3 awesome not-so-last-minute Christmas Gifts for Travelers

Only one more week until Christmas!  There are tons of gift guides floating around the internet, but not all of us are savvy shoppers.  Luckily, my gift guide is useful for those who forget to buy a loved one a gift literally at the last minute:

101 Places to Get F*cked Up Before You Die ($11.00).  I wrote several entries for this book, including New York City, Prague, Charleston and my home region of Long Island.  Each one is hilarious and provides useful information for not just partiers, but adventurous travelers in general.  It’s currently available for pre-order, but every order comes with an awesome 101 Places Koozie!  It officially launches January 7th, just in time for Three Kings Day, so it’s technically still a great holiday gift.

101 Guys to Date Before You Die ($3.99).  Nothing like an eBook about my failed relationships to make you feel better about yourself!  With the click of a button, you or a loved one can revel in the ups and downs of 20something dating.  Maybe you’ll laugh.  Maybe you’ll say “Holy shit, that’s so me.”  Or maybe you just have an extra $4 lying around that you don’t know what to do with.  I promise, you’ll have a good time reading it (and will probably need a cigarette right after…).

Give the gift of education – purchase a course at MatadorU for you or someone you love ($350).  It seems steep, but compared to some of the other travel courses on the market, it’s seriously a steal (Conde Nast is trying to develop one for about $900…).  Courses in Travel Writing, Photography and Film are available online, and can be completed at your own pace.  Each chapter helps you build upon skills desired in the travel writing field, from story development, to pitch and query writing.  We even have some resources to kickstart your career in travel.

I am totally alive (just super freakin’ busy)!

Little gifts I’ve gotten from student teaching – so adorable!

I know, I know – I’ve been terrible at updating this site for the past four months.  BUT it’s not because I’m lazy and distracted – it’s because I’ve just been TBTF – Too Busy To Function.  Here’s why:

~I’ve been student teaching since September.  It’s been an awesome, emotional roller coaster of an experience that I will never forget.  While I’m looking forward to working from home again, I have to admit it’s going to be difficult to leave my class, cooperating teacher, and school.  I look back at this awesome journey, see how far I’ve come, and think to myself “Wow – I did it!  I did it and it was great!”

~I am finally graduating from grad school!  Getting my Masters in Education two years later than planned isn’t terrible, considering I switched majors and had to deal with Hurricane Sandy turning my life upside down.  It’s very exciting, such a relief, and the skills I have acquired are incredibly valuable.  While I don’t plan on getting a teaching job anytime soon, I am excited for the kinds of opportunities that lay ahead.

~I’m working on a few book projects, as well as writing for Drive the District.  It’s a great new website with an edge, and I’ve been recruited to help write content for their New York section.  I’m lucky that Matador provides me with a steady, reliable paycheck, but every once in a while, it’s good to challenge myself with new partners.  Speaking of Matador…

~I have been promoted again!  Starting next week, I join the ranks as a Managing Editor at Matador Network.  Talk about an amazing journey – this time last year, I was drafting up entries for our second publication, 101 Places to Get F*cked Up Before You Die!  I’ll still be heading up their Social Media for a bit, but this is an epic new chapter I’ll be traversing.  My parents have finally realized that my career in freelancing is a pretty legit deal, and I am honored and excited to embark on this new phase of my life.

Overall, I have to say that 2013 has been a pretty amazing year.  I am hoping and praying 2014 will not let me down.  I am also hoping to be ore consistent, so watch this space.  I’ll have a roundup of my travel resolutions of course, forthcoming.

To new adventures!

NaNoWriMo update: Complete and Epic Fail


I thought that, with an extra week to write, NaNoWriMo would be a piece of cake.

My hubris got the better of me.

Last year, I was soooooo diligent in writing my novel, because I didn’t really have anything to do.  Sure, I was dealing with Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath, but I also didn’t have internet for about a week, so it was easier to hunker down and, you know, write.  I also was able to sneak in passages at my shitty job, and my semester was donezo, so I had loads more time to spare.  Back then, I wrote only a few articles for Matador, so NaNoWriMo took up most of my editorial timing.

Now however, I’m working for Matador full-time, and working on some awesome freelance gigs for a major company, and student teaching.  I try to write whenever I can, but it’s hard to even get my 1,500 words a day goal in – I teach until 3pm, get home and work until 11pm, and suddenly, it’s time for bed.

I don’t think I’ll be nearing the 50,000 word mark this time around.  I’m halfway there, which is admirable in itself, but the odds are not looking good.  What is good is that I will definitely be working on this project after NaNoWriMo is over, with plans to publish it sometime this summer.  So I won’t be abandoning the idea swiftly, but I won’t be achieving my goal of NaNoWriMo winning for a second year in a row.

But who knows?  December doesn’t start until Sunday – maybe I’ll get a second win, and come out all right.  For those of you participating this year, how is it going during this final stretch?

Links I Like, week of 10/28

Image via Slate.com

Stuff on the internet I liked reading this week…

Revealing My Travel Plans to My Brother, and the Shocking Conclusion - This is a really heartfelt piece by Ryan, who’s backstory is pretty cray/cool/interesting.  Travel and family matters are never easy, but sometimes the results will surprise you.

What to look for in a travel rewards program - Candice provides a nice, simple description of a rewards card that works for her.  Considering I am a total novice when it comes this topic, it was nice to read a piece about rewards cards that was totally on my level.

Are You a Language Bully? – Seriously, I hate grammar-correcting internet trolls.  Unless the misuse of language is totally erroneous, please, shut the hell up.  No one is going to look at the comments and think “Wow, this person is better at grammar than the author!  I should give them a job.”  Matthew provides an entertaining rant with similar sentiments.

Getting to Know East London Through Food - Alyssa will make you drool with her British culinary experiences.  Whoever said British food is the worst, is a goddamn liar.

Antarctica: No Ordinary Place, No Ordinary Assignment: This Voice of Antarctica promotion will give a lucky winner the opportunity to team up with National Geographic photographer Jason Edwards to fly to Antarctica for two weeks, in an effort to raise awareness about global environmental issues and the scientific research underway in Antarctica to address them.  Watch their video to find out more information.

Have a link you’d like me to include in next week’s roundup?  

Drop me an email!

Expedia + St. Jude’s: the next wave of voluntourism


I’m so happy to see that Expedia, one of the leading travel conglomerate resources, is partnering with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to raise funds to defeat childhood cancer and other deadly diseases.  Voluntourism is something I firmly believe in, and while I enjoy visiting new places and to help out communities in need, Expedia and St. Jude’s are taking global charity work one step further.

Unlike traditional fundraisers, where people donate money for karma points, Expedia is offering do-gooders the chance to win trips around the world.  Similar to the fundraiser held by Passports with Purpose, people donate money for a chance to bid on trips that interest them.  Locations include all-inclusive resorts, wineries in California, adventures through Asia, and more.  Click here to check it out.  You can also find more information on their Expedia Viewfinder blog post.

Each entry comes with a suggested donation of $5, 100% of which goes directly to St. Jude. You can select as many trip options as you like, with the ability to enter each giveaway once a day for the entire month of September (in conjunction with National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month). The limit is one entry for each prize per person/per day during the Promotion Period.

Alternatively, travelers can receive coupons for a donation of $25.  These include saving 20% on thousands of eligible hotels when you book using the Expedia mobile app, or 10% on thousands of eligible hotels when you book on Expedia.com.  Expedia Rewards members also have the option of donating their points.

This fundraiser ends on September 30th, so make sure you start donating today to increase your odds of winning!  Skip the latte and spend that $5 on something meaningful.  For less than the price of a movie ticket, you could be helping sick children get better, and be one step closer to traveling somewhere awesome!

Have you donated to this fundraiser yet?  Which trips are you hoping to win?