Transport with a splash of color

Recycled in Anatananarivo by Cori B (farflungistan) on 500px.com
Recycled in Antananarivo


Most trips overseas for the intrepid traveler involve overland travel.  There’s sometimes unavoidable on small islands in the Philippines and the desert expanses of the Middle East.  The road offers adventure, perspective to a new place and experiencing the local color.

Some of us have quickly found that schedules in most places do not go as planned.  I think back to my early travel years and the incredibly long ride from Ephesus to Istanbul. The bus ended up including a surprise ferry ride, arrived 4 hours lake, dropped me off way in the suburbs at 23:00 back in 2005.

Local buses usually run on the drivers schedule, make pit stops where they get kick backs and usually end with you saying you are never taking the bus again.  I have yet managed followed through with that promise.  As one fellow passenger said on a very bumpy road in India, “It feels like we are in God’s hands and he’s shaking our bus in them”.  I have taken plenty of  bus rides since , survived them all and will continue to ride (if there’s no other option).

Many claim that taking an airplane is much safer than ground transport but where’s the adventure in that. Airplanes don’t look like these colorful options and not nearly as fun.

VIP Bus in downtown Shiraz Iran by Cori B (farflungistan) on 500px.com
VIP Bus in downtown Shiraz Iran
Custom ride in Palmyra by Cori B (farflungistan) on 500px.com
Custom ride in Palmyra
El Nino Jeepney on Palawan by Cori B (farflungistan) on 500px.com
El Nino Jeepney on Palawan

Short list of WHO WHAT WHERE and HOW for Iran Travel

Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque
Here’s my list of online sites which inspired and kept the dream alive while waiting to see if Iran wanted me to come or not.  I hope they are useful to others looking to go:

US Travel Warnings

British Foreign Office Travel Advisory

WHAT

Destination Iran Tour Site

Traveler Nico from Scotland’s Flickr Stream

Soorm’s Flickr Photos of Iran

WHERE/WEAR

Rick Steves Journal – Iran

WikiTravel – Iran

Wikipedia – Iran

Journeywomen’s Blog

WHY

Uncornered Market Trip to Iran Nov 2011

Why we travel by Paul Theroux

AND HOW?

Iran Railway Infomation

Pars Tour Agency

Magic Carpet Tourist Information

Americans in Iran 2011: Planning, applying and waiting…

It’s May 2011 and our next trip will be to Iran. Ignoring the propaganda and the fact that it could take months to get a visa we begin the visa application process and the trip research. It was now or never and we’re going for it. The trip will be at least 14 days which isn’t a whole lot but enough to get a feel for the country.  The itinerary will need shortening and compose a realistic travel budget and itinerary.   Some amazing things will unfortunately be put back on the wish list. This fairly quick trip will be more a best of Iran opposed to a full tour with no limits and a loose vicarious plan which is usually how we roll.  The classic central Iran itinerary that takes us from Shiraz to Tehran is perfect for 14 days by land.

Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque
Morning in the center of Esfahan

Traveling with a U.S. passport to Iran requires a guided tour.  Americans have a history in the area so it’s understandable that the government wants to keep tabs on us and we have to do it.  Finding a knowledgable local guide who will not make us feel as if we were on a short leash and hopefully compatible in personality is first on the to do list.   Reading other travelers blog posts, checking out Thorntree posts and Google searches lead me to finding Pars Tourist Agency which is a small but well-known tour agency based in Shiraz.  Zehra is very organized, patient and good at getting back to me despite the time change and how the weekends start on Thursday and end on Saturday.   They ended up putting together a customized tour which included all the attractions we wanted to see and within our budget.

The Somewhat Short List of why we decided to go to Iran:

1. UNESCO sites Iran full of them and we’ll be able to see a good chunk of them in two weeks – plus the flight isn’t that long – just 13 hours.

2. Politics aside The middle east has always a political hotbed so stayed informed, avoid any political discussion and enjoy the scenery

3. Low hustler level It’s not like Egypt, Turkey or Morocco where many rely on baksheesh to supplement their low wages (which is actually a Persian word) .

4. The US Dollar Woes For Americans, the dollar is still going down and the required tour and it’s prices just always go up and never down

5. Angry Israel It has been pretty trigger-happy recently and who knows when they will put their threats to action and each day there is something new like today (Nov 2) on Al-Jazeera

Travelling to Iran was always in our thoughts especially when we went to other areas of Asia and the Middle East.  Ancient history, architecture and modern culture is usually the draw to the places my husband and I visit.  The most influential were visits to the Persian designed Taj Mahal, Xian, Jordan and Syria. They are all connected to the former Silk Road and Iran has links to them all. We wanted to see and experience a different side of the region and dig deeper into how the traders along the Silk Road influenced and  shaped the lands they once journeyed through. I wanted to see where were the great battles were fought, learn more about the area’s history and see in person what in terms of physical structures (caravanserai, forts, and ancient cities to name a few) and various forms of art still remain today.   Additionally, I like to find answers to questions like did the travelers and warriors of those periods still have a place in present Iranian society?  How did the past influence today’s society?

If Rick Steves did it then why can’t we? He said himself that he regretted not travelling to neighboring Iraq when he had the chance. I personally want to see what goes on  in Iran – politics aside? How do people live and how will the receive me even after they find out where I’m from.   There are many questions that I hope to find answers to and some will have to remain unanswered until I return in the future.

Great Skate Escapes of NYC Black Friday Holiday Weekend

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For those frugal travelers coming into NYC for some deals on Black Friday there is some hope of having a good time even after the wallet is empty.   NYC is, like many other cities is much more fun without a budget but there’s still so much to do.  It just requires a little more thinking, planning and possible a little more walking or time on the subway.    One of the best ways to spend an afternoon after exercising the wallet here in NYC is spending some time at a local ice rink.  It doesn’t have to be crazy over the top expensive.  Here are some choices which can keep the budget in check while visiting NYC this weekend.

Skating in the Park

There a number of places around Manhattan to skate.  If you can bring your own skates it’s less expensive and even free in some locations.  The first one that comes to mind to most is Rockefeller Center.  Some people just dream about coming here to skate and there’s nothing wrong with making a dream come true.  It’s good to know what you are getting into beforehand.  Well…it maybe an icon but it’s small (the Ice Rink website even says no more than 150 skaters at a time), usually packed (line at peak times is 1-2 hours long), and expensive (you can skate as long as you want but it’s $10-14 for admission and $8 for the rental if they have your size).  If you have to go it’s a good idea to go first thing, during the week and way before the holiday season.  This year that means in the next couple days.

If you really want to skate but $18-22 per person exceeds the budget I suggest a couple of very nice, larger and more affordable places.  The first one that comes to mind is the Ice Rink that is just a few blocks away from the Rock and it’s located inside of the historic Bryant Park. There is 17,000 square feet of open ice for skaters to twirl around in.  They do not charge admission so if you bring your own skates it’s FREE, but the skate rental is $13 (rumor has it is that they are clean and comfortable if that makes you feel better).  Bring your own lock and your shoes can be safely stashed away for free. (the Rock’s lockers are for members only…sorry)  Just keep any bags and larger items back at the room because they charge $7-10 for bag check at Bryant Park.  I didn’t say it was all free.  It just can be if you are frugal and think ahead.

On the northern end of Central Park sites the Lasker Rink and Pool that was built in the 1960’s.  The park as two rinks.  One for  the hip checking high school hockey players and another for all ages.  The park charges $6.50 for adults, $3.50 for youths, and $2.25 for seniors.  The skate rentals for all are $5.50 for all and a lock costs $7.50 but you get back $4 of it when the lock is returned.  That’s fair.  If you have your own skates then it’s a bargain at $2.50-6.50 per person.

photo credit: SETH WERKHEISER of BatteryParkCity.com

There are some unfortunate rinks that didn’t make it out this season.  One of the tops on my list in the rink located in Battery Park downtown.  They didn’t seem to find the right contractor to take over the job.  The site also had some problems due to extremely cold temperatures, larger amounts of snow fall and incidence of fallen debris from nearby construction sites.  Skating is not fun when windows and plywood are in the way.   The skating was $10 with or without rentals which was the best deal around.  I can only hope it maybe makes a late season debut or comes back next year.  I have a feeling the price may go up as it usually does in NYC.

For more info on other area rinks check out  the New York Led which has put together a great guide to these and other NYC metro area rinks.

Get out and enjoy the kind weather we have been enjoying this mild fall here in NYC.  Black Friday can be a fun day if you include some outdoor activities like skating. Happy Skating..and shopping as well!!

Get somewhat off the beaten path in San Francisco

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After a few days of celebrating the Giants win it is time to see the city they call home.  There are the usual attractions that people flock to which include the cablecars, Alcatraz, the Golden Gate bridge to name a few, but if you have been before or just want to learn more about the city why not find an off beat way of doing it. One of the big highlights of visiting any city is exploring it by way of public art.  San Francisco has plenty of it to share and a visitor needs to do is head out, slow down a few feet per minute and look closer to your surroundings which includes what’s above you.

Many artists have made a living by making large sculptures that can only fit inside a large space like the Tate Modern and other galleries around the world or just outdoors.  The lucky ones are able to find sponsors who will provide the funds to transport, create and/or maintain great works for just the purpose of allowing the public to view their works.

There are five particular pieces that are currently on view outdoors in the city of San Francisco.  The first one is entitled Cupids Span by Claes Oldenburg and his wife Coosje van Bruggen in 2002.  The couple have been making these colossal pieces since the late 1970’s and they have been placed all over Europe, the US, England and parts of Asia.  Cupids Span in Rincon Park in the Embarcadero area of downtown San Francisco is a 60 ft. tall 140 ft. wide piece was commissioned by Donald and Doris Fisher, founders of Gap Inc., who donated it to the City of San Francisco and was installed in November 2002.  More information about the sculpture is found here.

A neighbor of the Cupid Span is a tall silver spaceship docked near the newly renovated Ferry Building on the Embarcadero.  The ship is called the Raygun Gothic Rocketship and was created by a collaboration of artists who were sponsored by the BRAF or Black Rock Arts Foundation.  This 40ft tall ship first landed on the Burning Man festival in nearby Nevada in 2009 and will be hanging around here until September 2011 thanks to money raised by the San Francisco Port Commission and varies private donors.  Another work sponsored by BRAF which made her debut at the 2008 Burning Man Festival entitled Ecstasy is currently standing in Patricia’s Green in Hayes Valley (Hayes/Octavia)

Visitors who walk west to the Moscone Center and Yerba Buena Gardens don’t have to go in to SFMOMA and other area museums to see great pieces.  The park itself is filled with beautiful landscape and performing arts space such as the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and the Sony Metreon Theater to name a couple. It is such a work of art in itself that a most visitors can find enjoyment just walking around the grounds.  It’s a great place to picnic, catch up on the guidebook or check email if you must.

There are two large public art pieces that stand out among the rest. The first one is Three Dancing Figures by Keith Haring which is located on the southwest corner of 3rd and Howard.  Kids but not adults are allowed to climb on the sculpture which was displayed in 1989 about a year before the artists’ early death.  The sculpture was one of many brought to the city by the San Francisco Arts Commission.

If you walk east from the Three Dancing Figures you will see the fancy W hotel on the southeastern corner of 3rd and Howard.  If you are standing across the street you will get a good view of the large metal wire sculpture of a woman reclining at the edge of the first few floors.  This sculpture entitled Pneumatic Dreamer by Michael Stutz can be easily missed if you were just walking by.  This particular work was installed in 2001 and was commissioned by the SF Redevelopment Agency.

Next, continue walking a little over a mile or grabbing the MUNI up Market to the Civic Center.  This is home to San Francisco’s Symphony Hall, Main Library and Asian Art Museum.  Across from the museum is a sculpture Three Heads Six Arms by artist Zhang Huan was brought to the city also by the San Francisco Arts Foundation in part of the marking of the San Francisco-Shanghai sister city 30th Anniversary.  This colossal bronze sculpture will be guarding the Civic Center and Asian Art Museum through 2011.  I unfortunately was visiting after the Giants had won the world series, during election season and after it had been victim of graffiti and climbed on.  So it was surrounded by a tall ugly wire fence.

I couldn’t find one guide online to all free public art projects but the best thing to do is just do an online search to the city you are visiting next and you will more than likely find some.  Many times you won’t even realize that something was actually commissioned like I did while researching for this article.  I also came across something online called the San Francisco Art Hunt PDF that was quite interesting and provides a start to exploring SF’s public art.  Looking for Public Art while visiting a new city is a great way to get the lay of the land and do something a little of the beaten path.  Highly recommended.

Eat, Sleep and Meet: Ways to get the most out of Travel

A traveler moves away from being a common tourist to one who actually is an actively taking part in daily life of a foreign land.  Many people go on trips that just end up being type where you roam around like sheep and view the sites as if in a zoo peering though the plexiglass.  This experience is satisfying to many but there is so much more to experience then just being on the sidelines. Make the most out of the trip and see more.  Start with mastering the basics:  Eat, Sleep and Meet.

Start with the basics:  food

These are the two basic things a person needs to seek out in a day.  Nothing is more stressful than trying to find a place to satisfy your hunger in a domestic or international unfamiliar territory.  There are many who give up too easily will and find themselves buying a value meal McDonald’s.  Why not.   The overall quality is consistent, the menu selections doesn’t change from country to country, it’s cheap and most the food not local but imported frozen.  It’s good if you are in a small town on the Danube and all they serve is locally caught fish, but really McDonald’s?  At least try because you may come across a gem that serves a great meal.

Before you give up in venturing into the unknown local culinary scene, take a minute and ask the person checking you in if there are some places to eat near by where you can try some local food.  They usually will have a list of places to recommend.  If they end up being not so good, then it’s time to settle for the familiar, but if they are outstanding then you will be rewarded with a great meal, a unique experience and a great travel story.

Now…shelter

There are so many places available online and even in the old-fashioned hard copy book form that can put you in contact with accommodation that is not your garden variety business or name brand hotel. Most destinations have beds for rent range from space someone’s couch (couchsurfer.com) to staying in a fancy 5-star hotel.  If you are lucky, there are many options to choose from.   If not, the decision is easy since it may be a one trick pony town.  When there are many choices then try to stay somewhere with some character like a small hotel located in a residential neighborhood but not too far from local sites.

Get out of the comfort zone and be adventurous.

It is possible and a bit risky to find your accommodation when you get into town.  It’s ok to take some of the adventure out and put a good list together along with contact information before arrival.   Try to find at least three in the same general area so you don’t have haul your pack too far.  Also take advantage of technology and visit a booking site.  It will make you feel a little less anxious knowing that your list of options have space available.  If the hotels in the area all seem to be booking up and there aren’t many choices it may be a good idea to be safe and pre-book.  Save the adventure for the next town.

Not booking a room until getting into town or a few days before can help in getting a better deal on the room.  Prepare to bargain.  Free wi-fi, breakfast or transport and/or room rate discounts are all up for negotiation.   Can’t hurt to try.  It’s pretty much the more risk a traveler is willing to take the less money a traveler will have to pay out on accommodation.  A savvy traveler can use this as an opportunity to practices some bargaining skills.   Be bold and ask for a more but don’t get too greedy since you do need a room and don’t want to piss people off since you probably are going to be their guest for a few nights.

Finding accommodation as you go does involve some pre-trip planning but can ultimately save you some money and offers chance to meet local residents  since most are places run by families, a group of friends or people who own and run the place themselves.

Learn some of the local dialect

No one expects a new person to an area to be fluent with the local language and dialect but knowing a few words and phrases is a good start and the effort means a lot even if it’s just please and thank you.  Don’t worry and just do your best.  Ultimately, try not to tear the language too much apart.  The grammar and accent are things that someone needs to study over a large amount of time.   Do your best to listen and ask native speakers how to say things once you have built some sort of rapport with them.  It is a great way to begin to learn, broaden your experience and make good use of that expensive and weighty language guide.

Try a hostel

The term hostel when it comes to a place to rest for a night makes some think of those dirty hole in the walls where rooms are full of adolescents up until all hours, then sleeping 10 or more to a room in bunk beds and whose main goal is to be piss drunk the entire journey.  This is true but not all hostels were created equal.  They vary from country to country and region to region.  With development of the travel guide and online booking agencies the hostel as branched out in form and features.  More of them now represent what used to be only known as B&B’s, Guesthouses, Homestays and budget hotels.

The one common theme that most around the world have are a common areas where travelers hang out to relax and hopefully meet other travelers.  They also offer the comforts of a private room and bath at a higher price.  The price is usually equal to what a regular hotel will offer in the area.  The plus is that you can usually get perks like free wi-fi, breakfast, beverages and local first hand knowledge of what the area offers from the proprietors and/or guests.

These are just a few things that a traveler can try to carry out  when the are a visitor to a foreign land.  Try to go off the well-worn tourist path of the area and get an experience that only belongs to you. The best part of traveling is that it’s a constant learning experience.  The first step is to figure out the basics or the things that ever society has in common which is how we go about eating, sleeping and how we communicate.  Take it from there and run with it.

Great things about being a Tourist in NYC

NYC literally lives for tourist.

I sometimes think that if Ray Kelly had to save me or a British visitor he would choose the later.  The city doesn’t sleep and is always ready to show a visitor a good time not matter where they are from.   This is ok with me because without the influx of foreign currency during these hard economic times NYC would be very different and maybe more like how I first remember seeing it.  Times Square hasn’t always been all glittery and neon lit.  The subway system has seen better days, taxi cabs are really ripping people off (so much they are getting caught now) and the tour bus people are even more aggressive Times Square, but crime is still low and people are still willing to shell out big money for a hotel, shows and plane tickets to get here.

Anyhow, it’s a great time to be a tourist in NYC and here are some reasons why:

Everything is on SALE

The Euro and the British Pound have seen better rates of exchange to the greenback, but it’s still a 35-50% discount…so buy 2 iPods not one and throw in a real designer handbag why get a bad fake.  On top of that, there’s always a sale going on for us locals.  I can’t remember paying full price for anything in the past year.

Don’t Speak the Language…. not a problem

The language barrier or lack of in most cases.   It’s unusual to walk down a busy street in NYC and only hear people speaking english.    If you are lost and need direction or just ask where a good place to eat is it just takes asking the concierge at your hotel or even a person on the street if they look approachable.

The Grid System

Easy to follow the streets….hard to get lost.  The streets here were brilliantly reconfigured  above Houston Street in the beginning of the 19th century.  Something like this could have never been done today since the 2nd Ave. subway has been a big pain and it’s proven how hard it is to get people to cooperate but I’m not one who is looking to replace what can’t be replaced like a very  cheap apartment.  Finding where you  need to go just takes a good sense of direction and the ability to count.  The only confusing part is the avenues with names so it’s not foolproof.  That’s the eastside for you.  There is some thinking involved but it’s not that challenging.  Just find a tall recognizable building like the Empire State or Chrysler Building and get your barrings from there.

AMAZING FOOD!!!

The  food here is nothing but choices and can fit any budget.  It kills me that people even step foot into a McDonald’s and not a local diner or sandwich shop.  Sure..it’s easy but you can’t tell me that you don’t have one where you come from.  Pick up a Zagat guide, look on the internet or just ask your concierge and find out where to eat.  There are places which will be just as cheap as the McDonald’s but you’ll actually get a fresh meal and most of all  support a local guy.

Like I said…NYC loves Tourists and it’s literally turned into Disney World here since they have taken over Times Square.  My only hope is that people who come to visit this great city go off the beaten paths of Broadway/Times Square and adventure out to places like Coney Island, take a picnic on Governor’s Island instead of Ellis Island, visit the Garner Museum instead of the MET and have a glass of wine at a small bistro in the lower east side instead of 9th ave in Hell’s Kitchen.  It’s and easy path to get off of since it’s really not so beaten…it’s just where the locals are.

NYC: Somewhat secret places to take a break

There’s some much constantly going on around you in NYC.  A break is all you need to take a detour and find a place to regroup that’s close by.  Here’s a list of some great places to visit and get a moment of reprieve from the noise and commotion of the city streets.

New York Public Library – Mulberry Street


This hidden oasis in the middle of the shoppers paradise known as Soho is a great place to rest the feet and catch up on some reading.  This building was formerly  the cite of  a chocolate factory and has been beautifully and thoughtfully designed with respect to the building’s infrastructure, history, and context.  The ground floor is the top and main floor of the library with two floors filled with books and rooms to comfortable browse through them below.  This is probably one of the nicest libraries and lesser known on the island.  Additionally, it provides visitors with free wi-fi and a place to relax and unwind for a bit.

Governor’s Island


Currently, there is a rumor going on the the trial of one of the mind behind the 9-ll attack may be having their court trial here.  Let’s hope not since it’s a great place to spend the day in the warmer months of the year in NYC.  The island got its name before the Declaration of Independence was signed since the british colonial assembly reserved the island for the exclusive use of New York’s royal governors.  After the U.S. Army took control and built a base and a prison on the site.  The National Coast Guard where the last organization to control the island and they left to the hands of the State of New York and the parks department.  The city and state are still trying to figure out how to further develop the island with more attractive features and activities.  For now, it’s a peaceful place to rent a bike and have a picnic while enjoying the views of lower Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.  Best of all…it’s peaceful, clean and it’s free.

Top 5 things an Adventure Travel Girl can’t go without

There are so many things a girl can do without when it comes to adventure traveling.  This list is long and it’s better to focus on the top 5 most important things bring along when going on an adventure trip.  In adventure I’m talking about one where you will have to carry your bag more than a few yards from the taxi to the hotel.  This will be a trip where you will maybe  find those things  you wish you had brought at your destination but if not oh well.

1.  Clothing made of synthetic material

Clothing that is not made of cotton but a material which keeps you cool or warm but will dry fast, not wrinkle and be compact.  The clothing should  have a neutral shade and be able to mix and match with other pieces.  Who cares if you are wearing the same pants and/or shirt two or more days in a row.  It’s good if  you are able to wash them every night and know that they will be dry by morning.  Look at it this way.  This will free up some space in your bag and give you an excuse to buy something locally. Besides, it makes a great souvenir.

2. One pair of shoes

This is not counting the light pair of Havaianas you have as well.  It is best to invest in a comfortable pair of nice looking travel shoes made of a durable material such as leather.  There are some great shoes that look good and function as a low-level hiking shoe.  Even if you are not going to hike up a mountain there is a good chance you will be walking a lot.  Another thing,  make sure this isn’t the shoes maiden voyage.  The shoes need to get worn enough to break them in and to make sure they will be suitable for the journey.

3.  A Good Hat

A hat has many functions while traveling.  It will block out harmful sun rays and heat of the sun, cover your head when it’s raining, cover your head when you are visiting a holy site, makes it easy to hide under when visiting countries where as a woman you don’t want to make eye contact, and it hides the fact that you are having a bad hair day.  The hat should have a wide rim on it so it can protect you and be also made of a breathable material.  It will get dirty so wash it along with those fast drying pants when needed.

4.  Cell phone with a good camera

Having a cell phone that you can slip in your pocket and use with a local SIM card can come in very handy.  You may have packed away a camera that takes better pictures but it’s handy to have one that fits discretely in your pocket for some quick shots of food or places where you may want to leave the more expensive camera back at the hotel in a locked safe.  A traveler can find that having a local cell phone number is convenient with booking a hotel that doesn’t have a website or to use in emergency situations.  The rates vary from country to country but they usually are reasonable.  A cell that is bluetooth enabled is key.  If there is a strong or strong enough wi-fi signal you can set up an account with Vonage or Skype and keep in touch with folks back home.

5.  Good bag with TSA approved locks

Your bag is one of the best investments you will make.  It’s worth the time and money investment.  I prefer one that is light in weight, has a protective cover which extends over the bag and locks, has strong zippers that can secure easily and not allow any gaps, made of strong material that resists tearing especially by a knife or other sharp edge, and fits well to your body type.  Some other helpful features are a bottle holder or hook for one, a small inside pocket in the inside lining which can fit dirty laundry, and be waterproof.

This list is short and is very subjective since everyone has their own priorities on what they need to take to make them feel comfortable in a foreign land.  These things are what I have narrowed my list down to over the years.  I used to bring much more when I started to travel but over the trips I have found that many things are best left at home.  It’s a life lesson to find out what you as a person really need to have to live your life.  It’s less than you would think.

No better time to travel then now

It seems like travel has increasingly become harder to do.  Visa and airline fees, travel alerts, and tension are on the rise and the outlook of them going back to normal levels looks dim.  Since there is nothing a traveler can do about these obstacles then one can either stay home or go on and plan that trip.  The planning and trip tools continue to be more useful as time goes on. The most useful tool now come in electronic form and are usually  free for anyone to use on the internet.  This includes guidebooks, navigational tools, and blogs written by travelers like yourself.

USD is still strong around the globe.  There are some countries that are beginning to tie their currency to the Euro but USD is still holding it’s own.   China, most of Southeast Asia, Argentina, Mexico to name a few, all have great exchange rates now.  The euro and BP have also come down a bit but it’s still not that great.  Tourism is also down in most popular destinations in Western Europe and the UK, so keep your eye out for promotional packages if that’s your desired destination.

The days are gone where you actually need to have a hard copy of a travel guide.  Not only are they heavy but from the time they are written, edited and gone to press the information could be years old.  The global economy has brought the internet to most places in the world.  Travelers are more often then not traveling with a laptop or smaller less fragile smartphones.  The travel guide is still useful for maps and very basic information but the amount of free online resources in the form of blogs, travel websites, hotel booking online tools and subscription services make them unnecessary and often the information is incorrect.

One of the most obvious benefits or shortfalls of the global economy is that the world is it’s not just modernizing the developed world but the developing world.  For better or worse,  countries in the developing world are importing modern technologies which helps the local economies grow and heightens the standard of living for it’s people.  These developments can’t help but change landscape of the travel world.   The faster and more efficient means of transportation have replaced the slower and usually man powered vehicles of yesteryear.   The global economy has opened up the world to modern convenients and basically the developing world is doing just that…developing.

The good and the bad are unavoidable when a country opens up its doors to foreigners.  The best a traveler can do is research the local culture, appreciate it, be sensitive to it and respect it for what it is.  So start planning, grab your passport, laptop and reasonable sized backpack and go on that trip to your dream destination.  It’s never been a better time and what’s stopping you.