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We want to hear about your travels.  Please feel free to go to and click “Apply to be a Goner.”  Fill out the form and wait to hear back from us. We can’t wait to see your exciting stories.


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São Tomé and Príncipe

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The islands of São Tomé and Príncipe were uninhabited before the arrival of the Portuguese sometime around 1470. The islands were discovered by João de Santarém and Pêro Escobar. Portuguese navigators explored the islands and decided that they would be good locations for bases to trade with the mainland.

The dates of discovery are sometimes given as 21 December (St Thomas’s Day), 1471 for São Tomé, and 17 January (St Anthony’s Day), 1472 for Príncipe,[8] though other sources give different nearby years. Príncipe was initially namedSanto Antão (“Saint Anthony”), changing its name in 1502 to Ilha do Príncipe (“Prince’s Island”), in reference to the Prince of Portugal to whom duties on the island’s sugar crop were paid.

The first successful settlement of São Tomé was established in 1493 by Álvaro Caminha, who received the land as a grant from the crown. Príncipe was settled in 1500 under a similar arrangement. Attracting settlers proved difficult, however, and most of the earliest inhabitants were “undesirables” sent from Portugal, mostly Jews.[9] In time these settlers found the volcanic soil of the region suitable for agriculture, especially the growing of sugar.

The cultivation of sugar was a labor-intensive process and the Portuguese began to import large numbers of slaves from the mainland. By the mid-16th century the Portuguese settlers had turned the islands into Africa’s foremost exporter of sugar. São Tomé and Príncipe were taken over and administered by the Portuguese crown in 1522 and 1573, respectively.

However, competition from sugar-producing colonies in the Western Hemisphere began to hurt the islands. The large slave population also proved difficult to control, with Portugal unable to invest many resources in the effort. Sugar cultivation thus declined over the next 100 years, and by the mid-17th century, the economy of São Tomé had changed. It was now primarily a transit point for ships engaged in the slave trade between the West and continental Africa.

In the early 19th century, two new cash crops, coffee and cocoa, were introduced. The rich volcanic soils proved well suited to the new cash crop industry, and soon extensive plantations (known as “roças”), owned by Portuguese companies or absentee landlords, occupied almost all of the good farmland. By 1908, São Tomé had become the world’s largest producer of cocoa, which remains the country’s most important crop.

The roças system, which gave the plantation managers a high degree of authority, led to abuses against the African farm workers. Although Portugal officially abolished slavery in 1876, the practice of forced paid labour continued. Scientific American magazine documented in words and pictures the continued use of slaves in São Tomé in its 13 March 1897 issue.

In the early 20th century, an internationally publicized controversy arose over charges that Angolan contract workers were being subjected to forced labour and unsatisfactory working conditions. Sporadic labor unrest and dissatisfaction continued well into the 20th century, culminating in an outbreak of riots in 1953 in which several hundred African laborers were killed in a clash with their Portuguese rulers. This “Batepá Massacre” remains a major event in the colonial history of the islands, and its anniversary is officially observed by the government.

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Airlines upscaling amenities for high-paying fliers

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“The airlines are thinking more and more every day like retailers,” said industry expert Henry Harteveldt, founder of Atmosphere Research Group. “They are thinking: ‘How do we maximize the profitability on every seat and every flight.’ ”

Investing in the premium traveler makes sense: First and business-class travelers rarely cringe at high fares because their travel bills often are picked up by an employer or client. Plus, airline experts say, fares for premium passengers generate a disproportionate share of an airline’s profits while economy fares barely cover fuel and labor costs.

After years of struggling to rebound from deficits and razor-thin profit margins, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, Delta, Alaska Airlines and American reported record earnings in the three-month period that ended June 30.

The carriers attributed their rosy financial reports to fuel prices that have dropped nearly 30% compared with last year, increased revenues from bag fees and other passenger charges and steady growth in travel.

American posted the highest net income for any airline in aviation history — $1.9 billion in the second quarter — just 18 months after emerging from bankruptcy. The Fort Worth carrier is investing heavily — a total of $2 billion over the next few years — in a menu of extras.

Premium passengers are getting seats that lie completely flat with direct access to an aisle, as well as touch-screen entertainment systems to play free movies and TV shows.

Newly renovated lounges feature showers, cocktail bars and complimentary food, such as Greek yogurt and oatmeal for breakfast. American also has private check-in areas for VIP passengers at airports in Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami and New York.

“They are not going around spending money like drunken sailors, but they are putting it where they see that investing money will pay off,” said Seth Kaplan, managing partner for the trade publication Airline Weekly. “They have the luxury to do that.”

See the most-read stories this hour >>
The most expensive amenities and services are reserved for premium fliers on transcontinental, long-haul and international flights.

For flights between L.A. and New York and San Francisco and New York, American this year created first-class cabins just for pets. They’re cozy compartments near the flight attendant station to hold a dog or cat in its carrier.

United Airlines, Delta and American have begun offering chauffeured cars to help premier travelers make connections at Los Angeles International Airport. But not just any cars: United uses Mercedes Benz cars, Delta picks up its travelers in Porsches and American relies on Cadillacs to transport its most prized passengers.

In June, Delta completed a $229-million terminal upgrade at LAX that includes a private curbside entrance for the carrier’s biggest spenders.

There’s no such thing as premium economy, with more leg room (33″ seat pitch), plush seats, wider seats, better food (or just any food at all), and free pillows and blankets. The three most important features for most travelers are price, price, and price. And the airlines have…
AT 1:01 AM AUGUST 23, 2015

Top-grade passengers — part of a new category dubbed Delta One — get whisked into a private lounge, away from snooping paparazzi, where they are offered free snacks and drinks and access to an expedited security checkpoint. The reception and ambience are upmarket, with a desk made by a local artist from parts off a retired DC-9.

Delta has hired a master sommelier to match wines with the onboard meals for the high-paying passengers.

“We have continued to invest in the people who invest the most in us,” Delta spokesman Anthony Black said.

United began Aug. 1 to hand out new amenity bags to premium international passengers. The bags include high-end Cowshed skin-care products from London’s Soho House & Co., which operates private member’s clubs.

Etihad Airways last year introduced nannies, trained at Norland College in England, to entertain, feed and pamper the children of premium passengers on long flights.

Some of the airline investments are trickling down to economy fliers too.
Many of the new aircraft that have been ordered in the last few years include charging outlets for all seats, wireless Internet and improved entertainment systems. A few airlines, including United, American and Delta, have restored free beer and wine for economy passengers on long flights.

American Airlines spokesman Casey Norton said premium passengers are important to the airline but the latest investments benefit all passengers.

“We are going to offer a product that differentiates us from the competition and make sure that we provide a travel experience that customers like and want to buy,” Norton said.

Still, the trickle-down effect only goes so far to satisfy regular travelers.

Airlines are employing fewer staffers at airport terminals, leaving travelers to check themselves in at computer kiosks and self-serve bag-check machines.

Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport is a pioneer, with more than 400 kiosks, including machines that scan passports and allow passengers to tag their own luggage.

And most airlines are cramming in as many passengers as possible to increase profits. By replacing older seats with light-weight versions offering thinner seat-back cushions, airlines free up room to insert an extra row or two of seats.

“What we have now is cattle cars in the sky,” said Rich Gritta, a professor of finance and transportation at the University of Portland in Oregon. “Flying is no longer the fun experience it used to be.”

United Airlines, for example, recently finished installing slim-line seats in all its Airbus planes. On its heavily used short- to medium-range A319s and A320s, the airline has added six to 12 additional seats per cabin — a move that’s getting poor marks from customers.

“The new slim-line seats on the A320 are terrible,” a passenger posted on the website. “Although they claim to offer more legroom, I felt extremely squished. When the person in front reclined their seat I had no space available to really move my legs.”

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Top 10 Excuses Why People Dont Travel

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Taking your dream trip isn’t only possible, it’s an absolute necessity for your psychological, emotional, and spiritual well-being.

The Top 10 Excuses….. *Debunked*

#1: But I can’t afford it…

By far, the most common rationalization for not traveling is that it costs too much money. The flight. The telly. The grub. The activities. The psychedelic drugs. The whole freaking shabang. Stop thinking you need money to travel. This is nonsensical, my ninja.

Frequent Flyer Points. If you’re American, you’re one lucky bastard. Taking advantage of frequent flyer points is by far the easiest way to minimize/eliminate your travel costs. I flew round-trip to Japan and stayed for 4 nights at one of the nicest Hyatts in the world for $50 (video below). If you can’t capitalize on frequent flyer points, you can still find great deals if you take out your magnifying glass.

Go Somewhere Dope But Cheap. Thailand, Bali, Vietnam, India, Costa Rica, Argentina, Hungary… If you pick wisely, you can live like royalty for less than a peasant’s pocket. When I was in Chiang Mai, Thailand, every day I would get a $4 hour-long massage, a 66¢ fresh fruit smoothie (large), and a $1 cornucopia of vegetarian food. I paid $15 for one month of high speed 3G data on a SIM-card that I plugged into my iPhone that also allowed me to tether internet access to my computer. Dope, but cheap.

Cover Your Expenses. Skip watching Dexter one night and spend an hour preparing a nice ad for Craigslistor AirBnB so you can sublet your apartment while you’re gone and not pay rent. I know this can feel a little uncomfy at first, but remember that you’re going to interview the prospective people to make sure you love ’em. You can also suspend your cell phone, Amazon Prime, Netflix, gym membership and other subscriptions while you’re gone.

#2: But I don’t have the time…

The next excuse people use is that they can’t afford the time away. From work. From family. From school. From Grandpa Joe. From shit-faced Saturdays at Shenanigans bar. Erroneous.

Get Your Priorities Straight. Fast forward to the end of your life and imagine… You’re laying on your deathbed, about to die. Unfortunately, your whole life, you kept telling yourself that were gonna take that dream trip of yours, but you never actually did. Any regrets…? Listen – it’s a bold move to take a sick trip, but if not now, then when? When you get that promotion? When you land your next client? When you’re married with kids and need to depend on your parents to watch your rug-rats?

Make the Time. You deserve time off work – and you absolutely need it for your psychological, emotional, and spiritual stability.  Think specifically about the objections your boss would have if you asked for some time off – then think about how you can prepare for those. For instance, train someone to cover your responsibilities. Take the iPhone/laptop with you and remotely check email daily for 30 minutes. Attend weekly conference calls if you really need to. Truly commit to making this dream trip happen, and with some patience, persistence, and diligent planning, it will.

You Don’t Need That Much Time. Taking 5 weeks to travel through Europe is a dream come true. But you don’t need a month to take your dream trip. What about the vacation time you’ll get in the next year? How about extending a long weekend? The idea is to get outta your bubble.

#3: But I’ve got no one to go with…

Saying you won’t travel because you have no companion is like saying you won’t eat cuz you don’t have dinner company. Some of my absolute best travel experiences came from my solo-trips which forced me to FULLY take in the experience while allowing me to express myself authentically without constant reaffirmation of my role and identity.

Stay At A Hostel. Hostels are breeding grounds for great adventures, cheap wine, and lifelong FB buddies. Most of the ones I’ve stayed at have had a ton of spunk/culture and allowed me to create incredibly meaningful connections with weirdos from all over the world (who were often also traveling alone). A lot of hostels also have daily activities for you to take advantage of (hikes, tours, events, communal dinners, etc.), so you don’t need to be a gregarious extrovert to bond and venture.

Plan Out Events. Love yoga? Go to a yoga festival. Like meditation? Hit up a meditation retreat. Passionate about dance? Find a concert you’d love to check out. The point is to put yourself in places where you’ll find peeps who align with your values – then connecting with like-minded people will be a no-brainer. For me, those values are autonomy, growth, excitement, authenticity, connection, contribution, and love –Ubud, Bali was a dope place to find peeps that shared these values.

Put Your Trip Out There. When I went back to Europe for my second time (in 2010), I went with a homeboy of mine. I had committed to going, regardless of whether anyone joined me or not, but by telling people of the excursion I was about to take, my friend decided to join me for the first 5 weeks of the trip. Same thing with my trip in Hawaii right now – Dave committed to coming here by booking his ticket, and it forced me to get my shit together and make it happen. Post your plans on Facebook, tell your friends, reach out to your network – see if anyone you know knows anyone in the place you’d wanna go!

#4: But it’s not safe to travel (alone)…

Thinking that other countries are dangerous based on the media’s mumblings is like other countries thinking the US is riddled with a million Timothy McVeighs. Don’t send your kid to school or she’ll get executed by a batman enthusiast…

Do Your HW. Check out the current travel warnings for safe countries to visit – 90 percent of the places you wanna visit are fine. No matter where you go, don’t be a doofus – keep your valuables concealed, stay out of dark alleyways, and avoid eye contact with the dude who’s debating with air. If you can ride a subway in NYC, Thailand will be a breeze.

Check With Your Hotel/Hostel. Simply ask the front desk where they suggest you go, and if there are any areas you should stay out of. I’ve spent a significant portion of my childhood raising ruckus both in and outta the hood in NYC. And as a grown fucking man, I still don’t feel safe in selective sections of NYC – so I just don’t go there.

Protect Ya Neck. If you’re gonna stay in a hostel, take a combination lock for the locker and a bicycle chain to fetter your bag to the bed. You don’t *absolutely* need these things, and as long as you’re staying somewhere trustworthy, you can keep your valuables in their safe. Read reviews when booking, and again, just don’t be an idiot and you’ll be fine.

#5: But I’ve never done it before…

Remember back when you were a virgin? Were you disappointed when sex became a regular part of your life? Now imagine what life would be like if you used your virginity as an excuse for never having sex. Same thing goes for travel – the more you do it, the better you get, and that awkward uncertainty turns to passionate pleasure.

Do Some Diggin’. Posts like this will help prep you for the trip. Also, there are tons of travel blogs out there that can help prep you for taking the trip of your life. (Got any favorites? Post ’em in the comments.)

Work On Your F*cking Attitude. Get this down and your trip will be infinitely improved. The purpose of your trip isn’t for everything to go right – it’s to use travel as a vehicle for your values (for me: freedom, growth, inspiration, adventure, authenticity, connection, and love). Sometimes the best experiences come when shit gets all fucked up. I was once scheduled to fly home to NYC from Portland on a SouthWest flight which got canceled. I went to see when the next available flight would be and I ended up going on a mini day-date with a beautiful stewardess in the airport for the next hour and a half.

Start Learning, Ya Newb. If not now, then when? Tell yourself whatever you want, but if you can’t start planning to make this trip happen within the next year, you’ll full of (sh)it. It took me years to learn to use packing cubes, to bring 20 Larabars and a pouch of Ambien for long flights and jet lag – but I slowly picked up these tricks along the way. Wake up, sleepy head.

#6. But I don’t speak the language…

Another common rookie mistake. Out of all the countries I’ve been to, I’ve dedicated less than an hour to learning the native languages. If linguistics is your thing, then by all means, invest some time in learning the language. But if you have no interest in exerting your energy in this arena, don’t.

English, Motherf*cker. Do You Speak it?! Here’s the thing. A Thai person and an Israeli meet in Brazil – guess how they verbally try to communicate… Samuel L. Jackson should be able to shed some light on that. ENGLISH! It is the language of the world. Everyone knows at least a word or two and that leaves you with a massive advantage!

Welcome To 2013: Phone Apps. You can use apps to translate words, sentences and signs, and even give you a list of pictures you can show people to signify the message you’re trying to communicate. Here are a few handy apps. (Got any other favorites? Share them in the comments!)

Learn A Few Words: Do a quick Google-gaga search for the most popular words and phrases of the language in the country your visiting. Bathroom is always a good one to learn. Hello, goodbye, thank you,and beer are usually pretty clutch too. If you get a Lonely Planet guidebook for the place you’re visiting, they’ll list the most important words and translations, as well as the best events to check out during the time of year you’re there.

#7: But what about all the paperwork…?

I’m a *HUGE* fan of doing boring shit… said no one, ever. I leer at laborious tasks with little stimulation. So booking flights, looking into paperwork, and booking accommodation feel like black holes waiting to suck me in. But lucky for you, you’re American! This will reduce your hassle by 83%. Out of the 18 countries I’ve recently gone to, I’ve never once needed to apply for a visa ahead of time.

Your Passport / Visa. If you don’t have a passport, apply for one 6 weeks before your trip. If your passport is running outta pages or will expire in the next 6 months, apply for a new one. Check the visa requirements of the country you’re going to – if you need one, just get one. Scan or take iPhone pics of all your important info (passport, visa, travel / health insurance documents) and email them to yourself. If you really wanna nerd out on safety, you can also have a second physical copy and keep it in a different bag.

Travel Insurance. I’m not a big travel insurance dude but if it makes you feel better, you can usually find it fairly cheaply. Peace of mind is priceless, so you may wanna jump on that.

Health Insurance. Incredibly, buying health insurance for your trip is much cheaper than buying it at home. I’ve used SquareMouth but have never needed to cash in on the service.

#8: But I’m afraid I’ll get sick…

For a long time, whenever I hit the road, I’d always end up getting sick after a few days. WTF? In retrospect, it makes sense, but at the time it was incredibly annoying.

Don’t Be A Pig, Porky. Just because you’re traveling doesn’t mean you should abandon any and all aspects of your health. For sure, indulge in the local food and go out to party, but make sure you’re still eating your veggies, drinking plenty of water, and getting at least 7 hours of sleep.

Who’s Shooting? Awww, made you look! If you’re gonna hit up some of the more third world type countries, look into what shots you’ll need beforehand. I got a bunch of shots before I spent 2 months in Southeast Asia last year – Jodi’s Legal Nomads helped me understand which ones to get.

Don’t Slip On Water. Check to make sure the water is drinkable for Americans. Surprisingly, it is in Thailand, yet it’s not in the Dominican Republic. Bring some Pepto Bismol in case your bowels loosen up.

#9. But I’m afraid I’ll get lost…

I would hope so! Getting lost is an integral part of the adventure. Sometimes you need to get lost in order to find what’s important. Fucking up can be made fun. Proof…

Rock w/ a GPS. Unlock your phone before you go and get a local SIM-card which gives you data access. When I was in Bangkok, I called Verizon to tell them I was traveling and they unlocked my phone for free. Then I picked up a $15 SIM-card that lasted for a month and used Google Maps on my phone to help me get around. I’ve done the same thing in Bali and England as well.

Bring the Addy w/ You. If you’re staying at a hotel or hostel, take a card from the front desk so if you ever get lost, you can show local people the address of where you’re staying and they can route you home. Worst case scenario, look for a taxi and show the driver the card.

Embrace It. Getting lost in a city is oftentimes the best way to see it. Go for a walk and see where it takes you. Allow yourself the freedom to explore the city (and yourself).

#10: But I’m afraid I’ll run outta money…

Pace yourself, panther. If you follow all the tips we’ve spoken about so far in this post, you’re gonna be fine. A few words on keeping your wallet in check:

Hostels. Most of my friends who think “hostel,” immediately think “horror movie.” But hostels are undoubtedly some of the dopest places to stay when traveling. Depending on the country, you can find a dorm-style room for anywhere from $8-$40 per night. Hostels also offer a certain sense of character that you won’t find in hotels. is the shit – I only books joints that have an 80% or higher rate (preferably high 80s).

Check With Your Credit Card. Hit up your CC company and see if there’s a foreign transaction fee if you want to use your card wherever you’re going. If there is, tell them where you’re going and see if they can suggest another card which doesn’t have a fee. If you’re heading to Europe, look for a card with one of those chips in it. You’ll also wanna let your CC company know you’re traveling so they don’t get suspicious of foreign transactions. (While CCs usually give you the best conversion rates, I also take a few hundred bucks in both local and foreign cash, which you can get from your bank with a few days’ notice.)

Create A Budget. So you’ve got 2 grand to spend? Well, you can probably make that stretch 3+ weeks in Europe while living pretty luxuriously. By the same token, you could probably live for 4 months in some parts of South East Asia for that much. When I was in Thailand and Bali, I got an hour-long massage almost every single day (!!!) for 2 months. They ranged from $4-$6. 60 massages = $300. 🙂 Budget that buddy.

The Excuse No One Talks About

#11: But I’m afraid my life will be even worse after…

Let’s face it… most of us won’t admit it, but the paradox of travel is that we’re both excited *and* nervous about it. Here’s the thing: wherever you go, it’s not so much about being there. It’s that you’re away from your assumptions about what life has to be like. You’re giving yourself a context in which education isn’t only permitted, it’s unavoidable. This can be scary for some because change isn’t always easy or fun.

Life Doesn’t Need To Change. Just because you took a trip that opened your eyes, doesn’t mean you need to completely abandon your life back home. Sometimes, the only thing that actually changes after your dream trip is your perspective on life. Maybe you grow a greater appreciation for your home and life. Maybe you decide to do some volunteer work. Or maybe you just have a few good stories to tell when you’re at the water cooler.

Long Term Vision. If the trip you take touches you so profoundly that a major life change is required, you don’t need to be an idiot about it. Give yourself time to explore options and opportunities. When I took the trip that changed my life back in 2009, I knew I didn’t wanna go back to my old job forever, but I went back for 6 months while I brainstormed ways to save some cake and make it work. Those 6 months were better than any of the 2 years before, because the heaviness and denseness had been lifted since I knew I was leaving.

Travel Is A Vehicle. The type of trip I’m imagining isn’t MTV’s spring break in Cancun where promiscuous women are groping my bubble-butt and violating my innocence. My dream trip may have a pinch of that, but it’s more about creating the conditions to allow my soul to grow. It’s about getting a deeper understanding of myself and the possibilities for my life. And it’s about developing connections with people grounded in love, excitement, fascination, and growth. Travel is the vehicle I use for this, but when I’m not traveling, I find other vehicles which allow me to do the same.

If not now… when?

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Applying for a Passport

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Applying for a passport is not as hard as most expect.  Below is a simple process with links included to get you on your way to traveling abroad:

Step 1: Apply Early

Apply for your passport several months before your trip. Also, know your expiration date. Many countries require passports to have at least 6 months validity at the time of entry.

See Passport Processing Times
Find Passport Fees

Step 2: Prepare Your Application

The U.S. Department of State has detailed guidelines on preparing your passport application. You can:

  • Complete and print a passport application online.
  • Get an application from a Post Office location that has passport acceptance services.

Find the Right Forms

Step 3: Find a Post Office

Post Offices may have limited hours for passport services. To be certain of service, call ahead and make an appointment. Use the PO Locator to find the nearest Post Office that offers passport services.

Find a Post Office

In a Hurry?

To get a new application processed quickly, you can:

  • Request and pay for faster application processing service.
  • Purchase Priority Mail Express® service to speed your application to and from the U.S. Department of State.
  • Schedule an appointment at a Department of State passport agency.

Get a Passport in a Hurry
Priority Mail Express


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