Browsing Posts tagged Canada travel

Mongolia travel story

Ah yes, it’s a new month and there’s a new issue of Perceptive Travel online magazine, with the best travel stories from wandering book authors.

In May we travel to diverse spots on the globe and also highlight some worthy travel-related books and music. We welcome two authors making their first appearance in the webzine. Larry Zuckerman, author of The Potato, is an American Jew in Israel when he joins up with a tour company run by ex-soldiers to see how the politics of occupied Palestine play out on the ground in Hebron. See Make Hummus, Not Walls.

Marco Ferrarese, author of Nazi Goreng brings us a story on hard cheese and hard horse riding on a Mongolia steppes adventure. See Cutting the Cheese, Mongolian Style.

David Lee Drotar returns with another tale from Canada, this time exploring Quebec in the dead of winter for some outdoor activities of snowmobiling, dogsledding, and skiing. But with a twist… See The Blade Runners of Quebec.

Quebec winter adventure

William Caverlee reviews a few new and notable travel books: Ukraine before the conflict, overland Morocco by motorcycle, and travelers writers’ food experience around the globe. Graham Reid spins a few mash-up world music albums, but also the aptly named collection The Rough Guide to the Best African Music You’ve Never Heard. Perceptive Travel newsletter winner

Each month one of our loyal (and attentive) readers scores something useful for their travels for free. Here’s a picture of our March winner Jack with his Granite Gear pack. In April, reader Jen from New York state scored a nice pair of $90 water sneakers from Sperry.

A month from now somebody is going to have that old Timbuk3 song in their head when their future starts looking brighter. They’ll be sporting a new pair of Vibe sunglasses from Bolle with polarized lenses—a $100 value. If you want it to be you, get on the newsletter list or at least follow Perceptive Travel on Facebook.

travel sunglasses

arctic hiking story

After a hiatus publishing our first most popular travel stories issue, we’re back with a batch of new travel stories from Panama, western China, and Arctic Canada. Plus reviews of new travel books and world music.

This issue marks the debut of Canadian writer Jerry Kobalenko, a many who thinks its fun to hike across snow-blown plains in sub-zero weather with an expedition partner he just recently met. See his story here: Crossing Labrador by Foot with Noah.

western China travelLuke Armstrong is back with a tale of getting roped into hiking Panama’s highest mountain at sunrise and seeing a killer with a knife at the top. Then having no ride when he got to the bottom. See The Horror Movie Atop Panama’s Volcán Barú

Can travelers make a positive difference in the local cultural attitudes? James Dorsey and his traveling partner find a way to do their small part with one ancient vendor in an Ughur area of China. See Giving Face in China.

Susan Griffith is back with a batch of interesting new travel books, including the latest on Africa from Paul Theroux. Laurence Mitchell reviews new world music albums that are all a mash-up of one culture and another.

Perceptive Travel newsletter subscribers get a shot every month at scoring a new travel gear item. Last month reader Kim from Pennsylvania won a cool Bluetooth portable speaker from NYNE. This time someone will get a pair of great $130 shoes from Vasque that are so new they’re not even out yet. Here’s where you can get on the list. You’ll get an e-mail only once a month when we put out a new issue.

alentejo traveling tim leffel

A lot of travel bloggers really don’t need to ever do a year-end summary because they’ve already told you about everything they ate for lunch in each destination and every monument they snapped a photo of. I try to be more evergreen than that, telling stories that are reasonably timeless and giving advice that is useful for more than the next two weeks. So here’s a look back at travels and projects over the past year, including some I didn’t write much about on this Cheapest Destinations Blog.

I kicked the year off right with a newly revised 4th edition of The World’s Cheapest Destinations. It’s been a decade since the first one came out. (For what it’s worth, this was also the 10th anniversary of Vagabonding, which you can now get as an audio book read by Rolf himself.) If you bought or reviewed my new edition, thanks!

After the book came out, I hit the road again.

1) I started out in chilly Salt Lake City checking out new travel gear on the way and then went to Park City for the first time. I skied all three resorts, rode the Olympic bobsled course, and went snowshoeing the backcountry. A story on that trip just came out.

salt church near Bogota2) In February I headed down to Colombia again, visiting Bogota for the first time (check out this crazy cathedral in a salt mine nearby) and returning to the Coffee Triangle and Cartagena. If you’re heading to South America sometime, this is a great place to start. Not the cheapest, but great music, beautiful things to see, fun nightlife…

3) During spring break my family returned to our old hip home of Nashville, Tennessee to see old friends. Mostly we did that, partied, and ate well. Here are some tips on eating local food in Nashville.

4) Panama I’ve been here several times now, but on this trip I explored some different areas for a Global Traveler magazine article I was researching on adventure travel there. I did some hiking, ziplining, and coffee farm exploration around Boquette, then explored Coiba Island and a few islets from a base on the mainland.

5) The great company Bike Tours Direct invited me to try out one of their tours in Portugal, in conjunction with local operator Turaventur in the Alentejo region. I cashed in some miles gained through smart travel hacking and took my wife along. We slept in a castle and this palace that are a surprisingly good value, drank great wine for under $10 a bottle, and worked off a lot of flab cycling through the countryside. I wrote a story about it: Wildflowers and Wine: Biking Through Castle Country in Portugal.

6) On the way back we stopped in Madrid. But our flight got changed and we missed the Tapas tour we were going to do with Viator. Bummer. But do they have a cool looking airport or what? This is not a sci-fi movie set. It’s baggage claim.

Madrid's baggage claim

7) I went to Miami to cover a luxury travel conference for another publication and hang with the beautiful people, staying at the cool National Hotel. (Hint to aspiring travel writers: those covering luxury tend to stay in better digs than those writing about budget travel.)

8) Right after that I went up to Toronto to speak at the TBEX bloggers conference. Then I traveled down the lake to Kingston, Ontario and wrote a story about Canada’s first capital.

Leffel Guanajuato house

9) After two years in Tampa, Florida, I carried an embarrassing amount of luggage up to the check-in counter and boarded a plane to my new home—for the second time—Guanajuato, Mexico. I own a house there now, with this view above, on a hill above the main locals’ market, a short walk from the center. Unfortunately it was completely empty and needed a new kitchen, so my lack of rent to pay has been offset by having to lay out a lot of dough for “stuff.” Short term pain, long term gain. If you’re heading my way, sign up for one of my Mexican street food tours.

10) I hit Veracruz, Mexico for the first time and got a taste of the adventure travel options in that area. One of the best whitewater rafting trips of my life.

national park near Cuenca

11) Ecuador called my name again, with a bit of time in Quito and then more time in and around Cuenca. It’s an interesting city and I really liked the gorgeous countryside around it, but I feel like there’s a bit of a bandwagon effect going on with all the retirees. As a place to live, it looks better on paper than in person to me. Though it is certainly one of the cheapest places to live in the world.

12) I returned to the Riviera Maya again for another travel conference, then did a post-trip in the Merida area. Because I was with the top tour company in the area, my group got to visit Chichen Itza after hours and explore that and Uxmal with two archeologists. And then stay in a hacienda hotel. Very cool.

13) The North American Travel Journalists Association asked me to be a panelist (along with Kim Mance and Chris Jay from the 20 X 49 blog) in Shreveport, Lousiana. Then at the last minute keynote speaker Andrew McCarthy got a movie gig, so I filled in his opening speech spot. I ate really well in Shreveport, then Alexandria, then New Orleans. I may have gained five pounds in less than a week from eating my way through Louisiana. But yum!

day of the dead
14) Day of the Dead is a great time to be in Mexico. I got to experience it in Guadalajara (where the above photo was taken) and in Guanajuato. See some more great Katrina and Day of the Dead photos.

15) An assignment for a trade pub gave me an excuse to go to Mexico City again and as always, it was invigorating. It resulted in my most viral post ever (30K+ unique visitors in four weeks) after blogging on here for a decade: Are you avoiding Mexico City for outdated reasons?

canyon near San Miguel

16) The year ended with a bang: horseback riding and pyramid exploring with Coyote Canyon Adventures outside of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Then Christmas in Guanajuato, who knows what yet for New Year’s Eve.

In all that I only visited two new countries. But that’s okay, because I’m not a country counter. I’d rather visit five new places in countries I’ve been to than to put a check box next to Paraguay.

I won some more travel writing awards this year, which was nice. This blog and Perceptive Travel both got tagged by NATJA and I won two Gold awards there for a piece I wrote on Bulgaria and a Southeast Asia reflection article I did for Lonely Planet. The Perceptive Travel Blog I launched many years ago won best travel blog from the Society of American Travel Writers.

Thanks for reading along and following, whether you discovered this blog 10 years ago or last week.

I’m not sure yet what I’ll bring you in 2014 besides a February trip to Nicaragua already booked and lots of travels within Mexico. My big project is going to be a book I’ve already started working on about cutting your expenses in half by moving abroad. Title T.B.D. – I’m getting input on that and some parts of the content from the people on this newsletter list: Live Abroad for Less. Sign up!

Canada's first capital

The latest issue of Perceptive Travel is out now, with great travel stories from wandering book authors. This month we travel to Massachusetts, Ontario, and Uganda, plus we check out some noteworthy books and world music.

Plymouth Rock tourismTo get you in the mood for Thanksgiving next month, Becky Garrison checks out her ancestry by visiting the tourist town of Plymouth, Massachusetts, the place where the Mayflower ended its voyage and a good portion of the people on it ended up dying. Her family tree survived and it turns out those branches also extend to George W. Bush. See Exploring My Pilgrim Past at Plymouth.

I head a bit west of there to Kingston, Ontario. This is a small city with plenty of claims to fame, with its hometown hero being on a national bank note. But you’ve probably never heard of it, eh? See In Canada’s Forgotten First Capital.

Luke Armstrong swore he was not spending any more money on bulky musical instruments…until he saw a goat skin harp for $25 in a Kampala market. But then he had to get it past the pocket-lining Egypt Air manager. See our Goat Skin Harp Uganda story.

As always we check out some interesting new music from around the globe and noteworthy new travel books to consider for your reading list.

solar panel and battery

We also give away gear each month to readers who take a few minutes to enter our contest. Last month two readers got a nice Adidas Outdoors travel shirt and an inflatable solar lantern. This month we’re going solar again, with a cool Guide 10 Plus Kit from Goal Zero. This would could you more than a hundred bucks if you wanted constant power when off the grid yourself, so sign up for the monthly newsletter to get in on the action!

Panama travel

It’s time for another collection of the best travel stories on the web, from the award-winning webzine Perceptive Travel.

One of the features is mine this time, a piece on getting to the roots of good coffee by visiting farms where the beans are grown. Come along for the ride to Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama, and Colombia in Alert in the Americas.

On Ontario’s remote Moose Factory Island, where the Cree First Nation is cautiously courting tourism, Carolyn Heller learns that there’s more to see than the “sights.” See Going Where No Roads Go in Ontario.

Lea Aschkenas heads into the Amazon jungle of Ecuador and fights discomfort and insects to appreciate the teeming life around her.

Graham Reid checks out some new and noteworthy world music. Afro-soul, Indo-jazz, desert blues, and “Autotune goes to Africa.”

Travel book reviews from William Caverlee include Encounters from a Kayak, Food Lover’s Guide to the World, and On This Earth, A Shadow Falls.

travel light gearAs usual, we’re giving away some cool travel gear as well. Last month someone scored a new pair of hiking shoes from Wolverine. This month we’re giving away a whole Travelling Light package from Sea to Summit. The winner will take home a daypack that compresses down into a tiny pouch, a mesh laundry bag, Travelling Light See Pouches, and a travel wallet. If you’re on our newsletter list already, check your inbox or bulk folder. If not, sign up here to get in on the action next time. You can also follow Perceptive Travel on Facebook and watch for the contest questions.