You’re Doing Travel Wrong


Thwarted by the weather!

Ah, travel! The exhilarating experience of upending your entire life to join insufferable crowds, destroy foreign monuments, and consume bizarre foods, all at a premium cost. Sure, you make lifelong memories of standing in long ticket lines, but you always return from your vacation in need of a…vacation.


Sale! Normally 2,000 Won – but now only 3,900!

The fact is that you’re doing travel all wrong. You could be standing in much longer lines, wearing your own smelly clothes, and paying more money. As an expert traveler (self-certified) let me educate you. (See disclaimer at end)

The first thing you’re doing wrong is staying in a hotel. Maid service, individually wrapped soaps, and a minibar minifridge? No, that won’t do. You need to be staying in Airbnb. Sure they’re destroying the local housing market and forcing out locals, but those people were going to yell at you anyway for stopping on the sidewalk to take a photo of a vintage (“distressed”) door. With an airbnb, you have no idea whether there will be any soap, you might be in a graffiti covered building, and you could get yourself and your host evicted! Ah, memories!

Continue Reading →

My Favorite Adventures of 2015



This post started because I was weary. Not sleepy and tired, but sluggish and unmotivated. Maybe I’ve been a nomad too long. Maybe I’ve been away from work too long. Or maybe I’ve been without a mission too long.

Coincidentally, I downloaded book Level Up Your Life by Steve Lamb. It showed up on the Art of Non-Conformity blog, and resonated with my neediness and video-gaming tendencies. The title refers to the way you gain experience points in games like Dungeons and Dragons or Legend of Zelda or Call of Duty.

Steve encourages you to think of achievements and adventures you want to complete. His suggestions include holding a handstand, speaking a foreign language, or volunteering at a children’s hospital. As I brainstormed what I would like to accomplish I kept thinking I just did something like that!  Here are some of my favorites.

  • Nighttime Segway Ride
  • Raw Shrimp Dinner
  • Cat Island
  • First Class Transpacific Flight
  • Opening Day Oktoberfest
  • Two Nights in a Bazaar

As you read things, think of the adventures you’ve had recently, as well as the ones you would like to have.

Nighttime Segway ride


The Romans built the forum with the Segway in mind.

Continue Reading →

Morocco Meanderings


Can I live in this photo?

The final destination on my December mileage run was exotic Morocco. Think mosques and markets, merguez and tagines, deserts and beaches. An extra bonus for me was the chance to speak French, which is one of the official languages.

I violated rule #2 on this trip. I city hopped. I only spent two nights in each of Casablanca, Rabat, and Marakech. Here’s how each city treated me:

  • Casablanca – easing in
  • Rabat – spoiled in a Riad
  • Marrakech – marooned in the medina



The walls of the medina

Continue Reading →

Blue Curaçao


Yes, that is a blue curaçao daiquiri.

I chose Curaçao because I was freezing in Prague and wanted someplace warm. Boy, did it deliver. For good measure it threw in magnificent cactus formations and one very painful scorpion sting. And it drained me with the oppressive humidity.

Despite, that, here are the highlights:

  • Great ocean views
  • Blue Curaçao liqueur
  • Unreliable utilities
  • A very strange language

Continue Reading →

Rainy Rio


Gratuitous rainforest mammal. (Good name for a band)

My mission in Rio was simple: escape winter. The plan was formed after enduring the piercing, freezing wind of Nurnberg in October. As the chill followed me to Berlin and Prag, I booked the first leg of my mileage run as a summer week on Copacabana beach. I was also looking forward to:

  • Sunny beaches
  • Cristo Redentor and Pao de Azucar hill
  • Pao de Queijo
  • Brazilian Portuguese

Sunny Beaches

I had visions of myself becoming lean and bronzed, erasing my ghostly beer belly. (Though I would probably clear out the beach for the first afternoon.) Between relaxing walks in the sand, I would visit the majestic Cristo Redentor sculpture Pao de Azucar hill. From these iconic vantage points, I would take gorgeous photos of the translucent turquoise ocean and the green offshore islands dramatically lit with soft morning light or striking ruby sunsets.


It’s Copacabana beach, after all.

And then the clouds engulfed everything.

Continue Reading →

Mileage Run


I got a crazy idea last month. I decided to do a mileage run. I’m going to fly 40,000 miles in December. The goal is to keep my Platinum status, which requires 50,000 miles for the year.

Of course, I’ve already flown 50,000 miles this year. (That’s like flying around the world…twice.) But 10,000 of those miles counted for status. The rest were award tickets. Those tickets gave me luxurious first-class experiences, but they didn’t count toward frequent flyer status.


In this week’s post:

  • My take on Platinum Status
  • What it takes
  • Where I’m going

Platinum Status

I almost regret ever getting status. Before having it, I just flew where I needed to when I needed to. And I just took whichever airline was cheapest. But now I’m hooked. I limit my search to American Airlines, without ever looking at the other sites. Maybe that’s a good thing. Too much choice often paralyzes people.

Continue Reading →

Giving Thanks for Travel


Train stations are so much cooler than airports!

Wow, I can’t help but be thankful for this amazing year. Foremost, I’m thankful it happened at all. It could have remained a dream forever. Instead, it became an actual goal and then reality.

And it could have been awful. I could have failed to learn any language. I could have gotten sick. I could have been robbed. Stranded in Italy and forced to huddle in the shade of a marble cathedral surviving only on focaccia sandwiches and Brunello di Montalcino wine.


“Can you spare some prosciutto?”

So after 10 months of traveling, here’s what I’m most thankful for. Friends, art, and of course, languages.

Continue Reading →

Top 5 Cities (This Year)


Sail Away!

A friend said to me “Now that you’ve seen the world, tell me where to go.” The simple answer is everywhere. This year I’ve visited 30 cities outside the US. Most of them for the first time. None of them were terrible, not even Napoli. But some were definitely more amazing than others. Here are the top 5.

  • Köln
  • Sapporo
  • San Marino
  • Venezia
  • Prague
  • Firenze

(Yes, that’s actually 6. Read on to see which one stole it’s way into my heart and onto the list. Any city that repeatedly inspires that much delight can’t be denied a spot.)



“It’s even bigger on the inside!” (Not actually possible)

As your train crosses the Rhein and pulls up to the Hauptbahnhof (train station), an enormous monolith towers over you. It’s the Dom cathedral, it’s huge, and it’s so close you can’t see the top of it. It may not sparkle like Italian marble, but it dominates and amazes.

Continue Reading →

Language Learning for Executives



I _really_ want this for my badge photo.

What if you became the leader of a team that spoke a different language from you? Maybe their native language was Spanish or Japanese or Arabic. Every day they spoke English at work, but on breaks they shifted to their mother tongue, without realizing it. Unfortunately, you can’t just drop in on a breakroom conversation, unless you’re going to force everyone back to English.

Would you learn their language? You know that high-performing teams require strong relationships. Learning their language would reduce miscommunication and build trust, right?

Continue Reading →

Unexpected Wonder

I came to Torino because I was bored of Milano. I fell in love with the place.


Torino (Turin) sits 80 miles to the west of Milano, in the hills of the Piedmont region. Like all respectable cities, it’s located on a river. This one is the river Po. Every time I see the name I think of Kung Fu Panda.


In addition to the river, Torino has beautiful architecture. It also has amazing food, and of course great cappuccinos. A local said Torino has everything you could want, except the ocean.

Continue Reading →