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November 15, 2010

Passports with Purpose 2010: Donate and Win Great Travel Prizes!

Smiling women in rural India (mckaysavage/Flickr)

Today marks the kickoff of my favorite holiday fundraiser, Passports with Purpose. Started three years ago by a group of travel bloggers who wanted to give back to the world which they cover and explore, this year's online event is seeking to raise $50,000 to help build an entire village in southern India for that country's impoverished caste of "untouchables."

How can you help? Donate any amount in $10 increments to the fundraising effort, which will not only go toward the work of this year's charitable partner, LAFTI, but also put your name in the hat to win a swag bag of great travel prizes, including airfare, gear, consumer electronics, and more. The prizes have all been donated by members of the travel community, including two Delta flight vouchers for round-trip travel anywhere in the contiguous U.S. states and Canada from! Any other questions about PwP, feel free to drop me a line at: awearmouth 'at' away 'dot' com. And please, please open your wallets, purses, hearts... ahem... Swiss bank accounts for a very worthy holiday cause!

Click below the jump for the fine print.

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September 07, 2010

The Lost Girls: 3 Friends, 4 Continents and 1 Unconventional Detour Around the World

By WorldNomads

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Lost Girls-Taj Mahal"We're all in transition, but that's not bad. The idea is not to be found, but to embrace being lost."

-Jennifer Baggett

We spoke with Amanda Pressner about her round-the-world trip and newly released book: The Lost Girls: Three Friends, Four Continents and One Unconventional Detour Around the World. Here's what it took to prepare, how it was to return, and lessons learned:

Who are you? Where did you spend your year of travels?
In June 2006, we—three friends and media professionals, Jennifer Baggett, Holly Corbett, and Amanda Pressner—left our jobs, boyfriends, apartments, and everything familiar behind in New York City to embark on a year-long search for adventure and inspiration. We journeyed across four continents, a dozen countries, and 60,000 miles, sharing our experiences with other aspiring vagabonds on our website,

How did you decide to make the big break and go travelling?
Our journeys didn't begin the second we got on the road: They started while we were still in our cubicles, trying (and often failing) to strike a balance between our careers and "real life." Ditching my job and leaving New York to backpack around the planet seemed a completely illogical decision. At the time, I'd just gotten my toe in the door at my dream job as a magazine editorial assistant. But there was always another part of me—one that grew more vocal and insistent the longer and harder I worked—that kept trying to warn me just how much I was missing by spending every night (and many weekends!) inside of a dark office while the real life took place outside the window.

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Related Topics: Book Club · Travel Websites · Trip Ideas

July 09, 2010

Hit the Road With the Smithsonian's American Art Road Trip

Click on the image to see the full collage; image credits below the jump.

The Smithsonian American Art Museum just put out a cool summer road-trip package on Flickr, in which it’s encouraging travelers to contribute vacation snaps that map to 22 iconic canvasses from the museum’s collection. Landmarks include Niagara Falls, as painted by George Inness in 1885, and San Francisco Bay, depicted in a 1934 oil by Ray Strong. Just goes to show, the classics are timeless for a reason. Enjoy our tribute to the program above, with images from the library of travel photography. Enjoy, and happy travels this summer!

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June 24, 2010

Top 10 Profiles for Family Travelers to Follow on Twitter


Spending even the tiniest amount of time on social-networking site can feel like drinking from a firehose, with 140-character "tweets"—most of them inane; a handful prescient, depending on whom you follow—flooding your computer screen or smart-phone display like a swarm of chirping gnats. Enough to make any harried parent, already juggling too many demands on his or her time, to run for the hills like a technophobic Luddite, right?

As someone who indulges in this kind of microblogging for work (and some personal edification), Twitter does hold one distinct advantage for family-travel planners seeking relevant travel advice: that is, a vast and amorphous network of chatty and charismatic individuals, groups, even brands who are out there to make your search for that perfect family vacation even easier. The challenge? With whom do you connect, and how do you make it worth your time? I can't claim the below list is exhaustive or even definitive, but it's my curated slice of the Twitter zeitgeist when it comes to people—"tweeps," if you must use the jargon—to follow for the best family-travel intel. Once you've found the right mix of folks to follow, more will crop up on your radar. Follow the influencers, check out who they're following, follow their lists, and build out your own network of networks. Take part, too, so you can build up virtual relationships with the people from whom you seek advice. Honestly, it's not for everyone, but there is some fun to be had as you become your own gatekeeper over that ever-spewing firehose of virtual chatter.

Top 10 Family-Travel Resources on Twitter:

This is the handle for, a site packed with smart, insightful family-travel guides to destinations, attractions, and lodging around the world. (Nancy Solomon, one of CiaoBambino's writers, is also a frequent Twitter-er, worth a follow, too, via @nancysolomon.)

As the mother of three kids under the age of five, I don't know where Debbie Dubrow, aka @deliciousbaby, gets the energy to network, travel, and dispense information with quite the frequency that she does. A well-connected voice in that sisterhood of mommy (and daddy) bloggers, @deliciousbaby tweets not only from the heart but from the perspective of someone who cares deeply about the planet on which we live (and the people who inhabit its far-flung corners).

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April 08, 2010

Redefining Voluntourism in New Orleans

Photo courtesy of

Last spring, I had the chance to stop in New Orleans during the first weekend of Jazz Fest as my brother and I drove cross country. Being pressed for time and budget, we didn’t have much of a chance to see the city outside of the festival grounds, but I was struck by two things. First, the degree to which the city had rebounded in the four years since Hurricane Katrina. Second, the degree to which it hadn’t.

Sure, Bourbon Street is up and running and most of the French Quarter looks to be in pretty good shape. But other areas of the city are still fighting, with stately, newly refurbished Victorian homes sitting next to condemned piles of debris covered in police tape. In outlying, less visible areas such as the now-infamous Ninth Ward, there are still major challenges.

Thankfully, Americans from all over the country have helped over the years, visiting the city and chipping in time, money, and resources as they come. New Orleans has become the epicenter of a growing trend toward voluntourism in this country. But as more gets done, and as more vacationers look to add community service projects to their itineraries, the need for volunteers to help rebuild is changing.

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March 03, 2010

Mastered the Iron Man? Chuckle at the Tour de France?

By Lacy Morris

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ANT TRAIL: Racers in 2009 climb the first dune outside of Ouarzazate, Morocco (AFP/Getty Images/Pierre Verdy)

To most, myself included, six days and 160 miles through the Sahara Desert seems like pure torture—in fact, I do believe that I would prefer to be tortured. But to the nearly 700 competitors who battle towards the finish line in the Marathon des Sables each year, it's an intensely rewarding and complex couple of days. Challengers are let out in a paralyzing terrain of desert dunes, jagged rocks, and vast ridges bound to flabbergast even the most aggressively trained individual. The Sahara's climate is one of the harshest in the world—prevailing winds work up the seemingly endless sand, creating eye-scratching and often blinding sand storms. The majority of the desert receives less than eight inches of rainfall per year. When it does rain, it is usually a crushing cornucopia of water opening up from the dry desert sky. The water-starved landscape of the Moroccan Sahara becomes dotted with the crazy... er, elite few on April 2, 2010, for a rigorous exercise through the world's most hostile desert.

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February 24, 2010

Sites We Like:


I met Scott Dunn and his wife, Jill Richards, on a press trip to Phoenix, Arizona, last November. Scott, a mellow, no-nonsense Tennessean, was the PR guy for the Greater Phoenix Convention and Visitors Bureau; his West Coast wife was a photographer for the Arizona Republic. At the time they were planning a 12-month road trip hiatus to celebrate their first year of marriage, a dream that you can now follow at 12LegsTravel after they packed their few possessions, two mutts, and a handful of Scott's favorite books into their truck on New Year's Eve 2009. Enjoy stunning vistas of the American Southwest—more states to come as they head toward Mississippi and Louisiana, where Jill worked as a photojournalist after Katrina—as well as Scott's finely crafted insights about life out on the open road. And I'm not just shilling for a couple whose company I happened to enjoy over several days in and around Phoenix. In an online world saturated with travel opinions, information, and self-reflective narratives, shines an intimate light on what it means to travel through landscapes you cherish with the people (and animals) you love. Join them for the adventure.

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Related Topics: Dispatches from the Road · National Parks · Outdoor Adventures · Road Trips · Travel Websites

December 22, 2009

Cool Gadget: Nikon Lens Simulator

By Lacy Morris

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Nikon The masterminds behind Nikon released a web-based lens simulator that allows you to test drive the lens and camera body before purchase. Start with choosing your camera, either FX formats (D3x, D3, and D700) or DX formats (D90, D300s, D5000, D3000s). Then you can choose a lens you are interested in (wide-angle, telephoto, macro, etc.) or slide a toggle bar to view anything from 10mm to 600mm. Previewing focal lengths will help in purchasing the lens that best suits your needs. You can also test out different sensor formats and change your angle of view. Check it out on the Nikon website.

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December 18, 2009

Sites We Like:'s World Cup Site

Istopover With some reports indicating that there may be a shortage of accommodation for fans attending the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, entrepreneurial websites like are getting into the mix by offering non-traditional listings from locals who own apartments and houses in and around the World Cup venues.’s World Cup site, which launched at the beginning of October, currently has over 800 listings submitted directly by local property owners. Fans can browse photos and other amenities, plus contact the owner directly with more questions. takes a small cut on the final booking fee, which is not due until you complete your stay. On booking, payment goes directly to via secure third-party, and is then held for release to the owner until after the stay is complete. Like other vacation-rental sites and community-oriented sites like, there is an element of uncertainty to actual levels of comfort, cleanliness, and convenience, but’s role as facilitator between guest and host means you assume more direct control over the trip-planning process. Beyond the World Cup, look for these types of sites to keep growing as more and more small businesses and individuals cut into a space normally dominated by the large hotel aggregators and portals.

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Related Topics: 2010 World Cup · Africa Travel · Travel Websites

October 15, 2009

Sites We Like:

Mt Tamalpais at EveryTrail: Share and Plan your Trips

While researching the latest on Google Maps' rollout of its StreetView functionality to a limited number of hiking and biking trails this summer, I stumbled across a cool website called EveryTrail. This comprehensive hiking, trekking, and biking resource allows you to view tens of thousands of user-submitted trail guides that plot point-to-point information on an interactive map, along with user photos and other related information about the trail. Need details about climbing Yellowstone's popular Mount Washburn? Click here. Dreaming of ticking the Grand Canyon's Bright Angel Trail off your list? Click here. Membership is free, plus you can export raw data into GPX or KML format for use in mobile maps or in Google Earth. Features in the pipeline will also include iPhone and GPS device downloads, making it even easier to hit the trail!

Love to hike? Then you'll love the revamped Trail Finder tool on's sister site, Browse thousands of hiking trails around North America, plus easily edit and add details through its new user wiki.

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Related Topics: National Parks · Outdoor Adventures · Travel Websites

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