LandLopers http://landlopers.com Mon, 24 Nov 2014 12:13:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Rekindling A Love Affair: Basics Of Jordanian Foodhttp://landlopers.com/2014/11/23/jordanian-food/ http://landlopers.com/2014/11/23/jordanian-food/#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 04:55:35 +0000 http://landlopers.com/?p=28751 Almost immediately after my first trip to Jordan three years ago, I wrote about my intense appreciation of Jordanian food. During those three years whenever someone asked me about my … Read More

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Jordanian Food Jordan

Almost immediately after my first trip to Jordan three years ago, I wrote about my intense appreciation of Jordanian food. During those three years whenever someone asked me about my favorite food culture I always pointed to Jordan. The culinary aspect was perhaps what excited me the most about returning to this beautiful country a few weeks ago and I was thrilled to experience the same level of delicious offerings as I did the first time. But the experiences were of course a little different and I tried new dishes and developed an even more intense appreciation for this sometimes overlooked cuisine. With that in mind, I thought I’d offer a brief look into what a typical meal looks like in Jordan. Jordanian food is of course much more dynamic than this list shows; it’s grossly generalized and is but one example, but it will give you an inkling of why I enjoy eating my way around Jordan so very much.

First Course

One of the aspects I enjoy most about food both in the Mediterranean and the Middle East is the culture of small plate starters or mezze. Served communally, these small portions are passed around so that everyone can get a little taste of everything on the table. Almost every day during my trip, lunches and some dinners started this way, the massive array of dishes sometimes overwhelming. The first time I sampled these small dishes in Jordan no one told me they were just the beginning act and I nearly filled up on the delicious portions. Some of my favorite small dishes that are common throughout Jordan include:

Hummus – This classic Middle Eastern staple is done exceptionally well in Jordan and you WILL find it on every table at every meal, even breakfast. Made from chickpeas, spices and olive oil, it seems to be the one dish everyone can enjoy no matter their usual preferences, from vegetarian to ardent meat eaters.

Kubbeh – A personal favorite, these small fried balls are made from minced meat covered in a crust of bulgur and then fried.

Baba ghanoush – Eggplant is a very common ingredient in Jordanian cuisine and it’s perhaps best prepared in baba ghanoush. A blend of cooked eggplant with onions, tomatoes, olive oil and spices, it’s just as common as hummus from my own experience.

Tabbouleh – More salad-like than the other dishes, this is common throughout the region and is made from tomatoes, parsley, mint, onion, olive oil and lemon juice. It’s a tasty way to balance the other, somewhat heavier dishes.

Breads – These are served throughout the entire meal and honestly speaking, the bread in Jordan is amongst the best I’ve enjoyed anywhere in the world. There’s the traditional pita bread, which we’re all familiar with, but there are also several other specialty breads served throughout the country. Shrak is a Bedouin-style bread that is very thin and made hot immediately before or even during the meal itself.

Mint Lemonade – This drink was something I somehow missed the first time, but which I quickly became addicted to on my second visit. It’s just what it sounds like, a mint lemonade that is the best and most refreshing I’ve tasted anywhere in the world. It’s heavy on the sugar though so drink in moderation.

 

Main Course

The main course takes many different forms around the country, but here are a few different dishes I enjoyed particularly.

Grilled kabobs – This was my go-to meal in Jordan thanks to how common it is and how good it tastes frankly. A variety of meats including lamb and chicken are roasted to perfection and served along with additional mezze and of course bread. I like this option because like the small plates, it’s shared communally so that you can eat as much or as little as you like.

Mansaf – The national dish of Jordan, enjoying this with friends is a must-do culinary experience for every visitor to the country. Usually made with lamb, it’s cooked in a sauce of fermented dried yogurt and served with rice and topped with shrak bread. The traditional way to eat mansaf is with your right hand with which you create small balls of meat, rice and sauce that you then pop into your mouth. It takes a while to get a hang of the process, but once you do you’ll instantly feel like a local.

Zarb – This dish has its roots in Bedouin culture and is a common way to create a meal for a big feast. An underground pit is built into which racks of meats and vegetables are cooked for several hours. The entire process takes a lot of time and effort, but the results are well worth it. Succulent meat that falls off the bone and roasted vegetables that are amongst the best you’ll ever try.

Dessert and Coffee or Tea

Desserts aren’t all that common in this part of the world and the ones that are enjoyed tend to be very sweet. More important is the coffee and tea culture, which is taken very seriously. Still, there are certain common treats to properly finish off a meal in Jordan.

Awameh – These were actually too sweet for me, which is saying a lot. They’re small fried pastries soaked in syrup or honey that in turn creates a hard crust. One after a big meal is a nice finish, but more than that and a visit to the dentist is in order.

Knafeh – This isn’t only my favorite dessert in Jordan, but is one of my all-time favorite desserts anywhere in the world. Knafeh is made using very fine vermicelli-like pastry, which is heated with butter then a soft, white cheese is spread over it, more pastry added, and so on. The dessert is then topped with a sticky syrup and some crushed pistachios. When served hot there honestly is nothing better; it’s a dessert I will never get tired of eating.

Coffee – Whether it’s Arabic or Turkish style, the coffee in Jordan is strong and plentiful. Common throughout the day, a cup after a meal is thankfully normal. Due to its strength it’s not usually served in large cups, but that was fine with me. Even a small amount was enough to keep me going for several more hours.

Tea – Also common throughout the country, it was the Bedouins who really perfected this beverage. Different from tea you’re used to, the tea in Jordan is flavored with local herbs that create a very sweet and slightly addictive drink.

Jordanian food is a broad category and what I decided to share with you today is just a brief glimpse into the complex culinary culture the country enjoys. I hope though that it demonstrates one thing – that the food is an incredibly important part of the travel experience in Jordan and instead of relegating it to a secondary status, it should be one of the major focal points of any trip to this beautiful country.

From this list which Jordanian dish sounds best to you?

 

This campaign was created and sponsored by Jordan Tourism Board in partnership with iambassador. LandLopers retains all editorial control of what is published and as you know, I never shy away from honest commentary.

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Stunning Sunrise On A Ranch In Alberta, Canadahttp://landlopers.com/2014/11/23/sunrise-ranch-alberta-canada/ http://landlopers.com/2014/11/23/sunrise-ranch-alberta-canada/#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 04:50:42 +0000 http://landlopers.com/?p=28726 The post Stunning Sunrise On A Ranch In Alberta, Canada appeared first on LandLopers.

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Alberta Canada

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Cities In Circles: Fisheye Effect Photos From Around The Worldhttp://landlopers.com/2014/11/20/fisheye-effect-photos/ http://landlopers.com/2014/11/20/fisheye-effect-photos/#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 04:55:13 +0000 http://landlopers.com/?p=28763 FriFotos, the weekly photo sharing event I participate in, this week decided to choose the theme CIRCLES. So I thought it would be a good time to play around with … Read More

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FriFotos, the weekly photo sharing event I participate in, this week decided to choose the theme CIRCLES. So I thought it would be a good time to play around with some fun apps and turn a few of my favorite cityscapes into fisheye effect photos. What do you think, do you like the look of them?

Petra Jordan

Petra, Jordan

Berlin, Germany

Melbourne, Australia

Venice, Italy

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Taipei, Taiwan

London

Valletta, Malta

Willemstad, Curacao

Bergamo, Italy

Hong Kong

Paris

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16 Instagram Travel Photographers You May Not Know But Should Followhttp://landlopers.com/2014/11/20/instagram-travel/ http://landlopers.com/2014/11/20/instagram-travel/#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 04:50:19 +0000 http://landlopers.com/?p=28770 If you’re like me you love getting lost in great travel imagery, and Instagram provides one of the best ways to do that. Here are some of my favorite Instagram … Read More

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Instagram Travel

If you’re like me you love getting lost in great travel imagery, and Instagram provides one of the best ways to do that. Here are some of my favorite Instagram travel accounts that you may not have heard of, but I think everyone should follow. Some are professionals and some aren’t but they all have one thing in common – a fierce love of travel and sharing their experiences with the world. In these beautiful Instagram travel accounts you’ll see everything from descriptive city scenes to landscapes that look like they were plucked out of a fantasy novel.

It was hard to select just a few of the many accounts that I follow and I purposefully decided to avoid featuring Instagram travel accounts that always make these lists. Why? Well, to be honest they don’t need any more attention shone on them, most people already know of their incredible work which I love too. No, today I wanted instead to highlight some OTHER folks doing amazing work.

Naturally, this is just my personal opinion and it’ll probably change over time. But as of today, these are the 16 Instagram travel accounts that I look forward to seeing everyday and am thankful that they have allowed all of us the privilege of being included in their daily lives and global adventures.

No matter what your specific travel preferences might be, I guarantee you’ll discover new and exciting accounts on this list. So go, take a look and let me know what you think! Also, if you know of some great accounts that could use a little more attention, be sure to post their Instagram user name in the comments section below.

Best Instagram Travel Accounts

In NO particular order, honest.

@Bloggeries

Rob is the brains behind the travel blog and YouTube channel “Stop Having A Boring Life,” and his life is definitely anything but dull. Follow him for fun, quirky and always interesting travel photos from all corners of the globe.

Follow @Bloggeries on Instagram

@TheVagabondish

An early adopter, the Vagabondish has been a leader in the travel blogger community for years and his photos show why. A great hodge podge of experiences, this account never fails to disappoint.

Follow @TheVagabondish on Instagram

@LeahTravels

Leah is an exceptional professional on her blog and that absolutely translates to her Instagram account. The photos are beautiful but also well thought out, obviously designed to provide all of us with some great shots to drool over.

Follow @LeahTravels on Instagram

@MatthiasJBarker

If you’re looking for amazing landscapes and jaw dropping shots of natural beauty, then this is the account for you. Just take a look and see what I mean.

Follow @matthiasjbarker on Instagram

@StoryTravelers

I used to think that Caspar was a video guy, and then I saw his Instagram feed. I instantly felt inferior when I look at his amazing photos which aren’t just well composed, but beautiful.

Follow @StoryTravelers on Instagram

@Lozula

Equal parts travel writer and photographer, this account will make you change the way you look at the world. His unique perspective and ability to consistently amaze are why you should follow him.

Follow @Lozula on Instagram

@MrsOAroundWorld

If images of amazing luxury travel experiences are what you’re for then look no further. There are a lot of luxury travelers (including myself) out there, but Mrs. O is one of my favorite accounts to follow.

Follow @MrsOAroundWorld on Instagram

@ReiseFreunde

All social media platforms introduce us to folks around the world, but Instagram is especially intimate and I love seeing how people in other countries experience the world, like Instagrammer extraordinaire Angie. Check out her account for artistic and thoughtful images from every corner of the planet.

Follow @ReiseFreunde on Instagram

@PhotoJBartlett

I’ve had the great pleasure of meeting Jeff and I got to see how he does what he does and that only made me appreciate his abilities as a photographer that much more. He’s one of the best out there and his photos are truly works of art.

Follow @PhotoJBartlett on Instagram

@MichaelTurtle

Michael is yet another one of a unique breed – excellent writers who are also excellent photographers. Just as he has a way of crafting words, his photos tell stories that are just as impactful.

Follow @MichaelTurtle on Instagram

@JustChuckinIt

Ryan is a very unique young man who has been through a lot in life. Those experiences have in turn, however, created a fine artist with a very unique voice and a marvelous eye for the things many of us miss every day. Follow him to see more of the world and expand your mind in the process.

Follow @JustChuckinIt on Instagram

@TravelsInTranslation

I’ve been a big fan of Beth’s for a long time for a simple reason – she makes me want to visit places I’ve never been. That’s at the core of what great travel storytelling should be and her photos in particular demonstrate a keen ability to transport followers almost anywhere.

Follow @TravelsInTranslation on Instagram

@NicoleTravelBug

A prolific traveler and writer, Nicole seeks adventure and luxury wherever she goes and she almost always finds it. Her account follows these experiences and I know you’ll love following along as much as I do.

Follow @NicoleTravelBug on Instagram

@JohnThatcher

This San Francisco based photographer has a fierce love of capturing the spirit of America, along with some basset hounds and quirky finds thrown in. He’s another example of a true professional and his photos will make you ache to see more.

Follow @JohnThatcher on Instagram

@BeyondMyDoor

What I like best about this account is the photographer’s knack of capturing things that may seem familiar, but in very different ways. Plus the subject matter tends to be of places new to me, which is always fun to follow.

Follow @BeyondMyDoor on Instagram

@BaldHiker

Paul is a social media legend and if you follow him on Twitter (as you should) then his colorful and fun Instagram account is an absolute no-brainer.

Follow @BaldHiker on Instagram

PLUS, – Me, @LandLopers

Ok, I hate it when other bloggers do this, but I would be remiss if I didn’t at least make a small plug for myself. I’ve been devoting a lot more time to Instagram and I have quickly fallen in love with the platform. So take a peek and let me know what you think!

What are some other great Instagram Travel accounts we should all know about? (feel free to add your own!)

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My Favorite Cities In Europe To Explore When It’s Cold Outsidehttp://landlopers.com/2014/11/19/cities-europe-cold/ http://landlopers.com/2014/11/19/cities-europe-cold/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 04:55:57 +0000 http://landlopers.com/?p=28711     Winter may not seem like the ideal travel time, but personally it’s my favorite. Things are a little bit cheaper and the throngs of tourists found in the … Read More

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Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert in Brussels

Winter may not seem like the ideal travel time, but personally it’s my favorite. Things are a little bit cheaper and the throngs of tourists found in the summer months are long gone. Instead locals fill the streets as they scurry off to festivals and carnivals, allowing visitors the chance to feel like a part of the community for once instead of a camera-wielding interloper. To help convince you that braving the cold is well worth the effort, here are a few of my favorite cold weather travel destinations.

Brussels

Brussels was one of my first introductions to the benefits of winter travel and it is still one of my favorite destinations regardless of time of year. In December, Brussels hosts the Winter Wonders Festival, a politically correct term for what is essentially a massive Christmas market. The fun starts in the iconic Grand Place, which hosts a gigantic Christmas tree and at night features a light and music show that can’t be missed. It loops every 15 minutes, so don’t worry about missing it. From there follow your nose along the side streets and meander through the stalls that have a little bit of everything from hot mulled wine to snacks and of course gifts. My favorite spot is located in front of Church of St. Catherine where the majority of stalls are housed in addition to a Ferris wheel, ice skating rink and a rotating array of musicians. I’ve been twice and I would gladly go every year if I could. The festival is just a lot of good, honest fun and while the weather WILL be grey and cold, I think that only adds to the experience. While you’re in town be sure to see the other more famous sites like the Old Town, the Atomium and all of the delicious chocolate shops found around town.

Reykjavik Iceland

Iceland

This is actually a bit of a misconception. Given its name, most first time visitors expect Iceland to be freezing, and while it’s definitely chilly in the winter it’s not as extreme as one would think. Iceland hovers around the low-mid 30s in January, which is the same or warmer than a lot of the US at the same time. Meteorological phenomena ensure that this island nation never gets too hot or too cold, which is perfect for tourists. There’s plenty to do year round and especially in the winter months, from enjoying the thermal pools found around the country to more adventurous pursuits like diving, snowmobiling, glacier hiking and ice cave exploration. Don’t make the mistake that so many other tourists make though and skip Reykjavik. It’s a great city and a fun place to walk around and explore, window shopping and stopping off for a snack or two.

Piazza San Marco Venice

Venice

It was cold, very cold, when I visited Venice in December. For whatever reason, many of us typically think of Italy as a warm destination, which it is – in the south and during the summer. Venice is not in the south and it was anything but summer as the cold wind bit through my jacket, but it was those weather conditions that ultimately made the experience so very special. Venice is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world and in the warm summer months is frankly mobbed with people. Yet there I stood in the middle of St. Mark’s Square with only a few other brave souls. It was remarkable and I felt like I had the city all to myself. That experience instantly proved to me the tremendous value of traveling in the winter. Walking around the Doge’s Palace and later navigating the labyrinthine alleys and streets of Venice we were joined by other tourists, but not that many. Not once did I have to wait in a line and I even had to wake a sleeping gondolier to take us around for a brief cruise. It made me fall in love with the city, one that I may not have liked had it been overrun with other tourists.

ghent

Ghent

It may seem odd to include two Belgian cities on this list, but that is a testimony to not only how much I love this small country, but how great it is to visit in the winter. Bruges tends to get all of the attention, but nearby Ghent in my opinion is just as much fun to visit. Strolling along the beautiful canals, which I personally like better than the ones in Amsterdam, and learning the layout of the city at the same time is just a lot of fun. There is a holiday market in front of the massive St. Bavo’s Cathedral, but the real fun in exploring the city is in its food. From mustard to hams and even beers, Ghent prides itself on a long and festive culinary tradition. The best place to learn about this, and Flemish food in general, is at the Het Groot Vleeshuis. Housed in an old meat market, this innovative space showcases the best foods of the area, morsels that can only be found in Flanders. Free tastings and quick lessons in the traditions are available for anyone and is an easy and non-threatening way to learn your way around Ghentian cuisine.

Paris Christmas

Paris

To paraphrase the old quote, I think Paris is a good idea no matter what time of year it is. Turns out, December is one of its best months. I’ve been to the City of Lights many times and so when we visited during the Christmas season it was just for a quick day trip, a chance to briefly reconnect with the city I love so very much. I joined a special food tour of the city, one of the best travel decisions I’ve ever made. The tour took us through small markets, through pastry shops and bakeries sampling the delicious seasonal food and learning more not only about Paris’ food history, but the city’s unique Christmas traditions. It was a fantastic primer and I really enjoyed standing shoulder to shoulder with Parisians as they bought their special Christmas cakes to take to the next party. My partner and I finished out the day by strolling through two Christmas markets, one along the famous boulevard the Champs-Élysées and the second immediately in front of the Eiffel Tower. It was the Tower market that impressed me the most, not for its wares or snacks, but for the impressive backdrop. There is nothing like standing there, sipping hot cocoa and watching as the Tower lights up for the evening. It’s pure travel magic and is but one of the many reasons why I love this city so very much.

Where are your favorite places in Europe to visit when it’s chilly outside?

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Orange Sunset In Wadi Rum, Jordanhttp://landlopers.com/2014/11/19/orange-sunset-wadi-rum-jordan/ http://landlopers.com/2014/11/19/orange-sunset-wadi-rum-jordan/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 04:50:52 +0000 http://landlopers.com/?p=28694 The post Orange Sunset In Wadi Rum, Jordan appeared first on LandLopers.

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Wadi Rum Jordan

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Why I Didn’t Skydive In Jordanhttp://landlopers.com/2014/11/18/skydive-jordan/ http://landlopers.com/2014/11/18/skydive-jordan/#comments Wed, 19 Nov 2014 04:55:49 +0000 http://landlopers.com/?p=28714 I like to think that I can do just about anything, at least once. When I travel this seems to be even more pronounced as I find myself doing things … Read More

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I like to think that I can do just about anything, at least once. When I travel this seems to be even more pronounced as I find myself doing things that I would never consider back at home. And in spite of my fears, or because of them, I’ve done a lot of extreme activities from jumping off of the highest bungee swing in the world to swimming with Great Whites. Once in a while though I meet a challenge that I just can’t accept, as was recently the case when I couldn’t skydive in Jordan.

It was towards the end of the trip and I had an opportunity to skydive at a facility in the Dead Sea. The company, SkyDive Jordan, was respectable, had a great reputation and everything looked great. Driving up to their headquarters just meters from the Dead Sea, I even thought that I would jump out of that plane until we walked through the door and I was hit by the totality of the experience.

Let me back up, I have a conditional fear of heights. I’ve written about it before and sometimes I can face that fear and other times I can’t. Gazing out from the tallest skyscrapers in the world is fine but put me on a ten-foot ladder and I’m a quivering mess. Following the logic, the jump should have been fine, but my gut instincts disagreed.

I should say, this is in no way a slight to the company. They were great and have an amazing track record both in Jordan and Dubai. No, it was all me and what I found even more interesting was how I felt. I was angry, really angry, not at anyone else – just myself. I thought I had licked this fear, well mostly, from epic bungees to zip lines all over the world I thought I had somewhat resolved this phobia. As everyone joked nervously and suited up, I couldn’t help but feel like a loser. Someone who let his fears get in the way of an amazing experience – against every bit of advice I have ever given anyone.

sky dive Jordan

Facing fears is important and travel seems to be the best opportunity for us to do this. We tend to be more outgoing when we travel and we almost always do things we would never consider at home. We let go of some of our inhibitions and are more carefree. At home I don’t zip line, go on 10-mile hikes or jump off of buildings, yet I do when I travel. When we face our fears we grow as individuals, we become stronger, more able and all around better human beings. I think that’s what made me so upset, that I let a very silly fear get in the way of an amazing, probably once-in-a-lifetime, experience. It is deeply regrettable and something that I’m still ashamed about.

Looking back I don’t think it was a good decision NOT to skydive, just as I felt at the time. But I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t suit up, go up in the plane and then jump out of it. I know intellectually it was fine and I know that the instructor who would’ve been attached to me would be doing all the jumping, and yet I just couldn’t manage it. I was scared and it is a fear that I have apparently not been able to beat yet.

Even though I missed this opportunity for both fun times and personal growth, the experience did teach me a lot. It taught me that I have become too used to accepting some of my fears. Sure, I did the bungee in South Africa, but twice this year I have bowed out of activities due to heights. These are not the actions of someone who has conquered his conditional fear of heights. I must continue working on this and the next time one of these death-defying activities comes up, I just have to go for it and hope for the best. Not because of the experience itself necessarily, but because what it will do for me personally. It will help me grow, be less fearful and in turn improve other aspects of my life. No one should live a life a fear, no matter how small the fears might be they at some point become too controlling if we let them go unchecked.

Watching my friends descend from the plane, parachutes popping open I couldn’t help but think how beautiful it was. Storm clouds passed and a double rainbow emerged, a rare treat in the desert to be sure. It was a gorgeous moment and one that I felt existed just for me, a way for the universe to pat me on the back and tell me that everything would be ok. And I know that it will, as long as I continue facing my fears, no matter what they may be.

What are some of your fears? Have you faced them?

 

 

This campaign was created and sponsored by Jordan Tourism Board in partnership with iambassador. LandLopers retains all editorial control of what is published and as you know, I never shy away from honest commentary.

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Stunning Dome of the Ducal Church in Sabbioneta, Italyhttp://landlopers.com/2014/11/18/photo-church-sabbioneta-italy/ http://landlopers.com/2014/11/18/photo-church-sabbioneta-italy/#comments Wed, 19 Nov 2014 04:50:00 +0000 http://landlopers.com/?p=28697 The post Stunning Dome of the Ducal Church in Sabbioneta, Italy appeared first on LandLopers.

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Sabbioneta Italy

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What The Travel Industry Still Doesn’t Understand About Gay Travelershttp://landlopers.com/2014/11/17/travel-industry-gay/ http://landlopers.com/2014/11/17/travel-industry-gay/#comments Tue, 18 Nov 2014 04:55:22 +0000 http://landlopers.com/?p=28719 Every few months I see something that provokes a ranty post, usually about the LGBT community and how the travel industry doesn’t do a very good job of marketing towards … Read More

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LGBT Pride Flag, Brussels gay belgium

Every few months I see something that provokes a ranty post, usually about the LGBT community and how the travel industry doesn’t do a very good job of marketing towards us. Well guess what time of the year it is? That’s right, time for another thoughtful if not somewhat ranty post about the dismal, horrible, awful job most (but not all) companies and destinations that comprise the largest industry in the world – travel – do when it comes time to put together a marketing campaign that would appeal to the LGBT market.

Why Care?

Good question and I’m glad I asked. First there’s the business angle. The worldwide LGBT travel market is conservatively estimated to be well in excess of $150 billion annually. I say conservatively because it’s frankly a hard number to suss out as many don’t necessarily self-identify as LGBT, but it’s a good place to start. On average, gay couples include two individuals who both have full time jobs, good jobs that provide a lot of extra income. The majority of us don’t have kids so apart from mortgage payments and weekly brunches, we typically choose to spend that money on luxuries like travel. I’m not sure that there’s any other minority group out there that enjoys travel a much as we do, but our interest in travel is sadly nowhere to be seen when it comes to travel advertising and outreach.

We should all also care because there is a dignity issue at stake here. I don’t care if you hate me because I’m gay (not quite true, but that’s not the point) we should all care that the companies and destinations we decide to donate our hard-earned cash to do the utmost to treat everyone with respect. I’m not talking about checking into a hotel, I am talking about directing significant portions of marketing dollars to targeting the LGBT community, which I don’t see a lot of. I think most companies figure we’ll travel anyway, so why bother. I’ll get to that in a second.

Grand Cayman pool

But Wait, I Thought Companies Do Care?

Sort of. They care about the money we bring them and so many commit token gestures of kindness or empathy in the hopes of higher ratings with the Human Rights Campaign or a blurb in a LGBT magazine or web site. To show you what I mean, let’s look at a certain travel company for a moment – let’s call them Company X. A couple of years ago they produced a beautiful commercial highlighting the story of a lesbian couple. It was a great ad, it wasn’t over the top and it achieved their marketing goals while at the same time showing some respect in how they treated the LGBT community. The problem is that I never saw that ad anywhere except by people who shared it online; most of them involved with the ad’s development. When I turned on the TV I never saw it, when I scrolled through online news sources I never saw it. I’m sure they bought some airtime somewhere, but it was minimal. A year later though when Company X came out with an iPad app you better believe the airwaves were inundated with those commercials. I couldn’t turn the channel without being bashed over the head with it. Now let’s take a look at the Company X web page devoted to LGBT travel. It hasn’t changed in at least 3 years, and probably longer. The page is pathetically light on any information and highlights a few gay ghettoes as travel destinations. The page itself isn’t only useless, it’s offensive. I have no doubt that the individuals who work at Company X care immensely about LGBT rights, I know for a fact that they do. But when it comes time to devote money and corporate resources to integrating LGBT messaging in mainstream advertising, that care is sadly nowhere to be seen.

Company X is who I decided to pick on today, but they’re not alone. Most major travel companies do this, destinations too. They devote precious little attention to the LGBT community and when they do it’s dripping with stereotypes. Rainbow flags, half naked men and the like. That’s not how the majority of us travel, a fact they still haven’t come to understand.

Berlin Gay LGBT

You’re Awfully Complainy, What Do You Want?

I am complaining a lot and it’s because I’m angry. I’m angry that for as much progress that we have made legally and culturally that it doesn’t seem to really matter. I’m not looking for big ad campaigns filled with rainbow streamers; in fact I think that would be horrible. Instead I just want companies and destinations to include the LGBT community in their advertising naturally, just as they do with other groups. Commercials are becoming more reflective of our changing demographics and that’s great. Thirty years ago most ads just had white folks, today you see all groups represented. It helps, it gives members of these communities a feeling that they matter. Children look up to role models who look and act like them and it’s great that these now exist for most minority groups, but it doesn’t for the LGBT community. When I watch an Expedia or Travelocity ad, I don’t see members of the LGBT included in natural ways. I don’t see us represented at all. That’s what we need. We need to feel like we’re part of society, that we aren’t separate from it and pop culture helps aid in that effort.

We also need better role models. The average gay traveler is not a party-going 20-something. A company’s key target demographics don’t change just because you want to talk to the LGBT community. If you’re a luxury hotel and the average age of a guest is 45 and affluent, then those are the same metrics as your LGBT guests. But you need to include them, have them feel like they’re a part of your business model. When you produce a print ad, why not showcase a gay couple once in a while instead of a straight couple? Companies and destinations should work with people who can help shape and share these messages. I see a lot of companies work with young actors and writers to serve as token gays, and that’s sadly all they are. They conform to a stereotype and with very little exception do little to advance the conversation. There are exceptions to this rule of course, and they should be lauded for their efforts. Just as I ask companies to portray the LGBT as a normal, everyman so should writers and influencers. Instead of highlighting exclusionary activities that are gay-only, we need to serve as role models and show other members of our community that we can go anywhere and do anything, that hate and prejudice don’t hold us back. Case in point: The other day I posted a photo of Bermuda to my Instagram account. I had a reader comment that he had cancelled a trip there because a friend told him on the whole it wasn’t a gay-friendly destination. I shared with him my own positive experiences and now he’s reconsidering that decision. That’s what it’s all about. Real people sharing real stories and helping change opinions along the way.

As with all of my ranty posts this one is somewhat rambling and I think I forgot a few of my key points, but in general it’s all there. I shouldn’t have to parade around in a tank-top, partying the night away in order to be seen as a gay traveler. The travel industry should instead realize that we’re not all that different from other travelers with a notable exception, we need to be shown more respect. We need to be included and we need to be portrayed in ways that advance the causes we’ve fought so hard for instead of shoving us back into antiquated and offensive stereotypes.

Marketing and PR is all about storytelling; it’s high time they started telling our true story.

What do you think?

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Admiring The Views At Honister Pass in Englandhttp://landlopers.com/2014/11/17/photo-views-honister-pass-england/ http://landlopers.com/2014/11/17/photo-views-honister-pass-england/#comments Tue, 18 Nov 2014 04:50:13 +0000 http://landlopers.com/?p=28702 The post Admiring The Views At Honister Pass in England appeared first on LandLopers.

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Honister Pass England

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