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Travel Blogger Series: Suzanne from PhilaTravelGirl

May 9, 2016

Today’s featured blog guest is Suzanne from PhilaTravelGirl. Suzanne’s blog is a great resource for budgeting for your trip. We’re attempting to fly back to the US on rewards points only, so Suzanne’s blog has been a helpful to learn new tricks and tips.

Suzanne is also a Virtuoso affliliate travel advisor so now you can read about her travels and reviews, Being an affiliate, Suzanne can help book similar travels for you. The new site is Arden Road Travel www.ardenroadtravel.com.

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Suzanne with the Fiat500 tour in Florence

How do you stay healthy when you travel?

I try to walk as much as I can, sign up for bike tours and use the stairs whenever it makes sense (definitely on cruise ships but not always on the London Underground). Having a good workout routine at home, Lithe Method, allows me to take a workout break to indulge on the road without much guilt – there are too many great wines and desserts to sample around the world! I divorce my food journal, count zero calories and really enjoy my travels

Any tips to learning more about a culture and meeting locals when you don’t speak the language?

Antipasti at La Rosa Sorrento

Antipasti on a private tour of Sorrento in Italy

I’ve hired many private guides to show me the popular and hidden spots in their hometowns. Learning about the food gives you a peek into the culture – In Sorrento, I had a fabulous tasting lunch at a local restaurant, in Split and Lisbon, we stopped roadside to order local sandwiches from the food window. In Lima, I attended a cooking class and made local Peruvian foods (those chefs are miracle workers as my food was actually edible!). Bike Tours, Walking Tours and Behind the Scenes tours are also great options to learn more about a destination.

What’s your favorite thing about traveling?

The ability to escape my bubble at home and reset my mind, body and spirit while exploring the world and learning more about people, culture and myself along the way. I love to meet new people around the world, share stories and return a changed person. Nothing is more relaxing and exciting than a window seat looking out at the clouds, the sunrise or the sunset knowing that my journey is just beginning.

What’s your travel pet peeve?

  • Solo (Single) Supplements – I hate them as they prevent many people from traveling.
  • Gate lice (the hoards of people in the US at the gate trying to get ahead of others to get their bag in the overhead bin)
  • Travelers in Business Class walking in and out of the bathroom with bare feet and then putting their feet on their seat (yuck!)
  • Hotel Check In Times – I hate to wait to get into my room, we need more hotels on a rolling 24/7 check-in/out schedule
  • The $30+ Hotel Breakfast

What’s the most surreal place you’ve ever visited?

Okavango Delta Botswana

Okavango Delta in Botswana

In 2012, I had the amazing opportunity to redeem for award travel to Easter Island in Spring and Africa for a month in Fall. It was a crazy year of surreal experiences. One highlight (of many) was the Okavango Delta in Botswana is where I sat in my mokoro boat guided on the water watching the African sunset and realizing how blessed I was to have the desire to learn more about the world. We had just finished our walking safari tracking animals and I was gliding back through the channels of reeds blowing in the warm wind content that I had found a part of the world unspoiled and still off the grid. They say Africa changes you and for me it definitely did as I started writing about my travels, found a community of travelers around the world I now call friends and gave me the opportunity to start my own business, Arden Road Travel, planning travel for others interested in exploring the world with a side of luxury.

What are some of your “must pack” items? Why?

  • My Nordstrom Tissue Cashmere Scarf – it’s lightweight yet warm and functions as a scarf, blanket or head covering
  • Fleece Pullover – I get cold everywhere including the plane so this is always in my carryon
  • My Snack Bag of Chocolate, Cashews & Cookies – I’ve made many new friends and bribed a few others with chocolate and/or cookies. It’s hard for people to be grumpy when eating chocolate or cookies. The cashews are great snacks but not great bribes.
  • Bags, Bags and More Bags – I generally have a collapsible duffel in my suitcase in case I need to make check in weight on an overseas flight or ship my clothes from one city to another. I have a reusable bag for market treks and my LuLuLemon bag for snacks. These three plus lots of ziploc bags (great for takeaway food, icepacks and jewelry) make me a bit of a bag lady ready for a plethora of situations.
  • Magazines and Books – I prefer to disconnect and catch up on the pile of magazines in the house and read a hardcover/paper book. I can then share them once done with other passengers (it drives me crazy when folks fly with nothing to do but stare ahead for hours), flight crew and others along the way.

What do you use for luggage? Are you team backpack or suitcase?

I’m team “kneel on the suitcase to expel all possible air out to make the checked luggage weight”
Depends on the trip, but usually I have backpack as carryon with the important things (camera, laptop, contact solution/glasses and 1-5 above) and a suitcase as checked luggage.

Any tips for jet lag?

Know your body and what works for you. For travel to Europe on the overnight flights, I will often pay extra for the hotel room the night before to guarantee an early arrival (say 7 a.m.) so I can go to sleep and reset my body. I’m not a fan of sleeping in the lobby waiting for check in time. For Australia, I recently went via Asia and stayed overnight to get sorted on the time zone. It was the first time, I wasn’t down for days due to jet lag. It’s all about a routine – I bring my cookies and snacks (powerbars, cashews, etc.) to keep my stomach on food it knows.

What are your favorite travel apps?

  • WhatsApp
    XE Currency
    TripLingo (language app)
    WordLens (translate menus and other foreign words on screen)
    Your Rights (EU transit rights)

If I visit your country, what’s one meal I can’t miss?

The U.S. has amazing foods by region and cities so there are a plethora of can’t miss meals depending on where you are. For Philadelphia, I enjoy taking visitors to the Reading Terminal Market where they can sample a Cheesesteak, Roasted Pork Sandwich, see the Amish and taste their popular doughnuts made fresh in front of you (the lines are worth it). With vendor stalls throughout the market you can also enjoy Italian cannoli, freshly made chocolate, PA General Store locally made foods and the Sour Cherry Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookie from Metropolitan Bakery.

Can you share your favorite hidden treasure (place, food, event) that you found while traveling? I understand if you can’t!

Azure Window Gozo

Gozo in Malta (Azure Window)

  • Paul A Young Chocolates in London – I’m addicted to the Popcorn Pave of Sea Salted Caramel, Chocolate and Popcorn in thin squares
  • The Underground Tour of Street Art in Paris
  • Garry of Longhorn YOUnique Tours in Melbourne – the Great Ocean Road was made even more fabulous with Garry and his homemade treats on a small private tour
  • Malta and the Island of Gozo
  • The Okavango Delta of Botswana

What’s your favorite thing about travel blogging?

I don’t have a ton of readers but it only takes one to say “thank you for writing about x, we went there and loved it” – that’s just such a great feeling to know I helped someone travel. I’ve also connected with travel bloggers around the world who are now friends and great resources.

If you can answer, favorite place to visit?

London, Paris, Sydney, Seattle are on my repeat list

Where is the next place you’re traveling to?

I’m planning on going back to the Toronto International Film Festival in September as I love the movies from around the world. It’s a great showcase to show no matter where we live, what our backgrounds might be, we all strive for the same things – to be happy in our work, to provide for our families and to be loved. No language translation apps needed – the emotional stories are on the screen.

I’m also planning on hopefully taking my mom on her dream trip to Ireland.

Travel, Travel Bloggers

Travel Blogger Series: Ashley from The Wandering Weekenders

May 2, 2016

Today’s Travel Blogger guest is Ashley from The Wandering Weekenders. I’ve been reading Ashley’s blog for awhile so I was really excited that she’s participating in this series. Whether you’re taking a quick weekend trip (hence the name!) or planning a longer vacation, Ashley’s blog offers up a ton of great tips and advice. Ashley and her husband, Chris, live in Texas with their sweet pup Dart.

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How do you stay healthy when you travel?

On our trips we try to do as much hiking or walking as we can to try and stay active. It always amazes me how many more steps I get when we’re on vacation than a normal weekend at home. When we visited Universal Studios in January, we got over 20,000 steps both days we were there!

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Butter beer!

Any tips to learning more about a culture and meeting locals when you don’t speak the language?

Unfortunately we haven’t been too many places where they don’t speak English or Spanish, but that will all change when we go to Europe in September! I’ve always found that food tends to bring people together, and I have a feeling that’s where we’ll be meeting a lot of locals and getting to know the culture when we’re there!

What’s your favorite thing about traveling?

I think that the obvious answer to the question is all the wonderful new experiences we have in the places we visit, but I’m going to go for the not so obvious answer, all the food! It’s no secret that I’m a big planner when it comes to traveling, but the thing that I probably plan out the most when we travel is where we’re going to eat. There’s nothing we love more than getting to try out some amazing local food!

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What’s your travel pet peeve?

Slow pokes in the airport! After all the weekend trips my husband and I have taken, we’ve kind of become pros at making our way through the airport. The one thing that always makes the security line a little worse than usual is when you get a slow poke in front of you! It’s even worse when they try to put their shoes and all their accessories on right at the X-ray machine!

What’s the most surreal place you’ve ever visited?

I think that I’d have to say Kauai was the most surreal place that I’ve ever visited. The natural beauty of the island was just so awe inspiring, that I kept on turning to my husband and saying “I can’t believe we’re here!” Kauai is not only home to Waimea Canyon, the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, but also the Na Pali Coast which is an absolutely beautiful and rugged section of coast that’s only accessible by boat, foot, or helicopter. There are no roads that go on that side of the island.

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Kauai

What are some of your “must pack” items? Why?

iPad- I don’t think that there’s anyway that I could survive without my iPad on a trip. I have my Nook and Kindle accounts on it, and there’s no way I could survive without a book on the plane!

My Camera- I’m a huge shutterbug on our trips, and I love looking back at our pictures from our trips to remember all the fun things we did!

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Portable iPhone Charger- I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been gone all day long on a trip and I had my phone almost die! Now there’s not a trip that we don’t go on where I don’t remember to bring my portable charger!

What do you use for luggage? Are you team backpack or suitcase?

We’re definitely team suitcase when it comes to traveling! My goal is to pack in a carry on for our trip to Europe, and that’s going to be a big stretch for me. I don’t know if we could pack for a long trip in backpack, so major props to Carly and her husband for being able to do it!

Any tips for jet lag?

We really haven’t had to deal with jet lag (yet!), but I’ve heard that trying to sleep when you’re going to a time zone that’s ahead of you will help to wake up fully refreshed. The opposite is true if you’re going to a time zone that’s behind you, you’re supposed to stay awake on the plane.

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Ashley’s dog Dart


If I visit your country, what’s one meal I can’t miss?

Technically Texas is kind of like its own country, so I would say you couldn’t leave without eating Tex Mex! There’s a lot of people that will probably tell you that you need to try BBQ (which is amazing as well), but I think that our Tex Mex is out of this world!

If you can answer, favorite place to visit?

For me, I think that it’s a toss up between Northern California and Hawaii. I think that both places have so much incredible natural beauty that I could spend years just exploring and taking a ton of pictures, but they also have a ton of stuff to do! You could probably live in San Francisco for years and not get a chance to do everything the city has to do, not to mention the amazing areas surrounding San Francisco like Big Sur, Napa, and Lake Tahoe. Hawaii has kind of the same thing, each island has their own personality that you could spend years getting to know and exploring.

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Pacific Coast Highway

Where is the next place you’re traveling to?

We have a couple of weekend trips planned for the near future, but our first non-weekend trip of the year is to Portland, Oregon. I can’t wait to explore this amazing city that I’ve heard so many wonderful things about, and, of course, eat all of the amazing food!

Travel, Travel Bloggers

Travel Blogger Series: Eileen from Pure Wander and Crooked Flight

April 25, 2016

Today’s travel blogger feature is Eileen from Pure Wander and Crooked Flight. Pure Wander is geared towards family travel adventures and Crooked Flight is a travel site for female and couple travelers. Both blogs offer some great resources for planning and trip and suggestions once you’ve arrived to your destination. Eileen is originally from Boston, Massachusetts, but is currently living the expat life with her husband in London. You can keep up with Eileen’s adventures via her Instagram and Twitter.

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Bio Photo small res

How do you stay healthy when you travel?

Hydrate. Always. I hydrate not only by drinking water but try to keep my skin fresh with things like Evian spray, which also helps me feel alert and awake. Sometimes food can be a challenge, but I do try to keep meals as balanced as possible to avoid feeling sluggish or bloated. It’s way more fun to see the world when you feel your best!

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At a waterfall in Iceland

Any tips to learning more about a culture and meeting locals when you don’t speak the language?

Respectful observation and humility are ways to get a glimpse into other cultures. If you see something you’d like to take a closer look at, don’t shove your camera in or get in the way. Have a look at the musicians, try your hand at crafts if invited, but realize it’s a privilege to be included at all. Not knowing the language is always a challenge, but I really do try to have a dozen words memorized before I go somewhere – even please and thank you in a local language goes a really long way!

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Stonehedge

What’s your favorite thing about traveling?

I like that it’s not hard to find spontaneity while on the road. Even if you have your whole itinerary mapped out, the unexpected will happen and keep you on your toes. I like breaking up my routine and seeing how other people live their lives. I’m also a sucker for a beautiful landscape, from mountains to the sea.

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The Amalfi Coast

What’s your travel pet peeve?

People who don’t go with the flow. Anything and everything can go wrong, so there’s no use making yourself and others miserable because of changes in plans.

What’s the most surreal place you’ve ever visited?

I always think I won’t be surprised anymore, but most destinations have floored me in their own special ways. The north island of New Zealand was pretty wild, covered in tropical fern forests and endless beaches. Recently, Morocco surprised me with its welcoming vibe and beauty, from the chaotic cities to the staggering Atlas Mountains.

What are some of your “must pack” items? Why?

I’ve been digging my Ollo clip lately – it’s a lens that goes over your iPhone for wide angle and macro shots. Much less bulky than my DLSR and fun to use. Otherwise, I might just pack a few pairs of jeans, a dress and some tops, but I ALWAYS pack extra underwear and socks!

What do you use for luggage? Are you team backpack or suitcase?

I’ve been meaning to make the switch to backpack but haven’t committed to one yet. For now, I have a small wheeled suitcase – just about small enough to fit as carryon.

Any tips for jetlag?

Jetlag really is the worst, but I again try to drink water and void too much booze on the plane. I also allow myself to have a day and just rest on either end if it’s a big trip. I rather take it slow at first then ruin the rest of the experience because I feel awful.

What are your favorite travel apps?

I still swear by Google Maps – if even just for the compass feature so I can get my bearings quickly. I also enjoy playing around with Duolingo before I go to a new place to learn a few keywords in the local language.

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If I visit your country, what’s one meal I can’t miss?

I’m from Boston originally, and you have to dig into the in-season fresh seafood. Lobster, shellfish, all of it. Amazing. Here in London I love all the food and can’t miss a Sunday roast with fluffy Yorkshire puddings, which are more of a pastry bread than a sweet!

Can you share your favorite hidden treasure (place, food, event) that you found while traveling? I understand if you can’t!

Around Easter time in Seville, Spain, the whole city shuts down for an even called Feria. Everyone goes all out with flamenco dresses, horse drawn carriages, dancing and decorated casetas, or tents that line the streets.

What’s your favorite thing about travel blogging?

I just love the freedom. When I get to work in different places all over the world and share those amazing destinations with a global audience, there’s no bigger thrill on earth for me.

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If you can answer, favorite place to visit?

My heart belongs to southern Spain, especially the city of Seville. I was a student there years ago and returned as an au pair for a while too. The Andalusian spirit, or ‘duende’ is beautifully woven into their music, food and welcome to visitors.

Where is the next place you’re traveling to?

I’m currently in the Marrakech, Morocco airport on my way home to London. Next stop this month is either Poland, Sri Lanka – or both!

Travel, Travel Bloggers

Travel Blogger Series: Jen from The Trusted Traveler

April 18, 2016

This week’s featured travel blogger guest is Jen from The Trusted Traveler. Jen and her husband Mick run a blog that provides valuable travel resources. The Trusted Traveler is a great spot for suggested itineraries, travel tips, reviews, list of things to do in many destinations, as well as just general travel advice.

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Any tips to learning more about a culture and meeting locals when you don’t speak the language?

Try to learn at least a few basic phrases in the local language. I’ve found that the locals are much more inclined to try and talk to you in English if you make an effort in their language.

What’s your favorite thing about traveling?

Travel is freedom to me. Being able to explore and discover new sights, sounds, tastes and people is what gets me out of bed each day and motivates me in life. On any given day on the road you could be discovering a hidden gem, meeting an interesting person or tasting sometime unlike anything you’ve tried before.

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Jen and her husband Mick on Miyajima Island in Japan

What’s your travel pet peeve?

Large tour groups who have no respect for other travellers or locals. I’ve come across many in my travels and on occasion have found them to be disrespectful.

What’s the most surreal place you’ve ever visited?

A few years ago we took a day trip from Edinburgh up through the Scottish Highlands. The scenery on the drive was so surreal and unlike anything I’d seen before. I kind of felt like I was travelling on another planet.

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Scottish Highlands

What are some of your “must pack” items? Why?

A good pair of headphones is essential for long travel days. I also never leave home without my camera. I love taking photos that capture my experiences to share on my website, social media and to keep as mementos to myself for later on.

What do you use for luggage? Are you team backpack or suitcase?

Team backpack mostly. On long trips, especially when travelling from place to place, a backpack is most convenient. However if I am just travelling for a weekend away, I love my little carry-on sized suitcase to save the hassle of checked baggage.

Any tips for jetlag?

Try to get your body back into a regular sleeping pattern right away. No day time naps or early nights, just try to stay up until a normal bed time for your new destination. It might seem hard at the time but it is the quickest way to get over jetlag in my opinion.

What are your favorite travel apps?

No necessarily just travel related, I love the Countdown+ app. You add the date of an upcoming event, like your next trip, into the app and it gives you the number of days, hours and minutes until your trip begins. It helps keep me motivated for saving money and keeps me excited for all the fun things I have coming up.

If I visit your country, what’s one meal I can’t miss?

Australia has some of the best seafood in the world. I always recommend to visitors that they should try some of it while they are here. Everything from basic fish and chips to BBQ prawns and lavish hot and cold seafood platters.

Can you share your favorite hidden treasure (place, food, event) that you found while traveling? I understand if you can’t!

I can’t think of anything specific but I can tell you that the best way to find hidden gems is to go off the beaten path even in the most popular places around the world. Lose the map and get lost in the lanes, eat at places away from the main squares and immerse yourself in the local culture by visiting obscure events and celebrations.

If you can answer, favorite place to visit?

New Zealand! We’ve just returned from our third visit to the country and each time it gets harder and harder to leave. The scenery is out of this world amazing, the people are so ridiculously friendly and the food is top notch. I can definitely see myself living there, maybe in Wanaka, someday when my travels settle down a bit more.

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Lake Matheson on New Zealand’s South Island

Where is the next place you’re traveling to?

My husband Mick and I are just days away from embarking on an indefinite road trip around Australia. We’ll be travelling slowly so create perfect work life travel balance. We’ve lived in Sydney most of our lives and have seen more of the world then our own country. So we thought it was a about time we explored Australia and all the amazing things it has to offer.

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Thanks for participating in this series, Jen! I think I could see myself living in Wanaka, too. It’s absolutely wonderful!

Travel, Travel Bloggers

Travel Blogger Series: Chartered Territory – An Engineer Abroad

March 28, 2016

Today’s guest in the Travel Blogger Series is Ben from Chartered Territory, An Engineer Abroad. Ben is from the UK, but is currently living the expat life in Hong Kong.

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Travel by ship

How do you stay healthy when you travel?

We like our food so will always eat well, healthy options abound. Tend to opt for rice, pulse and salad-based meals, quite light, nutritious and great for eating on the go ! Travelling often entails a fair amount of walking to and around sites of interest so that helps burn off any unwanted calories and should we be fortunate enough to stay in a hotel with pool it will be well-used ! To ward off those unwanted tummy upsets, a tiny shot of whisky first thing in the morning is an excellent trick – taught us by a nurse ! This, according to theory, produces stronger stomach acid which in turn sees off any deleterious matter which might enter during the day. Does it work ? Seems to. When travelling in countries of hygienic ill-repute (you know who you are !!) we often break every rule in the book and live off roadside salads – without so much as a gastric murmur !

Any tips for learning more about a culture and meeting locals when you don’t speak the language?

It can be difficult without language though it’s always good to learn a few basics before leaving. Travelling with a pleasant demeanour, we find, certainly encourages some folk, especially those keen on honing their English skills, to step forward and have a go – breaks the ice, we do similar but the other way round. A smile and a friendly gesture are the traveller’s most important entry requirements – just like passports and visas, don’t leave home without them ! Bars are always a good place for meeting and mixing, perhaps a little alcohol emboldens the timorous amongst us. As for culture, we always try to read-up before going, the risk of missing out is at all costs to be eliminated !

What’s your favorite thing about traveling?

Quite simply it’s the getting away from what we might regard as a ‘normal’, the chance to experience something different, fresh encounters, a whole new way of doing things and of course, a little inward reflection never goes amiss.

What’s your travel pet peeve?

No great peeves though suitcases with wheels seem designed to irritate by just getting in the way, bruising ankles and constituting a major trip-hazard. I’d say that if you need wheels to shift a bag then it’s too heavy, simple as that. I also wonder if easy-wheels encourage people to pack too much stuff, a good time to rethink one’s travel wardrobe methinks !

What’s the most surreal place you’ve ever visited?

The Kingdom of Bhutan. The only country to enforce a traditional dress code which, although extremely fetching, does conjure images of a latter-day William Tell or Robin Hood, which is ironic in one way as archery is the national sport ! It is quite surreal to be stood at a supermarket checkout, we in tatty, western garb, the sales assistant dressed like a 15th-century serf, though very smart it must be said, and all of us subservient to some clattering 20th-century check-out equipment – great !

What are some of your “must pack” items? Why?

Not much really. Swimming kit and goggles as we love water and it also counts towards that ‘healthy’ aspect of question one ! A camera of course, though not always essential. A little washing powder also, means we can do some laundry as we go and therefore pack a lot less !

What do you use for luggage? Are you team backpack or suitcase?

As I always say: backpack for travelling, suitcase for holidays and moonlit flits !

Any tips for jet lag?

It does help if, once on the plane, you start to think in the time of your destination, also, try some gentle exercise as soon as you’re settled there, hence another good reason to pack those swimming trunks and goggles ! The only other sure way of defeating jet lag, time permitting, is to travel overland or by sea – think cargo ships, a great experience, good fun and surprisingly comfortable !

Curing jet-lag

A great cure for jet lag

What are your favorite travel apps?

No travel apps here, with us it’s all down to ‘aptitude’ and a sense of exploration ! Also we love the touch and smell of well-used charts, maps and books, sometimes the older the better !

If I visit your country, what’s one meal I can’t miss?

As I’m from UK I’d have to say fish and chips by the seaside, but as I now live in Hong Kong, it would have to be a delicious dim sum at a quaint Chinese eatery !

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Dim sum

Can you share your favorite hidden treasure (place, food, event) that you found while traveling? I understand if you can’t!

Oh dear, food again ! The Chinese dish of beggar’s chicken (jiao hua ji) does it for us, a whole chicken marinaded with a herb and Shaoxing wine infusion, wrapped in lotus leaves and plastered with a light clay before oven baking – wonderful !

If you can answer, favorite place to visit?

Anywhere in Asia though Japan stands out; so cultured, so different and such a joy to travel.

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Japan

Where is the next place you’re traveling to?

Not sure yet, moved to Hong Kong last year so it will probably be somewhere nearby.

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Hong Kong

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Thanks for participating, Ben! I’m excited to find some dim sum while in Hong Kong!

Travel, Travel Bloggers

Travel Blogger Series: Paula from Sydney Expert

March 21, 2016

This week’s Travel Blogger Series features Paula from Sydney Expert. Sydney Expert is a great resource for anyone looking to visit Sydney. Whether you’ve been to Sydney before or you’re a first timer, Paula’s blog features a lot of useful tips on planning your visit in regards to sightseeing, accommodations and transportation.

Adam and I will be in Sydney in a few short weeks and Paula’s blog has been a very helpful resource for planning our trip.

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Casey

Paula with a reader she met while traveling

 

What are your top three tips for saving money while traveling in Sydney?

My biggest tip is to get an Opal card and spend some time figuring out how the system works. If you are here for more than a few days then using public transport will save you time and money. If you’re not sure how much to load start with $10 or $20 and load more as you go. The Opal card offers cheaper rides than paper tickets and also rewards you with free trips after you have taken 8 trips in one week.

There are rules about what makes up a trip but I have written a blog post explaining it all here. On Sunday, all day travel is only $2.50 so this is a great day to take a ferry to Manly or a train to the Blue Mountains

Another must is to book a free tour with Sydney Greeters. The greeters are part of the Global Greeter network and offer visitors a 3hr or more tour of a part of the city they love. It’s a great way to get a local’s perspective on the city if you don’t have friends in town.

Greeters can also point out good places to visit and things to do while you are here. I volunteer as a greeter about once a month and I love it. Meeting travellers while you are saving for your next trip is almost like travelling. It’s best to book a couple of weeks before you arrive.

Eating out in Sydney can get pretty expensive. If you are on a tight budget head to Newtown and check out the cheap eats. Newtown borders Sydney University so there are lots great deals aimed at students. Also, Paddy’s market at Haymarket is great for cheap fresh fruit and vegetables.

What’s the one meal I can’t miss in Australia?

I find this an impossible question to answer; there is so much great food in Sydney that regardless of your budget you can eat well.

Sampling some of Sydney’s fresh seafood is hard to beat whether it’s fish and chips by the beach or oysters from The Morrison Bar & Oyster Room. Aussies also love lamb and the best in Sydney, in my opinion, is at Matt Moran’s Chiswick at either the Art Gallery of NSW or in Woollahra.

For food on the go try a lamington from Lorraine’s Patisserie in George Street, some Strawberry and Watermelon cake from Black Star Pastry (Newtown or Town Hall) and an old fashioned Aussie hamburger with beetroot if you get the chance.

You write about Sydney, but what other travel destinations are your favorites?

I tend to be drawn to cities when I travel. I like to spend a lot of time just walking the streets observing everyday life.  In that respect New York is at the top of my list, I love that there is always so much going on wherever you look.  There are lots of small bars and venues for live music, great street art and a huge variety of food, all things I love. I also found Hanoi, another frantically busy city fascinating; it was so completely different from anywhere I had been before that I walked around mesmerised for 2 weeks.

P1060392Traveling through Halong Bay in Vietnam

On the flipside, my favourite Australian place, aside from Sydney of course, is the lovely quiet city of Hobart in Tasmania.  Tasmania generally has it all – heritage buildings, amazing landscapes and fantastic, fresh local produce.  It’s a photographer and a foodies dream.

What’s your favorite thing about traveling?

I love researching and reading in preparation for travelling almost as much as the actual trips 😉  seriously though it is being somewhere new, seeing new ways of living and talking to locals that really makes travelling special for me.

What’s your travel pet peeve?

I get annoyed by people who insist on taking half their worldly goods on planes as carry-on.  It slows down boarding and leaves little overhead storage for others.

What are your favourite travel apps?

I love Tripit, it pulls all your travel-related messages like confirmations etc. from your email account and automatically imports them into the app.  You can also add anything else you like directly.  Once you have done that it’s really easy to share your plans with fellow travellers (or your mum!)

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Thanks for much for being apart of this series Paula! I feel better prepared to take on Sydney!

Travel, Travel Bloggers

Travel Blogger Series: Sucheta of Go Eat Give!

March 14, 2016
Go Eat Give Travel Interview

Today I’m introducing a new feature to Carly Blogs: The Travel Blogger Series

Travel blogs have been instrumental in helping organize and plan our trip. There is so much information available from travel blogs – whether it’s advice on booking the best hotel in a location or tips on how to avoid getting scammed; we have learned so much just from reading about other’s experiences.

I wanted to start this travel blog series as a way to learn more about bloggers and introduce my readers to some great resources.

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Today’s featured travel blogger is Sucheta from Go Eat Give. Sucheta is an award-winning food and travel writer who founded Go Eat Give, an organization that offers immersive food and travel experiences.

A Go Eat Give Indian Cooking Class

Go Eat Give Indian Cooking Class

Go Eat Give offers a few programs to connect the world of food, travel, and education. They host monthly Destination Dinners in Atlanta where guests can experience a new cultural dining experience at a local restaurant, they offer cooking classes where participants can learn to cook a new international cuisine, and Go Eat Give provides customized vacation itineraries to help travelers immerse themselves into the country they’re visiting.

So without further adieu, I’ll let Sucheta take it away:

How do you stay healthy when you travel?

I start each morning with yoga in my room. It helps me stay physically & mentally fit. You don’t need to carry any special equipment, look for a gym and it only takes a few minutes. Typically, my breakfast includes a big plate of fruits & tea or coffee. I also take vitamin C, zinc, echinacea & dried figs for added nutrition.

Any tips for learning more about a culture and meeting locals when you don’t speak the language?

Definitely, do your homework before you arrive at your destination. Learn a few words for greetings & know about cultural nuances so you don’t come across as an arrogant tourist. The language of smile is universal & it helps me get out of most situations when I don’t speak the language.

What’s your favorite thing about traveling?

My favorite thing about traveling is learning. I like to experientially learn everything about the culture – history, people, costumes, food, etc. If you stay home & read about another country, its great; but actually living through the pages is another thing. It stays with you forever.

What’s your travel pet peeve?

I can’t stand it when people arrive at a destination with a checklist of things to see packed in a short amount of time. They take the tourist bus tours to take drive-by photos of every single monument or neighborhood, without having to understand the story behind them. When someone tell me they went for a 10 day, 7 country tour of Europe & saw everything, it makes me feel sorry for them.

What’s the most surreal place you’ve ever visited?

Greenland. It feels like you have stepped away from the planet. There are hardly any people & so much natural beauty all around you.

What are some of your “must pack” items? Why?

When you are traveling so frequently, you are across time zones & in different beds each night, so your sleep patterns tend to get messed up. I recreate my home comforts in the hotel room by carrying my own Tempurpedic pillow, eye mask, ear plugs, & lavender oil for fragrance.

What are your favorite travel apps?

WhatsApp to stay connected; Evernote to keep my itineraries, journals, notes, contacts, etc.

If I visit your country, what’s one meal I can’t miss?

If you come to my hometown of Punjab, India, you have to try sarson ka saag (mustard & spinach greens) & makki ki roti (corn flatbread) with lots of home churned white butter. It is delicious, healthy & legendary. This dish is not commonly found at Indian restaurants anywhere, so you would need to visit a home or typical Dhaba (street restaurant) to try it. I guarantee you will never forget it!

Can you share your favorite hidden treasure (place, food, event) that you found while traveling? I understand if you can’t!

There maybe too many to choose! One of them is the Puri Gangga Resort in the village of Sebatu in Bali. It is a charming sustainable hotel in a quiet village overlooking a Hindu temple. There is nothing touristy around. While most people flock to the all-inclusive beach resorts of Bali & come back with less than optimal view of the island, I feel that here I can find farm to table cuisine, fresh air, friendly service & optimal relaxation.

What’s your favorite thing about travel blogging?

I love travel blogging because I can share my experiences in my own words with anyone. Through my blog, Go Eat Give, I have inspired readers to dig deeper into the culture when they travel, volunteer in the community & get out of their comfort zones. I love to hear from my readers about how they were able to have a positive experience in another country after they implemented recommendations from my blogs and articles.

If you can answer, favorite place to visit?

It is a tough question as I have traveling to some amazing places around the world, but Italy remains one of my favorite destinations. I like to explore the little towns across the country, where the food is great & the scenery always amazing.

Where is the next place you’re traveling to?

In April, I am headed to sleep under the Northern Lights in Lapland, Finland.

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Thanks so much Sucheta for participating in this series! I have promptly downloaded Evernote based on your advice. 🙂

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Are you a travel blogger? Or a blogger who likes to travel? Send me a message if you’d like to participate in this series!