Ciao :: Roma with Expedia

rome activities booked via expedia local

[trip style = urban + adventure + food + wine]

Buongiorno. In Ciao!, my intro to Italy dispatch, I hinted at the reason I'm in the land of la dolce vita: An Expedia video project in Rome.


Now that all the stones are set for my road to Rome, I wanted to share the details. This weekend, starting Friday, I'll be showcasing four activities I handpicked from a list of a bazillion tours and small-group activities you can book in the Eternal City via Expedia Local Expert. Here's a rundown: 

Open-air bus tour   {$12 usd} Goal: Get a lay of the land to connect the historical dots.

Open-air bus tour {$12 usd}
Goal: Get a lay of the land to connect the historical dots.

VIP Caesar’s Palace and Colosseum tour   {$87 usd} Goal: "When in Rome" is fitting for this one...

VIP Caesar’s Palace and Colosseum tour {$87 usd}
Goal: "When in Rome" is fitting for this one...

Small-group pasta-making class   {$71 usd} Goal: Learn the art of  al dente , and collect totally-worth-it calories instead of tchotchkes, complete with prosecco.

Small-group pasta-making class {$71 usd}
Goal: Learn the art of al dente, and collect totally-worth-it calories instead of tchotchkes, complete with prosecco.

St. Peter’s Basilica tour   {$36 usd} Goal: In which I get picked up at  my hotel , skip the line-up and learn local insights on Italy's largest church.

St. Peter’s Basilica tour {$36 usd}
Goal: In which I get picked up at my hotel, skip the line-up and learn local insights on Italy's largest church.

Follow all my on-the-go updates via the TS Instagram, as well as via the #ExpediaThingsToDo hashtag on all social media platforms. For a bird's eye view of my entire three-week trip, check out #TSRomanHoliday.

[photos via Expedia Local Expert]

My "Find Yours" Background

[trip style = benevolent]

On Monday I told you about my "secret" {but now the cat's out of the bag} trip to San Felipe, Mexico three weeks ago with Expedia for the "Find Your Calling" video shoot. Though 99.9% of my days were spent filming in and around the medical clinic I helped build, I got a chance to snap some photos between takes. Since San Felipe is a bit off the traveler's radar in comparison to Cabo and Cancun, here's bit of background on the town and my journey there...

I've been to San Felipe three times. My Mexi "first" was 18 years ago, followed by a second trip one year later and a third trip 10 years ago. Each journey centered around helping with the development of the medical clinic. And in case you think the experience was cushy, let me assure you it was not. As you can see below, the beach is quite lovely; however, there were no daily sunning sessions après work.

The first and second times I went, the clinic was in its infancy. As a result, we slept like canned sardines in sleeping bags on the floor of an old mobile home trailer beside the site. In the morning, we'd throw our "foamies" to the side and eat cereal in the same spot. Twenty of us shared one bathroom. Looking back, I'm not sure how. Despite the trailer's tattered and sand-stained carpet, basic kitchen and bathroom with rotting linoleum, it was more cushy than the way most locals lived. We had daily food, a roof over our heads and four connecting walls---still a luxury by 90% of the world's standards.

My two spring break visits were in grade 10 and 11. I returned for my third visit when I first started working in the corporate world, but this time as a leader to the teens on the trip. Given that seven or eight years had gone by since my first two visits, the clinic was now a bigger operation, capable of handling more patients with more sophisticated medical equipment.

Fast-forward to present day. When I got the email from Expedia saying they wanted to take me back to San Felipe to film for their "Find Yours" campaign, I was a crying mess.  I couldn't believe that a} the world's largest online travel company would be interested in my story and b} I would have a chance to share a life-changing moment that occurred on a mountaintop 18 years ago.

I learned MANY lessons on that first trip to Mexico, but the one that sticks in my mind the most is when you take yourself outside of your comfort zone, you learn the most. This is not always comfortable, but it can change the course of your life---for the better.

Thanks for sharing my journey. Here are a few photos of my trip to San Felipe with Expedia...

{Getting there}

{The colorful airport}

{San Felipe's arches welcoming visitors}

{5:30am sunrise}

{Our new, half-built hotel from the beach}

{The clinic today}

{The clinic's neighborhood}

{The view of the mountain from the clinic}

{The view from the top of the mountain}

{Lunch: just-caught fresh fish tacos}


In case you didn't see the video on Monday... Can't view this video?

[Photos by @tripstyler]

Find Your Calling

[trip style = benevolent] {video is below}

Three weeks ago I did the opposite of what 99.9% of travelers do in Mexico {read: sip salt-rimmed margs on the beach}---I revisited a place that completely changed the course of my life.

When I was 15, I had the opportunity to visit San Felipe {a little town at the top of the Baja} on my spring break to help build a clinic. The project was significant because the fishing town is isolated and only reachable via a a three-hour, straight-as-an-arrow highway from Mexicali. Without a proper clinic in town, people were dying on the side of the road while trying to reach Mexicali for acute care.

Along with a team of teens from Vancouver, BC, I chiseled concrete, dug trenches and painted to help give the residents something everyone should have access to, but many in the world do not, basic medical care.

I went down with the idea that I'd help the 'poor people' in Mexico. After all, they lived differently than me: in houses constructed with plywood scraps, built on sand, and surrounded by fences constructed of barbed wire and prickly cactus. I could NOT have been more misinformed. I have the locals of San Felipe to thank for changing what I care about, how I spend my time and how I spend my money. To them, I am FOREVER grateful.

Expedia recently got wind of my story, so I went back to San Felipe with a camera team. It is my HIGHEST honor to have revisited the place that disrupted my worldview and changed my course. The just-launched two-minute video is part of Expedia's new campaign: Find Yours.

Eighteen years ago, I found my calling---something I do quietly behind the scenes, but is probably one of the most important parts of my life---find yours.

Can't view this video?

ps - stay tuned, behind-the-scenes photos of San Felipe to come on Friday! And, one other video has been made about Dave & Deb finding their harmony, check it out!