Explore by Destination
Asia, the world’s largest continent, is comprised of 48 countries. This includes two of the most populated nations in the world — India and China. With such a large landmass, it’s difficult to narrow down where to visit. Most international travelers start in East Asia, visiting China, Japan, and South Korea. They boast the globes top destinations — The Great Wall of China, Hong Kong, and Mt. Fuji — as well as K-Pop music! It’s the perfect place to begin your travels.
The food is one of Asia’s highlights. With so much variety, you’ll eat the most memorable meals of your life! Local ingredients and cooking methods create mouth-watering dishes.
Asia has seasons. But, no matter what the weather is like there are always places to explore. With both urban and rural points of interest, you’re sure to fill your days.
Read more here on how to plan your big adventure!
Canada’s ten provinces and three territories span from the Pacific coast to the Atlantic Ocean and north to the Arctic Circle. Despite its huge size, it is one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world with only a little over 39 million people.
Originally belonging to Great Britain, Canada gained its independence in 1982, ending its constitutional ties. This is why Queen Elizabeth’s photo still adorns certain notes of the country’s currency, the Canadian dollar.
While both English and French are spoken in Canada, English is, by far, more predominate. The dual languages stem from French settlers back as the 1600’s. All residents speak English, so communication is easy when traveling in Canada.
The culinary scene is hip and delish. I highly recommend you try the Eastern province’s signature food, poutine. French fries are topped with cheese curds and brown gravy. There are numerous iterations of the hearty meal including veggies, meat and fish. This country staple and maple syrup have put Canada on the culinary map.
Whether you’re looking to explore vibrant, bustling cities, or commune with nature in expansive forests, our neighbors to the north are welcoming, friendly and proud to share their country.
The Caribbean is an archipelago sprinkled throughout the shimmering Caribbean Sea. There are over 700 islands, islets, reefs and cays, but 30 main territories are visited the most. These would include countries such as Cuba, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, Aruba and more with which you’re most likely familiar.
I lived in the United States Virgin Islands, exploring the Caribbean in-depth. Palm trees, impossibly blue water, and impeccable beaches are a constant on the atolls. Each island has a different history, resulting in myriad traditions and unique offerings.
Water activities are the highlight on most the islands. Yacht and catamaran tours whisk vacationers to the best snorkeling sites. In the Bahamas you can even be treated to an afternoon spent with swimming pigs!
On land, hiking among Jamaican waterfalls or summiting Pico Turquino peak in Cuba are popular pastimes.
The Caribbean’s hurricane season is July through the peak month of September. Resorts and airlines cut prices during this time. Having experienced a September hurricane, I highly suggest you choose other dates to visit the Caribbean even if the cost is slightly higher. Winter weather is balmy making the area a perfect escape from frigid North America.
Currencies vary depending on the island. The Jamaican dollar, Cayman Islands dollar, Eastern Caribbean dollar and other local money is used, as well as the euro. The U.S. dollar is most widely accepted throughout the Caribbean. Credit cards are recommended.
If sun, sand and warm weather are what you need, the Caribbean is the place to go.
As with other Latin American regions, Central America is full of convivial, welcoming people who love their families and are eager to share their culture. The seven countries are Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama. Each offers something unique. Snorkeling the Great Blue Hole in Belize, zip lining in Costa Rica, visiting a Guatemalan macadamia nut farm, or sailing Panama’s San Blas Islands are just a few.
Historically, civil unrest has tended to kept tourists away. And while this is a valid concern, I’ve traveled to four of the seven countries and felt very safe. As with any tourist destination, common sense precautions should be taken. Don’t walk around at night, carry small amounts of cash in a money belt or lanyard, and solo female travelers should go with tours or groups.
Rice and beans are a meal staple. Bananas, coffee, and sugar are the largest crops. Dishes and pastries made with these ingredients are plentiful. Expats have made the area home, bringing recipes from their countries. Diverse tastes of French, Creole and Italian blend perfectly with the indigenous foods.
The US dollar is widely accepted throughout Central America. El Salvador has done away with their colón and officially adopted the US dollar. Panama uses US currency in conjunction with their balboa. ATM’s in the seven countries dispense local money. It’s best to request small bills, as vendors prefer these or exact change. I think the colorful paper money in these countries are mini pieces of art. Costa Rican colóns are especially pretty with wildlife scenes. Traveler tip: bring home one or two pieces of local currency to frame as a memento of your trip.
Most travelers have Europe on their bucket list. And rightly so. The diversity in the continent’s cultures, architecture, traditions and food ensure there’s something for everyone.
While most European cities are very walkable, public transportation is affordable and efficient. Whether riding the Metro in Paris, the trolleybus in Athens, or a double-decker bus in London, schedules are frequent and on time.
Traveling throughout Europe has the same ease with local airline carriers such as Ryanair and the Eurorail train system which services 33 countries.
Summer months are when most people travel to Europe. Visiting during the shoulder months can cut down on costs and crowds.
The euro currency is widely used throughout Europe. This is convenient when traveling to multiple countries during your vacation.
Grab your passport and enjoy the trip!
Mexico is a country steeped in tradition and family. Their culture dates back more than 10,000 years, encompassing Aztec Indians, the Spanish conquest, and bloody wars of independence with France and the United States to become the Mexico we know today.
Their people are proud, and it shows when visiting this Latin country. Whether you want to relax at a beach side resort, or take in metropolitan Mexico City and Guadalajara, the locals are eager to share their customs.
No matter which destination you choose, you’ll enjoy amazing food. Oaxaca is known for its signature dish mole — a rich, velvety sauce comprised of chilis, spices, nuts, fruit, tomatoes, and chocolate blended and served over browned meat. They claim seven different types of mole, each with a unique flavor. No trip to this southern state is complete without taking a mole cooking class. Puebla city’s tacos al pastor seasons pork with pineapple and coriander leaves for its unique taste. Pozole, elote, the list of yumminess goes on.
While the peso is Mexico’s currency, border towns take US dollars. This is especially useful when traveling the Baja peninsula, south of California and Arizona. The country’s key wine region — Valle de Guadalupe — lies 80 miles south of San Diego. This area is responsible for approximately 90% of Mexico’s total wine production.
Baja’s San Ignacio is the only place in the world where you can actually pet, even kiss, gray whales! These huge marine mammals migrate in the fall to give birth in the lagoon. Locals take visitors out to the lagoon in small wooden boats called pangas. For some unknown reason the gentle giants approach boats wanting to play! It is a once in a lifetime adventure not to be missed.
With beaches, deserts and mountains, Mexico delights all travelers.
South America’s natural beauty is awe inspiring. The towering Andes Mountain range runs 5,500 miles from Chile to Venezuela. Twelve countries call this continent home.
Situated in the Southern Hemisphere, the seasons are reverse of the Northern Hemisphere. July is one of the coldest, rainiest months, while December is mostly dry. Due to its vast size, you can have a variety of climates throughout the year depending on where you travel.
Popular highlights of South America include Peru’s Machu Picchu, Brazil’s bustling Rio de Janeiro, the 3,900 square mile Bolivian salt flats, and Galapagos Island’s endemic wildlife. All offer a different experience.
The food is diverse and delicious. Peru has been ranked one of the top culinary destinations in the world. Other countries follow suit. The variation on corn recipes throughout South America is incredible — arepas cornmeal cakes, chicha brewed drink of ground maize kernels, and chulpi toasted corn are just a few. Asada, ceviche, cazuela all grace restaurant tables.
South America’s currency is as varied as its countries. Surprisingly, Ecuador uses the US dollar. The remaining nations use their own money such as pesos, pound sterling, reals, euros. Before leaving on your travels, check which currency is used in the country you’re going to visit.
Spanish is the predominate language of South America, with Portuguese a close second. While English is taught in schools, it isn’t widely spoken. So brush up on your español.
I’ve lived in the United States my entire life and still find the diversity of its 50 states fascinating. Sunny beaches line our coasts. Snowy mountains offer winter fun, and National Parks provide awe inspiring beauty.
I’ve traveled to 42 states. Each has it’s own personality. Looking for big city glamour? New York, San Francisco and Chicago’s bustling metros are the place. Craving time lounging on the beach? Miami, Maui, SoCal, the Carolinas and numerous places in-between offer sun-dappled sand. Desire a desert destination? Arizona, Palm Springs, and New Mexico boast landscapes of cacti and tumbleweeds.
As with most countries, the US is an amalgamation of immigrants who came here throughout the decades. Our food represents the legions of diasporas living here today. Their dishes have fostered a new culinary scene, making us one of the most impressive gastronomic countries worldwide.
Our music is a reflection of this diversity, too. Styles as varied as bluegrass, jazz, and rock & roll adopted rhythm and instruments from all over the world. American cinema has been exported and our TV shows are watched by billions of people.
The motto on the great seal of the United States sums up our country — E pluribus unum — “out of many, one.” All of us need to explore this land of hotdogs, Hollywood, baseball and apple pie.
Oceania is the place dreams are made of. Impossibly blue water, warm trade winds and languid lifestyle make it the consummate relaxation destination. It’s equally as beautiful below the ocean surface as above.
Fourteen countries make up this archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean. The most well-known are Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, French Polynesia and New Guinea. Crystal clear waters provide one of the best snorkeling experiences in the world.
Since Oceania is mostly comprised of islands, fresh seafood is the prominent cuisine. It’s usually caught and served only hours apart. Tropical fruit and vegetables are abundant — bananas, taro, pineapples, yams — all grown locally.
Currencies vary depending on the country. The US dollar and euros are not widely accepted. Upon arrival, exchange US dollars into the local currency at a bank in the country you visit. Credit cards are widely used. Small boutiques or stores on remote islands may require a minimum purchase.
Whether you explore Australia, the largest Oceanic country, or bask on the beaches of tiny Tuvalu, you’ll create memories to last a lifetime.
Enjoy San Diego, CA at the Travel Writer’s Pad Airbnb
For the past two decades my career as a travel journalist has taken me around the globe. I’ve stayed at thousands of accommodations, where I learned personal touches create a comfortable home away from home. Certain places I visited offered extra special amenities, such as Green tea at a Japanese Ryokan & chardonnay infused bath salts at a Mexican posada. I’ve collected many goodies on my travels for you to enjoy at this vacation rental.
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