Twenty-first Century Travel Like a Local

The information age is a golden time to be a traveler.  Back in the day, you pretty much couldn’t find a cozy apartment in Rome since there was no Airbnb, or get the skinny on a restaurant in Omaha since there was no Yelp or TripAdvisor, or figure out how to get around most cities since there was no Uber app.  Now everything is right there on your phone, and you can do all of the above plus plan turn-by-turn walks in street view on Google maps from thousands of miles away.

Travel was harder back then!  Especially if you liked to get the skinny on local experiences and hidden treasures that make a trip truly special, unique and all-yours.

In addition to using those phenomenal gizmos we keep in our pockets, we also frequently read brief, focused guides by locals that we find in Amazon’s Kindle store.  The economics of digital books let us discover affordable foodie destinations in Tuscany and travel memoirs from Scotland’s West Highlands Way, which we devoured and then used in the last year to plan wonderful vacations.  These peak travel experiences, and the ebooks that facilitated them, inspired us to write and publish our quarterly 99-cent Kindle e-book, Just the Ticket: An Insider’s Guide to Great Evenings Out in Washington, DC.

Are you as app-mad as we are, when you travel?  Do you love the “live like a local” feeling you get from the wealth of research you can do online?  What online tools are in your arsenal for travel planning?  Please either post your trip planning secrets to the comments here or send a message to  If you send a message, please let us know whether we can mention your name if we find a way to use your great ideas.  We look forward to hearing from you!

Great Conversation Starters for an Evening Out

An important part of a great evening out is great conversation.  This post will be the first in an occasional series of posts intended to make it easier for you to pick discussion topics out of the art you see.  Many of the entries in Just the Ticket: An Insider’s Guide to Great Evenings Out in Washington, DC include some discussion questions for over your after-show nightcap or in the weeks after seeing the show, but we want you to have the tools to make your own.  After all, a reason we like seeing plays so much is that each play offers a rich batch of ideas and perspectives any one of which could keep you and friends talking and continuing to enjoy yourselves.  

The first way in which plays are full of conversation topics is that they are full of characters.  Each character is usually put into situations in which you get to learn something about how that character sees the world and understands what matters.  Conflicts between how different characters make decisions usually drive the action of a play.  The playwright is intentionally using these characters to show us the kinds of value conflicts that happen in daily life but in a concentrated form, so we can see them happen without the distraction of all the grocery lists and driving directions that come between the big moments in the real world.

Taking advantage of that, you can always ask a companion “Which character held your attention most, and why?”  People may be most riveted by the character who is a lot like them, or the one who is the most different.  By the character who reminds him or her of someone important from the past.  By the character who had the wildest costume.  Usually, though, if you give someone the space to really think about and answer that question, you’ll hear something about how that character’s values made your companion examine his or her own values; and those are the kinds of conversations over the last drinks of the evening during which you really get to know someone better.  The kinds of conversations that lead to memories of a great evening out!

Please use a comment on this post to share some of your great questions. 

The globe-trotting edition of Just the Ticket, coming your way soon

The April-June 2016 edition of Just the Ticket: An Insider’s Guide to Great Evenings Out in Washington, DC, will be hitting Amazon later today.  It has 12 more Great Evenings Out – all happening during April, May, or June.

Without conscious intention, we curated a bunch of evenings that celebrate the diversity of DC.  In this edition, you’ll find delicious meals from Belgium, Laos, Italy, Japan, Spain, and all over Latin America.  The plays also contain international content, with several telling the stories of recent immigrants to America, one taking you on a road trip in mythic China, one sweeping you through heroic renaissance France, and one performed in Spanish with English titles projected.  We hope you’ll enjoy one or more of these evenings. 

We hope you’ll also use your daylight adventures to revel in what a cosmopolitan place DC has become.  Listen for other languages from nearby knots of travelers.  Try a cuisine you haven’t run across before.  Savor the Asian art in the Sackler gallery, a beautiful museum many visitors miss, even though it’s part of the Smithsonian.  Walk past embassies along Massachusetts Ave NW from Sheridan Circle to the National Cathedral to see how DC connects with the rest of the world.  Discover why the world comes to DC and why the world’s presence here makes DC great!