Where Am I Headed in 2016?

With a new year, comes the opportunity to go places you've never gone and do things you've never done.  Don't enter into the new year without mapping out your travel schedule and making plans for your vacation days.  At least get started with Quarter 1!  So here's what I have for the year:

Confirmed Travel 


I'm hitting the ground running in 2016 and will be spending 2 months in Zambia.  While there, I'll be mostly working but plan to explore as much of the capital, Lusaka, as I can. I'll also be taking at least one weekend trip to Victoria Falls.  Approximately twice the height of Niagara Falls, Victoria Falls is bordered by both Zambia and Zimbabwe.  

Photo Credit: Wikipedia 


I'll be heading to Curacao for a long weekend, thanks to a free trip I won at an event from Diamond PR! I loved Curacao when I went in December 2014, so I look forward to my return.  And you can't beat a free trip!

Photo Credit: Ashlee Tuck

Finger Lakes, New York

In April, I am headed to Finger Lakes, New York to take a tour of the Corning Museum of Glass and various wineries.  Finger Lakes is New York's largest wine producing region.  It should be a wine lover's heaven!

Photo Credit: Huffington Post

Mediterranean Cruise: Spain, France & Italy

I'll be taking a cruise around the Mediterranean with my family and some friends later in the year. We'll be cruising on Royal Caribbean's newest ship, Harmony of the Seas, to Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, Marseilles, Florence/Pisa, Rome and Naples.  I've never been to Spain but have been to France and Italy.  Needless to say, my appetite anxiously awaits all of the amazing meals I'll have.

Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean

Travel Wish List

Napa Valley

In May (my birthday month), I have my sights set on Napa Valley and possibly a road trip down the coast to L.A. and/or San Diego.  I've heard great things about all three places and one of my long-term goals is to do more domestic travel.  

Photo Credit: Trip Advisor


The rest of the year is up for grabs, but with fare glitches and cheap flights, I see Colombia in my future.  I hear Cartagena has beautiful beaches and as you know, the beach is my happy place.

Photo Credit: Andrea Williams


Simply put, London was amazing.  I loved it way more than I thought I would, and it deserves more than just 3 days of my time.  If I go back, it'll definitely be for a week or more.  


I put Thailand on my wish list last year.  I didn't make it but hopefully it'll come to fruition this year. Doesn't this beach look amazing?

Photo Credit: Huffington Post

So where are you headed in 2016? Be sure to set your intentions and follow through with your plans.  Don't let your vacation days go to waste!

3 Days in the ‘Soul of Asia’: Seoul, Korea

I had never been to East Asia, and since work took me to Central Asia, I figured I would take the long way back around the globe to see my brother in Seoul. I caught a flight on Etihad Airlines via Abu Dhabi and arrived in Seoul refreshed and ready to see why many call this the “Soul of Asia.”

Seoul is a sprawling metropolis located on the Han River. The city is divided into many gu, or districts, which contain several dong, or neighborhoods. My brother lives in Bangi-dong in Songpa-gu, just steps from Olympic Park and Lotte World Mall and Tower, which, when completed will be the fourth-tallest building in the world. Lotte World Mall boasts the largest indoor theme park with an adjoining luxury hotel, theaters, restaurants, and high-end shopping. In contrast to the gleaming and modern buildings just minutes away, the streets of Bangi-dong feature neighborhood markets and low-rise apartments.

Day 1

I arrived midday and we spent the afternoon exploring Olympic Park, where Seoul hosted the 1988 Summer Olympics. The park is an easy walk from Lotte and Jamsil Subway and features many trails, waterways, flowers, and contemporary sculpture. There is a history museum within the park that will give you a solid foundation of  Korea’s long and rich history.

Day 2

My first full day was spent visiting the Gyeongbokgung Palace. It was built in 1395 and is one of five grand palaces in Seoul. The pagoda-style roof and walled gates were a give-away that I was someplace special. We were lucky enough to enter the main gate to catch the changing of the guard with bright pennants, drums, and traditional instruments.  Through the back gate, you can catch a glimpse of the Blue House, the executive residence of the President, featuring traditional Korean architecture with sloping blue-tiled roof lines.

We continued our stroll up the steep steps to navigate the narrow alleys of Bukchon Hanok Village. Originally residences for high-ranking government officials, these traditional Korean houses sit high on a hill overlooking a modern downtown, and offer a glimpse into life in a 600-year-old urban environment. When we came down to the bottom of the hill, we meandered through an alley and had a traditional Korean lunch with dozens of plates of seafood, rice, kimchi, and pickled peculiarities while we sat on the floor.

Day 3

On my second day, we walked through several traditional markets and commercial neighborhoods, where “mom-and-pop” shops are grouped by trades. You can walk down one street that is all hardware, while another area is just musical instruments. The traditional covered outdoor markets are chock full of fresh and dried fish, kimchi, fresh produce, meats and traditional garb in bright colors—definitely worth walking through the cramped quarters to take in the sights, sounds, and smells.

While you’re there, try any of the many offerings from the food stalls with benches. We enjoyed mung bean pancakes hot from the fryer. Our drink of choice to wash them down was soju, which translates to “burn liquor” and is most akin to Korean vodka distilled from rice or sweet potato.

After the market, we took steps down below street level to the Cheonggyecheon. This is a recently restored stream that was previously covered by an elevated highway which has since been removed. It meanders from City Hall and eventually drains into the Yellow Sea. It is a great place to catch a break especially after the hustle and bustle of the market. There are many seating areas to watch passersby, and you can criss-cross the creek on stepping stones, or dip your feet into the cool water. Another nice treat to cool down was green tea bingsu, or shaved ice, which was big enough to share with several people.

In contrast to the traditional markets, you may want to visit the trendy Itaewon neighborhood. It offers international cuisine and well-known shops from brands around the world. While you’re there, be sure to take the cable car to the top of Namsan or Seoul Tower at dusk to see the city lights twinkling below you.

From the banks of the Han, to the top of Namsan Tower, Seoul is a vibrant, energetic, and pulsing place, good for your soul and your spirit. The soju didn’t hurt either!  I cannot wait to return for another glass and explore a new corner of this exciting city.

– Jami Rodgers

Photo Credit: Jami Rodgers