Travel Free to Exotic Places

Have you ever dreamed about staying in one of those exotic over-water bungalows? In the South Pacific island of Bora Bora, my expansive, luxurious hut was on stilts over a crystal aqua lagoon looking across to the volcano on the mainland.

Want to snorkel? Just put on your mask and step down into water outside your door. If you’d like a bit more adrenaline in your adventure, head out to the reef to feed the sharks. Then follow it up with some up close and personal time with large stingrays.

Perhaps an old-school traditional ryokan guest house is more your style. I stayed in one in Osaka, Japan. I explored ancient shogun castles…sampled some amazing oriental food…and had a three-hour geisha makeover in nearby Kyoto.

What’s your favorite European country? Mine is Croatia. The stunning, medieval metropolis of Dubrovnik overlooks the azure Adriatic Sea. It’s easy to see why this city has mesmerized so many—ancient castles, red-roofed buildings, and narrow cobblestone streets run down to the bluest sea imaginable.

After my hosted stay in Dubrovnik, I was pampered on a 25-passenger sail around the stunning Dalmatian Islands off the coast of Croatia. I’d never even heard of Mjlet, Korcula, Hvar or Brac before, but these islands were breathtakingly gorgeous, rich with history and culture, and overflowing with exquisite food and wines. My cost? Zero dollars…not even euro or kuna.

Now, as for Mexico…it’s one of my favorite countries and one that I return to several times every year. I just never run out of new adventures to undertake and never tire of the fresh food.

I swam next to behemoth whale sharks off the coast of Isla Mujeres. I loved jumping into the cenotes near Tulum, zip lining in Puerto Vallarta, and climbing to the top of the Maya ruins near Merida.

In Chiapas, I spent an afternoon talking to the village children. I ate chocolate clams, octopus tentacles, and fried cockroaches with fresh guacamole in La Paz—and they were all good. I love the unspoiled charm of Huatulco so much that I’ve considered living there.

On Colombia‘s Caribbean coast, Cartagena is irresistible. It beckons travelers with its bohemian vibe and diversity of sights. There are 16th-century stone walls, forts, plazas, and palm-lined Caribbean beaches. The narrow cobblestone alleys of the Old Town are filled with colonial buildings with fuchsia bougainvillea spilling over iron balconies.

Across town you’ll find the stylish boutiques, art galleries, and vibrant nightlife of Bocagrande. Or just sit under an umbrella, sipping a Mojito on the crystalline, sugar-sand beach of Playa Blanca. This Colombian city has it all. It never gets old.

I have been traveling for more than four years, enjoying complimentary stays, treats, and adventures. Those things were my ticket to travel the world. If I hadn’t discovered travel writing, I would never have had the opportunities to see the world and experience so many different kinds of adventures.

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