Featured Traveler | Paige Worthy: International Foodie

August 4th, 2011

Paige Worthy is a quirky Chicago-based freelance writer who loves all things travel. This veteran blogger and foodie shares why her Spring Break trip abroad was the best trip she’s ever taken in our latest Featured Traveler profile.

Name: Paige Worthy

Tell us a little about yourself:

I’m a full-time freelance writer living in Chicago’s Lincoln Square neighborhood with my tuxedo cat, Emaline. (Who I have no idea what I’m going to do with at the end of August when I leave for a 10-day trip to Portland.) I’ve visited many U.S. cities, Paris, and all over the United Kingdom — and the places I’m most excited to visit someday are French wine country, Greece and New Zealand.

Favorite city you’ve been to:

Paris. God, it’s gorgeous. I went there alone in the summer of 2009, and while I think I’d have enjoyed it more with someone else, it was such an inspiring place to spend a week. Some of the best photos I’ve ever taken < and easily the best writing I’ve ever done. I can’t wait to go back and do it all again — even though I’ll do it so much differently.

Favorite restaurant:

Mario Batali’s Babbo. My friend and I were obsessed with getting in during my visit — you have to call exactly a month in advance and keep calling back until you get through to their reservation line — and when the night finally arrived, we each had the eight-course pasta tasting menu with wine pairings. I kept the menu.

Best place to relax:

Door County, WI. I spent the 4th of July weekend there this year — just a few days after losing my job — and came back feeling so refreshed, renewed and positive about the future.

Best place to have fun:

New York City. Please.

Best trip you’ve ever taken:

Spring Break of my senior year of high school, I went with a group of 100 fellow choir singers on a tour of Italy. We raised money all year to fund the trip, and we spent the next week in Rome, Bologna, Florence, Verona, Venice and Milan singing and experiencing one of the most glorious countries in the world.

What one piece of advice do you have for travelers?

Do your research before you go — make a big list of neighborhoods, attractions, museums, restaurants and other things you’d love to experience — but don’t commit yourself to everything. Plan for your can’t-miss activities and must-try restaurants, but leave wiggle room to be spontaneous. Explore the side streets. Worry less about capturing that 354th shot of _______ monument and more about enjoying NOW.

Where else can we find you on the web?

Website: http://paigeworthy.com

Facebook: http://facebook.com/paigeworthydotcom

Twitter: @paigeworthy

Guest Post | Abroad101.com On Getting Lost

August 3rd, 2011

Will Nichols, avid traveler and writer for Abroad101.com, the leading study abroad review website, has studied economic development in Buenos Aires, worked for a headhunting firm in Madrid, and politely feigned his enjoyment of a boiled caterpillar sandwich in Burkina Faso. He has traveled to 47 countries on 5 continents.

Author and insatiable traveler Rudyard Kipling once wrote that, “The first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it.” This statement would be entirely irrelevant if it didn’t provide a clever segue into what I actually want to point out: The second condition of understanding a foreign country is to lose yourself in it.

So get lost. Seriously, get lost! No, I’m not suggesting that you navigate away from this blog; I’m suggesting that when you begin your travel experience, you get lost. I mean it. When you arrive in a new city, the single most important thing you can do is get completely, utterly, and thoroughly lost. Only by truly losing yourself can you find your way and understand a foreign country.

But if you’ve been blessed with an internal GPS like mine, getting lost is second nature: When I woke up from an impromptu nap on bus #56, somewhere in the northern suburbs of Buenos Aires–and approximately eighteen stops past my apartment–I had no choice but to find my own way home. Relying on the one-two punch of aimless wandering and infallible intuition, I walked a whole two blocks…before swallowing my pride and asking for directions at the nearest gas station. OK, fine, so I couldn’t find my way back on my own…and yeah, maybe I was so absolutely lost that I eventually had to settle for a taxi…and maybe what should have been a fifteen-minute journey took over an hour. But my point is this: I saw a new neighborhood that I wouldn’t have otherwise experienced, I had to communicate in a foreign language to find my way home, and most importantly, I learned that being lost in the deserted streets of the B.A. suburbs in the wee hours of the morning is mildly terrifying. All things considered, it was a learning experience.

If, however, your navigational skills are more advanced than mine, you might need to try to get lost. Here’s a quick and easy recipe for losing yourself and finding your way in a new city:

1. Step out onto the street with the following essential supplies in hand: a wad of cash and your address, written down. (If you’re less extreme, you might take a city map and/or your cell phone)
2. Point in any direction. This direction may be front, back, left, right, or any permutation thereof.
3. Walk in that direction until either (a) the scenery becomes monotonous, (b) you spy something appealing down side street, or (c) your BlackBerry’s 3G signal slows to the point where you can no longer Tweet minute-by-minute travel updates.
4. At this point, pick a new direction.
5. Walk in that direction. Duh.
6. Repeat steps two through five.
7. Stop a stranger and ask where to catch the nearest bus, subway or rickshaw.
8. Board nearest form of transportation and ride until you feel like stopping.
9. Wander back to your dorm or apartment–on foot or public transportation–slowly enough to take in your new surroundings and understand your new home.
10. Congratulations. You’ve overcome the first major obstacle of adjusting to a new city.


Featured Traveler | The Best Of: Travel Advice

August 2nd, 2011

We’ve been doing the Featured Traveler posts for some time now and wanted to highlight the “one piece of advice given to travelers” from a few of our Featured Travelers. If you’re traveling soon, you may want to take their advice for the best travel experience!

Kevin Bluer: Go out of your way to be humble and respect absolutely everyone. Regardless of what you might occasionally think, every single person on this planet has near identical wants and needs: health, sustenance, shelter, etc. In addition, make a concerted effort to “connect” with local people. Without doubt, the most memorable aspects of any trip I have ever taken have come from doing this, although I definitely have a long way to go in terms of perfecting the art.

Annemarie Dooling: Never plan anything. You know the old adage, “If you wanna make God laugh, tell him your plans”? It’s never more true than in travel. Prepare for emergencies with guidebooks or apps or cell service or the number of friends or consulate members, but don’t plan anything. You’ll be really disappointed when the plans fall through.

Andy Ellwood: GO. If you have the chance to see, experience, or try something new, do it. Look for advice from locals and make time for the things that aren’t in the guide books or on ‘Top 10′ lists. And most of all, roll with the punches and hang loose. Things will change and not go according to plan.  Be okay with that and bounce back immediately and find the joy in the journey.

Chris Guillebeau: Don’t listen to anyone who says you’re doing it wrong. You don’t have to travel (or do anything else) according to someone else’s vision of your experience.

Peter Shankman: Smiling gets your incredibly far.

Gwen Taylor: Be non-judgmental.  Yes, the preverbal “they” do things differently but act like you are Margaret Mead who said, “Anthropology demands the open-mindedness with which one must look and listen, record in astonishment and wonder that which one would not have been able to guess. “ Seek to understand like an anthropologist not a xenophobic.

Candice Walsh: Bring napkins. Trust me on that one.

Happy Travels!

Travel Tech | K-Food

August 1st, 2011

Anyone headed to Korea soon? We found the perfect app if you are! The Korean Food Dictionary (K-Food) is an application for the iPhone, iPad and iPod that suggests food for you based on the taste preferences you give them. When traveling, this app can be very convenient as it has a section titled, “Useful Korean Phrases”, which helps when ordering food at restaurants and interacting with different people. You can browse through the dishes by photo too, just in case you don’t know the proper name. Even if you aren’t traveling and you want to know about different Korean dishes, you can read about them and even get directions on how to prepare them at home. K-Food is available in the iTunes Store now for $.99! Don’t you think more countries should have apps like this?

How to choose the right hotel [Infographic]

July 29th, 2011

There are thousands of places online where you can book a place to stay. From AirBnB to Jetsetter, from Hotels.com to GoMio.com the choices are endless. All of the options are taking their toll on travelers requiring up to 25 minutes to book a room.

We think there has to be a smarter way to find great hotels and are excited to see that 24% of people are asking their friends for advice. We’re working on something to make this a whole lot easier.. So sign up, stay tuned and share about your favorite hotels after reading this infographic:


What are the booking patterns of guests in hotels [INFOGRAPHIC] via Tnooz.

Lessons Learned Through Traveling

July 28th, 2011

We see lots of posts from travel bloggers about the lessons they’ve learned from traveling around the world. One list that stood out to us, was from Benny Lewis the creator of Fluent In 3 Months. His list, “29 life lessons learned in traveling the world for 8 years straight” came about the day after his 29th birthday and during the week of his 8 year travel anniversary. It’s always rewarding to look back on the things you’ve learned throughout life. Take a look at Benny’s list and share with us some of the lessons you’ve learned through traveling!