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Travel in Numbers

It’s hard to say those three little words. You may have been friends for years, or perhaps you’ve only just met. You might be constant companions, eating meals together, going to parties together, and spending rainy Sunday afternoons side by side. You may have even met each other’s families or shared a holiday together. But it’s those three little words that truly put your friendship to the test: “Let’s travel together.”

Watch one episode of The Amazing Race, and you’ll see how interpersonal dynamics can affect a trip. Of course, most of my trips don’t involve racing other travelers to shovel two pounds of caviar into my mouth or corral a herd of unruly cattle, but I’ve weathered my fair share of travel drama.

Cambodia For Foodies

If awards were handed out for the most pretentious phrases ever uttered, I would surely win for this little gem, which–to my horror–I found myself saying the other day: “We tried a lot of food when we were traveling, but Khmer food was our favorite.”

There’s so much to work with there–the “when we were traveling” refrain beloved of boring backpackers who corner you at a party and start telling you about their adventures, the reference to a fairly obscure cuisine from a country fraught with political turmoil, the ghastly use of “we” rather than “I”–but the bottom line is that it’s entirely true. Cambodian food, quite frankly, rocks.

Happy Fourth!

As far as holidays are concerned, the Fourth of July ranks up there with Halloween and my birthday. (Basically, I like anything that involves parties or presents.) So today is a big day for me, especially since it’s my first year to spend the 4th in my new hometown of San Francisco. Heck, I even bought a new outfit!

For San Franciscans, the Fourth can be either the best celebration on earth or a complete and total flop, depending on whether or not the fog rolls in to block your view of the fireworks. I’ll be spending my night at a party in Fort Mason, watching a few bands and celebrating the 4th in style. (And by that, I mean that I got a really cute outfit!) With a view of the Golden Gate Bridge and the East Bay, I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a clear night and a good view.

When the rockets red glare this July 4, where will you be celebrating?

Photo Courtesy of IgoUgo member mtemail.

A Few Far-Flung Fourth of Julys

Growing up “inside the beltway” made me a shameless Fourth of July snob. I thought nothing in the U.S.A. could possibly compare to the Nation’s Capital celebration, and each year, I’d put on my best red, white, and blue outfit for the occasion. Over picnic punch and popsicles, I’d commune with the D.C. monuments on the Mall waiting for the moment when that first star would rise above the “big pencil” to usher in the mother ship of Independence Day fireworks shows.

And then, one Independence Day I found myself in a car on the Big Island of Hawaii, my dad at the wheel. We were racing to a fireworks show by the beach and were too late to make it—I could hear that telltale rumble-pop. So my dad pulled over, and we discovered that if we went about mid-way through an adjacent pineapple field, we could see the show. Although it wasn’t what we had planned, it was absolutely perfect, and I realized it was indeed possible to get my patriotic pulse a’racing outside The District.

Photo courtesy of IgoUgo member BawBaw.

Gastro Globe-trotting? Sounds good to me!

Over the past several years dining has gone from something travelers do on vacation to something they vacation to do. The travel industry is expanding programs and offerings catered specifically to these consumers, such as culinary tours through Spain, Italy, Mexico and Napa Valley. Resorts around the globe also have created culinary-friendly options for guests and locals through on-site cooking schools offering half-day and full-day cooking classes. From gourmet tequila tasting classes in Mexico to drive-by tastings on the Vermont Cheese Trail, consumers traveling to please their bellies in 2007 have a wide variety of options.

The biggest and most obvious sign of this food trend is the explosion of farmers markets. Today it is difficult to visit any city, town or region that does not have a version of a regular market. In rural settings, farmers markets are often held weekly or twice weekly and recently began expanding their season into ‘winter farmers markets.