June 2009


Air New Zealand has recently come out with a new ad campaign that is simply brillant. It started with a commercial called “Nothing to Hide”.

And then earlier this month they started airing safety annoucements in the same style of the commercial.

The videos are certainly riveting and it’s great that Air New Zealand used actual employees for the ad (the company’s CEO also makes a guest appearence as a ramp agent). They also released a behind-the-scenes video and a blooper reel.

And in case you were wondering, the woman who sings the theme song is 21-year-old Kiwi Gin Wigmore. The song comes from her first EP.

The New York Times also wrote about the campaign on their website.

Air New Zealand has recently come out with a new ad campaign that is simply brillant. It started with a commercial called “Nothing to Hide”.

And then earlier this month they started airing safety annoucements in the same style of the commercial.

The videos are certainly riveting and it’s great that Air New Zealand used actual employees for the ad (the company’s CEO also makes a guest appearence as a ramp agent). They also released a behind-the-scenes video and a blooper reel.

And in case you were wondering, the woman who sings the theme song is 21-year-old Kiwi Gin Wigmore. The song comes from her first EP.

The New York Times also wrote about the campaign on their website.

I’ve been reading a lot of travel blogs lately and have noticed that most travellers fall into one of 4 different categories.

Vacation Travellers– This is what most Americans do. They work their job, get their two-weeks vacation time (maybe three if they’re lucky), go somewhere like Hawaii for those two weeks and then don’t travel again for a year. It’s the most limited way to travel and one of the more expensive ways as well. Many locations take far more then two weeks to explore. Other locations that are on the other side of the globe or in remote places can take upwards of two days to get to, which cuts into the time that can be spend there. People who work in Europe or Australia have it a little easier- it’s normal to get 4-5 weeks off, which makes traveling a less rushed experience.

This style of travel is the most restrictive of the four listed here. It’s difficult to get around if you have a job that ties you down to one place. It’s also dangerous if you have the mindset of “I’ll travel when I retire,“ since the future is unpredictable. Health problems, job loss, family crisis and many other problems could derail those post-retirement plans.

However, this style does work well for people if they enjoy going to the same place each year or just have one or two dream places they want to visit.
Having a Travel-Heavy Job– Some folks have jobs that require a lot of travel. This is certainly one of the cheapest ways to travel since it’s done on someone else’s dime. It’s also a great way to accumulate frequent-flyer miles and get elite status with airlines and hotels. It may be possible to stick around after the job is done and go exploring or spend time with the locals through work connections.

However, depending on the company and the job, it comes with a lot of strings attached. You might not get to choose where or when you go to a place. I once took a business trip to Rolla, Missouri. It’s a small town located about an hour outside of St. Louis. It’s a nice enough town, but with the town’s highlight being a bowling alley, spending four days there ended up being about three days too long.

It’s hard to explore  a place if all you have time to do is go from the airport to the hotel to an office and back to the airport again. It’s also a hard lifestyle to maintain, particularly if you have family. One woman I know flew from Atlanta on Mondays, spent four days in Denver and then flew back to Atlanta on Thursday evenings nearly every week. She didn’t get to spend a lot of time with her husband with that schedule and the constant flying to the same places was draining after a while.

If this is the route you want to go to get more travel into your life, it’s important to pick a job where you like doing the work, regardless of whether there’s any travel involved or not. There’s nothing worse then being stuck in a place you don’t want to be in doing a job that you hate. It’s also important to find a company that is willing to be flexible when it comes to traveling. A friend of mine recently went to Rome on a business trip. She had never been there before, and her company didn’t mind if she spent an additional week there on vacation or that her husband came along on the trip. She not only got the job done, but she enjoyed a wonderful trip on the side.

Being a Nomad- Nomads is the term I like to use for travellers who don’t have a steady job or even a place they call home. Many nomads are students who just graduated from college and want to see the world before settling down. Other nomads might be people who saved up money and then quit their day jobs to travel. The nomads may be on the road for six months to a year. Some keep traveling for years, supporting themselves through odd jobs here and there. It’s certainly one of the most flexible ways to travel- you can go wherever and whenever you want to. It’s also cheaper since you can choose slower, cheaper methods of transportation to get from place to place or pursue housing options like renting out a cheap apartment for a month inside of renting a hotel for a week.

The challenge with being a nomad is the financial issue. Most nomads have a stash of cash that they are living off of, and once the money runs out, they will either have to find a job wherever they are at or return to their home country to get a job. It can also take a lot of time to save up the money needed to travel (although as Nora Dunn points out in her article, it may not take as much as you think). There are also the issues that come with delaying or taking a break from a career and maintaining connections with folks back at home while on the road. Some major life changes do make becoming a nomad for a while easier. One couple hit the road for a year for their honeymoon. Matt, of dancing Youtube fame, went nomadic after he got tired of designing video games.

Being “Location Independent”
– Location-independent travelers are people who are usually working for themselves and have jobs that can be done from anywhere in the world. For example, writers, graphic designers, webmasters and other jobs that need only a laptop and an internet connection are all jobs that can easily be made location independent. The advantages are obvious- you can choose to settle down in one spot and travel whenever you want to or be nomadic all the time. It’s easier to stay connected to family and friends since you can return home anytime. It’s also a lifestyle that can be maintained indefinitely since you can earn a living while staying out on the road.

Unfortunately, not all jobs can be made location independent. It’s also a job that comes with all the risks and challenges of working for yourself. And not everyone wants to work for themselves.

In the end, there’s not one ideal style for everyone and lots of travellers tend to be mix of these styles. Nor is this an exhaustive lists of all the different ways people can incorporate travel into their lives. The key is to figure out what works for you and make a plan to put that lifestyle into action. For me, I’m currently looking into ways that I can support myself through writing, since it’s an activity I love to do and can be made location independent. I’m also looking into ways that I can do volunteer work around the world since I want to help better other people’s lives.

I’ve been reading a lot of travel blogs lately and have noticed that most travellers fall into one of 4 different categories.

Vacation Travellers– This is what most Americans do. They work their job, get their two-weeks vacation time (maybe three if they’re lucky), go somewhere like Hawaii for those two weeks and then don’t travel again for a year. It’s the most limited way to travel and one of the more expensive ways as well. Many locations take far more then two weeks to explore. Other locations that are on the other side of the globe or in remote places can take upwards of two days to get to, which cuts into the time that can be spend there. People who work in Europe or Australia have it a little easier- it’s normal to get 4-5 weeks off, which makes traveling a less rushed experience.

This style of travel is the most restrictive of the four listed here. It’s difficult to get around if you have a job that ties you down to one place. It’s also dangerous if you have the mindset of “I’ll travel when I retire,“ since the future is unpredictable. Health problems, job loss, family crisis and many other problems could derail those post-retirement plans.

However, this style does work well for people if they enjoy going to the same place each year or just have one or two dream places they want to visit.
Having a Travel-Heavy Job– Some folks have jobs that require a lot of travel. This is certainly one of the cheapest ways to travel since it’s done on someone else’s dime. It’s also a great way to accumulate frequent-flyer miles and get elite status with airlines and hotels. It may be possible to stick around after the job is done and go exploring or spend time with the locals through work connections.

However, depending on the company and the job, it comes with a lot of strings attached. You might not get to choose where or when you go to a place. I once took a business trip to Rolla, Missouri. It’s a small town located about an hour outside of St. Louis. It’s a nice enough town, but with the town’s highlight being a bowling alley, spending four days there ended up being about three days too long.

It’s hard to explore  a place if all you have time to do is go from the airport to the hotel to an office and back to the airport again. It’s also a hard lifestyle to maintain, particularly if you have family. One woman I know flew from Atlanta on Mondays, spent four days in Denver and then flew back to Atlanta on Thursday evenings nearly every week. She didn’t get to spend a lot of time with her husband with that schedule and the constant flying to the same places was draining after a while.

If this is the route you want to go to get more travel into your life, it’s important to pick a job where you like doing the work, regardless of whether there’s any travel involved or not. There’s nothing worse then being stuck in a place you don’t want to be in doing a job that you hate. It’s also important to find a company that is willing to be flexible when it comes to traveling. A friend of mine recently went to Rome on a business trip. She had never been there before, and her company didn’t mind if she spent an additional week there on vacation or that her husband came along on the trip. She not only got the job done, but she enjoyed a wonderful trip on the side.

Being a Nomad- Nomads is the term I like to use for travellers who don’t have a steady job or even a place they call home. Many nomads are students who just graduated from college and want to see the world before settling down. Other nomads might be people who saved up money and then quit their day jobs to travel. The nomads may be on the road for six months to a year. Some keep traveling for years, supporting themselves through odd jobs here and there. It’s certainly one of the most flexible ways to travel- you can go wherever and whenever you want to. It’s also cheaper since you can choose slower, cheaper methods of transportation to get from place to place or pursue housing options like renting out a cheap apartment for a month inside of renting a hotel for a week.

The challenge with being a nomad is the financial issue. Most nomads have a stash of cash that they are living off of, and once the money runs out, they will either have to find a job wherever they are at or return to their home country to get a job. It can also take a lot of time to save up the money needed to travel (although as Nora Dunn points out in her article, it may not take as much as you think). There are also the issues that come with delaying or taking a break from a career and maintaining connections with folks back at home while on the road. Some major life changes do make becoming a nomad for a while easier. One couple hit the road for a year for their honeymoon. Matt, of dancing Youtube fame, went nomadic after he got tired of designing video games.

Being “Location Independent”
– Location-independent travelers are people who are usually working for themselves and have jobs that can be done from anywhere in the world. For example, writers, graphic designers, webmasters and other jobs that need only a laptop and an internet connection are all jobs that can easily be made location independent. The advantages are obvious- you can choose to settle down in one spot and travel whenever you want to or be nomadic all the time. It’s easier to stay connected to family and friends since you can return home anytime. It’s also a lifestyle that can be maintained indefinitely since you can earn a living while staying out on the road.

Unfortunately, not all jobs can be made location independent. It’s also a job that comes with all the risks and challenges of working for yourself. And not everyone wants to work for themselves.

In the end, there’s not one ideal style for everyone and lots of travellers tend to be mix of these styles. Nor is this an exhaustive lists of all the different ways people can incorporate travel into their lives. The key is to figure out what works for you and make a plan to put that lifestyle into action. For me, I’m currently looking into ways that I can support myself through writing, since it’s an activity I love to do and can be made location independent. I’m also looking into ways that I can do volunteer work around the world since I want to help better other people’s lives.

Earlier this week I saw “Up” for the first time. It’s a wonderful film about an older gentleman who pursues his life goal of seeing Paradise Falls in South America. The movie starts by showing Carl, a young man in search of adventure, meeting the even more adventuresome Ellie whom he would later marry. Together, they decide that they want to go to Paradise Falls together. They set out a jar and start collecting change for the trip. But the little things in life keeps getting in the way, like needing to repair their car or pay medical bills. In the end, they manage to save up enough to buy plane tickets but by then Ellie is too ill to travel.Up Movie Photo

The movie offered up several lessons about how to pursue life goals.

1. Carl and Ellie had a clear, tangible goal.
They didn’t want to just “travel more” or “see the world”. They had a very specific plan and destination in mind. Because they knew exactly what they wanted to do, they knew how much they needed to save for the trip and what was needed to get there. If they had a vague goal like “travel more” it would be much harder to figure out what it would take to make that happen or even if they achieve that goal at all.
2. They kept reminding themselves of their goals. Throughout their house they put up all kinds of reminders of what they were working towards. They painted a mural of the falls in their living room. They kept a change jar labeled “Paradise Falls” near the door. These daily reminders made sure they wouldn’t forget what their goals were. I’m working on this myself by doing things like putting a model plane on my desk (since I want to learn how to fly a plane). It also helps that my workplace has lots of world maps where I can see them all the time.

3. They worked together towards the goal. If Ellie kept wanting to buy shiny new shoes all the time or if Carl wanted to spend all their money on rounds of golf every weekend, they would have gotten nowhere. But the movie shows that they are both doing little things together and supporting each other to make the trip happen. Having support from others, whether it’s a spouse, a best friend or a stranger on your doorstep is critical to achieving a goal. That support can help you get past obstacles and provide encouragement when you’re down. Working together is even more critical if two or more people are pursuing the same goal. It’s important that everyone is on the same page about the goal and are willing to make sacrifices to make it happen and not sabotage each other’s effort. This is also why having a specific, detailed goal is important- it helps everyone to have the same unified vision.
4. Carl never gave up. Even after his wife was unable to come with him to the falls, Carl found a way to get to South America. He had to make some changes to his original plans and he didn’t travel in a way that he envisioned at first, but he made the plan work. He had to overcome a lot of obstacles along the way but nothing got him down for long.
5. Carl didn’t let his age stop him. Despite the glasses and needing a cane and being 78 years old, Carl never thought “I’m just too old for this”. Granted, this is a cartoon but there’s plenty of examples of older people getting out and having fun, such as former US president George H.W. Bush going skydiving for his 85th birthday. The reverse is true too in that being young shouldn’t stop anyone from chasing their dream.

Up also served as a cautionary tale in some respects by showing things that can get in the way of a life goal.
1. Carl and Ellie didn’t have an emergency fund. Most people’s life goals generally involve some financial aspect to it. The couple was doing the right thing in saving for the trip, but they didn’t have an emergency fund to deal with life’s little hiccups. As a result, they were forced to clean out their trip fund every time an unexpected bill came up. Lucia over at Money Strands wrote a great post that goes into much more detail about how to start and maintain an emergency fund. And while it was outside of the scope of the movie, developing a solid savings plan beyond just dropping change in a jar is critical if you want to achieve your goal before you turn 78.
2. The couple didn’t start pursuing their life goal until later in life. Carl and Ellie had decided when they were kids that they wanted to go to Paradise Falls. Had they decided that they wanted to pursue that goal earlier in life, they could have done it before they got tied down with a house or a car. Starting earlier also would have meant Ellie could have gone before she became ill.

It’s a challenge to not get caught up in the everyday affairs of life, especially if there’s the expectation that you’re suppose to go get a job, get married, have kids, work for 40 years, and then enjoy traveling in retirement. It’s much more fun to ignore what society expects of people and go do your own thing instead. Besides, waiting 40 years to achieve your travel dreams is really a bummer.

Overall, Up is a wonderful movie about travel, adventure and enjoying both the journey and the destination.

Photo by Pixar

Last weekend, I needed to get out of town. So I decided to pay a visit to the coastal town of St. Augustine. The city is the nation’s oldest city, founded in 1565. It’s located on Florida’s east coast between Jacksonville and Daytona Beach.

What I love about St. Augustine is it’s old European city charm that’s not found anywhere else in the state. It has a lot of history- most notably with the Castillo De San Marco. The Castillo is a fort built by the Spanish and used to protect the city and the treasure trade that Spain was involved in. A vibrant shopping district filled with boutique shops and restaurants is just across the street from the fort.

It’s easy to see the highlights of the area in just a day. For my trip, I got up early and went out to the beach to watch the sun rise over the ocean and feel the sand between my toes. I went early because the rainy season is starting and I wanted to see as much as I could before the afternoon rains set in. After relaxing on the beach for a bit, I headed over to my favorite beachside restaurant- Beachcombers. It’s located right behind the beach dunes and is a great spot to grab some breakfast. By the time I was done, it was time to head off to the fort.

The fort is located right on the water with views of the city, the Bridge of Lions and the lighthouse. Outside the fort is circled with a moat and turrets. Inside there are exhibits explaining what the various rooms of the fort were used for and explanations about what life was like back during the time the Spanish were there. The coolest part is the hourly cannon firings that occur on Friday, Saturday and Sunday (weather permitting).

After the fort, I crossed the street over to the shopping district. I’m a sucker for sidewalk cafes, and the district has one on every other corner. It also has a large number of boutique shops selling everything from clothes to wines to spices to goodies for your four-legged friends. It’s a great spot to go for a casual lunch with friends or a date night with that special someone. Once I finished walking around, I decided to cross over the Bridge of Lions to the St. Augustine Lighthouse.

The lighthouse is not as impressive as some of the other lighthouses around the state like the Ponce Inlet lighthouse. The St. Augustine one is smaller in both height and land area. Also, the original lighthouse keeper’s house was nearly completely destroyed by arsonists, so nearly everything in it is a reconstruction. But even with all that, the views from the top of the lighthouse are quite nice. On a clear day it’s possible to see over 20 miles in any direction. One cool moment I had there was when a woman walked up to the lighthouse and just smiled. She was from Rhode Island, and seeing the St. Augustine lighthouse was on her bucket list. It was so wonderful to see someone going out and pursuing their dreams- even if it’s just seeing a lighthouse several hundred miles away.

My goal for the day was to see the fort and the lighthouse, but it was only mid-afternoon after I left the lighthouse. So I decided to drive south on A1A to Fort Matanzas. That fort was also built by the Spanish but is much smaller then the Castillo de San Marcos and can only be reached by boat since it’s located on a very small island. I didn’t even know the fort existed- I found out about it when I went to the Castillo. The fort surprised me. I was there on a special weekend. Normally, the fort is portrayed as being occupied by the Spanish, with a Spanish flag and Spanish recreation actors. But the fort was held briefly by the British, so one weekend of the year, the park makes the fort a British one. They also do cannon firings on that weekend which they don’t normally do. I was quite impressed. The rooms were recreated with all kinds of tools and equipment used during that era and it was wonderful interacting with the actors who were quite knowledgeable. The only disappointment was that my visit there was quite short since bad weather was starting to come in and the park rangers didn’t want to strand people on the island.

After that long day, I decided to head on home. But it would be very easy to spend a weekend in St. Augustine. There’s a number of bed and breakfasts in the area, and even some offbeat options like the Pirate Haus. Other historical areas in the city include the nation’s oldest schoolhouse, Fort Mose (yes, the city is full of forts) and several museums. More modern-day venues include touring the local winery or taking a cruise around the area.

If you want to come see St. Augustine for yourself, there’s a couple of ways to get here. The easiest would be by car via I-95 or A1A. The city has its own airport, but is not served by any of the major airlines. The nearest major airports are Jacksonville International to the north, Daytona Beach International to the south and Orlando International about two hours west. There’s no mass transit in the city, but it’s very walkable and there’s plenty of tourist trolleys that run around the major attractions. Parking-wise, there is a large parking garage near the Castillo and a lot of metered spaces around. However, free parking is scarce.

If a visit to Florida is on your agenda, St. Augustine is well-worth the time and effort to come and visit.

All photos were taken by the author.

Twitter is becoming a major form of communication online. It’s a great tool to let readers know what is going on and to have conversations with them. Several travel experts and service providers have gotten on Twitter and these are the ones that I’ve found are providing useful and informative tweets about travel.

Several airlines have gotten into the Twitter trend. Most just tweet updates and news about their companies but some are offering a bit more through Twitter.

@SouthwestAir– Southwest has been retweeting fun pictures posted by fans; posting which routes would have wireless available; and also tweet links to news, contests and new video.

@ UnitedAirlines– United is offering fare deals called “Twares” every week or so. They also just gave 1,500 bonus miles to all their Twitter followers who signed up for a promo (that promo has ended). That was a generous gesture on their part and it shows their commitment to Twitter.

@JetBlue– JetBlue is using Twitter as another way of providing customer service. They are following up with anyone that tweets them with a problem and also alerting followers to problems like severe weather in an area that is affecting large numbers of flights..

A number of travel writers and experts have a strong presence on Twitter.

@RickSeany– The man behind Fare Compare. He frequently tweets airfare deals that are only lasting for a short period of time.

@WendyPerrin– Wendy is a writer for Conde Nast and she tweets deals and information about higher-end travel.

@travelhappy– For all things scuba-diving travel related.

@flyingwithfish– The expert on how to travel with photography equipment.

@globtrav– The Global Traveller tweets useful advice and news about flying.

@flightblogger– Jon Ostower is providing a tweet-by-tweet account of the building process of Boeing’s newest plane, the 787.

Some travel service providers-

@TSABlogTeam– Everyone’s favorite government agency is tweeting information and clarifications about security procedures in the US.

@plane_talking– From the aviation news website of the same name comes headlines relating to the aviation business.

If you have a favorite travel twitter that you like to follow, feel free to post about them in the comment section.

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