Monthly Archives: January 2015

Travel Together in Manitoba with Kelley Ferro

The newest Travel Together series by USTOA and Kelley Ferro takes us on a tour to the polar bear capital of the world: Churchill, Manitoba. The adventure begins with a flight by private charter plane to the Lazy Bear Lodge, the home base for the trip. Other highlights of the trip with Tauck include eating delicious food, learning fascinating culture and history from local storytellers, and of course, coming face to face with the polar bears. Watch the videos, and you’ll be adding this arctic adventure to your bucket list in no time.

Manitoba, Canada

Manitoba is the province right in the center of Canada and it offers so much diversity, from the cultural offerings of its capital city of Winnipeg, to its dedication to preservation of the local native peoples & animals (POLAR BEARS!) up north in Churchill. Traveling here with Tauck opened my eyes to the founding of North America and the people that made it what it is today. And seeing the polar bears is a once in a lifetime experience!

Luxury on the Tundra

Yes, it might have been below zero outside, but our tour with Tauck made sure that we were comfortable—even out on the open tundra. Not only were our accommodations at the Lazy Bear Lodge charming & cozy, our days spent out looking for polar bears were just as comfortable on board heated, spacious tundra vehicles. Private charter buses & planes only heightened the ease of getting around and all the extras made this tour a cut above!

Food on the Tundra

Churchill, Manitoba is located up near the Arctic and it’s only accessible by plane or train. So you might think in the winter, the food couldn’t be that fresh. Actually, fresh foods are flown up daily to weekly and our tour with Tauck made sure we had the freshest greens and veggies up North. Also, the local game like elk, bison and venison as well as the arctic char are some of the world’s best. Eat up to keep warm in this gorgeously chilly landscape.

Tauck’s Exceptional Guides in Manitoba

To me, the people that you meet on a trip can make a good experience, great. On a group tour it is even more important to have great guides and on our tour with Tauck, we had some of the kindest, most knowledgeable, funny & flexible guides that ensure that our trip was educational, smoothly run and most of all, FUN!

Meet the Locals of Churchill

You’d think the weather of Churchill would dampen your spirits, but the locals that I met there were so warm, friendly and full of life, they made the snow covered city so welcoming. I met Myrtle, a Dene storyteller who spoke of how her people came & developed Churchill and the trading routes and I also met Wally, who started the cozy Lazy Bear Lodge. Dave Daley runs a dogsledding company and I’ve never had a more serene experience gliding over the snow and learning how he trains his animals. These are the faces of Churchill that I won’t soon forget!

Bucket List Adventure: Seeing the Polar Bears

Seeing the polar bears in person, in their natural habitat, is nothing like I can ever describe. Our adventure with tour operator Tauck, took us up to Churchill, Manitoba—the most remote place that I’ve ever been. However, polar bears seem to find it quite easily. Our tundra vehicles kept us warm and not only did we see polar bears, we interacted with them. Just watch!

[All video descriptions by filmmaker.]

Read more about the #TravelTogether adventure in Manitoba here.

The New York Times Travel Show 2015


The New York Times Travel Show takes place this weekend (January 23 – 25) at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City. This annual conference is the largest and longest-running travel conference for consumers and travel industry professionals in North America, with hundreds of exhibitor booths in the Exhibition Hall and thousands of attendees. There will also be book signings, cooking demonstrations, and cultural presentations from countries around the world.

Are you going? Let’s meet up! Tripfilms community manager Jamie will be there for the Travel Industry Conference on Friday to soak up information on travel and social media. Please do get in touch: follow @jamieannindigo@tripfilms, and @HotelConfident to connect on Twitter. Would love to connect in person!

New TripVlogger Series: SPESUS in Southeast Asia

In this new TripVlogger series, SPESUS travels through Southeast Asia and brings us portraits of three major cities: Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) in Vietnam, Phnom Penh in Cambodia, and Bangkok in Thailand. Explore the neighborhoods, visit bustling and lively markets, sample incredible food, and try the local transportation, from ferries in the canals to tuk-tuks in the streets. You’ll feel like you are there.


A city that has reinvented itself many times, Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) or Saigon, as it is still known locally, is not only a beautiful city but one with a sense of destiny. The largest city in Vietnam and former capital of the ill-fated Republic of South Vietnam, it is a communist in name, capitalist in practice, buzzing centre city that does not disappoint.


Of course, there’s lots of great food in HCMC (or Saigon as it is still known locally). On assignment with Tripfilms, we’ll take you to some of the places that we like to eat when we’re in town. Addresses are included and all the establishments are all highly recommended.


Built in the last century by French colonialists, this art-deco masterpiece will be visited by you, if you, by chance, find yourself in Cambodia’s capital city, Phnom Penh.


Riverfront and Old French Quarter in Phnom Penh is where the revival of this once proud but scarred city can be found. There is a lot more to this city than just its violent past. Peel the layers of this onion of a city. There’s more to it than you think.


Phnom Penh Street food is pretty amazing. For only a few dollars you can stuff yourself on fast and delicious food. Being wedged between two countries with incredible food traditions (Thailand and Vietnam) has only improved the cuisine of Cambodia. Co-opting both of its neighbors’ famous dishes and putting a Khmer spin on them, the food adds to the variety found on the streets of Phnom Penh.


The largest and most eclectic market in Thailand. It has to be seen to be be believed. Watching the videos is the only way to do the place justice.


Many know of the floating markets, but few know of the canals that are used in the transportation network of Bangkok. On assignment for Tripfilms, we explore this lesser-known mode of transport and how to use it. It’s actually a pretty fun way of transporting yourself through the gridlock of this humid Southeast Asian city.

[All video descriptions by filmmaker.]

Twelve Travel Questions with Kien Lam

Christchurch New Zealand

Name: Kien Lam
Home Base: San Francisco
Last Trip: Roadtrip to Roswell, New Mexico
Next Trip: Spartan Race Cruise to the Bahamas, Mexico Death Race in Mexico or Palau
Twitter: @kiendlam

1. What are three things you take on every trip? 

Swim trunks, massage balls, SMECTA.

Swim trunks are a must. I love jacuzzis and if there’s a chance that there’s a jacuzzi somewhere, I don’t want to be standing there in my underwear wishing I had swim trunks. I try to stay in shape on the road so it’s nice to have a pair of these Gaiam massage balls to work out knots and tightness after a good run. SMECTA is a powder medication to treat gastrointestinal pain. I eat pretty much everything on the road and once in a while you have to pay your dues. Raw llama? Why not. If you’ve had some kind of gastrointestinal pain, you know it is absolutely unbearable. I’m not a doctor, so do not take this as medical advice, but this has saved me a few times and I always keep a few packets sealed away in my toiletry bag.

2. What is your best remedy for jet lag? 

It really varies depending on where you come from, but my general rule of thumb is If you arrive before 8 p.m, stay awake at least until 8 p.m. Don’t try to overdo it on the first day (if you can). Generally, even if I fall asleep between 8 and 10 p.m, I’ll still wake up at 2 a.m. Don’t reach for your phone, or a book, or walk around. Just do your best to zone out and sleep in for a couple more hours. You’ll wake up at around 5 a.m. wide awake. Start your day. It’s early, but over the next few days, you’ll wake up later and later. The other option is to be zone-blind. Sometimes I have no idea what time zone I’m in or when I’m “supposed” to be awake or sleep. I think even my body is confused so it doesn’t try to fight jet lag and I fall asleep when I want/need to.

3. What is the first thing you do when you get to a new place?

Figure out the quickest and most sensible way to get to where I’m staying. From there, I can orient myself and ask a few questions. I think you’re most susceptible to scammed, conned or being taken advantage of the first couple of hours of arriving anywhere new.

Checking Photos Bridge Annapurna Circuit

4. What place has the best food? The worst food?

I don’t think there’s any one location that has the worst food across the board. Even in many Central America countries like Nicaragua and Costa Rica, where your taste buds will dull from days of eating just plain rice and beans, you’ll come across shops that serve it with delicious slow-cooked chicken thighs and perfectly fried and seasoned plantains, and all is well with the world again. That said, Asia is generally really good with working in their fresh and seasonal ingredients and that comes across in the food. Go to Vietnam and you can get a bowl of pho on the street that’s just as good as the best restaurants. No high tech equipment or large kitchen. Just a tried and true recipe executed perfectly day in, day out. In Morocco, I could not get enough of the mechoui – a slow roasted lamb, seasoned with each chef’s own blend of herbs and spices carrying so much flavor that it’s hard to comprehend it all in a single bite. So you have to keep eating one tender bite after another. I can go on and on with this question, but I think at the core of it, the best food is about utilizing regionally and readily available ingredients that have been around for hundreds of years and working with a recipe that’s been tested and tweaked until you can’t do anything to it.

5. What is one place that changed your outlook on life? 

Australia. It just happened to be one of the first times I traveled extensively out of the country by myself. It was my study abroad semester and was a complete departure both in routine and studies from what I was doing back in the States. It prompted me to think about whether the path I had held so steadfast all the prior years was actually the one that would make me happy. It was all about getting the top grades, getting into the top school, doing well there, and then getting the best job that would make me financial independent as soon as possible. That world made sense to me, but walking barefoot into a grocery store, camping illegally on a beach because I missed a ferry and then nearly getting killed by a cassowary because I chased it thinking it was just a pretty ostrich kind of made me reevaluate the purpose of life.

6. What is your favorite travel quote? 

“Wherever you go, there you are.”

Uluru Sunset-32

7. Is there any music that inspires you to travel?

I wouldn’t say there’s music that inspires me to travel, but I know that music always complements my journey. I listen to a pretty diverse range of music and sometimes it’ll shuffle to the right song at the right time and I’m lost in that moment. From then on, I can always associate that feeling, time and place with the song and it’s a great way of bringing me back somewhere special.

8. What is your craziest true travel story? 

I was nearly late to meet the Dalai Lama. You’ll have to read about that one on my site.

9. How do you think that travel videos can be useful to travelers, even if they aren’t filmmakers themselves?

I find travel videos to be most useful when they simply inspire. It could be a second of stunning landscape or the way the history is told, but whatever it is, it captures the viewers attention just enough to plant that desire or need to travel into their consciousness. There’s nothing wrong with informative travel videos, but I don’t think a travel video needs to be informative to be useful. Sometimes, you just need to see a place and you’ll be caught surprised that such a place exists and it gets you to start digging around to learn more about it on your own.

Fox Glacier Ice Climbing New Zealand

10. What is the goal/philosophy of your videos? 

When I make my videos, I want people to get lost for a few minutes and share the world as I was able to see it. It could just be visual eye candy, or it could be a story that elevates what otherwise might be an everyday or seemingly ordinary experience into something that is memorable. If I’ve captured your attention until you get to the end, I’ve done my job.

11. What advice do you have for someone who wants to make travel videos?

I would tell them to not worry so much about equipment. It’s easy to get bogged down with technical specs, making sure you have every lens for every occasion that arises, etc. While that’s nice, it could also end up restricting you as far as mobility or ease of use when something happens that’s waiting to be filmed. By the time you get set up, you will have missed the shot. I think there’s a distinction between making travel videos as a job and making travel videos as a visual diary. If you are just looking to capture your trip and retell it in an interesting way, you just have to be ready to shoot at all times. Nowadays, you can get pretty nice high quality video in even a point and shoot, so there’s no excuse there.

12. What is your best travel tip? 

Best travel advice? Just go with it. Don’t overthink yourself out of doing something.

Watch travel videos by Kien Lam here.

Shooting Time Lapse Great Barrier Reef


Dominica Film Challenge 2015

dominica 2

Remember the Dominica Film Challenge from last year? Well, they are back and on the lookout once again for filmmakers, photographers, and storytellers to help tell the story of the island and people of Dominica, a small tropical island located in the Caribbean (not to be confused with the Dominican Republic).

From the site:

Have you ever dreamed of traveling to an exotic tropical island with nothing more than your camera, a little history, and the assignment to go find a story? That’s exactly what we want you to do on the island of Dominica. We’re looking for aspiring photographers, filmmakers, and story tellers to come to Dominica as part of the Dominica Film Challenge and help us tell our story to the world.

Selected creatives will receive round-trip airfare, accommodations, meals, and trail guides. Best of all, they will receive full access to this beautiful island. Teams will spend a week on the island and document their journeys with film, photography, and other types of social media, then publish and share their experience with their fans.

Applications are due Monday, January 19th. The selected teams will travel to Dominica February 28 to March 7, 2015. To learn more and submit your application, visit

Partners in Paradise Travel Video Competition

partners in paradise

This year, Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino hosted the Partners In Paradise Travel Video Competition in Aruba. This competition paired up four journalists with four video bloggers to create unique films that capture the best of One Happy Island. The teams had two days to film on the island and one day to edit before showing their films on site at the film festival. Now, the deadline to watch, comment, like, and share your favorite Aruba video has been extended to January 9. We are thrilled to see so many familiar faces from Tripfilms participating in the event. Congratulations to TravelingJulesGloria Powell, and Peter Bragiel for their amazing Aruba videos!

The team with the most views will award one of their fans a three-night stay at the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino. Click on the links below to watch, comment, like, and share your favorite video to have a chance to win the prize!

You can find the full playlist here:

Miss AdventuresPamela Jacobs (@SoloGirlTravel) + Juliana Broste (@TravelingJules)

Wander WomenPerrie Hartz (@PerrieHartz) + Ashley Colburn (@AshleyColburn)

B SquaredPeter Bragiel (@PeterBragiel) + Shayne Benowitz (@ShayneBenowitz)

Culture ChasersGloria Powell (@GlorPow) + Angelica Olstad (@yogipianist)

Remember, the partners with the most views on their video will each be given one trip that they will award to one of their loyal followers, so watch and share now for your chance to have your own adventure in paradise!

Travel Together in Croatia with Kelley Ferro

Kelley Ferro and USTOA present a brand new video series on Croatia featuring an exciting way to discover this gorgeous European country: by bike. On her bike tour of Croatia with VBT Vacations, Kelley gets to know the local people, samples local products, and explores the beautiful beaches and charming towns along the coast and on the Dalmatian Islands. Watch the videos below to go along for the ride in Croatia. [Video descriptions by Kelley Ferro.]

Croatia Overview

It’s hard to sum up Croatia in one video, but this might give you a glimpse of how much this country has to offer. Rolling countrysides, exquisite islands, dynamic cities, beautiful people and equally beautiful food—we ventured to Istria, Split and the islands of Brac & Hvar. Here’s my experience of Croatia, with a side of biking, truffles and the Adriatic.

The Food of Croatia

OH the food. You will want to eat everything in this country and you should. The food is divine—from Istrian’s truffles, wines, olive oils and honeys, to the freshest fish straight from the sea in the islands and top end restaurants of Split. I devoured this country and was all the better for it.

The Locals of Croatia

The people of Croatia are generous and meeting some of the impressive locals like the olive oil makers, winemakers, fishermen and more gave the country a true personality.

Croatia’s Local Products

Croatia is fertile—it’s countryside is ripe with fruits, vegetables, grapes and olives, it’s forest filled with wild game and truffles and its seas teeming with the freshest fish. The islands boast stone used to build the palaces of the royals. Enjoy the local delights of Croatia with me.

Exploring Croatia

By bike, by foot, by boat or by car, there’s so much to explore in Croatia. Join me in our Croatia adventure.

Being Active in Croatia

My trip to Croatia with VBT Bicycling & Walking Vacations allowed me to enjoy all the joys of traveling, while being active at the same time. There are few things more gratifying than being your own transportation and gliding a bike over hills and valleys on the stunning Dalmatian Islands is hard to beat.