Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Goodbye 2012: My Year in Travel

I've been reading a lot of really great year-in-review travel posts over the past few weeks so I've been inspired to write one of my own. While I haven't logged even a fraction of the distance traveled, hours on trains and buses, time in airports and in the air, or number of cities and countries visited by others, I'm still pretty excited about that fact I got to travel this year and about all of the great things I got to see and experience, so I felt like it would be fun to take a look back. Here we go!

By the numbers
4000 Islands, Laos
  • Number of countries visited: 5
  • Number of airports involved: 11
  • Hostel, hotel or guesthouse beds slept in: 20
  • Longest flight: 16 hours, Toronto to Tokyo
  • Shortest flight: 45 minutes, Phuket to Bangkok
  • Longest train ride: 7 and half hours, Ayutthaya to Khon Kaen
  • Worst travel moment: Going from Kratie to Phnom Penh in a bursting-at-the-seams mini bus with a travel partner who had food poisoning.
  • Best travel moment: There are two. Lounging by the Mekong in lazy but lovely 4000 Islands, Laos and deciding on a whim to make Cambodia part of our travels.
  • Travel regret: Not getting to the north of either Laos or Thailand, which meant missing Chiang Mai and Luang Prabang.
  • Place I would absolutely go back to: Cambodia
  • Weirdest travel moment: Being on a hike in Laos and having locals want to get their picture taken with us.

The route
Bayon temple, Angkor Thom
Bangkok -- Ayutthaya -- Khon Kaen -- Nong Khai -- Vientiane -- Tha Kek -- Pakse -- 4000 Islands-- Kratie -- Phnom Penh -- Siem Reap -- Bangkok -- Phuket -- Ko Phi Phi -- Ko Lanta -- Khao Lak -- Khao Sok National Park -- Bangkok -- Toronto

We left for Bangkok February 3rd and after a few layover in Tokyo arrived in Bangkok around 10 p.m. and started our two month adventure. We stayed in Bangkok for five days, the first three of which involved a lot of mental breakdown due to jet lag. There were tears, there were fights and then once the jet lag wore off, we were normal people again. We moved every three to five days and packed a ton of travel into two months but every bus, train, plane or ferry ride was worth it. 

A few other 2012 travels
I also had the chance to get some sun this fall and spend four days on Providenciales, Turks and Caicos in early October and then another four days on Curacao in early November. One of my travel goals to is to visit as many islands in the Caribbean as possible and so far I'm up to seven.

2013 travel
We are planning another two month trip this winter, to Singapore and Malaysia, with a potential visit to Indonesia. No flights are booked yet, but we're aiming to leave the first week of February! I'll keep you posted on the plans.

What was your year in travel like? Where are you going next?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Turks and Caicos in Pictures

I got a chance to escape to Turks and Caicos for four days in mid-October and spent the majority of my time on gorgeous (and long) Grace Bay Beach on Providenciales, which stretches on for an amazing 12 miles. Since I love beach walking this was perfect for me (minus the sunburn). Photos from of my epic oceanfront wanders are below.

Out of my way, birdies!

Love that turquoise hue beyond the sand

Keep walking...and walking
Yup, I want to go back. I'm sure you can see why.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

My Travel Wish List for 2013

I was recently inspired by this great post wherein Mrs. O Around the World shares her 2013 travel wish list (Santa, are you listening... er reading?) So here is my "I need to go to there" list for the New Year and beyond, in no particular order. Parts two through 200 to come.

1. Malaysia
Image courtesy SM Jet
Malaysia is my alternate plan if we don't end up going to India  this winter, which at this point, likely will not. I love the idea of loads of street food, colonial architecture, beaches, green space, jungle and a melange of cultures. I especially want to spend lots of time in Penang, Melaka, Langkawi and of course, KL, not to mention Malaysian Borneo (hello, orangutans and jungle treks).

2. Singapore
Image courtesy Dominic Wee
I think it makes sense, wanting to go to Singapore while at the same time hankering for a taste of Malaysia. I've been looking into airfare and from Toronto, flights to Singapore seem quite a bit cheaper than they are to KL. But flight prices aside, I have become pretty fascinated by this well-ordered, glimmering city-state. I love the idea of checking out the many hawker centers, meandering through Little India and Chinatown, escaping the city with a wander through the Singapore Botanic Gardens (which are supposed to be quite lovely), and doing lots and lots of (window) shopping.

3. Vietnam
Image courtesy Timo Balk
Two months in SE Asia was not enough to squeeze in Vietnam. I would have liked to go for longer in order to include several spots here, but it was not to be. So now I've been left wanting. There was a lot of preliminary talk about going to Vietnam this winter (pre-India talk) so it's still on "the list" and still in the running for a sooner rather than later trip. I want to see Ha Long Bay, I want to check out Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. I want to see for myself where I fall amidst the myriad love-hate opinions of other travelers who have been here. Seriously, from what I've read, you either love it... or not.

4. Morocco
Image courtesy M.E. Jones
I have been wanting to go to Morocco since around 2006, when I became obsessed with signing up for a G Adventure tour there. I ended up in Paris for a summer instead (which was amazing), but I still have a lingering lust on for Morocco. Fez, Marrakech, Essaouira (which my mom fell in love with in the 60s) -- bring it on, I want to see it all. But it's winter there when my boyfriend and I travel so it hasn't yet fit in with the "we want to be warm while it's cold here" criteria.

5. Panama
Image courtesy Joy
As one of the only countries in Central America I have yet to visit, Panama has been high on my must-visit list for a few years. We were contemplating a trip there last year, but chose Thailand instead. But there's something about Panama that pulls me in. I want to wander aimlessly through Casco Viejo, check out the Canal (natch), get closer to nature in various national parks and of course, do some beach hopping. 

Image courtesy A C
5. Hong Kong
I'm not sure where my fascination with Hong Kong began, but I have been developing a serious travel crush on this seemingly well-ordered yet always buzzing hub filled with shopping, people, chaos, and a multitude of things to see and do. We very nearly built in a 4-day layover in Hong Kong on the way back from Thailand but ultimately decided against it. But still, I remain fascinated. Maybe this year..

So, where do you want to go in 2013? Tell me things!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Curacao in Pictures

I recently spent four days on Curacao, an island in the southwestern Caribbean off the coast of Venezuela. What to expect: Tropical flavour with a European twist, lovely people, vibrant downtown area and beautiful beaches. Post with words to follow soon. But in the meantime, enjoy the images.

Willemstad, Curacao's colorful capital

Time to snag a beach chair
Colourful wall art in Willemstad

Blue Curacao liqueur factory

Curacao from above

Thursday, December 6, 2012

My First Love: Central America

As much as I have a huge crush on travel and as much as I love traveling and all it has to offer, I haven't been to very many places. My first two defining travel experiences consisted of a summer in London when I was 17 and a summer in Paris 10 years later. And then I went to Central America.

Oh hi, Belize
Caye Caulker, Belize
My boyfriend and I had talked on and off about travel for years -- vaguely and with no real solid goals in mind. It was more of a, " Hey, we should go to here" kind of thing rather than a, "Let's save  up and book a ticket to this place" kind of thing. And then he went to Nicaragua with a friend for two weeks and loved it. The next year we decided it was time to take a trip together and we chose Belize. It was close(ish), it was warm and there would be no language barrier. So we booked -- and I loved it.

Oh hi, Guatemala
Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
After Belize we decided to continue our foray into Central America and I was OK with that. Flights were relatively cheap, accommodation was affordable, it was easy to get around and so far, I had enjoyed what the region had to offer. Guatemala was no exception and I again, fell in love (longer, region-specific blog posts coming!)

Oh hi, El Salvador
Santa Ana, El Salvador
Could we end up with good travel luck three times in a row? Oh yes we could! El Salvador was a dream. I loved it more than Belize and more than what I saw of Guatemala (which was not enough. It's a huge country), but El Salvador packs  a big punch for such a small country. Beaches? check. City life? Check. Good food? Sure. Hiking, jungle, natural beauty? Yup, you know it. So yes, I continued to fall hard for Central America.

Do we stay or do we go?
Last year, when discussing where we would go (if anywhere), my first thought was to go back to Central America. We were unsure whether we could afford a trip and I originally suggested that rather than going further afield, we stick with what we know and love -- Central America, and in this case, Costa Rica and Panama. But, we ended up ultimately deciding on SE Asia. 

Now what?
This winter we've set our travel sights on India (unless I chicken out). Two (or more) months in that part of the world would be an amazing (and huge) challenge for both of us and something we've been talking about for a while. But I still feel the pull of Central America. I've never been to Costa Rica or Panama and the pull to check them out is pretty strong. But would it be a challenge? Does travel have to be a challenge? Would it be "enough"? I don't know. I want to figure it out soon since we'd be leaving early February and right now, I'm still in a state of travel confusion.

Do you have a place that pulls you back over and over?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Pushing Up Against Travel Fears

Not walking the walk
I talk a big game. Like I can pack up on a whim and go anywhere. Except when it comes down to it (i.e. actually booking a trip) I don't think I can. Sure, I go places, I've been places, but there are certain places that fascinate me and terrify me all at once. It's these places that sneakily coax out that fear that I like to ignore and pretend doesn't exist (me, scared to travel? Never). But oh, it's there.

Notes on India
India has been on my mind for about a year, edging its way into my brain while I was in Thailand, eking out a spot high on the next-trip list by the time I was back at home. Full-blown obsession hit in late summer and I was utterly smitten with the idea of India as my next destination. My enthusiasm, like a cloud of travel trivia and tidbits about this country I needed to visit, swirled around me and eventually enveloped my boyfriend, who pledged his allegiance to this mystical country that would be where we spent part of the winter. 

Stalled and at a stalemate
But now that winter is here, I've stalled out. I've let the guidebooks collect dust (and overdue library fines), I've stopped spouting trivia and I've (gasp) found myself searching out alternative trip ideas. We haven't talked about vaccinations, flights or even a time-frame, and I still continue to linger over every other place but India when I read travel blogs and daydream about where to go next. It's not because I've simply decided to go someplace else (which would be totally fine). It's because I'm scared. There, I said it. I'm scared to go to India.

The fear factor
I'm scared of the pollution, the poverty, the culture shock, the potential for gastrointestinal distress. I'm scared of having to take overnight trains (I have seriously never done this. Shocking, I know). I'm scared of trying to book trains in advance and not being able to get where I want to be, and I'm even scared of not being able to find reliable Internet (something I would need since I would be working on the move). So in short, I am a big ball of travel fear right now. Sigh. 

Moving forward (or just somewhere else)
If we're going to go to India for two months this winter we're going to have to put some plans in place. Soon. We need those vaccinations, we need to book a flight and come up with a rough itinerary. I need to pay those overdue fines on all those India books. But I'm still feeling really unsure, like I'm pushing up against something I'm not sure how to move past or over. I want to go, but I've also been put in my place by this fear and I need to figure out a way to work through it (which really comes down to booking that flight).

Have you ever dealt with travel fear? How did you deal with it?

Images courtesy stock.xchnge, Tarun Ghosh

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Notes on Travel Regret

No trip taken is ever something to regret. Even if you didn't love (or even like) where you went, you still likely learned something about yourself along the way. But, I think you can still lament over paths not taken and locations overlooked. Case in point: when we were in Thailand we didn't go to Chiang Mai. Yes, you read that right; we were in Thailand and skipped over everyone's favourite spot. Sigh.

Choices (or, you can't see everything)
Nong Khai, Thailand
Originally, we were going to head north after Bangkok, spend a chunk of time in Chiang Mai and then go into Laos. On our second day in Ayutthaya, my boyfriend and I decided to switch up the plan and instead head northeast, towards Nong Khai and then into Laos, with every intention of still going to Chiang Mai, just not right then.

A (bigger) change of plans
After five days in Nong Khai (a nice little chilled out town I really liked) we again started talking about our travel plans. Do we do the Vientiane, Vang Vieng, Luang Prabang route and then back into the north of Thailand? That was the original idea, but I wasn't really keen on Vang Vieng. I'm sure it has its merits, but being 32 I wasn't into the idea of drunken tubing or partying with 19-year olds (no offense to 19-year olds). The boyfriend felt similarly and had yet to get really "excited" about going to Laos at all. We then met another couple  who told us their favourite spot in Laos was the 4000 Islands. This was the straw that shifted the camel's plans (er, you get the idea).

The new plan

The next day (after poached eggs at a cute British cafe I can't remember the name of), we walked along the waterfront, gazing at Laos in the distance and drafted a new plan. We would not go north, but instead head south after Vientiane, into Tha Khaek (dusty town with lots of stray dogs you need to watch out for), Pakse (go to hike the gorgeous Bolivan Plateau. So beautiful) and then to the 4000 Islands (SO amazing). And then... into CAMBODIA, which was never part of the travel plan at all. So in essence, we sacrificed Chiang Mai for a chance to see Cambodia.

Vientiane, Laos
Going with your gut
Plans are great -- to a point. They can also trip you up and lead you away from the path you are better off being on. My gut said, "let's do this; let's head south instead and squeeze in Cambodia." My brain said, "but, but, but..." and then my boyfriend sealed the deal with the deciding vote to head south. I fell madly in love with the 4000 Islands and with Cambodia. Cambodia is a special place that really swept me off my feet and I wouldn't have got to have that experience if we had stuck with "the plan".

Feelings now
Well. now that we're back I do get random pangs of wishing we'd made it to Chaing Mai. I regret not seeing the north of Thailand while we were there and that kind of smarts now that we're back from the trip. As much as I love the trip we ended up taking (which I know is the point), I still think of the "what ifs" and the "should haves". I've read so many great things about Chiang Mai -- it's cheap, it's easy to get around, there are so many temples, it's a haven for vegetarians....and on and an. I hate to think I was so close, but never quite got there. Next time!

How do you deal with travel regret?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

An Ode to 7-Eleven

Before I went to Thailand I figured all 7-Eleven stores were the same. The ones where I live, in Toronto, stock junk food, soda, magazines and cigarettes and that's about it, so when I got to Bangkok I wondered why there would possibly be any need for one of these stores every block (or more). Boy, was I in for a surprise.
7-Eleven in Bangkok, from above

The "everything" store
While not every 7-Eleven in Thailand is created equal, most of them allow you to purchase anything from coffee, beer and junk food, to breakfast, lunch, dinner and makeup. Yes, makeup (not to mention shampoo, toothpaste, toilet paper and underwear). So basically, if you decided to take a trip to Thailand, but lost your luggage en route, you could just stop at a 7-Eleven and you'd be fine for at least a few days, if not longer.

What I bought
My boyfriend and I mostly used 7-Eleven stores as a place to stock up on water and beer. We often stayed in places that had a fridge, so we could ensure multiple bottles of each, which was convenient. However, I also bought a notebook (which I still use), face cleanser that cost me 90 bhat (about $3) for two -- one exfoliating wash, one foaming, which I ended up loving and obviously can't find here (they're called Berri Pops if you happen to come across them), snacks and a BB cream that was also about 90 bhat but something I couldn't/wouldn't use because it contained whitening ingredients. Most beauty products in Thailand claim to whiten, but I didn't notice this on first read-through of the products' claims (silly me). Full disclosure: I'm pretty pale and definitely not in need of skin whitening.

The bottom line
In Toronto you can't just go to the corner store or grocery store to buy beer (which you can in some provinces in Canada). There are special stores dedicated to booze and beer here, which is fine, but once you have access to beer anywhere you go (as in, every block), it's hard to be OK with making a separate trip just to get a 6-pack or bottle of wine. Plus, the snacks at the Thai 7-Elevens kick ass -- fun flavours of chips, dehydrated strawberries (pretty yummy) and a much more varied selection of treats than what gets stocked at the stores where I live.

I understand that the prevalence of the 7-Eleven brand means the decline of local culture and a dearth of anything "authentic" but I also get the fact that having access to what you need quickly and whenever you want is important to everyone, Thais and tourists alike.

What are your thoughts on the 7-Eleven stores every block in Thailand? Do you use them?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Cooking Class in Thailand

One of the things I really wanted to do while in Thailand was take a cooking class. My boyfriend and I love Thai food (or what we thought was Thai food before we actually went to Thailand), so we figured learning how to make the dishes we enjoyed would be a good idea. And it was.

Cooking in Krabi Town
Spring rolls and papaya salad!
We decided to make a stop in Krabi Town on the way to Khao Sok National Park, but our one night stay turned into three (what can I say, we liked the town). I happened to notice a brochure at our guesthouse for a cooking school and figured we could put our extra couple of days to good use. The school was Smart Cook Thai Cookery School and they offered a great afternoon of cooking (and lots of eating). 

To market
After getting picked up from our guesthouse (included in the price of the class) we hit a local market to buy supplies and learn about some of the major flavours in Thai cooking. We were taken around the market by our teacher, Bunnie (who was as adorable as her name), where she showed us all of the ingredients we would be using. We were then given an hour to wander before meeting back up to head to the school. Other than the "meat" room, which was not the best spot for a vegetarian, the market was colourful, lively and a great start to an afternoon of cooking.

Hot and sour soup, sweet and sour veg
We chose the Daily Course + Market Tour (1500 bhat), which meant choosing seven dishes. I chose spring rolls, coconut milk soup, papaya salad, red curry paste, tofu with curry and sticky rice with mango. My boyfriend went with the same, other than hot and sour soup and sweet and sour veggies. Anything with meat can be made with tofu, which was a bonus for us. 

There was only three of us in the class so Bunnie could easily make the rounds and help, and we all had a great view of when she was showing us something. We started with soup and salad, then onto spring rolls, curry paste, curry tofu and then dessert. I was insanely full afterwards, as you can imagine. The food was easier to make than I thought, but since Thai cooking is done so quickly at such high heat, as long as you have all of your ingredients on hand and prepared, getting it right is doable for most cooking levels.

We were given a cookbook at the end of class, which I can honestly say I've used a lot since being back. My favourite things to make are spring rolls, papaya salad and coconut soup. I have yet to attempt curry paste, but it's on the list!

Have you ever done a cooking class while traveling? What did you think?

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Khao Sok National Park

One of the highlights of my recent trip to Thailand was the three days we spent in Khao Sok National Park. I had done  a lot of reading about it before deciding to add the park to our itinerary, and the experience exceeded expectation.

Our Jungle House
We stayed at the lovely Our Jungle House, where I had made a reservation online about a week prior to arriving. I can't recommend this resort enough -- it offers several types of accommodation including riverside bungalows and tree houses. I tried to book one of the tree houses (with no luck), but I loved our room all the same. It was just rustic enough (open air bathroom, complete with frogs, snails and other park critters), but clean, charming and full of character.  Great food, friendly, attentive staff and myriad tours that allow you to explore all areas of the park make it an ideal option if Khao Sok is on your list of must-sees (which it should be).

Lake trip
We opted for a full day tour of Cheow Lake, an awe-inspiring spot I didn't want to leave. It's touted as a must-do trip and although I try to make my own calls on where to spend my travel time and money, it really did live up to the hype. We started with a scenic long tail boat ride across the lake to a perfect swimming spot (think emerald water surrounded by limestone karsts) where you could take a dip or kayak. We were served a delicious lunch including lots of vegetarian options (perfect for us) and then came the hike to and through Namtaloo Cave. 

Getting to the cave involved a short boat ride an easy hike, but the trip through the cave itself was the fun part. First of all, it's dark (headlamps on, please) and it's full of water. So full of water that at times we were swimming through the cave (the water is also mighty cold). Oh, and there are lots of spiders and some slippery parts so athletic shoes are a must. But back to the spiders. If you hate them, you will not want to do the cave part of this tour. They're huge and they're everywhere. Luckily you can't really see them if you're not directing your headlamp on them, but knowing they're there is enough. Then it was back for fruit and more swimming before the return boat ride.

We also did a canoe trip and an afternoon at the nearby hot springs, which, in retrospect, might not have been the smartest call for such a hot country, but still relaxing.

Getting there
You can easily get to Khao Sok National Park from Khao Lak, which is a nice spot in itself for a few days. There are many tour operators that offer the two hour trip daily. While in Khao Lak we stayed at Jerung Guesthouse, a clean, friendly option right on the main road and only about a 6-7 minute walk to the beach. Khao Lak is great for avid divers (which I am not), but I still found if a nice three day stop.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Nomad In Training

La Palma, El Salvador
Wanderlust woman
As a freelance writer, I can work from anywhere. I work from my couch mostly (bad for the back, I know), but what I really want to do is start working more while traveling. Not just once in a while, but jet off to a new spot every few months. I worked from Paris for the summer in 2007 and while on a two month trip through Thailand, Cambodia and Laos in 2012 and now that I know I can get things done while on the road, I want to do it ALL the time.

Why don't I just do it?
Well, travel costs money. I don't necessarily have the funds to pack up and go whenever, wherever I please so thus far, planning is involved. Plus, I actually enjoy having a home base. I like the feeling of leaving, and then coming back. Granted I get itchy feet about three days after returning from a trip, but I have yet to embrace the idea of going somewhere indefinitely (and not having anywhere to come back to).

Despite the fact I'm not quite ready to say goodbye to my trusty couch, I do plan to be away from it more often. I want to take advantage of my mobile career as much as possible, whether I go somewhere for a week -- or three months. I just have to get organized and make it happen. I'll keep you posted on where the next spot is going to be...

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Subletting My Apartment To Travel

When my boyfriend and I decided to take a two-month trip this winter, one of our criteria was finding someone to rent our apartment while we were gone. The idea was to avoid paying for a trip and paying for a space we weren't going to be living in at the same time.

The skinny
Khao Sok National Park
Once we said a mutual, 'OK, let's do it,' I put an ad on Craigslist for our large, sunny one-bedroom in Toronto's west end. I actually got more responses than I thought I would (I was worried we wouldn't find anyone to take the place) and had tentatively chosen someone barring her somehow hating the space upon sight. But then I got another email from someone who was interested (I didn't want to take the ad down until I had a rock-solid confirmation). This other interested party turned out to be someone I had worked with about five years ago (so random). He came to see it  and said he'd take it and I was glad to give it to someone I knew.

What happened
After a few lapses in communication (and me stressing the deal would fall through), we got our two months of rent paid up-front and handed over a set of keys. We left on February 3rd and didn't hear from the people renting our place the whole time (other than once to tell us they were having trouble getting online), which I managed to rectify from a loner laptop in an eco-lodge on the outskirts of Khao Sok National Park. I was concerned they would have issues or be unhappy (because I'm a worrier like that), but all was well

Upon our return
The couple staying at our place (one, my former colleague) left the place looking fine, but definitely 'lived in.' They did put clean sheets on the bed, which was great and leave a nice thank-you note. However (and this one is kind of my fault) let their dog chew our coffee table. I say this is my fault because I said they could bring their dog, which they were originally going to leave with someone else. 

Would I do it again?
Yup. It's a great way to travel without worrying about the empty space sitting back home (eating up your hard earned money). This time I would say no pets and even try to see if I could find someone who wouldn't mind also feeding my cat, Arthur. This past trip my sister took the cat, but she will likely be heading to Korea to teach English this winter (when I want to be away). So we'll see what happens, but I would love to sublet again as a way to offset some of the cost of the trip.

My First Airbnb Experience

I could spend hours browsing rooms and apartments on Airbnb. I can choose a location and just start searching, clicking on place after place (creating dream trips as I click). I finally got to use the site for real (and not just imaginary purposes in February when I was planning my Southest Asia trip.

Our place in Bangkok
Since we were flying into Bangkok pretty late (our plane landed around 10 p.m. local time) I wanted to make sure we had accommodation booked and I liked the idea of finding something more homey on Airbnb. So I started searching places in Bangkok and I ended up finding a gem.

What I found
For $20 a night I found a great room off of a main house with air conditioning (much needed), free Wi-Fi, a separate entrance, private bathroom with hot water and a great location close to the BTS Skytrain (Chong Nonsi, if you're curious). The host Micha was great and offered tons of tips and suggestions for what to do. The room was large and clean, plus there was a little sitting area out front great for sipping beers or having coffee in the morning. There was coffee and tea provided, along with a kettle, small fridge, microwave and toaster. There was also a great grocery store nearby and lots of street food stalls during the week.

My experience
Micha got back to me right away (within 12 hours) with confirmation that my dates of choice were available and sent a detailed map of how to get there, including directions written in Thai for the taxi driver. We liked the place so much that we booked it again for our last three nights in Bangkok at the tail end of the trip. Would I use Airbnb again? Absolutely. 

What have your Airbnb experiences been like?

Welcome to Travel Crush

Khao Lak, Thailand
Oh, hello. Want to know a secret? I have a travel crush, or you could say a huge crush on travel. It's a crush that started when I was 17 and spent the summer in London and I haven't been able to shake it. 

So what's a travel-obsessed girl to do? Write about it! This is where I'll share my travel crush -- where I've been (from far and wide to hyper-local haunts), where I want to go, tips, thoughts and musings about by biggest, baddest crush of all time. Ready for take-off?