The Spirit of the Moment

I’m thrilled to share that VirtualWayfarer just passed 1,000,000 views on YouTube (I’m so incredibly humbled and flattered – you are all amazing!). To celebrate, I decided to dive into my video archives, sort through the footage I’ve accrued over the past six years, pull out some favorite shots and to create a travel tribute video exploring and embracing snippets from some of the incredible adventures I’ve had over the past few years.  The result is just under 15 minutes of some of my favorite HD footage and spans 19 countries.

To go with the footage I pulled up a chair, sat down, and attempted to explore the lessons I’ve learned from travel.  The result is a heartfelt exploration of life, travel, and the magic of the road.  In it, I attempt to share some of the more significant lessons I’ve learned from travel, offer some advice, and aspire to convey the sense of ever-increasing wonder I have at the richness of the world at large.

It’s a smudge long, but the feedback has been that the combination of the footage and some of the ideas expressed in the monologue make it well worth the watch.  I hope you’ll take the time to give it a watch and then to share some of your own revelations or grand adventures. At the end of the day, travel and the opportunity to embrace the spirit of the moment is a wondrous thing.

Thank you all so, so, much for continuing to read (and watch!) VirtualWayfarer, offer your feedback, share your special moments, questions, and passion with me. I’m profoundly humbled and flattered by the messages you share with me and that you find my stories, photography, and video interesting.

Some have asked about the quality differences given clips were filmed over 6+ years – footage was shot on a mixture of devices. The earliest footage was filmed on an old Flip HD 720p handheld cam. Other footage was taken on a Vixia HF200. More recent footage was taken on a Canon 600D and a Canon 6D.  Video didn’t load properly?  View it here.

Glacial Summers – Weekly Travel Photo

Perito Moreno Glacier - Patagonia, Argentina

To this day I experience a strong longing to return to Argentina. It is, perhaps, one of the most over-looked destinations on earth when one considers the natural majesty, rich foods, and incredible experiences it provides. While many talk about and dream of a trip to New Zealand (I know I did) the central and southern parts of Argentina rest at the same latitude (if not further south) and are home to the equally impressive Southern Andes.

One of my favorite places in south-central Argentina is the Patagonia region and more specifically the Perito Moreno glacier. Situated in the midst of some of the most exotic barren desert you’ll find anywhere in the world, a 15 minute drive delivers you to incredible waterfalls, stunning glaciers, and mossy green forest.  The easiest point of access is by way of El Calafate: a rugged windswept town perched on the side of  a large glacially fed lake.  Added quirk? The town has seasonal flamingos that add even more rich color to the landscape.

Make sure to head over to flickr to see the rest of the album.

Would you like to see previous Weekly Photos? View past travel pictures here. This photo was taken on a Canon G11, I now shoot on a Canon T3i (600D) Camera.

Three Hundred Twelve Boot Shots, Five Years and Five Continents

Traveling Boots - Isle of Skye - Scotland

A few years ago I decided that I wanted to craft a signature photo. Something that I could easily carry with me, that I could insert into photo after photo that would help humanize shots.  I wanted something that could be used or done anywhere – even if I was alone in the depths of rural Argentina.  What I came up with was a series of boot shots.  I feel that they help convey a sense of wonder, add a human element, and at the same time are something that is readily and easily identifiable as part of a long term photography project.

Traveling Boots - The Austrian Alps

Upon returning from my recent trip to Austria and Turkey, I sat down and edited the most recent batch of boot photos. The final candidates numbered 26 and brought the total number of boot photos I’ve uploaded to 312.  The oldest of the photos was captured in late 2008. The most recent on April 2nd of this year.

Traveling Boots - Zambian Safari

Within the album you’ll find photos from North America, Central America, South America, Europe, Africa and Asia.  Subjects in the photos range from penguins, polar bears and sharks to castles, cliffs, and caves. A number of current and former wonders of the world are also featured.

Bergen - The Old Warehouse District

To my knowledge, this is the most extensive project of its kind based on number of photos taken, time period covered, and sheer diversity of locations featured.  While many of the photos showcase one of three generations of Keens I’ve owned and traveled in, flippers, flip-flops, snowshoes and bare feet can also be found.  The boots are my go-to for travel, but were never intended to have meaning beyond that – thus, it will be interesting to see if future photos continue to feature them, or other footwear becomes increasingly common moving forward. What do you think – would a pair of neon-green running shoes spice things up a bit?

Belize Barrier Reef - Foot Shot

Why Do It?

This is an album dedicated to wanderlust and the open road.  It is dedicated to conveying the spirit of travel, of adventure, and of the unknown. Of reminding us to sit, pause, and to relax while in the moment.  To soak it up, and to enjoy it.  To be inspired and to have our imaginations run wild.  It is also an album about memory and reflection.  It is about re-visiting rich experiences and re-living them.

Perito Moreno Boots

As I sit here writing this post, I find myself going through old photos.  Each of these photos takes me back to a special moment.  It’s amazing how time blurs our memory if we don’t have anchors to bring our experiences back into focus.  As I flip through photos from mere months ago I find myself re-living the minutes that led up to and followed the taking of the photo.  Small details come back to me.  Smells. Sensations.  All of it.  Without these anchors and small reminders these sensations might easily be lost to the ravages of memory and time.

Grand Canyon at Sunset - Boots

The photos themselves also tell their own story.  They do more than showcase where I’ve been and a set of locations.  They document my growth as a traveler, photographer and travel writer.  The quality of the photos has gradually increased as I’ve slowly mastered the art of photography and editing.  Of equal aid is the progression in equipment.  The first photos were captured on a point and shoot Canon G6. Later generations were recorded with a Canon G11 while the most recent photos were taken with a Canon 600D dSLR.  When I started I shot almost exclusively on automatic.  More recently I’ve begun to tackle the delicate dance that is Av, Tv and M modes, white balance, f stop and ISO. The art that is editing is also its own adventure and challenge – sometimes I succeed, other times…well…other times I learn.

Tikal - Boot Shot

There’s also an element of disbelief.  A surreal type of surprise when I sit down and look through this album.  In 2007 I decided to make travel a fundamental part of my life.  I chose to prioritize it in a major way and to invest heavily in it.  Over the past few years that decision has payed off with the chance to see, experience and do things I never imagined possible.

Caving in Budapest

Yet, when you’re caught in the midst of it – of planning the next trip, reflecting on the past one, and trying to document everything in-between it is easy to lose perspective over all you’ve done.  I don’t think that’s something that is limited to serial travelers either, I think we all do it on a regular basis and in our day-to-day lives. It’s just that most of us lack an album that helps document and showcase those accomplishments and experiences.  To that end, it is my hope that these photos and this post help inspire you to not only take a moment and to reflect on your own adventures, but also to consider how you might begin your own project. Something to tie your experiences and life-changes together.

Playa del Carmen - Sunrise Boot Shot

I am also reminded by these photos just how awe inspiring the world is. We live surrounded by incredible beauty and while some of it can make for one heck of a difficult journey to get to, there are always incredible sights to see, places to explore and moments to discover in our own back yards and within reach regardless of what resources we have available to us. The weekend is just around the corner – have you decided yet how you’re going to use it?

Iguazu Boots

I invite you to head over to the complete album on flickr and to look through the photos.  I hope you enjoy the story they tell and that they resonate with you in some way.  I hope that they trigger memories of your own, and that they inspire you.  I hope that they pull you out of this moment, and allow your mind to wander and your imagination to run free. I would also love to hear which photos resonate with you the most and what format you prefer.  If you have questions about where they’ve been taken, feel free to ask.  I’m always happy to share, and of course please feel free to share this album and this post with anyone you think might enjoy it.

Perito Moreno Waterfalls – Friday’s Weekly Travel Photo

Hiking Perito Moreno Glacier - Patagonia, Argentina

I love hiking near water.  I’m not sure if that love stems from early childhood when I was imprinted with wonderful memories while hiking along snow-melt fed streams in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado, or results from having spent the majority of my life in the dry, dust-filled deserts of South-Central Arizona.  Regardless, the opportunity to hike next to/through/along/over rivers and waterfalls is always high on my priority list.  Thus, the chance to hike along and then out onto the Perito Moreno Glacier in Patagonia, Argentina was extremely appealing.  I signed up, geared up, and was off on a full-day hike.  What I didn’t expect, however, was to have the chance to hike along the base of a series of steep cliff faces decorated by rich, blooming vegetation and roaring waterfalls.  After all, when I think of Glaciers I think of snow and ice…not green vegetation and blooming flowers.  In the photo featured in today’s weekly travel photograph the glacier is immediately behind me.  The waterfall pictured flowed down across the path, before cascading over a swath of black rocks and then diving into a channel carved beneath the base of the glacier.

Would you like to see previous Friday Photos? View past travel pictures here.

Advice to Graduates: A Reading List To Become a Literate Global Citizen

Copenhagen - Old Navigation Tools

I offer this advice to recent university graduates. The final months of university and first few months after academic life winds to an end are intense. You learn a lot and you find yourself adapting and trying to filter through the mounds of advice you’ve received. As you strive to pave a path to success, it’s a challenging time when new habits are formed and some old ones are obliterated. One area that doesn’t get nearly enough attention is your casual reading and information consumption habit.

Quite often it’s easy to assume that as long as we glance at USA Today or MSN News once or twice a week we’ll become highly informed and engaged global citizens. Unfortunately, this isn’t quite the case. I recently came across a study which highlighted the publications that are read in different parts of the United States. You know what it showed? That the people in the more successful parts of the nation were reading publications which were vastly different than those in the less successful regions. This is incredibly important because it stresses the powerful influence of what we read and consume to shape who we are, who we interact with, who we engage with, and the opportunity to enhance our success.

If you expect to engage with people who are active, driven, motivated and successful then you need to be able to carry on a conversation with them – a conversation that understands their area of expertise and passion, that can relate to global events, and which allows you to speak coherently about the world at large both as it exists today, will exist in the future, and existed in the past. In short, social and professional success, both domestic and abroad, is based heavily on your transition to becoming a literate global citizen. To a certain degree this is what your university or masters program set out to help you with. You had to take those general studies courses for a reason! Unfortunately, while these may have laid a solid foundation, in many instances they lacked connection to current events, context, or scope.

The real problem is that unless you find a great mentor or spend hours and hours chasing down less-common publications, it is extremely difficult to build a credible list of publications worth reading on a regular basis. After all, what is credible? What is insightful? What is globally relevant? For many the extent of our dive into news, events and commentary pieces revolves around whatever our parents consumed or was readily available. If they read Fox News, we read Fox News. If they read USA Today, so did we. Many of us decided to avoid reading newspapers and to focus on other areas of interest. These are a few suggestions that have served me well.

Antalya Archaeology Museum

Arm Yourself To Succeed

  1. Understand that there is a large difference between globally-minded publications and nation-specific publications.  Also, that different editions of a news source tend to offer different types of news based on readership. It is also important that you understand that US-based media in general is significantly more conservative than global media, with conservative media in the US highlighting a heavily edited and specialized view of global events and news.
  2. Keep in mind that front page news is usually not the most relevant, useful or even accurate. The things that get the front page headlines are good for a casual conversation over a beer. It’s the other material, however, that will give you the tools you need to succeed in engaged conversation and to chart your path accurately through life.
  3. Read article titles and learn how to evaluate them. While they say ‘don’t judge a book (or article) by its cover’, sometimes it is necessary to avoid getting inundated. Once you establish a familiarity with various news sources and current events, you’ll find it much easier to make an executive decision on which articles to skim, which articles to read in-depth, and which articles to skip.
  4. Don’t be afraid of longer articles.  A lot of the best publications out there offer short AND long form material.  The longer material often offers the depth and context which can be incredibly helpful and necessary when understanding policy or economic issues.
  5. Don’t focus in one specific area. You may be an aerospace engineer, but you should also be reading about news in all other genres and areas of study.

Statues From The Ruins of Perge

The Reading List

In no particular order…

  • Foreign Affairs – Excellent commentary and analysis from a variety of perspectives about the global marketplace.
  • Stratfor – Some of the best and most insightful global issue briefs out there. Sign up for the free intelligence reports. The rest of the content is amazing but too expensive for most of us.
  • Foreign Policy – This publication offers wonderful insights into global, political, military, and economic issues.
  • Financial Times – Excellent financial reporting.  Unfortunately the website is behind a paywall. However a free account gets you 8 articles a month.
  • The Economist – While no longer producing consistent quality, the majority of pieces are usually well written and researched.
  • Bloomberg – Good for news about the US financial markets and some current events from a US perspective.
  • The BBC – Some of the best news reporting left in the business.
  • Spiegel – Quality extended articles from a German/European centric perspective.
  • The Guardian – Another reputable news source with a global mindset and slight European bias.
  • New York Times – Good for US-centric news from a relatively globally minded perspective.
  • Al Jazeera – Some of the best news reporting out there at the moment. Slight middle-eastern bias.
  • PhysOrg – Fantastic scientific news. A must read.
  • In Focus – Poignant photos of current events.
  • NPR – While famous for their radio coverage, NPR articles can also be quite excellent.  Don’t overlook the NPR website for great interviews and news briefs.
  • The Diplomat – News and commentary dedicated to  Asia Pacific.
  • Smithsonian – Excellent articles on a variety of topics.
  • Scientific American – Articles on a wide mixture of scientific topics.
  • National Geographic – More than just gorgeous photography.  National Geographic offers insight into the world at large.
  • The Council on Foreign Relations – Publisher of Foreign Affairs. Has additional material which is useful and relevant to the global environment.
  • Reddit – A social news aggregator.  While it has tons of photos of silly cats, you can subscribe to sub-reddits (topics) in areas you are passionate about. Good for discovering other news sources.
  • TechCrunch – Technology plays an important role in our lives. As do new start-ups.  TechCrunch blogs about both and is good to keep in mind for emerging trends.
  • ArsTechnica – A quality mixture of technology news and commentary from around the web.
  • Breaking News on Twitter – If you use twitter, find a breaking news feed you like and check it every few days.

Nyhavn Details - Copenhagen, Denmark

Tools and Resources To Lighten the Load

Yikes, that’s a long list right?  Heck, to read it all on a daily or even weekly basis would be a huge time drain.  Let’s face it, most of us don’t have time for that, or the energy.  If you did you wouldn’t have time to actually discuss any of the topics you’d have read with other real people!

Ultimately you’ll want to find the right mixture of tools that fit with the technology you have on hand and your lifestyle. Here are my favorites and what I find work well for me.  I strongly suggest evaluating what spare time in your day-to-day schedule is currently being under-utilized. We all spend a fair amount of time waiting for friends and commuting. Getting in the habit of reading an article or two during that downtime instead of sitting bored, playing Angry Birds, or listening to a song can make a huge difference.

  • Google Currents – I love this app for browsing a lot of the news sources listed above quickly and easily while on the go.  I use it while on the bus, while waiting for food at a restaurant, or while relaxing during downtime.  Currents is a simple, but powerful app for mobile devices.
  • Pulse News – Very similar to Google Currents only slightly more streamlined and sexy in appearance. However, the back-end seems to be less able to pull aggregated feeds that combine a resource’s different types of content (eg; VirtualWayfarer’s posts, flickr, and youtube).
  • Facebook – If you are a heavy Facebook user consider seeking out and liking the page for the news sources you like.  Make sure to check settings and to share a post periodically so Facebook is reminded you want to see the latest news and articles embedded in your feed.
  • iGoogle – While fading in influence, the first tab in my browser is always iGoogle.  I have it configured to display the latest headlines from many of the sites listed above.  That way I can browse for interesting articles quickly and easily.

Statues From The Ruins of Perge

Have The Discussions That Matter

This goes without saying but there are few better ways to learn and expand your perspective than to have active discussions on the things you’re reading and learning about.  Remember that one of the most difficult and most rewarding skills you can develop is the ability to ask questions and to admit where you don’t know something. It’s something I struggle with on a daily basis, but something that really does make an incredible difference.  Beyond asking the right questions, make sure to seek out individuals who share your interest and curiosity.  To do this start sharing material and articles you find interesting.  For many of you I think you’ll find that your friends and contacts are a wealth of unexpected knowledge in areas and fields you never would have expected or imagined.

Above all, fuel and nurture your curiosity.  Good luck!

Do you have a favorite news or information source you highly recommend?  Feel free to post it in the comments, just please make sure it’s something more stimulating and useful than MSNBC, Fox News, or the Onion.

How Many Countries For A Two Week Itinerary? – Ask Alex – Travel Question Wednesdays

Ask Alex - Travel Question Q and A every Wednesday

This post is part of the Ask Alex, Travel Question Wednesdays weekly series. To see previous questions click here. To submit your own; tweet it to @AlexBerger, ask it in a comment on this post or send it in by e-mail.

This week’s travel question is from Susanna who asks,

Q. “What pace do you suggest setting for a two week trip in Europe. what I mean is, how long in each city/country?

A. – Traveling abroad is usually a somewhat expensive and challenging undertaking. For many, your first trip can seem on-par with other major purchases you’ve made: moving into a new apartment, a down-payment on a car, etc. So, it’s only logical that most people want to cram in as many countries and stops as possible. When friends share their itineraries with me it’s not uncommon for them to schedule 7 countries (or more) for a 2 week trip.

Which makes sense. They’re taking a big trip and they want to see as much as humanly possible in the time they have available.  Which, I actually support – to a certain degree.   In general the advice tends to fall on one side of this issue or the other.  “Spend a lot of time in a few locations” vs. “See as much as you can as fast as you can”.  Which is inevitably followed by a debate over what counts as “seeing” a destination.  If you spent 6 hours in Paris and only saw the Eiffel tower did you “see Paris?” what about 2 days? 2 full weeks?   While there is some validity to these types of debates and they can be insightful, I think they neglect a far more important question which needs to be addressed on a case-by-case/personal basis. What is YOUR goal with the trip?  Contrary to what many veteran travelers might expect, I actually recommend my friends press forward with their whirlwind tours of Europe in about half the cases.  Blasphemy, I know!  This is because in talking to them, they’re interested in sampling a lot of different places and then following up with future trips that strive to revisit favorite locations while exploring them greater depth.  I look at these trips in the same way I look at ordering a beer sampler during your first visit to a new brewery or a wine tasting.  As long as you keep in mind that you’re just sampling a quick taste of each vintage and not familiarizing yourself with its complete history, richness and flavor then you’re in great shape. In fact, it can be a great approach!

On the other hand, I give very different advice to the other half of the group.  These are typically friends who are taking a rare trip, one which they don’t plan to follow up on any time soon (though I always hope the trip changes their future plans…radically). These are the friends who have saved up time off over several years and are taking their big trip abroad to Europe or Asia for the first time before going back to their more traditional cruises, or destination/all inclusive beach getaways closer to home.  For these friends, it’s very important that they get a rich experience in the places they do visit and I often advise them to aim for potency over diversity.  In these cases it’s often good to spend at least 4 days in a city.  I also suggest visiting at least one secondary city to go with the inevitable capital they’ve selected.  So, if they plan on Italy – I recommend spending a few days in Rome, and then exploring a smaller city like Florence or the Cinque Terra.

Regardless of which approach is right for you, I always suggest you spend at least 1 full day in a city and that you don’t count travel days as city time.  Travel eats up energy, it eats up time, and it will detract from the richness of your experience.  It’s easy to want to add as many new countries to your passport as possible, but at the end of the day remember that it’s far more important to relish and experience the moment while there, than it is to collect that extra stamp.

Have a question of your own? ASK IT! Want to see previous questions? click here.

Most Beautiful Country – Ask Alex – Travel Question Wednesdays

Ask Alex - Travel Question Q and A every Wednesday

This post is part of the Ask Alex, Travel Question Wednesdays weekly series. To see previous questions click here. To submit your own; tweet it to @AlexBerger, ask it in a comment on this post or send it in by e-mail.

This week’s travel question is from Sam who asks,

Q. “What is the most beautiful country (overall) you’ve been to?

A. – Oh boy, this question always gives me a heck of a hard time. I’m going to assume that you’re talking natural beauty and not about the native population? So far I’ve spent time in some capacity in 38 countries (this excludes Asia and Africa which are on my to-see list). Some of those visits have been little more than brief glimpses while others have been more in-depth and immersive. I feel as though I’ve still missed a lot, even in the countries I’ve visited multiple times and spent extended periods of time in. So, I encourage you to take these answers with a grain of salt. I also can’t give just one, so I’m going to give you my top three.

Hiking Perito Moreno Glacier - Patagonia, Argentina

1. Argentina

In 21 days in the country I was exposed to two of the country’s three incredible climates. These were the cold, mountainous and rugged southern regions of Tierra del Fuego and Patagonia in the south and the hot, lush, jungle regions to the north around Iguazu Falls. Due to the country’s massive size, proximity to the Andes and Antarctica it has a lot to offer. While you hear a lot about Argentina’s rich tango culture and incredible meat, its real gem is its natural landscapes. I think it’s one of the most overlooked countries out there for natural beauty and also, thus far, ranks as the all around most beautiful country I’ve visited.

A Dog Resting Atop Sharkstooth

2. The United States

As an American, I find my home country often gets overlooked – perhaps because a lot of English-centric travel bloggers are original from or based out of the US. The truth of it is though that as with Argentina, the United States is amazing and offers some of the most incredible landscapes and environments you’ll find in the world. The rivers and streams of the Colorado Rockies and San Juans are some of my favorite countryside in world. Places like the Grand Canyon, Sonoran Desert, White Sands, Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Florida Everglades are beautiful, captivating locales that everyone should aspire to see in their lifetime.


3. Scotland

During my first visit to Scotland I developed a crush on the country. After my 2nd I fell in love with it completely. There’s something enchanting about the collision between history and natural beauty. While the central highlands and Isle of Skye are beautiful, and areas I highly recommend to everyone, I also strongly suggest the north western coastline and the Orkney Islands. Both are regions that I find myself with an insatiable hunger for.

There are so many amazing places out there, it really is hard to pick a favorite.  I invite you all to share your own favorite destinations.  Which 1 (or 3) have you fallen in love with?

Have a question of your own? ASK IT! Want to see previous questions? click here.

Destinations For First Timers – Ask Alex – Travel Question Wednesdays

Ask Alex - Travel Question Q and A every Wednesday

This post is part of the Ask Alex, Travel Question Wednesdays weekly series. To see previous questions click here. To submit your own; tweet it to @AlexBerger, ask it in a comment on this post or send it in by e-mail.

This week’s travel question is from Andy M. he asks,

Q. “What are good destinations for first timers?

A. – I’ll answer this question from a North American perspective. However, given the international nature of my readership – please custom tailor this advice to your own native language, and cities/countries that may be a good fit for you personally.

When taking your first international trip there are a few key factors to keep in mind that will take what can be a relatively terrifying experience, and make it more manageable.

1. Language Barrier – If you are an American going abroad for the first time, consider countries that are native English speakers as launching points for your trip.  Even if you are semi-fluent in French or Spanish, cities like Madrid may not be ideal for your first time out of the country.  Instead, I suggest countries like England and Ireland which will be exotic, different, but also far easier to navigate.  While the language barrier really isn’t something to worry about, your first major trip can be stressful and most of your experiences will be new and novel. This includes everything from ordering a sandwich to navigating the metro and asking for directions when you get lost.

2. Public Transportation – A great first time city is a city with fantastic public transportation. If you can avoid it, don’t plan on renting a car right away.  Focus instead on countries and cities that have well established public transportation systems that are reliable, easy to navigate, and which are simple to figure out and use.  London is a prime example of a city that has an extensive public transportation system that is ideal for most first-time travelers.

3. Passion – Ask yourself what history and culture is most interesting to you.  Most people have a certain period of history, or cultural region they are more interested in than others.  While there can be a lot of pressure to visit certain places right off the bat, I always suggest launching your travel career in the region or area you are most curious and passionate about.  While this may conflict with tip #1, it is important to go where you want even if that means an American might take their first trip to somewhere like Tokyo, where you’ll find English to be fairly common but not spoken as the native language.

4. Use a Program – If you are looking at your first trip abroad and uncomfortable doing it yourself, consider using existing tour programs. For younger people there are a wealth of fantastic options which range from semester, or summer abroad programs to Contiki, Intrepid and GAdventures style organized trips. While these are not destinations per-say, they are beneficial tools for exploring areas fresh out the door which might otherwise be too intimidating or challenging to tackle on your own.

5. Security – I suggest starting in a safe city.  While your safety and general experience will vary largely based on your own behavior in a given city, it’s usually advisable for first time travelers to avoid cities that have extremely high mugging, kidnapping or violent crime rates. This is another reason I tend to suggest cities like Dublin, Edinburgh and London for first time travelers.  While they have their issues, and dodgy areas all three tend to be relatively safe and well policed. Bribery also tends not to be a major issue, which helps first time travelers avoid uncomfortable situations.

So, what specific cities would I suggest? For an English Speaker from the US or Canada I would suggest launching your travel career in the British Isles.  While London and Dublin are far from my favorite cities, they will offer you a wonderful starting point for your trip. They are easy to reach, and have fantastic rail and bus systems (metro as well in London).   Trips out into the surrounding country side are easy, and for those eager to also explore places like Paris and Rome – trips as part of the second leg of your visit are easy.  Other cities in Europe that are extremely visitor friendly are Amsterdam where the language barrier will be nearly non-existent, Paris, Rome (I would avoid Naples initially) and Madrid which regularly handle massive numbers of foreign tourists, many of whom are novice travelers.  Other prime candidates include Sydney and Auckland in the Oceania region.  If looking for countries in Asia consider Seoul in South Korea and Tokyo in Japan.

Ultimately, where you start is up to you and your sense of adventure.  Remember that your personal mentality and approach to the experience will be what defines and shapes if it is positive, negative, or just a neutral experience.  Chose to chase your passion and pick your initial destination based on what your comfort level is. You know yourself better than anyone, though hopefully your first trip abroad will help you learn about and strengthen parts of who you are.

Would you like me to elaborate on an aspect of this response?  Let me know!

Have a question of your own? ASK IT! Want to see previous questions? click here.