Tag archives for Off the Map

‘Tis the season of snowy nights and short days, log fires and sleigh rides. It’s also the season of ice storms and slush piles and seasonal affective disorder—in other words, the perfect time to escape to somewhere else. This year, National Geographic celebrated all Four Seasons of Travel with our book by the same name.…

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: travel is so very personal. Each of us has our own idea of what constitutes a great destination and a great time. Indeed, it’s the beauty of changing seasons is how each one caters to our personal fancies, be it Paris in the spring or Alaska…

As National Geographic’s Digital Nomad, it’s my job to be connected—all the time. While on assignment, I have tweeted from all seven continents, from the middle of the ocean, from the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro, and from the of inside King Tut’s Tomb. How do I do it? It’s not always easy, but after a…

Summer is upon us, and though I’ve spent my first few weeks at home in sunny, Washington, DC, my suitcase is crying from neglect. “Now is the time to travel!” says just about everyone to me. School’s out, the warm weather wants us to celebrate, and the mountains and seaside are calling. Of the Four…

Well, my dear friends, it has been one absolutely incredibly full year of intense round-the-world travel. As you may recall, I jumped into 2012 by venturing to southernmost Mexico and retracing the history of the Mayan calendar in anticipation of the final day in the final year of year of their final baktun. All year…

Cross Country

This past Saturday morning, I ran across an entire country. No matter that the country was Liechtenstein—the sixth smallest nation on Earth; No matter that there was no official race course or registration or crowd of spectators to cheer me on—I ran solo across a landscape I knew only from the maps I had read,…

I am a self-professed (and exceedingly proud) geography nerd. Maps and places are what I studied in college, countries and capitals were personal obsessions when I was an über-nerdy middle-school kid competing in the National Geographic Bee, and this whole field of cartographic science also happens to be the basis upon which the National Geographic…

The Kauai Coast

I am drawn to the uninhabited places of the world, a kind of strange pull on my person which is likely what led me to Antarctica, to the middle of the Atlantic, and way out Woop Woop. In Hawaii, my search for wilderness took me to Kauai, Hawaii’s Garden Island, a place so steep and…

Rainbow-Flavored

When you can’t make up your mind, try them all. This is my rule with most good food, such as doughnuts, pizza, M&Ms, cupcakes, jelly beans, and chocolate truffles. Endless choice plagues America with endless indecision, be they in the half-mile long grocery aisle offering up several hundred varieties of the same food, or in…

Honolulu Holiday

Should I get a foot massage and then go shooting, or vice versa? This was the toughest choice I faced in Honolulu as I explored the palm-fringed, glass-plated, concrete commercial jungle that is Waikiki. As an American, I felt at home amid the man-made shopping mall habitat; as a mainlander, I was starstruck by the…

Ella’s Reef

Snorkeling in the mud is truly disheartening, but this is exactly how we all spent the morning—in waist-deep saltwater mud, hovering over stark sea grass beds, wishing for a photogenic coral reef that wasn’t there. All week long, the NG Kids had begged me to go snorkeling. They had seen the colorful brochures of masked…

Pearly Shells

I’m not sure this is a good idea—taking kids to the cemetery. This whole trip to Hawaii was supposed to be a prize. Over 1,500 children competed  by writing essays (“Why would you like to explore this Hawaiian island”), accompanied by a hand-drawn picture illustrating what they hoped to see here. I read the four…

One week in Hawaii and I’m already blogging on island time–the calendar might say Thursday but I’m still stuck on last Sunday, just like some of the mud is still stuck in my ear from my exploits on that day of rest. It all started so innocently–I had finally arrived in Hawaii, thrilled to explore…

Oahu Aloha

Like with a newborn baby, it’s the first breath that counts. After 11 hours crammed (fetal-positioned) inside the womb of a jet plane, I emerge, wrinkled as an infant lamb, rubbing my eyes against the bright light of midday. Out with the old, in with the new—the stuffy, recycled air, bottled up in the aircraft…

Buffalo Jam

Never mess with a bison. Scientifically speaking, North America’s largest mammal may be just another bovine and therefore related to cows, however bison are not docile farm beasts that give us milk and butter. No, bison are hefty, undauntable creatures that are strong enough roll your car, should they ever have such an interest. Fortunately,…

Hot Spot

When I was 13 years old, I almost won the National Geographic Bee for the state of Ohio. In other words–I lost. I came mighty close though, and even now, I can remember all the questions I got right, as well as the one I got wrong. Sometime during those nervous hours standing on that…

“So, where do you go on vacation?” I get asked that question a lot. I guess people are eager to know where you travel “for fun” when you’re already traveling more than 200 days out of the year. Personally, I find that all travel is fun–even when it’s horrible–but not all travel is relaxing. To…

Every day I get about fifty comments/messages/e-mails in which readers ask me if they can have my job and my short answer is, “Yes, you can.” At least . . . you can do what I do, which is to travel and share your story with the world. Long before I was christened Digital Nomad…

Happy Bicentennial! Today is a big anniversary for me as this is my 200th post on this blog, Digital Nomad. I feel very fortunate to have made it this far and I have all of you to thank. A good blog is one part writer and many parts reader and I feel as if I’ve…

Working at National Geographic is an awesome learning experience, in which I’m constantly surrounded by real talent, sound wisdom, unique minds and artistic people (I love it). Among the strong and creative team that I work with is one-of-a-kind internet princess Marilyn Terrell (@Marilyn_res), Chief Researcher at National Geographic Traveler and a host of many…

HOME

I live here. That’s what I tell myself as I walk the square and triangle blocks of America’s capital city: this is where I live. This is where I have an address and where I have plants that need watering. I know folks on the street and they know me. I live here and recognize…

“Do you know that only 5 percent of American own passports?” I hear it all the time: a frequently-quoted statistic that gets thrown around at home and abroad, either by condescending foreigners or self-righteous, well-traveled Americans. Their exact numbers tend to fluctuate–7 percent, 9 percent, 15 percent–yet no matter the number that’s quoted, it’s always…

Long before I became the digital nomad, I was a print nomad who wrote travel guides that cover some of my favorite places in the world. For all the joys and hard work that goes into a book, I’ve found that seeing said book appear in another language is most gratifying–especially when the guidebook comes…

The problem with business trips is that they tend to be more business than “trip.” At first, the destination may sound thrilling and exotic, but the reality of airport, hotel, conference room and taxi is anything but. Most business travel happens within the confines of comforts that actually keep us from sinking our teeth into…

All My Dogs

I love dogs, but I don’t have one of my own. Here’s why: With the amount that I’m away on the road, I just can’t keep a dog at home. And unlike Tintin, I could never take a real dog with me on all my adventures around the world. Instead, I “adopt” dogs wherever I…