Tags Posts tagged with "travel"

travel

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On this episode, I talk with Sienna Brown, expat, entrepreneur, speaker, and optimist. As the founder of international lifestyle portal Las Morenas de España, Sienna is redefining the conversation about what it means to be living and thriving abroad as a person of color. In her recent TEDx talk and Now This News, she conveys the themes of shared stories and implements the resources of her mission to help people create lives that they truly love. We’ll talk all about travel, Spain, everyday life abroad, surrendering to your purpose, and a whole lot more. Tune in and get lifted!

Music:
“Younger” – Seinabo Sey
“Blessings” – Chance the Rapper

Fly Brother Radio Show Theme Song:
“La Femme d’Argent” by Air

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If you’re anything like me, you prefer the freedom and ease of traveling solo. When you’re alone, there’s no one else’s agenda to consider but yours. But, no (wo)man is an island, and sometimes, it’s nice to hit the islands, or wherever else strikes your fancy, with a group of like-minded individuals. Here are a few reasons why:

Connecting with Cool People
While traveling solo is indeed a great way to meet new people, so is traveling on a group tour. And if you choose the tour according to your level of interest in the destinations or experiences offered, you are likely to meet at least one other person who you can vibe with. You never know, your new friend might turn into a regular travel buddy, business partner, or significant other. Group trips create incredible opportunities for networking and, yes, matchmaking! And if you do get annoyed with the group, you can always opt out of larger group activities and do your own thing.

Minimal Dull Moments
Traveling alone often means solitude, even if you’re amid the hustle of New York or the bustle of London. Friends have to work during the day and while it’s sometimes nice to keep certain experiences and discoveries to yourself, there’s also the more mundane aspects of solo travel that would be exponentially better if you weren’t alone. If anything, traveling with a group ensures that you’ve always got someone to wait in line, sit around the airport, or do those other banal endeavors with you.

Expanded Experiences
Cost and time are factors that always affect travel plans, but when you’re traveling by yourself, these parameters can be quite challenging to optimize. While a solo traveler to Paris might have to schlep out to the Palace of Versailles on the train and wander the grounds alone, a group can more easily arrange nonstop transportation, a private tour of the palace, and lunch at a nearby winery. Likewise, a Nile River Cruise in Egypt, calling at some of the world’s oldest and most striking temples and monuments, would be an otherwise prohibitively expensive proposition. Excursions to localities a bit farther afield are always easier, or at least cheaper, in groups.

Group Discounts
One constant in the travel industry is that traveling in a group lowers the individual cost of the trip, if only because tour operators, airlines, and other service providers offer discounts when multiple participants purchase their service. You can sometimes get discounts of up to half-off when you travel with a group.

Fly Photographs
Need I say more?

Luxury tour designers Up in the Air Life made this trip possible. FLY with them, won’t you?

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As it flows northward from Aswan to Edfu to Luxor, the Nile River remains quiet and unbothered by little more than the small vessels zipping across the glassy surface. Over the course of the Nile’s various ages, it is the sturdy, wind-powered felucca that remains the most evocative and romantic of the river’s watercraft.

The name felucca, Italian in origin, is said to have come from a Greek word for “boat”—epholkion—via the Arabic fulk and Spanish faluca. Constructed mainly of wood, with three triangular-shaped sails made of Egyptian cotton and called lateens, feluccas rely on the brisk desert winds to sail upriver and the steady current of the Nile to float downriver. Plying the 300 km stretch of the river between Aswan and Luxor, feluccas are more often rented out, these days, for social events and tourist excursions, leaving the freight traffic to barges and the passenger traffic to cruise liners.

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While the average felucca ferries the average tourist up and down the Nile, when Up in the Air Life takes to the river, the feluccas play host to some of the flyest adventurers on the planet. Champagne pours as a mix of live, traditional Egyptian music and modern-day jams keep the atmosphere lit and live. As other feluccas pass by, the less-energetic passengers crane their necks to see what’s happening over on the hypest boats, and the pair of young guys who paddle up to the side to serenade unsuspecting foreigners with Euro-pop get a surprise themselves when our intrepid explorers launch into an impromptu rendition of “Rapper’s Delight.”
And as the lingering sun sets to the west, the energy of the river remains, constant and unchanged, as the feluccas carry history and culture with them to every port.

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Luxury tour designers Up in the Air Life made this trip possible. FLY with them, won’t you?

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“For, as Mr. Ferguson was saying at that minute in Luxor, it is not the past that matters but the future.”
–Agatha Christie, Death on the Nile

Ah, but the past informs the future, and with a past extending back four millennia, the lands and peoples and monuments of Nubia and Upper Egypt prove themselves as resilient as the very river that sustains them.
Exploring the shadowy colonnades and alcoves of the Temple at Luxor means stepping back into that past, when men-gods and women-goddesses commanded multitudes of builders, architects, artisans, and designers—many enslaved—and absorbing the energy of the ages, both light and dark. It is believed that many of the pharaohs of Egypt were crowned here, a monument to monarchy, unlike nearby temples dedicated to deities or deified rulers, and that even Alexander the Great claimed against all observable evidence, to be legitimized at what is now Luxor. Indeed, the French snagged a piece of Egyptian regalia, the obelisk at Place de la Concorde in Paris, leaving its companion to stand sole sentry over the entrance to the temple.

But to marvel at the intricate hieroglyphics—each symbol a story in itself—and the absolute size of a structure completed with ancient building technology only inspires the mind to wonder: what pasts, presents, and futures walk among the shadows and the sun of the Temple at Luxor on their way to greatness?

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Luxury tour designers Up in the Air Life made this trip possible. FLY with them, won’t you?

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One of the things I love about flying foreign carriers is the little bits of culture that you get to experience on the airline. With SAS, which connects the three Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden to the rest of the world, you get a very Nordic combination of friendliness and efficiency that make traveling with the airline an enjoyable experience. Since 1946, SAS (read as an acronym in English, but pronounced “sass” in Scandinavia) has used geography to its advantage in offering one of the shortest routes between continents in the northern hemisphere via the North Pole. In fact, in the days when multiple refueling stops were required for long-haul aircraft, SAS was the first airline to provide transpolar passenger service: a thrice-weekly flight from Los Angeles to Copenhagen—with fuel stops in Canada and Greenland—and free onward connections into Europe.

SAS vintage poster

With its main hub at Copenhagen Airport and two smaller hubs in Oslo and Stockholm, SAS competes directly with Finnair for the lucrative Asia-Europe market, and with Icelandair and low-cost airline Norwegian for passengers between Europe and North America. As a member of the Star Alliance and with a fleet of spacious, slickly refurbished Airbus A-330 jets, and a trio of comfortable, beautifully designed transit hubs, SAS is one of my favorite airlines for transatlantic travel. As long as expectations aren’t as high for the intra-European operation—the only free beverages are tea and coffee, and the leg-room is a bit tight—I think you’ll end up flying Scandinavian at every opportunity.

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SAS Scandinavian Airlines flies daily from Boston, Chicago-O’Hare, Los Angeles, Newark, San Francisco, and Washington-Dulles to Scandinavia.

 

Images courtesy SAS Group

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DO YOU WANT TO GO TO BRAZIL? LET ME SHOW YOU HOW!

Oi gente! Let tell you about an exciting, comprehensive web course I’ve developed to give you everything you need to know about traveling to Brazil. Not only do I visit often, but I lived in Brazil for three years, working as an editor at Time Out magazine and spending my weekends on the beaches, in the clubs, and falling in love with this magnificent place. And I want to share all the tricks and tips—the jeitinhos—I’ve learned about traveling to Brazil, with you!

 

WITH THE FLY GUIDE TO BRAZIL WEBINAR, YOU’LL LEARN:
✓ About the history, culture, and beauty of Brazil

✓ How to get to Carnival in Rio, Salvador, and other party capitals

✓ How to get your Brazilian tourist visa

✓ Where to go for beaches, city breaks, or outdoor adventures

✓ How to find affordable accommodations

✓ How to enjoy yourself and stay safe while in Brazil

✓ How to say “please,” “thank you,” and “Where’s the bathroom?” in Portuguese

 

THE FLY GUIDE TO BRAZIL WEBINAR INCLUDES…

SIX 20-MINUTE VIDEO SEGMENTS:

  • Introduction and Country Overview, which describes the infinite wonders of Brazil: the culture, the people, the sights and sounds and magic of the place, and why you’ll end up returning again and again.
  • Visas and Documentation, which is all about securing your Brazilian tourist visa and navigating the process.
  • Where to Go: Rio de Janeiro? Salvador da Bahia? Florianopolis? Sao Paulo? The Amazon? Iguazu? It’s all in there.
  • Finding Accommodations: hotels, hostels, bed-and-breakfasts, CouchSurfing, apartment rentals.
  • Staying Safe and Having Fun: How to maintain your belongings and your sanity, and also how not to be an entitled foreign douchebag while traveling.
  • Introduction to Brazilian Portuguese, where I teach you the basic phrases for fun, safety, and even hook-ups.

 

TEN SINGLE-PAGE, DOWNLOADABLE PDFs

  • Fly Guide to Brazil General Overview
  • Flybrary: Brazil Primer
  • Flybrary: Brazilian Music
  • Flybrary: Brazilian Film
  • Fly Guide to Rio de Janeiro
  • Fly Guide to São Paulo
  • Fly Guide to Salvador da Bahia
  • Fly Guide to the Amazon
  • Fly Guide to Florianópolis
  • BONUS: Fly Guide to Carnival in Brazil

AND a 20-MINUTE SKYPE CALL with me to answer your specific questions about traveling to Brazil.

 

ALL THIS:
6 videos
10 downloadable PDFs
AND a 20-minute Skype session for only $149!

ORDER THE FLY GUIDE TO BRAZIL WEBINAR ON UDEMY TODAY!

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One of the major joys of international travel, for me, is to take what I call an exotic flight. For some people, that might be the short hop from Honolulu to Hilo or Madrid to Barcelona. True, those destinations can be exotic for people who aren’t from those climate or cultural zones, but my type of exotic tends to mean flights connecting unexpected city pairs or crossing thinly-traversed parts of the planet. I get excited even at the mere idea of these flights, and even more so when one is booked, boarded, and finally plotted on my Flight Memory map. Here are five of my favorite exotic flights, straight from the annals of Fly History:

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Copenhagen to San Francisco
Connecting two of the world’s most expensive destinations, SAS—the collective airline of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden—flies between the Danish capital and America’s most beautiful city every day. I was mercifully upgraded to business class for the 11-hour-long flight over some of the northernmost reaches of the globe. That’s exotic for a raised-in-the-sunshine Florida boy like me.

Johannesburg to São Paulo
South Africa and Brazil are probably my two most favorite countries on the planet, and flying between the two megacities of the Southern Hemisphere had always been on my to-do list. Also, South African Airways’ 11 weekly flights linking the countries’ financial capitals ply one of the scant few routes across the South Atlantic Ocean. Arriving at sunset over the exhilarating sprawl of São Paulo while finishing up a bag of beef biltong is an underrated joy.

Miami to Berlin
For a while, I spent several months each year in Berlin, arguably the most dynamic city in Europe at the moment, and the polar opposite of a place like Miami, where I also spend several months each year. Airberlin, much like me, has an on-again-off-again relationship with Florida’s sun-slash-sin city, flying to the German capital a few times a week every winter. This time, I was shoehorned into a middle seat for a cramped 11-hour transatlantic schlep.

Mumbai to Johannesburg
Culturally, this now-defunct route isn’t as strange as it might seem: South Africa is home to the largest population of Indian-descended people outside of India. Unfortunately, South African Airways dropped the route after 20 years of service, just a few months after I had flown it in early 2015. While travelers can still connect easily through the Gulf or East Africa, I think it’s a shame that these two incredible places lack a direct air link.

Santiago to Auckland
Not only is this one of the few routes to cross the South Pacific—and approach the South Pole—but it’s also flown by one of the world’s newest jets, the Boeing 787. LAN (soon to be LATAM) jaunts from from Chile to New Zealand, then on to Australia, twice daily. LAN’s reliably good service and the newness of the planes offset the 13-hour flight time.

What are your favorite exotic routes?

 

Image by David Spinks via Flickr.

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Next week, I’ll be traveling to Ghana, one of many African countries that requires U.S. citizens to obtain a visa prior to traveling even if the purpose of the trip is leisure. While sometimes challenging and almost always annoying, it’s important to point out that the visa process for Americans traveling overseas is still a thousand times simpler and more straightforward than what much of the world endures just to take their kids to Disney World. Still, for newer travelers especially, the visa process can seem daunting and—coupled with expensive airfares and lengthy flights—can make an African vacation seem much less appealing.

Well, I’ve done some research and found 19 nations in Africa that allow for visa-free travel* for American citizens, or offer tourist visas for a fee upon arrival at the main international airport, all accessible by airlines that offer nonstop or connecting service from major U.S. gateways. In other words, there is no excuse for not visiting these destinations if you’ve got the time and the money—you can just hop on a plane and go!

*Before any trip, always check both the U.S. Department of State travel site for country-specific entry/exit requirements and safety alerts, and the consular website (or better yet, call) for the country you plan on visiting for the most up-to-date information.

African countries requiring no visa for American citizens entering as tourists for a limited amount of time (usually 30, 60, or 90 days):

*Namibia, South Africa, and Swaziland require visitors have at least two blank pages in their passports for entry.

African countries offering tourist visas for a fee upon arrival at the main international airport (fees vary):

So what are you waiting for?

Please don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @FlyBrother, and “like” me on Facebook! You can subscribe, too! ;-)

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Friends do crazy sh*t together.

Sometimes, when you stop just for a second and take stock of the people in your life, you really do have to quietly thank the cosmos for what truly is the blessing of friendship. Many people have a set of good friends that they’ve built over the years through shared experiences in high school or college, on sports teams, in church or at work. Sometimes, these friendships last for many years, sometimes not so many—reason, season, lifetime and whatnot. Mostly, though, they’re established based on geography, which makes sense, since frequent personal interaction is what facilitates the friendship in the first place. In my case, geography is even more of a factor in the friendships I’ve forged over time, specifically because of its frequently changing nature in my life.

I’ve lived in six cities and traveled to three-dozen countries in my 34 years, and I’m actually kind of humbled when I think about the number of quality friends that I’ve made in that time. Some are people I’ve worked with or worked for, or traveled with or hosted or CouchSurfed with. Some I met on the beach in Rio, on the seafront promenade in Havana, on the subway in Paris. A few are from college; fewer from high school (I was an unpopular nerd…oh, but times done changed).

And who are these people? Telenovela and film stars in Bogotá, DJs and journalists in São Paulo, teachers and lawyers in Tallahassee, bloggers and nightclub coat-check clerks in Berlin, special-needs educators in Stockholm, die-hard road dogs in Miami and NY and DC and Jacksonville who can remember each and every one of my previous incarnations and still put up with me anyway. And my actual family’s pretty damn great, too.

Thanks to Skype and cheap airfares, I’m able to maintain and even expand my set beyond physical boundaries. And even when circumstances and logistics call for long pauses between interaction, it only takes a second to fall back into the familiar rhythm and easy laughs (or arguments) that drew us together in the first place. My set isn’t bound by geography or circumstance, but by respect, admiration, affection, and kinship.

So to all my fly peeps the world over, I love you folks and am forever grateful for the $50 that you never pressed me about paying back! 😉

Please don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @FlyBrother, and “like” me on Facebook! You can subscribe, too! ;-)