Ten Years Since Florence: A Retrospective on Study Abroad

This is one of my favorite things I've ever written. Looking back at my semester abroad in Florence in 2004, a time when I brought ZERO devices that plugged in (I rented a Nokia phone and used Internet cafes!), a time before digital photography, a time when I didn't see the point of solo travel if you had so many friends around you...hope you enjoy it.

I’m happy to be back in New York but had a very scary experience today. Two homeless men got into a physical fight in my subway car. One was waving his belt (fabric with a huge buckle) and throwing it around aimlessly, almost hitting the passengers around him.

Let me tell you it’s incredibly frightening being trapped in the middle of that and being unable to escape. The passengers and I ran to the opposite side of the car but the men kept chasing each other back and forth.

God bless the passenger who tried to calm the men down. He might have saved us from getting hurt.

Finland's Athletes Are Knitting Their Way Through Olympic Stress

I LOVE this story. You guys know how much I love Finland and Finnish people, and this story is SO Finnish — the Olympians are knitting to reduce stress, and also to keep them from having to make small talk. 😂😂😂

They’re making a blanket for the president’s kid. How cute is that?

What’s It Really Like to Travel Japan?

I’m so excited to write new posts about Japan! For now, I hope you enjoy this one from 2013. It certainly holds up five years later.

I’m back at home, sitting on my purple couch! What a seamless journey back to New York. Turns out I feel INCREDIBLY well-rested and like today is a normal day, even with the 14-hour time change. Here’s how I did it:

—No caffeine 24 hours before my flight.
—Stayed up late and only slept 2:30 AM-6:00 AM.
—Flight departed at 10:20 AM, but I didn’t go to sleep until 2:15 PM Japan time (12:15 AM New York time, my usual bedtime). Had my four-course dinner and a champagne (okay, two, the takeoff champagne doesn’t count).
—Took a melatonin 15 minutes before bed.
—Turned on binaural beats for sleeping and went to sleep.

I slept FOUR FULL HOURS, then snoozed on and off another two. Woke up, had breakfast and a coffee, and I feel SO rested!! Maybe it will fall apart by the afternoon, but I feel like an evil genius for succeeding this much.

Japan, it’s been real. What a fantastic country.

Time to fly home in style — on All Nippon Airways in business class. I hope you guys enjoyed my live coverage from Japan and are looking forward to the blog posts! I’m looking forward to writing them! Especially about the wackiness of Hokkaido in winter and the cool places I discovered in Tokyo this time around.

So glad to be home in New York in just 14 hours...

#experienceana #partner

The two things I’ve enjoyed most about this Japan trip have been FOOD and SHOPPING. Today I ate at Bird Land Marunouchi — because nothing says Valentine’s Day like going out alone to eat meat on a stick!

Bird Land is the first yakitori (meat on a stick) restaurant to be awarded a Michelin star. I got their basic tasting menu (4,000 yen, or $36) and got six skewers of meat and vegetables in addition to several other dishes. I’d recommend getting the 6,000 yen or 7,000 yen menu — I ordered extra chicken skin and everything was SO GOOD I wish I could have tried everything!

The first stick was chicken filet with green onions, and I had no expectations — but it was the BEST DAMN CHICKEN WITH GREEN ONIONS you could possibly imagine. That salt was magical. I went on to chicken livers, ground chicken on a stick in egg yolk sauce, chicken necks. So many delicious veggies as well. Very healthy!

Also, I appreciate that Japan is so solo diner-friendly. So many restaurants have bars, which are ideal for eating solo without feeling like you’re on display. I ate the bar at restaurants specializing in yakitori, tempura, sashimi, and ramen, and nobody gave me the head tilt and the “Only one?” that I hate.

Also, I totally went to the wrong Bird Land tonight because Google Maps is crazy in Japan, but they were so nice about it and let me switch my reservation from Ginza to Marunouchi.

Coming to Tokyo? Bird Land is an awesome place for a meal, assuming you’re not a vegetarian. Literally everything they served was outstanding.

Tomorrow I fly home to New York on All Nippon Airways. It’s been real, Japan! #experienceANA #partner

Looking for jet lag advice. I fly out of Japan about 24 hours from now and I want to get on a normal New York schedule ASAP. I got over jet lag in a day on the way to Japan and I want to do it on the way back too!

Here’s the plan:

10:20 AM Japan/8:20 PM NYC: Fly out
7:00 PM Japan/9:00 AM NYC: Land

Landing at 9:00 AM NY time means I need to sleep a lot on the plane. How do I make that happen? I’m flying business class with All Nippon Airways, which is a lie-flat seat (the only way I can sleep on planes), but I also need to be tired. Melatonin can only do so much.

Should I stay up all night on my last night in Tokyo to get tired enough to sleep on the plane? I’m waking up at 5:30 AM for the flight anyway...

It was 2004 and I was a 19-year-old college sophomore trying to see all the Oscar-nominated movies. I went to the little $3 movie theater in downtown Fairfield, Connecticut, to catch a new indie film called Lost in Translation. It wasn’t as funny as I thought it was going to be — it was something better. That film touched something deep in me, nostalgia for moments I hadn’t yet experienced.

At the time I had no idea what I wanted to do for a living. I would joke, “I would LOVE to get paid to blog about my life.” But it was 2004 — the word “blog” barely even existed, let alone ways to make money from it that weren’t a book or TV deal.

I wouldn’t stay in a hotel room by myself until I was 25.

I wouldn’t make it to Japan until I was 29.

Yet somehow, 14 years after that winter evening in Fairfield, I would be staring at the same view that Bill Murray and Scarlett Johanssen enjoyed as they sought respite from the overwhelming metropolis of Tokyo. I wasn’t just there to gawk, or enjoy the bar. It would be my own hotel room at the Park Hyatt Tokyo, for me alone, with staff that greeted me by name at every turn.

And I would be here because I was getting paid to blog about my life.

One thing that helps me carve out a bit of normalcy while on a trip is to become a “regular” somewhere. I like to learn a routine somewhere, get used to how things work, have a special order and go through the same ritual of ordering it and knowing exactly how much it costs. I get to feel what it’s like to live there.

And...I became a regular at the strawberry mochi stand in Kyoto station.

The lady remembered me and laughed when I showed up.

I have had one of these each day for the past five days. (I’m averaging 20k steps per day; I’ll allow it.) Now I have to figure out how to bring home wrapped custard mochi because I can’t live without them!!!

Coolest guy at the Olympics.

I WANT TO KNOW HIM.

Here’s a secret about Japanese train stations: they are AWESOME. In big cities, they’re filled with high-end shops and excellent restaurants. Even Sapporo had a Marc Jacobs!

Last night, on a tip from Foursquare, I went to a restaurant in Kyoto’s train station called Katsukura. I hadn’t had a chance to try tonkatsu (breaded pork cutlet, Japanese-style) on my first trip, so when I saw people raving that this place had the best tonkatsu they ever had, I had to try it!

The restaurant is hard to find. Go to “The Cube” in Kyoto Station and take the escalators to the 11th floor. Take a left, walk in the door, and it will be on the left (they have a sign with Roman letters).

Fantastic, melt-in-your-mouth tonkatsu. And you get to grind your own sesame seeds for the sauce with a mortar and pestle!

At 2100 yen, or $20, including an iced oolong tea, this was an excellent little detour and well worth the journey and 30 minute wait in line.

There’s always a point on my trips when I hit burnout. And today it hit me on my first day in Kyoto.

It’s strange — I loved Kyoto on my first trip, but I didn’t really like it today. It just seems SO touristy, vastly overcrowded, and I didn’t feel like exploring or photographing temples. Plus, the weak winter weather of Kansai puts a damper on things. In Sapporo I got a full, blizzardy, wonderful winter! In Kyoto it’s just gray and damp. (I feel so bad for the women who rented kimonos — they look like they’re freezing!)

I am pretty sure I saw a real geisha or maiko (apprentice) in Gion today, though — she was in full dress and makeup and she was BOOKING IT down a random street, all business-like. I spotted a maiko on my first trip but I was too far away to get a photo of this one.

Not every moment of every trip is going to be a home run. Remember that. It doesn’t mean you’re a failure or you did anything wrong — these are the times to sit back, regroup, and think of what you ACTUALLY want to get out of this trip. Change your plans. Re-prioritize. And go do something that makes you happy.

Adventurous Kate Accidentally Books Herself Into a LOVE HOTEL!

Seriously, it was an accident...there was nothing online that indicated it was a love hotel! I just wanted to be in Shinjuku! This place cost $220 per night which is pretty good for Tokyo...but...

Coming with its own karaoke system is a sign of it not being a normal hotel.

You’ve gotta see it.

Thank you, Harajuku, for letting me embrace my inner 12-year-old girl.

And yes, I ate the whole thing. 😶 It was delicious. Sour cotton candy.

It’s strawberry season! Yay! Strawberries are everywhere in Tokyo — and so are WHITE strawberries! Have you ever seen these before?

I tried one — the cheapest single white strawberries in the Tsukiji area are around 300 yen ($3) each. And...they aren’t THAT special. They’re not as flavorful. If I were in a generous mood, I’d compare them to starfruit; if I weren’t, I’d call them watery.

Turns out these are popular to give as gifts in Japan. There are sets of beautiful, perfect white strawberries that package them like jewelry.

I’d also love to give a shout out to Yuma from Ninja Food Tours for a wonderful foodie tour of the market! If you’re in Tokyo, be sure to hit this guy up! I’m still dreaming of that tuna bowl and strawberry-stuffed custard mochi...

Golden Gai: Tokyo’s Coolest Bar Neighborhood

Four years ago, I wrote about what an awesome time I had in Golden Gai, Tokyo’s neighborhood of tiny hovel bars.

Tonight, I went back. It was a completely different experience. Most notably, I didn’t have to financially support a broke partner this time around, so I specifically sought out a bar WITH a cover charge. And I found one that was great.

A tiny bar with four bar seats. A friendly bartender with a huge collection of vinyl (and he played “New York State of Mind” and assorted hip-hop for me! Two sweet and gregarious customers who informed me that yeah, if your hotel room has karaoke, you’re in a love hotel, girl.

Such a good night. Golden Gai is an absolute treasure, but for the first time, tonight I felt like I was part of the local community here in Tokyo. You must come here!

Highlight of the day: spotting a FURRY TOILET SEAT in a cafe in Sapporo! Japan, you are so weird!

Just got to Tokyo. Unfortunately some idiot stole my debit card info and is using it to make $100 purchases at a Wawa in New Jersey. HOW DARE YOU SULLY WAWA’S GOOD NAME, YOU THIEF. (Wawa, for those of you who don’t know, is an amazing convenience store in the Philadelphia area. Seriously, it puts every other convenience store in the world to shame. It’s like the Target to 7-11’s Wal-Mart.)

Luckily (or not?) this is something like the third or fourth time I’ve had my debit card stolen online while traveling. I’m prepared — I have other cards and bank accounts ready. Still, it’s a huge hassle and I’m extremely miffed right now.

How do you like your ramen? The island of Hokkaido has three ramen cities and Sapporo is one of them. Their signature dish is miso ramen — and they jazz it up by adding corn and butter! I got this dish at a place on Ramen Alley, a street crammed with tiny ramen shops.

Hokkaido is a major dairy producer, hence the butter. You see ice cream everywhere but I couldn’t convince myself to get one in below-freezing temperatures! I might today in Otaru — there’s a famous shop with squid ink ice cream and I can’t pass THAT up!

While Japan’s population has been in decline for awhile, Sapporo has been holding steady. Why is that? Lots of young people keep moving here. This is a solid, affordable city with a good economy. It might not be as sophisticated as Japan or as pretty as Kyoto, but it’s a smart choice — you can make a life here. I’d compare it to Atlanta or Minneapolis in that way.

Hokkaido has been a very interesting corner of Japan to discover. The easiest way to get here? Fly from Tokyo to Sapporo on All Nippon Airways and explore the region on day trips. #ExperienceANA #partner

WHAT A GREAT DAY IN HOKKAIDO TODAY. Here’s what I did:

—Traveled to Noboribetsu Onsen and walked through the Jingokudani, aka Hell Valley
—Went for a soak in Onsen Heaven, including sitting in a hot onsen outside in the middle of the snow, then getting into an even hotter onsen that had a view of people hiking in the snow
—Ate an outstandingly fresh chirashi don
—Drank some Sapporo coffee in a smoky atmosphere
—Went to the top of the Sapporo TV Tower for killer views of the city
—Explored the Sapporo Snow Festival, including a moguls performance, music and dancing, snow and ice sculptures, delicious hot chocolate and more
—Recovered from near-frostbite in my fingers at a bar where they charge for a craft cocktail what NYC bars charge for a simple mixed drink
—Went to Ramen Alley (a tiny street of ramen restaurants) and had the ultimate Hokkaido ramen: miso ramen with corn and butter (yes, seriously). Anthony Bourdain ate this on his Sapporo episode of No Reservations.

I’m so glad I decided to come to Hokkaido for a few days. There are some foreign tourists, mostly Koreans and Chinese, but there are almost no westerners here and I love it.

Just don’t ask me what warms you up better: Japanese onsen or Finnish sauna. I can’t decide!!!

I just fell asleep on the train (how very Japanese) so first priority when I got back to the station was COFFEE. Sure, there’s a Starbucks here, but I wanted to try something local.

Miyakoshiya is a Sapporo-based chain of coffee shops. With...smoking. Here’s your coffee and here’s your ashtray!

When I found out it was an all-smoking establishment, I gulped and said, “Um, that’s fine!” Even though I hate the smoke.

Sipping coffee in a smoke-filled indoor environment is odd. Hard to believe that this was the norm in the States until I was nine or so.

Good morning from Sapporo! I actually slept from 10:00 PM until 3:30 AM — I wish I were always this bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 5:30 AM! I’m off to Noboribetsu for the day (and just you wait, the pics are going to be AWESOME) but for now, here’s a quick video I took from the view of my business class flight on All Nippon Airways yesterday.

It was my first flight with ANA ever and I have to say it was the best food I have EVER had on ANY airline. Especially the Japanese meals. There was a piece of salmon marinated in some kind of miso that I could have eaten 24/7! And the staff were so nice to bring me more green tea with honey whenever I ran out.

Also...between this week’s This is Us, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, and The Artist, I watched FOUR horrific fire scenes on the plane. Did not expect that. Plan your plane-viewing content carefully!

Stay tuned for more Japan adventures — you can see more on Instagram stories at @adventurouskate.

#ExperienceANA #partner

Ah, the paradox of Japan. It all feels so simple and familiar, like you’ve been walking those streets forever...then it takes a good half hour to find an ATM that works on non-Japanese cards and your toilet starts singing to you.

24 hours without sleep and I’m getting delirious. Excited to explore Sapporo and the surrounding area tomorrow. From the looks of it so far, I’m one of very few foreigners in town.

Good morning, everyone! I’m about to fly to Japan in style — business class on All Nippon Airways, Japan’s only five-star airline! I almost never fly business class long-haul so this is a treat. Champagne will be consumed. Stay tuned for more.

Also, they sat me in Row K which always makes me happy.

14 hours to Tokyo, then heading up north to Sapporo. Time to watch last night’s This is Us and sob my eyes out! #flyana #experienceana #partner

To all my fellow nerds not watching the Super Bowl: I just finished the first truly great book I’ve read in 2018. Exit West by Pakistani author Mohsin Hamid (2017). It’s an epic story of a young couple stranded in a war-torn city who decide to emigrate. And then it turns into something magical.

This book is the closest heir to my favorite book of 2016, Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad. Real-life tragedy punctuated with the supernatural. And, most unexpectedly, a book that both supporters of refugees and opponents of immigration will see as a dire warning.

And on top of that, it’s a love story. And another of Obama’s favorite books from 2017 (I love that we share so many of the same favorite books!!!).

Give this one a read.

Today I picked up my scopolamine patches from the pharmacy. Why? Because a month from today, I will be tossing around the wild seas of the Drake Passage en route to Antarctica.

It takes two full days to cruise the Drake, and as someone who gets seasick often, I'm a bit worried I'll be spending the whole time with my head in the toilet.

I've never used these patches before. Have you? Do they work better than other remedies? What else would you recommend?

I used to hate winter. Now I live in a freezing cold city and don’t mind it. Even though some days, like today, the mercury doesn’t edge above freezing.

And if you zoomed out a bit, you’d notice there is a Container Store on the left, a West Elm beyond that, and amazing hot chocolate a block to the right at City Bakery.

It may be cold, but there’s always a place to warm up.

AK Monthly Recap: January 2018

It’s been a bit of a quiet month blog-wise because of my move. Here are some of the first pictures of my new place and why it’s not quite what I hoped it would be...

I can't believe it -- only five days until I leave for Japan. 😍

This is my second visit and I am determined to blow my first visit out of the water. Crazier experiences. Stranger foods. I want to write about things in Japan that nobody else is writing about.

First up: Sapporo in the far north region of Hokkaido. Then Tokyo and Kyoto with a day trip to Hiroshima, maybe an evening stop in Osaka again to enjoy some fugu and all that Dotonbori neon.

Any recommendations? What would you like me to write about?

VICE

OH COME ON.

The other day a friend asked me what I thought about Mexico.

"I love Mexico," I said. "There are lots of places I want to go there. Mexico City. Guanajuato. Guadalajara. But..."

But what?

Mexico is a fantastic country -- but it's done to death in the travel blogger community. Lots of bloggers, particularly North American bloggers, live in Mexico long-term and have covered so many different areas, especially the Yucatan. I know very few travel bloggers who haven't set foot in Mexico.

But does that matter if members of your audience only read your own blog? It's all new information to them, right?

Yeah. It does matter to me. It's not enough for me to write the millionth post about things to do while based in Tulum.

Sure, I'll cover some extensively covered destinations, like New York and Paris, but those cities are so rich and layered and I know both of them so well that I feel like my content on those destinations goes much deeper than other bloggers' posts. But beyond that, it's important for me to cover lesser-known destinations on a regular basis: whether it's a US city like Asheville or a festival like the Air Guitar World Championships in Finland or something little written about like the visa-free ferry from Helsinki to St. Petersburg and back.

So what other destinations have been done to death in the travel blogging community?

Iceland. It's hard to stand out with an Iceland post these days. People keep publishing the same "driving the ring road" guides.

In 2016 it seemed like everyone was going to Cuba, but that has slowed down a bit.

And budget travel in the Maldives. It's gotten to the point that I don't even read them anymore. WE GET IT. YOU CAN TRAVEL ON A BUDGET IN THE MALDIVES NOW. It's gotten so bad that one of the original budget islands, Maafushi, has gone downhill already.

One more? BALI. Particularly from a long-term living digital nomad perspective. I can’t get excited about anything I read about Bali anymore.

So tell me: do you like to learn about new destinations? Do you gravitate to places you've already been and loved? Is there any cliche topic on travel blogs that you wish would go away?

100 Travel Tips for Paris

Need a travel tip for Paris?

I've got 100!

Kuta: The Worst Place In Bali

A lot of people are curious about how I spend my days working on a blog. Writing posts takes so little time compared to everything else!

One thing I do is clean up old posts that happen to perform well. This post used to be TERRIBLE -- just a rant about how much I hated Kuta back in 2011. (Kuta is gross.) But it ranks well in Google and gets a lot of traffic, so I want to make sure the people who land on it find what they're looking for. I spent about 90 minutes changing it from a rant to an information-filled post helping people plan their trips to Bali.

Today several people from the Quark team and I talked about how people make lifelong friendships on Antarctica trips — maybe because the journey down is so gnarly, it gives you a “we’re in this together” camaraderie right away! I hope I make some close friends, too.

Tell me a story about a friend you met while traveling.

Good morning, all! Today I'm speaking at the New York Times Travel Show. Head to the Latin America pavilion at noon -- I'm doing a talk about my upcoming Antarctica trip with Quark Expeditions.

If you're here, come see me afterward -- I'd love to meet you.

Legal Nomads

Friends. Whether you're religious, spiritual, agnostic, or a nonbeliever, I ask that you keep Jodi of Legal Nomads in your thoughts and/or prayers as she undergoes her fourth blood patch Friday morning.

Jodi has been severely ill with a spinal leak for the past five months. She can't even sit up without being in excruciating pain. Her case has been exceptionally challenging for her doctors at Duke, the most advanced medical center in the world for spinal leaks. The third patch did hold for longer than the first two -- hopefully this is a sign that they're on the right track and the fourth patch will be the one that lasts.

Sending every vibe I have in the hopes that Jodi will be brave, that her medical team will be skillful and precise, that Shannon and her other caretakers will be strong, and that these holes in Jodi's spine will close and she'll be able to return to a normal life.

How Hurricane Maria forced Puerto Ricans to change their hair

A story about life after Maria in Puerto Rico with an interesting angle: Puerto Ricans aren’t able to style their hair long and straight without power, so they’ve adapted to curly, rooty styles.

I think hair and beauty are a much bigger deal than most people think. In this article, barbers and stylists say they haven’t seen much of a decline in visits. And during recessions, lipstick tends to sell even better than usual. The way you look affects everything — your mental health, your confidence, how you carry yourself.

Greetings from the Finnish Olympic Ski Jump Team. 😂

LOVE YOU, FINLAND. Never change! #löyly

No Passport or Ticket: How a Woman Evaded Airport Security and Flew to London

Let’s not kid ourselves — being white is about 90% of why she was able to sneak onto these flights in the first place.

One year later — another BEAUTIFUL day for the Women’s March of 2018.

Bike Lane Hero. New Years Day.

The first time I went to Berlin back in 2013, I nearly got knocked over in the bike lane several times. We’re just not used to biking culture in the States!

Since then, I’ve tried to be hyper-aware of bike lanes in cities like Amsterdam and Copenhagen. Never stand there, not even for a moment!

This video from the Brooklyn Bridge made me laugh. It’s pretty much the worst place to bike in NYC because crowds of tourists block all the lanes. “Bike lane, you’re in the BIKE lane!”

What is the country that you can keep going back to again and again without getting bored?

For me, it's Italy. So diverse and varied, but with such cohesive beauty.

Photos from Adventurous Kate's post

Things have been a bit quiet and will continue to be quiet this week. The reason? I moved into my new place!

Here are a few pics of the VERY much unpacked apartment, and because I always feel awkward in selfies, here are some extra awkward shots of the top of my head.

This place is great. It’s a lateral move, more or less, so some things are better (much bigger, gut-renovated) and some things are worse (slanty floors, darker) but it’s more or less the same quality that I had in my last apartment. Manhattan apartments tend to be tiny, but Harlem and further uptown have much larger units.

I can’t wait to decorate and give you the full tour with professional, non-awkward photos.

By the way, those green crates are from Bin-It, and if you’re in a city that they serve, I can’t recommend them enough for moving. Renting crates is do much easier than buying and putting together a million cardboard boxes!

North and South Korea will 'march together under unified flag' at Winter Olympics

Are you an Olympics fan? I love the Olympics, but somehow I always forget the dates and book travel during them! (Then again, I'll be in Japan...I'll be in the right time zone! Yay!)

This is a huge story. North and South Korea marching together and competing together. Wow.

Kate McCulley - The Shorty Awards

You guys! I got nominated for a Shorty! I've never been nominated for a Shorty before!

I'm nominated for Best Travel Influencer. I'd love your vote! There are tons of categories to vote for across so many industries!

I feel like Brian on that episode of Family Guy... "I've been nominated for a Woody!"

A Place to Lay My Heart - Modern Love

This piece has been popping up in my Facebook memories since it was published in 2012. The crazy thing is that back in 2012 I thought it represented my life -- more than a year into full-time travel, getting ready to settle down. Ha. I didn't know the half of it.

But as time went on, my life began to reflect this piece more. When it was published I had no idea I would end up moving to New York -- and I did, just like the author. Like her, I became the one to say, "Come visit, you can stay in my apartment."

I hope you enjoy this cozy Sunday read.

Off the Beaten Path in Italy — A Tour by Vespa!

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the idea of this trip. Imagine getting to ride a Vespa through the Italian countryside for a week -- you have a route, your hotels are book, and your luggage even gets transported for you can just enjoy the ride!

The Vespa Trip does tours through Tuscany, the Amalfi Coast, even Sicily! I would so love to do one of them.

Now, get me a ride buddy who looked like Jude Law in The Talented Mr. Ripley and we'll be talking...

The New York Times Travel Show

Who's coming to the New York Times Travel Show this year? I'm going to be there!

And I can now share that I will be speaking on Saturday the 27th at 12:00 PM with Quark Expeditions. We're going to be talking all about Antarctica travel and doing a preview of my upcoming trip in March.

Media/blogger people, I'm also speaking on Friday morning (which is open to media only) on the "How to Be a Travel Influencer" panel.

Hope to see you there!

These Insane Photos Show Alligators Stuck in Frozen Swamps Surviving The Winter

How cold was it in North Carolina last week? So cold, these alligators were hanging out in frozen swamps, their snouts sticking through the ice for air!

Don’t worry; they survived just fine. And one day they will rise up and KILL US ALL.

52 Places to Go in 2018

They're here! The New York Times's annual 52 Places to Go in 2018. This year, I can't help but think about whoever got that job to visit all 52 in a year. What an adventure that's going to be!

I'm VERY happy to see the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy on the list, and I know it's due in part to the excellent work their tourism board has done to promote the region over the years. Part of that promotion has been hiring travel bloggers to visit and create content. I was on Emilia-Romagna's first-ever press trip back in 2011 and since then I've returned to work on bigger promotional campaigns.

That's travel marketing for you! The ROI isn't instant, but it compounds slowly and then pays off for decades. Since my first trip to Bologna and the Emilia-Romagna region, I've sent dozens of you guys there as well. And now it's on the New York Times's list of top 52 destinations. That is AWESOME.

longbeachdripper.com