People often ask me, “Jenny, what are your favorite places in the world?” And I definitely do have a short list of favorites. But to me, travel is about so much more than just places on the map. It’s about experiences. It’s about people and cultures; animals and nature. And getting a unique view of the world whether on land, underwater or in the air. I’ve never had a “Bucket List,” per se, but after 8 trips around the world I’ve been fortunate enough to experience dozens of brilliant moments in faraway places (and even a few close to home), many that I didn’t even realize were on my wish list until after the fact.
Since this website is all about carving 30 days out of your life to take the trip of your dreams, I decided to share 30 of my most personally memorable travel experiences from all over the world. I adored them all, so I couldn’t possibly rank them in order of favorites. Instead, I’ve presented them (for your convenience) just like my RTW trips – beginning in the US and traveling in an eastward direction around the world.
Simple Disclaimer: “Extraordinary” obviously means different things to different people so I will stress that this is simply a list of destinations and travel moments that have been personally meaningful to me. It is, of course, by no means intended as the top 30 places to go or things to do. But I do hope that you’ll find at least one new travel adventure on my list to add to your own.
So grab your passport, here we go…Read More
It was an exciting couple of days in New Orleans back in August filming the pilot for the “Round the World in 30 Days” TV show. Despite my first-time-TV-host-nerves, it was truly a terrific experience thanks to my talented (and patient) crew. The city of New Orleans and the Four Points by Sheraton French Quarter were incredible hosts for our crew and I’m especially grateful to blogger Emily Smith of Fleurdelicious-NOLA, Chef Michael Sichel of Galatoire’s, Chef Michael Regua of Antoine’s and Teresa Robichaux of the Four Points French Quarter for fearlessly submitting themselves to my rookie interviewing skills (I’ll get better, I swear!).
After more than a month in the editing room, I’m thrilled to finally share the finished product:
The first 5 minutes are the real heart of the show! During the course of the season we’ll travel around the world – not just showing viewers exotic destinations but also how to plan their own trip of a lifetime! As a travel blogger myself, I know that my fellow bloggers often have the best insight into any destination which is why each episode will prominently feature an interview with a local blogger. We have just begun seeking a network deal for the show and I’m happy to say we already have some interest. But getting a new TV show on the air is always a Herculean effort so if you like the pilot, please share it. I am convinced there is an audience out there for a show that both inspires viewers to fulfill their wildest travel dreams and helps them find ways to afford it!Read More
I’m a firm believer in challenging yourself to try things outside your comfort zone. Traveling the world solo might fall into that category for many but it has always seemed perfectly normal to me. But there are plenty of things that do fall outside my comfortable area of expertise. Despite more than a decade of working behind the scenes in television (as an Operations Producer for ESPN), I have never, ever been in front of the camera. And it wasn’t really something that I thought I could do (or wanted to try) until recently.
A few months ago I was contacted by a production company interested in turning my round-the-world adventures into a TV show. An exciting proposition to be sure, but I honestly wondered if this was something I was cut out for? After all, I may know a lot about travel, but I know virtually nothing about hosting a TV show. Luckily, my producer and director had more confidence in my on-camera abilities than I did. Thanks to both of them, a very patient crew and a lot of on-the-job training we shot a pilot for the show recently in New Orleans.
If it gets picked up by a network (a big “if”), the show will film an entire season while following one of my Round the World in 30 Days trips. It’ll focus not just on the myriad of international destinations I visit but more importantly how YOU can plan your own trip of a lifetime around the world – easily and affordably. I’ll even explain how to use those airline miles you’ve been saving to make all your travel dreams come true.
It’s so hard to find informative and inspiring travel shows on TV these days (have you turned on the Travel Channel lately?) so I’m hopeful that somewhere we’ll find a network home for this show and bring the idea of Round-the-World travel into the living rooms of aspiring globetrotters everywhere.
But there’s one thing I know for sure, in the next couple of weeks we’ll have a pilot ready for viewing and you guys will definitely get to see it. In the meantime, you can check out my new RTWin30days YouTube channel (well, not exactly new…I’ve had the channel for a while, I just never uploaded anything to it!) to see a few clips from my most recent trip around Asia as I work my way through the learning curve of speaking into the camera. Once the pilot is done, I’ll be sure to share it here. Then, we’ll just have to wait and see what happens…fingers crossed! It’s sure to be a long road since nothing happens quickly in the TV world.
In the meantime, I’ll be keeping plenty busy working on the itinerary for RTW #9…January 2014 will be here before you know it!Read More
It’s only fitting that a summer spent in my favorite region of the world would end in one of my favorite cities in the world, Bangkok. I don’t have anything new or exciting to say about Bangkok that hasn’t been covered to the point of exhaustion already on this site but suffice it to say, it was a perfectly relaxing place to spend my final days of freedom before the college football season starts next week. Sadly, I spent most of my time while in Bangkok working. Of course, that’s not to say I didn’t squeeze in a massage or two…I’m not a total glutton for punishment.
This past month has been yet another absolutely incredible adventure. I have always wanted to visit the Himalayas but January (during my annual RTW trip) just seemed like a bad (i.e. cold) time. The summer months, as it turned out, were just perfect, despite the rainy season. I mean, sure, rare was the day that I didn’t sweat entirely though my clothing in the humidity and, ok fine, I did trudge through at least one flooded out intersection in Myanmar. But who’s counting?
Overall, I think I was extremely lucky. On the few days that I really needed good weather (to fly over Everest, to make the Tiger’s Nest hike and to tour Lhasa) I got it. Who cares if I had a few rainy days at the beach? In fact, there’s something to be said for a lazy, rainy day at the beach. Especially if you can say it from a luxurious villa or a spa massage table.Read More
I had originally planned to spend 4 nights on the Chinese island of Hainan, known as the “Hawaii of the East.” However, the change in plans regarding Tibet meant cutting my stay down to just two nights. Flight options from Lhasa also meant changing Hainan airports to fly into smaller Haikou instead of the more popular Sanya. But since there was a perfectly posh-looking Sheraton resort located in Haikou, I decided to give it a try.
After a somewhat obnoxious travel day from Lhasa which involved a plane change in Chongqing and two flight delays, I finally arrived in Haikou, exited the airport to the taxi stand and was surrounded by 5 drivers shoving their iPhone calculators in my face to show me how much the drive to the hotel would cost. It was the Chinese version of “Let’s Make a Deal.” I knew from the hotel’s website that the ride should cost approximately 120¥ but the drivers’ opening bids were in all the 300¥ neighborhood. Sigh. Do we really have to play this game every time I arrive in a new destination? Honestly people, it’s exhausting. Do I have “I’m a tourist, rip me off!” stenciled on my forehead? Taxi drivers of the world, for God’s sake just turn on your meter and call it a day. End of rant (but stay tuned, I feel another one coming on).Read More
The week before I departed the U.S. last month, I’d all but lost hope for my visit to Tibet. My entry permit had fallen through at the last minute necessitating re-booking of flights and a complete revamp of the itinerary for our second stop. After significant research, I was able to locate a travel agency that could arrange the permit and my trip to Lhasa was back on track, albeit significantly delayed. Luckily, I hadn’t solidified my flights to Hainan Island for the last week of the trip yet so I was able to do some shuffling around and squeeze Tibet back into the agenda.
After Khao Lak, I flew back to Bangkok and then had a brief connection in Kunming, China in order to reach Lhasa. Since the Tibet entry permit cannot be delivered outside of China, I would need to locate the travel agency representative in the Kunming airport to obtain the permit before being allowed to check in for the continuing flight to Lhasa. I was sure this would be cause for alarm but the company representative was waiting for me holding a sign with my name on it as soon as I came out of customs. Hooray! I was really going to Tibet! I don’t think I actually believed it until I had that permit in my hands.Read More
Into every month-long trip, a little pure relaxation must fall…and on this summer’s trip, it fell squarely on the sleepy Thai beach town of Khao Lak. Normally, on my round-the-world trips, I make one stop at a Thai beach destination. But since the summer months are the rainy season, I decided I’d better hedge my bets and throw in two beach stops in Thailand figuring it would increase my odds of good weather.
For my second foray into southern Thailand in as many weeks, I chose to fly into Phuket and make the drive north up the coast to the quiet town of Khao Lak. I’d discovered Khao Lak years ago, on RTW #4, primarily due to the beautiful and extremely reasonably-priced Starwood property located there, Le Meridien Khao Lak.
I’d stayed at Le Meridien Khao Lak twice on previous trips and always loved it. The only real downside is the hour or so drive from Phuket which means it’s best to have a car. Not really a downside as far as I’m concerned, considering there is typically nothing relaxing about the crowded beaches of Phuket, certainly not when I was there just a few months ago during Chinese New Year. I swore then that I’d never stay in Phuket-proper again.Read More