Love to travel, but hate tours? This blog offers insight on how to go it alone, from safe accommodations to seeing the best, and maybe the worst. After all, independent travel is an adventure. Flexibility and traveling on a budget are critical. No five-stars or all-inclusives. So hop aboard. Learn to enjoy travel at your own pace and price. Meet other adventurers like yourself and mingle with the locals. Remember: You may travel alone, but you wonʼt be lonely. email@example.com
The “Land of Enchantment”, New Mexico, Pecos National Historical Park. - 9/22/2012 4:27 pm
All border crossings are not created equal... - 8/19/2012 7:58 am
Avoid Interstates, enjoy travel through middle America... - 8/12/2012 6:12 am
Right now is the best time to travel the Alaska Highway. - 8/4/2012 5:45 pm
Fifty Shades of Grey becoming a travel phenomenon. - 7/29/2012 6:46 am
Winners of the annual Independent Traveler Photo Contest... - 7/21/2012 10:00 pm
Independent Traveler photo contest, submit your favorite travel photo here... - 7/1/2012 10:38 am
How to get a good seat on your next flight. - 6/24/2012 9:26 am
Posted: October 21, 2010 - 1:01 am
I am planning a trip to Mexico in Jan. and would like to know if it is safe. So many people tell me not to go...Thelma
Regarding the safety of Mexico, it depends upon where you go. I wouldn't go to towns that border the U.S., like Tijuana. You should check online the State Department Travel Warnings when traveling to Mexico to determine what areas they advise U.S. citizens not to travel to.
That being said, Mexico is one of my favorite places. I spent ten days in Mexico City this past Feb. and had no problems whatsoever. It's unfortunate that the whole of Mexico gets a bad name due to problems in border towns and also due to domestic violence involving the drug cartel.
Most tourists are not even remotely caught in this problem. The kidnappings you hear about usually have to do with the capture of foreign nationals that live in Mexico, not tourists. Of course, some kidnappings of tourists have occurred near the border.
So to answer your question, if you are travelling to a part of Mexico that is not near the border you should be perfectly safe. Like traveling in the U.S. you need to take precautions whereever you are or you might have a mishap. I would encourage you to visit Mexico as it is a wonderful country.
Gloria, Independent Traveler
Posted: October 19, 2010 - 11:13 pm
I have two major destinations in Crete. One the city of Rethymnon and the other city port of Chania. Both are on the coast and both are purported to have lovely harbors where one can sit and enjoy the ancient Venetian structures and crystal clear waters.
Unfortunately, Rythymnon is a major disappointment other than the wonderful restored mansion we are staying at and the delight of chatting with other travelers. The problem is the harbor. It's quite small and restaurants have taken over the the harbor front. One must walk between the water and outdoor tables to get around. Touts for the dozen or more eateries literally block your way physically, stopping you while they give you their spiel.
“Hello my friend. Where you from...Please sit down at my restaurant and I will make for you a special meal my mother taught me. You will not be disappointed,” and it goes on from there. They are quite good are wearing people down, however after you enjoy “the special” meal they make just for you, you get the bill. I'm told that customers have been bilked upwards of $500. Of course the “special meal” is not on the menu and trusting customers don't bother to ask in advance so it's a done deal.
Another problem with the harbor is the smell. Raw sewage is dumped here and given the hot weather the stench is hardly bearable.
The old town behind the harbor is lined with restaurants and shops catering to the tourists. Many of the streets are delightful and good Cretan food is to be had if you know where to look.
Our hotel, the Casa Vitae was a respite in an otherwise touristy environment. Renovated in a old Venetian mansion, it was delightful and the cost during this middle season was totally affordable even for independent travelers.
All in all, it has been a good stay, but would I go back? No. I'm still looking for that quintessential Crete town.
Posted: October 15, 2010 - 11:20 pm
I arrived in Iraklion, Crete after a high-speed ferry ride from Santorini. Iraklion is the only port of entry and is a busy, dirty, clogged city. Here I an overnighting before going by bus to more picturesque towns along the coast.
Iraklion today is a far cry from what it must have been hundreds of years ago when it was a Venetian port. On the harbor there is an old fort and crumbing stone remnants around the city attest to the day when it was once a gem.
The city's archaeological museum is under reconstruction, but offers a Minoan exhibit. Here one can glimpse the sophistication of 6,000 year old culture. Amazing works of art challenge one to wonder how they could create such objects so long ago. It truly is mind boggling.
Posted: October 13, 2010 - 8:36 am
Most people who stay on the Greek island of Satorini stay in the village of Fira. Most miss the village of Oia, which is more laid back, more Santorinian (if there is such a word) and more the expectation of the Santorini experience.
Posted: October 6, 2010 - 11:36 pm
While I might describe Santorini as paradise, it does have a downside. There are hoards of tourist even in the off season. At least three cruise ships have been arriving daily, depositing their cargo of shoppers on the craggy slopes of the village.
This is the time of day I sequester myself on the tranquil terrace of my hotel waiting for the last ship of the day to leave before venturing out to dinner.
Posted: October 4, 2010 - 11:54 pm
I brought along my old Samsung cell phone on my trip to Greece so that I could buy a local sim card and use it. NOT!
Yes I can buy a Sim card for only about $5 US. It works in my phone, but I can't get time on it because AT&T has my phone locked. WHAT???
I purchased my phone from AT&T and I think it should be mine. When I upgraded to a new phone my Samsung was deactivated byAT&T, but they have the phone locked and I can't use it with any other carrier.
In Greece, when you buy a phone it works for any company. Of course, they have contracts too and activation fees, but they don't restrict the use of the phone you buy from them, such as Vodafone, or any other company. On top of this, their plans are reasonable and you don't get charged an arm or leg nor do you don't have to sign up for a gazillion minutes.
Can someone tell me why companies such as AT&T have monopolies on cell phones in the States?
Posted: October 2, 2010 - 10:58 pm
Once again, it's hard to put someplace like the Greek Island of Santorini into words. Therefore, I shall let the photos speak for my awe.
We arrived yesterday via a slow, rusty, dirty, people and vehicle ferry from the island of Milos. Departure time 5:25am. Arrival time 8:45am. The trip was a contrast to our modern high speed ferry from Athens to Milos. Unfortunately, high speed ferries don't service all islands.
That being said, "we are here"!
Posted: September 29, 2010 - 11:16 pm
I remember the good old days when I told someone I was from Alaska and they oooed and aaaed over our big beautiful state. No more. These days the first question is "what do you think about Palin?"
This morning as I was basking in the warm morning sun listening to the gentle lapping of the azure Agean Sea waters on the rocks, my eye drifted to a German tourist reading a newspaper. The huge photo looked very familiar and when I got closer it was "her".
The title of the article is "Mrs. Gunfire" and I was told it was about Palin reloading before her run for the presidency. The tourist told me the article printed in German was "critical" and she went on to say that Palin reminded her of a leader that Germany once had who appealed to the disgruntled masses.
Posted: September 29, 2010 - 12:23 am
Some things you just can't put into words. Visiting the Greek Island of Milos is one of them. The good news is that photos are worth more than a thousand words. Enjoy!
Posted: September 25, 2010 - 11:07 pm
I've been in Athens now for three days. It's still an exciting city with a Greek character that doesn't disappoint. Since last visiting in the mid-nineties I've found major changes. Mostly more tourists and tourist shops.
Fall, Sept. & Oct. are the best months to visit. Gone are the hoards of tourists and hot temps. The sea is still warm and the days are now bearable in the 80s. Still a bit hot for this Alaskan.
I'm off with friends to see the Greek Isles this afternoon via a high speed ferry. First stop, the island of Milos. My hubby back home is going to be jealous.
Posted: September 17, 2010 - 5:15 pm
The world’s largest airline carrier was formed today with the approved merger of U.S. carries United Airlines and Continental Airlines.
Having recently flown Delta with former Northwest personnel, I’m wishing the new merger the best as old loyalties do carry forward. I won’t mention the airport, but very bitter Northwest Airlines personnel make checking in and boarding a harrowing experience. I avoid Portland at all costs.
However, I did find Northwest flight crews (now Delta) some of the best in the industry. Hopefully the marriage of United and Continental will be amicable.
Posted: September 11, 2010 - 6:39 pm
Here's the video of the bear in camp.
Posted: September 8, 2010 - 5:50 pm
I guess it was inevitable that we would have a bear approach our campsite along the Alagnak Wild River in southwestern Alaska. We are already up to a 30 bear sightings in four days. This is our final stop for two nights.
We are camped on a large island. The first we have seen because the river is so high and flooded out other sites. We have a clear view of the main channel and the braid behind us. We have been seeing bears left and right. Swimming, snorkeling and foraging.
One fellow seems to have his fishing routine down pat and doesn’t want to change it in order to avoid walking through our campsite. We call out to him, “hey bear”, “hey bear”, but he doesn’t seem to care. Finally, he decides that’s not a good idea and we are thrilled.
He meanders back to a safe distance and continues fishing. Whew!!!
A collective sigh of relief brings our heart rates back with normal ranges.
Posted: September 5, 2010 - 2:40 pm
September and October are called the ”shoulder season” in the travel industry. Gone are the summer crowds and high temperatures. Arriving are lower prices on airfares, hotels, cruises and other travel related amenities.
Posted: August 29, 2010 - 8:27 am
The Alagnak Wild River doesn’t disappoint. Great fishing and great bear viewing. This video gives you some idea of what the Alagnak is all about…Gloria
Posted: August 27, 2010 - 2:11 pm
Buyer beware. Mexicana airlines has just announced they will suspend all flights beginning tomorrow, Sat. August 28.
If you are ticketed on Mexicana or have future reservations, be sure to check with your travel agent or the airlines directly as soon as possible.
To learn more, click here.
Posted: August 21, 2010 - 2:36 pm
Here's a video of our second and third nights' campsites...Gloria
Posted: August 20, 2010 - 4:44 pm
The water did not rise last night flooding our tents on the small swatch of gravel in the middle of the Alagnak River. With this success, we are once again floating. The weather is not particularly accommodating, light rain and cool to cold, but on the bright side the animals are giving a real show.
In two days, we've spotted numerous bears, 15 and counting. Our daughter and son-in-law from Colorado are amazed. Every couple of miles or less we see bears along the shore fishing. Bears swimming across the river in front of our 12-foot-raft, one pontoon boat flotilla. Bears big and small. Bears brown, rust and golden.
And that’s not all. Eagles soar overhead and an occasional osprey hovers, diving to emerge with a catch. A mammoth beaver house that must make the Jones envious solicits a collective "wow". And to boot, the fishing ain't bad!
After several hours, we find an acceptable campsite. My husband has camped here before and while the gravel bar section is small due to the high water, there is a high wooded area were we can pitch our tents. We’ll be here for two nights.
Posted: August 14, 2010 - 2:01 pm
Our trip begins by flying from Anchorage to King Salmon on PenAir. There are four of us. After arriving, we retrieve our air cargo (450 lbs.) which was sent ahead a week ago. It contains our raft, pontoon boat and provisions. Three of us will float in the raft and one in the pontoon boat atop the mighty Alagnak River.
Once loaded into two small floatplanes, we are off on a 30-40 minute flight to our put in point at the mouth of Nonvianuk Lake. We will float the Nonvianuk River, a tributary of the Alagnak to the main part of the Alagnak. We are camping out for five nights and floating about 55 miles to our takeout.
We first notice that the water is really high. As in Anchorage, it has been raining, raining and raining in this part of Alaska. Not good as campsites along the river are few and far between even when the river is normal. After a few hours on the River, we notice sites we’ve camped on in the past are underwater and we have to keep going.
I have an uneasy feeling as the last time I floated the Alagnak it also was at flood stage. One night we just had to pull over to the side and beat down the grass which was up to our chins and filled with tiny critters that considered us a wonderful snack.
We find a small gravel bar in the middle of the river. It will have to do tonight. We will set up makers near the tents to determine if the river is rising, signaling us to make a quick get away. Hopefully not!
Posted: July 30, 2010 - 6:28 pm
I want to spend six nights in Alaska doing some fishing and sightseeing. My family and I will fly into Anchorage. What do you suggest?...Robert, Florida
I would recommend renting a car or RV and heading South on the Seward Highway to the Kenai Peninsula. The highway is a designated Scenic Byway and is spectacular in good weather and even beautiful in not-so-nice weather.
About 50 miles south of Anchorage you can stop at Portage Glacier for a boat ride on the lake to the face of the glacier. About a mile from Portage Lake is Byron Glacier and just driving in the road you will see several glaciers flowing down the adjacent mountains. Portage Glacier is an easy on/off for families and a real joy. In the visitors center you can see a film about how glaciers form. My kids loved it when they were young as we parents did.
There is a turnoff along the Seward Highway after about 75 miles. You can continue on to the town of Seward or take the Sterling Highway toward Homer. About 20 mins. from the turnoff going to Homer you come across Cooper Landing where fishing is the name of the game. Here you can hire a guide and raft to take you down the Kenai River to try your hand and fishing. The whole family can go if you like. There are many cabins in the area and the owners can help you get a guide.
Two overnights would be good here and the day you don't fish you can hike into Lower Russian Lake. It’s a relatively flat three mile hike along a maintained trail. There is a salmon viewing area about a mile from the lake which is fantastic when the fish are in the river. You might even see a bear or two.
After Cooper Landing, I would head back towards Seward. It's only 60 or so miles down the road. (Everything is relatively close here.) Just outside of Seward you can take side trip to Exit Glacier. This is a must-see. I drove by it for years before venturing in. At Exit you can see the Glacier up close and personal. It's a National Parks Service site with a visitors’ center and well defined paths. Yet another great family attraction.
You will want to stay a couple of nights in Seward where you can take a day-long wildlife cruise into Resurrection Bay. You will see otters, puffins and hopefully whales. Another do-not-miss. Seward is a very small town with lots of character.
I wouldn't spend much time in Anchorage other than the day you arrive need be and the day you leave. There is a Sat./Sun. market that is great for Alaska souvenirs if you happen to be here on the weekend. If you spend two nights in Anchorage, two in Cooper Landing and two in Seward that's your six nights...Gloria