October: Wanderlust Weekend

Wasn’t I just kissing summer goodbye?! Now, here we are already through the first full month of fall! This year is flying by so quickly and I can’t believe that yet another holiday season is just around the corner. Sometimes I feel like life is just moving entirely too fast.

I juggle a lot between working full-time, blogging, freelance writing, building a business, samba, occasionally volunteering, and spending quality time with Jave. Sometimes I wish I had more time to just sit down and catch up on all of my book club reading (I’ve only attended four meetings so far this year!), or to catch up on all of my rubbish reality TV shows without distraction, or to just sit and do absolutely nothing. Can you relate?

These days, the only reading I seem to make time for are all of my travel-related reads including the latest issues of my favorite travel magazines, travel-related press releases, and other travel blogs. The good thing is that my travel-related reads have introduced me to some really good articles by some really good writers.

Anyway, I thought that it’d be nice to slow things down a bit towards the weekend at the end of each month by sharing some of my favorite travel reads with you guys in my new monthly blog series, Wanderlust Weekend. So with that said, here are my favorite October travel reads (not necessarily written in October)…

Feel Good

  • In his article written for Estimated Time of Arrival, J Russell Mikkelsen shares his thoughts on what makes Norway weird. Mikkelsen dishes on a variety of Norwegian quirks – from their language to their food. Read it – it’ll make you chuckle.
  • One of my travel icons, Anthony Bourdain, dished about his travel style in an interview with Esquire. I was a huge “No Reservations Fan” and now I’m continuing to revel in Bourdain’s foodie travels around the world on CNN’s “Parts Unknown”. Do you watch it?
  • Check out the Travel Channel’s slideshow showing images from the world’s happiest countries. I think you’ll be surprised by the list, and it only proves that money does NOT necessitate happiness.
  • As I checked the mail after coming home from a long day at work, I was particularly excited to find the November 2013 issue of Traveler in my box to greet me. As I flipped through the issue to see who was named as Nat Geo’s Travelers of the Year, I was even more excited when I came across Tracey Friley’s profile. You see, earlier this year Tracey interviewed me about my volunteer travels. It’s at that time that I first became aware of The Passport Party Project, Tracey’s grassroots project that, with the help of Expedia, gifted 100 underserved girls across the country with their very first passports. This year Tracey and six of the girls traveled to Belize, and next year, they’re off to Paris. Through The Passport Party Project, the girls also learn the value of voluntourism as they incorporate volunteering into their travels – something I’m so passionate about! So congrats to Tracey – keep trailblazing and keep inspiring!

Women’s Issues                                                          

  • A woman is raped in Saudi Arabia, and the law there affords her ZERO protection. In fact, the law requires her to be punished. I’m sorry, but stories like this disgust me. To be violated in the worst possible way and then to be told that it was her fault?! Unacceptable!
  • There’s been lots of talk about solo female travel to India following incidents of rape resulting in the victims’ deaths. As a result, many women have sworn off solo travel to India. But on her blog, The Great Affair, Candace Rose Rardon offers a different perspective. It’s well worth a read.


  • To date, about half of my short-term experiences volunteering abroad have entailed working with children. I recently came across an article by Flora the Explorer that’s given me food for thought on how to approach volunteering with children. What I’ve taken from this article is the need to ask a few key questions before volunteering with kids: 1) Who are the children that I’ll be working with?, 2) What’s their background?, and 3) How and why is my appearance as a volunteer going to benefit them, really?
  • Anyone who believes that racism is dead because it’s 2013 is foolish and delusional. I recently came across this article featuring real life accounts of racism in Germany. Call me a cynic, but I’m not surprised. This article reminded me of my trip to Germany back in 2001 when a German tour guide approached me and my travel mates at our hotel’s breakfast table and asked in all seriousness, “What is this – a colored convention?”
  • I’d never heard of Camino de Santiago until reading this story, but the moving life lessons that Cat of Sunshine and Siestas learned during her pilgrimage have inspired me to make the trek myself one of these days.


Best Photos

  • Leigh’s photos of the Banff Legacy Trail featured on Hike Bike Travel belong in a magazine and I was sure to tell her so. Just look at them!

Controversial Photo

In my recent post about Santo Domingo, I included a picture of a filthy beach that we came across in the city. I also posted the picture on my Facebook page. Now, those of you who’ve read my posts on the Dominican Republic know that I genuinely love the country and have always portrayed it in a positive light because my overall experiences there were very positive. Well, some Facebook peeps from the DR hated the picture of this filthy beach and accused me of portraying their country negatively. One commenter even went so far as to call me a coño (look it up). That was a bit much so I had to ban her. Annoyed by the negative feedback, I recalled this hilarious post from the Young Adveturess. Re-reading it instantly made me feel better.

Although it bothered me that people misinterpreted my reasoning behind posting the picture, in the end, I stand by my decision to post it. As a traveler and as a travel blogger, I’m always going to be honest about my experiences – the good, the bad, and the ugly. The way I see it, those locals who were so hot and bothered by the picture should really take responsibility and take the necessary steps  to clean up that beach.


  • I actually read this story by T.W. Anderson over at Marginal Boundaries last month, but it’s definitely remained in my mind so I’m glad to share it here with you. In it, he discusses his girlfriend Cristina’s transition to entrepreneurship. So inspiring!
  • While I’ve only been blogging for just shy of a year now, I’ve learned that it’s truly a very time-consuming labor of love. In her recent post on Camels & Chocolate, Kristin reminded me of the importance of focusing on my travel business. Because my goal is not to be a full time travel blogger, but a multi-faceted travel entrepreneur. Thanks for the reminder, Kristin!


  • I definitely want more freelance writing opportunities in my life, but it’s a constant hustle that can be very frustrating at times. But seeing my name in print is always rewarding and I was pumped to finally get the October 2013 issue of AAA’s Westways magazine in the mail. Check out the online version of my latest article about day-tripping to Goleta, Santa Barbara’s neighbor to the west.
  • I don’t know if I ever shared this with you guys, but I’m an author for GoAbroad.com, an information hub for student and volunteer travelers alike. Please check out my author page and articles.


I hope you enjoyed reading some of these articles and stories. Please let me know which ones moved you, and please let me know if you came across any great travel reads in October.