Archives – July, 2009

The world in Chicago for Travel Blog Exchange ’09 conference

When you’re a writer, there’s nothing like surrounding yourself with likeminded people to get and stay inspired. And this past Sunday, I found inspiration that’ll keep me jazzed for weeks and months to come at Travel Blog Exchange ’09, a fabulous (and FREE, thanks to generous sponsors!) daylong conference in downtown’s Chicago Cultural Center. About 100 veteran and newbie travel bloggers (I’m one of the latter) from all across the globe (they came from as far away as Laos and Chile!) showed up for an incredible day of panel discussions on everything from whether travel blogs and travel journalism should be held to the same standards (of course, this reporter says YES!) to creating compelling podcasts and video for our sites.

And while the info exchanged and shared was great, even BETTER was the chance to meet a super-cool, smart and worldly group of bloggers who sleep, drink and eat travel and see that as a way to connect us all in ways that probably seemed impossible just 10 years ago….

Continue 30 Comments July 28, 2009

“… with liberty and justice (and affordable health care) for all.”

Finally in America, the decades-long debate over health care is coming to a head. Last night, President Barack Obama hosted a prime-time news conference at the White House, where he delivered his vision on health care and answered reporters’ questions about it.

As someone who’s extensively traveled abroad and marveled at the United States’ apparent unwillingness to make affordable access to medical care available to ALL its people, I’m amazed that so many politicians—and regular citizens—think that providing such care is somehow socialist. Subversive. And against the “American way of life.” Well, if having to choose between buying groceries and paying for prescribed medicine is capitalism at its best, perhaps we need to re-examine our priorities ….

Continue 5 Comments July 23, 2009

Have black Americans REALLY traveled until they’ve visited Africa?

Over the years, I’ve visited nearly 30 countries in North America, South America, the Caribbean, the Middle East and Europe (where I’ve traveled so many times I’ve completely lost count).

But I’ve never been to Africa. And as an African-American, that sounds pretty pathetic.

Places on the continent are always on my mental “to-do” list, West African countries like Senegal and North African ones like Egypt and Morocco. But I haven’t made it there yet.

I started thinking about this during President Barack Obama’s recent trip to Ghana….

Continue 21 Comments July 16, 2009

Want to fit in as a solo female traveler? Meet the locals

Those of you who’ve visited UrbanTravelGirl know what a passionate ambassador I am for solo travel. So is Beth Whitman, whose Wanderlust and Lipstick Web site is a treasure trove of info for those chicas who like hitting the road, whether with girlfriends, kids and families, or on their own.

I often am asked by friends—and friends of friends—for tips on visiting foreign countries when you’re female and rolling solo. In fact, I’d planned to write a post with some suggestions… and one of those suggestions is to be open and available to meeting local residents wherever you go. But Beth beat me to the punch, and has a great recent Web site post on “Meeting the Locals: 5 Tips for Solo Travelers.” Be sure to check out her five tips on doing this with purpose—and it’s obviously worked for her, as she’s become friends with folks she’s met on her travels. I’ve done the same, having met and shared my 40th birthday dinner with a charming Irish couple on the French Riviera. I’ve become pals with Parisians I’ve interviewed for travel stories and have developed and maintained real friendships with B&B owners I first met several years ago in Rome….

Continue 13 Comments July 5, 2009

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