Monthly Archives: April 2012


Chicks Conquering the World: Off the Radar Travel

What can transpire when a seemingly silly idea grabs hold and blossoms? The backbone of this series is about women adopting new attitudes or tackling extreme ideas and running full bore into triumph. Kate Cox and Victoria Cavaliere decided one day to prove to the world that you can travel for two weeks on only $1,000. Oh, and they’ve created an independent television show around the concept, just to add fun into the mix. Welcome to Off the Radar Travel. Q: Your concept is cool. How did the idea come to fruition? A: Off the Radar Travel was born of this basic conundrum: How can we be moveable objects when time and resources are fixed and unmoving? We kept wondering, what if minimal resources aren’t really the limitation we think they are? What if they’re the ticket to a more authentic experience when you travel? We had our two weeks of vacation, about a thousand bucks and enough wanderlust to fuel the whole human race. So, we decided to test our theory: 2 weeks in a country on a grand. Could we see more on less? Q: Many people are taking advantage of multimedia tools and starting web TV shows, what makes yours distinct? A: Well, Off the Radar basks in uncertainty! We don’t know the outcome of our mission on any given trip. The idea is to find out what works and what doesn’t. It’s not about how much bizarre food we can eat or how many beautiful vistas we can photograph. It’s more concrete than that: If we spend 50 lempiras on a taxi to our next destination, do we need to stay in a cheaper hotel? Can we get abroad on miles and then fudge the rest? Imagine us as pocket companions. We’re real women traveling—foibles, triumphs and all. Q: What were some of the surprises you discovered trying to travel for two weeks on a budget of a $1,000? The pluses? A: For one thing, that budget of time and money means you’re running lean and mean. So it’s like instant prioritizing. The stuff you struggle to sustain in your daily life takes a backseat to moments. Moments are always the surprise. One of the pluses of this is that you become more flexible, mobile and quick-thinking. Destinations are a surprise, too. So, you want beaches and culture, but you want a value and you don’t want crowds? Think Honduras instead of Costa Rica. In some ways, the budget gives you more choices. You start exploring the destinations you’d never thought of. You get creative. […]

By |April 26th, 2012|Chicks Conquering the World|13 Comments

When Traveling Solo is Not an Option

Women travel. That is no mystery. However, did you know that a growing number of women hold the purchasing power in a household and those monies are going towards leisure activities at an astounding rate? Marybeth Bond, cutely coined as The Gutsy Traveler is an expert on women’s travel trends and has unearthed some interesting statistics – surprising even to me. 80% of all travel decisions are made by women, regardless of: Who they travel with. Who pays for the trip. Or where they go. “An estimated 32 million single American women traveled at least once in the last year and about three in 10 made tracks five times or more, according to the Travel Industry Association.”  According to the majority (55%) of travel agents, the most common reason women travel solo is because they value their independence and are sophisticated enough to travel alone. Some agents (28%) believe it is because they are interested in visiting an unusual destination, while 9% indicated their clients do so because they prefer making their own schedule. Only 4% of travel agents noted their female clients travel solo to reconnect with themselves [Women’s Travel Habits – Travel Guard]. I never pictured my decision to forgo my home country as sophisticated, but I have been called worse names, so I’ll take that label without complaining. […]

By |April 23rd, 2012|Travel Tips|26 Comments

Finding Home in the Temporary

There are many meanings for the word ‘static’. One definition particularly caught my attention: “Pertaining to or characterized by a fixed or stationary condition.” In the past two months that’s the only way to describe what I’ve been experiencing. I arrived here in February, completely blind to what was next. The one thing I knew was I had a place to live. Such a concept is alien to me. I metaphorically and literally left the concept of a boxed enclosure behind. Watched it sail silently towards the horizon, until it became a dot and disappeared. So, there I was – walking into a teacher’s apartment. Standard issue by the university I teach at. There was nothing remarkable about the decor. White walls, a 1970’s corduroy fabric couch, a little worn and used with teak wood furniture that dwarfed it, because the strong reddish brown tones and heavy wood sucked all the attention from any other piece in the room. The caretakers entered, turned on the power and I watched the needle on the hot water tank rise in the bathroom – stared at my washer, in shock that I have one again at all. I watched them remove sheets from the wardrobe in the bedroom and tuck in the corners as they gossiped. I peered out my bedroom window. I have such a looking glass now. And then a knowing gripped me – this is all temporary. A teacher lived here prior to me and another will after me. As I walked around this alien environment, trailing my fingers across objects I haven’t fathomed in nearly two years, what felt warm and gooey in my stomach were swatches of my former life I could now hold precious, instead of wince at with disdain. […]

By |April 20th, 2012|Life, Wuxi|20 Comments

On Aging, Sex and Travel

In China, it is considered unlucky and offensive to give someone a clock on their birthday. The word for clock in Mandarin is similar to the word for death. It also symbolizes time ticking away  – bringing us closer to that unmentionable state. I just celebrated my birthday in China, where I’ve been living for over two months now, stationary as a bolted down chair. It’s been pleasant to slow down, celebrate my arrival to the earth in a calm, orderly way – go out with friends, eat food that melted in my mouth, consume liquor, dance like I was 20 again and pass out. It was painstakingly normal, a footnote of a birthday, yet oddly enough this one came with questions. I ran into a colleague a week ago, engaging in the usual banter, when my birthday came up as a subject and led to that delicate arena of dating and relationships. “Now that you’re settled for a while, are you going to start looking for a boyfriend?” He gave me the sly nudge and wink – to indicate cheekily that maybe it’s time. He has no inkling of my age and if he did – I imagine he’d audibly gasp. Time to readjust my usual mode of travel trysts and think about something serious. The facts of my life are going to unfold only one way in the next few years – abroad. I probably won’t be going back to Canada for quite a while. If ever. Maybe to collect the mail or drop in on old friends. Not to live. Not to exist. My colleague’s innocent joke churned the wheels in my brain towards options. What is truly out there in the expatriate world for women of my age? […]

By |April 13th, 2012|Featured, Life|99 Comments

Sally Hope Says: Make a Decision, Commit, and Take Action

Commitment. Ugh. Since I'm an old divorced lady, some suitors and friends have accused me of being frightened of commitment. That I force my foot in the door to stymie any firm ground. Upending my life, selling every object I owned and sticking to a budget was one of the hardest commitments I took on. [...]

By |April 9th, 2012|Life|5 Comments