Shiny Travel Objects: September 7, 2010

by Gray Cargill on September 7, 2010


Lucky--and shiny!--number 777

Welcome back to my formerly-weekly-now-monthly series, Shiny Travel Objects!  This is where I highlight my absolute favorite, loved-loved-loved it travel media over the past month.  Obviously, not everything can be included, since I read several dozen blogs weekly and there is a lot of great stuff out there.  Like other shiny objects in our lives, these are the ones that most grabbed my attention and lingered in my mind long after reading or viewing.

First off, I want to extend my deepest appreciation to my summer guest bloggers for their great posts here at  It was such a pleasure working with all of them.  I really enjoyed the diversity of content which can only come from opening up my blog to other people’s experiences and perspectives, and I hope you, my readers, enjoyed their writing as much as I did.  (If you are a writer and are interested in guest blogging for me, please contact me.)

Also during August, I launched my new blog for planning your solo Las Vegas vacation at The Vegas Solo. Please share it with all your Vegas-loving friends or anyone you know who is traveling to Las Vegas in the future. You can also follow my Vegas-related tweets on Twitter via VegasSolo.

Now, on to this month’s Shiny….First, let’s start with some articles about solo travel:

The amazingly talented Lauren Quinn wrote this brilliant piece for a well-known publication I will not name because I’m kind of pissed at them for not paying their travel writers in cold, hard cash despite the fact that they make millions of dollars each year:  Alone with Everybody: Why I Don’t Get Lonely When I Travel Solo.  In this article, Lauren basically says everything I wish I had been able to say about myself for the past two-and-a-half years I’ve been writing this blog, but for one reason or another, have not been able to formulate into words–let alone an article as beautifully well-written as this one.

Donna Hull of My Itchy Travel Feet pulled together a round-up of Baby Boomer Women Travel Advice: Going it Alone.  I was honored to be included amongst this group of experienced solo female travelers (despite the fact that I’m a couple of years shy of being a boomer myself).  There is a lot of good solo travel advice for women here, boomer or not, so do check it out.

These next two articles outline the less-than-pleasant side of travel, which I think doesn’t get nearly enough attention online.  I believe this is because it’s hard enough to convince people they need to travel, that we travel bloggers tend to turn a blind eye to the negatives.  I’m of the school of thought that says we should view things through clear glasses, not rose-colored ones.  Yes, there are dangers in traveling. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it.

Don’t Shoot! by Ben Lancaster of Amateurs in Africa is a gripping account of a truly horrific incident experienced by some travelers in Africa, involving sexual assault and corrupt police officers wielding AK47s.

When Travel Takes a Friend by Caroline Makepeace at Matador’s Brave New Traveler offers up the emotions felt when a friend dies during travel.

I wasn’t seeking to find articles that fit a theme this month, it just so happened that many of my favorite articles did.  Let’s just say August was a good month for airport stories.

So many people hate airports.  Not JoAnna Haugen of Kaleidoscopic Wandering who wrote For the Love of the Airport–a love I share.  I especially liked the imagery in the final paragraph.

Pam Mandel of Nerd’s Eye View opened up her blog again this August, as she did last year, to guest bloggers.  The one that caught my attention the most and stayed with me for a long time was Lessons from Seat 47A, written by Carlos Alcos of It starts out as many airplane encounters with seatmates do, but transforms into something much more poignant.

Speaking of airplane encounters, this one has to take the prize for weirdest flight ever:  Jodi Ettenberg‘s My Crazy Flight to the Dominican Republic at  Is it any wonder flight attendants go a little bonkers sometimes?

On Gadling,com, Andrew Evans writes of the Airport hotel hookup: A true story, in which  the author, in the course of people-watching, observes something between two of his fellow travelers. Hmm.

For the Disney fans, here are two great articles offering in-depth analysis of problems at Disney World that impact the guest experience:

The Big Problems With Walt Disney World by Matt Hochberg at makes note of how a lot of the “Disney magic” is being lost at Disney World and some reasons he believes are the root causes.

The Loss of the Leisure Suit by AJ Wolfe at The Disney Food Blog picks up on Matt’s theme and discusses specifically what is happening with the homogenization of food and drink menus across restaurants and bars at Disney World.

That’s it for this month.  I hope you enjoyed this roundup.  It will be back in October.

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Jodi Ettenberg September 13, 2010 at 2:51 pm

Thanks for including me! That flight was truly crazy, but definitely made the time on board fly, and made for a great story thereafter. Hope you have a great week. – Jodi

Pam Mandel September 10, 2010 at 10:09 pm

Oh my, such great links. I’ve been traveling and missed a lot of this stuff, including Andrew’s airport hookup tale, whew. Thanks for doing the work.

Anonymous September 12, 2010 at 7:49 pm

Wasn’t that a great tale? And you’re very welcome. I’d be reading these posts anyway, might as well share the riches.

Everywhereist September 8, 2010 at 4:08 pm

Gray – great roundup, and congratulations on a successful summer full of fantastic guest posters, and the launch of your new site. Though I usually travel with Rand, he’s so busy, I frequently feel like I’m traveling alone through a lot ofthe cities to which we go. Your posts and tips are always helpful to me, and I have no doubt that your new Vegas Solo site will be no different. Vegas is always a city that overwhelms me, but I think I can tackle it alone, now (though you’ll be with me in spirit!).

Thanks for all the knowledge you share, Gray! It is always appreciated. 🙂

Anonymous September 8, 2010 at 10:17 pm

Thank you for the kind words, Geraldine. Having read so many of your adventures, I’d have to agree with you. You ARE frequently a solo traveler–you get to wear that badge of honor. If you’re in Vegas, I’ll definitely be with you in spirit. (Or in person, if you like! Any excuse for a Vegas trip!) 🙂 And thanks again for your fabulous guest post on Hiking Alone last spring. I’m thinking about going for a solo hike as soon as the foliage hits peak this fall. 🙂

Donna Hull September 8, 2010 at 1:39 am

Thanks, Gray for adding your solo woman travel knowledge to the post at My Itchy Travel Feet. And now, you’ve introduced me to more reasons to spend my time reading about travel on the web. I can’t wait to check out all of the links that you’ve listed in this post. What a great idea.

Anonymous September 8, 2010 at 10:07 pm

My pleasure, Donna, I’m glad I’ve added to your reading list. 🙂

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