My Past Travels

I have traveled to many places, but this is only my second travel blog (read about my experience in Mali here). Many people ask how I’ve gotten to travel so much.  Yes, travel can be expensive, but what you really need is creativity and the drive to make it happen.  Here’s how I’ve done it (most recent to least recent):

  • Canada (2019): This was my honeymoon! Mostly hiking and exploring around Glacier National Park in the US and various national parks in Alberta and British Columbia (Banff, Jasper, Yoho, and others).IMG_6823
  • Namibia and South Africa (2018): On an overland trip with Nomad Adventures, we traveled on a truck across the desert and salt pans, along with other travelers from around the world.
  • Netherlands and Belgium (2018): This was a spring break trip visiting friends, biking around tulips, and just generally exploring. Belgium was country #50, so there was some celebrating at the border!
  • Switzerland, Portugal, Liechtenstein, Italy, Iceland (2017): Hiking in the mountains mostly, but also continuing to explore new corners of Europe.
  • Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro (2016): I took a three week vacation to explore a new part of Europe!Sara Tofu San View
  • Ireland (2016): I visited a balloon twister friend in Cork, and explored the countryside a bit.
  • Indonesia and Japan (2015): I took a three week vacation, splitting my time between BaTempleli (an island of Indonesia) and Japan (Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara, and Koyasan). There was a little time to explore Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, on a layover.
  • Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and St. John (2014-2015): I vacationed in the Caribbean a few times during a particularly snowy New England winter!
  • Krakauer in IcelandIceland (2014): I went on a 10 day tour with my parents, as part of an MIT alumni trip (my father’s alma mater).
  • China (2012): I worked for a service-learning program called Global Leadership Adventures.  As the International Director in China, I supervised two groups of high school students from around the world as they explored Beijing and Shanghai. We studied Mandarin Chinese language, volunteered, and learned about the culture and history of China. It was a lot of work, but a wonderful way to spend 7 weeks.
  • Ukraine and Turkey (2012): The Teachers for Global Classrooms program sent me to Ukraine for two weeks, and I extended by travels to include a week in Turkey.  During this time, I visited 7 schools and learned a great deal about international educational initiatives.
  • South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Mozambique, Zambia (2011): I traveled with an organization called GEEO (Global Explorations for Educators Organization). A group of 13 teachers and 2 guides set off on an overland trip across Southern Africa, visiting schools, parks, and other interesting sites.
  • Canada (2010): My sister and I decided to take a vacation in British Columbia, the most western part of Canada.  We visited the Vancouver area, exploring all the way up into the mountains and along the coast. On other trips to Canada with family and friends, I’ve visited Montreal and Quebec.
  • El Salvador (2009): Working with an organization called Arts Rising, I traveled to El Salvador to do a site evaluation of a fabulous non-profit working down there, Art Corps.  While there, I also taught several balloon twisting workshops, learned to make papusas, and had some other adventures..
  • Mali (2007): I traveled with one of my coworkers to Mali to volunteer with an education non-profit called the Institute for Popular Education.  We worked with youth and did teacher training with new Malian teachers learning a more project-based approach. We also took a bit of time to travel around Mali after finishing our work, seeing the famous mud mosque of Djenne and the beautiful Dogon countryside.
  • Mexico (2007): I’ve traveled with my family to the Yucatan Peninsula for several wonderful vacations. When I was younger, we stayed in Cancun, but more recently we stayed in Akumal.
  • Guatemala (2006): I studied Spanish at a language school in Panajachel, a beautiful town on a lake surrounded by three volcanoes.  I also spent some time volunteering with a local speech language pathologist, and traveling around to learn about the culture.
  • Peru (2005): A friend convinced me to join in on this trip to Peru.  We started in Lima and saw an amazing number of different landscapes in the short two week span, including desert (Huacachina and Nazca), mountains (Machu Picchu), valleys (Cuzco), and jungle (Manu National Park).
  • Germany, Poland, Hungary (2004): A friend had connections to locals in Berlin and Budapest, where we could stay for free and spend time with experts.  We toured those cities, and then I spent two weeks on my own, first visiting Krakow and a few other spots in Poland, and then going back to Hungary for a music festival.
  • Belize and Costa Rica (2002-2003): These were both week-long vacations with family and friends.  Whenever I get a chance to take a week off, I try to explore a new part of the world.

  • Nepal, Thailand, South Africa, Pakistan, and India (2000-2001): After answering an ad in the Boston Globe, I got a job as the private tutor for an American family that was traveling around the world. They took me all over, and I taught their 1st and 4th graders. I ended the job in India, and stayed there for another 3 months. During that time, I learned about Buddhism, traveled to the desert of Rajasthan, and spent a month volunteering as an English teacher and hostel warden at Denjong Padma Choeling Academy in Sikkim. The ad that I answered back in 2000
  • United Kingdom; England and Scotland (1999): I had a friend studying abroad in Edinburgh and another with a flat in London where I could stay for free, so I seized the opportunity to visit.
  • SaraSamoa04Samoa (1995): As a high school student, I traveled with a service-learning organization to Samoa, where I lived in a village and volunteered at a school for children with disabilities.
  • France (1993-1994): I spent two summers in high school visiting France to study French, and on both trips I lived with local families and tried to avoid speaking English as much as possible.
  • Jamaica (1986?): My first time leaving the country was on a family vacation to Jamaica, along with parents, sister, cousins, aunt, and uncle.
  • Morocco, Slovakia, Austria, Singapore, Spain, Monaco, UAE: Sometimes while traveling, you get an opportunity to spend a day or two in a different country while on route somewhere else.  These are all places where I had that opportunity!

The world in which you were born is just one model of reality. Other cultures are not failed attempts at being you; they are unique manifestations of the human spirit.       – Wade Davis

Country Count: 51


  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Belize
  • Bosnia & Herzegovina
  • Botswana
  • Canada
  • China
  • Costa Rica
  • Croatia
  • Dominican Republic
  • El Salvador
  • France
  • Germany
  • Guatemala
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Jamaica
  • Japan
  • Liechtenstein
  • Mali
  • Mexico
  • Monaco
  • Montenegro
  • Morocco
  • Mozambique
  • Namibia
  • Nepal
  • Netherlands
  • Pakistan
  • Peru
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Samoa
  • Singapore
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • South Africa
  • Spain
  • Switzerland
  • Thailand
  • Turkey
  • Ukraine
  • United Arab Emirates
  • United Kingdom
  • United States of America
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe

State Count: 31 (+ DC, Puerto Rico, and US Virgin Islands)

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington

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