Paris is the most visited city in the world for a reason.

You don’t need to have a plan or read a guide book before you go. You can just show up and wander the streets, surrounded by beauty: sweeping church buttresses, ornate storefronts, tree-lined streets, and the banks of the Seine. The city is the definition of romance, filled with lovers chatting close in candlelit cafes and artists showing their admiration for the city sketching its image from a window’s ledge. But Paris is so much more than a tradition of beauty and romance. …


Highway 1 is the dark line on the map that differentiates the Pacific Ocean from the West Coast of the United States. This iconic roads moves with the contours of the coast, dipping and curving into gullies and mounting cliff edges. The two lane highway runs through expansive farmland, tall Redwood forests, and winding river valleys. Traveling along its path, you can’t help but hum Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land”.

We spent 15 days on Highway 1, cycling from Pacific City, Oregon to San Francisco, California. It was our first bike tour and we quickly fell into a…


I’m one of these people who give 99% of myself to work, which translates to being incredibly efficient and organized in my professional life and a bit scattered in my personal life.

When traveling, this usually means looking up my online boarding pass while walking to security or trying to find the Air BnB address as we are hailing a cab at Arrivals. For years this scattered, take it minute by minute, traveling worked for us.

And then we had a baby. Trying to look up a confirmation number while holding a kid, juggling luggage, and figuring out where you…


I was lucky that my parents understood the value of travel. When I was 14 years old, my mom signed me up for an educational tour of Ireland and the United Kingdom. For weeks, I went to classes learning about British and Irish history, common foods and cultural norms in the two countries, and tips on how to travel overseas for the first time. The summer before high school, I boarded a plane with 40 other students and 4 chaperones and we flew to London.

Exploring the magic of the British Isles

For three weeks we stayed in hostels and homestays. We ate in pubs and carried…


Jacksonville Beach (and neighboring Neptune and Atlantic Beaches) have long stretches of white packed sand and deep blue waves. The sea oats sway in the breeze. Families, surfers, and sunbathers ride salt rusted bikes along the boardwalk, passing by old 1960s two-story hotels and small beach bungalows a few steps from the shore.

I’ve visited Jacksonville Beach several times: in the 90s when my older sister lived there for a minute, back in 2012 when my brother and sister-in-law were married in one of its historic hotels, and recently, when a close friend let us stay at her home to…


Dublin is quickly becoming one of my favorite cities.

With over 1 million people, it has the strong arts, diversity, and food scene you would find in a major capital city. But it is compact and walkable, with a section of cobbled streets, a river running through its center, and a beautiful city park.

My husband is from Ireland, so every year we take the transatlantic flight to his family home in Dublin. We spend most of our time walking along the stone beach, hiking in the Wicklow mountains, or cooking meals with the family to enjoy on the patio…


There is nothing like watching the Blue Ridge Mountains come into view as you drive towards Asheville, North Carolina.

You come over a hill and there they are at the horizon, slowly rising out of the mist and defining themselves against the sky with their shadowy shade of blue. The mountains are covered in a rich green that turns to a sunset in the Fall and a sea of Rhododendron in the summer.

I spent every summer and winter holiday in the shadow of those mountains. My grandmother and her family were raised in Montreat, a small village east of…


Granada is a city of color.

Its buildings are a rainbow of pastels that pop against the bright blue sky and rolling green hills that surround the town. The food, in the market and open-air cafes, is filled with vibrant hues; shiny red tomatoes, rich green avocados, and deep purple passion fruit with sunny yellow centers. Granada is a place that fills me with joy every time I think about it.

We spent two weeks traveling around Granada, Nicaragua for my 30th birthday. Our plans for trekking across the country were cut short when I caught my first-ever traveler’s stomach…


Florence is a city of warmth.

The buildings are painted in tones of muted gold, soft yellow, and subtle orange, colors best seen in the reflection of the Ponte Vecchio on the Arno river at sunset. The people value hospitality and community, greeting you on the street, striking up a conversation in a cafe, or welcoming you into their home for a meal. The food is soft and rich and warm in your belly, like the first bites of a crunchy, creamy Sfogliatine pastry or a fork full of pappardelle pasta.

After years of studying Latin in high school, my…


Dar Es Salaam is a big city, full of life and sounds.

Coming from the rolling green hills or the expansive plains or the sandy beaches in the other parts of Tanzania, it might feel a bit overwhelming. But as a city girl, I love its grittiness. Its slamming together of different cultures. Its people packed together trying to make it work.

The challenges of big city living make you appreciate the small things; like when you successful buy a bus ticket at the correct price or find an empty table in a garden cafe or hail a bajaji (tuk-tuk)…

Claire Thomas

Recounting memories, adventures, and lessons I’ve learned along the way.

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