Let me begin by stating: 2015 was both the best and worst year of my life to date.

2015 will always be the year I cemented myself as a professional travel writer, lived happily in a glorious Pac Heights apartment, and gained and deepened some of the most important relationships of my life.

It’s also the year I was robbed with a gun to my head in Colombia, lost said glorious Pac Heights apartment for reasons outside of my control, and lost a good friend who died unexpectedly in a plane crash.

So, how to review a year such as this? I’m at, well, a loss as to how to summarize a period of time with such highs, and such lows…

With each year that passes I like most to share thematically here, with you, on the blog. In past years, I have summarized the year’s highlights through expressions of photography or food. This year…it’s hotels.

Hotels? Really?


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A Journey Through Croatia’s Highlights Revealed a Peculiar Theme…

2015 has been a year of travel highs and lows, much like life. As I reflect on some of the best moments and destinations of the year, Croatia stands out to me. The country is very much on the rise, and the people are some of the kindest, proudest, and most generous I’ve encountered. The story below offers a glimpse of that. Road tripping Croatia is ideal. Not to mention how beautiful it is…

For these reasons, a road-trip in Croatia is my top recommendation for spring travel in 2016.

This story is brought to you in partnership with Expedia.com. All words, images, and opinions are expressly my own.

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“Welcome to Croatia!” he exclaimed at me, handing me of glass of unidentified liquid, moments after arriving at the Dubrovnik airport.

Rakija, or rakia, was my official introduction to Croatia, to the Balkans. Clear and served in what appeared to be a shot glass, I had no idea what it was — but it was presented with such warm enthusiasm that I thought to myself, I’ve got to have some of that.

The plan was to see Croatia by train with our Eurail passes. When I found out that we couldn’t get more than one train to the places we wanted to visit, the plan changed (as it usually does.)

So we picked up our car and drove just south. Headed for the small town of Ljuta, it was more than easy to fall in love with what I saw next.


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I spent the last month in both Paris and Colombia.

In Colombia I was a victim of violent crime in a “safe” area of the country. With a gun to my head, I lost my passport and all of my possessions, along with a large part of my faith in travel and in humanity. The days that followed were some of the darkest of my life.

Mere days earlier I was feeling all too light in the City of Light — my happy place, my beacon of beauty, a place that brings light to my eyes and fire to my soul. I return to Paris as often as possible — but not too often, for I yearn to experience more of the world. I know that the globe is far from being full of pastries and side streets, pungent cheeses and cute cafes.

With that in mind, I booked a ticket to Colombia — partly due to the recommendations of other travelers, partly to give a previously ‘no-go’ destination a chance.  I was confident, I was comfortable, I was fearless.

I wanted to experience the “real” Colombia. I believe, sadly, that is exactly  what I got. Never could I have imagined I’d be part of a bus hijacking. Never did I think I’d actually be faced with a moment in which my life could have ended, just because I was traveling there.

It was my first time in South America.


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Testaccio.

Not the word that comes to mind when you think of Rome?

It wasn’t for me, either. That is, I believe, one of the reasons it took five visits to the Eternal City for me, as I told friends, to “get” Rome.

On this last visit, I had a mere day and a half to squeeze in visits to some of my existing favorite spots (mostly to eat, or drink espresso.) I didn’t have the slightest desire to trek to major sights — heck, I almost didn’t plan on seeing the Colosseum (until I realized that it’s not a visit to Rome without it making an appearance.) I’d been to Rome on my own, with friends, with family, and with my ex-boyfriend — all of whom had their first visit. So I’ve done the museums, monuments, and musts (and their lines) more times than I’d care to admit.

I still wanted to experience a new side of the city. I thirsted for a deeper experience. And, I knew I’d be hungry.

After consulting with friends and fellow travelers/expats, I honed in on the illustrious Testaccio neighborhood. A bit rough around the edges, but with the right ratio of Romans to tourists and a reputation for some of the city’s best food, I was ready to dig in.


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My first reaction upon hearing I’d been invited to Acapulco?

I can’t wait for the tacos.

My second?

I just love Mexican culture! And Acapulco, isn’t that the glamorous spot where Old Hollywood used to getaway? Oh, and…the tacos!

The third?

Is it safe?

This third thought only arrived after I announced I was going. Friends, family, and perhaps even you, dear reader, were quick to proclaim your hesitancy for me.

“Be careful!”

“Is that a good idea?”

And my personal favorite, “Have you watched the news recently?”


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In a world of Instagram, traveling, and travel blogging, it seems we’re taking more pictures than ever before.

Yet I chuckle when someone sees me shooting while traveling or finds me online and asks me, “Are you a professional photographer?”

Some days I want to stretch the truth and say yes, because I have made money from my photos before. Does that a professional make? Not in my eyes.

So I spill: “Actually, most of the time I shoot in auto.” I then get one of two looks: the “wow-that’s-amazing, your photos still look good” or the “silly little travel blogger, you’re not doing it right.”

The truth is, most of my photos do turn out decently well in auto mode. For me the tradeoff has always been time, since I’m not yet comfortable shooting in manual on the fly. When I’m traveling (or just living,) I try to balance the time I’m behind a lens with the time I’m enjoying the moment with my own two eyes. Taking the time to adjust otherwise seemed like an awful lot of effort with minimal payoff, seeing as I’m already decently happy with my photos.

Enter Patrick Kelley.


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Ever get that feeling?

It’s as if you’re jogging… (let’s be honest, it’s been awhile – but bear with me) and the view is great, the wind is in your hair, a pulsing energy flows through you. For a minute, you can feel it: complete freedom.

There are also those moments when your knees begin to ache, the wind feels like it’s slapping you in the face, and your lungs are having trouble keeping up with your legs. Each step weighs you down more than the last. The pain and the doubt sets in, and you ask yourself, why I am doing this?  Why am I still running right now…and when is it going to be over?

I calculated the days I’ve spent on the road in the first half of the year. For a person with part-time travel as the goal, it wasn’t pretty. There was a period of three months when I was home for a total of 2.5 weeks time.

I started to feel like an out-of-shape jogger.


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Heading to Kauai soon? Here are all the places I wish I had known about before I went.


I’ve written a fair amount of itineraries for this site, mostly because it’s the travel information both you as readers and I myself need help with most often. I have personally spent hundreds of hours researching destinations, and even more time benefitting from the planning of others and my own experience.  And as much as I love writing personal pieces or thoughtful narratives, I find quality itinerary and genuine recommendations surprisingly difficult to find — online or otherwise.

I also want to continue to demonstrate how much can be seen, even at a reasonable pace — for the part-time travelers who feel limited by a few weeks of vacation time. I hope to show that it’s as simple as aligning your priorities, doing the research (which I hope I am contributing to,) booking the ticket, and going.

The good news is one week in Kauai is a fantastic for the part-time traveler who has limited time.

When I sat down to share my tips from my recent time in Kauai, however, I found dividing the island into regions and subcategories to be more effective for explanation.  I’ll share those along with a brief breakdown of what to plan for each day in a week.


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