Sue is one half of Travel for Life Now, based in New York City and Singapore. She is a native New Yorker while her spouse Regina is from Singapore. They see the world in different ways and that influences where they go and how they write. They offer personal reflections on near and far away places with a humanistic world view, scattered with little known tidbits, out-of-the-way places, and historical background. Their trips range from popular venues to hidden treasures. They try to offer new ways of poking around and about their own back yards, country, and the world. Through their travels and writing, they like to understand the history and events–current and not-so-current–that have influenced how people see the world. They’re not afraid to pay for things to do, but they don’t like to break the bank.
TA: How many years have you been traveling? What got you hooked?
Sue: My first international trip was to Nicaragua when I was 24 (33 years ago). I was part of a gay/lesbian delegation to help build a school and to meet with gay/lesbian and women activists in Nicaragua. At that time, that was pretty radical on all accounts. We met wonderful people in Nicaragua. The lesbians and gay men we met shared stories of anti-gay violence and harassment. Many of the people that we met in the countryside, on the other hand, had never met a gay or lesbian person before. But we were still able to connect with everyone — gay or straight — through our shared commitment to building a better world. The ability to create relationships despite differences in culture, politics, and sexual orientation hooked me on travel. It is so important to go beyond the official stories reported by the newspapers and politicians.
TA: Do you specialize in a particular type of travel?
Sue: We travel as a couple, mostly independently. We have a special focus on street art, nature, temples and other religious and historic sites, food, and travel hacks. Geographically, our blog has a strong focus on the New York City area, Asia, and Europe. We do affordable luxury trips and soft adventure as well. We like to spend time in the off-the-tourist-map neighborhoods.
TA: What is the best vacation you’ve ever taken?
Sue: It’s hard to pick just one. Antarctica was my dream destination for decades. The stories of the Antarctic explorers (especially Sir Ernest Shackleton) taught me a lot. And, I love penguins. I had planned to go on my 50th birthday. Instead, I went last year (I was 56). I was able to go kayaking with penguins, whales, and seals and see a glacier calve from my kayak (from a safe distance). It was an amazing trip. That trip I did solo, but I usually travel with Regina. We have been to many countries in the past 20 years, and some destinations that stood out were Cuba (a gay tour), Angkor Wat, Tibet, Easter Island, Machu Picchu, Tanzania, the Sahara, Morocco, Egypt, and South Africa. (See, I told you I couldn’t pick one!)
TA: What is the most romantic place you’ve ever visited with a partner?
Sue: We went to Paris for our first Valentine’s Day — very magical. We had a picnic at the gardens in Versailles (yes, in February). We had the gardens all to ourselves. We had some brie and croissants from the hotel and wine.
TA: What is the most beautiful and affordable city you’ve ever visited?
Sue: Cusco in Peru is one of the most beautiful cities I have been. When we were there, it was very affordable in terms of food and lodging. Most people just stop in Cusco on the way to Machu Picchu, but Cusco is a destination, too. The cathedral, squares, and Inca sites are lovely.
TA: Which underrated destination deserves to be more famous?
Sue: The Atacama Desert in Chile has everything from geysers to salt flats to Moon Valley to observatories to see the stars. With its beautiful landscapes with soaring mountains in the background, it is a photographer’s dream. It deserves to be much higher on the list of places that people should go.
TA: What is one place you’ve always wanted to visit?
Sue: Antarctica is my dream destination. I’ve been once and hope to go again. The North Pole is next on my list.
TA: Which country has surprisingly good food?
Sue: We were traveling in China for three weeks. The food was so salty and oily, and we didn’t like it at all. Then we arrived in Tibet. The food was wonderful. Simple. Tasty. The momos and tsampa were very good and not oily. This was before the influx of Chinese into Tibet.
TA: What is the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten overseas?
Sue: Last week I had a worm omelet in Hanoi. It tasted pretty good.
TA: Where was the most unusual place you’ve ever stayed?
Sue: An ice hotel in Norway. The hotel was made of ice and had an ice bar. It was very beautiful, with ice carvings everywhere done by artists from Harbin, China. We slept in a room made of ice. It wasn’t so bad when we went to sleep, but it was freezing when we woke up. We had to walk very quickly (without slipping on the ice) to the sauna to warm up in the morning.
TA: Have you ever taken a class in a foreign country?
Sue: I’ve taken cooking classes in Hanoi, New Orleans, Chiang Mai, Laos, Oaxaca, and elsewhere. They are a great way to learn more about the food and local culture. These classes often involve a trip to a market as well.
TA: What is something other tourists do that drives you crazy?
Sue: Tourists can be unaware of their impact on other people and environments. Loud and rude tourists drive me crazy.
TA: What is one thing you ALWAYS pack when you travel?
Sue: I always pack several cameras — my iPhone, DSLR (now a mirrorless camera), underwater camera, and point-and-shoot.
TA: What is one travel scam travelers should be wary of?
Sue: Taxi drivers in Bangkok always tried to take us somewhere other than where we wanted to go. It got so annoying that we decided to take the boats everywhere and avoid the taxis.
TA: What is one way people can get the most out of their cruise experience?
Sue: Set up your own excursions prior to boarding the cruise ship. Make sure that you have enough time in the ports and are able to have knowledgeable guides.
TA: Is there something you think most travelers worry too much about?
Sue: Most travelers worry too much about seeing everything there is to see. They don’t take enough time to let it make an impact.
TA: What is the best piece of travel advice you’ve ever been given?
Sue: My mother said, “Just do it. See the world. There’s a whole wide world out there to experience.”
TA: If you could only give a traveler one piece of advice, what would it be?
Sue: Take time to meet people. We share the world with many cultures and ways of doing things. Let the place that you are visiting change how you see the world.
TA: What is one piece of advice you’d give to travelers your age?
Sue: I would recommend being adventurous. Go somewhere that’s out of your comfort zone and absorb the place. Let it affect you and how you think about your own world.