Category: Travelers

Friday Travel Video: Speeding Around The World In 5 Minutes

By , January 20, 2012 9:55 pm

This is the kind of video souvenir I would have loved to bring back from my trip. However, you need great skills and a lot of equipment to do this kind of time lapse videos. Thanks for sharing memories of your awesome trip Kiendlam!

To be watched in HD.

As We Return, Another Couple Departs For a World Tour!

By , October 27, 2011 7:07 pm

Hello Readers! As we return home from our world trip, a new couple from NYC gets ready for their big trip. We are excited to introduce you to Allie and Nelson, a very sweet couple who are filled with excitement and anticipation, as they are only days away from completing their things-to-do-list and finally taking off with only one-way tickets. We will get to follow them on their incredible journey from start to finish.

Allie & Nelson

Allie & Nelson

Relationship Status: | Dating/Best Friends.
How long have you been together? | 4+ years.
Where do you currently live? | White Plains, NY.
How did you meet? | Through a mutual friend.
How long is your total planned trip? | 6-7 months and no return flight booked yet!
Which countries are you planning to visit? | Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Peru, Chile, New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Japan, United Kingdom, Portugal, France, Italy, Croatia, Netherlands, Austria, Czech Republic … and maybe more!

Tell us a bit about yourself?
Allie:
I am a fun 27-year-old woman with a passion for travel and food! I love being with my family and will miss them dearly! I love to cook (will miss my kitchen dearly) and I am excited to try new foods and cooking methods. I love New York City, running, hiking, and the New York Yankees. I am eager to learn Spanish while on this trip and work on my photography skills with our new camera. I have worked as a project manager for the past 3 years. I also have an MBA and am a six sigma certified black belt.

Nelson:
I am a 28-year-old man who works for a large financial firm as a banker with a HUGE passion for travel. I love new food, the New York Yankees, and I am a big family guy.

How did you decide on doing this big trip?
Nelson:
I, like many people in the States, have a passion I have been putting off due to many reasons: can’t risk losing a promotion, would I have enough money, what would people think? I have adopted a new way of thinking lately, I ask myself “How many lives do we live?” The answer is only one. Allie and I did our research and took a look at our finances. We soon realized it was not only possible, but it was easy to make it a reality.

Allie:
I’ve always loved traveling since I was very young. Our trip to Costa Rica really sealed the deal. Why go back to a position or a lifestyle you dread? Life is far too short to not enjoy what you are doing every day!

Where have you travelled before?
Allie:
I have traveled much of the US and done some international travel to Europe and Central America.

Nelson:
I have backpacked through some of Europe, traveled through the US, and frequently to the Dominican Republic where I was born.

What excites you the most about this upcoming trip?
Allie:
Seeing so many different people, cultures, customs, and religions. I hope to make many friends while on the road and meet up with old ones! I’m excited to simplify our lives: very little TV, iPhone, internet, American media and a shift in daily priorities. I want to be able to appreciate the things we take for granted in the US like reliable public transportation, hot water, a washer/dryer, or even our public restrooms! I want to get back to basics and enjoy our surroundings.

Nelson:
I am excited to meet new people, learn different cultures, try new foods, and observe how others live. I want to compare daily life in these countries we are visiting to life in the US and hopefully adopt a new way of thinking and living.

What scares you the most about this trip?
Nelson:
Not seeing my family for this long period of time. I miss them just thinking about it.

Allie:
The unknown! It’s scary to not know what to expect, how we will feel, will we enjoy ourselves?

What did you do to prepare for your trip?
Nelson:
Lots of shopping, researching, and planning … and a lot of mental preparation.

Allie:
Lots of research, planning and excel sheets. We have been saving our pennies and planning our trip non-stop for the past few months.

What is your favorite thing you always pack with you?
Allie:
My New York Yankees sweatshirt from my brother.

Nelson:
My iPhone. Please don’t get this wrong, it’s not to stay connected, but for the tools on the phone such as maps, clock, calculator, etc.

Do you have any rules set between the two of you for this trip?
Allie:
We need to be supportive of one another. We know we will feel ups and downs as we go along our journey. Some days I will have to pick Nelson up and other days I will need to get picked up. We realize we will be out there alone together. We are all we got! So we will have to work as a strong partnership. Also, we have promised to communicate. If there is something bothering us we need to speak up and let the other person know so the issue doesn’t snowball to a bigger problem. Nelson will be teaching me Spanish on our journey so we have agreed to speak only Spanish for an hour a day!

Nelson:
Be there for one another if we get home sick, have doubt and be each other’s support.

How do you imagine traveling will be like on this trip?
Nelson:
I feel like this will be an experience like none other. Adventurous, educational, and spiritual.

Allie:
It will be hectic but fun! Very adventurous and eye opening.

Do you have any expectations of how you two will be when you return?
Nelson:
I strongly feel we are going to come back wiser from this trip due to all we will see and experience and be much more culturally diverse.

Allie:
We will for sure be changed and be given a whole new perspective on life. What that perspective will be, I don’t know. There is no doubt I will be an improved woman due to this experience when we return, that is, if we return. 😉

What resources are you using to help you prepare for your trip?
Both:
Of course www.meandfrenchie.com has been very helpful, along with other sites. There is so much information out there once you start digging!

What is your strategy with flights?
Both:
Round the world ticket through UK to South America, New Zealand, Australia, Asia, return to UK. Then we will travel Europe on our own (Flights and train).

Allie and Nelson are leaving for their World trip on November 8th.  Check out their blog to follow their adventures: The World is Ours

Missing French Couple in Bolivia

By , September 6, 2011 1:09 pm
Jérémie Bellanger and Fannie Blancho

Jérémie Bellanger and Fannie Blancho

On August 29th, 2010, MeAndFrenchie landed in South America for first time.  This was also the day two French travelers, Jérémie Bellanger, age 25, and his girlfriend Fannie Blancho, age 23, were reported missing in South America.

The story that circulated the news was that the French couple spent a night partying in the village of Guayaramerin in the North-East of Bolivia, close to the border of Brazil.  The couple were last seen leaving the party with Jaime Martinez, a Bolivian man known for several attempts of sexual assault. The next day, Jérémie came back to the guesthouse alone. He seemed very troubled and came to get something and left saying he was going to get Fannie.

The theory reported by the police is that Fannie was tied up and threatened. Jérémie was asked to go get money in order for her release.  During Jérémie’s absence, Fannie was raped and when Jérémie came back, a fight occurred and Jaime Martinez killed them both.

This is a rare tragedy that should not discourage you from traveling. However, always be aware of your surroundings wherever you are, especially in a new country. We were extremely touched by this story when it broke out last year, especially because we can easily relate to this couple.

On September 4th, 2011, a year after their disappearance, two bodies were found in this region of Bolivia and were suspected to be the bodies of the French couple.  It turned out not to be the bodies of Jérémie and Fannie.  Our hearts go out to their daughter, parents and family.

Couple Of The Week: Happily Married And Happily Traveled

By , August 29, 2011 5:00 am
Denise and Vince

Denise and Vince

Relationship Status: | Married.
How long have you been together? | We’ve been together for 8 years, married for 3.
How did you meet? | We met at the climbing gym in San Francisco.
How long have you been traveling? | 6 months.
How long is your total planned trip? | 6 months.
Website | Getting Lost On The Way

Tell us a bit about yourself?
Denise: I love food: shopping for it, cooking it, smelling it, and eating it. Hence I must also like exercise, so when not travelling, I occupy myself with long walks to … (drum roll) the farmers market, yoga classes, rock climbing occasionally, and when my knees cooperate, running.

Vince: In the real world I’m a technology addict who has trouble being away from the web for too long. I love planning our vacations and I’ve been quietly thinking about a long trip for a long time. I’m not an outdoors nut but love going rock climbing (mostly indoors). :)

What did you do to prepare for your trip?
Vince: For safety, we made our electronics look like it was old and beaten up even though it was new (the camera was really beat up by the end though). For entertainment, we merged our music onto one unique mp3 player and brought an older Kindle with a few books on it. After looking at our options, we also bought a netbook because of its cheap price (ok if it gets stolen), low weight, long battery life and versatility (ended up being perfect for us).

Denise: Locks for the suitcases, ample visits to the travel clinic for immunizations and prescriptions for any and all possible ailments, and quick draw hand sanitizer.

What is your favorite thing you always pack with you?
Denise: A washcloth and lavender bar soap. I’m such a Luddite.

Vince: A knife, netbook, and our trusty point and shoot camera.

How is traveling different from taking a two week holiday?
Vince: Planning is never over since you need to integrate time for planning the next destination while enjoying the current one. You obviously need to travel for a lot cheaper so planning takes time to find a place that is cheap and that is good enough. An awesome part is that you can’t get sad when you leave a great country/place because you’re not going back to work, but you’re starting the next vacation. Finally, you need more down time. Traveling is a full time activity, so you need time to relax and do very little every once in a while. We also noticed that you could do it for a long time as long as every couple weeks, you end up in a place/hotel that you really like/ are comfortable in. It doesn’t have to be expensive, just homey.

Denise: Oh wow, so so very different! You have to wash clothes so you can travel lighter, but you need clothes for multiple climates, so it evens out the load. There is no way to plan everything 6 months in advance, so you have a lot of planning on the road. Unless you’re a millionaire, you can’t stay in the same luxury as if you’re vacationing for 2 weeks. You have to learn how to say hello and thanks, at a minimum. Every couple of weeks, you have to find toiletries/food/disposables on the road that are acceptable even when you can’t read what it is. It’s both fun and annoying. Fun when you pick something out at the grocery store and have no idea what is. We once ended up with a potato croissant … interesting, but Yuck! Not so fun when you buy deodorant that doesn’t work and can’t find lavender soap. :)

What is the most difficult part of traveling with your partner?
Denise: This is a hard one to explain, so bear with me. I like clean tidy things, especially hotel rooms. I am a spoiled American. I also have the nose of a salmon and keen observation skills, so if a room smells, or has moldy walls, I notice it and he doesn’t. This presents a small problem when I’m uncomfortable with our housing arrangement, and he doesn’t notice anything amiss. Also, you don’t have many moments alone/away from your partner, so if you’re used to ample ‘me’ time, you’ll have to get over it, or figure out individual activities.

Vince: It’s related to what Denise said. The hard part is to not know for sure if the place is good enough for her to be comfortable (and comfort is a very important part of a long trip for us), or if the kitchen at the restaurant seems clean enough. It makes picking places to eat or to sleep a little more time consuming sometimes, but she took care of a lot of it as a consequence.

What is the most rewarding part of traveling with your partner?
Vince: She plays “bad cop” very well and it has been useful numerous times against pushy locals who don’t take NO for an answer (it’s awesome to see the annoying Indian tuk tuk driver decompose when he’s being shut down by the woman in the couple). Also, she sets up rules for bargaining with tuk tuks or taxis early on and it helped tremendously. We got around and shopped and very rarely felt like we had been shortchanged.

Denise: He is navigator extraordinaire! He can find his way around any city, is excellent with maps, and not afraid to ask for directions. He has almost no temper, is very patient, and always optimistic.

What advice would you give couple travelers who are nervous about traveling together?
Denise: Make sure you complement each other. Make sure you understand each other’s needs and comforts. And make sure you split up the work on the road as evenly as possible.

Vince: You go from having jobs and a lot of time apart to being 24/7 together. You just need to adjust to it. Once it happens you end up being closer to your significant other who becomes even more of a partner and a friend.

What are your top three tips for anyone thinking about traveling?
Vince: 1. It’s ok to take time off. In a few occasions, we were struggling to figure out how to fit transportation and visits to a few sites into a few days. Each time we opted for skipping a place to give us more breathing room, we never regretted it. We enjoyed what we saw a lot more and were more relaxed and rested.
2. It’s better to pack lighter than heavier: you can always buy the stuff you really need on the road.
3. A drab room is ok for a night or two. But if you’re going to stay a few days or if you’re getting weary, don’t underestimate the power of comfort.

Denise: 1. The lighter the load, the easier it is. But make sure you have those comfort items that make you happy and a pair of closed toe shoes, no matter what the weather as they are priceless.
2. You must be flexible; don’t jam pack your travel. Make sure you have ‘down’ days especially in countries where you will have culture shock and allow yourself time to rest. You will get sick, come down with a cold, or have food poisoning, so be prepared to delay plans.
3. Seriously work on your bargaining skills. Make sure you know if/when it’s appropriate to bargain and how the locals do it.

How do you organize travel among the both of you?
Denise: Since I have different standards of comfort, I mostly took care of finding places to sleep, and booking those. He took care of booking plane tickets, local navigation, and we shared activity planning.

What was your favorite country you visited? Why?
Denise: My favorite country (budgets aside) was Australia. It has excellent cities (with BEACHES!). Did you know Sydney has huge fruit bats? And Melbourne has a bar on pylons? It has fantastic scenery – the Great Ocean Road is amazing! The Great Barrier Reef was the best snorkeling/diving we did on our trip. It has culture, great food, wine, really nice people, and I’m sure it helped that everyone there speaks English! Oh yeah, and you can brush your teeth at the tap, and drink the water. :) If budgets are taken into account, Thailand was certainly my favorite, super cheap, really clean and nice housing, excellent food, fantastic beaches, great mountains (climbing!). Bangkok is a great city, the Thai people are super nice, and there are 7-11’s everywhere, i.e. it’s super easy to find anything you need/want.

Vince: It’s a hard one to answer. I’d say New Zealand for me. It’s still decently priced and has so much to offer and see. However, we’ve been there a couple times now so it’s also the country we’ve seen the most, so it may be unfair to compare it with the rest. Overall for a vacation, I would definitely recommend Thailand for its fantastic quality/price ratio. As Denise said, it’s cheap and the perfect vacation for many types of tourists. We were there slightly off-season and didn’t feel like “yet another tourist”.

Any scary stories or low points?
Vince: I was definitely scared when we almost got stranded by the floods on our way back from Kakadu in Australia. As our car was surrounded by water while we were following the ranger. I definitely had a moment of panic when the car lost traction for a split second.

Denise: First week in India = no problem. Second week in India = ok, I see why people say it’s hard. Third week in India = get me out of here! I was done with bargaining (arguing), people invading my personal space, and men staring incessantly at me. The 16 hour train ride from Jaisalmer to Delhi with the guy in the sleeper across from me staring for hours when I was trying to sleep was the last straw. I also had a little breakdown in China when a tuk tuk driver steered us in the wrong direction in the hopes of selling us a ride (we were 20 ft from the entrance and pointed in the opposite direction) and then the woman at the ticket booth exchanged our 50 CNY bill with a 10, and told us we owed 40 more. It doesn’t sound like much but after 5 months on the road, I was done.

Is your traveling experience any different to how you imagined it would be?
Denise: I imagined we’d meet more travelers and locals and that I would have been much more social than I was.
Vince: I don’t know what I was imagining. I think some of the very famous sights didn’t impress us as much as we thought while other less known places really surprised us.

What’s the best thing about traveling?
Vince: When traveling becomes your full time activity, it all seems normal with its wonders, disappointments, surprises, weariness and awesomeness. It makes you want to see even more, and creates a strong bond with your partner.

Denise: My geography is much better! No really, the world is an amazing place. Even the most difficult places to visit are totally worth it because you will never see anything like it elsewhere. You get to see how people live, the nuances of how they interact, the religions, the cultures, and you get to eat all different kinds of food! I also got over a lot of my clean/tidy obsessiveness.

How did you do with staying on budget?
Both: We didn’t set a proper budget. We just guesstimated that it would cost between x and 2x and went ahead. We tried to travel cheaply and just looked at the overall budget every once in a while. At the end we spent 2.5x, definitely more than “planned”.

What electronics gear did you bring?
Both: We brought:
1. One netbook for the both of us. It did everything we needed in a small, cheap and lightweight package. Having one machine for 2 was perfectly fine for the first 4-5 months, but we could have used an extra web device by the end. We would definitely take it again.
2. Old Kindle: perfect for reading a lot and buying any books for cheap on the road. We would take it again.
3. Point and shoot Sony Cybershot TX10 camera. We love this camera. We bought it for its small package, wide angle, underwater capability (for snorkeling), shock and dust proof, and the awesome panorama feature. Only weakness: low light photos could be better. We would definitely take it again.
4. Ipod nano: was perfect until it got stolen 2 months in. We missed it after that.
5. Unlocked cellphones for using local sim cards. Mostly useful for Google Maps that saved us a couple times, esp. in Bangkok when the cab got lost. Would definitely take them again.

Diving Solo Around The World

By , August 12, 2011 7:38 am

Meet our traveler of the week! We had the fortunate experience to meet Lana while we were in Labuan Bajo, Indonesia. And then again by crazy coincidence in Malaysia, a few weeks later.

We liked Lana right away; she is a sweet person who is full of energy and life. Boris had the pleasure of diving with her among the oceanic Manta Rays in Komodo National Park. While she likes to pack light, don’t underestimate her as she has dived in the South Pacific, Fiji, Samoa, Rarotonga, Bora Bora, New Zealand Poor Knights, Australia: Manly Bay, S.S. Yongala in Ayr Whitsunday Islands, Western Australia, Ningaloo Reef, Indonesia: Lombok, Bali, Flores/Komodo, Thailand, Malaysia, Egypt, Caribbean, Hawaii, and Florida.

We hope to run into Lana again some time soon.

Lana Guanabana

Lana Guanabana

Relationship Status: | Single.
Age: | 27.
Where do you currently live? | South Beach, Florida.
Where is your next trip? | Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia and visiting my family in Malaysia and Singapore.

Tells us a bit about yourself?
Lana: My two best friends went traveling without me while I did my final exams in university. I met them in Thailand and my world unfolded before me.

How long did you travel for in your last big trip? Which countries did you visit?
Lana: I just finished a 6-month trip. I went to Thailand, Bali, Lombok, Flores, Sulawesi (Indonesia), then Singapore, back to Thailand to meet friends and travel down to Malaysia, Penang, Perhentian Islands, and Kuala Lumpur, then to Miami, California, OC, and San Diego to visit friends, and Cabo San Lucas in Mexico to visit friends. :)

What was your budget and how did you do about staying on that budget?
Lana: My budget was £8000 ($USD 13,000) for diving and flights in between countries and special experiences.  I took the cheapest flights and got all the diving deals.

How do you fund your travels?
Lana: I work really hard!

What did you do to prepare for the solo aspect of your trip?
Lana: I visit old friends; I make new friends; I combine the two. I let friends know where I am planning on going, if anyone wants to come, and if any one can put me up for a few days/ week.

What is your favorite thing you always pack with you?
Lana: My passport. I love my stamps.

What is the most difficult part of solo travel for you?
Lana: Deciding where to go next.

What advice would you give female travelers who are nervous about traveling alone?
Lana: People are really nice and you can find boys/ friends on beaches in cities, at the hostels. Just be friendly and you’ll be fine!

Any general advice for all travelers?
Lana: Make sure you do as much as you can! Make the most of it. If you’re umming and arring over things, just do it. You don’t get this opportunity every day! And think of the jealousy factor when you get home!

What did you learn about yourself on the trip?
Lana: I’m too nice to people who constantly let me down … and I can do anything and go anywhere I like.

What was your favorite country you visited so far? Why?
Lana: I have no idea. Bora Bora was breathtaking on a daily basis. Thailand is so much fun and it’s so easy to go places and do everything. The people are lovely in Laos, very trustworthy. The South Pacific is paradise.  Asia is soooooo diverse and fun!

Any scary stories or low points in your travels?
Lana: I woke up to an earthquake. The whole room at the beach hostel was shaking, but I just assumed it was minor and was too tired so I went back to sleep; I slept through the sirens and evacuation. When I woke up again, I had a bad feeling and just thought to grab my stuff and run. I saw that the ‘beach’ didn’t look too nice and later discovered that it wasn’t a beach at all. I had just landed here at midnight the day before and hadn’t seen it in daylight yet. A local Samoan in a van asked me where I was going and I said I don’t know, as I didn’t know what was going on. He said there is a tsunami. I told him I was going with him. We picked up his father from the care home and other family and they took me up a mountain where 6 schools had been evacuated. Not one soul spoke English. It was scary and I didn’t know what was going on. I text my Dad in UK and he was at football game so I called my mum at home for updates.

Tsunamis can be survived and strangers can look after you in a life or death situation.

Full tsunami story of Lana on BBC:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/8287183.stm.

Was your traveling experience any different to how you imagined it would be?
Lana: On my first night, I realized that I can go anywhere and do everything and there are people out there doing it already, waiting for you! It’s better, more diverse, relaxing, beautiful, fun and complete and addictive than I ever thought it would/could be!

Boris mentioned to me your fascination with nudibranchs. Can you talk more about this?
Lana: Nudis are just so wonderful, colourful, elegant and lovely. I wasn’t really into them until after diving at several places and then I could appreciate the range of varieties and how cool they are. I get so excited when I see a new one I haven’t seen before! The colours and patterns and textures are just unimaginable!

Nudibranch

Nudibranch

You have an exhausting diving list. What is your favorite diving spot so far?
Lana: Komodo / Bali / Australia

Any tips for divers?
Lana: Do as many dives as possible because we’re killing this planet and all the beauty and tranquility will be lost forever very soon!

How do you adjust after a big trip?
Lana: I book another one. :)

Finally what’s the best thing about traveling?
Lana: Everything is possible!

Diving With Manta Rays

Diving With Manta Rays

Do you enjoy our traveler of the week section? If you or a friend has a crazy travel story to share, contact us and provide a short description of your travels, a link to your blog if you have one, and we will gladly send you questions our readers want to know about you.

Another way to be on our blog is we are looking for guest bloggers who want to share their travel stories with us. Share with us your Holidays to Croatia or places we haven’t gone to before.

Merci!

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