Check out some of the reviews I've written, on everything from small group tours to accommodation to travel books. Simply click on a title to see a drop-down list of related reviews.

[accordion] [item title=”Tours”]
Christmas Markets with Viking River Cruises: What's It Really Like?

If “visiting Christmas markets in Europe” is on your bucket list like it was on mine, then you might want to consider checking it off with the help of a river cruise. I went on a Christmas market-themed cruise down the Rhine with Viking River Cruises in December 2015, and this is what it was like.

Traveling Around Europe with Busabout (Hop-on, Hop-off)

Everything you could want to know about using Busabout's hop-on, hop-off bus service to travel around Western Europe.

Traveling in Vietnam with Intrepid Travel

Southeast Asia is popular with backpackers from all over the world, but if you want to experience it slightly differently, consider a tour like this one. With stops in places like Ha Long Bay, Hoi An, Saigon, and more, this is a great introduction to Vietnam, its history, its people, and its food.

Haggis Adventures' “Highland Fling” Tour

Last summer in Scotland, I signed on to a 5-day tour around the Scottish Highlands. The tour, operated by sexy, adventurous Haggis Adventures, took me to places like Loch Ness and the Isle of Skye on a tour that is seriously one of the best I have ever been on. Read all about it here.

Exploring Middle-Earth with Red Carpet Tours

If you're a Lord of the Rings fan at all and dream of visiting some of the iconic locations featured in Peter Jackson's film trilogy, this is the tour for you. This 2-week tour of New Zealand is one of the best tours I've ever been on! Only a mild amount of nerdiness required.

The Scottish Highlands with Highland Explorer Tours

Looking for a more low-key tour around the Highlands? I took my mom on this 3-day tour of the Highlands and the Isle of Skye, and it was *perfect* for us. We saw castles and lochs and some of the prettiest scenery. We also got to take a ferry from Skye and ride the Jacobite Steam Train.

Overlanding in Southern Africa: Everything You Need to Know

In 2016, I went on a 3-week overlanding adventure with Acacia Africa through South Africa, Namibia, and Botswana. Overlanding is one of the best ways to experience Africa without breaking your budget, and this trip was memorable in so many ways. Read this post to learn all about the overlanding experience.

Chasing Ice and Battling Mother Nature in Iceland with Goecco

A review of an adventure-filled two-day tour around southern Iceland with Goecco.

Hopping Around the Hebrides with Haggis Adventures

Haggis and its sister companies are my absolute favorite in Scotland, and this 5-day tour around the Highlands and Hebrides is an amazing value for money. Highlights include the Isle of Lewis and Harris and the Isle of Skye.

Ecuador on a Shoestring with Intrepid Travel

This 8-day tour of Ecuador is a fantastic introduction to South America. We visited Quito, went to the Equator, spent a night in the Amazon jungle, and got adventurous in Banos. And the best part? It's super affordable!

River Cruising: What's It Really Like?

Take a peek into the Black Sea Voyage with AmaWaterways to see what cruising down the Danube on a small ship is really like.

Intrepid Travel's “Explore Eastern Europe” Trip

Even wondered what it's like to travel with small-group tour company Intrepid? I took an 18-day tour with them through Eastern Europe, and tell you all about it in this post. Read on to learn about how you'll travel, who you'll travel with, where you'll stay, and what you'll do on this specific tour.

Highlights of Belize and Guatemala with Intrepid Travel

If Belize is on your bucket list, check out this short tour with Intrepid Travel in Central America. Highlights included seeing Mayan ruins in San Ignacio, chilling out on Caye Caulker, snorkeling with rays and sea turtles, and an overnight visit to the ruins of Tikal in Guatemala.

Greek Islands Tour with Intrepid Travel

Want to visit the Greek Islands but don't want to spend all your time on a boat? Consider this amazing 2-week trip with Intrepid, which includes visits to 5 islands in the Cyclades. If its beaches and amazing sunsets you're after, this is definitely a tour for you.

Cambodia with Intrepid Travel

If you're going to Southeast Asia, don't count out Cambodia. While I had mixed feelings about the country, I'm really glad I went. Phnom Penh and its Khmer Rouge history is important to see. The Angkor temples are incredible. And seeing how people live in the Cambodian countryside was sobering.

Exploring Russia with Viking River Cruises: The Highlights

Photo highlights from a 13-day river cruise from Moscow to St. Petersburg with Viking River Cruises. This was a GREAT cruise, and a perfect introduction to Russia.

Busabout's “Classic Balkan Trek” Trip

I gave Busabout a try in summer 2012, joining one of their Eastern Trekker trips through the Balkans. The trip covered 5 countries in 9 days. Read on to learn about my experience — the good and bad.

Day tour reviews:

[/item] [item title=”Food”]
Eating My Way Through New York City

The last time I was in NYC, I decided to explore a few of its most popular neighborhoods a little differently — through food. Read this review of a walking food tour through Little Italy and Chinatown with Ahoy! New York Food Tours. Just don't do it on an empty stomach.

Pizza, Pizza Everywhere — An Outing With Chicago Pizza Tours

Chicago is known for its deep dish pizza. But, on a tour of the city with new company Chicago Pizza tours, I learned that that's not the ONLY kind of delicious pizza in the Windy City.

Eating Hogtown: A Pork-Themed Tour of Toronto

Did you know that Toronto used to be known as “Hogtown,” or that Canada is the world's largest exporter of pork? I learned that and more on a fascinating (and beyond delicious) food tour of Toronto that focused solely on pork. From bacon to pulled pork to even maple-bacon taffy, this tour is the real deal.

Eating the East End

London's East End is really interesting culturally, with a long history that is often reflected in its food offerings. On this delicious tour of London's newest up-and-coming neighborhood, I ate everything from curry to bread pudding to a corned beef bagel. It was all tasty, and the tour itself was about so much more than just the food.

Eating My Way Through London's Soho 

Sister to the East End tour I mentioned above, this food tour with Eating London focuses on the lively Soho neighborhood of London. We tried everything from tacos to gin to jamon, and it was all delicious.

More food posts:

[/item] [item title=”Accommodation”]
Glamping at the Holmen Husky Lodge in Norway

Glamping, dog sledding, and Northern Lights – what more could you ask for?? This was one of my favorite experiences in Norway in the winter.

PLUS Hostels: A Hostel Chain That GETS It

While traveling around Europe for a month in 2013, I had the chance to stay at a bunch of hostels in the PLUS line. And, as someone who doesn't really *love* hostels, I was really surprised by these. Each property is unique, but each also pays attention to the sorts of things most travelers really care about. In the end, I decided that I could definitely stay at some of these hostels again — and definitely recommend the PLUS brand as a whole to my readers.

GoWithOh Apartment in Montmartre, Paris

Looking to feel like a local in Paris? Consider a holiday rental through GoWithOh. They offer apartments in lots of Paris neighborhoods — including the artsy Montmartre. Check out my apartment review (linked above), or read about my time in Montmartre here.

Local Living in London

While I enjoy trying out a variety of accommodation types when I travel, my favorite is probably the serviced apartment. Renting an apartment on the road can make you at least feel like you've got more of a “home” as opposed to just another place to sleep. I really fell in love with these apartments in Hammersmith the last time I was in London.

Living Like a Local in Reykjavik with @Roomorama

When I was in Iceland earlier this year, I tried out renting an apartment for the first time, as opposed to staying in a hotel or hostel. The verdict? I LOVED staying in an apartment! It was truly a home away from home, and this particular one was also in a fantastic location in downtown Reykjavik.

More accommodation reviews:

[/item] [item title=”Travel Gear”]
My Favorite Travel Gear Right Now: 2016

An updated gear list, including packing cubes, my go-to travel shoes, my favorite gadgets, and more.

A Peek Inside My Camera Bag: My Favorite Travel Photography Gear

This post highlights the gear that always comes with me when I'm on the road — including my favorite camera, a versatile tripod, my go-to GoPro gear, and more!

In-Flight Essentials to Make Long Flights Suck Less

Here's my list of must-haves for making long flights a little more bearable.

Traveling With an iPad as My Computer

Ever wonder if it's possible to replace your laptop or cheap netbook computer with an Apple iPad on the road? I gave it a try on a shot trip to Canada, and concluded that it can, indeed, be a viable option. While I wouldn't travel long-term with only an iPad, it's a good alternative to a heavy laptop on shorter jaunts.

Traveling With a Laptop: Macbook Air 11 vs. Dell XPS 13

Want to travel with a laptop but get the most bang for your buck when it comes to features and portability? Check out my very own Mac vs. PC debate.

Reviews of accessories for the female traveler:

[/item] [item title=”Travel Books”]
The Sex Lives of Cannibals — A Funny Romp

J. Maarten Troost writes about the two years he and his fiancee spent “adrift in the equatorial Pacific” in this humorous travel novel. The title is a bit misleading, as the book isn't really about cannibals or their sex lives. What the book is, however, is funny, irreverent, and unbelieveable at times. But, in the end, it's also a smart, wickedly entertaining read.

Eat Pray Love in 3 Paragraphs

After being fairly unimpressed by “Eat, Pray, Love” the movie (see review below), I decided to give the book a try. Many people told me it was better than the film — and I'm inclined to agree. But did I fall in love with the Liz Gilbert in the book? Read this short review to find out.

“Getting Out of Auto” Combats Travel Photo Envy

Wishing you could take amazing photos when you travel? It's actually easier than you probably think. In this fantastic photography e-book, Bethany Salvon explains in simple, understandable terms how you, too, can take awe-inspiring travel photos. I've never really understood concepts like aperture and HDR before browsing through this book. But Bethany breaks it all down in simple terms and makes it all seem very accessible. This book is definitely worth $10.

[/item] [item title=”Travel Movies”]
“Eat, Pray, Love” lacks… something

I hadn't read the book before going to see Liz Gilbert's story played out on the big screen by Julia Roberts. I had simply seen the colorful, frenetic previews that used a song by one of my favorite bands. I wanted to love this movie, but istead came away feeling rather… ambivalent about it. Something is missing, though I'm not sure if I can put my finger on what.

Movies to Inspire Travel

Movies — with their exotic backdrops and intriguing characters — can act as a pull to a specific destination or region of the world. Here are some movies that, over the years, have inspired me — in different ways and for different reasons — to travel. From “Amelie” to “Lord of the Rings,” these movies have given me a sense of wanderlust that makes me want to see all different parts of the world.

[/item] [item title=”Travel Sites/Apps”]

How I Used Skyscanner to Plan a Trip to the Baltics

Skyscanner is my go-to site for flight searches in Europe – but you can actually use the comparison site to plan an entire trip! Here's a look at how I used Skyscanner to plan a weeklong trip to Latvia and Lithuania.

Yonderbound: A New Way to Tackle Booking Travel Accommodation

When it comes to travel booking sites, Yonderbound is a little different. On the surface, it’s not a whole lot different from other booking sites — you do searches based on a location and dates, and then are shown all the results (either in a grid-list form, or on a map). But the difference is Yonderboxes. Read on to find out what they are and why they're so cool!

 TravelPony — A Social Way to Book Hotels

This travel start-up is really promising — low prices with no hidden fees that focuses on the social aspect of today's digital world. The site is streamlined and easy to use, and will probably give the big booking sites a run for their money once it gets off the ground.

Love Travel Photos? Try Trover

Trover is a social app halfway between Instagram and Pinterest. It's JUST for travel inspiration, and is a great place to go when you're planning a trip and looking for cool things to do/see.

[/item] [item title=”Misc.”]
How to Make the Most of a London Pass

If you're headed to London anytime soon and plan to play tourist for a few days, considering picking up a London Pass. This pass will save you quite a bit of money if you use it to visit multiple attractions (read the post to find out how, and to get suggestions for itineraries!).

[/item] [item title=”Smackdowns”]
New Zealand Smackdown: North Island vs. South Island

Having trouble deciding which of New Zealand's islands is best for you? Can't decide between the North and the South? Then check out this “smackdown” review, which details the strengths and weaknesses of each island, from the cities to the landscapes to the wildlife and everything in between. Of course, if you ask my opinion, you should make time to visit both!

Chicago Pizza Smackdown: Gino's East vs. Giordano's

You can’t go to Chicago without trying some of its famous deep dish pizza. It would be like a slight to the city. Like making rude gestures at it. Like a sin. In short, it would just be really bad. So, when I first decided I was going to visit the Windy City, “eating pizza” immediately was put on my list of must-do things. I decided to try out two of the places that seemed to come up the most in recommendations: Gino’s East and Giordano’s. Read this comparison review to find out which one I liked best!

Chicago Tower Smackdown: Willis Skydeck vs. Hancock Observatory

The Willis Tower’s “Skydeck Chicago” on the 103rd floor is easily Chicago’s most popular tourist attraction, drawing more than 1.3 million visitors per year to its 360-degree views. But, while the Skydeck is wildly popular, it actually has some competition a mile and a half away in the John Hancock Observatory. The 100-story John Hancock building boasts an Observatory similar to the Skydeck on its 94th floor, with views out over Lake Michigan and the city of Chicago. So which is better? Find out what I thought here.

Grand Canyon Smackdown: North Rim vs. South Rim

The Grand Canyon is one of the top tourist attractions in the United States — and rightly so. But many people only associate a visit to this natural wonder with large tourist crowds. However, it doesn't have to be that way! There is more to the Grand Canyon that just the popular South Rim. In this comparison post, find out how the well-known South Rim compares to the lesser-visited North Rim. It may help you decide which side of the Grand Canyon is right for you!

[/item] [/accordion]



7 Comments on “Reviews

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  1. Dear Amanda —

    I saw your clever post on how to put together a travel blog without traveling on Twitter and wanted to alert you to my Web site Overnight New York if you ever need a guest blog entry from New York City. My site is mainly hotel reviews — I’ve reviewed 86 hotels and counting since launching last fall — but I also do a twice weekly blog on news, culture, tips and other tidbits relating to NYC hotels that are of interest to visitors and locals alike. I’d be happy to put something together for your site.

    I once spent three weeks in New Zealand, btw. My husband and I were, in fact, tossed out of a hotel in Wellington. We were both there doing newspaper stories and wanted to extend our stay, but when a gigantic tour bus pulled in, we were told we had to leave. There wasn’t a room to be had in the entire city — had to fly to Auckland to get a room!

    All best,

    — Terry

    I love your review section! I totally agree with you on the movie Eat, Pray, Love and I’m definitely going to buy The Sex Lives of Cannibals!

      Thanks, Jessica! Glad you like this section! I need to work on adding some more to it…

    Hey, I really like the website and how well you’ve tailored your love of LOTR and NZ into it. Also, love the Smackdown idea 🙂 It seems like nothing gets people talking like a highly debated topic 😉

    Congrats on all the success!

      Thanks so much, Andy! I’m glad you like what I’ve done with my site — a lot of love and hard work has gone into it, that’s for sure!

      And yes, my “smackdowns” certainly have been popular!!

    Unfortunately, your view of the Vietnam War lacks the prospective of the Cold War era. Communism was (and is) a terrible thing. I won’t go into that. Books have been written about how terrible it was. Simply the United States was the only country that was in position to stop the spread of Communism throughout the world. We did it in Europe and n Asia. Your comments are the usual libel approach to the world and the United State’s attempt keep it some type of sane. When listing the terrible things that the US has done, people like you forget to list the good – stopping Hitler, Chinese aggression in Korea, Stalin’s communism, Muslim terrorist, etc. Unfortunately, the media described the Vietnam War as the war we lost. But our country stopped communism (study 1900 to 1960 Russian and Chinese communism). In 20013-15 I returned to Southeast Asia and visited Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. These countries are not communist, they are capitalistic. In Cambodia they use the US dollar as currency. (It’s a long story why). The soldiers who died in Vietnam and the men who returned to be spit on by SDS students were as brave as any that fought for the freedom of slaves, save Europe from Hitler, or died fighting the Chinese in Korea.
    I am proud to have been one of the men who served in a combat unit in Vietnam. I suggest you buy and read my book From Classrooms to Claymores:A Teacher at War in Vietnam _ Random House

      I thank you for your service, Ches, and for the comment. I unfortunately do indeed lack the perspective of the Cold War era since I was not born until the ’80s. I don’t pretend to know what it was like in the decades before that. All I can do (and indeed what I aim to do on this blog) is travel and share my *personal* experiences as honestly as possible. They won’t match the experience of every other person out there, but I can’t apologize for that, as they are my experiences, just as yours are your own, too.