Месечни архиви: януари 2016

Seven Quirky Travel Accessories For Your Future Home


Park Slope Brownstones

The following branded content post is brought to you by Airportag. As a new brand ambassador for this company, I’m excited to introduce these new products to you! I’m sure you’ll fall in love with them as much as I have. Also, some of these links are affiliates, which, if you purchase, will earn me a small commission at no extra cost to you.

One of the best things about settling down is getting to decorate a home with items that represent my my travels. I’m moving in five days (eek!) and I’ve been perusing the web nonstop for unique items that will reflect my interest in travel.

I’ve never been much of a souvenir buyer (my photos are my souvenirs!) so in some ways, I’m starting with a blank canvas.

Here’s the thing — I don’t want my place to look like a giant travel museum. I’m multidimensional — we all are. Travel should be just one of a variety of interests and curiosities that we cultivate.

The solution? Primarily subtle decor with a few well-placed, quirky travel pieces. I think that the kitchen and bathroom in particular are the best places to go a bit crazier than usual.

I’ve been working with the company Airportag over the past few months, and in addition to cool travel shirts, they also have a lot of cool travel and airport code-themed quirky accessories for your home.

Here are some of my favorite home decor items that you can get on the site:

Airportag Airplane Shower Curtain

Airplane Shower Curtain

I am kicking myself that I didn’t see this before buying my own shower curtain for my all-black-and-white bathroom. This shower curtain strikes all the right notes — it’s fun, it’s patterned, it’s black and white! (They also have it in pink and blue.)

(Also going up in that bathroom, eventually? A black and white map of Bangkok and a black and white photo I took of the superkilen in Copenhagen.)

Airplane Shower Curtain — $66

Airportag Amsterdam Magnet

Airport Code Refrigerator Magnet

Refrigerator magnets are one place where I think you don’t have to worry about subtlety — feel free to go crazy! I think a collection of magnets from your favorite cities would be nice, and this Amsterdam magnet would be nice paired with a few others.

These also make great cheap, low-key gifts for friends who are into travel.

Airport Code Magnets — $4.90 each

Airportag Jet Lagged Blanket

Jet Lagged Blanket

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come home from Europe and have ended up sitting on the couch, wrapped in a blanket, just trying to keep my eyes open past 10:00 PM. I love this jet lagged blanket because it’s black and white and recalls the designs of old-fashioned departure boards with a modern,tongue-in-cheek saying.

Airportag also has blankets with passport stamps, world maps, European airport codes, and more.

Travel Blankets — from $39.90

Airportag Edinburgh Canvas

Airport Code Canvases

I love canvases because they’re lightweight, tough, and you don’t have to worry about framing them. I saw this Edinburgh canvas and fell in love with the purple color! Not to mention that Edinburgh is one of my favorite cities.

I think these would look best stacked up in a row of three. Choose three of your favorite cities, or three cities with a theme. Here’s an example:

I think they’d look good in a hallway. Lucky for me, my new place has a long, gallery-style hallway leading to the bathroom!

Airport Code Canvases — $39.90 each

Airportag Norway Flag Pillow

Flag Pillows

Pillows are one place in the house where I wouldn’t want to go too outlandish — but one matching, well-chosen pillow on an otherwise solid couch is a good mark of style. A Union Jack pillow is classic, but if that’s a little too Spice Girls for you and you still like those colors, how about the Norwegian flag? It would look great on a navy or blue sofa.

Note that these are all pillow covers. You’ll need to buy a pillow separately.

Flag Pillow Covers — from $24.90

Airportag Passports Poster

Passports Poster

Don’t overlook posters as an adult — just make sure you frame them, ideally with a matted frame! College is over and we’re definitely done with the dorm look. (My dorm was an homage to Paris, Paris sunsets, Paris black and white photography, and the movie Moulin Rouge. My first roommate hung up printouts of U2 and Dave Matthews lyrics. It…was not a fit.)

I really like this passports poster — and it also gives you an opportunity to appreciate your privilege for having a passport that gets you to most places in the world without much trouble.

Passports Poster — from $34.90

Airportag LHR London Mug

Travel Mugs

Mugs are my favorite way to go crazy with decor. I love having friends over and picking out a mug for them based on their personality! (You should see people’s faces when I offer them my “I had sex with an elf in Iceland” mug.)

This way, you can subtly suggest cities that you think your friends would love visiting. You can even take it further — serve tea only in a London mug and coffee in a Mexico City mug.

Travel mugs — $24.90 each

Beyond the Home

Decorating my new place is going to be a long process — I might get the bathroom done quickly, but it will be months before I’ll be able to show you the finished product. Anything else you suggest? I’d love to hear it!

Which of these items would you want in your home?



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Make This The Year You Start Your Own Business


Kate at TBD Italy

Looking back over the past decade, I’m shocked at how much the business world has changed. Just a few years ago, there was only one socially acceptable route: get a full-time job and work there as long as you can. Maybe do something creative on the side, if anything.

Today? People are starting their own businesses, cobbling together creative careers that are just as legitimate as traditional full-time work. These people are working for themselves and harnessing the power of the digital global economy.

I believe that we are in a new era of business. I expect more people to be creating online careers for themselves. Ten years from now? Holy shit, dude.

The Only Job Security is from Owning Your Business

Job security is an absolute myth.

Sure, some fields might have a bit more security than others — like government jobs, or having tenure at a university, but nothing tops you being the job.

During my brief corporate career in Boston, I’ve seen people. I’ve even seen successful, well-respected, profits-generating employees lose their jobs en masse because the company wanted to completely restructure. In my personal life, I’ve seen friends and family members lose jobs again and again through circumstances that were not their faults.

If you work for yourself, however, you never get fired.

Sure, your business has to earn money. But once it does, you’re secure.

It’s in this spirit that more and more people have started working for themselves.

Most of the time when travel bloggers talk about entrepreneurship, they’re talking about 1) starting a travel-based business or 2) starting a blog.

The truth? Most people don’t want to do either of those. Maybe you like living in your current home or town, just traveling for occasional vacations. Maybe you don’t think blogging is for you. That’s totally fine! Most people are like you.

This post is for the rest of you who want a career of your own but don’t want to go the travel or blogging route.

Dubrovnik Cable Car Sunset

The Benefits of Starting a Business

Time is yours. Grocery shopping in the middle of the day. Always being able to get a machine at the gym. No more rush hour, EVER.

Ultimate flexibility. I remember reading Baby-Sitters Clubs books when I was little and wondering, “Why do they always take two-week vacations? Nobody has time for that!” Well, now you can do that.

Family-friendliness. Family dinners every night. Freedom to attend parent-teacher conferences, school plays, and shuttle your kid around to activities without having to ask your boss. If your kid has special needs, you’ll have more time to devote to him or her.

Mostly? I refuse to make someone else rich.

When you work for someone else, you aren’t receiving all of the money that you’re earning for a company. Not even close. Maybe if you do exceptional work, they’ll reward you with a promotion or a raise.

Here’s the truth — that promotion is not going to be worth all the money you made them. Besides, you could still lose your job, even if you’re a model employee.

You could have made that money for yourself — and kept all of it, spending it or reinvesting in your future, with no apologies to anyone. Forget making a CEO or shareholders rich — you’re making yourself rich.

That, in a nutshell, is why I work for myself today.

The Creative Accelerator

The Creative Accelerator

The Creative Accelerator is a collection of 13 digital resources sold at a massive discount for only three days once a year. That time is now: January 28-30 only, and then this collection of products will never be sold again.

The resources are sold together for the price of $129.

These products cost more than $2000 if you buy them separately. $129 is a MASSIVE discount, especially considering that half the products cost more than that to begin with! This huge discount is why it only lasts for three days.

What comes in the bundle?

13 digital products focused on creative businesses and entrepreneurship, which work for everyone but have more of an emphasis on beginners or people creating new businesses. (There are also two bonus products if you are one of the first buyers.)

You don’t need to know exactly what kind of business you want to start — in fact, this is probably one of the better products if you don’t know for certain.

For most creative entrepreneurs, one of the biggest roadblocks is just getting started. It’s because of this paralysis that many people give up early or never start in the first place. (This is one of the things I struggle with the most.) Many of the products in this set are designed to give you the organization and direction to power past those overwhelming blocks.

Not every product in this pack will be a home run with you, but most of them cost more individually than you’d pay for the entire pack at $129!

Sunset in Santorini

Products That Are Especially Worth It

3 Info Products in 3 Weeks by Amber Kuivenhoven (value: $197)

If you’re interested in earning passive income, this is an outstanding option — over three weeks, you will build three information-based products and be ready to sell them. You’ll be taught how to create a worksheet, an ebook, and an online course, which you can replicate again and again in a variety of topics!

The LEAP Guide by Leah Kalamakis and Heather Thorkelson (value: $397)

If you want to shift from being a full-time employee to a freelancer, this product is vital. Freelancing isn’t easy, and this course will help you with the steps that many new freelancers struggle with, like building a portfolio, knowing what to charge, and finding clients.

Sweet Spot Style Your Business E-Course by Desha Peacock (value: $295)

If you want to start a creative business but are struggling on exactly how to do that — what to do? How to sell? What you even want out of this? — this course will help you find clarity and move toward building a business that is right for you. Clarity is one of the toughest things to achieve, especially if you have lots of ideas, so it’s good to have help wherever you can.

Build a Thriving Blog by Christine Gilbert (value: $360)

Making a full-time living off your blog is a dream for many people, but starting this late in the game is a big challenge when you’re surrounded by huge, successful sites. This course will get you through your first year of blogging and teach you how to keep it financially sustainable.

The Live More E-Course by Nicole Liloia (value: $97)

This one isn’t business-oriented, but it will help you achieve more personal clarity and live a fuller, better life. This course is a series of writing prompts and exercises to get you to realize exactly what you need to live better. I often don’t realize things until I write them down — this makes the writing habit directed and easy.

Sunset over Montenegro

Other Products

Etsy Shop Fundamentals by Lisa Jacobs (value: $30)

If you’re interested in opening an Etsy shop, this will teach you how to do it right and avoid the mistakes new Etsy sellers often make.

Five-Day Content Challenge by Caressa Thompson (value: $77)

Another hugely helpful product with getting started: this will help you map out the first month’s content you will create for your product.

Udemy for Entrepreneurs (value: $99)

If you’re interested in building courses for the popular site, this will show you how to do so.

Unblock Your Creativity by Deb Lange (value: $195)

This course has a variety of exercises and examples to help you branch out your own creativity and apply it to your business.

Learn to Draw and Keep a Sketchbook by Drew Gilbert (value: $149)

Sure, coloring is the trend of the moment — and that’s awakened an interest in art for lots of people, myself included. Why not learn how to do it better?

Bloom True Intuitive Painting by Flora Bowley (value: $39)

A creative generator, this product combines creative prompts in studio art and more general areas.

Map Your Progress by Amy Jones (value: $15)

A lot of the time, it’s difficult to go after specific goals unless you write them out in detail. This product helps you do so and keep track of everything.

How I Get Stolen Content Taken Off the Internet (value: $97)

My stuff is stolen on a daily basis. It’s the price of having your work on the internet. This ebook teaches you how to get it taken down — vital if you end up losing money because of these thieves.

Kate working in El Tunco

Who is the Creative Accelerator for?

This collection is for any person who wants to start their own business, especially if they’re not sure what kind of business to start yet.

You might want to get into Etsy selling. You might want to build digital resources. You might want to consult or coach in a field you know well. And you might want to get paid for your blog.

Last summer, I promoted a similar collection of personal development and entrepreneurship resources called The Paradise Pack, which was only available for a week and is no longer available. But it resonated with you guys, since more than 100 of my readers bought the package, myself included!

Is there a difference? Both are great, but they tend to cater toward slightly different audiences.

The Creative Accelerator is more oriented toward a variety of creative businesses and people who don’t know what they want to do for a business. The Paradise Packs of the past have been more oriented toward travel-based businesses and people who already know what kind of business.

There is only one product that appears in The Creative Accelerator and last year’s Paradise Pack: Christine Gilbert’s blogging course. And keep in mind that both collections have different products every year.

But keep in mind that both packages are only sold for a few days per year. The Creative Accelerator will only be on sale through January 30.

The Creative Accelerator

How to Get The Creative Accelerator

Check it out here. The cost is $129 and the products are delivered by email on February 1.

BONUS: If you’re one of the first 1,000 people to purchase, you’ll get two bonus products: Selling Your Art With Print On Demand by Drew Gilbert (value: $180), which is pretty self-explanatory, and A Better Life for Half the Price by Tim Leffel (value: $22), a guide to living well in cheap destinations around the globe.

Bar on Koh Lanta

Questions You May Have

Can I buy just one of the products? No. They’re only for sale as one single bundle.

Can I buy it after the sale ends? No. This product is only available through January 30 and then it disappears forever. Any future bundles will contain different products.

How do I pay for the product? Credit cards and Paypal are accepted.

How will I receive the bundle? It will be emailed to you on February 1.

Is this just for Americans? No, it’s for anyone and everyone! There are no restrictions. The products are all in English.

Did you buy it, Kate? You fucking bet I’m going to, and I’m paying the full price of $129. Why haven’t I yet? Because I’m waiting to see which bloggers I read are posting about it first. The commission has to go to someone, and I want the commission to go to a blogger whose work I read regularly as a thank you to her or him for all the free content she or he has given me over the years.

Why did you buy it if you say this is best for beginners? I’m actually interested in the 3 Info Products in 3 Weeks course, as I’ve been wanting to explore creating new products, as well as the Live More e-course. The former ordinarily costs $197 — I’m saving money even if I don’t look at any of the other products!

Do you earn a commission? Absolutely. I earn 30% of what people buy through me. The Creative Accelerator is affiliate-based, so someone makes a 30% commission, no matter what. The creators of the products in the bundle earn a higher commission, but I’m not sure how much they get.

Would you be promoting this if you didn’t earn a commission? Ha, that’s a question nobody else would answer! Truthfully, I’d promote it on Facebook and Twitter because I think it’s a great product for my audience and I know the creators, but I wouldn’t devote a whole blog post to it. Posts are valuable and they take me several hours to write, plus I’m crazy backlogged, so I think that would be the best use of my time (and for entrepreneurs, time is money).

Is there anything else I should know? Yes. 10% of proceeds from the sales are being donated to SamaSchool.org, which provides training to low-income people to work online and grow their opportunities. I hadn’t heard of them until last week and it looks like a fantastic organization!

Relax Bay Koh Lanta

Is It Your Time to Start a Business?

It might be your time now.

Will the Creative Accelerator work for you? It depends how willing you are to work. There will be people who buy this and then leaf through the products casually, then never actually do anything — and wonder why it’s five years later and they’re still working at a job they can’t stand.

But if you’re willing to dive in, read everything you can get, and work hard, this will absolutely pay off. And that $129 you spent will be a tiny investment compared to what you’ll be making down the road.

This collection may be exactly what you need to get yourself there.

Get It Before It’s Gone

The Creative Accelerator is only available for 72 hours — then it’s gone forever. Make sure you purchase before Saturday, January 30, 2016 at 11:59 PM EST!

Please note that affiliate links are used in this post. If you purchase The Creative Accelerator, I will receive a commission at no extra cost to you. By purchasing items through my affiliate links, you’ll help reduce the ever-increasing expenses of running this site. Thanks!  :-)



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The Ultimate Girls’ Getaway to Koh Lanta, Thailand


Koh Lanta

“What’s your favorite place?”

I asked get that question at least once a day and often several times. It’s not an easy question to answer, as most travelers can attest. Our lists are long and we can’t pick one place above all.

…or can we?

Yes, it’s true — I actually have a favorite place in the world now. It’s a little place called Koh Lanta, Thailand.

Koh LantaTime for Lime MargaritaRoad to Relax Bay Koh LantaKate Shadow Koh LantaKoh Lanta

Koh Lanta Overview

I first visited Koh Lanta just a few weeks into my long-term travels in 2010. I fell immediately in love.

Koh Lanta hits the development spot perfectly. Much of the island has a rustic feel, characterized by jungle huts and a few mountains. Prices are lower than the more popular neighboring islands. The people are incredibly friendly. And the sunsets? THE BEST ANYWHERE.

You don’t come to Koh Lanta for posh resorts (go to Phuket for that). You don’t come here to party your face off (Koh Phi Phi is a better bet).

You come here to relax and enjoy yourself.

Kate and Brenna on the Ferry to Krabi

Our Thirty-Something Girls’ Getaway

For this trip, I’d have a companion. Brenna of This Battered Suitcase (which you should definitely read, it’s one of the best travel blogs out there) and I were going to be in Thailand at the same time, so we decided to plan a trip to Koh Lanta together.

Now, here’s the beauty of our trip: Brenna and I had both been to Koh Lanta in our twenties, and now we were both 31. We had both done the Koh-Lanta-with-a-boy thing. And we had both done the twenty-something-bucket-guzzling-Southeast-Asia-backpacker thing.

This time in our lives, we were looking for something different. This would be a trip back to our beloved island where we could splash out a bit more, getting a much nicer guesthouse and going out to eat without watching our pennies. A trip where we wouldn’t feel pressure to do a ton of sightseeing or activities.

We were getting away from chilly temperatures (Boston for me and London for her) and wanted to chill out, hang out on the beach, read some books, hit up some bars, and meet some cool people.

When you’re in your early thirties, you’re not into partying as much as you used to be, and you probably have more money to spend. It was in this state of mind that we enjoyed a fabulous week in Koh Lanta.

Soontreya Lanta Resort

Living it Up at Soontreya Lanta Resort

I discovered Soontreya Lanta Resort on my last trip, when friends staying there invited me to come visit one evening. I was impressed by the hotel’s grounds and pool, not to mention my friends’ raves about the comfy beds, and vowed that once I started making more money, I would come back to Koh Lanta and stay here.

Promise kept. This is a GREAT place to stay on Koh Lanta.

Soontreya Lanta Resort

Image: Agoda

We had a very comfortable bungalow with twin beds and a bathroom with hot water. Comfortable beds and pillows are a rarity in Thailand, so when you finally get them, you enjoy them!

A standard bungalow, available with twin beds or a queen bed, cost us a very reasonable 2,700 baht ($75 USD) per night during high season (November 1-December 14 and March 1-April 30), which was even more reasonable when split between two. (Peak season of December 15-February 29 costs 3,500 baht/$97 per night; low season of May 1-October 31 costs 1,800 baht/$50 per night.)

Soontreya Resort Koh Lanta

Also, the wifi here is good enough to get your work done, whether by the pool or in your room! It did go out briefly during a few storms, but they have a generator for backup.

Soontreya is located at the bottom of Long Beach, an eight-minute walk from the outstanding beach at Relax Bay. It’s a five-minute walk from the main road, where you can flag down a tuk-tuk anywhere on the island.

One small flaw — like most Thai island resorts, the food here is mostly mediocre Western dishes and dumbed-down Thai fare. That said, their spring rolls are nice and I ate a ton of their chicken burgers!

Relax Bay Koh Lanta

Lazy Days at Relax Bay

I had never visited Relax Bay on my previous visits to Koh Lanta, but now it’s my favorite beach on the island.

Relax Bay is a small beach located just south of Pra Ae (Long Beach). It’s much quieter than the other big beaches and most of the crowd are guests at the Relax Bay Resort.

The water is the clearest of any beach I’ve been to on the island!

Relax Bay Koh Lanta

HOW IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE?! You don’t see water that clear on the popular islands on the Andaman Coast!

(Two years ago, I met a woman who told me she first came to Lanta in the 90s and all the beaches used to look like that. Sad.)

Relax Bay Koh LantaRelax Bay Koh LantaRelax Bay Koh LantaRelax Bay Koh LantaKate and Brenna at Relax BayRelax Bay Koh LantaRelax Bay Koh Lanta

A bar called Moloko came recommended by our guesthouse owner and it soon became our regular place. They have exactly one shaded bungalow, so I’d recommend getting there early, especially in peak season, to claim your spot!

A spot to sit and read…fruit shakes and light lunches…a nearby hammock…massages a few doors down.

You can tell why we always ended up there!

Koh Lanta Bikes

Explore the Island by Motorbike

The best way to explore Koh Lanta is to rent a motorbike. The roads are in good condition and they’re not too busy, making it a good place to ride.

We actually didn’t rent bikes this time, but I recommend that first-time visitors do.

Koh LantaKoh LantaKoh Lanta

(Either way, please be sure to have travel insurance. I use and recommend World Nomads. You should have it every single time you travel, and it will protect you if you get injured while on a motorbike, which can happen even if you’re cautious.)

Brenna and Dog Koh Lanta

Kitty and Puppy Love

Brenna is a self-declared Dog Whisperer. (She even had a conversation with Carrie Fisher in London the other day — because she started talking to her about her dog!) Me, I’m not a dog person at all. But Brenna wanted to go spend time with dogs and I love Lanta Animal Welfare and the work that they do, so we went to the animal sanctuary together.

If you’re visiting the island, you can show up at Lanta Animal Welfare, take a tour, walk the dogs, and cuddle the cats as much as you’d like. You can even apply to volunteer long-term if you’d like to. (The volunteer who greeted us was actually one of my readers!)

Lanta Animal WelfareCat Lanta Animal Welfare

After a few kitty scratches, the volunteers brought out two little dogs and suggested we take them to Relax Bay, a short walk away.

Puppies Koh LantaMonroe Dog Koh Lanta

Oh, the dogs LOVED the beach! They were skittish and nervous at first, especially when we walked past a crowd of kids, but as soon as they got to the water, they were so happy.

Kate and Monroe Dog Koh Lanta

And this so-not-a-dog-person fell completely and totally in love with her little doggie! Her name was Monroe and she was SO soft. I came pretty close to packing her in my suitcase.

By the way, you can adopt animals from Lanta Animal Welfare! It’s actually a lot easier than you think, especially if you’re based in Europe or North America.

Brenna and Puppy Koh Lanta

Also, at one point Monroe spun me around and I hit my camera‘s settings and accidentally set them to miniature — but look at how this picture came out! I really like it!

Koh Lanta Sunset

The World’s Best Sunsets

Koh Lanta is my favorite sunset destination in the world (though Boracay is a close second).

To show you just how good the sunsets are, I’m going to show you the progression on a sunset that looked like it was going to be nonexistent.

Koh Lanta Sunset

Eh, kind of boring. Doesn’t look like it’s going to be anything.

Koh Lanta Sunset

Pretty lavender, but no bright streaks…

Koh Lanta Sunset

Ooh. What’s that giant pink thing?

Koh Lanta Sunset

I’ve never seen a sunset like this before!

Koh Lanta Sunset


Koh Lanta Sunset

PERFECT cotton candy skies!

Koh Lanta Sunset


Koh Lanta Sunset

I shall dance in the surf to celebrate!

Koh Lanta Sunset

And the grand finale. I can’t believe this sunset turned out so good.

Sanctuary Koh Lanta Sunset

Sunset Drinks on the Beach

This sunset shot-by-shot above took place on Relax Bay, but one of my favorite places for sunset viewings is Sanctuary, a bar and guesthouse on Long Beach. It’s nothing unusual or extraordinary — just a nice bar with nice people and a great place to watch the sun sink into the sea.

Koh Lanta SunsetKoh Lanta Sunset PuppyKoh Lanta SunsetKoh Lanta SunsetBar on Koh Lanta

There are tons of bars on all the beaches and you might be able to get some happy hour prices on cocktails.

Koh Lanta Friends

Eat Well

Koh Lanta has a ton of great places to eat, including one of my favorite restaurants in the world!

Here are three excellent options:

Red Snapper Bruschetta

Red Snapper in Long Beach — This is one of my favorite restaurants in the world. I even spent Thanksgiving Day here once! Red Snapper’s chef is from Holland and she’s always changing the menu, which features international dishes and small plates. I’d recommend making a reservation here if you’re visiting in high or shoulder season. Try everything.

Best dish: chorizo fried with brandy and garlic. My favorite since 2010 and I still dream about smashing those garlic cloves over the slivers of meat!

Kwan's Cookery Koh Lanta

Kwan’s Cookery in Klong Khong — If you’re not planning on visiting Chiang Mai or the north, you must come here to experience some outstanding northern Thai dishes! Even if you’ve already been to Chiang Mai, the food here is so good that you’ll be coming back again and again. Everything on the menu is fantastic here, and nowhere near the usual bland Thai-for-tourists fare.

Kwan’s also offers cooking classes.

Best dish: khao soi. Pretty much every travel blogger is obsessed with this coconut-based noodle soup, and there’s a reason for that!

Time for Lime Fried Som Tam

Time for Lime on Khlong Dao — Nothing but a six-course Thai tasting menu. Oh, and the best cocktails on the island! They’re famous for their mojitos and the tasting menus, which can be made at different spicy levels, are a lot of fun. They also offer popular cooking classes and have an adults-only upper seating area.

Best of all, profits here go to Lanta Animal Welfare.

Best dish: the famous Time for Lime soup. Like all good Thai food, it’s a combination of sweet, sour, salty, and umami, all pureed down into a wondrous blend.

Besides these three, there are plenty of casual places along the main road, some with names, some without. Islands can often be hit or miss, offering bland tourist-friendly Thai dishes, and Lanta can be challenging in that aspect. Look for casual places where locals are eating, not just tourists.

Koh Lanta Beach Party

Party Up

Koh Lanta isn’t a rollicking party island like Koh Phi Phi or Koh Phangan. Instead, there tends to be one place to be each night of the week.

Ask around for where the parties are. Two of our favorite places were Irie Bar for live music on Mondays and Pangea Beach Bar for the Tuesday beach party, both on Long Beach.

The beach party was especially fun! It’s known as the night where I was exhausted and promised Brenna I’d stay three hours — then I got my second wind and we were dancing until 4:00 AM. The DJ was playing incredible music and it was the perfect level of a crowd. There were enough people that it felt like a big party, but it was sparse enough that the bartenders were dancing as hard as we were!

We ended up meeting three English guys who were our age at the party. Dude, meeting multiple cool thirty-something guys on the backpacker trail in Southeast Asia is like meeting a herd of unicorns! (Southeast Asia backpackers tend to skew young; Europe backpackers are even younger. Latin America backpackers skew closer to thirty-somethings.) We ended up hanging out for the rest of our time on the island.

Koh Lanta Storm Arriving

When to Go: November or December

I’ve visited Koh Lanta twice in November and once in December and January. High season on the Andaman Coast runs roughly from December through April and this is when you’ll have the sunniest weather.

November is my absolute favorite. It’s still shoulder season, so you get sunny days about 2/3 of the time and big storms about 1/3 of the time. That picture above is November weather in a nutshell — a gorgeous sunny day with a big storm on the way!

Because of this, the skies are streaked with clouds, making bolder and more dramatic sunsets than during the sunniest season from late December to February.

That said, I know some people who came in November and had much worse luck, where it rained almost constantly. If you’re nervous, I’d recommend pushing to December, just in case, but keep in mind rates are at their highest from mid-December to February.

Koh Lanta

My Favorite Place in the World

The night of the beach party, one of the guys and I were chatting about blogging and he asked me that same question that I always get: “So, what’s your favorite place?”

“Here!” I exclaimed. “It’s actually here. I’ve loved this island for five years and this is my favorite trip yet.”

Since visiting Koh Lanta for the first time, I’ve sent more than 30 of my readers here as well. It has made me so happy to hear about more people falling in love with my beloved island.

Consider visiting Koh Lanta later this year. Whether you visit with a friend, like I did, or solo or with a partner or with your family, I know you’ll appreciate what a special place this island is.

Koh Lanta Getaway

Essential Info: To get to Koh Lanta, take a ferry from Krabi town or Ao Nang. Tickets should be around 400-500 baht ($11-14). There are also ferries from smaller islands further south like Koh Mok and Koh Lipe. If you’re flying in, you can book a transfer to Krabi’s pier from the airport.

I recommend staying at least a week to get the full relaxed experience, but if you’re short on time, stay for at least three days. Less than that and you’re doing yourself a disservice.

To get around the island, flag down a tuk-tuk on the main road. Know the beach where your destination is located. Most of the time it should cost less than 100 baht ($3) for two people, more with more people.

Koh Lanta is a Muslim island. If you’re a light sleeper, don’t choose a guesthouse next to a mosque, as the call of prayer will ring out early. Swimwear is fine at the beach and at resorts but wear real clothes when you’re in town.

Lanta Animal Welfare runs tours at 12:00 PM and 5:00 PM. Dogs are walked before 11:00 AM and after 3:00 PM to avoid the heat. Find out about volunteering here and pet adoption here.

If you’re interested in renting a motorbike, talk to your guesthouse and they’ll either rent to you or recommend someone who will. You’ll need to leave your passport as a deposit.

Soontreya Lanta Resort‘s rates for a bungalow with two twin beds or a queen bed start at 1,800 baht ($50) in low season (May 1-October 31), 2,700 baht ($75) in high season (November 1-December 14 and March 1-April 30), and 3,500 baht ($. The cheapest rates tend to be on Agoda.

Want more? Read Brenna’s post about our trip here! All photos in this post with me in them (excluding selfies) were taken by Brenna.

What’s your favorite place in the world?



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Quit Fucking Around and Build Yourself a Fuck-Off Fund



One of the most popular posts on this site? How I Saved $13,000 For Travel In Just Seven Months.

I stand by that post. It may have been from a different point in my life, but it’s still an excellent guide on how to strip your life down to the basics in order to save a ton of money as quickly as possible.

Here’s the truth: saving that way is not sustainable as a long-term life strategy. I was working around the clock, eating almost nothing, sleeping four hours a night, and would have burned out had I lived like that for much longer.

A few days ago, The Billfold published a post about the importance of an emergency fund and called it A Story of a Fuck-Off Fund. Shortly after, Jezebel wrote a great response which I shared on the Adventurous Kate Facebook page, and it became one of my most-shared links of all time.

That post was fantastic. The importance of having an emergency fund can never be overstated, and calling it a Fuck-Off Fund is a way that makes it sound, well, empowering and fun!

At the same time, I felt that the specific story that it told — of a woman whose boyfriend began hitting her and whose boss began groping her — was an extreme example of what can push you to need an emergency fund to escape. It was a little cartoon-villainy for my taste. Abuse is often far more subtle than this, but it can be just as harmful.

This is stuff you guys clearly want to know more about. So I wanted to write a post that went a bit further.

May this post give you a good, hard kick in the ass.

Red Umbrellas Belgrade

Do you have an emergency fund?

Don’t be ashamed if you don’t. Most of us don’t have one at all, let alone one that can sustain us over six months of unemployment or hardship.

However, this is fixable. Don’t put your head in the sand. You can start today.

Here’s the truth: Most of us are shitty at our finances.

Here in the United States, we often don’t learn enough about how to protect ourselves financially until it’s too late. It’s not just a lack of emergency funds. College students get in too deep with credit cards. Seventeen-year-olds choose a college based on prestige without knowing the reality of loan repayments.

I fully believe that personal finance should be taught in high school. I don’t see that happening anytime soon, however, so let’s do our best to catch up now.

Women in Galle

The truth? As women, we are financially more vulnerable.

I know, there are plenty of men who read this site, but about two-thirds of my audience is female, which means that two out of three of you face an increased level of vulnerability.

We are more likely to earn less than men.*

We are more likely to have gaps in our employment.*

We are more likely to be victims of domestic violence.*

We are more likely to live in poverty.*

We tend to live longer than men,* and we are more likely to be widowed than men,* which both increase the importance of our retirement savings.

When you have this many financial factors stacked against you, you need to take more precautions.

Istanbul Sunset

Something Bad Could Happen

What do finance people always warn you about? You could lose your job. Your car could break down beyond repair. You could get seriously ill or injured. If you’re American, you could lose your health insurance or have an emergency where you won’t be covered.

Would you have the money to help you stay afloat if any of these things happened?

The examples in the piece on The Billfold involve physical abuse from a partner and sexual harassment from a boss. While these experiences are sadly far too common, they are not the only kinds of situations that warrant an escape.

Here are three examples of situations that may be more subtle than physical abuse, but absolutely justify using your Fuck-Off Fund to get away.

Honolulu Bar

The Arrival of Mr. Hyde

You and your boyfriend date for a year or two, then decide to move in together. At first it’s great — you’ve always been a fun, compatible and loving couple. Moving in seemed like the perfect decision — it was the next step in your relationship, it saved you money or maybe got you a nicer place, and now you get to build a life together every day.

Sure, you bicker now and then, but things overall are really, really nice. Then your boyfriend hits a rough patch. He becomes stressed out, irritable, critical, and volatile.

He’s under a tremendous amount of stress at work, he tells you. His family is giving him problems. Money is tight right now and as soon as things level out and get back to normal, things will be different. But a lot of things you’re doing are making it worse, and you need to make some changes.

You’re not as neat as him, nor as organized, and you sometimes wear overly scuffed boots and sweaters on the verge of unraveling. He wants to be with a woman who always dresses smart, he tells you. If you worked on this, you would be a better person. And you agree with him, because you know you can do better.

Before you know it, you’re running around the apartment before he gets home from work, making sure it’s spotless and nothing’s out of place so he doesn’t start with the criticisms the moment he walks in. You’re dressing up exactly the way he wants you to, because it’s not worth the ensuing criticisms if you don’t. You’d rather just eliminate the issue before it happens.

But you can’t prevent everything. You fuck up. He discovers that you leave the blender in the sink after making smoothies. You thought you were being so good by washing the blender as soon as you finished your drink, but now he wants you to wash everything before you even take a sip. Maybe you were too quiet when his friends came over. He doesn’t want a girlfriend who isn’t the life of the party, he tells you.

Now it seems like despite your efforts, you’re now fucking up a few times a day. You forget to close all the windows when you go grocery shopping. You don’t hang up the bath mat after a shower. Each time, he gives you the silent treatment for hours.

At one point, you call him out. He tells you that if you’re forgetting every kindness he’s ever shown you, that you can get lost. And somehow, you end up apologizing to him.

Now you’re hiding in the bathroom and crying every night, wondering if you’ve been this much of a mess your whole life, or if it’s just starting now.

If it were physical abuse, you’d be out of there in a heartbeat — you’ve seen enough after-school specials to know that. But what is this in-between thing, these insults and freak-outs and constant criticism and silent treatment? Is this considered emotional abuse?*

This is not the man you fell in love with. What is this stress doing to him? You know that he is a good, kind man underneath it all! You wouldn’t be with him if he wasn’t!

But things aren’t getting better. You try to bring up the problems gently, framing them as communication issues, and he refuses to take responsibility, blaming work and money and his family and your inability to do anything right.

It’s a familiar routine at this point — you leave a pot in the sink to soak and forget about it after an hour. He lambasts you for 20 minutes. You let your face and mind go blank until he’s finished and sits down in front of the TV, unlikely to speak to you for the rest of the night. You head to the bathroom to cry in private, as usual, and then it hits you — this isn’t temporary. This is who he is and this is what your life with him will be.

You want to leave. But you live here now.

In order to leave, you’d need, at a minimum, first month’s rent, last month’s rent, and a security deposit for another apartment. Probably a broker fee on top of that. And you don’t have that. Plus the fact that you can say goodbye to last month’s rent and your security deposit on this place.

What can you do? Your best friend is married and her husband doesn’t like having people stay on the couch. Your other best friend has a new baby. You’ve got other friends, but nobody has a spare room in this expensive city and they’re not that good friends. Plus, everyone thinks your boyfriend is a great guy. They’ll never believe you.

Just a few more months, you promise yourself. Save your cash and you can afford to leave by Christmas.

*It is.

View from the Bastille

The Company Shake-Up

You lucked out in the job department — you ended up with a kickass boss. He’s smart, he’s funny, he’s kind. He appreciates your contributions and implements your ideas. You’ve got a lot of potential, he tells you, and the two of you map out your career path at the company over the next few years. You’ll be ready for a promotion within a year if you keep up the good work.

Work is work, sure, and of course you’d much rather be on a tropical island than stuck in an office, but as far as jobs go, this is a good one. You’ve heard horror stories from your friends and you know how lucky you are compared to them.

Until your company’s board of directors decides to make some major changes. Positions are eliminated immediately. New hires will be arriving shortly. Long-term employees are let go with generous severance packages, and your boss is one of them. You actually smoke a cigarette with him to commiserate, then cough violently and resolve never to do it again. A week later, you’re introduced to your new boss.

Your new boss seems strict and a bit high-strung, but you’re sure she’ll mellow in time. The chemistry isn’t there, and after a month, it still isn’t there. Most people don’t have close relationships with their bosses, you tell yourself. This is normal. Even Good Guy Jim had trouble with Hot Boss Idris Elba on The Office.

But over the next few weeks, you learn that her stress levels are through the roof. She breathes down your neck, refuses your requests for time off, and micromanages you.

Immaculate work matters to her, she tells you. She’s behind you every day. She summons you for surprise meetings. You’re staying late and doing work ahead of time to be ready for her evaluations, and your heart starts pounding whenever someone silently walks up behind you.

And then it happens — you fuck up.

It’s not a huge mistake in retrospect — but it’s enough to delay an eagerly anticipated department-wide project. And if you still had your old boss, he wouldn’t have been happy but he would have still been in your corner, even defending you to the CEO if necessary. He knows what you’re capable of doing.

The new boss has seen none of your past work. Soon it comes time to have a meeting about your future at the company. Only it’s the complete opposite of the meeting you had with your first boss. You’re on probation.

If you thought things were tense before, that’s nothing compared to your days here now. You now report to an employer who makes you feel worthless. She’s started texting you anytime between 6:00 AM and midnight. Anything you prepare needs to be proofread by a 22-year-old coworker, which you know is pointless and nothing but a psychological move on her part. You’re on edge and shaking. You wake up in the middle of the night sweating and clenching your jaw.

Your friends see how miserable you are and tell you to just quit. You want to just quit. But how are you going to sustain yourself in the meantime? You can’t get unemployment if you quit. How are you going to pay your rent?

Furthermore, the prospect of ducking out for interviews worries you to death. You interviewed at Google once and it took five interviews before they rejected you. How long is this job-seeking process going to take? How many super-dressed-up “doctor’s appointments” are you going to have?

You go on one interview, clandestinely, take the offer. It pays 30% less. You can barely make your rent at this salary, but 30% less is better than 100% less. You haven’t accrued any vacation time and days off are out of the question.

Just a few months here, and then you’ll be able to interview for a job that pays you decently.

Cafe des Deux Magots

The Lost Income Stream

You’ve long dreamed of making your passion a full-time job, and you made it happen. Maybe you’re a photographer, or an SEO consultant, or you run a network of websites, or you have a jewelry shop on Etsy. After years of busting your ass, developing a portfolio, and amassing a client list, you’ve made it happen. You took the leap to do it full-time.

And you were responsible. You purposely didn’t quit until you knew you could sustain a frugal-but-comfortable full-time living from your side business. And for months or years, it worked terrifically. You knew you had to diversify a bit more, but your primary income source was rock solid.

But then something unexpected happens.

Maybe it’s that a competitor or multiple competitors are charging rock-bottom prices. Maybe it’s that another recession is hitting and people consider your products an unnecessary luxury. Maybe the latest Google update torpedoed your site on your highest sales-driving pages. Maybe outsourcing to India is cheaper and easier than hiring you. Or maybe your biggest freelance client, the one you considered rock-solid, went broke and can’t afford your services anymore.

You should have diversified earlier, you tell yourself. That could have kept you safe. But you honestly didn’t have the bandwidth to do that. If you had the money, you could hire a part-time employee and have her take over the time-consuming aspects so you could focus on the big picture.

But there’s no money for that now. There’s barely enough money for your rent.

You decide to look for full-time work again. And in the process, your family and friends who didn’t believe in you now have smug confirmation that you couldn’t make it as an entrepreneur. It doesn’t matter that most small businesses fail. This was your everything.

Table Mountain Bench

What Should You Do?

It’s easy to think that none of these scenarios would happen to you. But they can.

In fact, I’ve been in versions of all three of the scenarios described above. Not exactly as written, but very close. Me, a girl who seemingly has her shit together.

And I did not have a Fuck-Off Fund prepared during any of those situations. I’ve survived them thanks to a combination of luck, free housing and storage from generous friends and family, and some smart, well-timed business decisions.

Had I not lucked out, I would have been in a shitload of trouble. I’m not letting that happen to me ever again.

Now, what would happen if you DID have a Fuck-Off Fund in any of the above situations?

In the emotionally abusive boyfriend scenario, that money would have given you the freedom to find a new apartment before the abuse turned physical.

In the nightmare boss scenario, that money would have given you freedom to quit on the spot and job-hunt full-time for something better.

In the struggling entrepreneur scenario, that money would have bought you a few months to hire a part-time employee to handle the work while you develop new income streams.

Start an emergency fund. Today. Call it your Fuck-Off Fund.

I use Charles Schwab for my primary accounts, and they are a dream for travelers in particular (all ATM fees get refunded, even international ones, plus there are no foreign transaction fees). But I keep my long-term savings separate at Capital One 360, in part because you can organize several named accounts within one large account.

Fun fact: I had to rename my emergency fund “Eff Off Fund” because Capital One doesn’t like profanity. Or hyphens.


How much money should you have saved in a Fuck-Off Fund?

Enough to cover your expenses and live frugally for three to six months. Ideally six, and more is even better. (Suze Orman thinks you should have eight.) So that amount might be as little as $10,000. It might be $20,000 or more. Or it might be $3,000 if you live in Chiang Mai.

I know this sounds daunting. That is a fuckload of money to save up. Don’t think of this as a long-term struggle, though — this is a lifestyle change.

The best way to do this is to audit your spending and come up with a number that you can contribute to an emergency fund each month. Have that amount be automatically transferred when your paycheck comes in. (For us entrepreneurs with irregular earnings, I know this is easier said than done, but you should have a ballpark monthly salary at least.)

You can have $5,000 in your Fuck-Off Fund by the end of the year, plus a little extra, if you save $425 each month. FIVE THOUSAND FUCKING DOLLARS. Save what you can. $500 stashed away is better than $100 and $5,000 is better than $1,000.

What if you have debt? Many Americans do.

Start by saving a smaller amount — think $1,000. Having $1,000 in emergency savings is a good minimum cushion.

From that point, continue paying off your high-interest debt until it’s gone. Once it’s gone, go back to restoring your Fuck-Off Fund on a monthly automatic basis. You will get there.

What else should you do? Too much to include in this post.

I do highly recommend the book I Will Teach You To Be Rich. It gave me the financial education I should have had all along.

Hosier Lane, Melbourne

Situations when you need a Fuck-Off Fund are more common than you think.

What I want to emphasize the most is that you might be in an emergency situation even if you don’t think that you are. Particularly when it comes to verbal and emotional abuse.

Pop culture tends to send the message that the turning point is once it escalates to physical violations — hitting, slapping, groping. This does us no favors. Having been through this myself, I can tell you that emotional and verbal abuse can be just as destructive to your mental health. Abuse is often more subtle than you expect. More Edward in Twilight than the dentist in Little Shop of Horrors.

When the time comes when you need to escape, you’ll be able to do so far more easily if you have the financial resources.

Join me in making a savings goal for 2016.

If you haven’t done so yet, it’s time to get started. Do you think you can save $1,000 in your Fuck-Off Fund by the end of 2016? $3,000? $5,000? Maybe even $10,000? That’s $83, $250, $417, or $833 per month.

I know it’s hard. We all have a lot of expenses, we’re in debt, and we struggle. For those of us who are struggling to feed ourselves and our families, saving for an emergency fund is not an option right now. I get that. Food, shelter, and safety need to be your priorities.

But I also believe that many of us have more money to save than we think. Even if it’s just $50 each month, that’s incredibly valuable and will get you closer to a base of $1,000. That money will be there for you when the shit hits the fan.

We all know that the shit hits the fan eventually. That’s life. But we can minimize its impact by being as prepared as possible. When you save money toward a Fuck-Off Fund, you’re buying yourself options.

Was there ever a time in your life when you could have used a Fuck-Off Fund?Quit Fucking Around and Build Yourself a Fuck-Off Fund



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Scenes from England’s Lake District


Lake District

If you’re a longtime reader, you might remember my stint living in Chester, northwest England. Though Chester was a tough place to live as an outsider and especially an American, I loved exploring the region, a place that so many people overlook.

There was city-hopping in Manchester and Liverpool, and discovering adorable pubs in random towns all over the place. I loved the estates and manors holding court in the Cheshire countryside. And I was fascinated by how the scenery changed immediately when you crossed from northwest England into nearby north Wales or vice versa.

But in that year, I never made it to the Lake District: northwest England’s pride and joy. Everyone in Chester seemed to treasure the Lake District and visit regularly. They would wax poetic about the scenery and nature, the walks and the highest mountains in England.

So I was delighted to find out that the itinerary for my #GREATBritishSpirit gin trip would finally bring me to the Lake District, albeit quite briefly.

Castlerigg Lake District

For those of you who have been here a long time, you know that I don’t write authoritatively about topics that I don’t know well. I don’t like when other people do that, so I don’t do it myself. You might have noticed that most of my comprehensive posts are about cities like Paris and Bangkok and regions like Emilia-Romagna — places that I know well.

So for that reason, I’m not going to write an authoritative guide to the Lake District. I will tell you that during my quick visit, I learned that the Lake District is incredibly picturesque. Between this visit and what I learned while living in Chester, I think this is a beautiful region that more people would love to visit if they knew more about it.

I think northwest England is tremendously underrated — as is northern England in general. After you see these photos from the Lake District, I think you’ll agree.

Lake District

About the Lake District

The Lake District is the largest national park in England. You’ll find it in the region of Cumbria in northwest England, not too far from the Scottish border.

First of all, make sure you’re getting the name right — it’s called the Lake District, alternatively the Lakes, but never the Lakes District.

Though you see that area maps are dotted with blue blobs, there is technically only one lake in the Lake District — Bassenthwaite Lake. The others are merely “meres” or “tarns” or “waters.” The largest is Windermere.

Lake District

Beatrix Potter spent much of her life in what is now the Lake District, and she set several of her books there. When she passed away, she left almost all of her fortune to the National Trust, and part of her bequeathed land became the Lake District, which was designated a national park in 1951, eight years after her death.

You can easily imagine Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny bopping around these landscapes!

Lakes Distillery Tasting

Lakes Distillery

My main reason to visit the Lake District was to check out the brand new Lakes Distillery. They distill gin as well as whiskey and have a variety of tasty options to sample.

I think a distillery is a perfect addition to the Lake District — in a region where outdoor activities take center stage, despite how frequently it rains, it’s nice to have a cozy indoor activity available.

Lakes DistilleryLakes DistilleryLakes Distillery

I loved how new the distillery was — you can tell that they spend a lot of money to make it look smashing and modern. Even in the distilling rooms (which I was not allowed to photograph), the metal platforms are cut perfectly to curve around the stills. I mentioned this to the owner and he beamed with pride that I had noticed.

Ashness Bridge, Lake District

Ashness Bridge

One of the most photographed places in the Lake District is Ashness Bridge, a traditional stone bridge not too far from the hub of Keswick.

But even better was the nearby viewpoint overlooking Derwent Water. That little island in the distance is St. Herbert’s Island.

Lake DistrictLake DistrictLake District

As I was walking through the forest, I thought that this would be the kind of place where the Twilight vampires would settle down for a few years until people noticed they weren’t aging.

(Don’t roll your eyes at me! I read the books out of curiosity and now I think of them whenever I go to a cloudy, rainy place.)

Castlerigg Lake District

Sunset at Castlerigg Stone Circle

The best part about my trip was catching the sunset at Castlerigg Stone Circle. Castlerigg may not be as famous as Stonehenge, but it’s older, less touristed, and arguably more impressive. Archaeologists believe it was constructed around 3200 BC.

Its purpose? Unknown, but there’s a chance it could have been a central meeting place for trading.

Sheep at Castlerigg Lake District

Today, sheep are the ones having the meetings!

I tried my best to get good pictures. Hampered by a family that all. but. refused. to get out of the center of the circle, I did my best to take some offbeat shots. Here are a few of my favorites:

Castlerigg Lake District Sunset Castlerigg Lake District Sunset DSCF2604


Lake District

The Takeaway

Less than 24 hours in the Lake District is not enough to even get an idea of the best things to do here — but it was enough to whet my appetite. I know I want to come back and give the Lake District the attention it deserves.

This is by no means a comprehensive guide — just a teaser to show you that high up in northwest England, you’ll find a beautiful national park begging you to explore. I hope these pictures inspired you to add more to your itinerary than just London!

Essential Info: I recommend staying in the Lake District for at least a few days to take advantage of all it has to offer. Renting a car will give you the most flexibility, but you can get by with public transportation, taxis, and guides if you wish. (Even after nearly two years of being based in Britain, I’m still not comfortable driving on the other side of the road!)

I had a private guide through Mountain Goat, who offer a variety of private and group tours through the Lake District. Check out the full list here.

Lakes Distillery is open to visitors — you can take a tour or just drop in for a drink or a bite to eat.

I stayed at Rothay Garden Hotel, a beautiful in Grasmere. I also had an excellent three-course dinner there, one of the best meals of the trip. Grasmere is central and makes a convenient base for visiting the Lake District. Rates start at 150 GBP (212 USD).

It rains frequently in the Lake District — be sure to pack a good umbrella and proper rain gear for exploring the outdoors.

This campaign was created and sponsored by the GREAT Britain campaign and UK Trade & Investment in partnership with iambassador. Adventurous Kate retains 100% editorial control and all opinions, as always, are my own.



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How to Arrive in Bangkok


Wat Arun

The first time I landed in Bangkok back in 2010, I did everything wrong.

I was so excited, I didn’t get myself close to the schedule before I arrived.

Even though I was arriving close to midnight, I slept on the final flight there.

I gave my guesthouse address written in Thai to my driver, but he couldn’t find it and had to keep stopping and asking people where it was.

I chose a guesthouse with a windowless room that was essentially a twin bed with an extra two feet of space around it. No outlets. No wifi. No A/C. Not even a top sheet.

I didn’t sleep a wink the entire first night and basically twiddled my thumbs until 6:00 AM, when I figured it was a socially acceptable time to visit some temples.

I slept a few hours in the afternoon the first day — and didn’t sleep a wink the second night, either. I then got a nasty cold due to sleep deprivation and missed out on some social gatherings.

Kate in Bangkok

Here I am on my first day in Bangkok in 2010. I was a mess, but I was so happy just to be there.

Kate in Bangkok

Here I am on my first day in Bangkok in 2015. By this time, my tenth visit to Bangkok, I had my arrival down to a science.

Here’s how to do the same when you touch down in Bangkok:

Adjust yourself to the time zone ahead of time.

Granted, this is most difficult from the East Coast of the U.S., where we’re usually on a 12-hour time difference. But anything you can do to get yourself slightly closer to Thailand’s time zone will have you in much better shape, even if it means you’ll be sleeping fewer hours.

Hit up the ATM.

You don’t need to get cash before your trip — just hit up the ATM in the airport as soon as you land.

You also might want to visit a 7-11 and buy a bottle of water so you can break a large bills.

Get a taxi from the airport.

When you arrive in Bangkok, chances are you’re going to be exhausted and ready to just fall into bed. This is an occasion that warrants paying for a taxi, even if you’re backpacking and trying to save money.

Airport taxis have rates set, so you will be charged a meter rate. Keep in mind that depending on where you’re going, some drivers will offer to take you via highway, which will cost you extra toll fees that you will need to pay when you go through the toll booth.

Have your accommodation’s name and address ready, and pinpoint it on Google Maps.

When I first got to Bangkok, I was shocked at how often taxi drivers would have no idea where my destination was. It’s a far cry from London, where taxi drivers are required to memorize every street in the city!

It’s a good idea to have the address written in Thai as well as English — but it’s even better to have it saved on Google Maps.

Amari Watergate Bangkok

Check into an extremely comfortable hotel or guesthouse.

Why a comfortable place? Because you’ll be exhausted and sleeping at odd hours for the next few days. Having a nice place to stay can make such a huge difference. I stayed at the Amari Watergate — more on that below.

Take melatonin right before you go to bed.

I first started bought melatonin when I flew from Boston to Sri Lanka last year, knowing that I’d have a busy schedule and wouldn’t have the luxury of going at my own pace.

Melatonin is a natural supplement that helps your body realize that it’s bedtime. It’s best to take it about an hour before you go to bed, but I find that it affects me within around 30 minutes.

For the first several days, take melatonin at night — it will help you beat jet lag faster. You can get it on Amazon.

Get on a normal schedule as soon as you can.

Avoid napping! Believe me, it’s better to go to bed at 9:00 PM and sleep until 4:30 AM than to take a midday nap. Because as soon as you start midday napping, you’ll be falling asleep in the middle of the afternoon every day.

Bangkok Skyline

Pick up a SIM card. 

I always go to Siam Paragon, a luxury shopping mall near Siam Square, and visit the AIS store. AIS provides some of the best coverage in Thailand, has great data plans, and they’re used to assisting foreigners in this store.

Don’t forget to bring your passport! It’s required to get a SIM card.

Go easy on the food if you have a sensitive stomach.

When I first arrived in Asia, I went vegetarian for the first few days and gradually eased into eating meat. You might want to do the same if you’re nervous about the food. Always stick to bottled water, too!

Indulge in massages.

One of my favorite things about Thailand is that Thais consider massage a normal, frequent part of staying healthy. As a result, massage is available for cheap in Bangkok — think around 250 baht ($7) for one hour.

Traditional Thai massage is done with your clothes on (they may give you loose pajama-like garments to wear). It’s a lot like assisted yoga. Personally, I’m a big fan of foot massages and get them almost every day.

Silk Weaver, Bangkok

Give yourself at least a few days in Bangkok.

Bangkok is one of my top five favorite cities in the world. You could spend weeks here discovering all that the city has to offer. If you’re a returning Thailand visitor, you probably know what you want to do, but if you’re new to Thailand, please don’t listen to people telling you to skip Bangkok. This city is beautifully chaotic and I love it for that reason.

A few of my favorite activities:

Visit Chatuchak Market. Held on Saturday and Sunday, this is the largest market in the world and they sell everything from unique clothing to fancy furniture to tiny puppies.

Hang out in Siam Square. This is where young Thais hang out and where you’ll find lots of cool shops, along with several high-end malls. Keep in mind that Asian sizes tend to be tiny, but accessories are universal!

Go to a luxury movie theater. I love SF World Cinema on top of the Central World mall, where around 700 baht ($20) buys you a pre-movie buffet with a mocktail and tons of food, a plush leather recliner, a blanket (!!), a waitress, and your choice of flavored popcorn and soda. (If you don’t want to spend the cash, you can see new releases for around 100 baht ($3)!)

Visit Jim Thompson’s house. If you love architecture, luxury, and mystery, make this a priority. Jim Thompson was an American CIA agent turned silk merchant who ended up disappearing in Malaysia. His house is near Siam Square and is like a time capsule.

Explore and chow down in Chinatown. Chinatown is one of the most unique neighborhoods in the city, and you can easily get lost in the mazes here. The food is excellent, too.

Visit Buddhist temples. Some good ones for first-timers are Wat Pho, the Grand Palace, and Wat Arun, which are close together and close to the Khao San Road area.

See Muay Thai at Lumpinee Stadium. Not just a sports experience, but a cultural experience unlike any other.

Enjoy Khao San Road. The backpacker center of Southeast Asia, if not the world. Fun for a wild night out, but keep in mind merchandise here costs a lot more than on surrounding streets.

Chill out on Soi Rambuttri. Close to Khao San Road but much quieter and calmer, this is actually my favorite street in Bangkok. I love getting a foot massage while having a cocktail from the mobile VW van bar.

This is just scratching the surface — there is far more to do in Bangkok than I could include in a single post!

Amari Watergate Bangkok

Staying at the Amari Watergate Bangkok

I always tell people that Bangkok and Las Vegas are the two best cities in the world for luxury hotels — there are tons to choose from and the prices are excellent.

Well, to be honest, I’ve never stayed in a luxury hotel in Bangkok until my most recent visit! A few months back, the Amari Watergate Bangkok offered me a complimentary three-night stay in exchange for some social media coverage, and I accepted it.

I really loved this hotel. And to be honest, having SUCH a nice place to stay made adjusting to Bangkok a far more pleasant experience than in recent years.

Amari Watergate Bangkok

I stayed in an Executive Suite — one of the top suites in the hotel. Executive Suites are enormous with a king-sized bed, plenty of seating, a separate sitting room with an office section, and a giant bathroom with a tub you could practically do laps in.

Amari Watergate Bangkok

Hello, New Best Friend.

Amari Watergate Bangkok

The room, as you can see, is nothing short of glorious. Some of the other room amenities include multiple TVs, fruit upon arrival (so needed!), coffee and tea, lots of bottled water, and a view over downtown Bangkok.

But what I actually enjoyed most was being on an executive floor and having access to the executive lounge, which was airy, quiet, and luxurious. Just being there made me feel like I was part of an exclusive club. They also have happy hours in the executive suite each night!

Amari Watergate Bangkok

November in Bangkok can be a bit of a mixed bag weather-wise, and there were mostly stormy skies — but that didn’t keep some people from jumping into the pool.

Amari Watergate Bangkok

Getting a nice massage is the perfect way to settle into a new time zone, and the Breeze Spa at the Amari Watergate is excellent. You can choose a massage to reflect your mood — I went with invigorated (dreamy, serene, rejuvenated, and energized are other options). Because when you can get a massage on the street anywhere in Thailand, getting a high-end massage makes you feel pampered. I found it blissful, especially with the tea and macaron served at the end.

As for other benefits of the hotel, the location was ideal — walking distance from Siam Square and my favorite malls, making it a perfect hub for my first-day-in-Bangkok errands. You’re near the BTS, which will get you all over most of the city, and if you want to head to Khao San Road, you can take a nearby canal boat!

There’s a nice-looking gym, if you’re into that sort of thing. I wasn’t quite motivated enough to go inside!

And on my first night, I was able to experience a brand new event at the hotel — a Thai street market-inspired dining experience around the pool! I spent my time hanging out with new Thai friends and pretending not to cry from the spicier dishes. (I think they caught on when they saw how many Thai iced teas I was drinking.)

So basically, my first luxury hotel stay in Bangkok was a really wonderful experience. If you want to dip your toes into luxury travel in Asia, the Amari Watergate is a high value choice. I couldn’t have found a better way to land in my favorite Asian city.

Essential Info: Rates at the Amari Watergate Bangkok start at 2,635 baht ($73). Executive suites start at 8,325 baht ($229). While these are luxury rates, this is very good value for money, both in Bangkok and throughout the world.

I recommend taking a taxi to and from the airport, but you can also take the BTS (Skytrain) from nearby Ratchathewi Station.

Many thanks to the Amari Watergate Bangkok for providing me with a complimentary three-night stay, including breakfast and a massage. All opinions, as always, are my own.

What’s your favorite way to arrive in a new city?



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Kate’s Picks: Where to Go in 2016 Before It’s Too Late


Ometepe Sunset Kate

Where are the best places to travel to in 2016?

You’ll find just about every major travel website putting together their own list. Lonely Planet wants you to go to Botswana. National Geographic wants you to go to Greenland. So why should you care about this one?

Well, I chose these places carefully. They’re not just places that I like. They’re not even necessarily places I visited last year and loved — you can see this list for that — these are destinations that I genuinely believe you should prioritize above others at the moment.

By that, I mean that it’s time to go THIS year. Not next year. 2016.

And I totally understand that it’s impossible to go to every destination on this list, but if you’re determined, I bet you can make it to one of these places. Nicaragua is a close and affordable destination for North Americans; Albania and Macedonia are easy and very affordable for Europeans.

So! Without further ado, take a look at what made the cut for 2016!

Yemaya Little Corn Island

Little Corn Island, Nicaragua

Why now? Because it’s changing very quickly and won’t be the same place this time next year.

Little Corn Island is small, it’s isolated, and it’s not easy to get to (you need to fly from Managua to Big Corn Island and take a panga, or local boat, on a very bumpy ride). Because of this, there are still lots of stretches of empty beaches and the people who live there are fun and quirky rather than cookie-cutter package tourists.

But even last winter, locals were telling me how fast it was changing. While there used to be one or maybe two tourist-filled pangas per day, now they’re often getting three. More tourists are arriving. More property is being bought up. Prices are increasing.

Little Corn Island was my first Caribbean experience ever, and frankly, I feel like I’ve been spoiled for life. I really hope you are able to have the same experience as me.

When to go: December to April for the best weather, though keep in mind storms can hit anytime.

When I visited: February 2015.


Osaka in Black and White


Why now? Because the yen has lost a lot of value, making Japan far more affordable than usual.

Japan is the most enthralling country I have ever visited. Just walking down the street or summoning a waiter in a restaurant or buying a drink from a vending machine or using a toilet at a cafe can be an eye-opening cultural experience! And that’s before even immersing yourself in temples, maid cafes, bullet trains, cherry blossoms, geishas, hovel bars, and all the fantastic food.

While Japan is often said to be an expensive destination, I think that’s unfair — Japan may be expensive compared to Thailand or India or Indonesia, but it’s nowhere near the cost of Switzerland or Norway or Australia. Accommodation and long-distance travel can be on the pricey side, but food, attractions, and souvenirs can be quite cheap!

The current exchange rate is making this even better. For the past few decades, 100 yen has been fairly close to $1 USD, making calculations simple for Americans. However, 100 yen is now equal to 84 cents (or $1 is equal to 119 yen)! Even if you keep the mindset of 100 yen = $1, you’re getting a 20% bonus! So go now while you can take advantage of that extra money.

When to go: Spring or fall are best. Summer can be either lovely or uncomfortably hot and humid; it was more the latter on my summer trip.

When I visited: August 2013.


Portland Maine

Portland, Maine

Why now? Because it’s emerging as a major American culinary destination.

Name the top foodie cities in America and you’ll get the classics: New York, San Francisco, New Orleans, Chicago. But  the “other Portland” has been quietly growing in prominence over the past decade. New local restaurants, food tour companies, and craftsmen, not to mention access to outstanding ingredients like lobster and blueberries, make this city a great place to eat everything in sight.

I helped plan a bachelorette party in Portland this past spring. We went mead tasting, wine tasting, gin tasting, cider tasting, kombucha tasting — and that was without even hitting up any of the many local breweries! Between that and restaurants like Duckfat, we ate so well in this city. Thanks to the Portland’s small size, we walked to most places and probably spent less than $15 on Ubers.

When to go: June through September for the best weather, but spring and fall are good, too. You might get hit by snowstorms in winter, making it tougher to get around.

When I visited: April 2015.



Macedonia and Albania

Why now? Because these destinations are just opening up to mass international tourism, particularly the latter.

Albania and Macedonia sit side by side in the Western Balkans, making them easy to visit on a single trip. (Kosovo makes a great addition if you have enough time.) Both are abundant in natural beauty (particularly Lake Ohrid in Macedonia, the Albanian Riviera, and anywhere with mountains), World Heritage Sites (the Ohrid region in Macedonia and Berat, Gjirokaster and Butrint in Albania), and two wacky and offbeat capital cities (Skopje and Tirana). Albania and Macedonia are also the two cheapest countries I’ve experienced in Europe.

Tourism here is very basic, especially compared to more-developed Balkan countries like Croatia and Slovenia. If you don’t mind rough overland transportation, language barriers, and being the only foreigner in town, these are extremely rewarding countries to visit. But before everyone else discovers them, that is. The clock is ticking.

When to go: June through August. Resort areas and tourist attractions in both countries tend to shut down outside the high season.

When I visited: July 2013 (Macedonia), July 2015 (Albania).


Camels in Wadi Rum, Jordan


Why now? Because a world gripped by Islamophobia needs to realize how wonderful the Middle East and Muslims can be.

I worked with the Jordan Tourism Board back in 2011 when they were trying to increase the profile of Jordan as a standalone destination. At that time, most tourists visited Jordan as a side trip from Egypt — so once visits to Egypt falling after the Arab Spring, Jordan’s economy suffered.

Jordan is a perfect standalone destination. Floating in the Dead Sea, camping with Bedouins in Wadi Rum, snorkeling in the Red Sea, playing Indiana Jones at Petra, cooking with grandmothers, cafe-hopping in Amman, and drinking cup after cup of mint tea with some of the friendliest people you’ve ever met. It’s easy, it’s got plenty of tourism infrastructure, and yes, it’s very safe, even though Syria is next door. (While many Syrian refugees are living in camps in Jordan right now, the Syrian war has zero effect on the vast majority of travelers visiting Jordan.)

At a time when much of the world is gripped by increasing Islamophobia, I encourage you to visit a Muslim country and share your experiences with your loved ones. You won’t change everyone’s mind, but you will change some minds.

When to go: April to October. I went in November and it was a little cooler than I would have liked, but still warm enough to swim in the Dead Sea.

When I visited: November 2011.


Table Mountain Flowers

South Africa

Why now? Because it’s probably the best value eclectic adventure destination in the world.

What do I mean by eclectic adventure? South Africa excels in so many different ways. I consider it the most beautiful country of the 63 I’ve visited so far. The wildlife is outstanding, especially in Kruger National Park. The wine is some of the best in the world, and with excellent wine comes excellent food. It’s easily the best value-for-money destination for adventure travelers, where you can bungee jump or skydive for a fraction of what you’d pay in Australia, New Zealand, or the United States.

Like Japan, South Africa has a weaker currency at the moment, but unlike Japan, it’s a very cheap country to begin with. This is an excellent place to splurge on a luxury hotel if they’re usually out of your price range, or to backpack down the coast from Johannesburg to Cape Town. South Africa also has unique activities like crocodile cage diving in Oudtshoorn and kayaking with sharks and crocs in St. Lucia Estuary.

Take advantage of it this year and you’ll see why South Africa is one of my favorite countries.

When to go: You’ll have the best weather from October to May. I especially loved seeing fall colors in “spring”!

When I visited: October-November 2012 and May 2013.


Koh Lanta Sunset

Koh Lanta, Thailand

Why now? Because it’s hit the perfect sweet spot of just-developed-enough, but who knows how long that will last!

Koh Lanta is my favorite place in the world, and my recent visit there, my third, confirmed that for certain. The prices are good for the region, the people are so kind, there are excellent guesthouses, bars, and restaurants, and it’s got long stretches of west coast beaches (perfect for sunsets!) along with rustic jungle cabanas.

Yet I know how rare it is for a destination to hit this sweet spot so well. On Thailand’s Andaman Coast alone, I’ve seen Railay spiral out of control between 2010 and 2015. I’ve seen Koh Phayam overflowing with jellyfish and Koh Phi Phi turning into a sewage-scented Scandinavian playground. Koh Lanta has been perfect for the past five years. I pray that this continues for a long, long time.

When to go: November is my favorite — it’s a good mix of sunny days with a few shoulder season storms thrown in. December to April has the sunniest weather.

When I visited: November 2010, December 2013-January 2014, November 2015.



Faroe Islands

Why now? Because this is one of the last corners of Europe that you’ll find in near-isolation.

If you want to go somewhere quite off the beaten path, the Faroe Islands are one of my top recommendations. The archipelago, technically part of Denmark but home to many avid separatists, lies between Scotland and Iceland. Most of the islands are raised up on cliffs launched from the sea. The islands are usually in the news for one reason: their traditional annual whale hunt, which is derided by animal rights activists each year.

This is probably the best place to hide away from the world or take a digital detox. There are rural landscapes, splendid tiny towns, some tough roads, and limited internet access, especially once you leave the main islands. But with more Nordic cruise ships arriving to take in Tórshavn and Mykines, it’s only a matter of time before more tourists start arriving. You should be one of them.

When to go: June through August, as tourism is limited outside high season. Don’t forget your winter coat.

When I visited: June 2012.


Ometepe Sunset

Ometepe and San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

Why now? Because the Chinese are building a canal that will affect these destinations forever.

These two destinations couldn’t be more different. Ometepe is a rural volcanic island sitting in the middle of Lake Nicaragua where chickens run wild and everyone goes to bed early. San Juan is a colorful beach town where backpackers come to surf and party. Both are two unique slices of Nicaragua and two major highlights in Central America, but they may not be for much longer.

China has long been planning to build a canal through Nicaragua, including the lake — it’s their answer to the Panama Canal. Major construction is slated to begin in 2016. After seeing the beauty of Nicaragua’s Pacific coast, I’m devastated at the thought of it being destroyed. I don’t even want to think about it. Go enjoy these special destinations now before the construction gets crazy.

When to go: You’ll find the best weather from December to April.

When I visited: February 2015.


Centre Pompidou, Paris


Why now? Because after two terror attacks, you shouldn’t stay away from Paris.

I was sickened by the attacks in Paris this year — Charlie Hebdo in January and the city-wide attacks in November. Not only is terrorism a terrifying event on its own, it happened in a city that so many of us travelers know and love dearly, a city where many of us have friends. I was especially rattled after learning that one attack was at Le Petit Cambodge, a restaurant where my friend Edna took me once.

A lot of people cancelled their upcoming trips to Paris and even beyond, fearing more attacks. I understand people’s fears, but this is playing into terrorists’ hands — they want us to be afraid. They want to disrupt our lives. Don’t give them the satisfaction. Those who cancelled their trips had no reason to do so.

So why go to Paris? Easy. There is nowhere like it in the world.

When to go: Anytime! It’s Paris! December brings Christmas markets, June and July bring festivals, January brings city-wide sales. May and September bring good weather and slightly smaller crowds.

When I visited: Many times, in almost every month of the year, since April 2001.


Black and White Village Scene

New York City

Why now? Well, this one is for selfish reasons. Your girl is moving there shortly and she would love to see as many of her friends as possible!

New York always has something new and interesting to offer — a new neighborhood, a new restaurant, even surprising slices of nature throughout the city. And it changes all the time. I can’t believe how dated Sex and the City is when watching it today! (Remember when Miranda refused to move to Brooklyn because nobody went there? That was just over a decade ago and it couldn’t be more different from 2016!)

And yes, this city can be expensive and dirty and once someone took a video of a rat carrying a slice of pizza. But you can’t deny that New York is one of the most exhilarating destinations in the world. Come see it for yourself. Soon.

When to go: April through June and September through December. These months are best for avoiding the snowstorms of winter and the smells of summer.

When I visited: I’ve had one foot in the city for the past year, and have visited frequently for years previously. First visit: 1997.


And Three Places I Haven’t Visited Yet

I rarely write about places that I haven’t been to and can’t vouch for personally, but there are three places that I’d like to recognize as emerging destinations for 2016.

Portraits of Cuba

Image: Christopher Michel


Why now? You all know why! It’s on everyone’s list! The end of the U.S. embargo is going to change things forever.

While Cuba has long been off-limits to Americans, it’s long been a popular destination for Canadians and Europeans especially. Here you’ll find vibrant cities, gorgeous beaches, antique cars, salsa, colonial towns, cigars. That said, Cuba is already changing enormously — long known as a destination with little internet, Cuba is now more connected than ever before, which is changing the word-of-mouth travel industry.



Image: Levan Gokadze


Why now? Because it’s poised to become the next great adventure destination.

The Caucasus is a perfect choice for travelers who have been to places like Jordan and Turkey but want something a bit more offbeat and adventurous, yet doable independently. Today, Georgia is far more developed for tourism than Armenia or Azerbaijan. In this country you’ll find excellent hiking, Black Sea beaches, unusual and hearty food like khachapuri, good wine, and one beloved capital city, Tblisi.


Nepal shining

Image: Alexander Mueller


Why now? Because after the earthquake, they really need your tourism.

Nepal was hit by an earthquake in April that devastated much of Kathmandu and wreaked havoc throughout the country. More than 8,000 were killed. Nepal is a safe destination to visit now, but they are still suffering economically. Tourism is one way that you can help out the locals recover from this tragedy. Nepal is also one of the countries where your money goes the furthest, so take advantage and see as much as you can.


What destination do you think is a must-visit for 2016?



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AK Monthly Recap: December 2015


Kate with Fake Eyelashes

How do I even characterize a month like this?

It’s hard to say. This month was spend pinging around the world, from Thailand back to the States. I had pushed myself too far and was burned out beyond belief.

At the same time, I was dealing with the realization that I need to take a break from travel — a long one — for the sake of maintaining sanity. The great irony is that not traveling for awhile is probably what’s going to save this travel blog.

Luckily, my burnout came at a time when I know what the next step in my post-nomadic life will be. I decided to move up my moving date to New York earlier than planned and headed to the city for a visit in between time at home.

Ice Skating in Central Park

Destinations Visited

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Reading, Lynn, and Nahant, Massachusetts

New York, New York

Favorite Destinations

New York! Don’t have to ask me twice.

Dyker Heights Christmas Lights


One last motorbike ride through Chiang Mai. My Airbnb host (check out where I stayed; I loved it!) kindly offered me a ride to the airport, and with my carry-on luggage, I was able to fit on the bike. We took a long trip and the morning light was so beautiful. I loved the wind whipping through my hair, the unmistakable scent of Thailand in the air, the rainbows appearing in the canal fountains. It reminded me of my first arrival in Chiang Mai five years ago.

Getting Christmasy in New York. New York is one of the best places to experience the holidays! This time I went to Rockefeller Center, went to a 25th anniversary screening of Home Alone, saw lots of store windows, braved the shopping hordes in SoHo, and went ice skating in Central Park. But especially:

Seeing the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights. If you want to see crazy Christmas lights within New York City, head to Dyker Heights, Brooklyn (about 11th-13th ave. and 83rd-86th st.)! These houses get super competitive with each other. I loved my trip out here; I want to go back next year! I didn’t bring my good camera with me, but check out Oneika’s post on the lights this year.

My first gel manicure. Getting a gel manicure is like driving a 1992 Oldsmobile all your life and then upgrading to a Lexus. They look so good and are ridiculously solid! I even washed my hair right after I got them done! After three weeks (side note: three weeks is the ABSOLUTE MAX), I only have two tiny chips. I think I’ve got a new habit!

Many, many good times with friends. Tons of meetups with friends in New York and the Boston area. But I especially loved getting to meet up with my bud Tom from Up Helly Aa (the Viking fire festival in Shetland) nearly four years ago! He’s one of the most interesting people I’ve met on my travels and it was crazy to meet his permanently-on-walkabout-personality in New York of all places.

Celebrating Christmas with my family. Just like last year, this Christmas was a three-day extravaganza with TONS of food! We did well. It was also nice that my sister was able to change her plans last-minute and come home for all of Christmas.

Kate Uncomfortable at Narita Airport


A very long journey home from Thailand. I wanted to come home early, and the best route home involved a two-day trip from Chiang Mai to Bangkok to Hong Kong to Tokyo to Boston. Including an overnight in Hong Kong. But at least I got to avoid Air China this time!

(I should mention that I spent the overnight in a “private resting area” within the Plaza Premium Lounge outside security, which I found uncomfortable and absolutely not worth the price tag of 900 HKD/$116 USD for six hours, yet still vastly preferable to missing a night’s sleep on a long journey like that. My platinum Amex gives me lounge access but the private suite costs the $116. You can pay the same price for the private suite if you don’t have lounge access.)

Illness. Stomach virus/food poisoning at the beginning of the month. A cold that wouldn’t quit at the end of the month. Always a blast. Onward and upward.

Eataly Prosciutto and Cheese

Most Popular Post

My Worst Travel Moments of 2015 — No surprise here! This is always one of my most popular posts of the year.

Other Posts

My Best Travel Moments of 2015 — From dancing on the beach in Montenegro to swimming through a cave in Guatemala, the absolute best moments of the year!

My Favorite Reads of 2015 — My 15 (well, technically 18) absolute favorite reads of the 54 I read in 2015.

Airportag: The Coolest Travel Shirts on the Web — I’m loving these sweet travel-themed shirts — and so are you!

Sunset at Northshore Mall

News and Announcements

No major news to announce this month — but if you’ve been following me on Facebook, you’ve known that I’ve been going through anxiety and stress for the last several weeks. I think the root of it is that I’ve been feeling so unsettled. It’s not enough to get an apartment in Chiang Mai or Playa del Carmen for a few months like most travel bloggers; even a temporary sublet in New York would not be enough. I need to find my long-term home, and soon.

I do think that I will start to feel normal again once I move into my own place and can start living my new life.

In terms of last month’s challenge, to meditate more, I was doing well but fell off the wagon — so I need to pick that up again! I’m also making art again, which is great for stress. I got some art supplies for Christmas.

My big challenge for this month is to find a place — and to furnish it from scratch. YIKES! (I did have an apartment full of furniture and belongings before I started traveling, but I told my sister she could keep it all if I didn’t want it after two years. It’s been five years now — it’s all very much hers!)

Right now, I own, like, three mugs and that’s it. (One says, “Write like a motherfucker.” One says, “I had sex with an elf in Iceland.” One is an artist’s rendering of “Peeno Noir” from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.)

Getting to furnish completely from scratch is a pretty cool opportunity, though. I want a bed that looks and feels like a hotel bed. A big, sexy couch. A golden pineapple print near the entrance, some nifty solar system glasses, and a laundry hamper that doesn’t look like it belongs in a college dorm.

Nyhavn Copenhagen

Most Popular Photo on Instagram

Copenhagen, once again! People love that Nyhavn. (Though the likes are probably enhanced since this was the last shot I posted before taking a break from Instagram.)

For real-time updates, you can follow me on Instagram and on Snapchat — adventurouskate on both!

Gingerbread Cookies

What I Read This Month

CHALLENGE COMPLETE! I finished the PopSugar 2015 Book Challenge and read 54 books in 2015, two more than I had to!

I won’t be taking part in the 2016 book challenge, which has different categories than this year’s. I want more freedom in what I read in 2016, but I encourage you to do the challenge. It will get you to shake up your habits and get out of your comfort zone.

The Map of Love by Ahdaf Soueif — My mom chose this book for me. This novel tells cross-cultural love stories from multiple generations in a family, spanning from London to Egypt to New York. I loved the romance parts and thought they were far better than the drier historical parts, which ultimately didn’t go anywhere plot-wise. Not one of my favorites of the year, but still a good read. Category: a book your mom loves.

Behind the Bell by Dustin Diamond — Well, I had to choose a book with bad reviews for the challenge, so I chose the worst book I could find. This book is absolutely awful. Dustin Diamond has zero perspective on his experiences as a teenager and spends the whole book slut-shaming every one of his co-stars in between bragging about his own sexual conquests. Beyond that, the book is mean, petty, and very poorly edited. The only good thing was that it was a quick and easy read. Category: a book with bad reviews.

Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris — I’m a big David Sedaris fan, but I really did not enjoy this collection of Christmas-themed stories (except for one of my all-time favorites of his, “Six to Eight Black Men,” which has been published elsewhere). David Sedaris is biting and sarcastic; this book actually felt quite mean compared to his others. It made me uncomfortable to read many of these stories. Category: a book set during Christmas.

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson — Jenny, a.k.a. The Bloggess, writes one of the funniest blogs out there and has been very open about her struggle with mental illness. This memoir, her second, is about mental illness itself. Despite the heavy subject, this book is actually hilarious and illuminating about the reality that so many people live with.

I prefer Jenny’s writing in small doses — this is probably why she’s so successful as a blogger! — but having a Kindle made it easy to switch back and forth between her book and others. No category because I finished the challenge!

What I Watched This Month

MASTER OF NONE! Wow. I adore this Netflix series and it’s probably the show that most closely resembles my life. (Other than, you know, Californication.) It’s sweet, it’s honest, it’s a bit risqué, it is so very Brooklynian. Basically, if you’re around 30, single, and living in a city, you’ll see yourself here.

The Affair. Season Two is much darker than its predecessor. And if you have any confidence in human nature, prepare to say goodbye to it after witnessing what these characters do.

What I Listened To This Month

Jamiroquai is one of those bands that I go through spurts of listening to like crazy — then don’t listen to them for a few years. then start the cycle again. I’ve been a fan of them for about 20 years and after getting back into them once again, I really want to see them live.

My new favorite? “Love Foolosophy.” Three great versions of it on Spotify — the original, the Raul Rincon remix, and the live performance in Clapham.


Coming Up in January 2015

Getting an apartment in New York! I can’t focus on anything else. I can’t think about anything else. Literally, this is my one goal in life right now.

The plan is to head back to the city soon and find a place with a lease starting either immediately or by February 1.

I know exactly what I’m looking for, but I think it will be best to hold off on telling you more details until I’ve actually signed a lease.

I will say this — I’ve decided to get my own place, sans roommates. I know it’s kind of crazy, and roommates are the cost of living in New York City, as everyone tells me, but at this point in my life, I’m ready for solitude and independence. I’ve never lived alone before. I also plan to have friends crash on a regular basis, which wouldn’t be fair to a roommate. And, you know, walking around naked and all that.

We’ll see how it goes!

What are your plans for January? Share away!



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