Tourist Scams Around the World

I came across this infographic in my Quora feed today and found it informative. Some of these scams sound over the top, but the sources are legit. There are some crafty hustlers in the world. Be careful out there!


A Travel Catalog Inspired by Motion

In my very first post on this blog, I waxed poetic about Yosemite and mentioned a little TV show that inspired my first of many trips there:

Our first trip to Yosemite, before we spent a small fortune on gear!

“In 2010, I stumbled upon a tiny low-budget TV show on an offshoot of a major network, in which two brothers headed out to national parks with handheld HD video cameras to show viewers some of the best hikes in each park. I sat glued to the TV as the hosts hiked along the south rim of Yosemite National Park, peering into the famous valley below. My eyes were agog. My mouth gaped. It was love at first sight.”

The show is called Motion, and it airs on a little-known, little-watched network called Live Well, a subsidiary of ABC. The show is narrated by Greg Aiello, the world’s most likable guy. The camera work captures sweeping vistas and tiny details in HD, all set to a well-chosen musical number. No one I’ve talked to has ever heard of the Live Well Network. Not surprisingly, ABC is pulling the plug on it come January. And with it goes Motion.

It’s weird to admit that a television show has impacted my life importantly. Ninety-nine percent of TV is total crap. One percent, TV at its best, is entertaining or edifying. But

Motion goes beyond even that. In 30-minute episodes their cameras and humor have virtually brought many of the national parks into my living room and inspired real-life trips to these places. The show got me connected to nature, a connection that turned out to become a really important part of my life. Now I crave time in nature like a body craves nutrients.

This was the episode that started it all for me. As I started looking through the other episodes online, I was struck by the number of trips I’ve taken over the last four years  that were spurred to existence by Motion.

Today’s post is a catalog; a tribute to my friends at Motion. The links will take you to related Go Go Go content and to the Motion episode that inspired the trip. Check out the episodes of Motion so you can become a fan too, if you aren’t already. (You’ve still got 6 months to catch the show on the Live Well Network, too, if you can find the channel.)

Tunnel View, Yosemite National Park

After our first visit to Yosemite in 2010 (we’ve returned every year since), Motion inspired our southern Utah trip to Zion National Park, where we experienced the Narrows–hiking in the Virgin River through a slot canyon–and the snow-capped hoodoos in nearby Bryce Canyon National Park. Both parks are along Utah’s Route 12, a scenic byway with a nerve-wracking stretch called Hell’s Backbone.

The Narrows, Zion National Park, Utah

The amphitheater in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Hell’s Backbone, Route 12, Utah

Then they inspired this trip to Glacier National Park. Among the many spectacular hikes we did was 13.5 miles from the Gunsight trailhead to the Sperry Chalet, a backcountry lodge, through some of the most beautiful spots we’ve ever seen.

Comeau Pass, Glacier National Park

There was our trip to Hawaii, where we hiked a stretch of the famous Kalalau Trail on Kauai. We quite literally slid down the Sliding Sands Trail into Haleakala, an inactive volcanic crater. The trip was booked after seeing the amazing series of Hawaii episodes on Motion.

Summit of Haleakala, Maui

Our first trip to the Eastern Sierras in California, in which we visited the tufas at Mono Lake…

Mono Lake

…and the ghosts of Bodie, the largest remaining ghost town in the US? Inspired by Motion.

There was last year’s inaugural backpacking trip to Thousand Island Lakes in the Ansel Adams Wilderness near Yosemite (which you have read scarcely little about because we are still picking sand out of our various crevices). This route was inspired by Motion’s episodes on the John Muir Trail and the Ansel Adams Wilderness.

Garnet Lake along the JMT in the Ansel Adams Wilderness

Solo trip to northern Wisconsin to kayak in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, on Lake Superior? Thanks for the idea, Motion!

Greg and the Motion crew have had the dream job that any fan of nature wishes she could have. To travel to the world’s most beautiful places and get paid to explore them? Lucky bastards. I’ve sufficed by living vicariously through them and doing my best to make many of those experiences—and myriad others—a reality. There are so many more places I’ve discovered in Motion episodes that are on my bucket list, so even as the show says good-bye in January, it will continue to provide years of inspired travels. So Motion, thanks for the memories—those past and those still to come!

Motion-inspired trips on my list:

  • Kenai Peninsula, Alaska
  • Olympic National Park, Washington
  • Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
  • Channel Islands, California
  • Grand Canyon’s North Rim, Arizona
  • Canyoneering in Escalante, Utah
  • Owens Valley, California
  • Point Reyes, California
  • Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
  • Acadia National Park, Maine

Traveller Tip: Use screen shots to get where you’re going

We just returned from a short trip to Vancouver, British Columbia. I’m not highly technological, so bear with this very basic explanation. I knew we wouldn’t have access to our data network. Instead of buying a SIM card in Canada, we opted to go without our data plans for the duration of the trip. It’s not hard to get by in Vancouver, since you can pick up free wifi from cafes just about anywhere in the city. But I rely on Google Maps for getting me from place to place. So I started pulling up directions while within wifi range and taking screen shots of maps and directions that I could access later, in my camera roll, from the road. This is a good strategy if traveling to Canada, or anytime you’re traveling to remote parts of the US where service may be spotty.

Armchair Traveler: A View on Cities

Hanging out with some public art in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle.

The last great city we visited was Seattle in 2010, so I’m getting excited about our upcoming visit to Vancouver, BC. In searching for some photos to gain my bearings on the city’s sights, I stumbled upon the website A View on Cities.

I hope you’re prepared to add to your bucket list. Mine is already so overwhelming that the discovery of this site actually caused a slight amount of panic. I mean, I’d heard a million times that Prague is a “must-see” destination. But once I clicked through these photos at A View on Cities, I now know that it is. And so there it goes, onto the bucket list. One more place I now long to visit. The photo library takes viewers on a virtual tour, more or less, of the world’s great cities. I haven’t yet been able to bring myself to look at many of them. Just like watching the Cooking Channel makes me want to eat, eat, eat, this web site also makes me hungry, in a different way.

Want to see what the top attractions are in Rome? Or whether Munich is a city where you’d like to wander the streets? Need a map of attractions so you can plan your route and find the best location for lodging?

It’s all there, beckoning you to while away a few hours clicking through and dreaming up future vacations you may or may not take. Take a look, and happy virtual travels!


The Only Advice You Need: Go (With Your Gut)

Please check out this article from xojane about traveling alone, and a frightening and potentially dangerous thing that happened to a lady-person, and–MOST IMPORTANTLY–read all the way to the end where writer and traveler Carmen Brito sums up what is really the only travel advice you need.

“Be cautious, and go with your gut if something seems wrong, but don’t be afraid to be in unfamiliar territory. I wish this wasn’t the world we live in, but it is, and it can be truly incredible if you go out and explore it. The rest of my trip was amazing. One person tried to harm me, but dozens of others were kind and generous.”

This is the best advice for any person of any gender, whether alone or with a group, going anywhere in the world or, for that matter, staying home. The world is a real place where the occasional bad and scary thing can happen. But usually, mostly, the world is a real place where amazing and beautiful and surprising and funny things happen. So be wise, be cautious. But don’t be scared. There’s too much world out there to be scared of it.

With that final bit of advice, I’m off to Argentina. And this, I’m sad to say, will be my last trip as editor-in-chief around these parts. Life is getting to be extremely life-y, and I can’t make the time to be as involved in Go Go Go as I want to be. I leave you in the capable hands of Brooke and Laura, who will do us all proud.

Thanks, all. Happy travels!

How to: Go Out in the Cold

Holy bananas it’s cold out there. Literally every single Chicago-adjacent-living person I know has agreed that this is the worst winter that has ever had to be endured. A lot of the response to this has been for us to just not leave our homes ever. But sometimes, going out is unavoidable. Here’s how I manage it.

1) Under-layer: Sweater tights and knee socks on the bottom, undershirt on the top. Plus obviously all the other things I usually wear under my clothes that you don’t need to read about on the Internet.

2) Regular layer: This is commonly known as “Just your regular clothes; don’t go around naked, dummy.” Important factors to consider are that I’m wearing tights under my jeans, so my skinniest jeans don’t work, and I want my top to involve some warm sweatery thing, because while my office looks cool with its huge bank of windows, that actually just means it’s really cold all the time. (This is why we all got snuggies as Christmas presents this year.)

3) Outer layer: Snow boots. I adore mine, from Baretrap. They’re incredibly warm and comfortable (and cute, if I do say so myself), and they’re reasonably waterproof, although if you go ankle-deep into a puddle, you’re sort of out of luck no matter what. Coat, of course. I can’t bring myself to buy one of the ginormous sleeping-bag coats that many Chicago women swear by, including our own art director, but I do have a nice warm wool coat with a huge hood to keep the wind off. My gloves are cheapie convertible glove-mitten combos from Target, but it means I can use my El pass, keys, and phone without taking off my mittens, and they also have long-ish sleeves tucked under my sweater sleeves so my wrists don’t get cold. I also have a silly but warm fur-lined trapper hat, ear flaps down, of course, and brim pulled down over my forehead. And then I wrap a big Irish wool scarf under my coat and pull it up over my nose. So I have just my eyes exposed.

2014-01-27 07.22.07

Cute, no? Well, maybe not. But I am warm. And while I did have some frost on my eyelashes by the time I got to the El today, I did not lose a limb, and I did not whine *that* much. And I consider that a victory against the elements.

How to: Make a Boring Trip Fun

On Saturday, Mike and I had to drive to literally the middle of nowhere. He had to meet someone he works with to hand off a hard drive, and they decided to meet at a gas station off the highway halfway between their houses. I went with, because I had nothing else to do on a cold Saturday morning.

But of course, a drive to a gas station off the highway in Summit, Illinois, is not exciting in either the journey or the destination.

Unless… you pretend that you’re in a spy thriller.

Now it’s possible that this won’t work for every boring trip. Maybe if you’re just going to your second cousin’s dry wedding, it won’t help. But we were carrying a hard drive (which might have had government secrets on it instead of some video of a dude golfing) to a discreet location to meet a shadowy (read: not at all shadowy) contact. So there was much talk about code words (“The falcon has the football”) and also gangster/spy-guy nicknames for both of us.

This became extra important when we got to the gas station and waited, in the parking lot in the snow, for about half an hour. Everyone else in that gas station parking lot appeared to be there to meet a man about something or other. One couple was possibly selling the car they arrived in. They were definitely doing something that involved signing some paperwork with another couple. Another woman was there to hand over her daughter to what we were assuming was her grandmother and not just a white slaver. Everyone was just waiting in cars for something to happen. Watching. And waiting.

We waited in vain, in the end. Our contact never showed. But still, we had a little bit of fun with it, even if we never got to pass the football.