USA Today’s Best Budget Travel Blogger ~ Me?

by Beth Whitman (August 26th, 2014)

Best Budget Travel BloggerYes, I totally get the irony in the fact that I was nominated USA Today’s Best Budget Travel Blogger while traveling in Papua New Guinea, one of the most expensive countries on the planet.

And yes, I do hate these popularity contests that are really about driving traffic to a website (in this case USA Today, not linked here, purposefully).

But (snicker), I won. Which I think is just a hoot.

I’m pleased, actually, because it has nothing to do with me but everything to do with our dedicated Wanderlusters. You. Our website readers (60,000/month). Newsletter subscribers (nearly 10,000). Facebook friends and fans (nearly 10,000). And Twitter followers (more than 22,500).

You gals and guys rallied and voted multiple times (yes, that was legal) and made sure that when it counted most, Wanderlust and Lipstick ended up on top.

While it was my name on there, Wanderlust and Lipstick really is a group effort that includes our fantastic group of WanderBloggers and our support staff (THANK YOU Kristin, Kumiko Rissa and Rhoan).

And, really? I’m NOT a budget blogger.

My message has always been to inspire women to travel. To get out of their comfort zone and see the world. Sometimes that includes money saving tips. But first and foremost, I want ladies to take those first steps in traveling.

If winning a popularity contest helps to spread that message, then Yahoo!

Travel Well,

Beth

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Papua New Guinea-bound

by Beth Whitman (August 8th, 2014)

Beth Whitman Papua New GuineaAs I write this, I’m literally sitting at the airport getting ready to leave for Papua New Guinea to lead one of our WanderTours to the Mt. Hagen SingSing.

PNG is one of my very favorite destinations because it is so crazy diverse.

There are approximately 850 tribes in the country. The jungle terrain is so difficult to traverse that these tribes have traditionally stayed in their own communities, speaking their own language. This makes it difficult for them to converse in anything other than pidgin English (and not all know this language).

PNG is located on the eastern half of an island north of Australia with West Papua, Indonesia, inhabiting the other part of the island.

As for the Mt. Hagen SingSing, the festival we visit yearly, it attracts about 75 tribes from around the country who come to sing and dance. It’s a way for these often-warring tribes to come together in a friendly manner.

It’s nothing short of mesmerizing.

Papua New Guinea Sepik Sunset

In addition to the singsing, we also visit the Sepik River area in the north, where we stay in the home of a family that lives in a small village on the water.

Beth Whitman Huli Wigmeni

We also head off to very remote Tari, home of the Huli Wigmen (above). Very few tourists get to this part of the country so it is a very special occasion for all.

I’m sooooooo excited to be returning to PNG. It’s a short trip (about two weeks) but I’ll be offline for most of it as PNG is still not quite up to speed with either Internet or phone services. I usually get itchy to be connected but the truth is, it will be a nice break.

Travel Well,

Beth

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Smartwool Socks for Hiking ~ WanderGear Wednesday

by Beth Whitman (August 6th, 2014)

Smartwool Phd Heavy CalfLast time I attended the Outdoor Retailer Show in Salt Lake City, I got me a lesson in socks. My complaint to the vendors who manufacture socks was that my socks often fall down my calves. I always thought it was because my calves were so big and it stretched out the tops of the socks.

What I learned was that if the footing, specifically the heel, isn’t properly reinforced, the socks will slide into your shoe and pull down your calf. That bit of info took my sock buying to a whole new level. And yes, I did clear out the sock drawer and to get rid of those without heel reinforcement.

So, that brings me to my Smartwools. And more importantly, my Smartwool socks for hiking – ’cause I been doing a bit of that lately.

First, a word about Smartwool. These folks produce a huge variety of socks (as well as a line of clothes) for both active people and those not-so-active. If you’re used to purchasing your socks at Target, you’ll have a bit of sticker shock when you look at Smartwool prices. My suggestion would be for you to go to your nearest outdoor store and purchase a pair on sale (you can often find them for just over $10). Once you slip your foot into a pair of Smartwools, there’s no going back.

Why are they on my radar now? Well, I’ve been keeping an ongoing list of items I need to pack for the Snowman Trek. While my initial thought was, because I’m always a light packer, that I might only bring two pairs of socks, I was recently schooled in the fact that I NEED to change my socks every day, lest my Smartwool Saturnspherefeet get–and stay–wet causing a foot fungus. So, the hunt has been on for hiking socks that aren’t going to bug me by falling down my calves.

As I took stock of my sock drawer, I found that in addition to my fun, not-so-active socks like these >>> I also had amassed a small pile of socks for hiking.

Here are a few that I can recommend and that will likely be packed away in my ever-growing bag of stuff coming with me on the Snowman Trek.

PhD Heavy Over the Calf
These heavy-duty hikers (pictured at top), are made of Smartwool’s ReliaWool. This reinforced wool is located in the most highly worn areas so as to prevent them from wearing out (think: heel, toes). The PhD Heavy Over the Calf socks also include some ventilation so your feet have a chance to breathe and hopefully won’t get overheated.

Also, because these are heavy socks, they provide a nice cushioning. Great if you’re going to be pounding the trail for eight hours a day.

I plan to wear these on the coldest of days during the trek.

Available on the Smartwool site for about $27.

Smartwool Lite CrewHike Lite Crew
These crew socks are thinner than the PhD Heavy Over the Calf socks above. Maybe by about half. Even though they are thinner, like all Smartwools, they still stand up well on long hikes and have a soft cushioning which will make it easy to hike for long days and for days at a time. These have a reinforced sole that will (hopefully) still hold up by the end of the trek.

I plan to wear these (or similar) on most days during the trek.

Available on the Smartwool site for about $18.

PhD Snowboard Medium
These are very similar to the PhD Heavy Over the Calf socks but just a bit lighter and a lot more fun. :-) As best as I Smartwool PhD Snowboard Mediumcan tell, these have the same properties as the Over the Calf socks with the same ReliaWool for extra cushioning that will help prevent them from wearing out. They’re also ventilated so my feet won’t overheat. Being a tad thinner, I may experiment to determine which of my hiking boots will work best with these.

I plan to wear these on the coldest of trekking days.

Available on the Smartwool site for about $26.

Do you have favorite socks you can’t travel without?

Travel Well,

Beth

Disclosure: Smartwool sent provided these socks to me for review. Regardless, everything I have said in the post reflects my honest opinions.

 

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