December 5, 2014

2014 One Carry-On Global Gift Guide

Holiday season or not, I love shopping for high quality, locally made gifts for myself and my friends when traveling. After celebrating several Christmases in the Southern Hemisphere, I know how frustrating it can be to receive countless "gift guide" emails from retailers promoting seasonal products...the opposite season I was living in. So when I was brainstorming for my own One Carry-On Gift Guide, it felt natural to use the hemispheres for my inspiration. 

Here are some of my favorite items from small and medium-size business owners from places like Cape Town, Melbourne, New York, and Istanbul that will bring happiness to their recipients no matter where they live.

Sangiorgio Mykonos in Greece via AFAR magazine

Northern Hemisphere

From snowy ski lodges in the Alps, to cozy pubs in England, this gift list is for the traveler inspired by warm earth tones and colder climes.
(Sangiorgio Mykonos in Greece via AFAR )

One Carry-On Travel Northern Hemisphere gift guide 2014 holiday season

Yay Banner by Zana Products
A banner flag for your wall that will make you smile each morning. $20, Zana Products (South Africa)

Cuval uses local craftsman to create contemporary handbags. TL300, Cuval (Turkey)
A handmade mug for your coffee or for planting a small succulent. $38, Mazama Mug (Oregon)
A pendant made of discarded cow horn. $89, Savannah Chic (Kenya)

French cooking made accessible. Well, as accessible as it can be. $25, David Lebovitz (France)
A cozy hat from a modern day general store. $34.95, Old Faithful Shop (Canada)

Stylish antique copper bowls that you'll pass down through the generations. $180 set of four, Coppermill Kitchen (Connecticut)
Minimalist, menswear inspired ladies watch for everyday wear. $199, Daniel Wellington (Australia)
Handsome walnut serving board. $59, A Sunny Afternoon (Michigan)

A manly scented candle in a feminine jar. That’s what I call a win-win. $48, MCMC (New York)

A carry-on that holds all the necessities for a weekend jaunt. $95, Everlane Weekender in Peat (China)

Mini versions of some of my favorite beauty products. $37, Aesop Skincare (Australia)

Southern Hemisphere

From thatched roof beach huts in Mozambique, to sipping cocktails at the Bucket List in Bondi Beach, these gifts are for travelers inspired by bright colors and sunshine.
(Hotel Qualia in Whitsundays, Australia via AFAR)
One Carry-On Travel Southern Hemisphere gift guide 2014 holiday season

A handcrafted cosmetic bag for the bohemian jetsetter. $88, Seminyak Tassel Cosmetic Bag by Kaight (Thailand)

Beautiful, bright iPhone Case. $44, Britt Bass Turner (Georgia)

Diamanta Throw
A cozy blanket for beach bonfires. $135, The Citizenry (Handwoven in Peru)

Carry On Cocktail Kit
Mixology made simple with this tiny kit that gives you everything you need to craft an Old Fashioned in the plane cabin. $24, W&P Design + Punch (New York)

Tropical inspired rings by jeweler Dear Rae. From R330 (South Africa)

A scarf that instantly dresses up any plain tee or tank while on the go. $575, Mignonne Gavigan (New York)

One Love Organics
A travel kit stocked with tried and true organic beauty products. $50, available at Anthropologie. (Georgia)

Leather Harbor Tote
The perfect carry-on tote for work and travel. Bonus: it's handcrafted by an organization that helps empower women in East Africa. $235, Sseko (Kenya)
A blue slate pillow for all seasons. Handmade, styles vary. $139, Rebecca Atwood (Rhode Island & New York)

For charting your gastronomic adventures. $12, ElloThere (New York)

If you don't have any trips planned anytime soon, reading this is the next best thing. $19.95, Chronicle Books (Worldwide)

A functional and stylish men's watch. GBP215, Larsson & Jennings (Swiss made with Swedish & British influences)

Last but not least... a gift for all seasons.
Get Narrative Clip review by CNET
This tiny camera automatically takes photos every 30 seconds. Perfect for documenting all your upcoming adventures. From $229, Narrative (Sweden)

Happy Holidays!

December 4, 2014

Where I've Been

It's been an awfully long time since I last posted. Life has changed pace, that's for sure. This city often forces me to choose how to spend my precious free time: work, relationships, exercise, learning, traveling and blogging. Toss in caring for an aging parent and you can understand why it's been a little quiet around these parts.
These months have made me feel the same way I feel when I'm starting a new painting. It takes several sessions and many layers of brush strokes before it looks anything like what I envision at the outset. I find it incredibly frustrating, but I never give up.
But now that I've settled into a new apartment in Park Slope, I've started getting back into the swing of things. I realize I can't do it all (or have it all) at once. I have to put the most effort and thought into the activities that make my life the happiest, exciting, and most complete in can be. Thanks for continuing to read and support me. Safe travels this holiday season, wherever you may be.

August 27, 2014

Surfing in Mentawai

If world-class waves you're in search of, look no further than the Mentawai Islands off the coast of Sumatra in Indonesia. Strong rip currents and sharp corals don't deter brave surfers from breaks like Telescopes, where the waves can grow up to ten feet tall and can stretch as long as two football fields.
The Best Mentawai Islands Surf Video from my drone, Phyllis. June 2014, by Paul Borrud from The Bird on Vimeo.

The largest of the islands, Siberut, is a lush tropical rainforest. The other islands, like North Pagai and South Pagai, and are dotted with resorts catering to adventurous singles, couples, and families. What a beautiful place to escape to!

July 26, 2014

8 Things to Love and Hate about Washington, D.C.

It's official. Instead of heading left, I'm heading right. While I'm sad to leave family and new friends behind in D.C., I'm really excited to be moving closer to friends and loved ones up here in New York. My year in D.C. was a really great experience. I grew to appreciate the city as more than just a tourist wandering by the landmarks dotting our nation's capital. Below is a quick run down of the things I loved and hated about life in the District.

The People

The interns, the foreigners, the politicians, the lobbyists, the non-profit hippies, and the preppy college students...they're all drawn to D.C. After a while, you start to wonder if you'll ever really connect with anyone who was born and raised in D.C. or has lived there long-term. I only met a handful of them. Over time, though, I grew to appreciate the eclectic mix of people D.C. draws, no matter how long they stay or where they're from.

The Streets

D.C. is really good at maintaining clean, green streets. I've also noticed the warmer climate encourages botanical creativity. The variety of shapes and colors of District houses - from Victorian, to federal, to modern - is wonderful. Although modern, sterile apartment buildings seem to be popping up left and right, each neighborhood maintains its own unique character. There's a certain charm and feel about this city that gives it great distinction above other cities in America.

Reagan National Airport

Easily accessible by Metro, taxi, or car, this is one of the easiest domestic airports I've traveled through in the nation. Even without TSA Pre-check, I'm generally able to navigate through security in 10 minutes or less. They've recently upgraded their shops, too. Unless there are weather delays (watch out for summer afternoon thunderstorms), there always seems to be a seat available in the waiting areas. Flight deals vary by season, and I've flown to New York City for as cheap as $150 round-trip.

The (Free) Museums

Yes, everything the guidebooks say about visiting the Smithsonian museums and the zoo in D.C. is true - they're free and they're pretty great. You can pay to go to some of the other museums and art galleries, but in my opinion, there is more than enough to see and enjoy for free. From my tour of the Capitol building, to my runs through the zoo, and my periodic visits to wander the halls of the National Gallery, I will always treasure the times I spent sightseeing on weekends.

Click here to continue reading the things I won't miss about life in D.C.

July 14, 2014

Music Monday: St. Lucia

I'll admit, it's been a while since I've gone to a concert, which is why I was excited to swing by one of the Capital Fringe Festival events this past Friday night. There was a great energy in the air and it seemed well attended. All this time I've wondered where DC has been hiding it's funky, creative side, and now I know.
capital fringe festival 2014 the dangles
Speaking of great energy, I'm currently listening to Brooklyn-based South African musician Jean-Philip Grobler, otherwise known as St. Lucia. Whether you're stuck in the office or taking some time off to enjoy the beach this July, his peppy, 80's-esque songs get me moving no matter the environment. He's touring this fall, so check him out on Twitter or Facebook for more info.

July 11, 2014

A Quick Update

I'll get straight to the point: this has been an incredibly busy summer. I'm redesigning this website (long overdue) I can't wait to get it up and running. I've been traveling most weekends: to Montreal, Baltimore, Delaware, New York, and Connecticut (you can always follow along on Instagram). I'm also making big changes in my personal and professional life: the result of many months of patience, dedication, and love. Everything is moving in a positive direction and it feels great when hard work starts to pay off. However, it has also meant spending time away from updating this blog, which makes me sad.
While I'm preparing to get back on schedule with posts, I thought I could at least share a few special things I've contributed elsewhere. On the African Wildlife Foundation blog, I'm sharing some of my favorite safari memories from my time living and traveling around southern Africa. You can also follow along on the AWF Instagram. As well, the 2014/2015 AWF calendar recently mailed (a membership benefit) featuring Nature's Best Photography (these are some seriously stunning photos) and wildlife trivia (written by yours truly).

I hope you enjoy browsing these photos and anecdotes as much as I enjoy sharing them. Thanks so much for following along! x

June 5, 2014

Virginia is for Lovers

Recently, I drove with friends to Gloucester, Virginia for a wedding. The wedding party stayed at the historic mansion, the Inn at Warner Hall, located on a plantation created by George Washington's great-great-grandfather. It was a beautiful setting for a wedding and a relaxing weekend escape.
The whole car was hungry as we departed from D.C. mid-afternoon, but we refused to settle for rest stop cuisine. We all agreed we'd know our lunch stop when we saw it. Crazy Cajun's bright pink pig was just the beacon we were looking for.
Continuing down the back roads to Gloucester, we drove past wooded forests and farmland. Gloucester itself features a quaint, walkable downtown area with several shops and restaurants. The town is only a short drive from colonial Williamsburg and historic Jamestowne.
The room was beautifully appointed in colonial style with modern amenities, just as you'd expect it to be. Besides its history, what sets the Inn at Warner Hall apart from other area accommodation is its location on the banks of the Severn River. As the moon rose above the plantation on Friday night, we all gathered around the fire pit to roast s'mores and toast to the weekend ahead.
On Saturday morning, Andy and I were up before the sunrise to take a few photos we knew the real wedding photographer wouldn't have the chance to capture. Later on, I took one of the Inn's kayaks to do a bit of river exploration. I skirted along the edge of the Severn River and sat in stillness, listening to the sounds of the forest as the sun beat down on my shoulders. I shared a moment with a great blue heron and for a moment, felt nostalgic for kayaking in the Okavango delta. I could feel all of my stress melting away.
This was my first time spending time in Virginia, and based on this experience, I would definitely go back to the area and explore further. The drive from D.C. is about 3.5 hours and there are direct flights to Newport News and Richmond, making this a viable option for a weekend getaway. Outside of weddings and events, the Inn offers regular nightly accommodation and meals. They will not let you in if the property is booked, so I recommend calling in advance.
For this type of warm weather weekend trip, a bag like the Everlane Weekender is just the right size. Inside my carry-on, I packed some of my spring beauty essentials: a bright summer nail polish, a delicate floral perfume, a botanical scented leave-in conditioner, and delicate stud earrings from one of my favorite South African designers.

May 29, 2014

One Country, Two Edits

The New York Times review says it all. "'Blended' is rated PG-13 (Parents strongly cautioned). It will make your children stupid." The premise is simple: after a failed blind date, an American single mom (Drew Barrymore) and dad (Adam Sandler) are forced to get along when they bring their families on a South African vacation. Filmed at Sun City, a casino and leisure resort outside of Johannesburg, this movie is out of touch with reality:

Within the same week of the Blended premiere, South Africa Tourism released a new promotional video. For many travel writers and photographers, conveying the essence of such a diverse and unique country like South Africa can be a challenge. I think this video beautifully and accurately encapsulates what South Africa has to offer all of our senses:
Obviously both films serve different purposes and audiences, but what an interesting contrast of two depictions of the same country.

P.S. All of the highlights shown in these videos can be found within my AFAR Cape Town Guide and Justin's AFAR Johannesburg Guide. Check it out!

May 19, 2014

Authentic Rwanda

Capturing an authentic sense of place is something I value when photographing or writing about a destination, and that's exactly why this film caught my eye. If this doesn't make you want to drop everything and visit Rwanda, I don't know what will.
RWANDA from MAMMOTH on Vimeo, discovered via Getaway magazine.

May 12, 2014

Music Monday: Kongos

I became familiar with the rock songs Come With Me Now and I'm Only Joking while listening to the radio in South Africa, but wasn't until recently that I started hearing the Kongos on American airwaves. The band is comprised of four brothers who grew up between London and South Africa, but now call Phoenix their recording home. They seem to incorporate a variety of influences into their music, including their father, which makes it hard to describe exactly who they sound like. This summer, they will be opening for another famous family act: the Kings of Leon. One of my favorite songs, Escape, is slightly different than their other rock songs:
And I also like the bluegrass feel of Hey I Don't Know:
For more from the Kongos, you can follow them on Twitter and like them on Facebook
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