Saturday, December 29, 2012

Unexpected Items I Carry When Bicycling

Some people bring the obvious items on a bicycle trip: tool kit, windbreaker, bike shorts, water bottle. Find out what else I bring - you'll be surprised with these five items.

Recently, I wrote a piece for the Adventure Cycling Association on the five items I never leave home without when I'm on a bike tour. (Adventure Cycling is a non-profit membership association that's not just renowned for its bicycle advocacy but it also offers some pristine bike trips all over North America for the whole family -- I've biked on many of these. Recently I blogged about this group that I also recommend in my travel tips e-book.)

Just because I'm on a long-distance bike trip where I'm often carrying all my gear on the bike, that doesn't mean that I have to look like I've been on the Appalachian Trail for one too many days. After all, it is possible to look good and stay fit, too, while also being very practical. Among the items I bring is a Nau water-repellent dress that does triple duty as you'll read. I don't go anywhere without a lightweight black SmartWool sweater that can be worn while cycling or at night when paired with jeans or a skirt. Then there's my favorite buff that can serve more than half a dozen functions on my trip.
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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

My Fave Travel Experiences and Much More

Some people consider themselves luxury travelers. Others are bargain seekers. Some travelers sling a backpack on their shoulders and hit the road. Others prefer road trips. I've got a mix-it-up travel style, which means I embrace all travel styles, depending on the trip or the venue. I do stay in hostels, particularly in Portugal, and have found some do be not only design-focused, but perfect places to get insider information on a city, like Braga, Portugal. But I also go on cruises, as long as they are very small ships and involve a high education quotient, like I found with Zegrahm. My mix-it-up style of travel reflects my personality: I get bored easily and like surprises.

Recently, Billie Frank at The Santa Fe Traveler interviewed me on this and many other topics, including whether I go outside my comfort zone when I travel (you'll find out why I decided to walk alone down shadowy streets in the dead of night in both Valletta, Malta and Dubrovnik, Croatia.), what kinds of travel experiences I seek out, what are my most memorable travels (hint: it was a winter trip I took much earlier this year), and my very favorite places in the world (hint2: one of the countries has a wee capital where some people still believe in elves.).
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Monday, December 17, 2012

Bicycling the Idyllic Island of Sylt, Germany

What makes for a perfect cycling destination? For me, it starts with a venue that bike friendly, which usually means myriad bicycle trails and motorists that respect cyclists. It also means a destination that's rich in bucolic landscapes and quaint villages. I found such a place in Sylt, Germany, an island that's usually mentioned because it attracts well-to-do Germans who flock to the upscale seaside resorts and sea-lapped sands. No wonder it's given the moniker -- and there are several that all convey the same idea -- the Hamptons of Germany.

Recently, I wrote about cycling on this idyllic isle for Donna Hull at My Itchy Travel Feet. Sylt is so much more than sun and sand. Here you'll find giant dunes topped with a network of foliage, mud flats that are protected for the plankton that call them home, archeological ruins that date back millenia, and centuries-old whitewashed churches. Anyone who spends their time on Sylt simply baking on the sands has missed so much more that this island offers.
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Friday, December 14, 2012

Winner of Travel Gear Giveaway

We have a winner of the travel gear giveaway! Jeff Dobbins will pick one of the products manufactured by the Clever Travel Companion that are all designed to thwart pickpockets. These products include underwear, t-shirts, tank tops, and long johns, all with hidden pockets. Congrats, Jeff. And thanks to everyone who participated. I really appreciate your support.

This was such a fun and practical giveaway that I'll be partnering up with the Clever Travel Companion again next year.

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Thursday, December 13, 2012

More Travel Tips For Women + Much More

If there are a few travel items you can't do without what would they be? That's what Maria and Anthony Russo, founders of the Culture-ist magazine wanted to know, among other things when they interviewed me recently.

I don't go anywhere without my Mary Jane-type shoes. They can fold up or lay flat in my bag and work great day or night. There's also my tiny Victorinox wallet pouch that conveniently attaches to my belt, whether I'm wearing pants or a dress. It keeps all my valuables out of the hands of would-be pick-pockets.

Maria and Anthony also wanted to know about any concerns I have when I'm traveling along, which is most of the time. Yes, I'm an overly suspicious sort, let's get that out of the way right at the beginning. (For example, I never leave my drink unattended at a bar.) But I also dress and act according to local customs so that I don't attract undo attention. I also rarely carry a purse so that I'm not a target for thieves. And I trust my New York City-honed street instincts.

These are a few of the more than 200 tips you'll find in my new travel tips e-book, the Travel Authority: Essential Tips for Hassle-Free Travel. I've blogged about some of the things you'll find in this handy book.

Read the rest of the interview at the Culture-ist, where you'll also find well-crafted articles on travel, food, small business ventures and other topics that revolve around authenticity, sustainability, a green ethic, artisanal endeavors, and a respect for women's and human rights in general.
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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

JCreatures™ T-Shirts for Kids

Bet you thought that the only people wearing my JCreatures™ t-shirts are adults. After all, I've blogged about wearing my t-shirts that show different emotions or states of being -- happy, sad, frustrated, surprised, sleepy, hungry, and naughty -- when I teach English in Spain. They've  real conversation starters.

But, as you may already know, I originally designed these JCreatures™ when I was 10 years old. (I blogged about the history of the JCreatures™ here.) And I've been drawing them ever since, whether it was in my high school yearbook, on postcards I sent friends in college during my summers in Europe, or on the top of my students' exams when I was a teacher.  So it makes sense that kids of all ages, including toddlers and infants, can be found wearing these shirts, too.

Moms and dads or adults who are just kids at heart can find my t-shirts in an array of colors and styles, including long-sleeve, baseball jersey, girls cap sleeve tee, organic and the little onesie above, by visiting my store

And, because the holidays are fast approaching, if you buy one of the few toddler or kids tees or onesies offered here from today until New Year's Day, you'll also get a free copy of my new travel tips e-book: The Travel Authority: Essential Tips for Hassle-Free Travel. (Simply use the code HOLIDAYS when you checkout.)

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

More Travel Tips E-Book Reviews

Do you want to know what people are saying about my new travel tips e-book?

Margaret Cowen offers authentic cooking experiences and wine tours all over Italy, from Venice to Sicily. She recently reviewed my e-book, The Travel Authority: Essential Tips for Hassle-Free Travel, in her food and travel blog.

Among the tips Margaret highlighted were my recommendations on purchasing pick-pocket-proof pants, and a scarf with hidden pockets. Find out more in her review here.

Another travel expert, Irene S. Levine is an award-winning journalist, author and blogger who also reviewed my e-book. In her review here, you'll find out when you should buy comprehensive trip insurance, why it's a smart idea to pay for your tour with a credit card, and more.

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Monday, December 3, 2012

Advise for E-Book Authors + More

What's the hardest thing about publishing an e-book? If you said writing it, you'd be wrong. It turns out that by far, after searching for a graphic designer to set the book into the different file formats for the various e-readers -- and I found her only after conducting dozens of interviews on Craig's List -- the most frustrating part of the entire process was submitting the book for sale on iTunes.

Top travel blogger Ellen Barone, no relation, interviewed me on this and many other things related to my new travel tips e-book, The Travel Authority: Essential Tips for Hassle-Free Travel. Read her interview with me here:
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