Doha, the capital of Qatar, isn’t the kind of place you usually pop into without a task at hand. You might come on assignment for your company, or you could be transiting on Qatar Airways, or you might drop in because Qatar is a country and you’re on a mission to visit all of them.…Read More
Greetings from the road! I’m in Johannesburg and preparing to board a Qatar Airways flight to Doha. From there it’s Paris, Doha (again), London, New York, Los Angeles, and Dallas … in just over a week. What can I say—2014 is going to be a kick-ass year. Once the calendar rolled over to January 1,…Read More
I came into Abu Dhabi on the 13 hour flight from Washington, DC. It's a new service and they're advertising it everywhere around town. In the airport they have a real lounge, not just the contracted one they use in JFK. I touched down at 8pm and caught up quickly at baggage claim, sitting down and hammering out email replies and seeing what changed in the world overnight while I was eating Indian food and sleeping on my lie-flat Etihad bed.Outside I took a car to the Aloft hotel, which I had booked for the night—or technically, the next 9 hours. In the early morning I'd be back out again, having failed at my attempt to change the ticket to allow for a day's stopover before hitting up Istanbul. No matter. There's always time to sleep, but not always time to live. Read More
I always knew it would happen one day. Having successfully arrived in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Angola without the necessary visas, I had been pushing my luck. Having challenged Belarus to a blogging duel, complete with a response by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, I was no stranger to difficult countries. But last weekend in Eritrea, the luck ran out.Read More
I went to participate in an event held at a bookstore in a big city. I saw on the store's calendar that a Very Famous Author (we'll call him Mr. X) had been there the day before.
“Wow,” I said to the staff. “'I'm intimidated to follow Mr. X. What was he like?”
The two exchanged a glance, and apparently decided I was trustworthy enough to not report them to their manger. “To be honest,” one of them said, “Mr. X was an asshole. He came in, didn't say hi to anyone, and threw his keys on the counter, demanding that someone valet his rental car.”Read More
In Northern Thailand I sit in the Udon Thani airport eating a custard pastry. It costs 20 baht (60 cents). Along with a cup of coffee ($1.10), it is my joy. I sit across from the Dairy Queen—hugely popular in this part of Asia—and reflect on my day. Getting here required a bit of soft adventure. In this case I paid $3 for a 30-minute tuk tuk ride from Vientiane, Laos to the Thai–Laos border, then $6 from the border to Udon Thani airport, another 30 kilometers away.Read More
I had an early-early flight, so I booked a hotel near the airport and took the train out the night before. Problem was, I'm so used to going to the airport that I forgot to get off at the hotel stop and instead rode all the way to PDX. Then I stepped off the train and thought: Whoops. Wrong stop.Read More
I met Jodi at an AONC meetup in Bangkok, where she had just returned from a big trip through Burma.
Jodi isn't a typical backpacker—she was a corporate lawyer, trained in Quebec and working for a big firm in New York. The whole time she was working, she was also saving for a new life.Read More
A number of people have asked what I take with me for long overseas trips, and how I travel with no backpack or checked baggage. I'm getting ready to head out on the road again in about 10 days, so this is a good opportunity to review how it works for me.
The biggest secret: packing light is actually easier than bringing a ton of stuff.
The overriding philosophy of my packing list is to keep it as simple as possible. That's basic, I know, but very important. At least for me, travel stress is directly proportionate to the amount of stuff I carry around. I don't own a backpack and haven't willingly checked a bag on one of my extended adventures.Read More