Vintage Travel Posters From Around the World to Fuel Your Wanderlust

While we live in a world where we can quickly jet from one side of the planet to the other, there’s still something about vintage travel posters that inspires a sense of wanderlust. Reminiscent of a time when travel was more exotic, and often took much longer than today, these vintage posters seem to capture the essence of travel and adventure.Maybe it’s that essence that we’re always seeking when we set off to our next destination. Whatever it is, there’s no doubt that these posters, all pulled from an amazing collection at Boston Public Library, get us excited about making our way out into the world. From the mysterious landscapes of the National Parks of the West, to the winding railways of Europe, these posters capture travel at its very best. Consider your wanderlust fueled.

‘Fake’ Pilot Wanted By Police After Flying Jets To London

An American man found guilty of working as an airline pilot without proper credentials is on the lam after he failed to appear at his sentencing hearing in England last week, the BBC is reporting.

Michael Fay flew for Libya’s Afriqiyah Airways on false credentials, according to the news story that referred to him as a “fake airline pilot.” It claims he forged his pilot’s license and medical certifications to get the position. Calling him a “clever and resourceful man” who had settled in Hampshire County in southeast England, a British law-enforcement official told the BBC that Fay “targeted Libyan aviation at a time when the country’s political and economic standing was vulnerable and volatile.”

During his eight months in the cockpit of an Airbus 320, the former U.S. Air Force pilot landed at London’s Gatwick airport eight times, apparently without incident. But he aroused suspicion on an aviation forum online, prompting another user to tip off the British police. They arrested Fay in 2011, and he was found guilt of fraud. Though he failed to appear for his sentencing hearing last week, the court gave him a three-year prison term. According to the article, Fay might be seeking work as a pilot or flight instructor outside of the U.K.

A quick Internet search turned up a possible explanation for how Fay got the job. In 2010, a secondary school called La Salle Academy in Providence, Rhode Island, printed a letter from a graduate named Mike Fay in an alumni newsletter, under the headline “Mike Fay ’69 Sends A Note From the U.K.” His message:

“Had a few minutes of free time, so I thought I would take a moment and update everyone as to what is happening on the other side of the Atlantic!

I had been working as a pilot for the Royal Family in Abu Dhabi. However, one of their financial interests, Afriqiyah Airways, located in Libya had a very bad crash in May. I am not [sic? now?] the Director of Training there. Interesting would be an understatement to say the least. But, I spend about 2 weeks in Tripoli and then I am back in the UK.

As I write this email, I am sitting in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo.”

Via the BBC

[Photo credit: Mauro Orlando via Flickr]

A Traveler In The Foreign Service: The Best Foreign Service Blogs

The World Wide Web is saturated with amateurish blogs created by people who’d be lucky to command the devoted readership of their immediate family members, let alone the wider public. There are scores of blogs managed by Foreign Service Officers (FSOs) and while many of them are worth reading, some are downright bizarre. This post will steer you toward some Foreign Service related blogs that are well worth your time.

I started this series nine months ago to help people get a better understanding of what life in the U.S. Foreign Service is like. Many of the posts have been about my experiences but I’ve also introduced readers to an intrepid, single female diplomat fresh off of tours in Syria and Pakistan, a diplomatic courier, a USAID Foreign Service Officer currently serving in Afghanistan and others. But spend some time at the sites listed below to get a flavor of what it’s like to represent the U.S. Government in The Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea, Bolivia, Pakistan and dozens of other exotic locales.One major caveat here is that FSOs have to be careful what they write because free speech only takes you so far in the precarious, uber-cautious world of government service. Most FSOs have disclaimers on their sites warning that the views expressed are their own, but many still tend to steer clear of tackling political issues or anything controversial.

Peter Van Buren, a now retired diplomat who wrote “We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People,” was effectively driven out of the Foreign Service partially because he posted a link to a cable on WikiLeaks and made some disparaging remarks, which he later apologized for, about Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on his website.

There’s no doubt that his experience has had a chilling effect across the board, so visit the sites below to get the low-down on the Foreign Service lifestyle and the travel opportunities, not the dirty underbelly of how diplomacy plays out overseas.

Some of the blogs below contain little, if any biographical info, and I wasn’t able to read each one in its entirety, so my apologies in advance if my impressions of these blogs below miss the mark. That said, I would invite the authors of these fine sites to tell us more about themselves, if they dare, in the comments section.


Domani Spero has no U.S. government connection and thus has the freedom to write about the world of diplomacy without having to worry about his career. Diplopundit is as close as you’ll find to one-stop shopping for a candid look at what’s going on in the Foreign Service community.

Adventures in Good Countries- Getting Along In The Foreign Service

I love this blog. The author, apparently a single female public diplomacy officer who, “doesn’t date outside the visa waiver program,” blogs with style and passion about life in Japan, Pakistan, Jordan and elsewhere, coping with Multiple Sclerosis and whatever else pops into her head. How can you not like a writer who offers advice to protesters on how to construct a good effigy? (“Don’t just throw something together with the rationale that you’re only going to burn it anyway – take some pride in your work.”)

We Meant Well

You might not agree with Peter Van Buren but you will want to read his blog, which is sometimes offensive but never boring.

Third Culture Children

This blog, which details the lives of a family of five living in Recife, Brazil, La Paz, Bolivia and elsewhere, is one of the very best Foreign Service related sites out there. It’s a particularly good resource for parents who are wondering what the overseas experience will be like for their children.

Amy Gottlieb’s Photography & Blog

Gottlieb is a doctor and a USAID FSO currently serving in South Africa. Her portraits from Jamaica, Nepal, Vietnam, South America, Africa and beyond are as good as any you’ll find anywhere.

Adventures Around the World- A Foreign Service Officer’s Tales of Life Abroad

The author of this refreshingly candid and well-written blog is currently in Kabul and has previously served in Iraq and Nepal. Here’s how she described the “honeymoon” period at a new post: “The honeymoon period is the time frame after moving to a foreign country where the excitement of being somewhere new overshadows certain harsh realities of living in a foreign country. People burning piles of trash in the street give the place ‘character’ and bargaining with a taxi driver is part of the ‘adventure.'”

Worldwide Availability

This is a stunning photo blog from an American diplomat who was born on a farm in China and is currently serving in South Korea. Visiting this site is the next best thing to booking a ticket to Seoul. Also, for those who are curious to know how long it takes to join the Foreign Service, take a look at his instructive personal timeline for some clues.

Wanderings of a Cheerful Stoic

Anyone who features a photo of themselves (I presume) with a Gambian poached rat on their homepage is all right by me. This is a blog from a FSO posted in Conakry, Guinea, a place where “you tend to find yourself without a really specific reason.”

The Slow Move East- Thoughts on Being an Expatriate

Hannah Draper, a FSO currently serving in Libya, might be a “Type-A bureaucrat who professionally pushes papers in the Middle East,” but her writing is compulsively readable.

Where in the World am I? Notes from the Streets of Hyderabad, India

A FSO in Hyderabad who previously served in Burundi blogs about food and life overseas with gusto.

Cross Words- A Blog About Writing and Anything Else That Comes to Mind

Ted Cross, a FSO currently living in Budapest who apparently just signed up for Facebook last week (Friend him!), tells us on his homepage that his “dream is to be a published author.” I like someone who isn’t afraid to tell the world what he wants. He’s into fantasy and science fiction, neither of which interests me, but his blog is unique and his writing is lucid.

Four Globetrotters- The (Most Likely) Incoherent Ramblings of a Sleep-Deprived Single Mother Living Overseas with her Trio of Kiddos

Anyone who can pull off being a single mom in the Foreign Service is someone I want to meet. This blog, written by a former Foreign Service brat, isn’t nearly as incoherent as advertised.

Beau Geste, Mon Ami- The Chronicle of my Journey to and through The Foreign Service

Even a quick breeze through this visually appealing blog will give you an idea of how varied and interesting life in the Foreign Service can be. If nothing else, do not miss the photos of the tribal warriors in Papua New Guinea.

Zvirdins at Large- Jamie and Andrew’s Excellent Adventures

If you want a slice of life from the Marshall Islands, this is the place to go. I love this blog but I couldn’t bring myself to click into the video entitled “Pig Shooting” in a post on “Pig Butchering.” Yikes.


This isn’t a FSO blog per se, but the site’s stories and “real post reports” on hundreds of cities around the globe are an invaluable resource for those seeking insights into the Foreign Service lifestyle.

Let me know in the comments section if you think I’ve missed any great FSO-related blogs and if you’re the author of ones of the sites mentioned above, tell us a bit about yourself.

Read more from “A Traveler in the Foreign Service” here.

(Photos courtesy of Amy Gottlieb)

A Traveler In The Foreign Service: Diplomacy Isn’t Just For Diplomats

Protests over a film that insults the Prophet Mohammed are still ongoing, but it’s already clear that American diplomats and their families will bear a huge professional and personal burden as a result of the attacks on our embassies and consulates around the world. The Foreign Service community is still mourning the loss of Ambassador Chris Stevens, and his colleagues, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, and that huge loss, along with the security breeches at posts around the world are likely to have huge implications for Foreign Service Officers (FSO’s) and their families.

The State Department has already announced the evacuation of non-essential personnel and family members from at least two posts in the Muslim World and I’m sure that more will soon follow. We had similar evacuations prior to my arrival in Macedonia and while I was the Desk Officer for Chad in the aftermath of a coup attempt there in 2005, and these evacuations are extremely tough on families, especially those with school-age children.It’s obviously difficult for FSO’s who remain at post while their families go back to Washington or alternate locations but it’s also really hard on spouses and children, who may have their school year disrupted. Foreign Service kids are used to having to be the “new kid” at different schools around the world every few years but when they leave post on an evacuation, it’s especially tricky because they often have no idea when or if they’ll be returning to their old post, where their school and friends are.

The Ambassador or Chief of Mission at each post decides which employees are considered essential or non-essential and their decisions can result in hurt feelings or worse. And those decisions often have long lasting implications for how the post will function moving forward, even after everyone returns to post. I’ve seen occasions where FSO’s who are asked to leave post during crises lose the respect of their colleagues and can’t ever really recover.

In the wake of the attacks, security will also get tighter everywhere, which makes it harder for FSO’s to do their jobs but also creates a bunker mentality in which officers get caught off from the reality of the country they’re living in. Diplomats are the foot soldiers of American foreign policy – they implement the policies of the officials we elect.

But an equally important but unofficial role they play is serving as cultural ambassadors. When FSO’s and their family members make friends with locals, especially in countries where residents have limited exposure to Americans, they give locals a different perspective on our country. Making those kind of connections will be even more difficult post-Libya.

This weekend, I talked to Rick Steves, the travel guru, about the unrest in the Middle East and he underscored the importance of travel as a means of bridging cultural divides. It might sound like a cliché, but it’s true: Americans needs to travel because our diplomats can’t do all the heavy lifting for us, security restrictions or not.

Americans aren’t going to rush out to Libya or Yemen, at least not now, but we need to continue to travel to places like Egypt, Tunisia and every other reasonably safe destination in the Muslim World. If we travel to these places, meet people and let them see that most of us are respectful, humble and interested in hearing their viewpoints and learning about their countries, it really will contribute to mutual understanding and make people less likely to be swayed by videos they see on YouTube or things from hear from hard, right-wing radicals.

In the face of these attacks, we can either recoil and turn further inward or redouble our efforts to rebuild ties with the Muslim World. Our diplomats can’t do all the work, so it’s up to all of us to be citizen diplomats.

The reality is that ignorance here at home helps fuel the popularity of violent, dangerous ignoramuses abroad. We can’t all travel to the Middle East but we can learn more about the region, share those findings with neighbors and friends and create a country where no one would think to burn a Koran or denigrate the Prophet Mohammed, or any other holy book or revered figure.

Read more from “A Traveler In The Foreign Service” here.

[Photo by ClaraDon on Flickr]

Death Valley Officially Named Hottest Place On Earth

Death Valley has officially been declared the hottest place on Earth after a team of atmospheric scientists invalidated a temperature reading in Libya that had long been believed to be the warmest ever recorded. That means that the new record of 134°F/56.6°C was measured on July 10, 1913, at a weather station in Greenland Ranch, California.

The previous record of 136°F/57.7°C was recorded in El Azizia, Libya, on September 13, 1922. But meteorologists and climatologists have questioned the authenticity of that reading for years. In 2010, weather historian Christopher Burt from Weather Underground began an official inquiring that eventually led to a team of 13 scientists from 9 different countries joining together to determine if the reading was valid.

The team’s research got underway just as the Libyan revolution was kicking into high gear. That conflict put a temporary halt to the investigation as their primary contact inside the country went missing. He resurfaced eight months later, allowing the group to proceed and their findings revealed sufficient doubt to declare the old record to be inaccurate. The scientists blamed the faulty reading on antiquated instruments and a potentially inexperienced observer. They also said that the temperature was not consistent with those in surrounding locations and that the observation site wasn’t representative of the desert environment.

Weather geeks around the world will no doubt take note of this change and be excited by the declaration of a new “hottest place” on the planet. For most of us, however, hot is just plain hot no matter the location. While in the Sahara Desert a few years back, I saw temperatures flirt with 130°F/54.4°C as well and I’m not sure the difference of a few degrees would have even been noticed.

Still, if you have a desire to visit the driest and lowest place in North America, which also happens to be the hottest place on Earth, Death Valley National Park is certainly worth the effort.