Ask Elaine

Click the question to see the answer

Where are your favorite places to visit?
PARIS, FRANCE – ASWAN, EGYPT – THAILAND – BARBADOS – BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS (FOR SAILING) – YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, PERU, NEW ZEALAND, SEYCHELLES ISLANDS
What is like to travel in egypt?
I SPENT A MONTH IN EGYPT AND ABSOLUTELY LOVED THE EXPERIENCE…ITS A PLACE EVERY AFRICAN AMERICAN SHOULD SEE…JUST TO WITNESS WHAT OUR ANCESTORS CREATED OVER 5,000 YEARS AGO WILL LEAVE YOU AWESTRUCK. UNFORTUNATELY, EGYPT IS NOT A GREAT PLACE FOR INDEPENDENT TRAVEL, IT IS BEST IF YOU ARE WITH A GROUP, preferalby an afrocentric group. I WOULD SUGGEST THAT YOU PLAN TO MEET A GROUP THERE, THEN YOU CAN STAY LONGER AFTER THEY LEAVE AND/OR IF TIME AND MONEY PERMITS—FLY DOWN TO KENYA AND CHECK OUT A SAFARI, THE COASTAL CITY OF MOMBASA AND THE ISLAND OF LAMU….IF IT WAS ME I WOULD also FLY DOWN TO MADAGASCAR WHICH HAS THE LARGEST VARIETY OF ANIMAL AND PLANET LIFE OF ANYWHERE ON THE PLANET…ON ROUTE TO MADAGASCAR, I WOULD PROBABLY STOP OFF IN THE SEYCHELLES ISLAND …JUST WRITING ABOUT THIS MAKES ME HAPPY. REGARDING THE AFRICAN FEEL of egypt, I FELT IT MOST WHEN I GOT TO SOUTHERN EGYPT WHERE THE PEOPLE LOOK JUST LIKE US. I WAS MADE TO FEEL VERY MUCH AT HOME AND WAS WARMLY WELCOMED. I HAD A MARVELOUS AFRICAN HOMECOMING EXPERIENCE. OF COURSE OUR MORE DIRECT ANCESTORS ARE FROM THE WEST COAST OF AFRICA SO I SUSPECT YOU MIGHT FEEL MORE OF A KINSHIP THERE, BUT MAYBE YOU COULD SAVE THAT FOR ANOTHER TRIP. ALOT OF AFRICAN AMERICANS LOVE VISITING SOUTH AFRICA AS WELL. WHY NOT CHECK OUT MY BOOK, IT HAS LOTS OF STORIES ABOUT TRAVELING IN AFRICA…. For general information and travel books on Africa, check out: Africa: A Biography of the Continent by J. Reader Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience by K. A. Appiah, et al In Search of Africa by Manthia Diawara How Europe Underdeveloped Africa by Walter Rodney Africa Solo: A Journey Across the Sahara, Sahel, and Congo by K. Kertscher Africa on a Shoestring (9th Edition) by Hugh Finlay) General information and travel websites on Africa www.abasefortravelinfo.com/africa.html (comprehensive travel resource guide) www.allafrica.com (news, travel, information for each country) www.lonelyplanet.com (comprehensive travel guidebooks on Africa) www.africanonline.com (news, travel and information about Africa) www.tbwt.com (The Black World Today has up-to-date news about Africa and the African diaspora)
blessed be the journey, elaine
Could you give me some information about traveling in Paris, France?
Paris France, continues to be one my favorite places on the planet. I hope you get a chance to visit there.

At the age of 38, I visited Paris for the first time. A die-hard political/community activist and a committed workaholic, I was snobbish about the idea of devoting time to non-productive activity such as leisure travel. In my classic American fashion, I thought, “What, me relax? As a recovering Catholic with free-floating guilt, exacerbated by ingrained perfectionism, I figured I’d relax after achieving my career goals which included full equality for my race and gender. That was the attitude I took with me to France, a country where leisure and artistic pursuits are considered noble and laudable in their own right.

Paris provided me with a unique cultural shock which, once I adapted to it, became a delightful revelation. Americans “live to work” – the French “work to live”. Paris taught me the importance of bringing balance to my life, of making time for beauty, music and play. I discovered an entirely different way of being alive and it instilled in me a new joie de vivre (the joy of living). Paris, its people, its museums, cafes, languorous night life and savoir faire, slowed me down and softened me up enough to finally see and feel how short, fleeting, unpredictable and precious life really is. Paris showed me that I could get far more pleasure from life than I had been allowing myself to have. I knew before my visit was over that even when I returned to America, my life would never be the same. And I was right.

It was in Paris that I first discovered that travel was the music of my soul. Travel, with its unparalleled ability to bring magic and joy into my life propelled me to launch a new career as a travel writer. I claim Paris as a kind of birthplace of my creative spirit, my lust for personal freedom and for making me a traveler for life.

And to think that my reluctance to travel there almost kept me at home. As an African American, I instinctively projected onto other European countries, like France, the racism I had experienced in my own country. I assumed that France would turn out to be another country full of white people who, by means both subtle and overt, would make me feel like a less than welcome stranger in their homeland. My apprehensions about vacationing in France were quickly quelled as I came to realize that much of the racism that I experience in America would not be replicated in Paris.

Before taking that soul-defining trip, I was skeptical about the wonderful things I had heard from African Americans that I knew and loved about this magical city called Paris. However, when a dear friend and her professor husband went to live there again, for another one of his 6-month sabbaticals, they invited me to share in their French lifestyle and I decided to give it a try. I fell in love with Paris, hours after arriving there and have been traveling there regularly ever since.

Bonne Journee, Elaine Lee

No city seduces as skillfully as Paris. With a sly, knowing wink, the City of Light steals your heart with one clear, small joyous moment after another. Linger too long on the Pont des Arts and passion may nudge your slumbering spirit awake, or kiss your lips, or turn you into a whimsical work of art. H. Thompson

It’s true, Paris is where I became possible. Its where I became free.” Janet McDonald

“I have become parisianized…the great merit of the place is that one can arrange one’s life here exactly as one pleases…there are facilities for every kind of habit and taste, and everything is accepted and understood.” Henry Jame (1876)

“I cannot tell you what an immense impression Paris made upon me. It is the most extraordinary place in the world!” Charles Dickens (1844)

Below you will find a list of books, websites and tips compiled by Elaine Lee that might help you plan a journey there.

BLACK PARIS WEBSITES

Maison de la Culture Noire Américaine – https://www.facebook.com/maisoncna?pnref=lhc

www.walkthespirit.com – guided walking tours of Black Paris

www.insiderparisguides.com – this site has a comprehensive guide to Black Paris

www.discoverparis.net – Personalized Itineraries for Independent Black Travelers

BOOKS ON BLACK PARIS

– Paris Noir: African Americans in the City of Light by Tyler Stovall, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1996, 366 pages, $24.95. (Chronicles the life and times of the African American presence in Paris)

Soul on the Seine: Your Hip Guide to Black Paris Book by Robin Bates, La Jolie Noire Publications, 200 pages, February 2008, $15 (It is a unique travel publication that looks at a modern, urban Paris from an African American perspective.)

– Black Girl in Paris by Shay Youngblood, Riverhead Books, 2000, 256 pages, $12.00. (An intriguing examination of the twentieth century African-American history in the French capital through the dreams of a young expatriate)

– Eugene Bullard: Black Expatriate in the Jazz-Age Paris by Craig Lloyd, University of Georgia Press, 2000, $26.95 (profile of a jazz drummer and freedom fighter who live in Paris during the early part of the 1900’s)

– Black Paris: The African Writer’s Landscape by Benetta Jules-Rosette, University of Illinois Press, 2000, $17.95 (Focuses on the Parisian Negritude movement from the perspective of writers of African descent. Includes interviews, poetry and insightful essays)

– Richard Wright’s Travel Writings, edited by Virginia Smith, University of Mississippi Press, 2001, $18.00 (Chronicles the author’s travel writing from 1946 to 1960)

– Kattraxing Through Paris by Kat St. Thomas, Regent Press, 2002, $20 (Veteran tour guide provides the inside scoop on travel to Black Paris)

– Paris Reflections: Walks Through Black Paris by Christianne Anderson and Monique Wells, McDonald & Woodward Publishing Company, 2002, $17.95 (The book outlines six detailed walks through Black Paris)

Another book to consider is mine, of course! Go Girl: The Black Woman’s Book of Travel and Adventure by Elaine Lee. Included in its 52 RIVETING TRAVELS TALES are four stories about traveling and living in Paris.

Here are a few GENERIC Paris/France travel books that I found helpful:

– When In France by Christopher Sinclair Stevenson

– Walking Paris by Christopher Turner

– A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

– Paris Handbook by Lonely Planet

Lodging

Housing is often the most expensive part of a journey to Paris. If money is an issue, consider sharing or swapping an apartment with a French person/family by joining a home/hospitality exchange club such as intervac.com, which has quite a few Parisian members.

If you have a bit more financial latitude, why not renting an apartment.

Here are several Paris lodging websites that you can use to accomplish that task: parisattitude.com, venere.com, franglo.com, http://www.another-home.com,parisnet.net, www.fusac.fr/en/ and perfectlyparis.com,http://www.apartments-in-paris.com/index.htm?lang=en,fusac,paris-expat.com,sabbaticalhomes.com, chambres chez l’habitant,franglo, sabbaticalhomes, parisexpat.

Airbnb.com,  vrbo and Craigslist.com have lots of rentals (short and long term) as well as home exchanges. (There are lots of crooks on this site so you have to be careful. If its too good to be true it probably is). I have friends who go to craigslist new york and go to the apt or vacation rental section and put in Paris and they find americans who have apts to rent in Paris.

If money is not an obstacle and/or you prefer residing in a hotel consider the following:

High end

• Murano Urban Resort, 13 Boulevard du Temple, 75003 Tel : 01 42 71 20 00

• L’Hotel, 13 rue des Beaux Arts, 75006 Tel: 01 44 41 99 00

• Plaza Athenee, 25 avenue Montaigne, 75008, Tel: 01 53 67 66 65

Mid range

• Hotel Parc Saint-Severin, 22 Rue De La Parcheminerie, 75005, Tel: 01 43 54 32 17

• Hotel Massenet, 5 bis, rue Massenet, 75116 Tel: 01 45 24 43 03

• Hotel des Grand Ecole, 75005 Rue des Cardinelle Lemonias 75005 Tel: 01455679

LOCAL EXPATRIATE events are held every Sunday at the homes of Jim Haynes http://www.jim-haynes.com as well as Patricia Collins http://www.parissoirees.com

Sampling of African, African American and Caribbean Restaurants

Armelle et Henri – Caribbean Cuisine, 3 rue Aduran, 75018 Tel: 01 42 52 36 97

The Equator- African Cuisine, 151 rue Saint Maur 75011, Tel: 01 43 57 99 22

La Petite Dakar- African Cuisine, 6 rue Elzevir, 75003, Tel: 01 44 59 34 74

Chez Omar, North African, 47 Rue de Bretagne, 75003, Tel: 01 42 72 36 36

Below is a list of some of my favorite restaurants

Empire Celeste – classic Chinese – 5, Rue Royer-Collard (75005) near Pantheon

Restaurant Coreen – Korean Faire – try their amazing fried chicken wings! 6 rue Blainville (75005) near Mouffetard

Nouri Lebanese Restaurant has amazing chicken sandwiches. 27 avenue Marceau (75116) near Champs Elysees

Mirama has yummy soups and delicious basic chinese food. 15 rue Saint Jacques (75005) near Saint Michael metro

Le Petit Zinc has delicious French cuisine in a whimisical setting, 11 rue Saint Benoit (75006) in Saint Germain de pres neighborhood near Café Flora.

La Closiere de Lilas, 171 boulevard du Montparnasse, (75006) nice place to stop for a drink—it was one of Ernest Hemingway’s favorite hangouts.

Le Relais de Venise is a my favorite steak house, yummo! 271 Blvd Pereire near metro Port Maillot. Its usually very crowded so you have to get there for lunch or before they open up for dinner at 5pm otherwise you will be waiting.

La Couple has good French food in a upscale dining environment – 102, bd du Montparnasse(75014) Subway : Vavin

“Since Paris is so expensive, I usually stay in apartments where I can cook my own meals. I enjoy exploring Paris’s numerous neighborhood farmers’ markets where the food is more affordable than grocery stores. I rarely dine out but when I generally eat at cheap ethnic restaurants”.

Food Markets

Street and covered food markets provide a splendid, tempting array of all kinds of food and are popular with both local parisiens and tourists alike. The real street food markets usually start between 07:00am to 08:00am and generally start to close down at around 13:00. The popular Paris food markets include:

Bastille – Bastille Square, Boulevard Lenoir, open Sundays

Belleville – Boulevard de Belleville, open Tuesday and Friday

Buci – Rue de Buci and Rue de Seine, open Tuesday to Sunday

Carmes – Place Maubert 5e, open Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday

Convention – Rue de la Convention, open Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday

Dejean – Place du Château-Rouge, open Tuesday to Sunday

Enfants-Rouge – 39 Rue de Bretagne 3e, open Tuesday to Saturday

Monge – Place Monge 5e, open Wednesday, Friday and Sunday

Montorgueil – Rue Montorgueil 5e, open Tuesday and Sunday

Mouffetard – Rue Mouffetard 5e, open Tuesday to Sunday

Place d’Aligre – 12e M° Ledru-Rollin, open Tuesday to Satuday

Port-Royal – Boulevard de Port-Royal 5e, open Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday

Porte-St-Martin – Rue de Château-d’Eau 10e, open Tuesday to Sunday

Raspail – Boulevard Raspail, open Tuesday, Friday and Sunday

Rue Lévis – 17e M° Villiers, open Tuesday to Sunday

Rue du Poteau – 18e M° Jules-Joffrin, open Tuesday to Saturday

St-Germain – Rue Mabillon 6e, open Tuesday to Sunday

Ternes – Rue Lemercier 17e, open Tuesday to Sunday

Entertainment

One of my favorite music event locator websites is lylo – http://www.lylo.fr/

LOCAL ENGLISH INFO MAGAZINES/webzines—CHECK OUT Fusac and Paris Times magazine useful english language information and resource guides.

Pariscope, a weekly with all the listings for films, concerts, and everything else. Cinema info online at www.premiere.fr. its in french

Webzines, entertainment and info sites in english, http://www.eng.cityvox.fr/guide_paris/CityHome, http://www.parisvoice.com, https://www.sortiraparis.com/

You can pick up monthly music event pamphlets outside clubs like sunset or duc de lombards.

• Attend a jam session at Duc de Lombards.

  • check out paris newest jazz club – Le Bal Blomet in the 15th, 33 rue rue Blomet

For more info for Americans, visit the American church resource center.

Check out – Alliance Francaise is a resource center for people who want to learn more about France, the French and the their language. They have centers in France and in the USA. www.Alliancefr.org

France 24 France’s new 24-hour cable news station with one channel in English; has a definite air of being government-run, but some excellent reporting. www.france24.com

A fun club scene with a lively cabaret show that includes patrons dancing on the table tops…is trois mailletz. its located in the latin quarter. http://www.lestroismailletz.fr/

Salsa

For info about the amazing  Paris salsa scene visit www.salsafrance.fr or try one of the following clubs that he suggests you try.

Thursday-la pachanga, rue vandamme in the montparnasse area

tuesday and thursday, le balajo, rue de lappe in bastille area

saturday – the retro on faubourg de temple

sunday evenings

  • Balrock – 161 rue montmartre (metro grands blvd)
  • o’sullivans, place blanche close to le moulin rouge
  • Le Théâtre du Renard
    Adresse : 12 Rue du Renard, 75004 Paris
  • June to September check out the wonderful salsa scene on the plaza near Seine, Quai St. Bernard, in the 5th Arrondissement (Métro stop Jussieu or Gare Austerlitz)

Travel tips

  • Take a boat ride down seine at twilight then you can get day light one way and nite light on the way back. if that is not possible then a day trip is great! Batobus : http://www.batobus.com/english/index.htm
  • I get money via atm’s in Paris, unfortunately most u.s. banks charge a conversion fee but its better than trying to deal with traveler’s checks or changing money over here.
  • Capitol one bank and Barclays are two of the few credit card companies that don’t charge a foreign conversion fee, so it might behoove you to order one before you go.
  • Learn french via your iphone – google translate
  • Consider visiting a traditional north african steam bath Hammam les bains maures, they have one for women and one for men.54 boulevard de la Chapelle;(18th) lesbainsmaures.com
  • Paris train stations named after people of African descent – https://travelnoire.com/these-paris-train-stations-are-named-after-people-of-african-descent/

Bicycling in Paris

If you watched the Tour de France arrive in Paris, you may have seen the 365 Vélib riders cruising down the same route along the Champs-Elysées, a symbolic gesture to celebrate one year of municipal bike service. Aside from three deadly accidents and the high cost of repairs and theft, the Vélib has been a huge success, and has migrated to 16 other French cities.

Unfortunately, unless your credit card has a microchip in it (you can see it if it does), then you can’t use the bikes. There are still alternatives if you’d like to feel a bit of wind in your hair and enjoy the relatively uncrowded Paris streets.

The site www.mdb-idf.org (under “Pratique” and “Vélocistes Parisiens”) has bike rental shops listed by arrondissement. Another great site is www.gepetto-et-velos.com, who h ave two locations in the Latin Quarter. The Roue Libre site (www.rouelibre.fr) seems to be under construction, but they have two shops, one at the Forum des Halles (on the Rue Rambuteau side) and at the Place de la Bastille (on Boulevard Bourdon) with inexpensive daily, weekly and monthly rentals.

10 Terrific Tips to Help You Enjoy Paris

by Evelyn Hannon of Journeywomen.com

SIP A CUP OF CHOCOLAT CHAUD — The Fall is one of my favorite times of the year to explore Paris. So what could make a quiet, relaxing fall or winter day in Paris even better? Sipping an unbelievably rich cup of hot chocolate in a cozy café while you watch the world go by. I’m always on the lookout for a truly delicious ‘chocolat chaud’ (pronounced ‘cho-ca-lah show’). My latest find is a comfy little café, Ragueneau, located around the corner from the beautiful Palais Royal. The chocolat chaud is wonderful and generously served in a pitcher, ask for the Viennoise if you prefer delectable whipped cream. It is pure milk and cocoa, no artificial powdery stuff here, Parisians take their chocolat seriously. Visit in the late afternoon and linger peacefully over your chocolate feeling pampered and very Parisian. Ragueneau, 220 rue St Honore, 75001; Paris. Tel: 01.42.61.29.76

SIGHTSEEING IN PARIS IS A HOOT! — Discover Paris in a 2 CV. Venice has its romantic gondolas, London its impressive double-deckers. What will you ride in Paris to feel sooooo French? There is no better way to discover the city than to ride a 2 CV. It is not the most comfortable, it is not the most luxurious, but it is the Frenchest. Even with a 9-hour jetlag, there is no way you will fall asleep and miss the view in the bumpiest car in the world. And you know what — you’ll love it! With ‘4 roues sous un parapluie’, your chauffeur will take you to the best parts of Paris (also available in Lyon), French style. Many different tours are available (from 30 minutes to 4 hours, and even weekends). Click here.

A MANAGEABLE MUSEUM — One of our favourite places in Paris is the Marmottan Museum. It‘s situated in the up-scale 16th arrondissement. We take the #63 bus from the Rue Cler area to its end in the 16th and walk a block to this lovely old mansion. It’s small and manageable — just three floors including the best works by Claude Monet and works by Camille Pissarro and Renoir and Sisley. The highlights are scenes from Monet’s garden at Giverny including his famous water lilies. After our visit we usually meander through the delightful Jardin du Ranelagh where children are given rides on donkeys and the world stands still for a few moments in time. We stroll down rue Passy admiring the stately 19th and 20th century buildings along elegant tree-lined streets. The 16th is less crowded and more devoted to the local clientele. Some stores to visit in the area are Etam for bags and shoes and Franck et Fils a very old-world department store as well as L’Entrepot with its abundant housewares.

MORE HOT CHOCOLATE — If you’re looking for the best hot chocolate in the Paris, or even the world, look no further than Angelina’s, a lovely Viennese café on the Rue de Rivoli just opposite the Tuileries Garden and the Louvre. It’s the perfect post-museum spot to luxuriate in the rich, thick hot chocolate served in a pitcher with a mound of whipped cream on the side. The pastries there are equally sumptuous. Try their signature dessert, the Mont Blanc, a true zenith of a dessert, comprised of a meringue base piled with chestnut puree and whipped cream. Address: 226 Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris. Metro: Tuileries

EAT WITH THE LOCALS IN HIDDEN KITCHENS — When you are next in Paris why not eat with the locals — even better, in their own hidden home kitchen. Hidden kitchens seem to be popping up around the globe (US/NYC, Italy, Asia for starters) and the latest one in Paris is receiving rave reviews. When you make your arrangements to go for dinner at someone’s private home, this is truly an underground experience (home by day, restaurant by night). Step one is to request a seat by e-mail, they set the stage and the menu, you pay for the meal prepared, not knowing what the menu will consist of or who will be seated next to you. The price of dinner is 80 Euros, this includes an aperitif, the ten-course tasting menu, wine pairings with most courses and coffee or tea to finish. The dinner is set is a large, beautiful Haussmanian Parisian apartment that seats up to 18. It is the perfect venue for groups traveling, solo travelers and also for meeting new people. They do either communal seating (one big table) or two separate tables depending on the occasion. This experience is highly recommended when you are in Paris, definitely find your way there! See: http://www.hkmenus.com/english.html

Bonus! Save money in this cafe… I’m an American living in Paris for three months. I learned about Cafe Convival (in the 18th arrondissment) from my girlfriend who lives here permanently and knows about the little out of the way places that are moderately priced.

Cafe Convival is open for lunch on week days only. It’s run by Katrine and her daughter and their specialty is quiche and salad (5.50 euro). In a word, yum! I had 2 pieces of quiche (1 would have been enough) with greens, a creamy desert of sour cream and chocolate bits, plus an espresso. Everything is home-made. It was out of this world. All for 9 Euro.

The quiche is the real deal. No fillers. The deserts are beautifully displayed and you help yourself. The coffee is made as you order it. The menu is quite extensive. Now, if you’re in a hurry, forget it. There are only the two women, they do everything, and the place is crowded. If you need an extra napkin, get it yourself. I absolutely love, love, loved the experience, and almost hate to tell anyone about it. There are plants outside the door, it has a wonderful ‘down home’ atmosphere, and I walked out with a smile. Guess where I’m going for lunch tomorrow? Address: 82 Joseph de Maistre.

Here are a few dispatches from travelers to Paris

April in Black Paris, By Michael Andre Adams, Special to AOL BlackVoices

Paris, known throughout the world as the “Ville Lumiere” or City of Light, is the quintessential city for glamour, romance and the arts. With seasons parallel to weather in the United States, spring is the perfect time to pack your walking shoes in search of a cultural connection.

Throughout the 20th century, a small group of blacks from America sought liberation from segregation and institutionalized racism in the French capital. Most noted among these are James Baldwin, Richard Wright and Josephine Baker, who has a square named in her honor. Place Josephine Baker, located beside the Montparnasse Cemetery in the 14th Arrondissement, salutes the singer’s efforts during World War II to aid the Red Cross and spy for the French Resistance.

Tap into black culture and other major offerings that have attracted so many African Americans to Paris. Here are the don’t-miss experiences:

Lay of the Land: The architectural design of Paris buildings, monuments and 32 bridges makes for a breathtaking skyline. To get the big picture, think of the city as a snail divided into 20 districts, or arrondissements. The River Seine divides the (southern) Left Bank or Rive Gauche from the (northern) Right Bank, also known as Rive Droite. The Left Bank tends to be more residential and generally more affluent. The Rive Droite is where tourism thrives. Take a boat ride down the Seine to get a good understanding of the layout of the city.

Immigrants, the hip and the trendy populate the 18th Arrondissement, home to the largest residential community of blacks of African descent in Paris, affectionately referred to as “Little Africa.” Here, you’re likely to find people dressed in African garb, as well as foods from various African cultures. Barbes, a community dominated by Arabs, is another immigrant neighborhood with mom-and-pop businesses catering to residents specific needs.

What to See and Do Beginning with the Eiffel Tower, easily the most recognized landmark is Paris, you will never run out of things to see and do. Of the 2,000 museums, the most celebrated is the Louvre, where nearly every culture is represented. Arts and Civilizations of Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas, as well as Egyptian Antiquities are two permanent exhibits spotlighting masterpieces of particular interest to people of African descent.

Throughout the area of the Champs Elysees, you’ll find boutiques every known designer/haute couturier. From Bulgari and Louis Vuitton to the African art gallery Espace Atepa, there is never a shortage of shopping, restaurants and nightlife.

Place de la Madeleine is an off-the-beaten-path neighborhood for best buys on shoes and designer clothing, childrenís clothing, perfume, French country home furnishings and epicurean delights. Also check out Rue de Paris, known as the spot for the best crystal and porcelain France has to offer, as well as high fashion shoes and bags, custom- designed hats, luxury furs and a unique art gallery with an emphasis on food — all at bargain prices. H&M and the more upscale Zara are other retail options for discounted, trendy and chic fashion. Also, La Vallee Village at Disneyland Paris Resort offers everything from Armani to Versace at outlet prices.

Dining Tips

Dining is typically late: fashionable Parisians typically eat out dinner between 9 and 10PM. You’ll fall in love with incredibly creamy and delicious soups that are served pretty much everywhere and those fabulous French Patisseries shops where the smell of butter meet you at the door. Most noted are La Duree on the Champs Elysees, where youíll enjoy the macroons and pastries of life, daily!

Should you become homesick, take solace in Thanksgiving restaurant. At Thanksgiving, English is spoken and Louisiana favorites (including jambalaya, file gumbo and Louisiana bread pudding with bourbon sauce) are served with a French twist.

Nightlife The VIP Room and Barrio Latina are great for dancing. The Impala Lounge and Le Jazz Club Lionel Hampton are excellent options, too. Where Paris magazine (in most hotels) is great for an up-to-the-minute entertainment lineup citywide.

Connecting With Black Paris

Guided tours by English-speaking African American Monique Wells of Houston, is an excellent choice. her tour explores the businesses established and created by African Americans, and sites of historical relevance; she also offers Afrocentric art tours; culinary excursions; history and literary walks — all throughout Paris.

Cíest La Vie It is human nature for birds of a feather to flock together, wherever we go. While this is true in Paris, things aren’t as segregated as we know them to be in America. In other words, there is no such thing in Paris as an all-black club, or anything else. Just as you may find a group of African Americans hanging out in Paris, you’ll also find Parisians from many other races and cultures having a good time together.

Thats not to say that racism doesn’t exist. Case in point: While African Americans tend to be openly received, Africans from the Motherland had better come laden with educational credentials and associations to assimilate into the French culture.

On the subject of the happenings, here’s a dispatch from Burgess Byrd, groove_2it@hotmail.com:

Hi all! I just returned from Paris in August and I luckily stayed in an area that had plenty of nightlife nearby in the Bastille/Marais district. I would suggest the Barrio Latino. I had alot of fun learning some sweet salsa moves. The men their apparently j’adore African American women. Must be those diamonds in our hips! Also, in the same area there are a lot of clubs and energy. Gets very crowded after dark. Oh, their is a nightclub called Queen on the Champs Elysees that was very hip! Lots of pretty hipster types,clean cut men and women and had a few drag queen sightings. The Champs Elysees is very lively with tourists and general folk so you could find something to do every night on that aveneue your entire trip. Please don’t forget as sometimes I did, ,the Metro stops running at 1:00 am and alot of the clubs are just starting to get hopping at that time so cabbing in Paris is affordable. I hope this helpful and have a great time.

Here’s a couple of other scenes to check out:

*L’Atlantis *LA SCENE BASTILLE : 2 bis rue des Taillandiers 75011 Metro-Ledru-Rollin, www.la-scene.com

Anika Chase has a wonderful church to recommend. check out the website http://www.trinity-paris.org. They speak english!! and it was like an oasis in sea of french speakers. people from all nations attended. We went on the church retreat and they have activities for all ages.they have also opened Genesis House in a happening area of Paris. it is basically a christian hang out. You will not be disappointed. Tell them Anika and Earl Chase from the United States sent you.

Tell me about your travels to Hawaii

Hawaii is one of my favorite places to travel. Since it is easy to get to from my home base in the San Francisco Bay Area, I have been at least 10 times. For my first visit, I stayed for 3 weeks in Honolulu with the primary intention of learning to surf. Other memorable excursions were snorkeling at Hanauma Bay around Honolulu and Shark’s Cove on the North Shore, visiting Waimea Falls Park to hike up the mountains, fall in the streams, watch cliff divers and an afternoon at the Polynesian Cultural Center where there are seven island villages that show different cultures and lifestyles of the people of Polynesia. Don’t leave the island without sampling the shaved ice and visiting swap meet at Aloha Stadium! Eventhough I enjoyed my first visit to Honolulu, it has primarily served as a stopover spot for my journey to other Hawaiian islands. My favorites are Kauai and the Big Island.

Here’s a scooplet on my most recent Kauai adventure.

When my friend Chris, learned of my impending trip to Kauai he graciously offered to rent a room in his house, which is located in the town of Kappa. Over the past 10 years since he moved from San Francisco to Kauai, his eclectic home managed to evolve into somewhat of a community center of sorts where he teaches yoga, does tarot cards/astrology readings as well as prepares elaborate gourmet vegetarian meals nightly for his large circle of friends and students. The dinners include fresh salads harvested daily from a vast assortment of greens he grows in his backyard as well as freshly baked bread and occasionally cakes. It was wonderful to become a part of a welcoming community of locals that were more than happy to help me plan my journey on their island. Here is what they came up with:

Day One: I drove to Waimea Canyon (Hawaii’s version of Grand Canyon). I reserved a nice cabin in the woods, made a big fire in the fireplace and curled up with a page-turner “Drinking Coffee Elsewhere”.

Day Two: I hiked to the Ni Pali Coast to view where its 4,000 foot jagged sea cliffs meet the ocean, had breakfast and came back to my car to find a black cat under my car, how timely since it was Friday the 13th. After the cat ran off, I drove to Koke’e State Park to find the trailhead that would lead me through Waimea Canyon to Waipoo falls. After hiking about an hour, up and down all manner of hills, rocks and gullies, a vista of the canyon was finally visible. It was breathtaking in its rugged majesty. The gorge is a blended strata of diffuse reds, purples, grays and pinks. On a far off outcropping of a red dirt cliff I saw a woman in a white gown and her partner descending its surface. It was as if they were suspended in time and space because the trail was obfuscated. I decided that I was witnessing a wedding ceremony and they had been flown in by helicopter but where is wedding party? The scene reminded me of one of those car commercials on TV, where those cars are plopped on a cliff clearing and you sit there wondering how they got that car out there. I wasn’t sure what it meant, since in 45 years of hiking I had never encountered a women hiking in a long flowing white dress. Was it a sign that I would be getting married soon or a vision or what? I couldn’t make sense of it, so I dismissed it and continued on my arduous journey. About 30 minutes later, through a clearing in the bush, the woman in her flowing white gown and her husband appeared before me…she was of the Mennonite or perhaps of the Amish persuasion. They were warm, friendly and full of praises for the Lord and the beauty of “his” creation. Mystery solved! After finally making it to Waipoo falls, I was a bit crestfallen because I couldn’t really see the falls since they were beneath me but there were lots of little swirling swimming holes and the Canyon views are phenomenal. After completing my hike, I drove to the nearby town of Waimea and treated myself to a hearty traditional Hawaiian meal of poi, lomi lomi and steamed pork wrapped in banana leaves. On route back to Kapaa, I stopped by Kipu falls and joined in with a group of fellow daredevils swinging one by one from a rope tied to a tree and jumping 20 feet into the lake beneath the falls. It was as thrilling as it was refreshing, especially after a hard day of hiking. Luckily, I made home in time for dinner because our after dinner entertainment included Chris reading my tarot cards for all of the guests to hear. I am glad my future looked bright!

Day Three: Was a mellow down day at Donkey beach, which is ultra beautiful and secluded, yet easily accessible. I curled up with a copy of “Eat, Pray, Love” between brief excursions into ocean’s powerful waves. I loved the feeling of being caressed by the wind, kissed by the sun and cradled in the sand. That evening, Chris and I went to a midnight beach party near Hanalei for a couple moving back to Michigan. With flashlights in hand, we navigated a narrow hillside trail for about a mile long hike to the festivities. When we arrived there were about 30 people gathered around a huge bonfire, playing guitars, drums, singing, dancing, storytelling and sharing food. It was a slice of heaven.

Day Four: Chris and I, along with several friends of his made a jungle trek to the top of Sleeping Giant Mountain. To fortify us for the journey he made us his special brand of choclate bars and we stopped at his favorite citrus grove on route and picked mammoth grapefruit to stuffed in our backpack for lunch. The hour plus ascent to the top of the mountain took us through verdant tunnels of pine trees, bushes, vines and ferns. Since Sleeping Giant is the only mountain located near the center of the island, it affords those who scale it, a 360-degree panoramic view of the island. Outer lying mountain peaks appeared to be carpeted with shimmering emerald velvet and in the ocean we spotted a pod of migrating whales gallivanting through a dazzingly array of blues hued streaks of water. At one point during our mountaintop megawatt experience, a rain cloud passed overhead and we laid in the grass and just let the drops drench us. My usual impulse is to run for cover but in paradise why bother when I could just get wet and let the sun dry me off later. I was so moved by all of the beauty that I was witnessing that I was telling my crew, how grateful I was to my Mother, who through her role as a Girl Scout leader, taught me the love and appreciation for nature. About an hour or so later as we were descending the mountain, we saw a woman 20 little girls and a dog hiking up the trail. After greeting her, I asked her what she was up to and she said that this was her girl scout troop that they were on treasure hunt in celebration of one of the girl’s 11th birthday. We looked at each other in shock at the symbolism and sychronicity. During our driving home we spotted an intensely vibrant rainbow and were able to drive through its translucent base. It subsequently turned into a double rainbow and for a fleeting moment there was a complete rainbow arch in the sky.

Day Five: We kayaked up a river near Hanalei and hiked to a gorgeous waterfall. Afterwards we visited some of Chris’s friends who lived in that area and went out to dinner.

Day Six: We went to the local Farmer’s Market. We scored a few coconuts full of water and strolled through one of the most amazing markets I had ever visited. The fruit, vegetables and particularly the greens were so fresh they seemed to be dancing on the table, vibrating with the chi and vibration of life.

Day Seven: Back to Honolulu and ground zero in San Francisco.

Big Island travel tips

Kona Side(Mainly)

The highlight of my trips there have always been swimming with the dolphins at Kealakekua Bay.

Most first time visitors feel the need to visit the volcano state park, but once was enough for me. The volcano is rarely active in a major way but you can always walk for miles on the hot lava, melt your shoes and watch a stream of hot lava ooze into the sea. – Try to find someone to take you on the White Trail to see the waterfalls. Its near Waimea, but I can’t say exactly where it is, since it is not clearly marked. Most locals know. My friends took me there and hopefully can find someone to take you. The trail is through a jungle and into a valley were long skinny waterfall cascade off cliffs into deep deep lush valleys.

I often spend a day at Makalawena Beach. It stretches over 5 cove/inlets and covers an area of about a half a mile to a mile of shoreline. Makalawena is a remote beach, with few crowds. Prepare yourself for a 15-20 minute hike just to get to this beach. The trailhead is in the Kona Coast State Park, off Route 19, the Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway.

I love to hang out at the Kava Bar at the Coconut Grove Marketplace for a cup of kava. Kava, or Hawaiian Awa, is a natural relaxant with a mildly euphoric properties. Made from the root of a species of pepper plant known as Awa (Piper methysticum, which is “intoxicating pepper”), Awa has been used by people indigenous to the South Pacific for over 3,000 years. The Kava beverage is a central part of Polynesian Society, and has been used for centuries as a ceremonial, medicinal and also recreational drink.

Each week I took an authentic hula class with locals in “downtown” kona on Wednesday morning in this open air pavillion behind Bubba Gump restaurant. If you ask around someone will tell you the details.

Every month on the Saturday evening before the full moon rises, Mauna Lani Resort hosts an enchanted evening of storytelling and entertainment on the lawn of the resort’s oceanfront Eva Parker Woods Cottage. Join Danny Kaniela Akaka for “Twilight at Kalahuipua‘a,” a night of music, dance and storytelling. Danny is Mauna Lani’s Cultural Historian, he is a kahu (Hawaiian priest), speaks fluent Hawaiian, performs as a musician and dancer. Call Mauna Lani Concierge at 808-881791 to confirm the dates and time (usually 8pm) MAUNA LANI DRIVE ∙ KOHALA COAST, ISLAND OF HAWAII 96743

If you forgot anything – the best place to shop in Kona is Walmart.

Lodging on the Kona side is quite expensive. I usually do a home exchange, stay with friends or rent a room in a house. Here are a couple suggestions from a friend who lived there for 20 years. Airbnb and vrbo.

If you can find a local who would be willing to check you in with his/her local ID, the Kona Islander Inn would run about 49.00 + taxes/night. The number for this very cute hotel/condo is 1(800) 244-4752. I think their regular rates are about 89.00/night.

There is one other very economical hotel, without phones or TV’s, that runs somewhere in the mid $50 range. It’s called the Manago Hotel and it is very clean (and quiet) for the money. Be sure to specify that you want a private bath. There number is (808)323-2624. All of these places can be “goggled” for pics and more accurate prices. This is the best I can think of, price-wise for the Kona side.

Puna Side

Be sure to check out the Puna side of the Big Island!!!

Great place to stay is the Aloha Inn. For more information visit: www.alohahawaii.com (808 965-2211)

Akiko’s Buddhist B&B, http://www.akikosbnb.com/index.html.

While in Puna be sure to get a watsu water massage and waterdance. The name of the practitioner whose services I use is, Dwight Stevens. The treatment I received from him felt like a rebirthing…it was amazing and one of the highlights of my Big Island visit. His phone number is 808 965 8500 and you can find more info at http://www.hawaiilalala.com

Be sure to check out the Kalani on Sunday mornings for estatic dance. Thre is usually a cool picnic afterwards at the bluff a mile or so south of Kalani. http://www.kalani.com.

I absolutely loved the Puna Farmer’s market that happens every Sunday morning.

My favorite Hawaii guidebook is the Revealed Series: Oahu, Maui, Big Island[/wpspoiler]

Where can i get good deals on rental cars?
I sometimes find great values at priceline.com, hotwire.com and carrentalexpress.com. don't forget to ask for promo deals, affiliation discounts, e.g., (aaa/aarp) and "local" only deals.

check out the new personal car rental services at airports such as flightcar.com

San Francisco/Bay Area 3 day Extravaganza

I only have 3 days to visit the SF/Bay Area. Any suggestions?

San Francisco/Bay Area 3-day immersion experience

DAY ONE:

Drive to Napa Valley and visit:

 Domaine Chandon champagne company for a tasting

 Opus one winery – which has amazing Egyptian style architecture and a great expansive view from its 2nd floor terrace

 Francis Ford Coppola’s winery, tasting room, store and movie memorabilia center

 Dean and Delulca gourmet store.

 Dr. Wilkerson’s for mineral bath, steam and massage

 On your drive back, take the Silverado trail and visit Auberge De Soliel, hillside French restaurant for an amazing view of Napa Valley, yummy snacks and fabulous dessert.

DAY TWO:

Drive to/through San Francisco/Marin

 Tour downtown SF and Union Square (if weekend visit Ferry Bldg’s Farmer’s Market)

 Chinatown to get souvenirs

 North Beach, the Italian neighborhood – get pastries at Stella’s

 Fisherman’s Wharf/Pier 39

 Lombard Street, the Crookest Street in the World

 Mission, the Latino neighborhood, take a mural tour

 Castro, the Gay neighborhood and business district

 Haight Asbury neighborhood

 Golden Gate Park

 Ocean Beach

 Cliff House restaurant: has mediocre food but a wonderful view

 Drive across the Golden Gate Bridge

 Check out Sausalito city and house boats

 Muir Woods Redwood Forest

 Muir Beach

DAY THREE – Monterey/Carmel

 Monterey Aquarium

 17 mile drive

 Walk around Carmel

 Eat at the Clint Eastwood’s Hog’s Breath Cafe

 If you have loads of energy, drive on down to Big Sur

If you have EXTRA TIME consider the following:

 Visiting some of the areas fabulous restaurants and nightclubs

 For culture clues, pick up a copy of the Bay Guardian, East Bay Express and San Francisco Chronicle’s Sunday Pink Entertainment Section

Visit the East Bay cities of Berkeley and Oakland.

 Have breakfast at Bette’s Oceanview in Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto

 Visit Albany Waterfront Park to see the lost art park

 Tour the University of Cal campus/Telegraph Ave

 Take a drive or walk around Oakland’s Lake Merritt

For more help planning your travels in the Bay Area, visit: www.OpenRoad.TV.

Traveling Like Elaine (travel tips)
  Any basic advice for 1st time international traveler?

Here are a few things to consider:

1. Pack Light (take half as many things as you think you need and twice as much money–visit a travel packing site to create the perfect packing list for starters! e.g., onebag.com, packing pro for your iphone, the universal packing list at http://upl.codeq.info/ or http://www.independenttraveler.com/packing.

2. Don’t dress like an ugly American. Be respectful of the country you are visiting and consider dressing in culturally appropriate manner.

3. Carry a currency converter, ear plugs, small gifts to give away and a flashlight. They have proven to be invaluable on my trips.

4. Learn the basics of the language of the country you are visiting. Consider bringing a mini-letter of introduction in the language of the place(s) you are traveling.

5. Consider travel insurance.

6. Keep yourself hydrated when flying. Drink plenty of water before, during and after your flight . Don’t drink alcohol during your flight – it dehydrates you. If you have a long flight consider taking a mild sedative so you can sleep on route. Carry noise canceling headphones and variety of music to dull out the noise.

7. Join a home/hospitality exchange club so you don’t have to incur hotel costs.

8. Consider carrying an international cell phone or adding global feature to your regular cellphone that is if you have at least a tri-band feature. Get a local sim card for each country you visit so your local calls will be charged as local.

9. Always carry the hotel’s card with you when you leave your room or address/phone of house you are staying. Also, never leave your hotel room without a map of the area, $20 of local currency, your health insurance card, your passport number memorized and a pen.

10. Flying tips: Best times of the day to travel, 6&7am, best days of the week to travel-Saturday and Tuesday, best months to travel-September, try to fly non-stop because that reduces the chances of losing your luggage and consider using airports near major cities.

11. YOUR FIRST DIGITAL PHOTO BEFORE YOU TRAVEL CAN BE VERY HELPFUL — writes Susan from Calgary, Canada — Many women travelers carry a digital camera these days. I suggest you take a photo of your luggage and/or backpack before you leave the house. This way, a copy is already in your camera. Then, if your luggage gets lost you can immediately show the lost luggage staff exactly what the missing pieces looks like.

More tips from my book “Go Girl” I found that it was cheaper and easier to use debit cards than carrying traveler’s check. You also get a better exchange rate and a lower transaction fee. page 342 When planning your travel wardrobe restrict your color scheme to two colors and bundle your clothes instead of fold them. page 344 Consider using a ticket broker or consolidator to find the affordable plane tickets, particularly if you plan a multi stop trip. page 338 Make copies of your credit cards, passport, birth certificate and tickets and keep them in a separate location from the originals. page 340 If you are traveling to the southern hemisphere, contact your local health department’s immunization division two months before your departure to get information about required medications for each country you plan to visit. page 341

Black Heritage Travel Destinations

I need information on black heritage travel. Any suggestions?

Here is a sampling of black heritage travel destinations and an article on the subject.

Civil Rights Trail in Alabama includes the Civil Rights Memorial in downtown Montgomery, the Wall of Tolerance, the Rosa Parks Museum, the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church where King preached as well as the accompanying parsonage. An interpretive center along the route of the Selma-to-Montgomery Voting Rights March is located US 80. The National Park Service facility commemorates the location where marchers camped after being forced from their homes for attempting to register to vote. There is a walk visitors can take across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, where marchers were attacked in 1965, then step inside the National Voting Rights Museum to learn about the movement’s foot soldiers. This and much more is available on the Civil Rights Trail.www.touralabama.org/tours-trails/civil-rights-trail

Black Paris ñ Paris has served as a mecca for African American artists, musicians and writers since the early 1900ís. There are amazing tours available that explore the phenomenon and highlight the locations of black expat communities, past and present. ìNo city seduces as skillfully as Paris. With a sly, knowing wink, the City of Light steals your heart with one clear, small joyous moment after another. Linger too long on the Pont des Arts and passion may nudge your slumbering spirit awake, or kiss your lips, or turn you into a whimsical work of art.î H. Thompson

African Americans in France have pioneered a new type of black community; one based on positive affinities, and experiences rather than the negative limitations of segregation. Although small, the African American community in Paris has generally achieved enough of a critical mass to generate its own institutions, traditions and presence. Constituting a crucial innovations in life overseas: the rise of a collective black American life in a foreign city that enables blacks to leave American racism behind without also forsaking African American culture.The African American community in Paris symbolizes the potential of African American life in general once its fully liberated from the scales of racism. I suppose that is why it has been home to the likes of James Baldwin, Josephine Baker, Gordon Parks, Barbara Chase-Riboud, Richard Wright, Countee Cullen, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Henry Ossawa Tanner, Lois Mailou Jones and Ed Clark.î (Excerpt from Paris Noir by Tyler Stovall)

For more information about Black Paris visit, www.cafedelasoul and for walking tours of Black Paris visit www.walkingthespirit.com

Ghana, Africa – March 2007 marks Ghana’s 50th independence anniversary and the 200th anniversary marking Britain’s abolition of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. The Ghana government is planning customary funeral rites for the millions who died, plus a healing ceremony for their descendants who survived. There will be a plethora of African American tour groups going there to commemorate their sovereignty.

Garifuna Settlement Festival, Dangria, Belize. This amazing annual festival occurs on November 19th and commemorates the Garifuna peoples arrival to Belize. The Garifuna people are one of the few groups of African people in the Diaspora who were never enslaved. They have managed to retain an amazing amount of their African culture, language and food. When I attended the remarkable event, I kept asking myself, ìAm I in Africa or the Americas?î(It is located in central America ñ below Mexico and to make it easy it is an English speaking country

ïSouth Carolina Sea Islands – The Gullahs who live on the island are descendants of West African slaves who worked the rice and cotton fields before they were freed and offered a chance to purchase their land. As whites deserted the coast in favor of milder climates inland, the Gullahs lived in isolation for generations, allowing them to maintain their African culture longer than any slave descendants in America. They have a number of festivals and tours that enable the visitors to learn more about their unique culture.

1. Gullah festival every memorial day ñ 20 years running ñ Beaufort SC

2. Sweet grass cultural arts festival, (features traditional basket weaving) June ñ Mount Pleasant

3. Mojo Arts Festival in Charleston SC ñ 23 years running ñ late September ((art, dance, drumming, tours, food, storytelling, theatre, exhibitions, lectures)

4. Driving tours ñ African American coastal trails

5. Island Heritage Festivalñ James Island mid June

6. Gullah/Geechee Nation International African Music & Movement Festival ñ August

For more info, visit (www.geocities.com/gullahpride), (www.gullahfestival.org) or (www.discoversouthcarolina.com/see-do/history-heritage/african_american.aspx)

Black Panther Tours are available in Oakland, CA. 510) 986-0660, www.blackpanthertours.com ñ currently their site is being overhauled and they are in reorganization mode until August 2007, when their tours and site should be up and running again. The tours are lead by David Hillard, one of the founders of the Panther Party. The 4 hour tour visits 18 sites and cost only $20. The tour is a first hand accounting of one of the most impactful social movements in the countries history.

Yemanya Celebration, Bahia Brazil – This beautiful festival is dedicated to the Yemanya, the Goddess of the Ocean and is celebrated every year on February 2. At dawn, the area around the Rio Vermelho beach is lit up with fireworks. Shortly thereafter hundreds of people, all dressed in white, start to line up outside of the temporary shrine erected to hold the gifts to Yemanya. Around 4:00 a.m., the M„es de Santo begins a Candomble ceremony adjacent to the shrine. Once the gift baskets are full, they are loaded onto boats and the boats take them out to ocean and are thrown over as an offering to Yemanya. Once the boats depart with the gifts, people start to party to live music on the streets until dawn, having once again pleased the ever-powerful Ocean Goddess.

African Diaspora Heritage Trail Conference, www.ADHT.net ñ The conference is taking place in Bermuda from September 27-October 1, 2007. The African Diaspora Heritage Trail Conference has been established to focus the dialogue on heritage and cultural development within countries of the Diaspora that are in the process of creating destinations as tourism attractions. This is a cross-border, international conference bringing a number of disciplines together to explore issues, set policy and think through the future as we continue the development of the legacy of the African descendents.

Black Holocaust Museum in America (ABHM), in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, exists to educate the public of injustices suffered by people of African American heritage, while providing visitors with an opportunity to rethink their assumptions about race and racism. ABHM Exposes visitors to the historical aspects of African American cultural identity through educational exhibits, special programming, and guided tours related to six distinct historic eras:

1. Before Captivity in Africa

2. The Middle Passage

3. Slavery in the Americas

4. Reconstruction

5. Civil Rights

6. and Modern Day Injustices

http://www.blackholocaustmuseum.org

Travel Getaways with a Cultural Theme. by Tracey Robinson-English

TAKE a close-up snapshot of a wild African lion on a safari in Ghana. See where Josephine Baker and James Baldwin lived in Paris. Explore Bermuda’s African Diaspora Heritage Trail that brings Black history alive with African customs.

These are just a few of the abundant cultural vacation tours African-Americans can experience to tap into their roots. According to Target Market News, African-Americans spent more than $4 billion on leisure travel in the U.S. and abroad before 9/11, but stayed closer to home during the last few years. African-Americans have since made a strong comeback, generating nearly $5 billion on leisure travel last year, according to the latest figures available.

A growing African-American travel market is sending a clear wake-up call to the travel industry to cater to Blacks and their travel needs, experts say. “Every sector of the travel industry–hotels, theme parks, city visitor bureaus–has begun to reach out to the minority traveler through targeted advertising, minority travel guides and special ethnic promotions,” says William S. Norman, president and CEO of the Travel Industry Association of America.

African-Americans are enjoying traditional destinations and venturing to exotic excursions as singles, families and in groups. They’re big on “girlfriend getaways,” jazz cruises, ski trips and chartering customized tours to explore Black history.

“I find that people are looking for something deeper,” says Nne Nne Jean Ibeawuchi, owner of Soul Planet Travel, a company that customizes trips for African-Americans to Paris, Brazil, Nigeria, Ghana and Morocco, and U.S. destinations. “They want to do something more besides eat, party and lounge on the beach.”

That is why Africa, Brazil [especially the Bahia region] and Black Paris are such big draws. African-American travelers can still have fun, but also experience and learn more about our African history and culture.”

Popular vacation spots for African-Americans continue to be the Caribbean–especially Jamaica–Paris, Mexico, the British Isles, Brazil and Africa, especially Ghana and South Africa, say travel industry experts. If you choose to experience these locations, here’s a snapshot of what you can expect:

Bermuda is a perfect escape from winter. Located east of South Carolina in the North Atlantic Ocean, this string of 181 islands and islets enjoys one of the highest per capita incomes in the world, nearly equal to that of the United States.

Proud and friendly people–65 percent of whom are of African ancestry–are eager to display their homeland. “There’s been long-standing relations between Bermuda and African-Americans,” says Ewart Brown, deputy premier minister of tourism and transport. Tourism, he says, is a $60 million industry that represents about 15 percent of the country’s annual budget. “Tourism and trade are important for us, but they are also important for our people to see the linkage between us and African-Americans.”

To lure African-American tourists, Bermuda flourishes with plenty of attractions such as golfing, health retreats and annual musical festival featuring African-American celebrities. Travelers can rejuvenate at the Willow Stream Spa at the Fairmont Southhampton Hotel or at the Mandarin Oriental Spa at the Elbow Beach Hotel. You can also taste one of island’s homemade delicacies, Bermuda black rum cakes.

“With Black wealth and exposure reaching a pinnacle, African-Americans are assertively traveling to the 21-mile paradise,” says Keetha Lowe, president of Integrated Global Management, an independent marketing firm based in Bermuda. “It is not only an escape, but it also offers numerous educational and economic opportunities for African-Americans.”

A historic journey on the African Diaspora Heritage Trail zigzags the island highlighting the story of a mixed culture of African, Native Indian, Caribbean and British heritage. Along the trial, you can experience the brilliant Gombey dancers. This colorful troupe of masked dancers, wearing dramatic peacock headdresses and elaborate capes, trace their roots back to Africa during the 1700s. Dancers also portray biblical stories backed by the rhythm of percussionists.

In Salvador da Bahia, Brazil, you can savor what’s described as “the most African city in South America.” Tourists can experience the religion of Candomble, a mix of Catholicism and African rituals, African-in-spired foods, soulful drums throughout the streets, and capoeira, a Brazilian art that fuses dance, sport and African martial arts.

The Brazilian culture is evident in many ways throughout the area. Bahianwomen, who create intricate handmade lace apparel and household items such as aprons, tablecloths and curtains, majestically walk to market with baskets perfectly balanced on their heads. You can also appreciate artisans producing vivid oil paintings of street scenes on canvas.

In Rio De Janeiro, tourists can ride cable cars up to a high point on Corcovado Mountain to marvel at the 125-foot statute of Christ the Redeemer with its arms outstretched over the city. After a day of sightseeing, including views of Sugarloaf Mountain, visitors can feast at Churrascaria, one of Rio’s favorite barbeque restaurants where waiters bring to your table tender choice beef, pork, lamb and chicken.

After dinner, the Platforma Night Club promises a rousing show of different costumes, music and dancing capturing Carnival rhythms. Vacation tours to Bahia and Rio are available with as much as 50 percent off airfares, so check for the best travel packages.

Already sold out for 2006 is Soul Planet Travel’s tour of Black Paris. After exploring popular monuments such as the Eiffel Tower, Louvre, and Notre Dame Cathedral, African-Americans visitors can enjoy famous hangouts of Black Parisians, African-American expatriates and learn about other Black experiences.

“When you look at your pictures of Black Paris, you think about how African-American troops like the 369th Regiment “Harlem Hell Fighters” fought and died to save those beautiful buildings along the Champs Elysee,” says Nne Nne Jean Ibeawuchi, owner of Soul Planet Travel. There’s also plenty of free time to dine at cool African restaurants like La Jungle, or relax at a jazz concert at Duc des Lombards, named after the legendary Duke Ellington.

Travel experts agree that soulful vacation getaways may be the ticket to a rare glimpse of history while renewing mind, spirit and purpose.

Medical Tourism

What is medical tourism? Medical tourism is the act of traveling to other countries to obtain medical, dental, and surgical care.

Why is growing in popularity? A combination of many factors has led to the recent increase in popularity of medical tourism: the high cost of healthcare in industrialized nations, the ease and affordability of international travel, and the improvement of technology and standards of care in many countries of the world. More than 45 million Americans lack health insurance and 120 million lack dental insurance, and that number continues to grow. Frustrated with the high cost of medical care in this country and by insurance companies that don’t cover elective procedures and in countries like Canada and England where they have socialized medicine—sometimes there are often delays for certain procedures so instead of wait, patients travel abroad for their care. Companies send workers abroad

Where are some of most popular places people are going for medical and dental care? Some to the most popular destinations are: Bolivia, Brazil, Cuba, Costa Rica, Hungary, India, Dubai, Lithuania, Malaysia, Thailand, Belgium, Canada, Poland and Singapore. South Africa is taking the term “medical tourism” very literally by promoting their “medical safarisî. You can tell your friends and family that you are going on safari and in actuality you are primarily going for a faceliftÖor saying you are going skiing at Whistler resort in British Columbia but you stop by Whistler Laser Center for botox or restyalene injections.

One of the most well-known places is the Bumrungrad Medical Center in Bangkok, Thailand, which sees 850,000 overseas patients annually and is at the cutting edge of medical tourism. Bumunrungrad comes complete with Starbucks, McDonaldís and twenty-four hour personal service. In 2005, the hospital treated 58,000 American patients, a 25 percent increase from 2004. “We receive about 400 new e-mails a day from the United Statesî.

What are some sample costs? The cost of surgery in India, Bolivia, Thailand or South Africa can be fraction of what people pay the United States or Western Europe, For example, a heart-valve replacement that would cost $200,000 or more in the U.S., would cost $10,000 in India and that includes round-trip airfare and a brief vacation package. Lasik eye surgery costs $3,700 in the U.S. and it is available in Thailand for only $730. A full facelift that would cost $20,000 in the U.S. and it runs about $1,250 in South Africa. Two dental bridges would cost $5,000 in the U.S. would cost $$1,000 in Hungary. Root canal would cost U.S. $3,50 and in India, $400. Two other examples are the Instituto Valenciano de Infertilidad (I.V.I.), in Valencia, Spain charges $12,000 in vitro fertilization (IVF) vs $28,000 in states. In Cyprus, $2000 for hair transplants vs $4000 in U.S.

What are some of the potential problems?

-There is little follow-up care. The patient usually is in hospital for only a few days, and then goes on the vacation portion of the trip or returns home. Complications, side-effects and post-operative care are then the responsibility of the medical care system in the patients’ home country.

-Most of the countries that offer medical tourism have weak malpractice laws, so the patient has little recourse to local courts or medical boards if something goes wrong.

-For those of you shuddering at the thought of undergoing an advanced medical procedure in a foreign country, studies show that Indiaís death rate among patients undergoing surgery is only half that of most major hospitals in the United States.

What are some precautions people can take? – Contact an international medical and dental assessment organization to determine their evaluation of a facility. You can also develop a relationship with a medical organization here in the U.S. such as globalchoicehealthcare and have them make arrangements for you as well as to do follow up care. Currently Singapore boasts the largest number of US Joint Commission accredited hospitals in Southeast Asia. FYI – www.jointcommissioninternational.org, www.medexassist.com, www.jcipatientsafety.org,www.osap.org(OSAP is a global dental organization), www.globalchoicehealthcare.com

What about getting prescription drugs in Canada? Drugs rugs are 50% – 200% higher in the USA than it is in Canada due to US federal laws and a regulatory board that ensure the end costs of drugs are kept at an artificially high level. Visitors from the US may purchase up to three months worth of prescriptions at one time in Canada. For information about buying prescription drugs outside of the United States, consider visiting, the following websites: www.americandrugclub.com, www.crossborderpharmacy.com

How can people learn more? Consider visiting the following websites:

www.medicaltourism.com,

www.plasticsurgeryjourneys.com,

www.surgeon-and-safari.co.za,

www.lougheedlaser.com (Whistler Laser Center),

hwww.bumrungrad.com, (Bumrungrad Hospital) www.diethelmtravel.com (Bumrungrad Hospital travel agent),

www.hungariandentaltravel.com,

www.treatmentabroad.net/cosmetic-abroad/cyprus/hdc (hair transplants)

Prepared by Elaine Lee with excerpts from article written by by Sean OíReilly, Editor-at-Large of Travelersí Tales. (www.travelerstales.com)

Creed of the Peaceful Traveler

What is the creed of the peaceful traveler?

Grateful for the opportunity to travel and experience the world and because peace begins with the individual, I affirm my personal responsibility and commitment to:

Journey with an open mind and gentle heart

Accept with grace and gratitude the diversity I encounter

Revere and protect the natural environment which sustains all life

Appreciate all cultures I discover

Respect and thank my hosts for their welcome

Offer my hand in friendship to everyone I meet

Support travel services that share these views and act upon them and,

By my spirit, words and actions, encourage others to travel the world in peace. —————————-

Copyright © International Institute for Peace Through Tourism

Safety travel tips for Women

Any travel tips for women travelers?

Dispatch from Christine Sarkin, www.travelindustryreview.com

As avid travelers, it’s hard for us to say which countries are “good” or “bad” for women to visit. We don’t want to give any one place an advantage over the next, since so much of traveling is what you put into it. For every horror story, there’s one of jubilation and acceptance, and for every cab ride from hell, there’s a tale of someone being welcomed home for an authentic local meal.

As a starting place for your trip planning, we’ve complied two lists of destinations worldwide. In the first, Jessica Labrencis outlines five places that have a reputation for being women-friendly, while in the second, RaeJean Stokes looks at five regions where women should use extra caution. This is by no means a finite list, as terrible things can happen in safe places all over the world, and vice versa.

You can also ensure a good experience wherever you travel by arming yourself with knowledge. Learn essential phrases in the local language, read about the country’s culture and religion, and watch how local women behave. And, most importantly, exercise common sense whether you’re in a city or in the countryside, and even when you’re in a so-called “safe” destination.

Ten tips for women traveling alone

The fake wedding band approach Some single women try the fake wedding band approach in the hope that it will deter men, especially in countries where marriage is revered. Does it work? An informal poll yields no clear answer. About half the women I asked had stories in which a ring on any finger made no difference in the number of times they were approached, while the other half told personal anecdotes or related tales of women who swear by it, and even have a special ring for the job. For women, solo travel brings its own set of joys and challenges. It can be an extraordinary experience, to go where you want when you want and meet new people along the way. Many women who have traveled alone describe an incredible sense of freedom and possibility. But there are also the challenges, ranging from loneliness to safety, making solo travel daunting enough that many women never attempt it. That’s not to say it can’t be done. To help you get the most out of a trip, here are ten tips compiled from the advice of women who have traveled alone and will do it again.

1. Exercise hotel safety There are many ways you can make a solo stay at a hotel safer. At check-in, you might consider asking for a room near the elevator so you won’t need to walk down long, potentially ill-lit hallways to reach your room. When filling out guest registration forms, consider using your first initial instead of your name, and skip the “Mrs/Miss/Mr” check box. Additionally, make sure the clerk writes down your room number instead of saying it out loud. This will prevent anyone in the vicinity from knowing where to find you later. If you’re at a hotel that requires you to leave your keys at the front desk, make sure that a desk clerk is there to put your key in a safe place; never just leave it on the counter. SmarterTravel.com’s Executive Editor Anne Banas cautions to never hang a filled-out breakfast card on your door; doing so lets people know you’re alone in the room, and means there’s a situation already set in which you’ll be expecting someone at the door. If I’m not sure about my accommodations, I bring along a rubber door stop to wedge under the door in case the lock is unreliable.

2. Arrive during the day Arrive in new cities during the day. Areas around bus and train stations can be scary and/or deserted, and small towns tend to shut down early. Veteran solo traveler Mara Rothman of San Francisco notes that plenty of beautiful towns can appear eerie at night, and locals who are genuinely trying to help you can appear unnecessarily threatening. Arriving during the day means you’ll be able to find a place to stay and get your bearings before dark.

3. Keep your documents safe If you choose to wear a money belt, use it for storage and not as a purse. Constantly reaching under your shirt for money draws attention to it, and tends to defeat the purpose. Instead, keep your passport, extra stores of money, and other important documents tucked away, and use a bag or purse for carrying daily spending money. Keep copies of your passport and credit cards in a separate and secure location. Rothman suggests slipping copies of such documents under the insoles of shoes. They may not smell great, but they’ll be there if you need them.

4. Dress appropriately To avoid attracting unwanted attention, dress as conservatively as the women you see around you. This doesn’t necessarily mean donning the traditional dress, as that can sometimes backfire. When she arrived in India to travel on her own for six months, Eva Winter of London purchased the traditional Salwar kameez long tunic and pants. But as she traveled around the country, she noticed that she was actually attracting more attention from men who were curious about the six-foot-tall blonde in the customary cultural dress. Suspecting she might be giving the impression of attempting to appear traditional to attract an Indian suitor, Winter switched back to conservative Western dress and was hassled far less often. A good rule of thumb is to dress modestly. Think knee-length or longer skirts. Bare arms, shoulders, and legs are considered risqué in some countries, so do the research before you go and once you’re there. Note which body parts the local women cover and do the same.

5. Know when to buddy up Traveling alone doesn’t always mean being alone. There are plenty of situations in which seeking out company can make for a safer and more enjoyable experience. On vacation in Jamaica, Banas wasn’t comfortable walking alone from her resort into town for dinner and a reggae show, so she invited a couple she’d met earlier in the day at the pool to join her. By doing so, she got to try out a new restaurant, dance the night away, and make new friends. Continued… Smaller hotels and hostels are great places to find like-minded travelers to explore new places with. And even when you can’t find someone to buddy up with, there are often ways to associate yourself with others so you’ll be less likely to be bothered. In some countries, there are women-only sections in trains and women’s waiting rooms at train stations. Sticking close to families on public transportation and in unfamiliar public markets and bazaars is another technique some women use.

6. Combat harassment A few might argue that it’s just a well-developed appreciation of women, but unsolicited stares, calls, and attention feel more like harassment when you’re alone in unfamiliar territory. Having a repertoire of harassment deterrents can be as important to women travelers as a sturdy pair of shoes and a passport. SmarterTravel.com Contributing Editor RaeJean Stokes, who lived in Eastern Europe for two years, found that the combination of a basic understanding of the local language and the ability to feign total ignorance was a useful deterrent. After all, she said, “it’s not as fun to harass someone who can’t play back.” As an extension, not engaging with people who are bothering you can make you a less interesting target. If you want to avoid being approached during lulls in activity, such as while waiting for or while traveling on trains, it can be a good idea to carry a novel or paper for writing to friends (they miss you, you know, and want to hear how your trip is going). That way, you’ve got a prop that makes you look busy and involved. If a situation of harassment escalates, making a scene can sometimes be effective. Many societies place a high premium on respecting social norms, so drawing attention to harassment in a loud and clear manner may solve the problem. The sentence for “leave me alone” is a handy one to learn.

7. Research body language and culture Depending on the country, seemingly innocuous gestures such as eye contact, shaking hands, smiling, and small talk can be construed as come-ons. Learning the subtleties of body language and local culture before you arrive can prevent awkward or misleading situations. Reading up on the culture before you go can also make your trip more enlightening and enjoyable. When in doubt, spend some time observing those around you, and then follow suit. And if you’re someone who likes to people watch or study faces, a dark pair of sunglasses can come in handy to avoid any confusion about eye contact.

8. Exude confidence Whether you’re on a street at home or 7,000 miles away, walking confidently and with direction is an effective technique for deterring unwanted attention, since appearing lost or confused can make you vulnerable. If you are lost, walk into a shop or restaurant and ask for directions there. Try to avoid obviously looking at maps while you’re in the street. Study your route before you go, or find one of those wallet-sized maps that you can discreetly palm and refer to on the sly.

9. Keep in touch If you’re traveling alone, it will be important to have a few regular contacts who can keep tabs on you. Leave a general itinerary behind with family and friends, and send regular emails so that people at home know about where you are. You can also register your trip with the Department of State online. Registering a trip means that the embassy knows of your presence in a country; this can be especially helpful when traveling in dangerous areas or in the event of a natural disaster.

10. Use common sense Using common sense is perhaps the single best tip for staying safe and having a good time while you’re traveling alone. This category includes the usual recommendations: don’t walk around late at night, don’t drink with strange men, don’t ride in empty compartments on trains, don’t compromise safety to save a few bucks on a hotel or transportation, and know how to use a pay phone. Though these tips have been compiled for solo women travelers, they’re good ones for general travel as well. Awareness and a bit of street-smarts are the keys to safe and happy travels.

Women-friendly destinations from www.travelindustryreview.com • Amsterdam • Ireland • Costa Rica • India • Vietnam

Northern California/Southern Oregon Getaway

Tell us one of your favorite northern California/Southern Oregon Getaways

Here is my current favorite Northern California/Southern Oregon Getaway! For the past 6 years or so I have been regularly taking some variation of the 7-10 day adventure you will find set forth below.

I recommend that during the non-winter season you schedule your trip to include a vist to Ashland Oregon’s Shakespeare Theatre Festival and/or the Mendocino Film Festival; during the winter season you should schedule your visit to include Mendocino’s Crab and Wine Festival!

Away we go!

1) Mendocino (on route drive through Anderson Valley (Highway 128) and stop at Navarro, Esterlina (Black owned) as well as Husch Wineries)

a) Stay at the Little River inn. Try to get an ocean view room toward the north side of property where you can hear the waves!! The food is wonderful. Be sure to eat there for at least one dinner (try crab cakes and cioppino) and one breakfast (try blintzes and Swedish pancakes)

b) Stroll through town and along the coast at the end of town and be sure to stop by the Gallery of the Senses perfume store and the gallery called “Art that makes you Laugh”.

c) Night time events to try: check out whose playing at the Headlands Coffeehouse in Fort Bragg, what’s playing at the Mendocino Theatre Co., and/or Gloriana Opera Co.

d) Try outdoor excursions such as: Coast Botanical Garden walk to the ocean, Skunk Train and/or try tide pooling at MacKerricher State Park.

e) Other restaurants to try: Moose Cafe, Albion River Inn, Cafe Beaujolais.

f) For more information, visit Mendocino websites such as http://www.go-mendo.com/ http://www.mendocino.winecountry.com to check out their calendar to find out if there are any festivals or special events going on during your travel time. Also pick up a copy of the Mendocino Visitor’s Guide published by the Mendocino Chamber of Commerce.

2) Next stop: visit the Montgomery Woods State Reserve and Orr Hot Springs! Turn off of Highway One at Comptche-Ukiah Road and visit one of California’s most majestic virgin redwood forests. Afterward make your way to Orr Hot Springs for a soak and possibly an overnight stay.

3) Make your way to the Victorian Village of Ferndale, which is a few miles shy of Eureka. It ís a quaint little town, nestled between the two redwood forests in a thriving dairy community. We stopped by the Tea Shoppe, located in the center of town for a pot of freshly brewed tea and slices of homemade pie.

4) Visit Eureka and walk around their newly refurbished “Old Town”. For a sampling of what life was like for the lumberjacks in the 1800’s, consider having dinner at the historic Samoa Roadhouse and museum. On route to Crescent City consider veering off the beaten path by stopping off at Hoopa Tribal Museum on the Hoopa Reservation, where you can also get guided tour of traditional village.

Another interesting side trip is to the picturesque coastal city of Trinidad for short visit to their Patrick State Park as well as to the Tsurai Village, which was one of the last original Native American communities on the Redwood coast. Also consider seeing humungeous redwood trees by driving through the Avenue of the Giants.

5) Why not give, Crescent City a try? Consider a night’s stay at the Redwood National Park’s Hostel which across the street from the beach and a few miles outside of Crescent City. Be sure to eat lunch or dinner at the Charthouse, one of the local’s fav restaurants. If you are traveling in the summer, consider scheduling your trip to include a visit to the Klamath Salmon Festival. It is organized by the Yurok tribe and includes an opportunity to learn about their culture as well as eat salmon prepared in the traditional manner.

6) On route to Ashland, be sure to stop off at Jedediah Smith State Park, just north of Crescent City to take a short stroll through Stout Grove and during the spring time the Smith River is said to be a beautiful blue.

7) A must see scene is Ashland, Oregon. If you are traveling between May and October, you must attend several plays at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. They not only have Shakespearean plays but also contemporary, classic and ethnic ones as well. Here is a budget traveler’s tip: stand outside of the box office around lunch time and there are usually people trying to get rid of extra tickets via gift or deep discount; you can also sometimes get them prior to evening performances as well.

a) My favorite inexpensive places to stay: Windmill Inn or Manor Motel. My favorite places to stay: Ashland Creek Inn or the Plaza Inn Suites.

b) My fav places to eat: for breakfast – Greenleaf Restaurant (on the river) or Ashland Bakery Cafe, for lunch or dinner – Lela’s Cafe, Omar’s, Dragonfly, Cucina Biazzi, Allyson’s Kitchen or Thai Pepper.

My fav coffee spot: Noble Coffee.

The best way to learn about the history of Ashland: Take the amazing audio walking tour offered by the Imagine Project (www.ashlandaudiowalks.com). Information and devices are available at the Ashland Springs Hotel.

Set aside an afternoon to check out Ashland’s numerous art galleries and artist cooperatives.

My favorite place to shop: Paddington Station.

A couple other theatrical alternatives in Ashland are: Oregon Caberet Theatre and Oregon Stage Works.

c) My fav side trips are the Britt Music Festival (June-September) in the neighboring community of Jacksonville (a tour of the town is worthwhile as well) & a day long white water rafting trip on the Klamath with Noah’s Adventures. Be sure to check out their farmer’s market, local wineries such as Cow’s Horn, Weisingers and Edenvale. Consider taking a hike along the Pacific Crest Scenic Trail from Grouse Gap to the Forest Boundary

8) Mt. Shasta City

a) My fav places to stay: Stewart’s Hot Springs or Lake Shasta Resort.

b) My fav places to eat are Lily’s Cafe, Trinity Cafe or Deli at Berryvale Grocery Store

c) Fav things to do is go mountain biking and/or hiking near Lake Siskiyou, Heart Lake, on the cliffs above Castle Lake and Dunsmuir Falls. I love spending a morning or afternoon alternately sitting in the wood burning sauna at Stewart’s hot springs and dunking myself in the adjacent river. I hope to attend a sweat lodge ceremony there someday which are usually on Friday nights. Be sure to fill up your water bottles from the springs in Mt. Shasta City Park.

My Flight Got Canceled!
My Favorite U.S. and Canadian Destinations
Any advice on traveling with pets?
Tips for traveling with your pet

As hotels and airlines begin to cater more to our four-legged friends, many people are starting to enjoy the benefits of traveling with a pet. Some hotels go as far as pampering our animals with personalized beds and gourmet treats with turndown service. And several airlines even offer frequent flyer miles for the dog or cat who’s always on the go. However, before you start planning a vacation, it’s important to prepare you and your pet for the road ahead.

Know before you go

The first step in planning a trip with your animal is considering what’s in it for him or her. Oftentimes, it’s more practical to hire a sitter or board your pet, so you want to be certain that he or she is going to get just as much enjoyment out of the journey as you will.

Once you’ve decided to bring your pet along, you need to think about safety. While packing extra food, water (ice cubes work wonders), and favorite toys, it’s wise to take a minute to locate the closest veterinarian to where you’ll be staying. Healthy pet is an excellent resource, and is part of the American Animal Hospital Association. In just a few clicks, you can print off a list of doctors and directions to have handy in case of an emergency. It’s also a good idea to pack a basic first-aid kit for any journey.

Make sure you have a current ID tag with your pet at all times. Microchips are also a safe and secure way of keeping track of your pet, especially for those traveling to a foreign country. Pack a few extra color photos in the event that you get separated.

Before any big trip, by flight or car, it’s important to familiarize your pet with its kennel, carrying case, or car seat. Start by introducing the animal to it for short periods, and then slowly increase the amount of time for each session. If flying, make sure your pet’s kennel is up to standard, is accepted by the airline, and fits your pet comfortably.

Most pets rely on routine, so it’s important to keep things as normal as possible. Robert D. “Jake” Tedaldi, D.V.M., winner of Boston Magazine’s 2006 “Best of Boston” award for veterinarian, recommends “Try[ing] to make the arrangements and transitions as stress-free as possible by attempting to reproduce the living experience your animal is already accustomed to.” For instance, keeping a regular feeding and walking schedule wherever you go will help your pet feel more secure. It’s also comforting for the animal to have familiar items such as a favorite toy or blanket.

Doctor’s Visit

A doctor’s visit is imperative before any big trip. Make sure your pet is up-to-date with vaccinations, especially rabies, as they are legally required everywhere you go. Let your doctor know your destination, duration, and means of transportation to help them know the best way to keep your pet healthy.

A veterinarian may recommend sedation for a longer trip, especially for an animal that’s anxious or aggressive. If you decide to sedate your pet, Dr. Tedaldi recommends, “Tak[ing] any sedatives you’re planning to use on your pet for a ‘test drive.'” That is, try the sedative well in advance when you have the time to observe your pet’s full response to the medication. He adds, “This way you’ll know what to expect when the day arrives. Everyone, including your pet will be less stressed as a result.” In addition to a veterinarian’s recommendations, it’s wise to do your own research before making any final decisions.

For domestic flights, most airlines require a health certificate acquired within the previous ten days. For international flights, it’s wise to make an appointment with a doctor six months in advance, as different countries have different restrictions and requirements. Keep copies of your pet’s records and an extra photo of your pet with you in a safe place while traveling.

Airplane Travel

The first step toward ensuring a comfortable flight is in the booking process, especially since many airlines have special requirements, and some don’t even accept pets. Several airlines have also implemented a pet embargo that restricts animals from flying in cargo during extreme temperatures (over 85 degrees or less than 35 degrees). For instance, Delta Airlines will not allow animals to fly in cargo from May 15 through September 15. Before booking any flights, be certain the airline has no special restrictions that will prevent your pet from flying. Also, consider booking a nonstop flight versus one with several layovers. This may be more expensive, but it’s a lot safer and less stressful for you and your pet.

Reservations are required for both cargo and carry-on passengers. Smaller pets (weight varies by airline) are allowed as carry-on, and are required to remain in his or her airline-approved case under the seat in front of you for the duration of the flight. Many airlines only allow a certain number of animals in the cabin, so be certain your pet has a guaranteed place with you before you fly. Larger pets are required to fly in the cargo hold. If you’re traveling with an animal in cargo, alert flight attendants, so they’ll know who to grab first in case of an emergency. Be prepared to pay extra when flying with your pet, as many airlines charge a fee for each way, which can be up to as much as $80. Check with your airline for its specific rates and procedures.

Depending on the duration of the flight, many vets recommend withholding food six hours before departure and water two hours prior to take-off. It’s also wise to exercise pets before putting them in their crates. Place a visible tag with your pet’s name and emergency contact information on the side of its carrying case.

Border Crossing

When taking a trip to Canada or Mexico, it’s always important to familiarize yourself with the most current requirements for pet transport. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the procedures, contact the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency before hitting the road.

A valid rabies certificate is mandatory for crossing both borders, but Mexico also requires a health certificate issued within the last 72 hours. The pet may be inspected at either border for illness, but it’s merely a formality and patience goes a long way. To return to the United States, pets over three months old must have a valid rabies certificate issued at least 30 days prior to travel. Pets are allowed on most ferries, but many require animals remain on vehicle decks or in a carrier at all times.

It’s a good idea to bring extra unopened cans or bags of food. It’s not uncommon for opened food to be discarded upon entrance, and it may not be so easy to replace immediately. On a recent trip to Victoria, British Columbia, my mother, Victoria Hamman, had her pet food confiscated by U.S. Customs. She said, “I’m sorry we didn’t bring two smaller containers instead of one large one, because we had to search for a place to buy dog food once we arrived in Port Angeles later that night.”

Hotels and camping

Finding pet-friendly accommodations is becoming easier, but it still requires a little prior planning. Make sure your chosen hotel accepts the size and type of pet you’re bringing. Be aware that some hotels may charge an additional fee for your pet, so be sure to speak to the hotel directly to avoid any extra charges. Find pet-positive lodging through one of these helpful websites: Pets Welcome, Pet Friendly Travel, Best Pet Friendly Hotels, and Trips with Pets. On each site, you can search by exact location, and many offer lodging discounts.

For a place to stay on short notice, stop at one of these hotels known for welcoming pets: Red Roof Inn, Motel 6, or Days Inn. For a more luxurious experience, stay at one of the many Kimpton Hotels located across the country. Each hotel welcomes your pet as if he or she is a VIP guest, and many have special programs tailored for the two of you.

Another option for lodging along the road is staying at a KOA Campground. For a little less than a hotel, the campgrounds offer a fun retreat for you and your pet. If you decide to camp, be sure to talk to your vet about fleas, ticks, and other creepy crawlies you might want to vaccinate against. Also, be considerate of other campers by keeping your pet with you at all times.

Traveling with your pet should be an enriching experience, not a stressful one. By following the previous tips and preparing yourself for the unexpected, you will learn to enjoy taking him or her with you wherever you go.

From frommers.com

How can I be a great world citizen?
Be humble.

Refrain from lecturing.

Be quiet and dial it down.

Dress for respect.

Leave the slang at home.

Listen as much as you talk.

Respect other people’s religion

Learn the basics of the language of the country you are visiting.

(from Pathfinders Travel Magazine 7/2008)

Tell me about home exchange
In a home exchange, two households swap homes. The company I usually use is Intervac.com. In a hospitality exchange someone hosts you in their home, and in return, you host them in yours later on. (www.hospitalityclub.com) In a cultural exchange you stay in someone’s home and teach them about your culture or your language. (usservas.org) These kinds of exchanges are usually free of charge. For small fees ($25 to $100) you can join networks that help you locate prospective swappers. Other networks like www.couchsurfing.com are free of charge. For a list of over 20 home/hospitality groups, visit the home exchange section of the “favorite links” area of this website.