Vietnamese coffee, book recommendations, and a mentor who relives travel through his photos

Also, tropical paradise in a country with 1400+ islands

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Family pictures seemed to be a hit last week, so here’s another one. This is the three of us in downtown Pittsburgh. We moved back to Pittsburgh (our hometown) last year, and now live in a suburb just outside the city.

I’m going to start including a few personal recommendations in these posts. I learn so much from interviewing other travel experts, and that isn’t going to stop. But I’ll be sharing some of my travel knowledge as well.

🌎 Experience travel at home

We visited Vietnam in 2019, and still cannot stop talking about Vietnamese coffee. Vietnam is the second-ranked coffee-producing nation in the world. A traditional cup is a drip-style made using a metal filter called a phin. Best part, it’s easy to make at home.

Get a phin coffee starter kit here

A great video explaining how to make Vietnamese-style coffee.

📕 Summer beach reading

A Walk in the Woods

About Bill Bryson’s adventure hiking the Appalachian Trail, this book is informative and hilarious. It actually made me laugh out loud while reading. It tells the story of an unlikely duo and their quest to complete one of the world’s longest hikes. The book inspired me to hike more, and to appreciate the journey more than the distance traveled.

Get the book here

📧 Hit reply and send me your favorite books! I’m looking for a few new reads to take on our summer travels.


Your Travel Mentor: Jeff Warta

Jeff travels, not just to see things, but to experience the emotions that come with being outside his comfort zone in an unfamiliar place. He takes a ton of pictures, and relives the memories from his travels by turning his images into photo books. His bucket list currently includes places like Australia and South Africa.

Jeff’s favorite travel planning resources

Travel and Leisure - He uses this site for bucket-list inspiration and “best-of” lists.

Condé Nast Traveler - Their in-depth destination guides help Jeff plan his travel.

Travel Caffeine - This blog makes travel guides, and Jeff loves their impressive travel photos.

Jeff’s travel planning hacks

  • Search by location tags on Instagram to learn about your destination and find hidden gems. Try it now for your next trip! Just open Instagram and search for your destination. You’ll see all the images that were taken in that location.

  • Look for destination itineraries that are longer than your actual trip. You’ll get more suggestions than you need, but you can choose your favorites. Example: You’re traveling to New Orleans for a weekend. Your Google search could be “Itinerary for a week in New Orleans”.

Destination Spotlight: Thai Islands

When people say a place has “something for everyone”, it’s often exaggerated. Thailand may actually be one of those places. Travel to this Southeast Asian country and you’ll find cities filled with majestic temples, beaches with crystal clear water, mountains, rainforests, and jungles overflowing with wildlife.

Thailand has over 1400 islands. Jeff traveled there a few years ago (he was planning a trip back in 2020 that was unfortunately canceled), and spent a majority of his time on a few of these islands.

$10 for a massage on the beach, $25 per night for an oceanfront hotel,  $.25 beers, $5 for the most delicious food you’ve ever had. These are the Thai Islands.

Thai Island Itinerary

Phuket

Most travelers who have dreamed of the Thai islands have heard of arguably the most famous. This island (connected to the mainland by a bridge) is located on the western side of the country in the Andaman Sea. It’s a mecca for tourists, and you definitely won’t be alone on your tropical Phuket vacation. But the island is full of resorts, amazing Thai food, and it’s also a great jumping off point for some of the more remote islands like Ko Phi Phi and Ko Lanta.

Ko Sumui

A more remote island on the eastern side of the country in the Gulf of Thailand, Ko Sumui is the place to go for pristine, natural beauty. Beaches are everywhere along with ocean views and picture-perfect sunsets. When you need a break from the beach, there are jungles to explore, a secret Buddha garden, and a giant Buddha statue.

Ko Pha Ngan

Thailand’s famous full-moon parties started here. The 3-day affair happens every month. Ko Pha Ngan is next door to Ko Sumui, only a short ferry ride away. You’ll need the relaxing beaches of Ko Sumui to recover after your full-moon celebration.

Check out these islands and a few others in Conde Nast Traveler’s The Best Island’s in Thailand.

Travel Tip

If you find yourself on a slower-paced island like Ko Sumui or Ko Lanta and feel comfortable on a scooter, rent one and beach-hop at your own pace. You can see more beaches and stay longer at your favorites than if you were to book a tour.


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This traveling family recently grew by one! Read about the newest member of their family and get their Washington D.C. travel guide in last week’s post.


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