Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Shoes That Make Carry-On-Only Packing Easy

Most women love shoes. I'm not one of those women -- one reason why I have no trouble traveling for a month, as I recently did in Southeast Asia, with only one carry-on bag. But it also means I have to be very picky when selecting the two pairs of shoes I choose to bring on my trips.

Both pairs -- I wear the bulkier of the two on the plane -- have to multi task. One has to look good with a dress but also be comfortable for long strolls on the beach or all-day walks on city streets. And, it should also serve as a light sports shoe for cycling or low-key hiking trips. The Chaco ZX2 Yampa sandal that I blogged about recently fits the bill.

The bulkier shoe should be lightweight, comfortable for longer walks or hikes, provide good traction on the trail, be ultra breathable because my feet hate being in closed shoes to begin with, dry quickly when wet should I go kayaking, and not suffer from odor problems with daily use. The Chaco Outcross Lace shoe met all these criteria. I wore this shoe with or without socks and never ended up with blisters nor did my feet get sweaty. The foot bed cushioned my foot so well that arch fatigue was a thing of the past. They slipped on and off easily because this model doesn't rely on a traditional lacing system. And, though I have huge (for my 5'2" height) size 9 feet, these shoes didn't exaggerate the silhouette of my feet.

Now that I'm back in New York, I continue to wear these shoes. In fact, there're comfortably on my feet now as we speak.

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Monday, September 8, 2014

Avoiding Accidents + Injuries on Vacation

What's a vacation without more than a few surprises? But my idea of the unexpected includes mountain biking through a pine forest and coming upon a hamlet where I can do a wine tasting in a small cellar. Or hiking to a craggy peak where I discover a farmer selling fresh sheep and goat's milk cheese. Or kayaking to an island where I find an expansive and little-visited botanical garden. When I travel, surprises should not include a visit to an emergency room or several days laid up because of illness or injury.

I just returned from a month in SE Asia and had no illness or injury to show for it -- unlike almost all the Westerners I encountered who, at the very least, ended up with traveler's belly. Is it because I'm lucky? No. Actually, I'm the model of caution whether I'm on my home turf in NYC or traveling far afield.

But many vacationers leave common sense at home. Do you also suffer from
vacation mind? Find out more in this article I recently wrote on the subject.

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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Thailand In Pictures

Bangkok and Chiang Mai are both cities that embrace the ancient and the contemporary. Ramshackle wood huts teeter on stilts beside tree-lined canals. And a forest is home to a unique Buddhist temple built around massive tunnels. Down many an alleyway can be found avant garde art galleries exhibiting the works of both emerging and established Thai and international artists. Both cities embrace coffee connoisseurs who can find a cafe that suits their taste in creamy lattes, delectable pastries or playful interiors. I recently spent one week in Thailand and this one-minute YouTube video slideshow is a window into some of my discoveries, both serene and dramatic.

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Friday, August 29, 2014

Gear Review - My Favorite Travel Notebooks

Travel writers employ a variety of methods to record their experiences. I favor small, lined, bound notebooks. But, while the market is crowded with these products, I found that few fit my needs. My ideal travel notebook has to easily fit in the pockets of my pants, shorts, jackets, dresses and skirts. The notebook should have an elastic band closure. The pages should be of high quality from an archival perspective (acid and lignin free) and my pen - I don't use a ball point but, rather, uni-ball type pens in a medley of colors, of course - should not bleed on the surface. The notebook should be soft cover and come with an expandable interior pocket where I could stash receipts or other miscellaneous papers during the day. And, because I'm fond of bold colors, I favor notebooks that come in  a rainbow of hues.

For my month long trip to Southeast Asia, I brought these soft cover Poppin notebooks, which did not disappoint. Unlike some other popular notebooks I've relied upon in the past, the elastic bands never came loose, despite repeated use. And their bold colors attracted a lot of attention during my travels, especially from designers and other creative types. That would've hardly been the case if I took an oh-so-serious approach with an austere black notebook that many writers favor.

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Monday, August 25, 2014

Where Bicycling Becomes Zen-Like

With just one hour to spare, I didn't expect biking around a lake in Taiwan to be a
all that awe inspiring. What I found was that even a few minutes of pedaling along Sun Moon Lake in central Taiwan provided a Zen-like experience where my mind was uniquely present centered and each sight and sound produced a moment of awakening. Ferns of various types and numerous bird specious were in abundance while the clouds and shadowy mountain ridges in the distance were part of a perpetually shifting tapestry. I recently wrote about how cycling Sun Moon Lake reminded me of writing aiku poetry for National Geographic Travel - Intelligent Travel.

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Friday, August 15, 2014

Guatemala In Picture

Mayan ruins pepper much of Guatemala's expanse, with Tikal probably the most famous. Each of my explorations was a day trip from Guatemala City, including Quirigua, two hours away but worth the it for the magnificent stelae displayed at this site. Mayan ruins, such as  Kaminaljuyu or Valley of the Dead, are even scattered around the country's capital city. This short YouTube video slideshow  provides a snapshot of my adventures.

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Thursday, August 7, 2014

Cyprus In Pictures

Cyprus brims with treasured sights, some at the end of jungle-like trails, others found only by navigating through stone archways or up steep staircases. My journey took me to 12th and 13th century castles, a wine museum in the small village of Erimi, Paphos in Northwest Cyprus that's most noted for
its UNESCO World Heritage sites, and hiking through a nature preserve in the Akamas Peninsula. This short YouTube video slideshow captures a small slice of my trip.

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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Bahamas In Pictures - Long Island

Long Island, one of the Bahamas Out Islands, is where I found a low-key, laid-back environ with nothing in the way of shopping malls, water parks, mega resorts or gambling. Instead, I discovered myriad protected coves and short trails to desolate stretches of sand -- features that appeal to nature lovers like myself. Check out my short YouTube video slideshow on this pristine island.

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Montenegro In Pictures

With its hilltop fortresses, chapels snuggled in pine forests, network of hiking trails and family-owned vineyards, Montenegro appeals to oenophiles, those who embrace nature, history lovers or visitors who simply prefer hanging out on a thin crescent strip of sand. This short YouTube video slideshow is a mere slice of my adventures in Montenegro.

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