Uncommon, unselfish: Uncultured.com

How’s this for an inspirational story? It can be hard enough to find the gumption and resources to travel the world. But how about giving it all up to personally fight poverty in Bangladesh?

That’s what 27-year-old Torontonian, Shawn, did when he started The Uncultured Project. He was originally inspired in 2006 at Notre Dame, where he heard a lecture by Dr. Jeffrey Sachs (author of “The End of Poverty”). What Sachs stressed and … Read more »

Posted by | Comments Off on Uncommon, unselfish: Uncultured.com  | December 31, 2008
Category: General

Noted travel writer/editor John Flinn leaves the SF Chronicle

It used to be that the Sunday edition of most newspapers was a gold mine of travel information. The internet largely killed the need for the Sunday Travel section, but there are still some notable newspaper travel desks that continued to publish insightful and helpful articles on destinations around the world.

Once of my personal favorites has long been the San Francisco Chronicle’s travel section, which, … Read more »

Posted by | Comments (2)  | December 30, 2008
Category: General

Website:How to backpack the world on a budget

When you are planning a long trip, cross continent, you can never have enough information. I remember a friend in Spain would make me see him for coffee for a year before he actually left for his RTW trip. He just wanted reassurance, support, chat, my guidebooks, website links, anything, because taking that final step is not the easiest thing to do, especially when you are leaving behind a full-time job and family.

So on … Read more »

Posted by | Comments (10)  | December 30, 2008
Category: General, Notes from the collective travel mind, Travel News, Vagabonding Advice

Packing, digitally

Everyone needs to pack, no matter where you’re going.  And if you’re anything like me, you use lots of scraps of paper, or maybe one page of your journal, criss-crossed with scribblings, and then you forget something anyway.  On my last trip out of the country, I forgot earplugs; “No big deal,” I thought.  “I can sleep through loud tribal drumming, people shouting, and street festivals…I’ll be fine.”  I forgot about people who snore.  Two … Read more »

Posted by | Comments Off on Packing, digitally  | December 29, 2008
Category: General, Notes from the collective travel mind

World cultures have always been influenced by visitors

“As a host community adapts to tourism, its facilitation to tourists’ needs, attitude, and values, the host community must become more like the tourists’ culture. That is what tourists in search of the exotic and ‘natural’ vacation setting mean when they say a place has been ‘spoiled’ by tourism, i.e., those who got there before them and required the amenities of home. Anthropologists are often in the forefront of those who deplore the dilution and … Read more »

Posted by | Comments Off on World cultures have always been influenced by visitors  | December 29, 2008
Category: Travel Quote of the Day, Travel Writing

The art of traveling for free

Budget Travel magazine ran an article recently called The Ultimate Guide to Free Travel. While standby flights and couch surfing are well-known, this piece had some more interesting ideas.

The key thing is to be responsible, though. You’ll still pay for traveling, but just not with money. A lot of these free travel options operate on trust. Definitely show gratitude and respect to your hosts for their generosity. By being a good … Read more »

Posted by | Comments (1)  | December 26, 2008
Category: General

Christmas festivities for vagabonders

Christmas only comes around once a year, but North Pole, Alaska celebrates it year-round. Located only 10 miles from Alaska’s second-largest city of Fairbanks, North Pole is in the Christmas spirit 365 days a year. Which is a good thing, because the lowest recorded winter temperature in North Pole was -78 Farenheit! Temperatures like that make a summer wonderland sound a little more impressive.

For those hearty souls willing to brave the winter weather … Read more »

Posted by | Comments (1)  | December 25, 2008
Category: General

Yes to travel spontaneity

Yes, I can say that I’ve seen better movies than “Yes Man.”

It may be a ho-hum movie, but what lasts for me is a moment of spontaneity: at one point Jim Carrey’s character arrives at the airport, steps up to the ticket desk, and asks for the next flight out of town. Will it be Tuvalu or will it be Nebraska? Hold onto your britches—he ends up in Lincoln, Nebraska. After an initial … Read more »

Posted by | Comments (6)  | December 24, 2008
Category: General, Notes from the collective travel mind


Everyone knows there are some gestures that are essentially cultural idioms; they’ve got regionally, culturally, or ethnically specific meanings that might be VERY DIFFERENT than what you’re used to.

Palms out in Greece: In Greece, putting the palm of your hand (or worse, the palms of both hands) towards someone is akin to raising your middle finger in North America. Hands on hips in South America:  In Mexico, South, and Central America, putting your hands … Read more »

Posted by | Comments (2)  | December 22, 2008
Category: Notes from the collective travel mind

Risk makes life worthwhile

“Reproduction and mere survival have never been good enough for humankind. We torture one another, we torture ourselves, we torture the universe with our questioning, our endless strife, the tedious struggle against death. Even a simple hike up Whitney, even the mild walk and scramble to the apex of Sierra Blanco in Colorado, involves that element of risk and effort which compensates for the usual banality of our lives. We love the taste of freedom. … Read more »

Posted by | Comments Off on Risk makes life worthwhile  | December 22, 2008
Category: General