Well I thought 2017 was a pretty quiet year but when I reviewed all the details I had 29 flights and slept at 20 different hotels not including 7 nights aboard an Alaskan cruise. At the end of every trip I reflect on my experience to denote the highlights, any challenges and most importantly what I learned. I have summarized my top 5 events for the past year of travel adventures.
Best Festival – Chinese New Year – Hong Kong: Our trip to Hong Kong was during the Chinese New Year which provided many additional highlights to our visit. Our visit to Wong Sai Tin Temple was overwhelming with thousands of locals making their annual pilgrimage for Chinese New Year to thank the immortal for their answered prayers. We enjoyed a traditional Chinese New Year dinner one evening when wandering into a local restaurant. We were entertained by the performance of dragon dance in several locations which is another celebration to bring luck into the new year. We were particularly delighted the luck it brought us at the shops as everyone had a special new year discount.
Best natural site – Alaska: WOW! I don’t think I can pick just one specific spot in Alaska that was so beautiful as the whole state is overwhelming in natural beauty. There was whale watching, bear safari trek, train to the Yukon, visiting glaciers up close and seeing wildlife as we cruise by. It was far more spectacular that I ever imagined! I guess if forced to pick only I spot that took my breath away it would be Hubbard Glacier. We had the luck of the Irish with us that day as it was the only day all season the captain had even seen the peak of the mountain. It was glorious!
Best UNESCO Heritage site: Well this was the year of completing several wish list destinations. I have wanted to visit Machu Picchu for over 15 years and my day finally came. It is an incredible place! I would definitely recommend getting a personal guide otherwise it appears simply as a pile of old rocks. The annual highlight for Machu Picchu is winter solstice on 21st June to catch the sunrise allows for a symbolically return of the sun to earth to allow for a good harvest of crops. I am elated to have visited in 2017 given they will soon begin restricting access to some parts of the site given the high volume of visitors. Note: It is not the easiest place to move around and limited guardrails so I would suggest small children or adults with diminished mobility skip this outing.
Best Meal – La Chata Guadalajara, Mexico: It is always true. When you see a long line of people waiting for food; it must be good. My hotel concierge had recommended I dine at La Chata while I was visiting Guadalajara. The concierge told me the best times when the line for a table would be shortest because there is always a line. I walked by to check the place out; it looked and smelled so good. I went for dinner one night and only had to wait about 25 minutes for a table before enjoying this gourmet feast. The food may not be very photogenic but with flavor this good I think it can be forgiven. Oh and the best part wast the meal price 108 pesos or roughly $6 however after a margarita (okay 2 margaritas) my total was still only $11. Olé!
Best tour – Hong Kong Greeters Private Tour: I was traveling with a few family members and we wanted to experience “real” Hong Kong. Our tour was First Class service and we customized our itinerary via email in advance. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable and patient to answer any questions we had. In addition she provided helpful tips and recommendations for the remainder of our stay in Hong Kong. It was the perfect way to start our vacation in Hong Kong! Check out my Tripadvisor review to see details of our schedule for the day.
It is that time of the year; when every minute becomes more precious than gold. You may have already started celebrating the holiday season or find yourself in the final sprint to the holiday finish line; regardless there is not a moment to spare. I have a few ideas for gifts you can purchase while curled up on the couch in your pajamas.
Book a trip. Anywhere. Remember you are not just paying for a trip but for an experience with a lifetime of memories.
Book a local tour. Get out and see your back yard! Here is a place to start for ideas viator.com.
Try new international foods in a monthly subscription to Try the World.
Introducing original travel photos prints from 1girlwhotravels! These travel photo prints will provide daily motivation to skip the Starbucks to save your pennies for your next trip. 1girlwhotravels can provide US delivery within 2-3 business days.
“Travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer”
May you all have a wonderful holiday season. I hope Santa brings you a ticket to Tahiti or whichever destination you choose!
This week marks my 15th anniversary of my returning home from a 4 year assignment in London. I grew up in a small town in northern Michigan so this was the perfect way for me to experience a truly international lifestyle. The decision of “Should I stay or should I go abroad?” is not one to be taken lightly which is featured in my guest blog post for Global Threads.
However as I reminisce about all the ways my life has changed since my international assignment and the bottom line is I don’t regret living abroad for 1 minute. Okay let’s be honest…I miss it!
Here are the top 15 lessons I learned that impact my daily life:
Tea is always served with milk.
BBC News is my daily source for news as it provides an independent truly international news report.
Always carry an umbrella! Also leave an extra umbrella in the car.
A solid understanding of history is critical to begin cultural interaction in any country.
A Tuesday night at a local pub talking with friends is better than any TV program.
Always keep an open mind to reframe my perspective. The British do not drive on the “wrong” side of the road – they drive on the “other” side of the road.
Marks & Spencers has the best knickers in the world!
Public interactions go much smoother when everyone gets into an orderly queue (sorry…line).
Black clothing is always in style regardless of the garment item or season.
Appreciate the importance of work life balance and the concept of “work only to live”
Understand how “It’s a small world after all” when you can bump into old friends in India.
Realize that home is truly where the heart is; however in time of an emergency when you need to travel it seems so very far away.
Ability to portray a modest, calm and composed personality
You can live your life without a car! Public transportation outside of the US can be utilized as your primary mode of transportation.
Plan your weekly shopping time in advance. Even today major stores in the UK are only open 11AM – 5pM on Sundays including grocery stores.
Would you move abroad again?
Due to the opportunity I had to establish a life abroad I was able to experience many great adventures. So many of these experiences would never be possible as a visitor or traveler passing through for a week. Now let me be clear, every day was not easy. There were certainly days when I thought what the $%@% am I doing here!
As I reflect on this portion of my life it is impossible for me to believe that it has already been 15 years since I lived abroad. It seems like only yesterday I was down at my favorite local pub having a pint with friends planning our next trip somewhere in Europe. The most valued keepsake from my experience is the people I met! I have been fortunate that many of my dearest friends in my life today were established from my experience living abroad. Plus they all like to travel!
Enjoy summer solstice with a Midnight sun baseball game. It has been a tradition for over 100 years to take advantage of daylight that shines on through the night.
WW2 battles were fought on Alaskan soil and Japanese occupied land for nearly 1 year.
Alaska is massive with over 663,000 miles which can fit the equialivent of Texas, California and Montana combined. While Texas logo maybe “Don’t mess with Texas”; Alaska responds with “Isn’t Texas cute?”.
Earlier this year I visited Hong Kong for the first time. The trip was full of delightful surprises but our day in Tai O fishing village was one of the most enjoyable. As there are several fishermen in my family who spend endless hours reliving the highlights of the day it was an epic journey to witness lifelong multi-generational career fishermen.
It is a stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong city as the village of Tai O will immediately transcend you back into a simpler way of life. There are no trains to reach the village only bus or taxi. Once you reach the village center your transportation options are limited to bicycles, walking or of course boats. The waterfront brims of lovely stilt houses in many colors just inviting you to take it all in. There are lovely cafes with waterfront views to relax and soak it all in.
We took a 30 minute water tour for only 20 HKD ($2.60 USD) which was worth the money to check out the village from the waterways. It provides an upfront view of the fishermen coming back with their daily catch. You can find the locals scooting around the village on bicycles to complete their daily errands. The village shops sell every type of dried fish imaginable including shrimp, jellyfish, squid, etc
After you enjoy your time in Tai O you are a short ride away from Tian Tin Big Buddha which is a sight not to be missed.
First my apologies for the several months gap in no new posts. I have been on a whirlwind tour of the heart that abruptly ended and took the wind out of my sails. However the open road calls as my passion for travel continues as I prepare for an upcoming trip to Alaska.
This week One Girl Who Travels is celebrating our 2nd birthday! I am happy to share with you that @1girlwhotravels has over 6200 followers on Twitter and growing daily with followers across the globe!
I hope that you have enjoyed the 60+ blog posts, 90+ #TravelTuesday photos, 2 YouTube videos, 270+ tweets and 200+ FaceBook posts. Once I return from Alaska I will have hot off the press savvy travel tips for you. Please share your feedback on what travel topics you are interested in hearing about. What travel questions are you curious about? Don’t be bashful just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have a long list of blog post ideas and would love your thoughts on what you are most interested in hearing about. Here is the list of future blog topic ideas:
Hong Kong highlights
Cebu Philippines highlights
Where is the 747 going?
My top 5 favorite places
How to shop on vacation and still carry on luggage?
How many times during a flight do we hear “Please keep your seat belt fastened”? Okay we have all been on that flight where the turbulence seems to keep coming in various waves and perhaps prior to take off the pilot announces it is going to be a bumpy ride. We are prepared and go easy on the drinks to avoid having to utilize the rest room during the flight.
Did you know that it is illegal to get out of your seat whilst the sign is illuminated?
YES it is true. You can be prosecuted for breaking the FAA Regulations 14 CFR 121.311(f) which requires passengers to wear seat belts when the sign is illuminated.
As a frequent traveler I am a strong advocate to follow the FAA Regulations. I will never be the passenger who stands up 1 minute after takeoff to get a sweater out of the overhead bin. Listen unless there is an urgent bathroom need I am not prepared to violate the law. Safety first.
While no one has ever been prosecuted for violating this regulation the flight attendants appear to have a general “See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” philosophy on this. This philosophy seems to take on magical super powers when you are traveling in business or first class; as cabin roaming while the seat belt sign is illuminated is a regular occurrence. Never directly ask for permission from a flight attendant to get out of your seat for a rest room break as it will conflict with their ability to support the regulation. However if the flight attendant asks you to return to your seat while you are headed to the rest room you should comply. You are more likely to be prosecuted for directly disobeying crew member instructions.
So has anyone else noticed that many long flights reach cruising altitude with a smooth ride yet the seat belt sign remains illuminated. Why is that?
Did the pilot simply forget?
Or does the pilot have no regard that we might need to utilize the rest room during a flight over 4 hours?
Or are the flight attendants trying to manage the crowd by forcing passengers to remain seated?
Or is the airline trying to reduce cost on toilet paper?
My money is on crowd control management or cost savings for toilet paper. Let me know your thoughts.
I hope you are sitting down! I have some bad news for you. Our beloved Worldmate app is breaking up with all of us! All functionality will be no longer be available effective the 31st March. Sigh! We worked so well together and we were all so familiar with all the features. After the 1st of April you will not be able to add new trip reservations to the app. However until September 2017 you will have access to view all previously added trip reservations.
After a glass of wine I began the search for my new guy; ahh I mean a new itinerary trip management app. I checked out several apps that are available and I am currently “dating” a new app called TripIt. I tested it with loading a few reservations and so far the functionality seems to work well. Don’t tell anyone but it has some additional features that will be incredibly helpful. For example; it will allow you to connect multiple email addresses to your account and automatically forwards the reservations into the system. However it does not support automatically deleting any reservations that have been cancelled.
Do you have any favorite travel itinerary apps to recommend?
Starting next week on 1st March, American Airlines will begin a new “simplified” boarding process. The protocol is very easy: everyone is assigned a group number and there are two boarding lanes. The two lanes are defined as Priority Boarding and Main Boarding lane. Group numbers assignments will now include First Class, Business Class, active duty U.S. military, and higher tier status with American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, or one world®.
I am greatly looking forward to no longer hearing the boarding process drone on with, “Now boarding Executive Platinum,oneworld® Emerald, Platinum,oneworld® Sapphire, Gold, oneworld® Ruby and so on”.
The overall goal I understand is to reduce overall boarding time which could potentially work for the majority of travelers with a few protocols. However, I think there could be a few outstanding gaps:
Will boarding group will be clearly marked on the boarding pass?
What happened to the courtesy early boarding groups of “passengers travelling with small children” or “passengers needing extra time or assistance”?
How closely will carryon luggage be monitored in an effort to help speed up boarding time?
I like the concept, but “simplified” boarding seems perhaps a little bit too good to be true. Let’s be honest with ourselves – this is all highly dependent on passenger compliance. But I still look forward to the new process. Bring it on!
As a fellow traveler, what better way to kick off the New Year, and celebrated Chinese New Year, than with a fabulous trip to the New York Times Travel Show! Inspiration filled the exhibit hall and the seminar rooms were packed to hear from the industry experts.
Top 5 destinations to consider for your 2017 travel plans:
1. Waldorf Astoria New York: Go right now before they close on 1st March! We were fortunate to spend the weekend in the historical luxury accommodations. The renovations are anticipated to take 2-3 years and will be predominately turned into condos. Treat yourself to an overnight stay, historical tour, or perhaps a Bellini at the bar.
2. Paris: Since the attacks in November 2015 tourism is down drastically with the ability to enjoy sites without crowds. You can easily secure dinner reservations at top tier restaurants and enjoy lower hotel prices. Even better news for US travelers is the dollar is currently very strong against the euro. Frank Sinatra said it best in his famous hit “I love Paris“. So what are you waiting for!
3. Montreal: Well, if Paris is simply too far, consider its little sister. Montreal is your Parisian weekend getaway for anyone in North America. Once again the U.S. Dollar is strong against the Canadian dollar so great time to go. Oh and did I mention that Montreal is celebrating 375 years? As the birthplace of Cirque de Soleil there is no doubt you will definitely be entertained with festival events.
4. Haida Gwai: Another option to take advantage of the low Canadian dollar is the hidden location of Haida Gwai. It was been nicknamed the “Candian Galápagos'” given all the engandered species living locally.
5. Karasjok Norway: one of the best places to witness the infamous northern lights. Every 10 years the lights increase in intensity and 2017/18 is on schedule to become amazing. Plan your travels for September thru mid-April 2018 and get ready to enjoy the night sky.