She’d arrived in San Francisco, California just three weeks earlier, part of an overland journey across North America with her long-term boyfriend, Karl.
Now, Liesbet was about to abandon her travels (unthinkable), abandon the plan (out of character), and abandon Karl (unbelievable).
Why? Because Liesbet had fallen in love with someone else, and she couldn’t shake the thought that she was meant to be with him.
It was 2004 and Liesbet was 28. She’d met her American boyfriend Karl a couple of years earlier, on a trip to Australia. Back in her home country of Belgium, Liesbet was a trained teacher, but while she enjoyed her job, her thirst for adventure superseded everything else. Liesbet was always working out ways she could work from the road, always figuring out her next trip.
“Travel has always been number one,” Liesbet tells CNN Travel today.
When Liesbet and Karl pulled up in San Francisco, they planned to only stay for a week. They were crashing with a friend of Karl’s – a guy called Nik who owned a San Francisco townhouse he’d converted into three apartments. Nik lived in one of the studios, and he rented out the others.
That first day, after greeting Nik and dumping her bag in his apartment, Liesbet headed back downstairs to grab a CD from the campervan.
“As I come into the yard, I get greeted by two beautiful, amazing, fluffy dogs wagging their tails,” recalls Liesbet. “And of course, I was totally enamored with them, hanging out with them…”
When Liesbet looked up, she noticed a man standing in the doorway of the ground floor apartment, smiling at her.
“Hi, I’m Mark,” he said. “Mark Kilty.” He was the dogs’ owner, and one of Nik’s tenants – the occupant of the downstairs apartment.
Liesbet introduced herself, explaining she and her boyfriend were staying with Nik for a few days.
“We talked a little bit – and a little bit turned into an hour,” recalls Liesbet.
Liesbet’s first impression of Mark was that he was “a very attractive, tall, dark-haired man” (“I was attracted to his looks more than anything else,” she admits.)
But after their extended conversation, Liesbet decided Mark was also “very well-spoken and intelligent.”
Mark was 33 and recently divorced. He’d grown up on the East Coast of the US, but moved to California in the late 1990s – he was a software engineer and had arrived just in time for the dot-com boom.
Mark was pretty happy with his life – separating from his wife hadn’t been easy, but he loved his work, his dogs and his life in the Bay Area.
But when Liesbet talked about her myriad travels and her nomadic lifestyle, Mark was immediately fascinated. It was like she’d opened up a window to a life
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Global Entry is currently the fastest way to return to the United States after a trip abroad. This program, available through the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency, prescreens travelers and allows them to skip the often lengthy customs lines at airports and other border crossings. The reentry process has gotten even faster for Global Entry members, thanks to the launch of a new mobile app.
The U.S. travel economy could lose nearly $1 billion for every week that the government is shut down, according to new analysis for the U.S. Travel Association. The trade group pointed to a recent Ipsos survey indicating that six in 10 Americans would cancel trips or avoid flying in the event of a shutdown.
Burned out, stressed out, and laid off in New York City, I could feel it was my time to leave. After making the decision to go full-time freelance, I also knew it was now or never to fulfill my dream of living in Europe.
In late May, I flew with my daughter from California to Kennedy International Airport in New York, where I rented a car from Avis and headed to Connecticut for a three-day family visit. On day two, I parked the car in Waveny Park in New Canaan and when I returned, it was gone. The local police told me they had impounded the rental because Avis had reported it stolen to the New York Police Department. I had planned to spend the last day of my trip with my 80-something mother, whom I had not seen for three years because of the pandemic, but had to waste precious hours on hold with Avis’s customer service department. They eventually offered me a new car but I was unable to coordinate picking it up, so we ended up relying on my sisters to get around. I was only able to spend a few hours with my mom and had to take a $100 Uber back to the airport. I asked Avis not to charge me for the rental, but they did, $653, and when I disputed the charge with Capital One, Avis fought me. I can’t believe Avis is renting out cars they have reported stolen, and then charging its clients. Can you help?
In Lonely Plan-It, we take you step by step through how we planned some of the most complicated travel adventures. Here, Craig McLachlan explains how to make the most out of your biking adventure to this South Pacific paradise’s deep south.
Fall is almost here, and that means people begin to plan their holiday travel. But, what if you didn’t have to spend a penny on your next trip? It turns out that there are plenty of ways to travel for free beyond earning and redeeming miles and points. These five fall travel contests and sweepstakes could have you celebrating iconic experiences all around the country.
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