My Favorite New Destinations of 2017

I've named my favorite new destinations of 2017! This year I named my #1 destination of 2017, a runner-up, and seven other destinations. Before clicking on this, what do you think is my #1?

I'm out at an anti-holiday bar in NYC. Sorry, Rudolph! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

This place is called Jingle Hells. I found out about it on Reddit. Sadly this is the last night! There is a really creepy Santa and a pianist singing rude Christmas carols and stockings that read "Fuck Off."

I made a change to the site today -- now all new commenters will have to have their first comment manually approved by me. If you have a previous comment approved, you should have no trouble seeing your comments appear immediately.

I'm doing this to combat the spam. As many filters as I have up, a lot of spam comments still make their way through. Nobody wants to read through crappy spam comments when they're looking for an intelligent discussion! I think this is a happy medium -- regular commenters will be rewarded with instant postings, while new commenters will have to wait a bit.

I'll do my best to get new, legitimate commenters approved in a timely manner, so please don't despair if it takes some time for your comment to appear.

A moment of magic in New York today: I head downtown to do errands, I finish the errands, and it's still snowing, so I Google "best hot chocolate in New York" on a whim...and the #1 recommendation is one block away.

It's City Bakery in Flatiron. SUPER dark and rich, like the ciccolato caldo I used to get in Italy. And they make their own marshmallows, which are sensational. Definitely worth a stop if you visit the city this winter! Just make sure it's a small -- it's so rich, you don't need the large size.

Happy first snow day of the season in NYC!

How's the weather in your part of the world? Share a pic!

The Best Gifts for Travelers: 2017 Edition

Are you still looking for presents for your favorite traveler? Here are some of my favorite travel items I pack with me. Tested by me and highly recommended, some of them under $10!

AK Monthly Recap: November 2017

Here's everything I got up to in November, plus new podcast and book recommendations!

The good news is that I will probably be able to update you on the "bad news" I mention by early next week.

KVVR

This is horrific. It looks like a post-apocalyptic movie.

Stay safe, LA friends.

I'm about to fly back from Vegas. What a great weekend trip with my three best girlfriends of 20 years!

I have to say, though, Vegas in your thirties is SO different from Vegas in your twenties. So different that I'm going to write a full post about it. Like, for example, in your twenties you go to Cirque du Soleil, but in your thirties you go to Cirque du Soleil and wish you brought earplugs because how is everyone in the theater not deaf already?!

Some of the highlights this time around included seeing Ray Romano and David Spade at the Mirage (and not just because we got to hang out with them after -- it was a hilarious show!), the Michael Jackson One Cirque du Soleil show at Mandalay Bay, the Christmas decorations at the Bellagio, and enjoying cocktails and the incredible view at the Foundation Room on top of Mandalay Bay. We also went to some great restaurants -- a few of the best were Bouchon, Gordon Ramsay Steak, and Portofino.

But mostly it was about getting good quality time with my girlfriends, now that we're living in three different states. And for that reason, I'm glad our trip was so relaxed. We've been to Vegas a bunch before; it was nice to revisit our old haunt.

And I only lost $11.50 gambling! Thanks a lot, Ellen DeGeneres and Betty White slot machines!

Strange Vegas moment today: my friends and I were at a resort and a promoter from "Nightclub A" offers us free admission and gets us on the guest list. We've been to that club like nine years ago and didn't love it, but eh, why not.

Then two minutes later, a promoter from "Nightclub B" offers us free admission AND a few hours of open bar, and we say yes to his guest list too, and we've never been to that club, so we're leaning toward it.

We run into the same Nightclub A promoter later, and he says, "If you go to Nightclub B, watch your drinks. There's a story in the Review-Journal about a promoter who drugged and raped a woman there." He even texts me the article a few minutes later. That promoter didn't even work for Nightclub B; he was just a run-of-the-mill predator who worked for a variety of Vegas clubs. I hope he rots in prison.

But this whole thing was so weird. I'm putting it down to competition between promoters. I'm 33 years old, have been drinking alcohol for 15 years (yes, I was a "good girl" in high school) and have treated EVERY drink like could have been possibly spiked with drugs. I know what to look out for. I'm sure most women here could say the same thing.

What do you think? Just a promoter from Nightclub A trying to get a leg up on the competition, or something more sinister about Nightclub B?

Am I mean if I cut the rest of my friends out of this pic?

Do not care. VEGAS!

David Spade and Ray Romano have a hilarious show at the Mirage right now. You should go see it!

This is Vegas in your thirties. Drinking pink moscato out of a "Just Divorced" mug in your Treasure Island hotel room.

So, um, this is the view from my hotel room. Thanks for that, Vegas.

I have to say, on this historical day of all days, it makes me want to point and laugh...

I'm about to fly to Fabulous Las Vegas!

Amazing that it's been nine years since I last went. The Strip has completely changed since then. And so have my friends and I. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Somehow I doubt this time we will be bursting out of the after-hours club at 6:00 AM and high-fiving everyone walking down the Strip, babies in strollers included...

My early twenties were weird. But my early thirties have been more fulfilling. So let's see what four grown-ass women can get up to in Vegas!

I love flying into New York when the weather is nice! Awesome views from my flight on Monday.

You can see my apartment from here! Right between Central Park and the GW Bridge...

Have any great plane views lately? Share them!

Dream job: Adventurous Kate travels the world

A few months ago, ABC7NY interviewed me for a feature on my life, work, and travels. The finished product went live today. Hope you enjoy it! ๐Ÿ˜Š

Chisinau and Minsk: Two Offbeat Soviet Cities

I visited a lot of offbeat places in Europe this year. Here's a post on two of the stranger cities I visited: Chisinau, Moldova, and Minsk, Belarus. Have you been?

Learn How to Make Money with a Travel Blog

One last BIG sale for the weekend: all of the courses at Travel Blog Success are 40% off.

If you ever want to make money with your travel blog, Travel Blog Success is simply the best course there is. It's also home to the only Facebook group where a newbie travel blogger can ask a question and several bloggers making six-figure salaries will respond and give tips.

And as I always say -- TBS is the best, and buy it when it's on sale. Black Friday is the biggest sale of the year -- 40% off. There are also discounts on niche courses focusing on travel videography, freelance writing, affiliate marketing, and more.

Sale ends Monday at 11:59 PM PT.

Last night I went to my 15-year high school reunion (15 years already?!). There's something I found out last night that I want to share with you.

I may have mentioned here that I have a few friends from high school living on St. John in the US Virgin Islands, which is one of the areas that got hit worst by the hurricanes. The USVIs were devastated, and I was happy to see so many of you here donate to relief in St. John.

BUT -- there's hope. My friends, who were home in Mass. during hurricane season, visited the island recently (they can't move back full-time until the internet is reliable, which might not be until January or so) and said that while much of the island had its vegetation ripped out from the ground, there are areas where there are knee-high seedlings growing. Knee-high already. So many parts of the island have gone from brown to green again. How amazing is that?

There's hope. The islands will repair themselves. But that's not enough -- when the time comes to welcome back tourists, they are going to need our economic investment. (And that goes for all the affected islands, too, from Puerto Rico to St. Maarten to Dominica.) I hope to visit St. John as a tourist once they're ready to accommodate visitors. Perhaps in the spring.

The Best Gifts for Travelers: 2017 Edition

Buying a gift for a traveler? Here's your one-stop shop! Every gift on this list is a product I personally use and love.

Most gifts are under $50, ALL of them are worth the money, and I added thirteen new products I discovered this year, from my favorite new carry-on to the best bluetooth headphones.

WHEN TURKEYS CARVE BACK.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! ๐Ÿฆƒ

#Whole30 update time! At this moment, I am drinking a latte. This is the item with which I broke my 34-day diet free of grains, dairy, sugar, alcohol, legumes, and artificial flavors.

I feel sad, to be honest. I just want a regular americano! But I need to test how my body reacts to dairy now, so here we are.

Doing Whole30 was SUCH a great idea, and to my shock, it was one of the easiest things I've ever done. I thought I'd slip up and crave cheese or baked goods. Not once. I still have no desire now!

The best things Whole30 did for me:

1) Getting into the habit of preparing nearly all my meals from scratch. Goodbye takeout habit, hello twice weekly treks to Trader Joe's.

2) My skin has never looked better. I'm used to nursing giant deep-under-the-skin zits on my chin, but they disappeared completely.

3) Pain-free periods. Seriously.

4) No headaches at all. No other aches, either.

5) And because everyone wants to know the weight loss stats -- I lost 8.8 pounds of fat and gained 0.9 pounds of muscle, which is pretty damn close to ideal for a woman my size within a month.

The worst thing Whole30 did for me? I found out my body doesn't like coconut! WHYYYYY?! Coconut milk-based dishes now make my stomach ache; last night I discovered that my beloved Coconut Chocolate RXBARs do too, though to a lesser degree.

The big challenge will be working my new good habits into my travel-heavy lifestyle, especially with upcoming trips to Vegas (buffets!), Japan (wheat and soy and rice!) and Antarctica (you can't be picky at the bottom of the world!). For Vegas next weekend, I'm allowing myself one big indulgent meal and some drinks but I will be eating primarily paleo the rest of the time.

So if you're thinking of doing Whole30, I highly encourage you to go for it! It will teach you a lot about your body and its unique reactions to different kinds of foods.

Food Network

Thoughts as I watched this mac and cheese video:

"Well, that's not bad...Who doesn't like seeing black pepper flakes? Kinda weird...OH MY GOD, NO, KILL IT WITH FIRE, THROW IT OFF A CLIFF, DESTROY IT TO SAVE HUMANITY."

My dear readers...please tell me that this is NOT actually a thing in your part of the world!

(Also, between this and the frozen peanut butter "gloppies" of a few months ago, I'm pretty sure Food Network is just trolling us for views...)

The Best Gifts for Travelers: 2017 Edition

Buying a gift for a traveler? Here's your one-stop shop! Every gift on this list is a product I personally use and love.

Most gifts are under $50, ALL of them are worth the money, and I added thirteen new products I discovered this year, from my favorite new carry-on to the best bluetooth headphones.

The good news: New York's Christmas markets have opened! I spent yesterday exploring the one in Union Square.

The bad news: They only serve NON-ALCOHOLIC gluhwein. Blame America's liquor laws.

I've never seen a German cry, but I think going up to get gluhwein and finding out it's nothing more than kinderpunsch would result in a single tear rolling down their cheek.

In the World Cup I always root for the US first and Italy second. I don't know what I'm going to do in 2018!!

Is your team in it? If they're not, who are you rooting for?

("PS -- Spain is the hottest." "SHUT UP, KATE, NOBODY CARES WHO THE HOTTEST TEAM IS.")

Some of you may be seeing news of a huge fire in New York. Biggest fire in a long time: five alarms; 170+ firefighters on the scene. It's actually in my neighborhood -- Hamilton Heights. 145th St. and Broadway, a place I walk by at least twice a day.

I am safe. This isn't close enough to threaten my apartment or those of my friends and family.

Follow @FDNY on Twitter for updates. Apparently the building was unoccupied when the fire began; so far there are two non-life-threatening injuries.

I have an amazing Las Vegas sale to share with you from Hotwire. It's called the Million Dollar Sale -- 5-star Vegas hotels for just $50 per night. As someone who just booked a Vegas trip of her own, THAT IS ABSURDLY CHEAP. You're never going to find 5-star hotels for $50 anywhere else.

You know what the 5-star hotels are in Vegas? ALL THE BEST ONES.

Here's how it works: travel dates are December 8-28, 2017, and a maximum of two consecutive nights may be booked at this price. They're called HotRates.

When you book a HotRates hotel, the hotel name is not revealed to you until you book it -- but Hotwire DOES tell you its star rating and also things like what neighborhood it's in, what amenities they have, and whether it's a chain or not. So you'll understand the quality that you're getting.

I sometimes use Hotwire's HotRates to book high-end hotels for much cheaper than the list price, most recently in Luxembourg (on my own dime).

Why is Hotwire doing this? They are literally investing one million dollars in this sale alone, so they're selling them until the million dollars is spent. And hotels like to take part in these so they can fill their hotel rooms without making it public that they're selling them for cheap.

So if you're thinking about a quick getaway to Vegas during these dates, check out Hotwire.com and see if you can land the resort of your dreams.

**This is a sponsored post, written by me and brought to you by Hotwire.**

The Stunning Trulli of Alberobello, Italy

Have you ever gone sightseeing at the speed of light? Because I sure did in Alberobello, Italy!

I had most of a day to drive from Carpino to Castel del Monte to Alberobello to Bari to catch my flight, all in Puglia, the heel of Italy's boot. That is a very ambitious itinerary.

The trulli, the conical white buildings of this region, are SO worth seeing. I just wish I didn't have to run around like a madwoman! I ran around so fast I DECIDED TO JUST NOT EAT THAT DAY. In Italy.

Sydney ferry named Ferry McFerryface

Dear Australia: You are beautiful. Please never change. ๐Ÿ˜‚

Note: this only happened because "Boaty McBoatface" was not an option.

The 8 Best Old Towns in Europe

I am VERY curious to hear your opinion on this one. What are the best old towns in Europe? I chose my top 8, painstakingly, but I would love to hear what you think!

ASK KATE ANYTHING! Ask me any questions you'd like about travel, blogging, New York, books, fitness, anything!

I'll answer questions here for an hour and I'll respond to the rest later.

Happy Sunday, everyone! I'm trying to finish up as many books published in 2017 as possible, and here are four that I haven't read yet.

--The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
--Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks
--The Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne
--The Power by Naomi Alderman

Have you read any of them? Which one should I read next?

Happy Saturday from New York -- it's the first day to dip below freezing! Yikes!! Glad my new, much warmer winter coat arrived this week!

What's the weather like today in your part of the world?

Drunk Surprise - Lamebook.com

Truth -- I would sh*t myself if I lost my wallet and woke up to a bill for first class tickets to the Maldives.

Solo Female Travel in Thailand โ€” Is it Safe?

I've spent several months in Thailand over the past seven years, and I consider it to be an excellent destination for solo female travelers. Even first-time solo female travelers.

Here's what makes Thailand great -- and all the things you need to know if traveling alone.

This is the closest thing I have to a backyard in Harlem. It's pretty great!

Donโ€™t Expect Travel To Solve Your Problems

A lot of people choose to travel because they don't know what to do with their lives, or they don't know if they should go to college, or they're struggling in their relationship.

Can travel help you with that? Sometimes. But you've got to put a lot of work in on your end, too.

I've got very exciting news to share. This winter, I'm heading to ANTARCTICA! Seven years after quitting my job to travel the world, I'm visiting the seventh continent! ๐Ÿง

I'm traveling with Quark Expeditions on their Crossing the Circle itinerary. This means I will be on one of few Antarctica voyages that crosses the Antarctic Circle, as it's only crossable late in the season. I will also be kayaking throughout the trip, which is very exciting!

The trip isn't until early March, so you won't be seeing penguins for awhile -- but OMG! Antarctica!!!

Have any of you been? Any tips for me?

The Best Halloween Dogs in Hamilton Heights, Harlem

You wanted more Halloween dogs -- and here they are! The cutest dogs in Hamilton Heights, all decked out for Halloween. Let me know which one is your favorite!

Sailing Down the Coast of Belize

To everyone who is starting to plan their winter travels -- this is one of the most fun things I've ever done. Sailing in a catamaran along the Belize Barrier Reef, stopping twice a day to snorkel, camping on an uninhabited island, dancing to Caribbean music with the most inappropriate lyrics ever. The cruise is through Raggamuffin Tours.

I never had a huge desire to go to Belize, but once I went, I TOTALLY GOT IT. Have you been?

This Is What You Eat When Everyone Is Struggling For Food

This is a remarkable piece of travel photojournalism. In Niger, food is scarce. This is a photo essay of what people eat in times of crisis.

If the proverbial "good guy with a gun" isn't in church in Texas, he doesn't exist.

Our country is dying. We can't take more of these tragedies. We need sensible gun laws now. But in a country where money overrules democracy and corporations are people, I have no idea how we dismantle the NRA.

US woman charged over tweet allegedly insulting Robert Mugabe

Earlier this year, TBEX, the largest travel blogging conference, made a shocking decision to host a conference in Zimbabwe, sponsored by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority.

What's shocking? That a media conference would take money from a government underneath the world's most notorious dictator, Robert Mugabe. A government that routinely murders journalists.

How can bloggers be safe in an environment like that?

You can read my post on the subject here: http://www.adventurouskate.com/tbex-zimbabwe-an-unethical-and-irresponsible-choice/

I also published responses to my post by New Media Expo (which owns TBEX) CEO Rick Calvert and Conference Director Shane Dallas. While both were quick to defend the merit of TBEX as a conference, neither responded to my questions of how TBEX would protect their bloggers in Zimbabwe.

Well, yesterday, an American woman was arrested for insulting Mugabe on Twitter. Her tweet read, "We are being led by a selfish and sick man." She was charged with plotting to overthrow the government.

This should be a wake-up call to anyone who bought a ticket to TBEX Africa.

Where's your next trip? Comment with a GIF! ๐Ÿ˜

AK Monthly Recap: October 2017

This was my first October in New York EVER. I've always traveled before! This month I hung out with Halloween dogs, went to New Jersey to see if their pizza was the best in New York, took medieval knights on a tour of the city, and rode the Staten Island ferry six times...

My Favorite Experiences in Western Australia

This time last year, I had just finished an unforgettable trip to Western Australia. What an incredible place. It's one of my favorite photography destinations in the world and there are so few tourists there that you feel like you've discovered something special.

If you haven't seen these photos yet, you've got to!

A Getaway to Tybee Island โ€” Savannahโ€™s Beach

This month I visited Tybee Island, Georgia -- a.k.a. Savannah's Beach. As a huge Savannah fan, I can't believe it took me so long to get there! It's gorgeous and a throwback and I took the best sunrise photos of my LIFE there. Hope you enjoy it.

At Least 8 Reported Dead as Truck Careens Down Bike Path in Manhattan

Terrible news coming out of New York today.

I'm okay. I'm far uptown.

The New York Times wants to hire a journalist to travel the world

Today is the LAST DAY to apply for that New York Times dream job, traveling to the their Top 52 Places to Visit next year.

Since this went live, pretty much everyone has been sending it to me, saying, "You should do this!" And I get it...for the right person, this would be a dream job.

But 52 places within in a year, covering the whole globe, is EXHAUSTING. It sounds so good until you consider the realities of moving every few days and producing a ton of work on each destination. And I have the feeling that it doesn't pay that well, considering that the "benefits" are the draw of the job in the first place.

The younger me would be all over this job. The current me? I still love travel, but I'm at peace capping it at a max of 25% of the time. I love my New York life (and all the people in it) too much.

Whoever gets this job -- I hope you find a way to build peace and routine into what's going to be a VERY busy year!

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