As I take a mini maternity leave after having my baby boy on September 18th, I have a series of talented friends/guest posters who agreed to fill in here throughout the this month. I will try to pop in with random posts here and there, but we are just trying to squeeze out every bit of goodness of family time right now. Enjoy!
Traveling around the world opened up doors to so many amazing cultures, people and beautiful scenery. It changed the way I look at the world. It changed the way I interact with people. I’ve always been curious, kind and adventurous, but after traveling for a year, majority of that time spent in third world countries, it made me even more adventurous, more kind and compassionate, and much more curious! Eager to see more of what this fabulous world of ours has to offer. The decision to pick up and travel was, without a doubt, the best decision I have ever made. I love a good list, so I made a list of some of my favorite memories (in random order) and tips from the road!
1. Tanzania: two weeks in this country is incredible on so many levels: the culture, the people, the food and landscape. Make sure to splurge on a Serengeti camping safari and keep your camera at the ready for those marvelous animal sightings. After, spend a few days relaxing on the white, sandy beaches of Zanzibar practicing your Swahili with the locals – asante sana (squash banana… You will be singing Lion King songs for dayyyss!)
2. Nevis Bungy Jump, Queenstown: Queenstown, New Zealand is considered the Adventure Capital of the World. Plan a visit and marvel in the beauty of this picturesque town. Step outside your comfort zone and do the Nevis Bungy Jump. By far, the most exciting and simultaneously terrifying thing I’ve ever done in my entire life!
3. South Africa: I have mad love for South Africa – landscapes, penguins, wine, food, people, accents and did I say landscapes?! It’s so, so pretty! Cape Town is up there as one of my favorite cities and I genuinely can’t wait to return to this wonderful country and explore more. Do be sure to make the climb up Table Mountain, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World; however, don’t make the climb after a night enjoying one too many glasses of the local wines.
4. Colombia: Despite a turbulent past and a resulting ‘dangerous’ reputation, Colombia is a wonderful (and safe!) place with an incredibly diverse beauty, kind people and delicious food! Spending six weeks in this country wasn’t nearly enough time, but it gave me a glimpse of Colombian life. Do make sure to venture to Punta Gallinas, the northern-most tip of the South American continent. The journey is for the adventurous traveler, but the chance to see this panting-like landscape before the masses catch on is completely worth it! Plus, the main staple meal: fried whole fish, patacones and arroz de coco…oooh, I die…so, so good!
5. Thailand: Ahhh, Thailand. One of my favorite countries! I think the beaches in Thailand rank up there with some of the prettiest in the world. The Thai people are some of the friendliest and of course, the food, mmmm…sensational! If you’ve ever thought about swimming with Nemo, Thailand is the spot to get your diving certification. I received my Advanced Adventurer on Koh Tao and the diving all over Thailand is just top notch. And cheap! Of course, no stop to Thailand is complete without a stop on Koh Phi Phi. Be sure to wake up extra early and hire a boat to Koh Phi Phi Ley so you can avoid the crowds and enjoy in solitude, just like Leo did in his 2000 hit, The Beach. Oh, and eat lots and lots of Thai pancakes. I dream about them daily.
6. Maldives: My dream destination. The Maldives became a destination as a result of our loose schedule and an Air India (non-stop) flight from Trivandrum to Male for $240RT. Hellooooo, faux-honeymooon! I cashed in some Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) points I’d accumulated from work trips and SPG Amex and we treated ourselves to a luxurious three-nights at the Sheraton Full Moon Resort & Spa. Thanks to some Twitter networking and my Gold Status, we spent one GLORIOUS night upgraded in our own Ocean Villa with private plunge pool – Heaven! Do be sure to treat yourself to the occasional hotel splurge – even if you are a backpacker!
7. Luang Prabang: Laos doesn’t seem to appear on too many people’s travel radars, but as I’ve been trying to convince my Dad, it is a great country and the town of Luang Prabang is the most adorable French-Colonial inspired town. Don’t miss out on a dessert from Joma Bakery or a baguette sandwich from the market stalls: fresh baguette with your choice of fillings (breakfast options, too!) for $1.50USD. Stop by Big Brother Mouse, a Lao-owned project designed to promote literacy and volunteer for the morning reading to the local monks and other Lao children working on their English. Wake up early and watch the local alms; a beautiful sight! Finally, take a local cooking class complete with a trip to the local market. Asked to make a stuffed bamboo shoot and rice paper crepes; you won’t regret it!
8. Full Moon Party: THE quintessential SE Asia party – the infamous Full Moon Party is one that every backpacker must experience. There are a variety of ways to attend the Full Moon Party, but we decided to go full blast in the backpacking world and stay in a 40-person dorm room. Some people might cringe at that sentence, but it was so well organized that it still ranks in my top three hostels. The Full Moon Party was everything you expected and more – buckets, body paint, fire dancing, crushes and dancing on the beach till the sun rises. During that week, I fell so in love with Thailand and traveling, and perhaps a tiiiny bit on my crush. GO…
9. Salt Flats: Salar de Uyuni is the world’s largest salt flat at 10,582 square kilometers and is considered one of the Seven Natural Wonders of South America. Located in Bolivia, it is one of the South American trips not to be missed! The best way to see them is a four-day trip up from Tupiza which leads you through breathtaking scenery and ends in the Salt Flats. Do bring props for lots of photo fun in the Salar!
10. Work on an Organic Farm (Wwoof): We had the opportunity to volunteer and work for a week on an organic farm in Northern Argentina and it was an incredibly rewarding experience. During the week, we spent time gardening, tried out new recipes as we cooked family style meals and learned about sustainable, organic living. We also learned a fun new board game called Toc – play if you ever come across it!
Beth, born and raised in Atlanta, spent seven.five years working in event marketing in Southern California. At 30, she and her best friend from high school quit their jobs, packed their stuff in storage and set off for a year around the world. Currently based in London, she is exploring living in a new city (and country), while trying to figure out a way combine her travel lifestyle with her event marketing background. Loves baking Southern-inspired desserts, photography, pub quizzes, getting new passport stamps and most recently, Breaking Bad.