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Top 10 Things Americans have told me when I tell them I travel

Top 10 Things Americans Have Told Me When I Tell Them I Travel

 

As an American, I am often surprised at how ignorant some of my fellow Americans can be. We like to think that we are the best country in the world and that there is nothing to learn from other places. After traveling so much, I think I have a pretty educated opinion about how far from the truth this really is. Not to mention how unwilling Americans are to travel, so few in fact that only 36% of Americans even have a valid passport (which is a record high). That means that 64% can’t travel outside of the USA.

Over the years, I have heard some interesting comments about traveling. I’ve put together my top 10 favorites of what people have told me when I told them I was a traveler or about to travel so break out some popcorn and join me in some laughter.

 

 

  1. “Be careful in France, there are Muslims there.”

I could not hold back frustration and laughter when I was told this. Where do I even start? There are Muslims everywhere in the world even in our precious America. What this conversation escalated into was unbelievable. They proceeded to tell me that they were almost killed by Muslims and I proceeded to explain that someone who practices the Muslim religion is different than a terrorist. That is a huge problem here in the good old US of A. This is like saying don’t go to the south there are black people there. Okay, yes but how does that translate into danger? Go places and take in new cultures and new people, I promise it will make you a more educated individual.

 

  1. “You can’t go to Germany, ISIS is there looking to kill Americans.”

Haha! I can understand to an extent when someone tells me to be safe when I travel to a dangerous part of the world, not that it’ll stop me from going, however I am pretty sure that if ISIS really wanted to kill Americans, the first place they would look would be America, not Germany.

 

have told me when I tell them I travel

  1. “Don’t go there it isn’t safe.”

Is anywhere really safe? I’m from one of the largest cities in Southern California where we have major crime just like any other American metropolis. I am just as likely to be robbed where I grew up, as I am anywhere else in the world. But of course, I travel smart even at home. I’m not going to walk down a dark alley at night regardless of where I am. Traveling doesn’t mean you will be unsafe it just means that you should keep an extra eye out since you are not familiar with your surroundings, but you should do that anywhere.

 

  1. “Why would you leave the best country ever?”

Okay, assume that America IS the best country ever (oh and this does not make me unpatriotic). There are many countries that are amazing and even, get this, a few that could be perceived as better. For example, in Germany and Finland anyone, even a foreigner, can get a free education. They do this because they believe (and so do I) that in the long run those educated people will help their economy and community even if they do not decide to stay after their studies. They believe in the overall good of the people, regardless of where you are from. Don’t get me wrong, America is a great country and I will always be thankful to have been born and raised here, but we could learn a lot from other countries as well.

Leaving America to see a new place doesn’t take away from our pride. If anything you will return home having a new appreciated love for our country. After living in another country I came back home to the USA. I love it here and I believe that that life experience made me a stronger person. Just because you leave doesn’t mean you can’t come back.

 

  1. “Haven’t you seen the movie Taken? You shouldn’t travel.”

In all honestly I have not seen this movie, but I feel like I have because of how many people have told me about it. Yes, bad things happen but they can happen anywhere and it should not keep you from experiencing new places. This is also why Hollywood has way too much power on how we perceive the world. Just because you travel doesn’t mean you will find yourself in the middle of a Michael Bay movie. This is one hypothetical situation that some scriptwriter thought would bring in ticket sales. Come on now.

 

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  1. “Don’t go to Egypt, they had a revolution.”

Egypt has been on the top of my bucket list for well pretty much my whole life. I ended up going in 2014, which was 3 years after the revolution. So when I had the opportunity to go, I wasn’t going to hesitate. So many of my friends and family begged me not to go. I couldn’t understand why. Yes I do understand that some places have governments that are not as stable as we consider our own to be, yet that does not necessarily mean that the country is unsafe. Egypt has been going through many transitions but after talking to friends who live there and friends who had traveled there I was never concerned. And I was right. It was a great place to visit and I never felt unsafe. They are dying for tourism due to this this stigma and we were welcomed with open arms. If you ever get the chance it is a great place to visit with a vast history and great people.

 

  1. “You’re just leaving to avoid paying taxes.”

This was told to me when I first moved to Thailand. I ended up living there for two years and yes I paid taxes in the US for both of those years. The USA is only one of two countries that, if you are a citizen you must pay taxes, unless you are paying taxes in that country you live in and if US has an exemption with that country for otherwise. When I moved to Thailand I was ridiculed for abandoning my country to avoid paying taxes. I was living in Thailand legally and paying taxes in my home country that I didn’t live in. I would never try to avoid paying for my home country, however many Americans that are expats in a foreign country are denouncing their citizenship because of paying taxes that do not benefit them. In any other place (except the USA and one other country) you only pay taxes in the country you live in, regardless of where you are a citizen, which makes sense to me.

have told me when I tell them I travel 

  1. “You are unpatriotic if you leave America” 

Unpatriotic? Don’t get me wrong, I love my home country and I am very proud to be American, yet that doesn’t mean I have to stay here my whole life. If anything traveling has made me appreciate where I come from even more than I did before. Plus, we could all learn a lot by understanding and experiencing new cultures. Saying that someone is unpatriotic because they leave to go experience somewhere new is ignorant. We love to show off that we are “the freest country in the world” (which is not true), yet we are criticized if we leave? If I’m so free then why are my fellow Americans giving me shit for traveling?

 

  1. “You moved to Thailand? I give it two weeks before you’re a sex worker.”

Okay really? Are Americans that naive to think that anywhere that isn’t America is that evil? While yes, the sex industry is booming in Thailand it doesn’t mean that just because I go there I will be abducted. Or for that matter that I can’t pay my own way and would be forced into selling myself to make ends meet. Thailand is a beautiful country and while every country has problems with sex trafficking, it should never keep you from visiting. Plus you’d be surprised how much sex trafficking goes on in the USA, look it up, I dare you.

 

  1. “You are so lucky.”

This is the worst thing you could ever say to anyone that travels frequently. While yes, I am fortunate that I was raised in a family that encouraged me to follow my dreams, I did not win a golden ticket, no one handed me the life I live and no I am not rich and my family doesn’t not pay for my travel… I work. I work very hard in fact in order to travel. No one gave me this life, I fought for it thus I am not lucky. If it had been my dream to be an accountant and went to school and worked really hard for a good accounting job would you tell me I was lucky? I didn’t think so and my career choice is no different. Anyone can travel, however Americans choose not to. If you want to get out and see the world you can. Just find a way, book a ticket and do it!

 

 


 

 

Bio Photo Marina 150x150 UPDATED: Taking A Chalkboard Around The World (PHOTOS)Marina Dominguez is the co-founder of Latitude 34 Travel Blog as well as a photographer and documentary film maker.

As a maturing women, Marina has dedicated her life to travel and new experiences. After working a 9-5 cubical lifestyle, Marina sold everything she owned, left her job and begun a new life with her best friend and travel companion, Jeff Johns. Together they relocated to Phuket, Thailand and founded Latitude 34 in which they seek to share their alternative lifestyle with the world.

Marina is a Visual Journalism graduate of Brooks Institute of Photography where she studied photography, videography and ultimately caught the travel bug. Through creating several international documentaries, Marina realized there was more to the world than work and wanted something more.

 

 

 

 

Beach bliss and tranquility: find your oasis in the Sunshine State

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If you book flights to Florida you will be flying to an area than can boast of having around 600 miles of beaches.  This is the ideal state for sun and sand worshippers.  Some of the coastal spots in this densely populated peninsula are far from tranquil though but as long as you know where to look, you’ll be able to enjoy peace, quiet and total relaxation by the sea.

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Beach bliss and tranquility: find your oasis in the Sunshine State

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Anastasia State Park

Located on the east coast of the state, south of Jacksonville, Anastasia State Park is well worth checking out.  This laidback spot has four miles of beautiful beach for you to explore. Covering 1,600 acres in total, the park is also home to a tidal salt marsh and a maritime, upland hammock.

While there, you can take a refreshing dip in the Atlantic, fish, windsurf, hike, boat, observe the local wildlife and more. You can also hire a bike to get around. The fact that all water vehicles must be non-motorized helps to preserve the relaxed atmosphere of this wide beach.

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Beach bliss and tranquility: find your oasis in the Sunshine State

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Key Biscayne

Heading south down the east coast past Miami, you’ll find Key Biscayne. Despite its close proximity to the bustling Miami Beach, this area benefits from plenty of peace and quiet, in part thanks to the fact that it is located between two major parks.  Crandon Park, which lies to the north of the town and is a former coconut plantation and home to two miles of golden sands. To the south, Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park benefits from a mile-long beach complete with a 19th century lighthouse.

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Beach bliss and tranquility: find your oasis in the Sunshine State

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Sanibel and Captiva Islands

Lying off the southern tip of Florida, the Sanibel and Captiva Islands are well worth checking out too. It may be the $6 toll to gain access to these islands but it does help to keep the crowds at bay and the beaches here are ideal for a relaxing escape. Sanibel in particular is renowned for its beautiful sandy spots and it features an abundance of shells. Some of the beaches benefit from picnic tables and showers, and there are plenty of activities on offer, including fishing, shelling and bird watching.

Bear in mind though, pets on Sanibel Island must be kept on a leash, while no pets are allowed on Captiva beaches. Also, it’s forbidden to drink alcohol on the beach from November through May.

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Beach bliss and tranquility: find your oasis in the Sunshine State

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Don Pedro Island State Park

On the west coast of the peninsula, the Don Pedro Island State Park is a real highlight. Reached by ferry or private boat, this secluded spot is the perfect place to unwind well away from the crowds. If you’re lucky, you’ll even get to catch sight of endangered species such as gopher tortoises, American oystercatchers, bald eagles or West Indian manatees.

If you get bored of swimming, snorkeling, shelling and sunbathing, you can explore the park’s impressive nature trails.

All of these beaches make superb vacation spots and they prove that, even in the bustling Sunshine State, it’s possible to escape the crowds.

 

Images by Jonathan Goforth, Ines Hegedus-Garcia, Bruce Tuten and Karen Blaha used under creative commons license.

Must-See Ancient Ruins in South America

Must-See Ancient Ruins in South America

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Sometimes it’s difficult to think back to what was for lunch, let alone imagine what the world was like 500 or 1,000 years ago. In South America, the visions that history books describe from the past become reality. Ancient ruins are scattered throughout the continent, transporting you back in time. The visions of people, cultures and civilizations bygone will dance through your head when visiting these sites where the past and present intermingle.

Machu Picchu, Peru | Machu Picchu is well-known around the world, and for good reason. The majestic city in the sky sits 7,000 feet above sea level preserved from modernization in the Andean Mountain Range. The city remained hidden from discovery until 1911, but climbers can now make their way through the Inca Trail to gaze upon the temples, fields and terraces the ancient Incans left behind.

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Must-See Ancient Ruins in South America

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Chan Chan, Peru | While Machu Picchu shrouded its few residents in secret up in the clouds, Chan Chan served as a bustling center and was the largest city in the Americas a mere 600 years ago. The adobe metropolis is a maze of passageways, palaces and temples where the Chimú civilization reigned. Holding the title as the “first true engineering society in the New World,” the Chimú built towering walls and canals running through the city. These ruins top the list, as they are disappearing quickly while water and rains erode the adobe structures.

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Must-See Ancient Ruins in South America

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Kuelap, Peru | Part of the adventure is arriving to this ancient city. Forever hidden in mist and orchids, Kuelap is higher and older than Machu Picchu, and is also the largest stone ruin site in the New World. Walls that reach 60 feet high surround the city and kept the Chachapoyas (Land of Cloud Peoples) safe.

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Must-See Ancient Ruins in South America

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Tiwanaku, Bolivia | Tiwanaku varies from its ancient counterparts found throughout South America. The site is made up of distinct large stones, weighing up to 100 tons, and carved with precise skill. It was a spiritual and political center from about 300 BCE 300 to 1000 BCE. Visitors are encouraged to let minds wander as little is known about the people who constructed this city.

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Must-See Ancient Ruins in South America

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San Agustin, Colombia | While not a ruin in the traditional sense, San Agustin has a collection of ceremonial and burial sites with 500 statues to behold. While no written language was left behind to describe the San Agustin’s early citizens, the statues tell a story all their own. Monsters, eagles, jaguars and frogs can be seen carved into these monumental stone statues to honor the memory of the dead.

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Must-See Ancient Ruins in South America

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What we know about the Americas before Europeans came to discover the land is limited. The people of days gone by have left us evidence of their existence, and of what life looked like in South America hundreds of years ago. Escape to these ancient ruins to take in the mysterious sights that have been left behind.

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Screen Shot 2014-06-10 at 10.35.22 AMWritten by the travel team at DreamPlanGo.com, bringing you travel inspiration, insights and vacation ideas. If you can dream it, you can plan it and go!

 

 

 

 

The Top 5 Road Trips in America

The Top 5 Road Trips in America

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The United States is one of the most diverse countries in the world, and while you can easily wake up in New York and be eating lunch in Hollywood before lunch, there is a whole lot in between to see along the way. Each region of the states offer unique cultures, foods, hobbies and traditions. While a road trip in America might not be on the top of your list, we think it should be, and after all the times we have criss crossed the states over the years we have compiled our list of the top 5 road trips in America.

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The Top 5 Road Trips in America

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Pacific Coast Highway – California

Marina and I wouldn’t be true Californians (ok, I’m a transplant) without putting a road trip to California first. You would be hard pressed to find a more beautiful ocean side drive that heading along the Pacific Coast Highway (US Route 1) from San Diego to San Francisco. While you might have to navigate the busy streets of Los Angeles, there are huge sections of the PCH which are absolutely stunning, nature filled and fairly remote. The busy 5 freeway makes its way from Southern California to San Francisco, but why drive through the middle of the hot desert when you can enjoy the cool ocean breezes of the pacific ocean through amazing sections of Malibu, Santa Barbara and all the way up to Big Sur.

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Portland to the Boarder – Oregon/Washington 

The Top 5 Road Trips in America

One of our favorite recent trips was a week exploring the pacific north west. Only a few hours north of our first road trip, Oregon and Washington State are a completely different vibe and leaves tons to be discovered including almost never ending outdoor activities and sights, no matter what time of year you visit. We would suggest starting in Portland, one of our favorite cities in America. While you might be drawn to stay in Portland by the laid back, creative and quirky locals, force yourself away from the amazing microbrews and head north to Seattle through some of the most beautiful highway in America. Make sure to stop off at the beautiful Multnomah Falls and at least get out and walk off all those donuts from Voo Doo Donuts you ate in Portland. Then head up through Seattle, stop for an amazing dinner at the rotating restaurant atop the space needle and continue right on up to the Canadian border.

 

.The Carolinas and Beyond

Heading to the East Coast of the United States, start your trip in Washington DC and head down south towards Georgia. While a few days in DC will provide a great history lesson and all you wanted to know about the early US, you can drive south through Richmond, VA and then into the beautiful Blue Ridge parkway through the Carolinas and end in Savannah, Georgia. There is something special about this area of the states and an energy that few can explain. The people are warm, friendly and honest, the scenery wooden, mystical and exciting and the food is fantastic. So head south, get lost, travel the Blue Ridge parkway, go hiking, drink some moonshine and let go of all your worries, this part of the US has a lot to offer.

 

Florida Keys

One of the most tropical and postcard worthy areas of the United States lays in the far southern tip of Florida as the keys, a set of small islands, are sprinkled gently off the southern tip of Florida, the first starting about 15 miles south of Miami and the last, Key West, laying only 90 miles from Cuba. While not the most popular road trip, and certainly not on the way to anything, a trip through the Florida keys is absolutely gorgeous and well worth a side trip if you are in the area. If you are in nearby Miami for a holiday, think about renting a car for a couple days and getting lost amidst the white sandy beaches of the Florida keys. Just make sure to bring all the sunscreen you can find and good tunes for that fun convertible you rented for the trip.

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The Top 5 Road Trips in America

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East to West

While it doesn’t really matter if you go east to west or vice versa, the ultimate road trip in America is going from coast to coast, the entire length of the States. While it can be done in as little as 36 hours if you have lost your mind, have enough drivers to constantly switch and enough Redbull to feed an army, the drive is so beautiful that we’ve done it in as long as 2-3 weeks with plenty to see along the way. When it comes to driving from New York to Los Angeles, there are two main routes to take, the northern and southern routes. One of the most amazing things that makes this the end all be all road trip in America as the fact that you are able to see the entire country change and transform from the tall sky scrappers of New York City, through the plains of the mid west, the mountain peaks of Colorado and all the way to the classic California coast.

 

While there are loads of routes to make the trip we suggest the old Route 1. While there are few portions of Route 1 which you still drive on because as soon as the highways were built, they were constructed slightly away from the old Route 1, which leaves many sections almost perfectly preserved, deserted and silent. Old gas stations, neighborhoods and cafes dot the landscape where the old Route 1 used to be. Make sure if you take this route from New York to California that you make a point to get off the free way, away from the strip malls and fast food chains and onto the old route and take your time driving around. My favorite little town is Seligman, Arizona, a town which is almost exactly as it was decades ago. We recommend going east to west as you get to finish Rout 1 right at the famous Santa Monica pier and look out into the massive Pacific Ocean, an ocean you have just driven thousands of miles to see!

Images via Flickr from Melissa WieseFrapestaartje and Lima Pix

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.H . jeffjohnsheadshotJeff Johns is the co-founder and editor of Latitude 34 Travel Blog. Through 65 countries on 6 continents he has accumulated a seemingly endless stream of odd information, interesting stories and helpful tips and tricks to better travel. Jeff’s goal is to visit all 204 countries on Earth before he is too senile to remember them all. A graduate of the Visual Journalism program at the Brooks Institute, his true passions lay in honest visual storytelling, documentary filmmaking, Thai food and a good laugh. Together with his girlfriend Marina, they run Latitude 34 Travel Blog as a source of helpful information for those who love to travel or those who simply dream of it. If you have a comment or suggestion, send them an email at hello@latitudethirtyfour.com and they’ll respond super fast!

Latitude 34 Guide to Boston

Latitude 34 Guide to Boston

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Marina and I have been lucky enough to travel to some pretty far flung corners of the world, so it is great to be able and explore some great cities a little closer to home. During our time in the states between our return from Thailand and our departure for Ireland, we spent a fun filled wild weekend in Boston and explored all we could in our short few days in the city.

Having never visited Boston before (seriously? I lived in DC for 18 years and never made it up there!), we both jumped at the chance to explore Boston. My younger sister lives almost inside of Fenway Park, and while we visited in January and no games we being played, between staying with her and our amazing stay at the Mandarin Oriental, we had the perfect launching pad for our adventures.

Boston has one of the richest histories in America and we had a list a mile long of places we wanted to visit. While we unfortunately didn’t get to them all, we sure did manage to squeeze a lot into our long weekend, so we wanted to give you our complete guide to Boston!

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20140111 10. Ride the “T” – Major cities all over the world have complex and world renowned public transportation and while most have hear of the Underground in London or the L in Chicago, none are steeped in quite as much history as the T in Boston. Public transportation first launched in 1631 throughout Boston and while the T didn’t come until a bit later, quite a few of the original stops are still in daily use. A ride will only cost you about $2 and will get you to any stop on any line. The T is a perfect way to get around the city and is very cheap as well.

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“We were taught the 4 phases when sampling our beers and each given seemingly endless samples of 3 of their current beers on tap, the first of course being the world famous Boston Lager…”

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9. Visit the Prudential Center – The Prudential Center is one of the tallest buildings in all of Boston and while the base is home to one quite impressive mall, spend the $15 to take the elevator to the 50th floor for an amazing 360 degree view of the city. From the top we easily spotted Fenway Park, the vast curves of the Charles River and both MIT and Harvard. If you are in Boston on a clear day, make a bee line to the “Pru” and head to the top!

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So there you have it! We had one wild weekend in Boston and took in as much as we could. Surely one of America’s most interesting cities, there is a seemingly endless list of things to experience in the city. Have you been to Boston and think we left something off our list? Remember, we visited in the winter months so feel free to comment below with anything we missed and we wish you a wonderful time if you ever find yourself in Boston in the future!

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.H . jeffjohnsheadshotJeff Johns is the co-founder and editor of Latitude 34 Travel Blog. Through 65 countries on 6 continents he has accumulated a seemingly endless stream of odd information, interesting stories and helpful tips and tricks to better travel. Jeff’s goal is to visit all 204 countries on Earth before he is too senile to remember them all. A graduate of the Visual Journalism program at the Brooks Institute, his true passions lay in honest visual storytelling, documentary filmmaking, Thai food and a good laugh. Together with his girlfriend Marina, they run Latitude 34 Travel Blog as a source of helpful information for those who love to travel or those who simply dream of it. If you have a comment or suggestion, send them an email at hello@latitudethirtyfour.com and they’ll respond super fast!

Red Bull Flugtag Long Beach California

Red Bull Flugtag – Long Beach, California

Nothing screams American culture quite like the Red Bull Flugtag where people spend months making a man powered flying craft in their garages, dress like fools, and have their friends launch them off a 30 foot pier into a large body of water. Welcome to America! I was fortunate enough to be on a trip home when this years Flugtag was happening in Long Beach, California. It was a perfect day, bright, sunny and a crowd of over 100,00 people all eager to watch their fellow man crash and burn. Lets be honest here, people come to this event for the fails and not the wins.

Summer time means it’s Flugtag season! This year the new world record was set in my hometown, Long Beach, California on September 21st. The team “The Chicken Whisperers” flew an astonishing 258 feet (78.64 m)! Considering that most of the man made crafts just fall of the end of the pier, it was quite a sight to see.

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Red Bull was originally inspired by an energy drink in Thailand that was then modified for the western market. Today Red Bull is one of the most popular energy drinks around the world. The Red Bull Flugtag begun in 1992, just 5 years after the company begun, although the Flugtag concept historically originated in 1971 in the South of England. Ha! So it’s not just Americans!

Even though now days the Red Bull Flugtag is an extremely popular event in the US, 2013 marked the first National competition and was held in Chicago, Washington, D.C., Miami, Dallas, and Long Beach, it is also an international event. Participating countries include New Zealand, Croatia, Canada, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Kuwait, Turkey, France and many more.

As one of the most unique sporting events around, the Red Bull Flugtag is definitely one for the bucket list. Whether you want to watch or join in the fun and complete, it’s a good time to laugh with friends and make some great memories.

Red Bull Flugtag Long Beach California

 

 

Marina Dominguez Latitude 34Marina Dominguez is the co-founder of Latitude 34 Travel Blog as well as a photographer and documentary film maker. 

As a maturing women, Marina has dedicated her life to travel and new experiences. After working a 9-5 cubical lifestyle, Marina sold everything she owned, left her job and begun a new life with her boyfriend and travel companion, Jeff Johns. Together they relocated to Phuket, Thailand and founded Latitude 34 in which they seek to share their alternative lifestyle with the world. 

Marina is a Visual Journalism graduate of Brooks Institute of Photography where she studied photography, videography and ultimately caught the travel bug. Through creating several international documentaries, Marina realized there was more to the world than work and wanted something more. 

 

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