I’ll never forget living in Quito during Holy Week. As a Catholic, the week is something special to me, but I never thought much about it. Holy Week comes, we go to Mass a couple extra times, music returns to the church, hallelujah. But in Quito, I went to a re-enactment of the Stations of the Cross, where the man playing Jesus really looked to be suffering. The cross was heavy, the sweat real, and more astonishing still, where the Cross rubbed into his shoulder, real blood appeared.
True to the Stations, a man comes to assist “Jesus” with the cross.
Suddenly the Stations of the Cross meant something else, as I stood uncomfortably, watching the suffering of this volunteer actor before me, and for the first time in my life, truly picturing what the actual event was like.
And so when we travel, we love finding a way to have our travels coincide with cultural celebrations. And if you want to understand Día de Los Muertos (Day of the dead), there are few places that celebrate it as well as Baja California.
A classical Dia de los Muertos altar in the community I work with in El Florido, Tijuana, Mexico
I cringe whenever I see a debit card used. It’s probably the biggest tell tale sign that I’m a miles and points snob. But, it’s also more than that: The security breach at Target taught us that using credit instead of debit is actually safer.
We’ve spoken at length about credit card perks here on the blog. We’ve gushed and gushed about our American Express Platinum, a credit card that offers us $200 airline credits (hello gift cards), a waiver to apply for Global Entry (hello short lines at airports), as well as elite status in car programs and hotels (thanks for the free upgrade), and access to airport lounges around the world (nothing beats a shower in a connecting city after a long flight). T
Laura enjoying some free food in a lounge. Between our credit cards and elite status, we get access to free showers, food and more almost anywhere we travel!
hese benefits are the cream of the crop by most travelers standards, but there’s more hidden deep in terms and details of our credit card.
The same could be said of our Chase Sapphire Preferred. We love double points at restaurants and on travel. Since we’re practically abroad as much as we are at home, we can’t get enough of it’s no foreign transaction fees. But again, there’s more. Because believe it or not, some of the best credit card perks are ones often not raved about when we talk solely miles, points, and cash back benefits. Continue reading
From time to time, we find some really interesting articles related to travel or millennial lifestyle. We do the digging, you do the reading. So what are we reading this week? Just the usual, talk of a new international airport being built in North Korea, photos of Iceland that will make you want to take advantage of a sweet airfare to the country, and advice and stories on the website of one of our favorite travel bloggers- Chris Guillebeau. Continue reading
I work with college students. Anytime people throw out a dismissive judgement about “youth these days” I am always quick to interject: You’re wrong. You just don’t see them in the capacity I do because if you did, I think like me, you’d be incredibly hopeful about what the future holds. But instead, too many stick to their limited view of a generation they don’t understand, and miss out on incredible love and potential just waiting for it’s chance to lead.
Long ago I learned that the best story tellers know how to get out of the way of a good story and let it tell itself. So I’ll conclude my part of this blog with this: The post below originally appeared on JonTribe, a blog started by Jon Beach, one of the students I worked with last year for a program I manage at LMU. De Colores is a service and immersion program that works with a nonprofit called Build a Miracle in El Florido (a small community just east of Tijuana). Jon, is like 99% of the students I have come to know through this program: Smart and loving, and just itching to combine these two realities in such a way as to improve the world the only way we all know how, poco a poco. I hope you enjoy his storytelling as much as I do and who knows, maybe like me you’ll come to believe that the future looks bright with loving leaders like Jon on the horizon. And with that, I give you Jon’s post…
The sun, the soccer, the work, the faces: Beauty.
The tacos, the tears, the reflection, the embraces: Clarity.
The rubble, the strays, the police, the poverty: Harshness.
The Wall of Ignorance which keeps which side in Darkness? Continue reading
Let’s start with a bit of a disclosure: I’m not a public health expert nor am I a cartographer. But I’m a believer in facts, and obtaining those through experts, not talking heads. But back to the whole map making idea. Though you probably already know this, it seems worth stating: Africa is a continent, not a country. Are we good so far? OK. Next, Africa is a BIG continent, despite what some poorly scaled maps may lead you to believe. How big? See below.
Yes, Africa is truly big!
Laura and I have travel plans to South Africa in December, and some have been incredulous we’re not canceling them out of fear of ebola. To that I say to you: Would you cancel your plans to go to London right now? Because going back to that whole “Africa is a damn big place” the distance from West Africa to South Africa is roughly the same as from London to West Africa.
Now that we’re on the same page, we’re going to dive into some complexities here. A travel ban on West Africa is great political theater, but it sure isn’t smart policy, health, political, or otherwise. Here are 5 reasons why. Continue reading
This is me, after my first marathon, in 2004.
To the casual eye, nothing looks out of place. But an experienced runner, or someone with intimate knowledge of “nipple chaffing” can see what most cannot: The blood soaking through my shirt, dried up on the edges of my runners bib. I learned a thing or two from running 26.2 miles but the most important lesson was this: community matters. And not just in the wax poetic kind of way but in the “save your damn nipples from hurting in the shower for the next week” practical kind of way as well. Had I known nipples could chaff, I would have got NipGuards (a real product) or at least grabbed at the Vaseline various volunteers held alongside cups of water at various mile markers.
But I also learned two other lessons. First, very little in life is insurmountable. I wouldn’t have called myself a fitness warrior before that race, and I wouldn’t have called myself one at any point after that. But what started as out as running a simple mile turned into 3.1, which turned into 5, then 10, 13, 18, and finally 26.2.
But ten years later, the second lesson has been far more humbling, painful, and if I’m vulnerable with you all- deeply humiliating. The reality is this: Achievements in running are fleeting if we aren’t willing to show up everyday and put the work in for it. And so my life as of late has been the opposite of that joy and confidence I felt years prior. 26.2 miles became 18, which slipped to 13, then to 10, down to 5, until at last 3.1 became a challenge and one became the minimum at which I could still safely commit to.
As one of my great students reminded me yesterday, you’re confined only by the walls you build. For sometime now, I’ve been more than ready to break some of those walls down. And yesterday, I began to chip away at it. Continue reading
I’m not really a cadillac guy. Call me simple minded but growing up, my dream vehicle was a soft top Jeep Wrangler. Then I graduated, entered the real world of nonprofit salaries- and suddenly a fuel efficient Honda never looked so good.
But today, I’m interested in a Cadillac, at least for a test drive. A huge thank you to one of our readers and fellow miles and points nerds Brian who emailed to tell me about this: Cadillac has paired up with American Airlines and you can earn 7,500 miles just for test driving one. You read that right: Test Drive a Cadillac to Earn 7,500 American Airlines AAdvantage Miles!
How? Continue reading
How many travel websites do you visit before you book a vacation? It may surprise you to find out the average according to a 2013 study by Expedia is 38. The average person will visit 38 travel websites in preparing for a vacation. What?!?! At that rate, people might spend more time planning their trip than actually experiencing their trip. That’s gotta change. A few months ago, we wrote what has become one of our most popular blog posts: The Best Travel Apps for your phone.
Want to find some of the most helpful travel websites you probably don’t know about? Skip right past TripAdvisor (please, so overrated) and throw away whatever outdated Rick Steves guide you have (if you actually read Rick Steves and read this blog- we need to talk) and let us reveal our 10 travel websites you need to know about in order to might make planning your next trip easier, more affordable, and hopefully, more fun! Continue reading
It’s National Coming Out Day, an internationally recognized day of both celebration as well as awareness for people coming out as Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, or Transgender. And it got us thinking: What are the best places for LGBT travel and what are the places you might want to avoid? Continue reading
After several years of watching Patrick leave me in the security lane as he glided effortlessly through TSA Pre-Check, I finally decided that it was time. It was time to get TSA Pre. Because of his continued elite status with American Airlines, Patrick had been selected to test out TSA Pre for free as they rolled it out initially. I hadn’t thought that the ability to walk through security without taking of your jacket or shoes would be worth paying for it…until it took me 45 minutes to get through security on one recent trip, while it took him a mere three minutes. I am a competitive person, after all, and that was just not cool.
But as I looked further into the process, I realized that there was only one way to go about this: to go big or go home. With our American Express Platinum card, each cardholder gets the application fee waived for TSA Pre or Global Entry, so I could justify the expense. And, since Global Entry automatically qualifies you for TSA Pre, it made sense (particularly with our upcoming international travel) to apply for Global Entry. Continue reading