Travel Book Review: Love with a Chance of Drowning

travel book review
Image courtesy of Pexels Creative Commons.

Nothing is more fun for me while on my travels than taking along a good book. In-between my time back home, I picked up a fun romance/travelogue (at the Dollar Tree of all places). I was in the mood for something light, but the book actually ended up surprising me in a number of different ways. Some of it was good, some bad, but I enjoyed the fact that it was trying to portray a relationship while traveling honestly—something that doesn’t always come across on travel blogs and in literature.

Torre DeRoche wrote this easy-to-digest memoir a few years after she had found her ultimate man, though she thought the few-month relationship was doomed when he admitted that he had plans to sail from San Francisco to the other side of the world. A self-proclaimed “Fearful Adventurer,” Torre documents her choice to follow him as a first mate—even with her fear of the open ocean.

It’s easy to hate on both of the main characters while reading this. You wonder a little bit why Torre insists on complaining about the journey even though she made the choice to go, and why significant other, Ivan, doesn’t make more of an effort to make her feel like she made the right decision. Then again, I’ve never made the leap to sailing around the world, so I’m guessing I would be a pain to deal with—and I love the ocean.

Even though this can sometimes get a little grating (and it could have used a little more editing to tighten up some scenes), I thought Torre was brave for being honest about her relationship and how it’s not always easy adventuring with your partner. I’ve had that experience of traveling with the person I love in difficult scenarios, but my life has never been on the line in the same way. No relationship is perfect, and while I recently read that the couple have split, in some ways I find this story even more important for nomads.

You might have a partner that wants to always travel with you, or it might be someone who manages to get you out of your comfort zone for a bit, but it’s usually better to experience it with someone else.

“Life’s most beautiful things are empty without someone to enjoy them with.”

As someone who has traveled alone and had an amazing time doing that, to someone who happily travels with her boyfriend, I can relate to this sentiment. Daniel has pushed me in ways as a person and as a traveler that I never could have managed on my own, and I’ve been thankful to have someone I can share these experiences with. My travels would have been very different without him, and I think Love with a Chance of Drowning touches on that moment you choose to jump in head-first with the person you love for an adventure.

I’d recommend it if you love romances and you want a light travelogue. You won’t find anything too historically detailed or learn any facts, but it can make you realize that traveling with your partner is still living life together—whether you choose to do it in your rented apartment back home or you buy a sailboat and choose to see the world.

Have you read any other good travel books about relationships?

You can buy Love with a Chance of Drowning here.

Keep wandering,

Alex Signature Wander

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3 White Lies that Travel Bloggers Tell: And What You Should Believe

white lies travel bloggers

When I started travel blogging nearly four years ago (this one for a year and a half), there were some things that I just didn’t know. I was starting from the ground up and trying out a new type of writing, but I managed to learn quickly that not all was peachy in the travel blogging world, and that some of the facts were definitely skewed a little bit in order to make a blogger look better or to attract more visitors to the site.

I’ve written about how having an authentic blog is really important to me, and here are 3 things I found bothered me about other travel sites when I started my own

1. They weren’t being honest about sponsorship

As a travel writer, I’ve been lucky to have been on several press trips and have had been sent some awesome products to review. This is one of the perks of having a successful blog and providing content for readers. However, I’ve finished travel articles where the author was very clearly compensated or provided lodging. It’s great if you enjoyed a specific hotel or attraction and wanted to share it with readers, but many times, this is not usually the case. A glowing review can be often mean that the travel blogger got something for free and didn’t mention it. Early on, this meant that I would make sure my readers knew when I was reviewing a product because I wanted to or because it was given to me.

2. They embellished stories and weren’t honest about their experiences

I’m all for a good story and for having some adventures on your travels. What would the point be if you didn’t come back with a yarn or two to share? However, I’ve heard some stories that have been elaborated by travel bloggers in order to gain readers—and some end up being downright false. If the story is only about them, then it doesn’t tend to be a big deal. However, you’re also talking about a certain people and culture when you write a travel blog, and those people or that place can be put under fire if the story tends to be a negative one. We should be honest as a travel bloggers, but we also need to realize that we are talking about people and societies that are not our own and might suffer the repercussions from our anger. Stories are an important part of travel, but they should be real.

3. They only talk about the glamorous parts of travel

Luxury travel can be great, and there’s a whole group of travel bloggers that do a great job of talking about traveling with a large (or unlimited budget). However, those people tend to be real about some of the difficulties you face while traveling abroad too. Even flying first class and going to 5-star restaurants can come with some hiccups. For many travelers (and for me), that’s all part of the fun. I’ve never understood why some bloggers fail to acknowledge their cultural faux pas or they refuse to admit that traveling can be tough. This almost seems to be the opposite of wanting a good story—it’s wanting to say your trip went absolutely perfectly!

For me, not sharing some of my biggest f*ck ups with readers doesn’t really help them. In fact, it can make them believe that my life is much more organized (it’s really, really not) than it is. Things always look better from the outside, and part of having a travel blog for me is letting people know that anyone can travel—even if it’s not glamorous.

What do you admire about certain travel bloggers? What other lies have you experienced?

Keep wandering,

Alex Signature Wander

A Central American Adventure: Exploring Nicaragua with IVY Part Four

ivy nicaragua part 4

We arrived at our hotel, a former convent, in time to take a shower and to think about what we were going to wear to a part especially thrown for us as IVY members. Everyone looked fantastic in their dancing clothes. We would be watching a traditional dance and enjoying a home-cooked meal before we tried some salsa ourselves. I was by far the least dressed up—but we were about to get pretty sweaty dancing.

convent hotel leon

Arriving at the dance school where we would be watching the performance, we were greeted by figures on stilts swaying to the music. Each of the dancers wore costumes representing different characters in Nicaraguan folklore. One was of a woman who couldn’t lose her virginity because she was so ugly and haunted the streets of Leon looking for men to suffocate with her giant breasts. We got a good laugh as she grabbed several of the guys from our group and subjected them to the ritual.

nicaragua dancers leon

I was amazed at the dexterity of the dancers as they managed to play drums, dance, and keep time to the music. I couldn’t imagine doing it without the stilts, let alone towering above us. The food was delicious, but it was the kindness of the organization that really made us feel welcome. It was heartening how they were so involved in making their community better and how they hoped to create a better future for the young dancers at their school.

After watching them show off their skills, it was time to try out our own. It had been a while since I had broken out any of my basic salsa skills, but thankfully the teachers (in Spanish, nonetheless) managed to make it for easy for us. We danced for several hours, each of finding out that we were much better at Latin dancing than we could have thought. Finishing with the Macarena, it was difficult not to be ready for a night out at the salsa clubs throughout the city. We were ready to meet some locals and have some fun.

Waking up from a late night out (or an early morning), we hurried to meet our local tour guide for the day. He would take us around some of the neighborhoods where we would be visiting the gorgeous cathedral. Stopping to ogle some of the delicious goods and a few parrots on display, our guide mentioned that we would have to be respectful on our tour—we were taking a special trip up to the top in order to get some amazing views of the city. What we didn’t know was that the cathedral itself was worth the visit up. Looking like white clouds, the domes reminded me of some of the architecture I had seen in Spain with some Moorish influence.

market IVY nicaragua

cathedral leon pigeons

We could see most of Leon from up above and we learned the secret ingredient to the beautiful white coloring of the cathedral—egg white. Climbing down, we entered the cathedral itself. I had never seen a church that used light the way this one did. It hardly needed any help from electrical lights—almost all of it was powered from the bright sunshine outside.

facade leon cathedral

top cathedral leon

It was time to say goodbye. It had been a jam-packed four days, and we had all grown close after watching each other brave our fears zip lining, turf it while surfing, and admiring each other’s dance moves. The wonderful thing was that we knew we could all easily meet up again as IVY members. This was just the beginning of our adventures together, so the goodbyes didn’t feel so sad.

bell cathedral leon

interior leon cathedral

Have you ever been on a trip that created some amazing friendships?

Thanks for IVY for sponsoring my time in Nicaragua. Interested in traveling with them? They’re headed to Cuba next.

Keep wandering,

Alex Signature Wander

 

 

A Central American Adventure: Exploring Nicaragua with IVY Part Three

IVY Nicaragua 3

We had an early start going into the next day, which would be one of the most packed of the trip. Rubbing the sleep from my eyes and saying goodbye to the sound of the ocean waves, we headed out to the van and piled in to head to the nearby airstrip. We would be taking a private plane to the city of Leon, where we would be exploring some of the major cultural sights and braving the Cerro Negro volcano.

First, we would be taking a prop plane to the other side of the country. After going through security, we waited for our private aircrafts to take us to a whole new part of Nicaragua that we hadn’t experienced before. Popping open some champagne, an air of celebration was in the air. It’s not every day that you have access to a private plane, and it was thrilling feeling the machine lift up in the air. More champagne was passed around, and we all posed for selfies to post later.

IVY nicaragua plane

IVY nicaragua celebrate

IVY friends nicaragua

No time was wasted as soon as we landed. It was onto the next activity of volcano boarding. We took about an hour car ride to the Cerro Negro volcano, which is still active on occasion but hadn’t exploded in several years. Hopping out of the car, we were equipped with a board and the gear we would need as we would head down the mountain. We strapped the boards on our backs and began the arduous journey up. IVY had supplied a medic in case of emergency, but no one could have predicted the storm that was rapidly blowing in.

“Hurry!” our guide cried. “We need to get going.”

Running the rest of the way, we worked to throw on our denim suits, goggles, bandanas, and gloves. The rain started falling and picking up, and the wind kept whipping us around. I was thankful when we made it to a more sheltered part of the volcano where we could sit out of the storm. In the distance, lightening flashed as the first boarders began their journeys down the mountain.

cerro negro nicaragua

summit cerro negro

I watched to make sure that I was doing it right. Over a bit of time, I noticed that leaning back got you going enough that you could fly down the hill just like you were on a sled. When it was my turn, I was so ready to head down the hill that I hardly waited for them to tell me when to go.

Sliding down the volcano, I couldn’t help but giggle and holler all the way down. It was hard not to enjoy the experience of feeling like a kid again—on an active volcano nonetheless. Letting myself barrel down through the volcanic soil was a blast. Any adrenaline I had climbing up was wiped away as I headed down toward my new friends.

alex ivy nicaragua

We laughed and posed for photos as we congratulated ourselves for still being alive. IVY supplied us a lunch which we ate with a fever before hopping back on the bus. We would be headed back to Leon—a traditional dance performance and salsa class was awaiting us. It was difficult to say goodbye to Cerro Negro without another ride down, but I was excited to test out my rusty salsa skills and to enjoy a night with some of the local Nicaraguan people.

We checked into our beautiful hotel in Leon (a converted convent) and began a quick beauty routine for a night of dancing and fun. I was ready to see what kind of traditional dances the locals had and meeting some of the people that IVY was helping.

Thanks for IVY for sponsoring my time in Nicaragua. Interested in traveling with them? They’re headed to Cuba next.

Have you done anything extreme like volcano boarding on your travels?

Keep wandering,

Alex Signature Wander

A Central American Adventure: Exploring Nicaragua with IVY Part Two

nicaragua IVY 2

Even though I was tired and wanted to spend some more time in my fabulously air-conditioned bed, IVY had a full day planned for us on the Pacific coast of Nicaragua. We would start with breakfast. One of the things I loved about the food they offered us was that it was not only farm-to-table and built around a sustainable concern for the environment, but it was also delicious. You could also eat gluten-free and it was vegetarian-friendly, as well.

Then, it was onto surfing. I had never tried it before, but I was looking forward to giving it a go. Where we were at Morgan’s Rock was the perfect place to test our beginner-level skills. With a soft break and a more challenging one just past it, even members of our group who had surfed before were able to have a good time.

surfboards nicaragua IVY

Our teachers were patient as we practiced on land before heading out into the water. I had always assumed that I would be terrible at surfing since I’m not known to be the most coordinated of individuals. However, because our instructors were so kind and really helpful, I was able to get up on the board and ride some waves a few times. I can honestly say that this experience helped fuel a new passion for me—all I can think about is getting back on the board on my next trip.

morgan's rock IVY

pool morgan's rock

Shedding our wet clothing (and tasting a quick drink from our favorite bartender, Mike), we then headed to yoga class for some decompression after two days of intense adventure. The hour and a half yoga class didn’t feel like enough. A little alcohol in my system and the calming sounds of the waves coming from the ocean as we moved into downward dog made me never want to leave this paradise.

After another delectable lunch, we were allowed some free time to do whatever we wanted. Personally, I was itching to get back to the beach house and enjoy the private pool while doing a little work. I settled in, listening to the waves as I typed and feeling any stress I had in my muscles melt away. As howler monkeys lounged in the trees above me, home seemed much farther than the six-hour flight it took to get there.

private beach IVY

We were invited to listen to a presentation by one of the local sea turtle conservation experts. Another thing I was enjoying about the IVY experience was the way each of the members enjoyed learning and wanted to help the rest of the world. A portion of the tour price is donated to local organizations in Nicaragua—and one of them was this impressive conservation effort devoted to helping the wildlife in the nearby nature reserve.

We strolled the private beach looking for sea turtles and trying not to step on hermit crabs. While we were probably too loud for a sea turtle to approach, it was fun to hear the laughter of the group and how everyone seemed to be fond of each other. It was hard not to love everyone in this beautiful setting with the stars above us and the perfect beach below us.

After dinner, we gathered on the beach for a little partying. I managed to talk to most the IVY members on the trip and to get to know them. All had interesting stories and were working toward self-improvement. They were all also well-traveled individuals who had a global mindset. I felt like these were people I wanted to see again—which, fortunately, the IVY program makes it easy to do.

It was off to bed for the next day, which included the activity I was most intrigued by: volcano boarding.

Have you ever had a positive tour experience where you made friends for a lifetime?

Thanks for IVY for sponsoring my time in Nicaragua. Interested in traveling with them? They’re headed to Cuba next.

Keep wandering,

Alex Signature Wander

A Central American Adventure: Exploring Nicaragua with IVY Part One

ivy nicaragua 1

I remember back when I was traveling in Morocco and one of the friends I had made on the trip commented on how she had lived in Nicaragua for a year. She told me fascinating tales about her time there—about eating ripe fruit and speaking with some truly authentic people. She told me about a changing country that had seen much strife over the past few decades, but now that was emerging as a tourist location. I marked Nicaragua as a place I would like to go in the future, but I didn’t expect that it would happen any time soon.

Fast forward a year and a half, and I found myself packing my bags for Nicaragua. I had been offered a chance to visit with IVY, an organization that I had long admired but had never gotten to really experience. IVY is mostly known for its unique membership program that includes activities throughout several cities in the United States. I had been invited to join IVY a while ago, but since I had rarely been settled for more than a few months, it seemed like a wasted opportunity.

IVY has also taken to providing tours to various locations for its members. Morocco, Iceland, and Cuba have all been previous destinations available for those who want a jam-packed adventure within the time frame that suits most working professionals. This was the first time IVY had put together a Nicaragua trip, but all the traditional benefits that you would expect from an IVY trip were there: great people, fast-paced activities, and a mission of sustainability.

IVY travel nicaragua

meal IVY nicaragua

True to form, we were immediately whisked away from the airport in Managua to the volcano of Mombacho. We were soon making fast friends as we enjoyed a meal at one of the local coffee farms, Café Las Flores, where we would be taking a tour and tasting some of the delicious coffee drinks that come from that area. We were introduced to some of the fauna of the Nicaraguan jungle—a green tree frog that soon grew attached to a few of the IVY members.

tree frog nicaragua

Next, we dodged the sudden, down-pouring rain in order to learn about how coffee is grown in the volcanic soil surrounding Mombacho. I had always assumed that darker coffee meant that you would stay awake longer, but I was surprised to learn that the lighter the coffee, the more caffeine was in the cup. After tasting a few samples, we headed to the next activity—zip lining.

coffee tasting IVY

IVY tasting coffee

I’ve been zipping a few times before, but this course included new obstacles and served as a great way for us to get to know our travel companions for the next few days. I was astounded by how varied the group was—each person was an incredibly accomplished and intelligent person in his or her own right, and I knew that I would get much more out of the trip than just seeing a beautiful place.

Once we had swung through the jungle, dropped from a tree at 45 degrees, and packed ourselves up in the van, we headed to our sleeping quarters for the night. There were rumors that this hotel was to die for (and that it was eco-friendly), and I found myself excited to see where we would be staying the night. Assigned to the “Beach House,” my eyes grew wide as I saw my digs for the next two nights. A private pool, bar, outdoor kitchen, and air conditioned beds awaited us.

I was exhausted after traveling such a long day and immediately jumping into an activity, so it didn’t take long for me to climb into my luxurious bed and to think about what the next day would bring: yoga, surfing, sea turtles, and more delicious meals.

Have you ever made it to Central America? Where?

Thanks for IVY for sponsoring my time in Nicaragua.

Keep wandering,

Alex Signature Wander

Travel Gear Review: Cabela’s XPG Snow Hikers

cabela snow hikers

I received no compensation or benefits for this review.

Choosing the right gear hiking can be a complete nightmare, which is why I am always hesitant about jumping in and buying something immediately without reading about it online. Also, as an avid hiker, hiking boots are one of the most important gear decisions you can make when you plan to tackle some mountains. They can either make you or break you, so finding the right pair for your feet and what you want to accomplish can take some time.

I wanted a solid pair of hiking boots that I could wear in different weather conditions. I knew that sometimes I might be hiking in the snow, rain, and clear weather, so I needed some shoes that would hold up during all of this. I also wanted something that wasn’t too bulky—at a normal size 5 shoe, it’s hard to find hiking boots that fit correctly and that aren’t too cumbersome.

My parents suggested Cabela’s, which isn’t my usual stop for things like this. It might be because of their branding, but for some reason I had never considered looking at their travel gear and what all they had to offer. It took me about five minutes to find a pair that I thought would work, however. They were just what I needed—boots that I could hike in during the winter and summer with a quality tread and sturdy base without making me feel like I was wearing skies.

I went up a size and a half in order to accommodate thick socks, and I was glad that I made that decision. Since then, I realized anything less than that would have caused rubbing. The sizing might have been a little off, but once I had found the right one, they seemed to fit pretty well.

Of course, the test really begins when you take them out of the store and on your hiking expeditions. It did take a while for these to break in—I wore them around New York City, in Spain, and tried to use them when I went home and went hiking. Once they gave, it was like slipping on a glove.

I wore them recently on the Camino de Santiago—six days straight of hiking for more than ten miles each day. I had only minor rubs (which is totally reasonable after walking so much) after the end of it, and I began to miss the feeling of having them on. They were perfect for my recent trip to Nicaragua and hiking up the Cerre Negro volcano and kept me from getting scratched on my way boarding down.

The best part? I think they’re adorable. They also look almost brand new after all I’ve put them through.

I couldn’t find the boots on Amazon, but they are still available on the Cabela’s website. They’ve also gone down in price. Hiking boots are expensive, but you can get the XPG Snow Hikers for $129.99.

I would recommend these boots for hikers who love to get out in all sorts of weather, but who don’t want to pay for several types of boots in order to do so.

Do you have some travel gear you can’t live without?

Keep wandering,

Alex Signature Wander

 

How You Can Be More Culturally Responsible When You Travel

culturally aware travel

After being a dedicated traveler for a few years now, I’ve definitely watched myself grow as a person and what I want to get out of my adventures. When I was younger, traveling was all about “finding myself” as an individual—it was about learning what I was capable of as a young person and my place in the world.

The older I become, the more I start to feel as though I want to help others and the environment as I go along. Tourism can be a destructive force if we are not aware of others and the planet on the road, and the more I travel, the more I want to give back to the world. Part of my journey has been learning how to create positive change while also preserving cultures and places as I enjoy them.

Here are some things I’ve learned while traveling and how I’ve learned to be more culturally responsible.

Know the basics

You might think you are being aware of another culture when you travel, but that might not necessarily be the case. Are you giving candy and money to children when you shouldn’t? Volunteering at orphanages? Taking pictures of locals without asking? These are simple rules that can actually make a big difference over time. They might seem small, but if we all traveled with these rules in mind, then we are encouraging a better world.

Do your research

Before I journey to a spot, I tend to take a few minutes beforehand and read a Wikipedia article or some fellow travelers’ blogs about the place I am visiting. I might not absorb everything, and there is a lot I am missing by only reading about a destination through these sources, but it’s better than having no idea about a culture. For me, travel is about learning, and it’s a good idea to learn a little something before you go.

Ask questions

I always like to take some time and ask questions of the locals and see what problems they are dealing with as a society. I remember traveling to Egypt and asking a few questions about what were the biggest issues they faced and how they could see a solution. Much of it was how I could affect change as a traveler and let other tourists know (tourism was previously one of Egypt’s biggest industries until the revolution) how they could help. You may not always agree with the answer, but it’s important to understand the perspective of those who actually live there.

Volunteer correctly

I’ve had issues with voluntourism in the past because so many travelers have confused the idea of volunteering as foolproof way to help a community. That’s not always the case, and volunteering with the wrong organization can sometimes harm more than help. Along with researching the basics of a place, make sure you also research whether or not the organization you want to work with is legitimate and is working to make their communities better.

Also, think about if you are really making a journey to help others or if you are doing it for your own experience. Are you legitimately trying to make a positive impact? Motives might seem like a strange thing to think about when you choose to volunteer, but they are important.

Be open

When traveling to a foreign culture, things are not going to be how you are used to. You might deal with certain cultural values you don’t agree with, find that you feel uncomfortable in a certain environment, or mess up because you’re unaware of some of the customs. The most important point is to being open to learning new things and admitting that you culture and you as an individual might not have all the answers—that there is more than one way to live. That’s why we travel, right?

How have you been culturally aware when you travel?

Keep wandering,

Alex Signature Wander

I Blew Off Some of My Planned Travels: Here’s Why

cancel travel plans

As most everyone knows, I’m almost always down for an adventure. I love pushing myself and seeing new places, and more often than not, I’m up for booking a ticket anywhere in the world. I’ve seen and done some pretty interesting things on my travels, and I usually have a never-say-no attitude to most experiences.

However, there have been times I have planned a trip and put a down payment on an adventure, only to find myself backing out at the last moment. It doesn’t happen very often, but there have been a few flights I have missed—some experiences I have backed out on. It seems counterintuitive to my personality, but there are times where the moment wasn’t right to travel and I needed to stay put.

One of these times happened not that long ago. I was all set to go on a trip after just landing in Spain. My boyfriend, Daniel, and I were making the move together and we were excited to have place that we could call home for a few months. This trip wasn’t just a jaunt, either. I was supposed to be gone for a month and would have limited access to WiFi—leaving him alone in a foreign country where he didn’t speak the language. We had just started our new life in Spain and I was supposed to leave again. I couldn’t do it. I woke up the day I was supposed to leave and looked over at him.

“I’m going to stay,” I said.

I helped him move our suitcases into our new place later that afternoon. I had thrown my expensive plane ticket down the toilet, along with the money I had spent on all the gear I would need to going to a very different climate. I didn’t really care, though, and I felt relieved more than anything.

There’s a fine line between jumping in and enjoying the journeys you’ve put together and knowing when you need to step back. I couldn’t have replaced those first few days of living in Spain and enjoying our brand new life in a foreign country together. In truth, my relationship with Daniel was much more important to me than any trip I could have gone on. It still is.

The two of us blew off another trip to Malta this summer. We had found some cheap flights, but we hadn’t taken account how much effort it would be to get from our home in Granada to Girona—which offered the only cheap flights out. It was simply bad planning on our part, and we found that any money we had saved on the plane tickets was offset by the cash it would take to get to Girona in the first place. It ended up just being a smarter plan to ditch the flights and relax for a few days before we left Spain.

Fear should never be a reason to back away from traveling, and I’ve never made the decision not to travel because I was afraid. However, I’ve had higher priorities than seeing a new destination before—and knowing when to stick to those priorities has helped me to determine whether I should stay or if I should go. As I get older, more and more priorities crop up. When I was single, I never had to worry about leaving a place behind and I had a more flexible budget that didn’t require that I think about paying for health insurance each month. But I’m not single and all that young anymore, which requires that I think about other priorities more than I used to. Travel is still one of my main ones—just not the main one.

Have you ever blown off some of your travels for a particular reason?

Keep wandering,

Alex Signature Wander

5 Places I Would Go Back to in a Heartbeat

5 places go back

There are always places you experience and you decide that you would be okay not to experience them again. I’ve had a few of these places where I don’t feel the need to head back to any time soon. However, there are some special locations where if I was given the chance, I would pack my bags and visit again in a heartbeat. That’s saying a lot knowing there are still so many places I would like to see!

Here are some places I would agree to go back to without a minute’s notice.

1. Paris, France

eiffel tower paris

I have to admit, I’m one of those people who can’t get over the magic of Paris. I’ve been there four times, and it’s one of those places you can see again and again and always find something new to experience. I’ve climbed Montmartre one trip, visited the Louvre on another, and found deep corners of the city where tourists don’t venture to go. Paris is a place that always changes, but somehow always remains the same.

2. Tokyo, Japan

shibuya tokyo japan

The Japanese culture is one that continues to fascinate me. After returning this last year, I can confidently say that I would go again to Tokyo and spend more time exploring the city. There are some locales that seem similar, but Tokyo really is unlike any place that I have ever been before—and probably will ever visit again. If I could find a good flight deal, I would book it now and head to the other side of the world.

3. Fes, Morocco

fes morocco tannery

I wasn’t expecting to fall in love with Fes, one of the largest cities in Morocco. After a few hours of wandering through the old medina, talking with some locals, and smelling some of the delicious spices, I knew I would be back again. To this day, when I think of visiting Morocco, I think of staying at beautiful riads, finding some unique ceramic pieces to take home, and visiting the stinky tanneries where some of the best leather products in the world are made.

4. Antigua, Guatemala

antigua cathedral guatemala

Antigua seemed initially just like a stop before we climbed volcanoes and visited the ruins of Tikal, and I had no idea that it had an interesting history, friendly local people, and a fun city vibe. We even ended up canceling some of our plans to stay a few more days there so we could relax and enjoy some salsa dancing and dive bars. It was also incredibly safe, and a great introduction to Central America and all it has to offer.

5. Venice, Italy

venice italy bridge

Venice was where it all began for me. As a study abroad student, I was caught up in the wonder and the history that I could find there. Walking over the bridges to class every day and tasting various types of gelato, it was impossible not to fall in love with the city. I made it back once after I left (with definite tears in my eyes), and that short trip reminded me of how you could spend years there and still feel as though you could discover more. Someday, I hope to make it back again—and hopefully before it sinks into the Adriatic Sea forever.

Do you have any places that you would choose to go back to? What are some of your favorite destinations and why?

Keep wandering,

Alex Signature Wander