I'm a 37-year old Seattle girl who was bitten by the travel bug on my first tour of Europe in 2004. This personal blog follows my attempts to visit as many countries as I can, as often as my budget will allow. Since starting this blog in 2007, I've also worked as a freelance copywriter for an online travel publication. This only served to add even more must-see locations to my already extended list.
Follow me as I try to balance "real life" with exploring the world, all while trying to conquer a wickedly ironic case of homesickness.


BA and VA fliers

Did you fly long-haul with British Airways or Virgin Atlantic between 11 August 2004 and 23 March 2006? If so, you could be eligible for a small refund of your fuel surcharge. You may receive a claim packet in the post automatically. Otherwise, click here for further information and all the specifics.


I have two more 2008 vacations on the burners right now - Maui and Vegas - and I'm thrilled to be going on both of them. But I'm still furiously daydreaming about destinations for 2009. I can't make it stop. It's a syndrome, I tell ya.

How about a little Hapsburg opulence:

Or maybe a little Irish charm:

Though Oz seems mighty spiffy, as well:


Jackie Steves' blog

Travelers in the Pacific Northwest are well aware of how fortunate we are to have Europe Through the Back Door right around the corner. World-reknowned European cult travel guide Rick Steves is a local, and his travel center is a fabulous resource for us Seattlites. Many of us have attended multiple seminars there, we're well aware that Rick is far more entertaining in person, and we snicker when we see his son running around Ireland or Italy in sweatshirts that say "Edmonds" or "Seattle Mariners".

Many of us have been watching his son and daughter grow up on the air. I've spent many hours jealous of these well-traveled younger Steves. So when Rick's son, Andy, trekked through Europe sans father several years ago, I found his younger perspective entertaining and refreshing.

Now it's daughter Jackie's turn. She's just now starting her post high school graduation trip with nothing but a backpack and a good friend. I find her blog even more relate-able. Perhaps it's because she's more of a planner, like me. Perhaps it's because she's female. Whatever the reason, you can follow along with her, too.

Good luck, Jackie! And have fun!

Okay, now I'm mad

It hit me like a ton of bricks last night. My estate agent in London is trying to jip me, and I'm seriously pissed off. $1582.00. That's how much I wired to him as a refundable deposit. One week's rent for our London flat. Our signed contract claimed my deposit would be returned within 10 days of the completion of our stay. We were very careful in the flat not to break or damage anything so as to get our full refund back. Heck, we even cleaned the stupid thing before we left! They have confirmed there were no problems with the flat as a result of our stay, and we are due the entire balance of that deposit.

That was three months ago.

The most frustrating part is that the flat was lovely. Their properties are convenient and well-kept. Our stay was truly wonderful.

However, they haven't returned a single dime that they owe me. So after 3 months of waiting, pleading, and threatening that I will warn others, I'm releasing his name to save anyone else from making the mistake of doing business with them:

Real World Rental Co.
Agent: Mr. Robin Larkins


And if anyone reading this lives in the Fulham neighborhood of London, could you please go into the office and slap him for me? Much obliged.


Samantha Brown

Initally, her giggly nature and the exorbitantly high prices on "Great Hotels" made me resent her. But now, Sam Brown seems more like a good friend. She's comforted me from Hawaii while I was home sick on my sofa, she's told me all about South America while I cooked countless dinner, she's romanced me from Europe as I ate lunches on rushed afternoon breaks. I don't know how that girl travels as much as she does, but it she ever needed an assistant, I'd shoot my CV off so fast...

After reading this, reposted from The Travel Channel's website, I like Sam Brown even more now:

As I was focusing in with my camera, a firefighter looked out of the window of his truck and said,"Hey! Are you that girl from the Travel Channel? You have the best job in the world."

It's a phrase I welcomingly hear every single day, not only from firefighters, but from busboys, housekeeping, golfing CEOs, my dentist, high school students on a field trip, even other television hosts. I have been on the Travel Channel now for eight years! It was a job I never dreamed I would have, and in that time I have changed immensely. When we started with "Passport to Europe," I was more of check things off your list type of traveler, very intimidated by straying from the tourism trail that was reassuringly written in English. But after months of being away from my family and friends, my desire to be around the locals, to go to their cafés, restaurants and parks became much more intense. Being around someone else's everyday gave me my own sense of familiarity. Watching and being around people with their loved ones fulfilled the part of me that ached for home, and at the same time, made me feel like I didn't want to be anywhere else in the world. People live vicariously through me, and I live vicariously through people.



Traveler v. Tourist

"A traveler is just a tourist that thinks they're special."

Touche, MsBlake. Touche.


More English Set-Jetting

I'm just loving VisitBritain's Film Tourism campaign.

These are my favorite films anyway, and I've already been to many of the incredible locations on their list: castles, manor homes, gardens, colleges, chapels, cathedrals, markets, squares, lochs, magic wardrobes...

I'm intrigued by this Vacation on Location concept, and I fully intend to stick a pin in every single one of these spots on my travel map. It's the holy trinity for Wanderlust Anglophile film geeks like myself!


It's decided: Maui!

We're going to Maui! And we're really splurging, at least for our budget. We're staying in Ka'anapali at the Hyatt Regency Maui. I'm a tiny bit nervous about 4 adult women in one room, but the same 4 of us have done it several times before; we were just much smaller at the time!

Now that the big decisions are made, it's time for the really fun part. I'm headed to Barnes and Noble for books galore to immerse myself in all that is Maui. I'm most excited to fulfill my dream of a surfing lesson. I'm also looking forward to ziplining and horseback riding. We're going to look into a snorkeling catamaran trip, as well, in hopes that my mom can swim with dolphins. My sister has tossed in the idea of ATVing, in which case I'll need a living will. Plus, we're renting a car, so the road to Hana (as well as everything in between!) is also an option. And who can forget about the best Hawaiian activity ever: doing nothing on the beach, with a slushy umbrella drink and a good book.

I must admit, even in my lazy excitement about a tropical getaway, it still doesn't pull on me like a European jaunt does. But that's okay; I'll never see the world going to the same places over and over again.

But I can return next spring! ;-)

Maui TripHub

The Weight of Flying

We all could sense it coming. Airlines are now considering charging customers based on weight. Though it seems to make sense at first thought, countless logistic problems come to mind immediately. Insanely long airport lines flash through my imagination; is this the end of online transactions?

But my biggest concern is how they are going to base this. For example, there are those of us that watch what we eat and exercise regularly, yet we will still weigh more than what that shortminded BMI chart considers average. Taller people, those with larger bone structure, dense bone or muscle mass, pregnant moms, someone simply retaining more water...these things may now actually cost you more money. And what about those of us planners that purchase our tickets months in advance of the actual flight?

I can understand the issue of someone taking up more than one seat. That creates an inability for the airline to comfortably sell that second seat and quite literally affects the flight's bottom line. And supposedly the weight thing is the same concept. But this seems to overcomplicate things, taking it from extreme cases and penalizing hundreds of thousands of average people.

Besides, you know people will try to find a way around it. We'll end up with gag sticks in airport bathrooms as so many people are trying to weigh as little as possible before having to pay. And then they will go running straight to airport restaurants to stock up before the flight that no longer serves food. Does anyone else see the potential flaw?

As if it wasn't already harder on the ego not to be a minescule blond Barbie thing by nature and coming to terms with the fact that you never will be without an eating disorder. Now I might have to pay for it? No matter how logical I try to be about this, it really irritates me. I pack my single suitcase carefully and I take care of my body, but I'm still going to have to pay more than that I-can-eat-whatever-I-want, naturally skinny thing and her giant 75 pound case of I-can't-live-without-them clothes and shoes?

I'm trying to level-headed about this. Perhaps it is a slight injustice I'm just going to have to accept. But it's still really bugging me.
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