When I was kid in elementary school, I remember hearing talks about El Niño. Although I didn’t quite know what it was, I thought it was some once-off thing that got blamed if the weather wasn’t just right. Now I’m an adult, and El Niño has reared its ugly head once again. The results are much more catastrophic than I ever knew as a youth.
In South Africa, the country I call home, we were not prepared for what El Niño would bring or actually what it wouldn’t bring. Rain was scarce during our named rainy season months of January and February earlier this year. Now that we’re in the dry Winter season, the drought is felt more than ever. How, you might ask?
We get our water supply from the local river. About two months back, they started closing down access to the river every other week. That means that we have water for a week and then no water for a week. Can you imagine turning the tap on and nothing coming out? Now, before I paint too dramatic of a picture, let me say that we do pay to haul in water so that we don’t go a … >> find out more...
image credit Tom McGovern used with permission
There were many things I came to love during my nearly five year stint in New Haven, Connecticut. The blooming cherry blossoms in the Spring, the local restaurants (you won’t find a chain restaurant anywhere in the city limits), the outdoor life once Winter decided it was time to go, and then there was the pizza. Oh, my, I never knew pie could taste so good. The thin crust baked just right in a wood fired oven, well, it’s kiss your mama delicious. Check out my opinion of the three best New Haven pizza eats and a recipe for a one-of-a-kind pie!
If you want a good eat AND a chance to dine in the same seats as past Presidents, then Pepe’s is your place. The chances of having to stand outside in a queue waiting to be seated are quite high, but they are pretty fast and the pizza is worth it.
The name just rolls off your tongue like you’re really Italian which should indicate the authenticity of this dive. The traditional pizzas (like pepperoni and cheese) are to die for. When we wanted to grab a quick … >> find out more...
Traveling to Hawaii has been on my Bucket List for about, well, EVER. And I did get to Hawaii, a little over 3 years ago, for a media trip that lasted about 72 hours; and while it was lovely, it wasn’t even remotely the same thing as taking a vacation with my family to some tropical isles for major downtime and big fun adventures.
So this Summer when my son qualified for the Western U.S. championships of swimming, to be held in Maui, Hawaii, I grabbed on tight and didn’t let go. We decided to be awesome and support our son (and brother) by traveling to Hawaii with him for the swim meet.
We’re definitely the most supportive kind of people in the Czarnecki family.
We also decided that if we were going to pay for a family of 4 to fly to Hawaii, we might as well stay and make an actual vacation-vacation out of it. The swim meet took up a solid week of our time, 7 a.m. – 9 p.m. so we extended by an extra week to have some work free, hang-out-do-nothing-all-day or do-all-the-adventre-things-we-can-think-of vacation time. So we did. And it was marvelous.
… >> find out more...
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico holds a special place in my heart. I’ve visited three times, and each visit is better than the last. In fact, I love Puerto Vallarta so much I wanted to honeymoon there, but we were young and broke and ended up going somewhere closer to home (read: cheaper) instead. But a year ago, my husband and I decided it was time for a romantic getaway to Mexico, 17+ years and two kids later. It was magnificent, like I knew it would be, and I cannot wait to go back.
What’s so great about Puerto Vallarta? Well, besides everything, I’ve made a list of my top 5 favorite reasons to head to Mexico as fast as your little feet can carry you.
Top 5 reasons to visit Puerto Vallarta, Mexico:
- The beach
- The cost
- The food
- The ocean
- The people
- The beach
Mexican beaches are absolutely breathtaking. I mean, the sunsets alone are worth the trip. Beautiful sand, great waves, shell collecting, snorkeling, surfing, warm water, you name it; the beaches in Mexico are wonderful. We laid around and played on the beach for a solid week, and found the whole experience to be nothing … >> find out more...
Traveling internationally can be a bit daunting, especially if you’re a first timer. Don’t worry. This continent hopping extraordinaire has you covered with an international travel checklist. I don’t necessarily pretend that this is an exhaustive list, but the ten questions below should help create some peace of mind as you prepare for that excursion to a different land.
1. Did I update myself on travel laws and do I have the appropriate documents? Laws are always changing. Don’t make the mistake of thinking, “I’ve been there before. I know how it works.” Last year I scrambled to get a Kenyan visa, because they changed the system from getting them at the airport to an online process. South Africa (the country I currently choose to call home) drastically changed their laws last year regarding travel with kids. I have seen people turned away at the airport because they didn’t have the right documents. There is no amount of sweet talking that will get you past sticky situations like these. The best source I’ve found to double check laws for the particular country you are traveling to is U.S. Department of State Consular Affairs site. If you are not American, I’m sure the consular … >> find out more...
The PG version of explaining jet lag is that it’s a bear. I’ve never experienced an alcohol induced hangover, but I imagine morning hangovers have similar characteristics as jet lag…foggy brain, headache, blurry vision, slurred speech. If you’ve flown over multiple time zones and have the above symptoms along with the inability to form coherent thoughts, then you’re probably deep in the trenches of jet lag.
I recently flew over seven time zones. As if 23 total hours trapped with over 300 other passengers in a tin can wasn’t enough to kick the old noggin into a state of disorientation, skipping through different continents sealed the deal. Upon arriving in the good ole US of A, I didn’t know whether to tell the immigration officer thank you, siyabonga, or danke when he stamped my entry into my country of birth. I went with a slight head nod and methodically followed the herd to find my baggage.
Although there’s no way to avoid the somewhat debilitating effects of jet lag, there is hope. With concentrated effort on your part, you will be back on track in no time. I follow these three easy steps and find that my sleep patterns return to a … >> find out more...
I’ve looked out many airplane windows. If only I would’ve stepped foot on all the terrain I’ve passed over, my passport would be full of stamps from all over the world. Even though this hasn’t happened, this pass over in the skies has taught me one very important lesson as I’ve peered out my airplane window to the land below.
What you see not only depends on what you look AT, but also on where you look FROM. James Deacon
Flying the friendly skies has taught me about perspective. It’s incredibly easy to get locked into our own little worlds, especially when we’re busy. Life can get fuzzy when you’re zoomed in so closely to the details right in front of you. Sometimes you have to zoom out to gain perspective, because that’s what the bigger picture does…it gives perspective.
When I lift the shade and look out that tiny airplane window, I see things I wouldn’t see if I was on the ground. A city in the middle of a desert, an airplane flying parallel to my own in the sky, a dark night sky dotted with the lights that make it a city. Zooming out to see the bigger … >> find out more...
The West is brimming with all sorts of hidden heavenly nooks and crannies. Sun Valley, Idaho is one of them, with 4 distinctly gorgeous seasons and skies a dozen shades of blue in one day. If you ever have an opportunity to visit, take it. You’ll love it.The resort is sprawling and charming and brimming with traditions and history, while nearby Ketchum is snug and brimming with its own rugged charm and cool vibe. (Most visitors just refer to the entire area as Sun Valley.) There is so much to enjoy in both places, perfect for a long weekend.
First and foremost, Sun Valley is known for incredible skiing in the winter months. If you visit in the winter, be prepared to pay premium rates for just about everything. The closer to the resort, the pricier the digs. Regardless of where you stay, though, there is plenty of great skiing, snow shoeing, cross country skiing, even ice skating to keep you happy all day long, and plenty of toasty fireplaces and great dining options to keep you cozy in the evening. Guests at the resort can even enjoy lovely heated outdoor pools year-round. It’s pretty magical to slip into a … >> find out more...
When I talk to people, the biggest hindrance I hear in being able to travel the world is money. I get it. Things cost money and the more people in your party, the more money it costs. There’s basically only three categories that seem to wear on the pocketbook. Let’s have a look see, and maybe we’ll come up with some solutions.
1. Where You Lay Your Head. This is important. Who wants to sleep in a place that is dirt and uncomfortable? I don’t. When you’re on vacation, rest and comfort is key, but does that mean spending an arm and a leg on nice hotels? Sometimes, in the U.S., you can find good deals on decent hotels, however, when you travel the world, you’ll find that many places charge PER PERSON! That adds up fast! It’s totally possible to find relaxing places everywhere without draining the dinero. Personally, my go to spot to find a good deal on a place that’s clean is Airbnb. We’ve stayed in some fantastic places AND met some incredible people. Just be sure to read the reviews and find a place that’s going to accommodate your party. If you find yourself in White … >> find out more...