Deborahmclaren's Weblog

Sustianable Tourism, Buy Local, Rural-Urban Connections

Posts Tagged ‘travel’

Traveling songs

Posted by deborahmclaren on January 28, 2011

Music to live and travel by; music about travel. I’m compiling a list of great travel songs – send me your ideas over the weekend. I’ll post the list on Tuesday.

Posted in music, travel | Tagged: , , , | 6 Comments »

Culinary Sanctuaries – Crete

Posted by deborahmclaren on November 15, 2010

This is such a great opportunity to visit Crete (partial scholarships available) that I have to post this message from Nikki Rose!

Date: 11/15/2010
Subject: News from Crete –

Hi Deborah!

I hope all is well.

FYI, news from our fields:

Archaeological Institute of America Magazine.
Interview with Nikki Rose: The Joy of Cretan Cooking
November 9, 2010, by Eti Bonn-Muller

Chef-instructor Nikki Rose talks about the importance of protecting Crete’s natural and cultural resources—and how “green” the Minoans really were. Nikki is Founder of Crete’s Culinary Sanctuaries Eco-Agritourism Network in Crete, Greece. Educational programs celebrating cultural and natural heritage.

The full interview:

AND — one way for you to visit us in Crete! Partial Scholarships available for our 2011 Open Programs. Deadline to apply is December 1st. Information is on our Schedule page below. Space is limited. Great scholarship opportunities for professional researchers. Also a great opportunity to research sustainable tourism in action.

All the best,

View/reply to this message:

Posted in cultural heritage, food and wine, green travel, Slow Foods, sustainable tourism, sustainable travel, travel, wild food | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Local Flavor Travel

Posted by deborahmclaren on November 1, 2010

Please join me on my new Facebook page which celebrates LOCAL food, art, culture, heritage and travel. Please feel free to post about locally-owned businesses, organizations and events! See you THERE!

Buying local is the best investment in our economy!

Posted in art, Buy-local, ecotour, entreprenuers, Fair Trade, family travel, food and wine, green music, Indigenous tourism, microenterprise, Minnesota, Saint Paul, sustainable tourism, sustainable travel, theater, travel | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Universal Packing List

Posted by deborahmclaren on October 28, 2010

Just stumbled upon the Universal Packing List website. All I had to do was enter a date for travel, where, temps, where I’d be staying, etc. and it told me what to pack and reminded me to do things like make arrangements for pets… and even which country-specific vaccinations I need! Here’s an example based on my upcoming trip to India in January.

Things to do before you leave

To do for most trips
Check the expiration date of your passport
Wash the dishes
Make a lunch
Pet Care
Unplug electrical stuff
Turn down (or up, depending on where you live) the temperature in your home
Empty all trash cans
Confirm airline tickets
Get your airmiles in advance
Memorize PIN codes to credit cards
Check out what hospitals are covered by your health insurance
Get travel insurance
Change money
Install or recharge batteries
Get maps
Forward (or hold) delivery of newspapers and magazines
To do for longer trips
Balance your bank account
Empty your wallet
Wash clothes
Leave expensive watches and jewelery at home
Pay the rent and other necessary bills
Plant care
Turn down the temperature on your water heater
Empty all water containers
Store away things that are easy to steal
Empty your fridge of perishables
Hold delivery of snail mail
Wax boots
Core vaccinations
Typhus vaccination
Typhoid vaccination
Polio vaccination
Tetanus vaccination
Destination specific vaccinations
Yellow Fever vaccination
Cholera vaccination
Hepatitis vaccination
Plague vaccination
Meningitis vaccination
Japanese B Encephalitis vaccination

Unisex clothes
Trousers ( Pants, Jeans )
Cap ( Hat )
Clothes for women
Sandals ( Flip-flops )
Optional clothes
Swimming trunks ( Bikini )
Pyjamas ( Pajamas )
Beach pants
Money and documents

Basic documents
Vaccination certificate
Insurance certificate ( Health Insurance card )
Paper from your local social insurance office
Credit/ATM cards ( Visa, Eurocard/Mastercard, American Express etc )
Driver’s license
ID card
Address list (with phone numbers and email addresses)
Optional documents
This packing list
Photocopies of passport and other important documents
International Student Identification Card ( ISIC )
Tourist organization certificate
International Youth Hostel Card
For carrying money and documents
Paper folder
Airline tickets
Train tickets
Small scale map
Large scale map

Things for packing
Small extra backpack ( Knap sack, Day pack )
Plastic bags ( Ziploc )
Stuff Sack
Small box
Luggage belt
Things for sleeping
Sheets ( Bed covers )
Eating equipment
Multi-tool ( Folding knife )
Miscellaneous equipment
Extra car keys
Extra things
Safety pins

Toilet bag ( Bathroom bag, Necessaire )
Extra blades for Razor
Shaving gel ( Shaving foam )
Electric shaver
Toothbrush ( Electric toothbrush with charger )
Soap box
Liquid soap
Sunblock lotion
Extra glasses
Hygiene (women only)
Menstrual cup
Hygiene (optional)
Hair brush
Barrettes, headbands, hair ties
Clothes pegs ( Clothes pins )
Laundry bag
Fingernail clippers

General health items
Prescription medicine
Sore tape ( Adhesive tape )
Insect repellent
Band-Aids ( Plaster )
First aid kit
Water bottle
Water purifying filter
Chewing gum
Pills, tablets and medicines
Water purifying tablets
Motion sickness tablets
Contraceptive tablets
Fever tablets
Pain killers
Allergy pills ( Anti-histamines )
Malaria tablets
Electrical stuff

General electrical items
Cell Phone ( Mobile Phone, Cellular Phone )
Charger to Cell Phone
Wall socket adapter
Flashlight ( Torch )
Bookmark reading light
Extra batteries for your camera, flash, torch, watch, MP3-player, PDA and GPS
Digital Camera equipment
Digital camera
Memory cards
Battery charger for camera
Associated cables
Generic photo equipment
Camera bag
Music items
Music player ( Cassette, CD, MiniDisc, MP3 )

Posted in family travel, travel | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment » abandons carbon off setting – Responsible travel news. Responsible travel news, responsible views & discussion on responsible tourism

Posted by deborahmclaren on April 26, 2010

By Harold Goodwin – 30 November 2009Co-operative Travel logo

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In 2002 was one of the first companies to adopt carbon offsetting and it is now one of the first to abandon the approach. Recognizing that flying is currently one of the fastest growing sources of CO2 emissions has mounted a campaign to say no to carbon offsetting and to say yes to carbon reduction.

Justin Francis of is reported in The Independent today. He said that he had decided to abandon offsets because he believes they have become “a medieval pardon that allows people to continue polluting”. He went on

“Carbon offsetting is an ingenious way to avoid genuinely reducing your carbon emissions,” he said yesterday. “It’s a very attractive idea – that you can go on living exactly as you did before when there’s a magic pill or medieval pardon out there that allows people to continue polluting.”

As the makers of the excellent film clip Cheat Neutral made clear you cannot offset the damage you do the environment by flying by paying someone else to reduce their carbon emissions. If you have not watched the movie, watch it now. It will make you smile.

As say on their site “Offsetting flights has too often been seen as an opportunity to go on flying the same amount or more.”’s message is clear fly less, make the essential life style changes and when we do fly make it count by choosing a holiday which will have a positive impact in the destination. have launched a range of lower carbon travel experiences, encouraging the use of the train and public transport and reminding us that there is much to be enjoyed and experienced closer to home with 200 UK holiday ideas.

Whilst as individuals we can make a difference we should not ignore the scale of the problem we need national and international action to slow global warming –

The Independent quotes some of the offers available on offsets, it is surely a matter of considerable concern that the amount of carbon emitted varies so much and the cost too.. The British government’s official Shadow Price of Carbon is £28 per tonne Clearly offsetting provides a cheaper deal, but that is not covering the real cost of the damage caused by the carbon emitted which using the DFRA figure is significantly higher.

The examples reported by The Independent
What do some of the major offset companies charge for offsetting a return flight from London to Sydney for two people?
*Climate Care: 11.23 tonnes of CO2 which costs £98.03 to offset.
*Carbon Clear: 2.82 tonnes of CO2 which costs £21.15 to offset
*The Carbon Neutral Company: 6.1 tonnes of CO2 which costs between £52 and £122 to offset depending on which project you choose
*Offset Carbon: 8 tonnes of CO2 at £76

This Article first appeared on the Harold Goodwin Blog

// // Bookmark and  Share abandons carbon off setting – Responsible travel news. Responsible travel news, responsible views & discussion on responsible tourism.

Posted in climate solutions, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Street Kids in Enzo’s World – Meeting Street Kids… With Your Kids When You Travel

Posted by deborahmclaren on April 14, 2009

Have you checked out World Hum?

If not, you need to. I just read an amazing article about street kids – and one family dealing with them.  If you have traveled much you have met these kids. In our own travels we met a newborn that was swapped 24/7 by little girls begging at the Gate of India – he worked day and night begging with these tiny “mothers”; and were freaked and called police about a Down’s syndrom baby who was also horribly deformed and left naked on some stairs in Bangkok with a note “need money”. Our 13 year old daughter learned to deal with it on her own terms in India.

Anyway, this is an interesting article by JD Roberto… (according to World Hum) who is a writer, actor and host for television, and a travel junkie. Over the past 14 years, he and his wife Karen have hitched, packed, walked and tuk-tuked their way through nearly 70 countries. Their son, Enzo, has a well worn passport and budding fascination with all things cartographical.

Street Kids in Enzo’s World

Travel Stories: On a trip to Granada, Nicaragua, JD Roberto confronts hungry children and considers how to explain them to his son

04.13.09 | 9:51 AM ET
REUTERS/Desmond Boylan

It’s with no small amount of guilt that I shoo away a kid of about 8 who approaches me with a “hello, amigo.” Enzo doesn’t notice. We’re sitting on the front steps of our hotel, me poring over the map of Granada and him captivated by the horse-drawn carriages that line the central square of this well-preserved Spanish colonial town.

Street kids—whether the pint-sized kitsch hawkers at Angkor Wat, the frequently belligerent Gypsy girls outside the Louvre, or the pack of 9-year-old boys who follow you Pied Piper-style to the bakery in Hue (where you inevitably buy them a loaf of bread)—are a fixture in the life of a traveler. Almost anywhere you go, there’s a predictable culture of children working tourists on the streets.

Emotionally, it’s complicated. Sometimes you want to give them all your money. Sometimes you want to yell at them to leave. Sometimes you want to jump in the middle of them and sing “It’s the Hard Knock Life.” An appropriate response seems impossible.

Even more so once you’re traveling with your own child.

Before I can shoo him away again, the Granadan street kid is playing hide-and-seek with Enzo, who’s howling with delight at having found someone closer to his size to play with. Every now and again, this grubby 8-year-old pops up from behind a planter and yells, “Estoy aqui!” which sends my 2-year-old screaming and scampering in that direction.

The next morning, as we head for breakfast, Enzo calls out “Estoy Aqui!” at random intervals—his first words in a foreign language.

At the local waffle house, we tear through the staggering platefuls of food when the first of the street kids appears, throwing us a forlorn “You gonna eat that toast?” look. In fact, we’re not going to eat the toast, so I reach down to the street and hand it off to him. At which point the manager shouts and chases the kid away. It’s a game of cat and mouse that will play out again and again while we sit here, the manager now paying particular attention to my side of the café since I’ve proven myself to be an easy mark. Of course, the manager won’t correct or scold me. I’m a paying customer, after all. But he’ll throw me a disapproving look and keep a better eye on my side of the patio. The last thing he needs is for packs of kids to run off his clientele.

And you can’t really blame the guy. The family from Richmond sitting behind us definitely doesn’t want some skinny, unwashed child asking them for a strip of bacon. This isn’t the holiday they signed up for. People get mad when poverty is waved in their face; it’s full of messy feelings of guilt, helplessness, self-doubt and the knowledge that there but for the randomness of the birth lottery go you. And—honestly—who wants to deal with any of that over waffles and coffee?

Enzo, of course, is dealing with nothing but the conundrum of how to get the chocolate chips out of his pancakes without having to actually eat the pancake.

He isn’t old enough to ask why he has piles of food—most of which he won’t eat—and that little boy gets yelled at for having my toast. He isn’t old enough to wonder aloud why this potential hide-and-seek partner can’t come have breakfast with us. He isn’t aware enough yet to ask all the obvious questions we’ll spend the rest of the meal ignoring. And I’m relieved. Because when he does, I have no idea what I’ll say.

Posted in family travel, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Destination: Ely Minnesota

Posted by deborahmclaren on January 14, 2009

Recently I traveled “Up North” to Ely.  This little village could be described as the “Cicely, Alaska (re: Northern Exposure)  of Minnesota” due to ts quirkiness, interesting people, and since it serves as the gateway to the 1500 lake and river entries of the Boundary Water Canoe Wilderness Area (BWCAW). However, it is not fictional,  its a real town, with real people, glorious nature and its own Great North Woods culture.

And yes, they even have a distinctive little radio station – WELY, the “end of the road radio show” that broadcasts to the BWCAW  and the communities of Northern Minnesota’s Arrowhead region.  The community radio station provides news, music, a wide variety of entertainment and personal messages to the hardy people of the Boundary Waters.  A wild polka jam and a reggae hour maybe followed by a message for Miss Ann on Little Bass Lake to remind her to bring back a 5 lb. sack of sugar when she heads home from town.

My sister, Maria, and her husband, Karl, were visiting from New Zealand. My husband, Rob, and our 8-year old son Anil and I were determined to show them some great Minnesota winter fun.  We made arrangements to stay at a comfortable cabin at the Garden Lake Resort about three miles outside of Ely on part of the Kawishiwi River chain of lakes directly connected to the BWCAW. Can you say Kah-wishy-wee?

The two-bedroom cabin overlooked the lake and offered easy access for snowshoeing and winter hiking. A nice couple own the 4-cabin lot and use green cleaning products that, because we all have allergies, was greatly appreciated by our family.  Since they mentioned their dedication to eco-friendly on their website when I first checked them out, I hope they continue to work on becoming more environmentally sustainable.  And, if you ever decide to stay there, consider yourself warned about the religious literature placed prominently in the living area.

We especially loved a midnight star gazing trek on our snowshoes – the sound of our thffft, thffft, thffting through the trees, laughter as we fell into moonlit snow drifts, and spectacular stellar scintillation (stars twinkling brightly) from horizon to horizon. 

We rented our snow shoes from Piragis Northwoods Company for $25 a day (children’s snow shoes were $10).

The deep winter weather was challenging. The morning we were scheduled to go dog sledding we woke up to -27 degrees!  We still managed to get in a  ride with Jake Hway, the owner of Chilly Dogs Dog Sled Trips.  Jake is an experienced dog musher, guide and instructor who introduces hundreds of  kids every year to dog sledding through his work at a nearby Boy Scout camp.

One of the best parts of dog sledding is meeting the dogs. Jake keeps them tied up next to their own little houses in a large lot at the edge of the forest. A bunkhouse stands within the lot and someone stays  there every night to watch over the dogs. The Hways consider each pup a member of the family. You can see the dogs on their website by clicking on “employees lounge.”

Jake  encouraged us to get to know the furry creatures so we tried to individually pet all 57 of those barkin’ chilly dogs.  They are Alaskan Huskies and love to run as much as they love to bark… and couldn’t wait to get hooked up to the sleds. A couple of  dogs tied up near the back of the lot wailed so loudly they convinced me to tiptoe through over some frozen Husky poop in order to give their necks a good rub.

We enjoyed how Jake’s entire family came out to help orient us and encourage us to connect to the dogs, the snow covered forests, and winter trails.  Jake is about as laid back as a surfer in Malibu – except its -27 degrees and he’s wearing lots of long undies and fleece. He’s tall, lanky, strong, and takes a zen-like approach – concentration, tranquility and mindfulness – to his work and his dogs.

Jake and Murdoch (permission from Chilly Dogs)

Jake and Murdoch (permission from Chilly Dogs)

One of the first things we learned is that “Mush!” is NOT the term used to get the dogs moving.  “Hike” is the preferred term. Personally, I thought the most important word to learn was “whooaaa!”  Anil and I sat in the basket of one sled while Jake drove the dogs.  Maria was in the other sled basket as Karl learned to drive the dogs. We were bundled up in some serious winterwear, then covered up and zippered in under the sled’s canvas. I highly recommend ski goggles and mukluks for anyone interested in dog sledding.

Jake and the dogs took us on an exhilarating ride on special trails that have been created just for dog sledding – through heavy forest, across beaver ponds and swampy areas, and over small wooded hills.

Chilly Dogs Dog Sled Trips (used by permission)

Chilly Dogs Dog Sled Trips (used by permission)

Anil’s description of the ride:  “Fun, cool, trees, snow, doggy bottoms, people yelling, the sled, falling asleep on the snow ride while watching blue sky and bumping along on the wooden snow sled while its hitting one hundred thousand bumps in the forest…  My mom shaking me until I started talking and feeling my toes again.” [Editor’s note: This is testimony from a hyper child who has not taken a nap since he was 4 years old. I can’t imagine what happened on that bumpy ride to put him to sleep. Maybe Minnesota winter magic?]

Kiwi Karl summed it up like this, “Dashing through the snow, on a six-dog open sleigh! It was an amazing experience to drive the sled, whizzing by trees, with beautiful Minnesota countryside all around.”

After the ride Jake’s mother, Donna, had fresh baked cookies and hot chocolate waiting for us next to the fireplace. As we sat  thawing out in their rec room we got to see and learn about the family’s mounted animal collection on the walls,  including a surprisingly large beaver, foxes, and several deer.

I  saved one of the most special things about Ely, a visit to the Jim Brandenburg Gallery, for last.  Brandenburg is one of Minnesota’s most loved nature photographers. His extensive career includes over ten years as a newspaper photojournalist,  over 25 years as a contract photographer for the National Geographic Society, and commissions from such groups as the U.S. Postal Service and the BBC.  His daughter, Heidi, who manages the gallery, generously gave me permission to reproduce  his  photo ‘Snow Forms’ here on my blog. Enjoy!

Snow Forms by Jim Brandenburg (permission from Brandenburg Gallery)

Snow Forms by Jim Brandenburg (permission from Brandenburg Gallery)

The beautiful gallery in downtown Ely is warm, open and welcoming. It was designed by Jim and expertly crafted by the same award winning team that constructed his studio, Ravenwood. We learned quickly that the ordinary becomes extraordinary through the camera lens of Brandenburg. The gallery is full of panoramas and prints of the Arctic, wolves, the Inuits of Alaska, Africa, Ireland, and the woods and prairies of Minnesota. The still images are complimented by a high definition video that plays constantly in a state-of-the-art  mini-theater.

Our Kiwi relatives are now as much in love with Ely as we are.  However, we’re looking forward to sharing a down-under experience with them next Christmas when its summer in New Zealand. That’s another trip I’ll look forward to and will share here on the Travel Momma blog!  Stay tuned.

Posted in green travel, Kiwis, travel writing, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

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