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Here at Amazing Journeys, we’re lucky have the best jobs in the world—and we think our good fortune is worth sharing. So, when your next journey seems like a distant dream, take a few minutes to explore our WANDERLUST blog—it’s chock full of engaging tales and helpful tips from our travels around the world. Check out the most recent entry (at the top) or search by your preferred criteria. Consider it motivation for your next embarkation.

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Find Your Balance

Thursday, January 31st, 2019

by Malori


If travel provides a respite from daily responsibilities, then nature re-balances the soul. Spending time in the outdoors is uplifting and provides an energy seldom found in day-to-day life. Having just returned from a trekking adventure in Argentina, the goal I set was to create a special opportunity where we could explore the beauty of the land as well as some self discovery along the way.

After gathering the group in Buenos Aries and learning a bit about several of the neighborhoods that make up this energetic city, the next morning we got on a plane and headed south – three and a half hours south – to the bottom of the globe. We landed in El Calafate where the sun was bright in the sky for long hours each day and didn’t set until 11:00 pm. After all, it’s summer here in the Southern Hemisphere. Snow covered mountains, glaciers and lakes filled with flamingos were but a few of the many surprises awaiting us.


We spent our time in this amazing region visiting the Estancia Christina, reachable only by a 3 hour boat ride, passing icebergs and glaciers and highlighted by a pristine turquoise blue (we call it “amazing” blue) moraine lake. It truly took our breath away. The next day we were treated to the Pertido Moraino Glacier where we stood under absolute perfectly blue skies (a rarity here) and watched as this spectacular glacier calved, losing large chunks, the size of buildings. I call this “natures fireworks” and as we stood silently waiting, we’d hear a thunderous roar and then gaze giddily as we heard the cracking as we experienced parts of the glacier crashing into the water. We all clapped as if seeing a live theater performance. Although this glacier is neither shrinking nor expanding, this is the normal growth cycle of a glacier. We were happy to know that it was not a shrinking glacier as so many of the earths glaciers are. We hiked the trails from below and above with a picnic lunch along the way, and happily enjoyed the views from each angle.

With a three hour drive across the beautiful and stark Patagonian landscape, seeing little else but guanacos along the way (a cousin of the llama), we arrived in the trekkers town of El Chalten. It was here we experienced the heart and soul of our adventure and our most challenging trekking of our entire journey. Over the next three days, we embarked three different hikes within Los Glaciares National Park. On our arrival day, we set out into a beautiful landscape enveloped by meandering rivers, snow capped mountains and several different rock types including red rocks, granite, sandstone and basalt, a combination generally not found together. The windswept valleys were covered with clouds that have formations unlike those we had ever seen anywhere. Most were long flowing cloud formations in the shape of ribbons across the big sky. Others were wispy yet round taking on the shape of a spaceship. Under these skies, our journey began. We walked six miles through and beside the mountain valley to a waterfall. It was really lovely.


The next day was our most demanding. We set out early in the morning for our 11-13 mile trek. Backpacks filled with water, layers of clothing and snacks, our walking sticks in hand and hiking boots laced, we began our walk on the Fitz Roy Footbath to the Glacier of the Three, one of the most breathtaking hikes in the world.  Those who wanted the longer hike were challenged not only with an additional two miles of trekking, but going nearly straight up the side of the mountain, climbing 1,200 feet in only half of mile.  That means on the way down, heading nearly straight down.  The view from the top was amazing and described by one of our passengers upon reaching the summit, “it was as if a curtain opened and the most incredible scenery on earth stood before us.”


The following day we were supposed to climb another 10 – 12 miles, but the unpredictable Patagonian winds and rain were starting to form so on this day, some of the group walked six miles while others did about eight.

It wouldn’t have been an adventure in Argentina without a visit to the wine growing region of Mendoza where Malbec wines are produced. Winding our way through the vineyards at the base of the Andes Mountain which form the border between Chile and Argentina, we visited three different wineries, tasting 12 different wines.  By the end of the day, we couldn’t tell which wine was which, but then again, it didn’t matter much.  Our wine pairing lunch was an amazing combination of gourmet food, freshly baked breads and desserts that were as tasty as they were spectacular to look at.  This was paired with a late-harvest dessert wine.


Finally, our last stop brought us back to nature where we visited one of my favorite spots on earth, Iguaçu Falls.  Imagine you’re at the center of an IMAX movie, and you are surrounded by water on all sides – and above you, and below you, and you hear the sound of the rushing water all around you – that’s the feeling you get in Iguaçu Falls. Visiting both the Brazilian and the Argentinean side of the falls, you get the full scope of just how massive these 275 waterfalls are, and how in touch with nature you are at that moment in time.  The feeling stays with you for a lifetime and the memories never fade.  Iguaçu Falls touches you in a way few places can.

I recommend treating yourself to a getaway in nature.  Reset your mind. Invigorate your body. Balance your soul.  And then be thankful for all the treasures we have on this earth.

Screenshot Your Travel Documents

Tuesday, September 4th, 2018

 

Your mobile boarding pass should always be a tap or two away from your home screen. You’ve got a link to it in your email or your texts, or you’re sure you put it into Apple Wallet. But should isn’t always good enough when you get up to the TSA desk and the airport’s wifi is flaking out. Always take a screenshot.

Screenshotting everything is an indispensable travel hack. (On iPhone, hold down the power and home buttons at the same time; on Android, it’s usually the power and volume-down buttons.) This way, the information you should have available will always be in your photos app. That said, your photos aren’t super private, say if you were to hand your phone over to somebody, so consider whether you want to keep that information in your camera roll long-term.

While you’re traveling, consider screenshotting:

– Any emails with a confirmation number (like your hotel booking)
– The addresses and phone numbers of any person or place you plan to visit
– Maps and directions, even if your map app should have that data available offline – you know better than to rely on should.
– Any important information that came to you in an email or text, or that requires a special app (even something as simple as a PDF reader) to view.

This is, of course, in addition to taking snapshots of street maps, signs, and any important piece of paper that crosses your path. Have everything in your photos app, and it will be right there when you need it.

 

Edited from lifehacker

Tips on Saving Money When Traveling Abroad

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2018

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Did you know that over 72 million Americans traveled outside the country in 2016, where they spent more than $140 billion? While much of that money was used to create memories that will last a lifetime, a portion of it went to financial fees that might well have been avoided.

Here are five tips for keeping costs low and managing your money during your next trip abroad.

Steer clear of transaction costs

Most credit and debit card issuers charge foreign-transaction fees, which typically run between 2% and 3% of the purchase price, as well as ATM fees. That might seem like a minor expense per transaction, but all those extra charges can really add up.

Look into the fees imposed by your banks and credit card companies. (The overall fee is often a combination of two fees, one from the issuing bank and one from the card company.) And note that even if you have a fee-free card, there may still be circumstances in which ATMs or merchants themselves charge a fee. Always check your card’s terms and conditions to find out exactly what fees you’re responsible for.

Find the best exchange rate

Airport currency kiosks may be convenient, but they also tend to be pricey, often charging as much as $10 for exchanging any amount under $500. Even so-called no-fee exchanges tend to make a profit off their highly unfavorable exchange rates. All told, Fodor’s estimates that travelers pay an extra 4% to 9% when exchanging currencies at such convenient but costly locations.

Cash withdrawals from ATMs are generally the best choice for day-to-day funds—but, again, beware transaction fees. Some banks impose a flat fee per withdrawal, while others do not and may even refund those levied by others.

money 1Watch out for “dynamic currency conversion”

Many travelers are enticed by the convenience and familiarity of receiving bills – at restaurants, for instance – in U.S. dollars. But this new trend, called dynamic currency conversion, often comes with an unfavorable exchange rate, transaction fees or both. So when asked if you want to pay a bill in the local currency or in dollars, go with the local option – unless you can verify that the cost is negligible and worth it, to you, for the familiarity factor.

Secure your information

Nothing ruins a trip like a lost or stolen wallet, so take a picture of the contents of your wallet, including the fronts and backs of credit and insurance cards so you can find all those important phone numbers to call in case of emergency. Keep a copy on your phone – or better yet, in the cloud – along with pictures of your passport and any other important documentation.

Also, be sure to activate fraud alerts for all accounts that offer them so you’re notified right away of suspicious activity. Sophisticated cybercriminals are often able to capture your financial information even if your cards stay in your possession.

Take advantage of built-in benefits

Before you book your trip, see if your credit or debit cards offer travel-related perks that can save you money or ease your journey. For example, many offer help with hotel and restaurant reservations, free Wi-Fi access on eligible flights, and even discounts on certain types of accommodation and transportation. Review your cards’ benefit terms or call your providers for full details.

 

Edited from Charles Schwab

Ask AJ

Thursday, April 12th, 2018

We get questions all the time about our travel preferences, our favorite places and what we like to do in certain countries, so we thought we would answer some of the questions here.  Take a look at the Q&A’s below and feel free to send other questions our way for the next edition of Ask AJ!

When packing for a trip, I can’t leave without my __________
Stacey:  Snacks and my camera.
Michele: AJ windbreaker and a bathing suit!  Rain or shine, always be prepared!
Erin:  A camera and comfortable walking shoes.  If I don’t have either of those, it will be a rough trip!
Malori:  Packing cubes! Especially for land trips, it organizes your suitcase so well. It’s like having a set of drawers inside your suitcase!
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My ideal vacation spot is ___________
Erin:  Anywhere that I get to experience a new culture.  Being able to interact with people from different countries and finding our similarities is so interesting.
Michele: Anywhere where I can have sand between my toes!  White sand in the Keys, black sand in Costa Rica, pink sand in Bermuda … it’s all welcome!
Malori:  Hiking in a majestic mountain setting dotted with lakes.  Take me to the Canadian Rockies, Patagonia, Switzerland, Alaska or Colorado and I will be beyond happy!
Stacey:  Anywhere with intriguing architecture and patterns to photograph – ancient columns in Greece, cobblestone streets in Ireland, intricate arches in India, lanterns in Vietnam, pebbled beaches in Argentina – always keep your eye out for a great shot!

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My favorite travel experience is ____________
Malori:  I call it my favorite day of travel and it’s in Cairns, Australia: hot air ballooning in the morning with kangaroos hoping below and snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef in the afternoon.
Erin:  The day in India where we were driving to Jaipur.  First, we came across a roadside dance party, so we hopped out of the bus and joined in.  The same night, we were dressed in saris and henna for dinner and randomly joined in a wedding procession in the streets, complete with the groom riding an elephant and a 12-piece band marching us down the street!
Michele: Meeting new people and finding new adventure.  There is nothing quite like creating new friendships across the globe.  Travel provides unbreakable bonds with people you otherwise may have never met, embrace it!
Stacey:  Hiking the Inca Trail in Peru with an active group of travelers.  Hiking for four days, through countless different ecosystems (in the rain) and ending at Machu Picchu was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

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Although I am a professional traveler, I am still guilty of ____________
Michele:  Triple checking my packing list to make sure I didn’t forget anything!
Erin:  Leaving behind my “dress up” layers.  I assume that if I am going to Italy in July, it will be hot – I forget that if I am on a cruise, it will be chilly on the ship at night.
Stacey: Forgetting to pack pajamas.
Malori:  Leaving hotel frequent flyer points behind. I know I should be more fastidious, but sometimes I just don’t think about it like I do my airline miles.

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When I am in a new city, the first thing I do is __________
Stacey:  Drop my bags off at my hotel and explore the area!  I like to check out fun things to do, cool places to visit and the bar and restaurant scene.
Michele: Hit the ground running!  I love to check out the area and find a local café where I can sit and take it all in.  I enjoy meeting locals and hearing what they like to do most and go off the beaten path.
Malori:  Walk around and notice the daily life of the people in the neighborhoods. I notice the differentiation in architecture which sets one city apart from others in my mind.
Erin:  Stroll through town and get my bearings.  I usually explore the area, pop into a grocery store to pick up some snacks and learn what is around.

 

Travel is an Art

Wednesday, November 1st, 2017

Where do you go to let go?

Monday, January 9th, 2017

Please share with us – where do you go to let go?

India Recap

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

Let me just take a minute to tell you about my favorite day of the trip.  We hopped on the bus in the morning to make the drive from Udaipur to Jaipur.  Along the way, we were looking out the window and all of a sudden, we came along a parade on the side of the road.  Turns out, a baby was born in the village and they were having a parade (complete with a DJ bus) and were dancing from one village to another.  So what did we do?  We jumped out of the bus and joined the party!20161208_104859

Once we made new friends and danced beside the blaring music truck, we hopped back onboard and made the rest of our ride, still dancing in our seats.  That night, we dressed up in sari’s and had henna done so we really looked local and were ready for dinner.  Back on the bus and on our way, we came upon a wedding procession, complete with a band, lights and the groom riding an elephant.  And who are we to miss a party, so we hopped out and joined the next parade!  The groom’s family invited us into the procession so we danced and jumped around, looking flashy and wearing our sari’s well.

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With the dancing of the day complete, we arrived at our home hosted dinner at the home of the descendants of royalty.  We were given the opportunity to ask questions of their life, have a tour of their gorgeous multi-generational family home and then have a homemade dinner with the family members themselves.  It was a truly unique experience, not to mention a delicious meal!

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This trip was amazing and with a great group, every day was one to remember.

 

Wildlife Encounters and Sensitivity to Animal Exploitation

Tuesday, November 29th, 2016

Passport Tips From The Experts at Amazing Journeys

Thursday, October 27th, 2016

Thoughts For a New Year

Thursday, October 13th, 2016