I am location defined living in Philadelphia but on December 5th I jet off again for the world. What was supposed to be a quick four day press trip to Panama has become a rather long 35 day work and leisure trip in Panama, Ecuador, California, and Nevada. I have been back in Philly since October 1st after a month long press trip in Mexico and with the cold weather becoming even worse, I am ready for a temporary escape to warmer pastures.
Losing my travel virginity in 2007 in Ecuador
First up is Panama
, which I first visited with my buddy Josh last June for three weeks. We had a pretty great time but the country itself seems to offer very little.
Josh and I with midday drinks in Bocas del Toro, Panama
I would not be going back but I was invited on an all expenses paid trip with airfare included. How could I say no to that? Press trips were my ultimate career goal and now they seem to be happening on a rather consistent basis thanks to my writing on other websites like UnfinishedMan
and GoBackpacking.com in the near future. Not only that, but very soon I have a meeting with a business to potentially start getting paid four figures to go on all-expenses paid international press trips. Until then, the press trips are a mere hobby while I earn money indirectly from travel writing by selling advertising. Remember how I sold out this site
? Life has only gotten better since I stopped writing regularly about my personal life and travels on this blog. I wish I had the motivation to tell all but there are to many other important I like to do in my spare time.
I will be traveling on December 5th from Philadelphia to Panama City, Panama on American Airlines to the Westin Playa Bonita resort in Panama City. The Westin opened for the first time last January and I am told their spa finally opens in January. I assume that means I will get to hang out in the spa a bunch if they felt the need to tell me about it! I’ll be trying the resort’s seven restaurants and living like a king while the P.R. peeps bend over backwards to my wishes and the hotel staff treat me like “travel writer” I am. I expect chocolates on my bed and towels shaped like swans every time I return to my room. I am also told we will spend time at the Panama Canal, venture into both Casco Viejo (the old town) and Panama City, and probably visit either Monkey Island or the Embera Indian village. So i’ll have a full schedule, peppered with some big chunks of down time to enjoy the property and all it offers. I could honestly care less about Panama but am psyched for tropical weather and resort style luxury.
Since my flight is covered to Panama I figured I would visit some friends in nearby Ecuador
on December 8th, making it my third visit to the country since 2007 (my first solo trip by the way). I met a friend from Ecuador in Philadelphia before my Mexico trip in August.
Living it up in Mexico during August on my first round of press trips
Now is the perfect time to go visit since she will have vacation time like the rest of the world in December. We will meet in Quito and stay at her cousin’s apartment for the first weekend.
New Ecuadorian friends during a night out in Philly
Another good friend lives in Quito and so i’ll get to hang out with her too during the weekend and stay for a few extra days in Quito if she is able to take vacation time. I met this friend when studying a semester in Argentina
My semester in Argentina in one photo
Since then I have visited her in Quito for my birthday
back in 2010 and she visited me in Medellin in 2011 when I was still living there.
22nd Birthday out in Quito
After Quito I am supposed to visit the first friend’s (Philly) farm somewhere in the jungle. I have no idea what to expect here but apparently its a big business with 100+ farmers taking care of a lot of jungle to produce fruits supplied to the country’s biggest supermarket chain. After that a bunch of her friend and I will rent a bus and drive to Montanita
, a cheap backpacker beach resort for a weekend and more of partying.
On December 19th I fly back to Philadelphia via Guayaquil, Panama City, and Miami. I’ll rest one day back at home and regroup for my next trip to California joined by my travel buddy from Switzerland. We first met in Medellin and have kept in touch since.
Swiss friend and I in Bucaramanga, Colombia
He stayed with me in my apartment in London
for a few days when he visited last year. We both arrive to San Francisco on December 2st with plans to rent a car and hit up Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Diego, Tijuana, and lots of places in between. I’ll also be working with P.R. companies to get a lot of free crap to make the trip even more random. For instance, I already got an invite to the usual theme parks, vineyards, and my personal favorite House of Air
! I’ll fly back to Philadelphia on January 8th and end my travels there until the next opportunity comes along. On a side note, I think I could have visited about a 100 countries by now but I keep returning to the same places over and over again, and stay awhile. It’s much better this way because after even just a few countries a lot starts to blend together and what any travel remembers most are the people he or she met. Hence, i’ll be traveling to spend time with friends and make new ones for the most part.
I’d invite you to read about my journey but in all likelihood the last thing I will want to do is write. I won’t be working either for the most part. Business is on autopilot with two full-time employees
staying back in the U.S. to manage it all. But still, you can at least follow along a bit on UnfinishedMan for Panama and GoBackpacking for California. And if you happen to live somewhere in California and want to show us around, send me an email