two items to take on your next trip

I just used an InReach for the first time. Basically, it allows you to send and receive texts anywhere in the world.  It uses satellites (a.k.a. magic) and is fairly easy to set up.  It's $264 clams plus a month-to-month or annual contract of about $25.00. But it works.  Supposedly, you can send SOS messages but haven't had the pleasure of using that feature yet.

Even cooler and a lot cheaper: a kite.  Ideally, a pegasus/unicorn kite.  Why, you ask? Because it's light (.2 ounces), cheap,, and turns the top of any mountaintop hike into a dreamy, memorable moment or what Wordsworth called "a spot in time."   



an island to visit: melody key, florida

what's to love about it
A private island just a short boat ride from Summerland Key just 30 min. north of Key West. 

what might give one pause
No beach.  And it's spendy.  $1,553 per night spendy.

how to ease the pain a bit
Three bedrooms means $500 per couple. Still a lot, but half the price of nearby Little Palm Island. When we went recently, we had some people camping to further spread the costs.  

what's cool about it
Staying on your own Florida Key is pretty great.  Plus there's nearby fishing, snorkeling, stupid-fying in Key West, etc.  And there's a nesting osprey on the island- a $100 a night value on its own.

Ask Blaise, the owner/manager about renting your own power boat.  And mention my name - he'll probably give you a discount or perhaps charge you extra!



island to probably never visit: the brando

what’s to love: Super eco and deluxe private Tahitian island formerly owned by Marlon Brando. 

what’s to give me pause - a lot of pause: Well, at $4,100 a night, the brando's not exactly a hidden bargain, even if that does include eats.   



travel suggestion

The New York Times recently ran an article about how to extend the life of your vacation.  Along with novel ideas like taking photographs and buying souvenirs, it suggested you wear clothes you bought while travelling.  I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS.  

If you come back from your Machu Pichu trip wearing one of those Peruvian ponchos to work, you will look - and actually be - ridiculous.  Unless, of course, you are also carrying a pan flute.  In which case, you will be a source of awe and wonder. 


5 things to consider before moving abroad


5 things to consider before moving abroad

I've moved abroad and come back an embarassing number of times.  Here are a few things I've learned:

1.) living abroad is cheaper than vacationing abroad
When you're local(ish) living is simply less expensive than when you're traveling.  For example, buying a car and selling it a year later ends up costing about what a two-week rental might.

2.) time zones matter more than actual miles
Being awake when your friends and family back home are asleep makes living abroad feel much farther than the actual number of miles you happen to be away.

3.) permits, shmermits
Ignoring the rules makes it harder to come and go, but I've never been hassled about overstaying my visa.  I've heard a lot of people deciding not move somewhere because of the paperwork - to me that's more of a bummer than an afternoon spent pleading ignorance and asking for forgiveness.

4.) sublet/airbnb your place back home
When I moved to Palau, the profit I got from subletting my apartment in New York covered more than the cost of all my rent.  In effect, someone was working crazy-long hours in New York so I could snorkel on Tuesdays on a Pacific island.  I found it ironic. My subletter, probably less so.

5.) ignore the experts  
Because when it comes to the big choices, the big decisions, we're all just beginners.



Tonight, New Orleans!

If you're in New Orleans, stop by The Words & Music Festival today at 6:45 pm to hear me ramble on about my book. Since it's the Friday night before Halloween, should be pretty mellow.



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Asheville, NC!!!

Looking forward to a reading and talk this THURSDAY at 7 pm at Firestorm Books at Asheville, NC.

And to speaking with Carol Anders at "Ashevile 'N' The Arts" at 10 am, Thursday on 103.7 FM.

More info here...

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Really excited about PASSPORT MAGAZINE recommending "A Beginner's Guide to Paradise"! They called called it "witty," "immensely entertaining" and "less self absorbed and much funnier than the genre's most celebrated entry, Eat, Pray, Love!"

Thanks to writer Jim Gladstone too for the write up and not using the phrase, "total snooze cruise."



New Book Video...

World's only extreme-sports parody and book trailer!  It's short. And gently teases those super-serious mountain biking, surfing, rafting, and skateboarding films they show at Telluride and Banff Film Festivals.  Anyway, hope you like it! 

Alex Sheshunoff: No Limits, No Boundaries, No Clue. Probably won't sell many copies of my book, "A Beginner's Guide to Paradise," but was fun to do!



If You Could Have Just One Item On A Deserted Island...

A while back I bought a one-way ticket to a remote Pacific island called Yap, carrying with me only a few t-shirts and the hundred books I was most embarrassed not to have read.  While out there, I'd read most of the books, meet a girl, and write my own, vaguely humorous book called "A Beginner's Guide to Paradise" (Penguin Random House, 2015).  But when I recently returned, I got to wondering, what would other folks have brought?  Curious, I conducted a Google Consumer Survey of 1,001 people and asked them this open-ended question...

And You?  Use the comments below to say what you'd bring?  Or keep scrolling for more survey results.




And here's some regional info...









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Where is Palau?

I get these questions a lot so thought I'd just post my "answers" here.  Don't see what you're looking for here?  Feel free to contact me.

Where is Palau?

Palau is an archipelago of about 300 islands of which only 9 are inhabited. The total population is about 25,000 people.  The island group is located about 1,000 miles southwest of Guam and 600 miles east of the Philippines. Though it gained some recognition as a set for Survivor, Palau is most well known for its abundant marine life, anti-shark fishing policy, and Rock Islands.  Less well known is its fabulously rich and fabulously complex culture.

How do I get to Palau?

It ain't easy. but with a little pluck and patience you can fly to Koror (ROR) on...

United Airlines via Guam (2 hours), Manila (2.5 hours), and Yap (1 hour) Note: These flights stop in Honolulu en route.

Asiana Airlines and Korean Air via Seoul-Incheon (5 hours)

China Airlines via Taipei-Taoyuan (5 hours)

Delta Air Lines via Tokyo-Narita (4.5 hours)

Japan Airlines via Charter: Tokyo-Narita and Nagoya (4.5 hours)

Mega Maldives via Charter: Macau  (4 hours)

What is the best time of year to visit Palau?

The only bad month is August when the the water can get pretty rough, making transportation and diving difficult. As such, late July and early September can also be tricky. Once, when the ferry couldn't come to Angaur (the outer Palauan island where we built a little bungalow with the help of a dozen friends and a baby monkey) we asked the locals what they eat when supplies run low? "Bananas," we were told. "We eat bananas."

What are the Rock Islands?

This refers to the chain of 300 or so islands stretching south of the capital, Koror. They're mushroom shaped and occasionally have white sand or white mud beaches. The whole area is spectacular  - thank god, they're protected. Two large islands at the end of the chain, Peleliu and Angaur, each have a few small villages.

How long should I go to Palau for?

When people go on vacation in Palau they usually take a week off from work and spend both weekends. In other words, ten days to two weeks. Plan on spending two days to get there (because of an overnight in Koror) and two days to get back (because of the international date line.)

Background about Palau?

One of the world's newest independent countries, Palau got its independence from the U.S. in 1994. They use the U.S. dollar, everyone speaks English and Palauan. This poor country keeps getting tossed around a bit - first they were a colony of Spain, then Germany, then Japan, then the United States, and now they are independent, though the U.S. still has a big say in their foreign policy. (They even got a brief mention in Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 for being such a staunch supporter of U.S. foreign policy.) 

There are about 25,000 Palauns and almost all live in Koror. And there are a lot of community events - for example, every Tuesday and Wednesdays there is ultimate Frisbee, every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, outrigger canoeing, every other Saturday, a HASH race through the jungle ending at a bonfire with plenty of beer. 

After having lived in or visited a lot of the Pacific, Palau is still by far our one of the most beautiful places we've been. t's also funky and confusing in ways you'd never expect... 

What are the best places to eat in Palau?

There is excellent Indian at The Taj and good, if expensive, Japanese at Dragon Tai and great fried chicken to go at King's Mart (lunch only).

Where is the best place to stay in Palau?

We think the best place is Caroline's Resort - they have small bungalows with great views. If you stay there, you can also access the beach of the Palau Pacific Resort - which is nice in it's own, mid-80's kind of way, though the beach is man made and you can expect to be with a lot of Japanese tourists on package tours.

What should I bring to Palau?

You can buy anything you need but generally at higher prices than in the States. And who wants to spend their vacation in a department store? Here's what you need to bring:

-Mask, snorkel, and fins.

-Tivas or flip flops


-Shorts and such - it never gets cool enough for jeans. 


-Light rain coat.

When is the rainy season in Palau?

Palau has some of the most consistent weather in the world - not only from day to night but also month to month. In the dry season it rains once a day; in the rainy season (July-August); it rains twice a day - though almost all the rain tends to come in short, afternoon bursts.

What is Koror, the capital like?

Though not the most beautiful city in the world, Koror is safe and a good place to get groceries and go to restaurants and bars. The downtown area, which wasn’t more than a mile long and a few streets wide, has a scruffy, frontier feel - I imagine similar to that of towns tossed up on the edge of the Brazilian Amazon. Lumber trucks splash through potholes, dump trucks trundle by with loads of men holding shovels and wearing bandanas around their necks, doors of unmarked warehouses slide open and closed, revealing little of their darkened interiors. Best of all, though, you see people from everywhere: Palauans, of course, but also Filipino shop attendants, Bangladeshi construction workers, Taiwanese tourists, and, of course, American lawyers. (Palau bases its legal code on the state of Oregon.)

Still have questions?

Feel free to contact me through this site. And then (warning - shameless plug coming) pre-purchase my little book (Penguin Random House, 2015) about building a house on an outer island of Palau.  It's not too long, it will make your trip better, and it has a lot of jokes, several of which are funny.

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