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Quarantine Special Edition: Virtual Tours with The Tour Guy

Show Notes

In this episode, Bob sat down with Brandan Shaw, Co-Founder of one of Italy’s most popular tour companies, The Tour Guy (aka The Roman Guy). As COVID-19 began to spread through the Lombardy region in late January many tour companies, including The Tour Guy were overwhelmed with cancellations. Keeping a positive mindset during this historic health crisis has allowed The Tour Guy to remain focused on bringing valuable information on Italy to its guests with the opening of virtual tours for several cities throughout Italy and Europe. 



Show Notes

This week we spoke with Kirstie and Christine, a couple from New York City who are making progress on their goal of backpacking all around the world. Kirstie and Christine are hoping that by following their passion for traveling they can help inspire others, especially in the LGBT community, to do the same! 

Inside the Episode:   

  • Quit Your Job and Travel the World: a headline we’ve all seen over and over and sometimes brush off as being impossible. However, in Christine’s case she did just that and as she confidently states, “You know what, I can come back to this. It’s not going anywhere”. As we continue to interview travelers about taking this leap we have noticed a recurring theme...eventually you need to stop thinking about it and just GO. 
  • Kirstie and Christine’s travel style was actually very similar to ours where Kirstie just went with the flow (Elliot) and Christine did all the hard work of planning the trip (Bob). So,two things here: One, find yourself a travel buddy that compliments your strengths and two, Elliot and Kirstie need to pull some weight. 
  • Curious about how your favorite travelers get these incredible shots? So were we, and on this podcast Kirstie and Christine gave us the “behind the scenes” insight on how they get their astonishing photos!
  • We had an interesting conversation on cuisine differences between South East Asia and the US. Not only are the dishes culturally different but we all agreed that you can really taste and feel the differences in the ingredients used. The limited availability of outsourcing ingredients in these remote island nations lends to a much more satisfying and fresher meal. Where is the freshest meal you’ve ever had? 
  • Kirstie and Christine break down some of the cultural differences between the countries they visit and how these foreign cultures view their lifestyle. They’ve had varying experiences, where some cultures are more accepting (and less gawky) than others. One of their favorite experiences was the Philippines!
  • Kirstie and Christine’s passion for travel is fueled by their curiosity to seek the unknown, but more importantly to experience people. As Kirstie says, “That's the best part about travel”, and we couldn’t agree more. Think about it, what good is the food, the architecture, and the history without the people?
  • “I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone traveling who has come back a more narrow minded person”, Kirstie says. You can argue that being accepting of new cultures and/or people is what drives people to travel to begin with. So how can we, as travelers, preach travel to people who may not be inclined to venture outside of their “cultural comfort zone” in order to expand their understanding of human differences? 
  • Guinea pigs, two-foot long lizards, and fried scorpions.....We swapped cuisine stories with Christine and Kirstie who had the courage to try some interesting foods.
  • We were provided with insight on their travel experiences as they pertain to the impacts caused by global climate change. In the US, we have yet to suffer or feel any true impacts of this change in environment. As we hear in this clip, when you meet the people on the front lines of these impacts, it becomes obvious that this is a global issue, and one we all need to take seriously. Keep it in mind, and try to just do your small part in living a more sustainable life. It will make a difference.


TTB 079: The Global Travel Channel

Show Notes

Mark Philpott has been travelling all of his life. From the age of sixteen when he left his home country of New Zealand, his exploration of the world commenced and has never stopped. Mark has been fortunate enough to have traveled to every corner of this amazing planet, and has met many of it's incredible people, touched and smelled her unbelievable nature, and changed his life several times along the way.  

Inside the Episode:   

  • We started this conversation off just shooting the travel-ish with Mark, an incredibly experienced traveler, podcaster, and travel film maker from the breathtaking country of New Zealand. He actually sort of turned the tables on us and asked a ton of questions about who we are and why we started The Travelers Blueprint! A TTB first!
  • Saying Mark is well traveled is an understatement. He has been to 185 countries (and counting). Of course, we took the opportunity to pick his brain for travel advice.
  • As you just heard, travel doesn’t always fall in line with your itinerary. Mark shared this chaotic story about his fight for survival after suffering a venomous snake bite which directed our conversation to the not so popular travel topic of what to do when you are in a medical emergency!
  • Do you carry worldwide health insurance when you travel? Mark actually customized his travel insurance with his credit card company that allows him to get coverage specific to his travel lifestyle. 
  • Did you know that you may be voiding your travel insurance if you take certain flights in Africa? Or if you participate in extreme or adventurous activities while abroad? Mark enlightened us with information surrounding the travel insurance industry, and we are glad he did. 
  • Cruising as part of the Great Loop Boating Project where Mark plans to boat from Miami, up the Intercoastal Highway, into the Great Lakes, and then down the length of the Mississippi back into the gulf and docking back in Miami. This loop was news to us 
  • Mark is seeking young adults between the ages of 18-21 from anywhere in the world who are interested in joining him on his Documentary where he will sail The Great Loop and teach various technical, practical, and just general life skills while experiencing American cities, great American cuisine, and some of the most famous waterways in the world.


TTB 078: Evidence of Hope in Tanzania

Show Notes

Tasha Goldberg is a writer, reporter, video producer, and ethnobotanist. Tasha has travelled the world reporting at United Nations negotiations and events on the topic of sustainable development over the last decade. In 2004, Tasha founded Sustainable Solutions, a business consultancy designed to implement global strategic sustainability programs and maintain an active voice in the ongoing planetary dialogue of sustainable development. Tasha’s focus is on opportunities to empower indigenous communities, add value in natural ingredient supply chains, and cultivate carbon awareness.  

Inside the Episode:   

  • Tasha’s journey towards Sustainable Development led her into global politics as a reporter for the United Nations negotiations around Sustainable Development. This move allowed her to navigate towards her ultimate passion, understanding and solving the global over-consumption crisis.
  • Be sure to check out Tasha’s Evidence of Hope! A series of portraits featuring people and projects from around the world who are addressing global challenges, demonstrating the reason we should have hope for a sustainable future.
  • Rather than be someone who can advise people what they should do to be more sustainable, Tasha sought a path to continue learning herself by seeking the stories and people brave enough to look directly in the face of global challenges and create sustainable solutions.
  • Tasha was truly inspiring. Her motivations are inspired by her curiosity for those who do good, tend to the environment around them, and strive for inclusivity. She shared beautiful stories of her travels around the world in her journey to understand the world on a much deeper level than we were used to hearing. 
  • If you haven’t already, check out Tasha’s short film How Evidence of Hope and see how it creates a shareable experience of the concepts in sustainable development. As she mentions in this clip. 

Contact Info:

Her Website:

YouTube Video: 

Contributor for The Economist Intelligence Unit

Writer, Video Producer for Earth Negotiations Bulletin


TTB 077: January Travel Bites w/ Bob and Elliot

Show Notes

In this episode we discuss some of the recent travel related news we found interesting or relevant over the month of January. We break down our favorite different news articles, including: 

  • Before you travel we highly recommend checking out the US Department of State’s travel advisory. Although it does appear that Corona virus is a major concern for those hanging out in the US, please take these warnings seriously if you plan on visiting countries that may not have medical facilities to the standard of the US. Safe travels everyone!
  • The Australian wildfires are still burning in some areas. Although less severe than reported earlier this month, people are continuing to lose homes, land, and are attempting to recover what they can. If able, you can donate directly to this cause through the link in our IG profile. 
  • People are the worst. When you have to jump through hoops to visit attractions around the world, remember that all these regulations are put in place because of people like this. 
  • “We came out and we were playing, and the airplane was outside and we thought it was rain, but then we knew it was throwing gas on us, and everybody started to run,” one 11-year-old Park Avenue Elementary School sixth grader told the paper. “
  • Philly Philly. After being ranked among @natgeo top cities to visit in 2020, the Philly tourism board is ramping up efforts to attract visitors. However, the target demographic for these efforts wasn’t what we expected. Boomers are being eyed up by the tourism board as the ones most willing to spend their money around the city. 

Up This Month:

  1. Tasha, on sustainable travel and her experiences in remote regions of the world.
  2. Mark, on his travel experiences to 185 countries and his newest project of boating The Great American Loop
  3. Kirstie and Christine on their travels and experiences as part of the LGBTQ


TTB 076: Dark Skies: A Practical Guide to ASTROTOURISM

Show Notes

Valerie Stimac is a San Francisco Bay Area-based space tourism and travel writer. She began working with Lonely Planet in 2014, providing local content about Seattle and San Francisco. In 2019, her first book Dark Skies: A Practical Guide to Astrotourism was published by Lonely Planet, and she has also contributed to other Lonely Planet books including The Universe. Her love of space was inspired by growing up in Alaska, watching the northern lights, and seeing the Comet Hale-Bopp in 1997. While her professional career is focused on tourism rather than science, she's working to make space accessible and help more people travel to enjoy the night sky. 

Inside the Episode:   

  • As a travel author, Valerie’s interest in Astrotourism was sparked by her intrigue around seeking the “new and exciting”. She settled on Space Tourism and has created the ‘go to’ guide at for space tourism on Earth at
  • Valerie’s book opened our eyes in a profound way. As travelers, we are constantly looking for the awe inspiring, the new, the interesting, the unique. But most of us never think to look up at the stars and take in the spectacle that is the universe. 
  • Valerie was able to break down what Astrotourism is and how there are designated dark sky parks throughout the US (and the world). With views of the Milky Way, Auroras, and distant galaxies we are all able to enjoy under the right dark sky conditions. 
  • How can you have a conversation on outer space without nerding out, contemplating our existence, discussing the potential for lightspeed travel, they very thought provoking question of “what is time?”
  • City people rejoice! Dark Skies provides great insight on how you, the urban dweller can work around the light pollution in your city in order to have your own unique star gazing experience. Valerie was clear on a few tips you can implement in order to get a better view of the visible universe. 
  • One of our goals is to clearly see our galactic neighborhood, an extension of the Milky Way Galaxy. With Dark Skies, we learned that Cherry Spring State Park of Pennsylvania was a Designated Dark Sky location which can offer clear views of astronomical events, including...if the conditions are perfect...the Aurora Borealis.
  • We can obviously see the moon with the naked eye. However did you know that you could also see Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus with the naked eye. With good dark sky conditions for some of these planets and the right alignment you can “eye up” what may be a future home for our species (or so we hope)!
  • SPACE TOURISM in 2020! Fingers are crossed, and as we discussed companies like Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin have their tech prepped, their facilities built, and the logistics nailed down. What can you expect in 2020? Well, it seems like we may be at a minimum getting the opportunity to go on non-orbital space trips.


TTB 075: The Wild Indian Girl

Show Notes

Priya Mareedu, aka The Wild Indian Girl  was not content with the trappings of life’s status quo, she left the security of her law office to pursue modeling full-time. Despite signing with Seattle’s top agency and shooting campaigns for Fortune-500 companies and boutiques alike, her heart begged for something more. Priya’s longing led to wild places within which she could shoot—yielding a unique juxtaposition of beauty and grace contrasted by rugged open spaces. There she discovered the means to create scenes that were dynamic and captivating, though the experiences still felt like they were lacking depth. She hungered for more authenticity and a richness of experience that could only be found while fully engaged in the outdoors. So began her transition into the adventure lifestyle space. vacations. 

Inside the Episode:   

  • Who is the Wild Indian Girl? From Paralegal to fashion model to international adventurer and outdoor enthusiast, Priya took a leap of faith and climbed her out of the confines of her 9-5 as an absolute SAVAGE for travel!
  • Priya brings us through her hilarious transition from pageant girl to gritty outdoor enthusiast. From her first bout with brush cuts and bruises to the evolution of shoe shopping, it was quite the cultural transition.
  • Letting go of a set income, letting go of school, and into the abyss…. Priya has relied on her leap of faith and recommends that others follow suit. 
  • Priya reflects on the pressures of the beauty and modeling industry and the personal freedom she felt as she broke through that chapter of her life and into her new persona, The Wild Indian Girl. It was inspiring to hear, especially as you consider how many people focus more on the “what if I fail” rather than the “what if I make it”. We hope you learn something from this conversation and utilize it for your own life. 
  • It's not all sunshine and glamor for the Digital Nomad. As Priya tells us, leaving stability for a chance to see the world requires the ambition of a hustler with just as much time behind a computer screen in a hotel as spent on the summits of mountains. Cold emails, negotiating with travel agencies, and living on the fly. Just another day in the life of a traveler. 
  • “Get really comfortable with being uncomfortable” Priya says, in reference to what it’s like being a full time traveler. As you throw yourself into the awkward, unknown, and stressful - you will emerge with a newfound appreciation for your surroundings but more importantly for yourself. 


TTB 074: Award Travel 101

Show Notes

Jeffrey Brownson is the manager for AwardWallet’s social communities, including the ever-growing Facebook groups, Award Travel 101™, Travel Grumps 101, and Award Travel Singles Mingle. He also hosts the weekly Award Travel 101 Podcast. Jeff found his way to miles and points while researching a trip more than a decade ago, and has been hooked ever since. Over the years, he has taken his family all over the world, with his kids having already traveled to 6 continents and over 25 countries. From speaking at major conferences such as the Chicago Seminars and Frequent Traveler University to writing for several prominent travel sites, Jeff has proven himself to be one of the world’s foremost experts in the travel and loyalty program space. Jeff has visited over 50 countries and is always sure to try the local beers wherever he goes. When at home, he spends most of his spare time searching for open award seats and planning his next few vacations. 

Inside the Episode:   

  • Jeff dropped some serious information on how YOU can become a travel points/travel credit card master and travel the world free of the cost for airfare and accommodations. Listen for yourself and learn the ins and outs of manipulating the credit card system to your advantage. 
  • What are travel points? As Jeff explains, there are a few different types of travel points; including airline miles, fixed credit card points, and transferable points. 
  • The Chase Sapphire Preferred (CSP) is recognized among the travel points hackers as the go-to card for travelers just entering the travel points realm. Chase Ultimate Rewards can be used for airfare, hotels, car rentals, and tours making them very valuable to those who are constantly on the move!
  • Jeff, the manager for several travel points social media platform, including Award Travel 101 and AwardWallet, which are great resources for those looking to learn more with the opportunity to bounce ideas off of fellow travel point enthusiasts and plenty of material to educate yourself. 
  • Something we want everyone to consider before signing up for travel credit cards is that it is crucial that you are not in credit card debt and that you have the financial responsibility to make sure your credit cards are paid off every month. If you aren’t paying these cards off each month you will negate the rewards in the interest or late fees you pay. This travel hacking game is for those only capable of staying on top of their payments. 
  • What airline uses your home airport as a hub? That’s something to consider when signing up for an airline rewards card. For example, American Airlines flies a TON out of our home airport in Philadelphia. It was wise for us to sign up for the AA card to get the most flight availability and will see the most open rewards seats. 
  • This is a big deal: Make sure you hit your points reward! If you miss out on the, let’s say 50,000 point bonus you will not get the opportunity to earn it again. So, when applying for a travel rewards card make sure your have the capability to spend!


TTB 072: House Sitting w/ the House Sit Diva

Show Notes

Kelly Hayes-Raitt, aka the House Sit Diva, ran for public office and got her butt kicked 10 years ago. After a 30-year career as a political activist promoting social and environmental justice, she decided to take a sabbatical from politics and visited the Middle East several times where she worked with refugees. To finance her writing, she rents out her own home while she lives in other peoples’ homes, aka house sitting. She’s been housesitting full time since 2009 in the U.S., Mexico, United Kingdom., Germany, Denmark, Netherlands, Gibraltar, Vietnam, Cambodia, China, Singapore, Japan, Malaysia, Senegal, Malawi and Mozambique. She’s visited more than 60 countries, including pre- and post-U.S. invasion Iraq and has co-led delegations in Syria and India. Kelly provides a wealth of knowledge on house sitting and is a leading expert on the subject. 

Inside the Episode:   

  • Our episode with Kelly was JAM PACKED with logistical information on how YOU can become a house sitter and travel the world with free accommodations. Kelly has decades of experience seeing the world, and as aspiring world travelers, we were fortunate to have her on our show. 
  • In 2009 Kelly was house sitting for friends, watching pets, and enjoying her time sightseeing the country. What she didn’t realize is how this would snowball into an incredible journey house sitting around the world. 
  • The House Sit Diva is an advocate for @trustedhousesitter which allows you to form relationships with people around the world who need someone to help watch their house and/or pets. 
  • What we learned about house sitting is that a majority of these house sits are actually more like “pet sits”. One thing that Kelly really made clear was that if you volunteer to house sit, you need to be prepared to tend to their pet, ensuring their house is clean and managed, and anything else the owner may ask of you. You cannot look at these house sitting opportunities like you would an all inclusive resort. You are there to perform a service, not get in some R&R. 
  • Kelly literally wrote the book on housesitting, “How to Become a Housesitter”. A very useful tool in preparing anyone capable and/or willing to be a good housesitter!
  • Kelly provided us with impeccable insight on how anyone can become a global house sitter. From online booking platforms, to tips for managing someone’s home in a foriegn country, she spoke to us from years of valuable travel experience. 
  • Do you like to immerse yourself in the culture and daily life of your destination? Do you adopt the “slow travel” trend and become a temporary resident of the city you’re in? If so, housesitting is for you, where you can enjoy the luxury of living in a home while exploring a new city on your free time. 
  • Community is one of the things Kelly longs for as a world traveler. She tells us that over the years she learned to create her own sense of community on the road, building relationships and keeping in touch with the people she meets online.
  • Kelly presented profound stories from her travel experiences, including her heartfelt relationship with a young Iraqi girl at the beginning of the US led invasion of the country, and her experiences with Japanese school children and their perspective on the detonation of the atomic bomb during WWII. 


TTB 071: Great White Shark & Marine Research in South Africa

Show Notes

Dylan Irion is a marine scientist and Save Our Seas Foundation project leader working towards a PhD that aims to unravel the drivers of Great White Shark population dynamics in South Africa. He is a passionate free-diver and SCUBA diver, and he volunteers as a Sea Rescue crew member. When not researching sharks, Dylan is Course Director and co-founder of Cape RADD, an organization that seeks to train aspiring scientists, promote citizen science and campaign for a sustainable relationship with our oceans. 

Inside the Episode:   

  • The conversation with Dylan revolved a lot around Great White Sharks, his work studying these animals in South Africa, and the conservation of this species. We covered a lot in the hour or so conversation and hope you learn something new about White Sharks from our conversation!
  • According to Dylan, there is a pair of Orca’s off the coast of South Africa that appear to be preying upon the Great White Sharks in the area. More specifically, they’ve developed a taste for Great White Shark livers as several shark carcasses have been washing up on shore with a section of their stomach cavity missing. The sharks have smartened up and appear to have left the area, migrating away from waters that were notorious for shark sightings. Now Dylan is working to learn more.
  • Have you ever been to South Africa? It’s popular among travelers as one of the best locations in the world for Great White Shark sightings, including the infamous “seal island” in False Bay. This is where you see the aerial shark, as Great White Sharks breach the water at incredible speeds to put on one of nature's most spectacular displays. 
  • Dylan shares some intense moments of being in the water with Great White Sharks. He was one of the lucky ones, and as someone who studies these animals, Dylan is fully aware of the potential dangers of being so close to these massive predators. 
  • One of the defense mechanisms developed by seals off the coast of South Africa has been to travel in large groups. Should humans take on this method of self preservation while swimming in areas infested with sharks? Power in numbers, right? Just don't be the slowest swimmer...
  • Dylan didn’t always know that he wanted to become a marine biologist. What started off as a small trip to South Africa for a study abroad program, spiraled into his newfound career and set the course for his current schooling in the field. Now, his research brings him into some of the most biodiverse marine ecosystems in the world in an attempt to understand and ultimately build upon a more sustainable future. 
  • Dylan encourages any “Citizen Scientists” to join him on his research of marine wildlife and White Sharks off the coast of Africa. With the CapeRADD program you can take an opportunity to put your interest in these ecosystems to good use. Who knows, you may end up making a career out of it just as Dylan had 10 years ago.