by Angela Dollar - Travel with a Purpose
( January 16th, 2014 )

Departing the islands

Departures are an inevitable part of travel. Some departures are elating, and some are downright depressing. Many are a bittersweet cocktail of many emotions.

Today, I’m looking at one of those mixed-bag departures. It’s time for me to say adios to Wanderlust and Lipstick, and pack up my proverbial pencil. It feels melancholy to close such a great chapter in my traveling and writing life, but I’m also feeling very grateful and satisfied by it. In the nearly 7 years (!) that I’ve been a WanderBlogger, I’ve enjoyed some fantastic adventures and made some great connections. The experience has had all the hallmarks of a great voyage. But along with my reluctance to let go, I feel excited as to where the road ahead may lead me, and what new adventures await around the bend.

I’m at a moment of big/scary/wonderful personal transition, but I do remain a writer and traveler at heart, and I look forward to the time when I have room in my life to write again. You’ll be sure to see me online again at some point! I want to sincerely thank you – my reader – for taking part in Travel with a Purpose. I do hope our paths will cross again, and until then. . .


Enjoy the journey!


From our partners

La Casona de la Ronda: An Authentic Hideaway in the Heart of Old Quito

by Angela Dollar - Travel with a Purpose
( November 11th, 2013 )

Casona de la Ronda Quito entranceLa Casona de la Ronda is a heritage boutique hotel in an amazing location on Quito’s La Ronda – a beautiful pedestrian-only street in the Old City that comes alive in the evening. It’s in a gorgeous old colonial home that has been renovated with very creative touches making it cozy yet updated, traditional yet functional.

I came to La Casona de la Ronda after a run of muddy, adventurous days in the Amazon. Quito was in the midst of a seasonal downpour, and I entered through the old wooden gate like a bedraggled jungle rat. From the mCasona de la Ronda interior courtyardoment I walked in, I was greeted with warmth and felt that special thrill of knowing that I had found a travelers’ sanctuary: a place to rest and recharge, and a perfect springboard for my explorations of Quito’s historic center.

Entering my guest room, I was greeted by warm hues, lovely natural light and beautifully hand-carved furniture. The king-sized bed with its cozy down comforter cradled my road-weary bones, and I got the best nights’ sleep during my stay there of my whole time in Ecuador. Stepping into the well-appointed bathroom’s rain shower brought goosebumps of delight – the ultimate luxury to wash away the soggy layers of my adventuring.

La Casona de la Ronda guestroom

La Casona de la Ronda proved to be a great base to explore Quito’s old city on foot. It was the perfect point to set out from each day and wander the most captivating part of the city, with plenty of easy access to great restaurants and cafes, plazas for people-watching, historical buildings to admire and the city’s transit options, including the local bike-share fleet. As a solo female traveler, I loved being able to step out into the lively (and very safe) night scene of La Ronda without having to take a taxi.

Casona de la Ronda rooftop view

When I wanted to give my feet a rest, I loved coming back for some downtime at the hotel. I often took my travel journal and nice up of tea up to their very cool ‘mirador’ viewpoint room, accessed at the top of the hotel by a spiral staircase, to take in the amazing view of El Panecillo and the surrounding neighborhood.

Casona de la Ronda upper lounge

The interior courtyard features a very creative vertical garden – a 3-story green wall covered in over 150 Casona de la Ronda Quito verical gardenindigenous plant species. I also spent an evening in the main lounge by the fireplace, enjoying a tasting of local wines and cheese and practicing my remedial Spanish with the very kind doorman. I was impressed and very pleased to find water filtration stations on every floor to fill up my reusable bottle each morning before venturing out.

For an authentic, thoughtful and relaxing place to stay in the beating heart of Quito’s  Old Town, this is the place!

One thing to note: since La Casona de la Ronda is located on a pedestrian-only street, you will want to ask your taxi to drop you nearby, such as the Plaza Santa Domingo one block away.

Enjoy your stay!

From our partners

Gear Review: Ethnotek Messenger Bag

by Angela Dollar - Travel with a Purpose
( August 13th, 2013 )

EthnotekWhether it’s for work or for writing, I rarely travel without a laptop these days. And I know I’m not alone! Laptops are common companions for both business and pleasure travelers around the globe. When Ethnotek offered me the chance to test and review their Acaat Messenger Bag, my laptop and I were thrilled.

Ethnotek’s travel-friendly messenger bag first popped up on my radar last year, and I was immediately intrigued by their packs with a purpose. The Minnesota-based company began when founder Jake Orak discovered the gorgeous, intricately embroidered textiles of the hill tribes of Northern Vietnam and was inspired to share these treasures with the world. Jake and his crew began working with the village to support their rich textile traditions by providing a direct trade link to the world marketplace, giving  a sustainable voice to the local economy. And the results have certainly been impressive! Since Ethnotek’s original visit to the Cham Village in October 2011, they’ve been able to continually employ the villagers they work with, yielding the equivalent in fabric of 9 Eiffel Towers stacked on top of each other!

The Ethnotek bag that I received is the Vietnam 5 Messenger Bag.
Ethnotek Vietnam 5 Messenger Bag

The first thing you notice is the strikingly beautiful hand-woven outer panel. Ethnotek partners with villages Ethnotek THREAD panelsaround the world to produce these one-of-kind flaps, which Ethnotek calls a THREAD, for all their bags. Each THREAD is a handmade creation sourced directly from the artisans’ village. Mine’s from the original Cham Village in Vietnam. This is what really makes Ethnotek’s bags unique and sets them apart. But get this – the THREAD panel is detachable and inter-changable, so you can swap it out to change up your look and support another village!

Ethnotek has a Ralph Waldo Emerson quote on their website that sums it up perfectly, “Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.” Indeed, this is the thing I absolutely love the most about my Ethnotek bag – every day that I look at it, I’m reminded of my own travel memories in Southeast Asia and beyond, and it makes the bag feel like a reflection of who I am.

Gorgeous as it is, this baby is pretty sweet under the flap, too! My laptop rides along safe and snug in its own built-in sleeve, as you’ll find in most messenger bags, but this one doesn’t skimp on the rest of the space. If I’m going out for the day with my laptop, I’m definitely going to be carrying some other swag – a water bottle, camera, wallet and passport, snacks, book, maybe a sweater. There’s nothing I love more than not having to lug an extra purse along with me, because there’s plenty of room for everything else I want to carry in the bag too!

There’s also some very handy pockets for organizing the smaller stuff. Three sets of interior pockets are varying shapes and sizes for a menagerie of items. Velcro closure inner pockets are perfect for wrangling chargers and cords, a slender zip pocket is the perfect size for my journal and my phone—and even includes a few pen holsters. Snacks slide easily into open-topped pockets under the flap for easy access. This is awesome because itEthnotek bag loaded means that everything doesn’t merge into one lumpy mass in the middle of the bag as I’m walking around. And we travelers can appreciate the special zipper on the back that allows the bag to slide onto the handle of a wheeled carry-on.

It really has room for everything, and yet the Acaat Messenger Bag is not too big. I’m a fairly petite gal and loathe the feeling of being dwarfed by an outsized bag. And the shoulder strap? It’s super ergo. It snugs onto your body, and a second cross-strap  locks it in place, making it a true messenger bag – ready to hop on the bike! Ethnotek didn’t skimp on the shoulder strap padding, and for that I thank them. I’ve suffered from twisting, welt-inducing shoulder straps too many times before.

Ethnotek VaRuna rain coverAs a special bonus, I also got the VaRuna raincover. This custom-fit raincoat for my messenger bag is as essential here in the Pacific Northwest as it is in the monsoons of India. It packs quite small into its own bag, and gives my precious laptop instant protection whenever the clouds may part.

I never thought I could get so excited about something so utilitarian as a messenger bag, but Ethnotek’s doing a great job of making quality bags that tell a global story. Find yours at

From our partners
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