this have been avoided? Perhaps; perhaps not. Either way it's a tragic accident.
As we get into summer, I'd love to share one of my favorite summer destinations: Zadar, Croatia. If you're heading to Croatia, you should make time for this sunny little city!
Excited to announce that I am going BACK to the Florida Keys in July -- for the greatest possible reason. (No, not key lime pie.) (No, not feeding crazy bloodthirsty fish by hand.) (No, not booze cruises with overzealous Boston sports fans.)
The Hemingway lookalike contest in Key West. A MILLION HEMINGWAYS IN ONE PLACE. Ohhhhh, it's going to be good!
Do you want to travel, but you're still paying off student loans? It's STILL possible to travel.
Everyone's loan situation is different -- but here is how six other people and I still managed to travel long-term in a financially responsible way, even with student loans.
Terrible news coming out of Colombia tonight.
Boat safety is hard to ascertain when you're visiting other countries. But here's some advice on boat safety I wrote last year when commemorating five years since my own shipwreck:
1) Learn how to swim well before you start traveling. I was surprised at how many of my friends, especially Brits, described themselves as “not a strong swimmer” and didn’t go beyond shallow water. There is no shame in taking swimming lessons as an adult. Seriously. It could save your life.
And for my readers who are parents, teach your kids to swim from a young age. Get them into lessons if you’re not a strong swimmer yourself. Please prioritize this; it will be more difficult once they’re older.
2) Bring a dry bag. Today I travel with two dry bags: a small one for when I need somewhere to stash my camera and phone (5-10 liters is good), and a large one (20-30 liters) big enough to cover my day bag.
If you’re a longtime reader, you know that I always encourage you to keep your valuables (electronics, passport, medication, credit cards, cash, etc.) in your day bag, on your person at all times while in transit (excluding the backup cash and credit card hidden somewhere random in your luggage). That goes for boats as well as anywhere else. Check your luggage in the hold but hang onto your valuables as well as the big dry bag.
3) Avoid fast ferries; take larger, slower ferries. I’m speaking anecdotally as it’s hard to find data — but in my experience, when you hear about sinkings of tourist boats around Bali and Lombok, it’s often the fast ferries, sometimes the popular fast ferry from Bali to the Gili Islands. Also anecdotally, I’ve found that larger boats tend to be more stable, though keep in mind that anything can happen.
4) Stick to high season and avoid sailing in bad weather. If you’re planning a trip to a part of the developing world with lots of ferries, like Indonesia or the Philippines, you may want to time your trip to high season, when it rains less often.
5) Avoid night sailings. Stick to daytime sailing. (You may feel fine sailing at night in the developed world, but for the developing world I urge you to only take day sailings.)
6) Invest in your safety. Don’t let money be a major factor in choosing a less safe method of transport. If there’s a big difference in the quality of boats, take the nicer boat, even if it costs more or takes much longer. Be aware if you’re paying more for a quality trip or a faster trip.
7) If you’re taking a tour or trip, read reviews first. TripAdvisor and Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree are good places to search. The Thorn Tree is also good if you have follow-up questions. Local and regional sites are good too, like Travelfish for Southeast Asia, as well as local Couchsurfing groups for destinations.
8) Find a lifejacket and sit on it like a cushion. Grab it as soon as you get on the boat. If the worst happens, you’ll be prepared.
9) Familiarize yourself with all exit routes from the boat. This is good advice for wherever you go, but it’s especially important on boats.
Four years ago I traveled in Istanbul and Dubai during Ramadan. It was an eye-opening experience -- but my favorite part was in Istanbul at night, how it seemed like everyone poured into the streets and celebrated with their families (and TONS of food).
Happy Pride, everyone. ❤️💛💚💙💜
May you love freely and be loved in return. May you always be protected.
Following the recognition from Forbes this week, I wrote a post I've been wanting to write for a long time -- on what it means to be an influencer, some alarming trends in our industry, and the importance of keeping people safe when they travel.
If there's something that every Bostonian has in his or her kitchen, it's this: a small tasting glass from the Sam Adams Brewery.
I broke mine recently, so it was time to go back and get another one! They're actually perfect juice glasses. 😂
The brewery is one of my favorite spots to recommend to people visiting Boston. Along with a Red Sox game at Fenway Park, cannolis at Modern Pastry in the North End, and dinner at one of my favorite spots: Coppa, Toro, or Neptune Oyster!
Oh, Odessa, you are one of the prettiest cities I've ever seen! I fell HARD for this Ukrainian city last month. Hope you enjoy the photos.
It may only be June, but I'm starting to plan my big fall trip. I want it to be somewhere adventurous and new, and it will be around two weeks, likely in October.
And I think it should be either in the Middle East or Africa. Those are two regions that I haven't explored nearly as much as I should have by now, and I'd love to add new experiences in both regions.
I've been to South Africa (three times), Jordan, and the UAE, so I'm looking for somewhere different. Especially if it's not covered very often on travel blogs.
Where do you think I should go and why?
What an honor to wake up and find out that Forbes has named me one of the top 10 influencers in travel!
What a joy to see several of my friends on the list as well.
This? Is awesome. And MORE than makes up for being trapped in airport delay hell all day yesterday!
But one thing. Over the past year or two especially, I've been concerned about the industry's focus, especially among the newer generations.
I've seen an industry where the long-timers used to be the most focused on trying to helping people -- whether it's helping them plan better trips, save more money, stay safe, travel ethically, and have the best time possible -- and seeing that kind of content become less and less common.
These days, particularly with the rise of Instagram, I've seen a rise in shallow, quite often inaccurate blog content; fashion-style spreads taking the place of valuable information, and an unending greed amongst influencers for making the most money and getting the craziest travel perks, regardless of how that affects one's audience. It's going to get worse as more fashion influencers try to tackle travel without having the requisite knowledge to actually help people, and possibly leading their followers to harm.
The dominant narrative today in influencer communities is not, "How can I help people?" but "How much can I get out of this?"
A narrative of, "Wow guys, North Korea is so cool!" without examining the ethics of traveling to the country.
A narrative of, "Wow, I'll get to go to Africa and make lots of contacts to make money and do cool things!" rather than evaluating whether you should attend an event funded by the government of Robert Mugabe.
BUT. The top tier of influencers are still doing things right -- creating valuable, unique, ethical, and helpful content. And when I say top tier of influencers, that doesn't necessarily mean this list. Lots of people are doing amazing things in the travel influencer industry these days, and I am proud to call them my colleagues.
Influence is valuable. May we always use it for good. Not greed.
AMA -- my flight home just got cancelled and I'm waiting in a very long line to rebook.
Entertain me -- let me answer your questions!
Asheville, thank you for a fabulous weekend. I know I'll be back! As fun and beautiful and delicious as this city is, what I will remember the most is the people. Kind, open, generous, wonderful people. Amazing people, in fact.
I can't wait to start writing and sharing about Asheville on the blog! Look out for it next week.
Today I achieved a dream I didn't even know I had -- I got to frolic at the Richie Rich house!
This is the Biltmore Estate. It's right here in Asheville and absolutely gorgeous on the inside and out. (No McDonald's or Kidapult, though.)
You absolutely must come here! Right now they're displaying costumes from several literary movies like Anna Karenina and Pride and Prejudice.
Today I'm having brunch at a place where the motto is "PUT SOME SOUTH IN YOUR MOUTH" -- Biscuit Head in Asheville, NC.
They do gravy flights -- three biscuits with three different kinds of gravy! I adored the sweet potato and coconut gravy! The fried chicken gravy, espresso red bean gravy, and coconut collared greens were great, too!
And while biscuits and gravy are very much not GF, there are plenty of gluten-free biscuit and gravy options, which is nice! It's so good to see restaurants adapt to people with food allergies, especially in traditional environments like the South.
Thanks to Amy from Two Drifters - Travel & Lifestyle Blog for the very emphatic recommendation!
Today I had a blind date...with a book.
At Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe in Asheville, you can buy a "blind date with a book." The books are wrapped in paper covered with clues about them but their identities are otherwise hidden. Sales are final.
I wanted something by a local author, so I grabbed this one: "Clear-sighted. Graceful. Illuminating. Tender. Mesmerizing. Chilling. Local!"
And I got "A Land More Kind Than Home" by western NC native Wiley Cash. It was published in 2012 and was a New York Times notable book. I'm excited to give it a read!
One of my favorite things to do in new cities is sample groceries from small local companies. I rarely drink soda, but I couldn't resist trying Waynesville Soda Jerks Lavender Lemon soda!
It was floral, sweet and tart -- unusual and lovely. Try this stuff if you're ever in Asheville!
I'm spending the weekend in Asheville, North Carolina! First stop? A cheese-hopping tour with Asheville Farm to Table Tours.
"They make the prettiest cheese board you've ever seen," our guide told us.
"Hmmm....I'll be the judge of that," I thought. I've seen a LOT of cheese boards. Hell, Beth and I consumed a cheese board roughly every day we were in South Africa last summer!
But then they brought out this beautiful plate, covered with local wildflowers from the Blue Ridge mountains...
Yes. That's the prettiest cheese plate I ever did see!
"We do not want U.S. dollars to prop up a military monopoly that exploits and abuses the citizens of Cuba." Don't act like you suddenly care about human rights. YOU LITERALLY COZY UP TO SAUDI ARABIA AND RUSSIA, YOU PENDEJO.
If Obama had cured cancer, Trump would have found a way to bring it back. Spiteful man with skin as thin as tissue paper. I can't wait to see him in an orange jumpsuit that matches his fake tan.
Oh, and this isn't going to stop me from going to Cuba. Plenty of Americans visited before and plenty will visit again.
Today I'm co-hosting a Twitter chat about solo and sustainable travel alongside Cassie De Pecol, who recently broke Guinness World Records as the fastest person to travel to every country in the world!
Time: Today, 2-3 PM EDT
Prizes: $100 visa gift cards and baskets of travel gear
RSVP (you must RSVP in order to be eligible to win prizes): http://spr.ly/60068mOfI
Hope to see you there!
"Still loving New York?" is a question I get often.
Translation: "Are you sure you're happy staying in one place and not traveling all the time like you used to?"
Yes. I'm still loving it. And I'm still very happy here. I want to be here forever!
Traveling for a little bit every now and then satisfies me just fine. And in between, just traveling to another neighborhood in New York can feel like another country.
Tomorrow I'm heading to Asheville, North Carolina, for three days! I'm excited to go foraging for plants, visit the Biltmore Estate, meet local food producers, check out some awesome independent bookstores, and eat a LOT of good food.
Any of you Asheville experts have any recommendations?
Airports are where you often see the worst of humanity -- but initiatives like this give me hope for the future. It's so nice to see airports catering to passengers with autism and their families!
We could all stand to do a little better when it comes to traveling sustainably. Here are six ways to do so.
Plus: I'm hosting a solo and sustainable travel Twitter chat on Friday! It's from 2:00-3:00 PM EDT with the hashtag #WhereNext. There are prizes to be had, but you must RSVP first -- all the details are in the post.
This weekend, my dad, sister and I went on a brewery tour in Boston. There were a few Australians, whose presence my dad enjoyed.
"They were great!" my dad said later. "Australians are very nice people."
"They also call people cunts a lot," I replied. "Like, as a sign of affection."
Is there a hotel that you have ALWAYS wanted to stay in?
For me, my #1 dream hotel is the Park Hyatt Tokyo -- because Lost in Translation is one of my all-time favorite movies. I would hole up there for a week and not leave!
The Burj Al-Arab in Dubai used to be on my list, but I actually did a tour of it back in 2013 and left feeling satisfied -- no need to actually stay there. I adore the book-themed Library Hotel in NYC, maybe for a staycation someday! And on the resort end, I would LOVE to stay at Tswalu in the Kalahari Desert in South Africa, which is one of the best safari properties on the planet and has regular sightings of PANGOLINS, the hard-to-spot but coolest-looking animal ever.
What's on your dream hotel list?
When did flying in the US become so uncivilized? A writer spent eight days taking 12 flights across the US to study how the indignities have piled up in recent years.
Flying economy is tough, no matter where in the world you are, but it's US carriers that have cut the most benefits for economy passengers while investing more in perks for business and first class.
I'm home in Boston for the weekend and whenever I'm here, I get asked the same question:
"But why don't you have an accent?"
And then I begin a long explanation of the broad spectrum of Boston accents, that it's more about pronouncing R's like the r in "third" than obliterating them altogether, that not everyone talks like Good Will Hunting, that the only passable accent by a non-Bostonian is by Jeremy Renner in The Town, and that accents from different neighborhoods in Greater Boston can vary widely, and by the time their eyes glaze over, I throw them a bone:
"It comes out when I'm drunk."
Which is followed by an inevitable, "Let's get this girl HAMMERED!"
I just cleaned out my Twitter account...for the first time since 2008.
No wonder I've hated Twitter for years. I've been following so much CRAP. It was like a nonstop advertisement feed by travel bloggers, airlines, and hotel sites.
Who do you like to follow? Forget travel accounts or photographers -- who is smart and witty and brilliant and pure joy in 140 characters or less?
It's almost summer! Looking for an offbeat summer destination? I adored my time in Rauma, Finland, three years ago.
Congrats to Leyla of Women on the Road, one of the most badass solo female travelers I know, for TEN YEARS of blogging (!!!). If you're not following her blog, you should. She is 64 and has Seen Some Stuff.
One of my pet peeves about this industry is that it's so dominated by twenty-somethings who blog superficially with no in-depth understanding of their surroundings beyond pretty photos. Leyla is the antidote to that -- she is smart, has experienced a million adventures all over the world, and tells her stories with intelligence and sensitivity.
One of my favorite things to do is to find the coolest places in lesser-touristed cities. Bucharest is a city where far too many people get in and immediately ignore. But they shouldn't.
I had a fabulous time in this city, and here are some of my favorite spots.
Last chance -- ends at midnight tonight! The Paradise Pack is so cheap because it's only for sale one week each year. And that week is about to end.
If you've been seriously thinking of learning how to earn more online, travel, and maybe even quit your job, I highly recommend this collection of resources to get you there.
Crazy news to wake up to -- Egypt and several of the Gulf states have broken off relations with Qatar over terrorism concerns.
Borders are closed; flights are cancelled. If you're flying via Qatar soon, you need to keep an eye on this.
Today's adventure: Coney Island. On an overcast day. And because everyone gets Coney Island photos when it's bright and sunny, I thought I'd do something different.
Have you ever gone to the wrong birthday party?
Because I did that. Tonight.
For nearly two hours, the staff kept insisting I was in the right place. "That's Erica's birthday party."
Then why didn't we recognize anyone there? And why wasn't Erica answering out texts?
Well, we made friends. Including one dude who looked *exactly* like Biff from Back to the Future and guessed my age as 25. (Lovely chap; I'm 32.)
Eventually we recognized a few people and realized that the party had been going on adjacent to the other side of us for AGES. The other party was NADIA'S birthday party, not Erica's. And we had spent it drinking Tecate beers with strangers because they were $5 (that's cheap for New York).
Have you ever ended up at the wrong party?
Today I'm exploring Little Italy in the Bronx. I already love it here! Follow along on Instagram Stories or Snapchat (take your pick, I'm adventurouskate on both).
Remember when I went to Western Australia last fall? I loved that trip SO much!
Here's a post I wrote for the tourism board on my road trip itinerary and how you can create the same trip for yourself.
Here's the first coverage of my Eastern Europe trip -- and everything else I got up to this month. And, as always, book recommendations!
It really says it all when North Korea is more progressive on climate issues than the United States.
Still, I have hope. States including New York and California have vowed to uphold the Paris Climate Accord. I'm sure Massachusetts will as well. As Barack Obama said today, "But even in the absence of American leadership; even as this Administration joins a small handful of nations that reject the future; I’m confident that our states, cities, and businesses will step up and do even more to lead the way, and help protect for future generations the one planet we’ve got."
If you want to know what happens when environmental regulations are ignored, I suggest picking up the book Strangers in Their Own Land, which focuses on the new toxic wastelands of Louisiana. I couldn't even finish it because it made me so angry to see Louisianans vote for their home to be destroyed because those politicians were also against abortion.
It's the first of the month, so I just chose my three books for June from Book of the Month Club. Here's what I'll be reading next:
--A Million Junes by Emily Henry: a Shakespearean forbidden romance between two teenagers in warring families, taking place in Upper Michigan and teeming with magical realism.
(Fulfills the Popsugar book challenge category of a book with a month or day of the week in a title.)
--Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney: an elderly woman takes a walk through New York City on New Year's Eve 1984 and ruminates on her rich, adventure-filled life and the city she loves so much. It's based on the life of the highest paid female advertising copywriter of the 1930s.
(Fulfills the Popsugar book challenge category of a book centered around a holiday other than Christmas.)
--All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood: A Beauty and the Beast-esque love story of a teenage girl who grew up in her parents' meth lab and the equally damaged shop assistant her parents hire. Book of the Month readers voted this their #1 book of 2016, so I'm eager to read a book with such high praise.
(Not sure if this could fulfill any categories, but I don't care, I really want to read it!)
But of course...I can't start any of those until I finish A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. A lush, rich novel that I am LOVING.
What are you reading right now? Any recommendations?
Once a year, for one week only, the Paradise Pack is on sale -- it's a collection of resources that will teach you how to work online so you can quit your job and travel the world.
It's GOOD. Consistently one of the best resources on the internet -- and if you dream of quitting your job to travel, I highly recommend it.
Here's a nice little feature on NerdWallet about how I saved for my travels and continued to save money while traveling.
One thing that I'll flesh out a bit more -- I lived like a miser for the seven months while I saved. It was pretty grim. I didn't spend money on ANYTHING. All of my savings went into my travel fund.
And that worked for seven months -- but if I had to do that any longer, I would lose my mind. So be realistic about how long you can go living super-cheap for the sake of saving money for travel. A more moderate solution may work better for you.
One of the coolest things I've ever done is go snorkeling in the icy waters of Silfra, Iceland. You literally snorkel with America on one side of you and Europe on the other!
If you're thinking of a trip to Iceland, this should be one of your top priorities!
You guys, I finally sampled the famous "raindrop cake" of New York City and it's a LIE.
The Raindrop Cake, which you can find at Smorgasburg in Brooklyn, was a huge hit on Instagram and dominated headlines on Buzzfeed. So naturally I wanted to try it out.
It's famous for being a clear jiggly cake -- but it tastes like literally nothing. And the accoutrements? Also nothing. Save your money on this one. Not worth the $8 at all!
One thing I loved about Ukraine: coffee carts EVERYWHERE. On the backs of trucks. On little sets of wheels. Ones with names like "Gangsta Coffee." Full espresso machines and it will rarely cost you more than $1.
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