A blend of posts about this blog and various travel subjects

Trip Accomplice 2017 Year In Review

Shoshone Point

Enjoying a railing-free view at Shoshone Point

Well, it’s January again, which means it’s time to take a quick look in the rear view mirror before moving on to the year ahead. Below is a recap of the articles that have appeared here on the Trip Accomplice blog – I invite you to take a look in case there was something you missed. I’ll even refrain from mocking you for it.

The Facts

This year I’ve led my readers on a tour through destinations in 7 foreign countries and 2 famous spots in the U.S.A. Along the way I’ve recounted some amazing experiences available at said destinations, as well as practical advice, points of interest, and even a few tips.

Destinations Abroad

The subjects of my posts this past year were overwhelmingly slanted toward Asia-to the tune of seven out of seven. Considering that most of the world’s population and landmass resides there, this should come as no surprise. Add to that the fact that my past two journeys abroad were a whirlwind tour of Southeast Asia and a few weeks in Sri Lanka via a stop in the Middle East, and the implications are clear.


Me and the Manta, Nusa Penida

The first post was on the amazing opportunity visitors to Bali are afforded in: Mantas Need Showers Too-Diving Nusa Penida. If you ever wanted to float among giants, then this post is worth checking out. Even if you don’t have the guts, but are curious to see a maniac like myself doing so, it’s still worth a look. Next I focused my attention to the next archipelago over in Touring Manila Without Pushing The Envelope – an overview of what to do and see in the Philippine capital. Spoiler Alert: there isn’t much, but if you happen to be there, I’ve got some suggestions for you.

Hoi An

Time to party in Hoi An, Vietnam

The next stop on our Asian tour focused on another awesome experience, this time outside of the city of Kota Kinabalu in Malaysian Borneo. As the title would suggest Rafting with the Wild Man of Borneo, this is a destination piece that not only details the perils of whitewater rafting in the primordial rain forests of Borneo, but the incredible nature of the setting. Even if you’ve never picked up a paddle (or ever intend to) it’s still a fun read. From there I crossed the South China Sea for two posts about the underrated destination of Vietnam. In Good Morning Vietnam/Goodnight Saigon I recounted the sights to see in Vietnam’s most vibrant city through the lens of an American who grew up in an era where that was the war featured in pop culture’s attention. Next I shared some practical details about two out of three of the top sights of Central Vietnam in Da Nang, Vietnam – Where Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad. For the record, this area could have easily occupied several weeks of activity, instead of the single day I had at my disposal. If you’re looking for some tropical/historic vacation ideas, you’ll definitely want to take a peek at what you missed.


View from the top at Sigiriya, Sri Lanka

Shifting to Central Asia, I posted my longest piece of the year-a rundown of not only the best destinations to see in Sri Lanka, but everything a potential traveler would need to know before going in the post India Lite: An Overview of Sri Lanka. The nearly three weeks I spent there in June/July of 2017 gave me a great view of both the highlights and the challenges. If I had to sum it up in a few words: the good outweighed the bad. The next post touched on a little jitney I took on my way there, entitled Day Trip to Musandam, Oman. Since I had over 24 hours to spend in Dubai, UAE, naturally I had to venture further afield. This post tells you the practicalities and pros and cons of doing so.


Take a stroll on the aerial walkway for a scene out of Myst

Lastly, I once again wrote about Southeast Asia in Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay – Where Myst Meets Pandora, which tells about the biggest difference in the city/state since the last time I had visited in 2003. Filled with references from my younger years, it’s a good place to start for anyone considering a trip to Singapore.

Destinations At Home


Stop and smell the flowers in Aquinnah

2017 saw me visiting two famous American destinations – one for the first time, the other for the first time as an adult.

In The Best-Kept Secret Spot in the Grand Canyon (Don’t Tell Them I Told You) I shared specific details on finding this special place away from the crowds in arguably the most majestic site of natural beauty anywhere. Not only is the Grand Canyon an absolute must for any serious traveler, but the “secret spot” is a must for those who wish to enjoy it in relative privacy.

The other popular U.S. destination I featured was in the post A Day in the Vineyard (Wine Optional), which was a rundown of the sights and logistics of visiting the New England gem of Martha’s Vineyard. Though not terribly different geologically than my birthplace of Long Island, this staple of summer fun was everything I’d hoped it would be and more.

What’s Next in 2018?

The only concrete travel plans I have in 2018 are on a Western Caribbean cruise beginning in February which will take me back to three places I have visited previously – Mexico, Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. The last time I visited the former and the latter was over 17 years ago, so I’m sure I’ll have some updated information to share. Besides that I have some ideas in the works, but won’t speculate too much until they firm up.

Speaking of what’s next, if you, dear reader have a destination you’d like me to speak about, or speak more about, please leave a comment below and perhaps you just might get your wish before the 2018 Year in Review. And as always, thanks for being a loyal reader and accompanying me around the world. It wouldn’t be the same trip without you.

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Following Trip Accomplice Just Got Easier

Dear readers, you can now follow Trip Accomplice through the Bloglovin.com site where you can manage all your blogs in one place. Click on the link to move forward. Follow my blog with Bloglovin

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2016 Year in Review


Dragon and Tiger Pagodas

2016 is gone, for better or for worse, and it is at this point that I traditionally recap the Trip Accomplice blog’s contributions in the past year (again, for better or for worse). Here’s a breakdown of what was covered, just in case you weren’t paying attention.


This year I was a little light on dedicated destination posts – covering 5 foreign countries (3 in South America and 2 in Asia) and 5 U.S. destinations.

South America


Check your straight-edge at the door at Casapueblo

I suppose I was feeling nostalgic for South America with three posts based on my 2008 Antarctic cruise.

In Playful Patagonian Penguins: A Lesson in Chilean Alliteration, I had some grammatical fun recounting a trip to Seno Otway and its resident penguin colony in the remote city of Punta Arenas, Chile.

Speaking of remote, I combined an obscure Pink Floyd Song with an even more obscure travel destination in Echoes of Pink Floyd in the Falkland Islands which details what to see and do on a visit to the Falkland Islands. It also lays the basis for a unique soundtrack when doing so.

I also shared some tips for visiting a surreal Uruguayan locale in Straight Lines are Overrated in Punta del Este



Nighttime on Lotus Lake, Kaohsiung, Taiwan

During nearly the entire month of November 2016 I was off exploring Southeast Asia with my wife and parents. Despite a wealth of new material to cover, I only got around to two of the many destinations I visited.

In Kaohsiung, Taiwan – The Nicest Little City You’ve Never Heard Of I provided practical advice for visiting this interesting ‘little’ city in Southern Taiwan.

I also shared a review of a great hotel for a relaxing stay in Bali, Indonesia in the appropriately-titled post  Hotel Review: The Samata, Bali.

You can be sure I’ll get around to some of the other spots in the months ahead.

U.S. Destinations


Come for the sand. Stay for the sunsets.

Within the United States I shared the beauty of the Gulf Coast in the post Brazos Bend: Stars Above, Gators Below for a look at this lovely wetland landscape.

I also provided detailed information on visiting two of New Mexico’s greatest attractions in the posts Elevator Appreciation at Carlsbad Caverns National Park and White Sands: Sun, Sand &…Sledding?

Lastly, I really enjoyed reflecting on a return to my childhood stomping grounds in A Travel Snob Returns to Disney World where I shared my thoughts on Disney’s progress versus preservation.

Top Tens and Other Lists


Anse Lazio, Praslin Island, Seychelles

The beginning of the year saw me attempting to summarize some of my favorite places in the ever-popular ‘Top Ten’ list format with My Top Ten Beaches, And Why They Should Be Yours and My Top Ten List of World Monuments (Who Said Anything About Dying?)

I also went the list route with Safety Tips for the Skittish Traveler – a rundown of simple precautions to make sure your trip stays all about having fun, along with An Apology to the 14 Countries I’ve Visited More Than Once Without Doing Them Justice which highlights the sad fact that it’s nearly impossbile to see everything a destination has to offer on one (or even multiple) trips. Just as a side note, I now have to update that number from 14 to 17.

Pet Projects


2016 also saw me widening out my repertoire to include some pet projects. I shared my passion for travel art and showcased some of my work in Putting the ‘Art’ into the Art of Travel. And I also announced my travel-themed  public speaking business in the post I Am the Globechatter…. Both then and now, I invite you to check them out if you haven’t already done so, and share these posts with anyone you might know that would be interested in the services offered.

The Year Ahead

As mentioned before, I still have lots to share from my recent trip to Asia. Keep an eye out for more on Bali, both as a general review and site specific posts. My return to Singapore and Hong Kong will result in updated posts in the coming months, and I look forward to sharing my take on places in the Philippines and Borneo, Malaysia.

Other than that, I have nothing set in stone, as my own travel plans are wide open at this point. But as you well know by now, dear loyal readers, you can be sure of two things: 1) I’ll go somewhere, and 2) I’ll be sure to write about it.

Wishing everyone the best in the days, months and years ahead; I thank you for another year of being my travel companions.

Ben Pastore


Categories: Miscellaneous | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Putting the ‘Art’ into the Art of Travel

Travel is known to inspire many things: wanderlust, broader horizons, and sometimes even cases of good-natured envy. Among artistic types, the scenes and experiences had while traveling have often served as a muse – just ask Paul Gauguin, Ansel Adams and the people who’ve created those fascinating travel posters during the last century. Regarding the latter, I’ve always admired the style, artistry and design sense displayed in their productions. So it’s no surprise that when my internal need to create became too loud to ignore, I directed my efforts into a creative outlet that echoed the travelers who have gone before me, and put in visual form my own twist on those posters of the past.

How it started

For me, my inspiration came during a visit from my parents. My mother -artistic and talented in her own right – wanted to stop into a store called Hobby Lobby. Apparently this craft store is well-known beyond my native Long Island, but since moving to Texas I had never once stepped foot inside. For those of you in those same proverbial shoes, think of an enormous, Texas-sized craft store brimming with enough raw materials and finished goods to keep oneself occupied for the next few decades. All of sudden, my latent creative juices began to flow.

Some of the many items for sale are framed prints, which also include maps and vintage-style travel posters for various locales. Seeing these, I examined them and thought – as many wannabe artists are wont to do – “I can do that”. With my self-imposed challenge in place, I not only picked up some fresh art supplies in a nearby aisle, but also mused about how exactly I was going to reproduce something in that vintage style.

The first attempt


My first attempt at a travel poster recreation was a map of southern Africa (see above) that detailed my travels in the region. Not only did I design the title to reflect fonts appropriate to the setting, but came up with the idea of several insets that were entirely based on my own photographs. I was quite pleased with the end result and this 30″x 40″ painting still generates conversation among my house guests.

Keeping it goingsouthamerposter

The problem with opening any creative jar is that once you get going, its hard to stop. There’s an inborn need to improve and expand one’s work. Or at least that’s my own take. It might be my mild case of OCD or eating Mexican food after 9PM, but once inspiration strikes me I find it difficult to tear my mind away from future projects.

So, with plenty of wall space still available, I embarked on another project; one that would not only include the same motif of a map with photo-inspired insets, but would now include graphic elements taken from the region. In this case, the toucan, orchids, Inca-syle stone lettering and jungle-like background were all inspired by my travels to the South American continent and are also meaningful to the client (namely, me).

A new line of work?

They say that if you do something you love, you never work a day in your life. I’d tend to agree with that, and I think we’d all agree that the pay is better than actually never working. After consulting with a friend who also happens to be an extremely talented professional artist (click here to see more on him) I decided to try my hand at making paintings on sale to the public. Here’s the first of my generic travel series. For the record, this one’s for sale. If you’re interested in the painting or a print, leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you.

posterI’m also considering offering  custom paintings in this inset, vintage travel poster motif. Like anything else, I know I’ll have to get it in front of the right audience, but if you or someone you know would be interested in commissioning a custom painting using their family name and photos, I would welcome the chance to talk about a possible collaboration. My direct email is ben@tripaccomplice.com

Either way

Whether or not this custom travel poster recreation thing turns out to be a viable line of work or just another hobby, I can affirmatively vouch for the satisfaction derived from having a creative outlet and satisfying the artistic need to create. And whether its handicrafts, sketches, sculpture or interpretive dance, don’t forget to venture out into the big wide world for some inspiration. Oh, and you might want to pass by Hobby Lobby as well.


Categories: Miscellaneous | Tags: , ,

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