Going Places

Matthew Brumley is the founder of Earthbound Expeditions, which organizes group travel to destinations around the world for various clients, including KPLU. "Going Places" is our new weekly travel segment exploring all aspects of getting from Point A to Point B.

Todd Petit / Flickr

You’re looking to get away for a weekend, but the Fourth of July (or maybe the summer in general) kind of crept up on you. KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley says have no fear: There are still plenty of options.

First, this late in the game you'll need to be flexible. But there are some tricks you can use:

Steve Bennett / Flickr

Even before the 2010 earthquake that devastated its capital, Haiti was the scene of political unrest. There were government upheavals in 1991 and 2004. Americans are used to seeing those images on TV newscasts, and in newspapers.

But the country also has seen growth in tourism, says Wilbert Denis. He grew up in Haiti, and has watched as visitors arrived on the island.

Sights To See

Beaches are probably Haiti's biggest draw. Denis says Labadee is his favorite. "It's so vibrant," he said. Also check out St. Marc.

Plenty To Do In London, No Matter Your Age

Jun 18, 2015
Gary Bembridge / Flickr

The Going Places mailbag – OK, fine, it’s an e-mail inbox – brought us a nice note this week, from a listener with a pressing travel question.

Abe in Redmond writes: “I am taking my 11 and 13-year-old boys to London in August.... I am curious about the less-obvious places you like to visit in the city.”

KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley took his then-13-year-old son to London last summer, and he offered some advice:

Do It On Foot

Bologna A Window Into Italy's Food, Political Divide

Jun 11, 2015
Lorenzoclick / Flickr

Bologna is in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region. It’s famed for its food (Bolognese sauce anyone?) and is often considered one of Italy’s culinary centers.

“And yet there are hardly any tourists here,” says KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley. “You walk through Florence and it’s elbow to elbow. Same with Rome and Venice. But you come here and you get a little slice of real Italian life.”

It’s also a good jumping off point for short trips to other famous Italian locales.

Three Things You Might Not Know About Tour Guides

Jun 4, 2015
Earthbound Expeditions

If you’ve ever traveled abroad – especially with a group – you’ve probably met up with a local tour guide at your destination. KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley has been leading tours around the world for nearly 30 years. He says local guides are key experts that bring a lot of knowledge to a trip. But there are other layers of guiding that happen behind the scenes. Here are three things you might not know:

Mark Reed

It does seem like a lot of effort simply to find a good camping spot. 

KPLU’s Ashley Gross takes flight in a home-built airplane and hears from a Seattle family that would rather be on an air-bound adventure than be too comfortable at home.  Read and listen to the story on Quirksee.org

Don Wilson / Port of Seattle

Travel over long distances can wear you out. As anyone who’s flown a great distance can tell you, the sudden change in time zones can wreak havoc on your body. KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley has been almost every continent on the planet, and has a lot of experience fighting off jet lag. Here's his advice:

Before The Trip

Exercise more. If you’re already pretty active, keep it up. If you’re kind of sedentary, maybe take a few more walks. You don’t need to get “in shape” before a flight, of course, but it helps to be more alert.

Ed Ronco / KPLU

Travel brochures and websites can often paint a picture of an “authentic” experience in a foreign country. But KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley says so often, what people consider an “authentic” is far from real.

Cultures are changing, especially in Europe. Travel advertisements often show you a romanticized version of what you’ll actually experience.

“They’re selling you the cliché of a country – the little boy walking down the street with a French baguette, and the two people playing bocce ball in Italy,” Brumley said. “It’s getting harder to find that.”

James Melzer / Flickr

Summertime means the height of tourist season for many destinations in the northern hemisphere. That can mean big crowds at museums and other popular sites.

But KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley says there are ways to avoid the crowds.

Off-Season Travel

The dead of winter is a great time to see Europe, but anytime between October through March should work, Brumley said. The weather isn’t as nice, of course, but if you’re planning mostly indoor activities, what’s the difference?

Heribert Pohl / Flickr

When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, Leipzig, Germany, was in economic ruin.

“They had an unemployment rate here in the mid-1990s of over 25 percent,” he said. “Now they’re under 5 percent.”

And it's gaining a reputation as "The New Berlin." Porsche, BMW and DHL all have major operations there now. And this city of more than 500,000 people is becoming a new center for art, music, and tourism.

Johannes Gaebler is a tour guide in Germany. He’s originally from Berlin, and was first in Leipzig in the early 1990s, not long after Germany was reunified.

Belgium Is About Blending In, Relaxing Like A Local

Apr 30, 2015
Antwerpen Toerisme & Congres / Flickr

  France, Germany and the Netherlands draw millions of tourists every year. Nestled in between those countries (and Luxembourg) is Belgium. KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley says travelers who overlook this country miss out on an important part of European history and culture.

Emigration Point

Antwerp’s harbor was where millions of Europeans said goodbye to their home continent. One of them was a German scientist who arrived in town, renounced his citizenship, and boarded a boat for the United States.

Daniel Peckham / Flickr

Amsterdam is the largest city in The Netherlands, and a hub for air travel in and out of Europe. KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley says there are similarities between western Washington and the Dutch capital.

“It’s a great city to get a bike and cruise around,” Brumley said. “There are some phenomenal museums here, and some great architecture.”

Coffee Culture

Moyan Brenn / Flickr

One of the casualties of the global economic crisis late last decade was Iceland's economy. Unemployment soared, banks toppled and protests ensued.

And then came tourism.

It wasn’t a silver bullet, but it helped bring Iceland’s economy back from the brink. The island nation’s popularity among global travelers is on the rise.

This One Time In Sicily, And Other Travel Surprises

Apr 9, 2015
Ed Ronco / KPLU

Picture it: Sicily, 2012.

KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley is in Palermo, checking in to a B&B for the night. They tell him the room has low ceilings.

“And that’s OK,” he said. “I’m not a tall guy.”

Santiago Duarte / Flickr

Craig Holt knows coffee.

In 1997, he started the Seattle-based Atlas Coffee Importers. Now, he travels to do business in coffee-growing regions of the world. One of those places is Colombia, in South America.

3 Places To Visit In B.C., Far Away From Vancouver

Mar 26, 2015
Philip Stone

Last week, KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley highlighted a trip through British Columbia and along the Canadian Rockies, along the Alberta boundary. But the conversation was broad, and we thought it would be worthwhile to revisit B.C. and focus on some special places.

Ed Ronco / KPLU

So you want to get away for a summer vacation, but you'd rather not spend a fortune, and you'd rather not travel overseas. 

Head north, says KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley.

Mark Stevens / Flickr

For an escape to the American Southwest -- with its open deserts, dark skies, and peaceful solitude -- begin in bright, noisy and busy Las Vegas.

That's the advice of KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley, but only because flights to the nightlife hotspot are relatively inexpensive. You can stay if you want, of course, or you can strike out into the countryside for some of the most beautiful scenery available in the United States.

5 Things To Expect If You Ever Go To North Korea

Mar 5, 2015
Jon Chol Jin / AP

For Americans, an independent trip to North Korea can be a risky venture.

A Lynnwood man was just returned to the United States after being imprisoned there for more than a year. And the U.S. State Department strongly urges Americans not to go to North Korea. But it’s not off limits. Tour groups have been able to visit.

Ed Ronco / KPLU

Editor's Note: KPLU's Ed Ronco and travel expert Matthew Brumley spent a week in Cuba, along with approximately 30 KPLU listeners, at the beginning of February. This week's "Going Places" is a reflection on that trip, written by Ed Ronco.

The view from the north-facing windows of Havana's Hotel Nacional looks at Cuba's most famous sidewalk, the Malecon. Here, joggers dodge crashing waves from the Atlantic Ocean on stormy afternoons, and young couples walk quietly, hand-in-hand, during the breezy night. On the weekends, it's busy with people of all ages drinking rum, smoking cigars, talking, singing, laughing and dancing. It stretches five miles along the shore of this country's capital city.

5 Tips For Americans On Visiting Iran

Feb 19, 2015
Mohammadali F. / Flickr

Iran has long been on KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley's list of places to visit. He consulted tour guide Martin Klimenta of MIR Corporation about the value of traveling to the enormous Middle Eastern nation. 

Martin Sojka / Flickr

Editor's note: This week on Going Places, KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley sends a special guest in his place. 

Some 53 million people live in Myanmar (or, if you’re looking at an older map, “Burma”), in big cities and small towns, in the mountains and on the coast. The government is loosening its economic controls, and that has resulted in an influx of foreign money spent by visitors traveling from Asia, Europe and, more and more, North America.

5 Things To See In Chile And Argentina

Feb 5, 2015
alobos Life / Flickr

Travelers from the United States spend a lot of time abroad, mostly in Europe. Far fewer head to South America. You can get there from Seattle on American (via Dallas) or Delta (via Atlanta).

KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley has five things everyone should see and do in two South American countries: Chile and Argentina:

Nove foto de Firenze

Travelers to places outside the United States go for any number of reasons: To see a new culture, meet different people, speak another language, or even blend in to a new place far from home. Our travel expert Matthew Brumley says in most countries, there’s a way to do all of those things at once: Go to a sporting event.

Ed Ronco/KPLU

The website Skiplagged.com seems to offer a sure-fire way to find cheap airfare. But it’s also the target of a lawsuit, with claims that it creates unfair competition for airlines and other travel websites.

Ralph Daily / Flickr

The holidays are over and winter isn’t going away anytime soon. Naturally, it’s time to think about spring break, says KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley.

Where you go is up to you. But whether you’re traveling to the Caribbean, or just to the other side of the Cascades, the same advice holds.

Visit Southeast Alaska For Nature, History

Jan 8, 2015
Ed Ronco / KPLU

On the ferry ride into Alaska, the on-board interpreter will point out fjords and islands, whales, seals and plenty of statistics about the 49th state.

"If Alaska was cut in half," they're fond of saying, "Texas would be the third-largest state."

It could be a good year to travel abroad for two reasons.

First, the U.S. dollar is stronger against the Euro than at any time in the last four years. And it's climbing against other foreign currencies, too.

 

“As an American dollar holder, when you travel overseas, you're going to get a bigger bang for your buck,” said KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley. “I was just in Europe a week ago, and everything seems a little less expensive than it did a year or two ago.”

 

The other factor is dropping fuel prices, which hopefully will help ease airfares slightly.

Franklin Reyes / AP Photo

As U.S. moves to restore ties with Cuba, Americans will shed some of the travel restrictions that effectively put the country out of reach for 50 years, says KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley.

Emiliano/Flickr

Last week, we traveled along the Rhine River with KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley. We're farther downstream this week, in the Alsace region of France along the German border.

Owing to various conflicts and annexations through the years (including World War II), Alsatians have been under both French and German rule throughout history.

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