One place that often isn’t on Central America itineraries is Semuc Champey in Guatemala. You should add it. I knew it would be fun, but it turned out to be one of my favorite days ever!
My friends Rease and Ayngelina recently planned a trip to Nicaragua, which has been going through serious civil unrest. They planned and researched their trip carefully and determined that they still wanted to take the trip. With their extensive Latin America travel experience, including in areas with unrest, they thought that of all people, they could handle it.
However, a few days in, the violence seriously escalated and they had to evacuate.
This sounds terrifying — and it’s not making international news. Rease wrote this post on her blog, Indecisive Traveler, to share the story of their evacuation — but also to share with the world what is happening in Nicaragua right now. A gripping read.
I was recently asked to comment to the Daily Telegraph on bloggers and influencers who work with hotels. I'm very happy with appearing like a voice of sanity here. The title is a bit misleading; this is actually a well-rounded piece that talks to people on all sides of the industry.
A few things that I wish had been included:
--It's the hotel or brand's responsibility to research the influencer or blogger. They are not doing their homework and are blaming influencers as a whole. It's up to them to do research -- see if the followers are legitimate, see the kind of work they do, and see whether they're a fit for the brand.
--Something else that my friend Travels of Adam pointed out recently -- hotels complain about being inundated with requests from subpar Instagrammers, but WE ARE CONSTANTLY RECEIVING UNSOLICITED EMAILS FROM THESE SAME HOTELS. I can't tell you how often I get a press release about a new chef at a hotel or something and the message, "I would really appreciate it if you share this with your readers!" Dude. When have I ever shared a press release with my readers? How does that benefit me?
--I got a comped stay from the excellent Hotel Villa d'Estrees in 2012. They're now listed on my high-ranking "where to stay in Paris" post and they get several bookings per week. Boom. ROI. If you do it right, it works.
Yesterday I took the train to Philadelphia to protest America’s incarceration and torture of immigrant children. Mike Pence was spending the evening fundraising at a hotel, so we protested right outside and marched.
It was uncomfortably hot. But not as hot as a tent city in Texas.
As these awful days pass, I feel helpless — but try to turn that into action. I moved back to America instead of living abroad because I wanted to do more work on the ground, speaking up for the less privileged and doing my part to make America better. Though I never thought it would get this bad — that children would be held hostage in American concentration camps for the sake of getting a border wall.
Give money. Give time. Call your representatives. Protest. Repeat.
There will be more protests throughout the country on June 30. I’m going to be away then but I hope you can join a protest near you.
Earlier this month, I accomplished a years-long goal — I visited every country in Europe! Here’s how it feels.
Sexual harassment in the travel blogging industry. Yep. It happens a lot. I share some of my experiences along with several other women’s on Be My Travel Muse.
It was around a year ago when I visited Chernobyl. One of the most fascinating places I've ever visited. Would you go?
Friends, I have something to ask of you today. Immigrant children in the United States are being taken from their parents and placed in internment camps.
This is horrifying. Taking children from their parents -- some of them still breastfeeding, some of them with autism and epilepsy, some of them with physical and intellectual disabilities -- is cruel and inhumane. The United Nations has denounced the US's actions.
Their parents are seeking asylum legally. They are very often women fleeing gang violence in communities where the police are just as corrupt and there is literally no safe place to turn.
This bill is by Senator Dianne Feinstein of California. It does one thing: keep children from being taken from their parents. That's it. Surely we can all get behind that.
The bill currently has 39 co-sponsors, all Democrats and Independents. This is not a partisan issue. It deserves bipartisan support.
I ask my readers who live in a state where one or both of your Senators is not a co-sponsor, please call their office (don't email, call) and ask them to co-sponsor bill S.3036.
Beyond that, share this information on social media with your friends. Protest. And remember to VOTE IN THE 2018 MIDTERMS this November.
If you still want to help, even if you're not American or living in the US, I encourage you to donate to the ACLU (aclu.org). They are working around the clock to help these children and their families.
Well, this article has certainly been making the rounds.
What are your thoughts? I have a lot.
Instagram content is gone in a flash. Blog content lives forever.
And for me, as a blogger who works with brands, what I do WORKS. I've sent tons of readers to Savannah, Bologna, and Koh Lanta because of the content on my site. I sell a ton of portable safes each month because I recommend them so highly. Long, well-written, detailed content that targets people actually planning trips -- not just a girl lounging on a hotel bed in a dress from Lulu's with the caption "sweet dreams 😴✨💕"
Several of my travel industry colleagues have noticed that the demand for Instagram influencers has been waning a bit. What brands really want is content that lasts -- content that shows up when you google the destination.
That's very different from fashion or beauty content -- they're impulse buys. People impulse buy bikinis all the time. They don't impulse buy a safari in Tanzania. Instagram fashion won't be slowing down anytime soon.
What do you think?
The big one is here! When I went to Lebanon a few weeks ago, almost everyone said, "Is it safe?"
The answer? It's MUCH safer than most people think it is.
I went to Lebanon with the goal of experiencing all types of travel so I could write the definitive guide to solo female travel in the country. This is that guide.
Everything you need to know about traveling by organized tour vs. public transportation vs. private driver; how to deal with men in Lebanon; and all the safety information about areas labeled as "avoid all but essential travel" by various Western governments.
A month ago I went to Tilghman Island, Maryland for the weekend. I never would have thought of it as a weekend getaway option, but I had such an awesome (and supremely relaxing) time!
If you live in the NYC, Philly, DC, or Baltimore areas, put the Wylder Hotel Tilghman Island on your list for a weekend away. Stress melts off you like you wouldn’t believe.
Happy Sunday, everyone! What are you up to today that has nothing to do with the world of travel? (Because we’re well-rounded individuals, right?)
I went to Zumba and worked on my first crochet animal — a narwhal. (SO hard.) Now hanging out on my local cafe’s back patio and enjoying an iced coffee. What about you?
What an absolute devastating loss.
I call him Uncle Tony. Every time I do, a few of you ask, "Is he really your uncle?" Nah. But that just goes to show you how I view him: equal parts sage and loving, infinitely knowledgeable and eager to tell you things your parents wouldn't.
Anthony Bourdain changed how all of us travel. Since I began my travel blogging career in 2010, there has been an enormous change in the influence of food on travel. Culinary travel used to be about dining in the best restaurants with the most famous chefs; in the past decade, street food cooked by regular people has become the essence of traveling for food. Bourdain did not invent that concept -- but he popularized it to the mainstream.
And perhaps the most important thing he did was teach us how to interact with people on our travels. He didn’t have a shred of condescension in his body. Whether he was rollicking it up in a Russian sauna, surrounded by vodka and cured meats, or a sitting on the ground in a home in Laos with victims of America's secret bombing campaign, he was there to eat and listen to their stories as an equal, not as someone looking down on them.
Bourdain was also one of the most influential figures on my own career. His many rants about Emeril and other chefs have caused me to be more cautious, to be in a position where I only work on products that I'm fiercely proud of -- not products that I have no choice but to promote because there are too many people financially depending on the Adventurous Kate Machine. He's also inspired me to visit places that don't get enough coverage, like Hokkaido and Lebanon and Ukraine, rather than being the umpteenth person writing about Whatever Destination Has The Most Money This Year.
Since the deaths of Bourdain and Kate Spade this week, I've seen a very common phrase on social media: "Just goes to show that all the money and success in the world can't buy happiness." Okay, I am going to stop you RIGHT THERE. We don't say, "Just goes to show that all the money and success in the world can't buy a body free of cancer cells."
Suicide isn't about happiness or sadness. Depression is a disease that warps your brain chemistry and changes your thoughts. People who take their own lives genuinely believe that the world and their loved ones would be better off with them gone.
If you are having suicidal thoughts, there are so many people who can help you. These thoughts are not normal. Please reach out to a loved one, or contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at +1 800-273-8255. You can chat online 24/7 at suicidepreventionhotline.org. If you'd rather text, people in the States can text HOME to 741741 to the Crisis Text Line 24/7. You can get a list of international providers here: https://www.iasp.info/resources/Crisis_Centres/
RIP, Uncle Tony, and thank you for all the joys you brought to our lives.
Back at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam for the fourth time in two weeks — but I don’t care. This is my favorite airport!
Schiphol does everything right. Going through check-in and security is fast and efficient, and I’ve never seen a long line anywhere. The people who work here, from airline employees to Starbucks baristas, are kind, helpful, and pleasant. The KLM lounge is huge and you can find privacy if you need it. And it’s well-connected via public transit to all over the Netherlands. You can even go direct to Paris!
Basically, this airport is the polar opposite of my home airport, JFK, which is a complete mess populated with surly employees and it costs me $55 for an Uber (or 90 minutes via subway, but most of my flights leave early so that’s usually not doable).
Singapore’s airport might get all the international acclaim...but still, I like Schiphol better. If you’re evaluating flights to Europe and you have to do a layover somewhere, do it here. Or just stay. This country is awesome.
BONUS: they have Gouda samples in most of the souvenir shops!
To everyone who told me to eat at Zanettos and didn’t tell me any details, YOU HAVE AN EXCELLENT SENSE OF HUMOR.
I sat down and they just started bringing me plates. And plates and plates. So much delicious Cypriot food! Souvlaki and halloumi and even a bowl of snails!
How can one human eat this much food? As good as it is? I was getting nervous that it would be super expensive but it was only €21!
If you’re coming to Cyprus, come to Zanettos to explore all kinds of local dishes. And you better come with an appetite!
May was beyond insane. I went on trips to Maryland, New Orleans, the Netherlands and Lebanon — and had more disasters in a single month than I’ve had in a long time. https://www.adventurouskate.com/ak-monthly-recap-may-2018/
Nicosia, Cyprus, is the only divided capital in the world. Today I walked over to the Turkish side — super easy and only took a few minutes to go through immigration.
It’s amazing how quickly the atmosphere changes. It’s quieter. Less dense. More spread out.
And my least favorite thing about Turkey — lots of staring from men.
I planned to go over to Kyrenia today, but we had an apocalyptic rainstorm for a few hours and I stayed put. I’ll probably check it out tomorrow!
It's time for the best deal of the year once again! The Paradise Pack is on sale and offers you a massive discount on the resources that will teach you to start your own business -- a business you could run from the road while traveling.
That is, of course, if you're willing to make the effort. Most people don't.
If you're intrigued -- take a look. It might be for you. It might not be. It could be what changes everything.
ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED! With today’s arrival in Cyprus, I have officially visited every country in Europe!!!
And it only took me 17 years — since I set foot in France as a bright-eyed sixteen-year-old in 2001!
I adore this continent. I feel at home on this continent (some countries more than others). I’ve lived on this continent, and I’d love to live part-time on this continent someday.
Now — am I going to try to go to every country in the world? HELL NOPE. Not my thing. I don’t want to turn my travels into a chore.
Just this. I’ve got it. And it’s good.
I’m thinking of putting together a post of my 50 or so favorite places in Europe!
Today is my last day in Lebanon and I spent it at the largest Roman temple in the world — Baalbek! And Anjer, too.
Lebanon has been a very interesting country in which to travel. Very European in some areas and very Middle Eastern in others. Great people, awesome food, insane drivers, epic mountains, and full of new friends.
I wouldn’t recommend Lebanon to newbie travelers or first-time international travelers. It’s rough and challenging. But for experienced international travelers interested in a place that doesn’t get enough positive press? A very interesting place to visit.
I’m so excited about writing about Lebanon in depth!
Wow, I had the BEST day today in Tyre! And it was because I took the BUS! When I told my Beirut-living friends I wanted to do some day trips by bus, they were shocked. "What?! Why would you do that? Just hire a driver!" they said.
Well...hiring a driver generally starts around $150 per day from a legit organization, or maybe around $100 if grab random drivers off the street. Not everyone can afford that. Especially when you're traveling solo.
I'm not doing this Lebanon trip for fun -- this trip is a fact-finding mission for you, my dear readers. I came here because there is almost no information online about traveling Lebanon as a solo female. So my aim here is to travel to the far reaches of the country by organized tour, private driver, and public transportation, evaluating each option and writing in depth about their advantages and disadvantages.
One of my friends, Alexandra, has taken the bus frequently in Lebanon and gave me advice. "Dress conservatively. Wear long sleeves. Sit next to women. The two front rows are unofficially reserved for women. Put your headphones in if any man bothers you." Duly noted.
I got an Uber down to Cola, where the buses heading south leave, and said, "Sour?" (Arabic for Tyre) and they told me to get on the bus to Saida (Sidon) and switch. The buses are actually minibuses -- like large vans. I saw there was a woman in the first row and I gratefully sat down next to her. Another woman sat down next to me.
The ride was smooth -- and SUPER FAST. I was told each journey would be just over an hour; both of them took about 40 minutes.
And the cost? 2,000 Lebanese pounds, or $1.33, per journey. So Beirut-Sidon, Sidon-Tyre, and Tyre-Sidon-Beirut cost me $5.33 total. THAT'S A LOT LESS THAN $100. I was charged the local price every time. There's no question that I'm a foreigner, but maybe dressing conservatively and looking Lebanese paid off here.
Now. Tyre. The ruins were AWESOME (and I'm not a ruins person). They're set right on the Mediterranean, surrounded by pink flowers, and gorgeous. UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The town is comfortable and chill. All good vibes. It is super Middle Eastern compared to the other regions in Lebanon I've visited. Nearly all women are in headscarves and nobody was eating due to Ramadan. I was about to say that ZERO men in Lebanon have made me feel uncomfortable (and that is virtually unheard of); sadly, ONE man rode by me and made kissing noises. Still...only one in four days is lower than almost anywhere.
And I ACTUALLY MADE FRIENDS. I sat with a woman and her son, having orange juice and coffee -- they couldn't speak English or French and I couldn't speak Arabic, so we got by on "habibi" and "shukran" and "America." I had a long conversation with an Indian couple and their baby, and even got to play with another Lebanese baby on the bus back.
I've missed these kinds of experiences. I feel like I've been purposely insulating myself from people, saying to myself, "I'm here to work, not to make friends." That goes out the window now.
Three full days in Lebanon, and two things stand out to me. The first is that it's incredibly European -- it doesn't feel like the Middle East at all. French is one of the main languages here. The cities and landscapes remind me a lot of the Balkans, but on a much larger scale -- think Albania and Macedonia more than Croatia or Slovenia.
That said, I'm heading to more conservative areas in the south tomorrow (Tyre and/or Sidon, depending on time) and my assessment may change after visiting them.
The second is that I've found a country of my lookalikes. EVERYONE I meet here asks if I'm of Lebanese ancestry and is shocked when I tell them no. I get asked about my background a LOT, but this is next level. I love being honorarily Lebanese!
Here’s a useful wardrobe hack: bring a full-coverage sports bra, even if you don’t plan on doing any sports.
On my first day in Beirut, I observed the local women. The standard uniform? Skinny jeans and a sleeveless top or short-sleeved shirt. Pretty standard. But no one bared their cleavage whatsoever, unless at a private event.
Having a full-coverage sports bra allows you to turn your low-cut, more cleavagey shirts into modest attire. This shirt is full on boobs city when I wear it alone, but the sports bra makes it wearable more places. Bring one! (I know these can be very hard to find for larger-breasted ladies — best of luck finding one.)
Of course, this outfit works for more cosmopolitan areas of Lebanon like Beirut and Byblos — for more conservative areas, I’ll be wearing longer sleeves and a shirt that goes up to my neck.
Today I visited some of the most famous trees in the world: the Cedars of Lebanon. And it made me sad, to be honest.
These trees used to cover all the mountains in Lebanon. Their wood was highly prized and used to build religious structures — so, inevitably, the trees disappeared. The park where the last large cluster of cedars remain is such a tiny place that it’s depressing. And seeing souvenirs made out of Lebanese cedar made me physically angry. It should be growing on the ground, not cut into rings with “God bless this house” burned into it!
What I would give to see these trees cover the mountains once more...
Good morning from country #75 — Lebanon!
Congrats to all you crafty folks who guessed correctly. 😉 I’m here for five full days, then on to Cyprus!
Thanks Rotterdam Marriott Hotel for not charging me for the three Toblerones I took from the minibar...even after I insisted, “I CONFESS! I ATE THEM!!!!” and the front desk guy said, “Well, we have no record of that, so you’re all clear!” (Seriously though, a great hotel and a great stay.)
Rotterdam has been fantastic. It’s time to fly to my MYSTERY DESTINATION for six nights! One last clue...I’m flying via Istanbul.
Today I gave an awesome, ass-kicking, take-no-prisoners talk and ended up the resident comedian on the closing panel. I was ON today and it was awesome. Lots of people told me after that they used to be afraid, but now they are ready to start writing about political issues on their travel blogs. YES! We have a responsibility to stand up for what’s right.
But in all seriousness, Traverse Events is one of the best conferences I’ve ever attended. A lot of conferences have crappy sessions and are all about networking — here the sessions are creative and weird and smart and thought-provoking. I will ABSOLUTELY be back. If you’re a travel blogger, YouTuber or Instagrammer, put this conference on your radar. I will absolutely be back.
Today we have a victory for human rights in Ireland. When women are able to make their own reproductive choices, we have greater equality for all people. And when medical laws aren’t written by politicians, fewer people will die as a result.
Thank you to the people of Ireland for voting to allow safe and legal abortion. And thank you especially to the Irish living abroad who returned home, often at great expense, to vote.
I wish the US were as progressive. Safe and legal abortion may seem widespread, but it’s actually very difficult for many low-income and rural women to access reproductive healthcare in our country. It seems like every day new laws are passed trying to restrict abortion access.
I’m a monthly donor to Planned Parenthood because I believe every woman deserves to have control over her own body. If you’re touched by the outcome in Ireland, I suggest you make a donation as well.
Right now I’m at the Traverse conference and my friend Kash (aka Budget Traveller) said something interesting. He does a lot of work with hostels and hostels often ask him how they can build more of a community atmosphere.
His answer? “Build a long table and put it in the middle of the room. Because EVERYTHING happens around that table. The relationships, the one-night stands, the babies. That table makes memories.”
It’s true. I still have friends whom I met on the other side of a table in the middle of a hostel.
What do you think?
These are the cube houses of Rotterdam. How would you like to live in one of these?
Guys, I am so sleep-deprived and overly caffeinated right now (why do 5:30 PM flights from New York to Amsterdam exist? They land at 12:30 AM New York time and you’re supposed to pretend it’s morning!) but I made it to the Netherlands! I decided to take a quickie trip to Delft while my hotel room was being readied. Such a pretty town! And I had to get my favorite Dutch treat — a Stroopwafel!
It’s noon now and the Rotterdam Marriott Hotel has my room ready (LOVE when hotels pull strings to get you in early!). My goal is to stay awake until 10 PM, then I’m going to crash HARD.
In the meantime, I’ve had several coffees and spent the train rides grooving to Bruno Mars as much as possible without getting weird looks from my fellow passengers.
Also, I forgot how terrifying it is to cross the street in this country. You need to look out for BIKES and CARS and TRAMS and the bikes sneak up on you quickly and the trams sneak up on you silently and the cars go down tiny streets that I swore were too narrow for any car to fit but THEY SHOWED ME!
Oh man...the caffeine is hitting HARD.
I'm about to leave on my latest international trip!
Four days in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, for Traverse 18. I might try to get to Delft for a bit on Friday since I just learned it's an only 18-minute train ride away!
One day in transit.
Five days in my mystery country -- as I've said before, it's not in Europe and is known for its cuisine. Some of you have guessed it but I'll reveal it when I arrive.
Four days in Cyprus, my final country in Europe! I've been working toward this achievement for YEARS! This is the only place where I have zero plans other than flying into Larnaca and out of Paphos.
An overnight in Amsterdam, then heading back home.
You almost never see New Orleans recommended as a destination recommended to solo female travelers — but I’m here to change that. New Orleans is AWESOME solo — one of my favorites.
Here I share safety tips, and in my opinion, 95% of staying safe in New Orleans comes down to following one travel tip in particular.
I'm going to share an excerpt from a comment I just published because I think it's important for all of you to know.
"Not everyone likes every kind of post. In fact, no matter what kinds of posts I write, I get people who don’t like them.
I write a post about Thailand and people say, “Normal people can’t afford to fly to Thailand — can you write more about America?”
I write a post about Philadelphia and people say, “You’re writing too much about America lately — can you write about more international destinations?”
I write a personal post and people say, “Well, this is completely useless — how am I supposed to learn how to travel better from this?”
I write a monthly recap post and people say, “You only write these to brag about how much you read!”
I write an informational post and people say, “This is boring — I want to read more travel stories.”
But you know what? There are people who enjoy all of those categories. People who say, “I always look forward to your book recommendations!” and “I never thought of visiting Asheville before but you make it sound great!” and “This post is so helpful — I sent it to my husband so we can plan our trip to Italy!”
In short — nothing is for everyone. I have lots of bloggers whose work I love reading, but they often write posts that aren’t my jam. So I encourage you to do what I do — enjoy the posts you like. Politely ignore the ones you don’t. Appreciate that the person behind the blog you love is working like a madwoman to create original content for you to enjoy — and if she never made money from it, she would be working a full-time job and would have hardly any time to create that content for you."
One year ago today, I arrived in Odessa, Ukraine, for the first time. I fell in love with it in about ten minutes! Easily my favorite place I visited in 2017 and a gorgeous, underrated city I recommend to all of you.
Thanks for the memories, New Orleans. You are always a rollicking good time! One of my favorite cities for just hanging out and going wherever looks weird or interesting. And it’s confirmed — you CAN have an awesome time in this city as a solo female traveler! It just requires a bit more planning, and I plan to write about that in depth.
Heading back to New York for a few days — then off to the Netherlands on Wednesday! It’s a busy travel month!
Happy Saturday from New Orleans — it’s Bayou Boogaloo time!
Every May, there’s a huge music festival here on the bayou. People get floats and drinks and spend the day out on the water while listening to bands! (Currently it’s a Latin version of “Careless Whisper.) There are also tons of booths by local artists. What an awesome way to spend a day with your friends.
A lot of people think New Orleans is all about Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest — but there are TONS of lesser-known festivals like this one throughout the year. The bonus of going somewhere like this is that it keeps away the amateurs (like the drunk out-of-towners on Bourbon Street) and focuses on locals. I feel like I’m the only non-local here!
How insane is this? I got my DNA results while I’m in New Orleans...and it shows that I’m Acadian. The Acadians settled in New Orleans. The word “Cajun” comes from “Acadian.”
OMG THIS TRIP HAS BEEN A FAMILY REUNION AND I HAD NO IDEA.
My results are crazy. I’ll write more on them at a later date.
Kate at 10:30 AM vs. 5:30 PM. This is your daily reminder to stay humble.
And ALWAYS pack an umbrella in New Orleans!
I was going home from the Garden District, but my Lyft driver kept missing my street and he wouldn’t drive down flooded streets. I gave up and walked home in a downpour, barefoot, in six-inch-deep water.
Oh well! It could have been much worse; I could have been stranded or on the hook for a $50 car ride. And I just made myself a reservation in front of the open kitchen at Meril’s, Emeril’s newest restaurant (named after his daughter...because of course Emeril named his daughter Meril, LOL). I’ve never eaten at one of his restaurants before!
Perhaps my favorite neighborhood in New Orleans is Faubourg Marigny. I love the cute, colorful architectural details on the houses. And now I want a disco ball on my front porch! Have you been?
I’m not the biggest fan of banana desserts but I AM a fan of lighting things on fire!! 🍌🔥🍌🔥🍌🔥 Bananas Foster is a classic New Orleans dessert and I got to try it at the fabulous Arnaud's & the French 75 Bar last night.
Here’s the full video with skillful cooking from server Mary. And it was delicious!!