Sunday, April 24, 2011

Finding Hidden Travel Gems

I find treasures along the road on all my travels, whether I'm in New York City where I enjoy sitting in the shade of tall willows in the tiny patch of verdancy known as the Creative Little Garden or in Portugal where I strolled the narrow lanes in the medieval hilltop town of Marvao or in Iceland where I gazed at a black-painted church, the only other building on a windswept expanse where my accommodation, Hotel Budir, was perched.

These are just some of the travel gems you'll find out about when you read the interview that Elise Reeks at Positive World Travel did with me recently. You'll also learn some of my travel packing tips, including why I always bring along the Xubaz scarf and an Icebreaker hoodie.
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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Preventing Travel Health Issues on the Road

No one wants to deal with uncomfortable and unpleasant health-related problems, such as gut issues from drinking contaminated water, or unbearable headaches from high altitude, when you're traveling. And spending time in an emergency room because of heat stroke or severe poison ivy isn't my idea of a great side trip. That's why I'm always the model of caution when I travel, whether it's domestically or to far flung locales.

I recently was asked to write a guest post for Janice Waugh at the Solo Traveler. Because I have a medical background, I focused in on how to easily prevent five common health-related problems that can occur on almost any trip. They all just require a little planning by packing the required items in your first-aid kit. Hopefully these tips will keep you well when you're traveling.
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Monday, April 18, 2011

Adventure Travel Sweepstakes

You know I'm all about authentic travel, especially if it involves an adventure component, such as biking, hiking or kayaking. Well, how would you like to enter a contest where you could win a $5,000 credit towards a trip for two with an award-winning adventure tour company? Interested? Read on:

Austin Adventures - Adventure Travel, that's been ranked as the "World's Best Tour Operator" by readers of Travel + Leisure Magazine, is an active travel company that's been setting adventure tour standards in The Americas, Europe, and Africa and other places around the world. They recently named J The Travel Authority as one of its Top 10 Travel Blogs. The winners were selected based on unique content, honesty, integrity, video/photos, useful links and other criteria.

"These bloggers are truly the best in the blogosphere, providing beautifully written travel posts that highlight their expert knowledge, undeniable passion, cultural insight and unique, personal experiences," said Dan Austin, founder and owner." "Each blog provides the most fascinating, up-to-date content on travel tips, destinations, active travel, family adventures and the everyday life of a traveler. These blogs are imaginative, fun, original and poignant; reaching to the heart of what traveling is all about: discovery, adventure and finding yourself," said Austin.

As recognition for excellence, readers of J The Travel Authority now have the opportunity to win a trip for two on any Austin Adventures - Adventure Travel of their choice. Among the options are bicycle tours, hiking trips, multi-sport adventures, kayaking trips and family adventures. (Terms and conditions apply.) Among the options are biking trips in Slovenia, hiking and white water rafting in Southern Africa, and kayaking in Peru.

The promotion runs through 11:59 PM, May 19, 2011, with the winners announced the next day (May 20, 2011) on Austin-Lehman Adventures blog.

To enter the sweepstakes, go here and enter your name, email address and the name of the blog (J The Travel Authority) that brought you to their site.

Here is their list of the Top 10 Best Travel Blog Finalists, in no particular order:

Go to the Austin-Lehman Adventures Blog to see the complete list of the 125 Best Travel Blog Semi-Finalists.

Wishing all my readers the best of luck and happy travels.
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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

More Travels in Lapland, Finland

It may have been March but in Northern Lapland, the temperatures still hovered in the minus category -- centigrade, that is, but still frigid enough that I couldn't wait to snuggle near a fire. Luckily, my group and I were able to bail out from the frigid temperatures at the family-owned Inari Reindeer Farm. There, Jani invited us into one of several teepee-like structures or kotas where we found a stone fireplace with a blazing fire smack in the center of the circular space where we gathered, drinking tea or coffee from our birch cups and listening to what it means to be a member of a Sámi tribe, the indigenous people that settled in, among other places, Northern Finland.

Last week I blogged about our many reindeer adventures and the reindeer facts we all learned.

Now, Jani's tales are interrupted by his mother who is dressed in a traditional outfit and carries a drum made of reindeer skin and birch wood towards the fireplace. He tells us that a drum, which the musician uses to tell stories, must always be heated before playing: it actually improves the sound quality. His mom treats us to several deep-throated songs or joiks that all seem to have a mournful or melancholy quality. The first revolves around tales of their family, the second is dedicated to a bear hunt -- see the video (below). Another is a song to the fire, which is central to the life of the Sámi people.

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