Travel: A Means or an End?

Antarctica tour

We are excited to announce that we have been selected by G Adventures for their Wanderers in Residence program. In preparation for the official announcement today, we answered a few questions about our journey, including the age-old travel writing and travel blogging query, “Why do you travel?

In doing so, we ticked off a list, gazed at our navels and stumbled onto a stickier query: Is travel merely an instrument to achieve a set of objectives or is travel an aim in itself?

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Berlin on a Bicycle: The World in an Afternoon Interlude

Berlin, cut clouds moving quickly. Crisp autumn air. Wide streets. Unfathomable history.

We set out on borrowed bicycles. They give me pause: Audrey’s back tire has a leak and my handlebars wobble like something out of the Wizard of Oz.

I begin to move. My apprehension fades, those handlebars steadier than I imagined.

It's like riding a bicycle,” I laugh to myself.

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Saying Goodbye, Celebrating Life

rose

Last week my grandmother died. She lived a long, full life to the age of 92 and she died peacefully. The news was not surprising, but it arrived earlier than I had expected. When it finally began to sink in, I cried.

Then I wrote a few things in order to unpack and process my feelings – about saying goodbye to loved ones, enjoying them while they are alive, and trying to prepare for something most people don’t like to discuss: death.

Note: This is a personal story. But at the end, there’s some practical advice regarding travel, medical directives and handling the subject of death.

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Gross Eats, Fearless Leaps and Lemonade Stands: Kids Being Kids [Audio Slideshow]

Ah, kids these days. The list runs long of their digital addictions: texting, gadgets, Facebook, internet, and video games. But during our visit to the U.S., we bore witness to a few fleeting moments that reaffirmed that kids are still kids.

That is to say, kids as we knew them: little girls leveraging the lemonade-stand model to raise money for an afternoon trip to the toy store, middle schoolers oohing and aahing over stories about eating bugs and engaging with giant rodents, and high schoolers jumping off absurdly high cliffs to demonstrate their mettle.

With cultural evolution at high speed, it’s comforting to know that while many things have changed, a few remain the same.

Note: If you are looking for eye candy, check out the time lapse audio slideshow of the kids jumping off the ledge at the waterfall here.

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Mothers Around the World, A Mosaic

When I think of my mother and my grandmothers, I feel fortunate to be born into a line of strong and determined women. My mother led by example, demonstrating that one's personal and professional life is not static, but rather an evolution in personal development and fulfillment that includes taking a bit of risk from time to time. Additionally, both my grandmothers raised families in challenging circumstances – one in Korea shortly after the Korean War, the other in India in the 1950s.

As I consider their histories, I'm reminded of how much I have to learn from them and the lives they've chosen to lead.

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Unspoken Patagonia

There we were at the end of the trail in Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park. We had completed the “W” – 60 miles, fully laden – and were basking in the warmth of the Patagonian sun. In the process we had become proficient at assembling our tent in strong winds, cooking wondrous meals with packaged pasta, and securing our stuff from mice at night. We appreciated nature in full: not only the beauty of its rainbows, glaciers, condors and granite towers, but also the wrath of its hurricane-strength winds.

At the end of our journey, the feeling of camaraderie amongst our fellow trekkers was palpable. We all shared an accomplishment. In the soft grass at the trailhead kiosk, we indulged in overpriced potato chips and cracked open celebratory beers.

But something was missing.

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Potosi, Through Children’s Eyes (Where Were You When You Were Twelve?)

We eat the mountain…and the mountain eats us.

— David, a mine guide and former miner in Potosi, echoes a decades-old sentiment about the city's lifeblood, its world-famous silver mines.

It was late morning and the sun was bright, the sky crystal at 13,400 feet in Potosi, Bolivia. We were being tended to by a group of schoolgirls dressed as nurses at a hygiene fair; they sought to teach us the methods and benefits of properly washing our hands.

The mood: uplifting and hopeful.

Contrast this with just the day before.

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Cocaine: A Story That Begins in the Bolivian Jungle

I need to fill up the tank completely. Finding gasoline in Chapare can be unreliable. It’s one of the ingredients in cocaine production – and that gets first priority.

— Alvarro, our client and guide in Cochabamba, Bolivia explains why it’s necessary to gas up in the city before heading into the jungle.

Paraguay customs. We had just crossed the 200 mile desert frontier with Bolivia. Border agents dressed in knit shirts, their shoulders adorned in crossed Paraguayan and U.S. flags, scanned our bus’s contents –- all of it piled before us. As we waited for a drug-sniffing Labrador retriever to finish pacing and pawing suspect bags, we figured it was time to bring the cocaine story to its finish.

And just as we thought this, the guard approached: “Miss, place your bags up here. We’d like to take a look.”

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