Costa Rica Local Expert: Lisa Valencia

Lisa Valencia packed up everything and moved to Costa Rica in 2007.

Since then she has been creating art and living life to the fullest in her favourite place in the world.

She’s one of TravelPod’s most recent additions to the Local Expert team.

I asked her a few questions about her new life and on being a TP Local Expert and here’s what she said:

Lisa Valencia drenched after a rainstorm in Costa Rica

Why did you become a Local Expert?

I love my life in Costa Rica and want to inspire others to follow their dreams, too.

What are the best and worst things about living in Costa Rica?

The best thing is that I can live cheaply, in a beautiful place, and enjoy a leisurely lifestyle. My life is so much simpler here than when I lived in the States. I have time to walk on the beach and have idle conversation with whoever I meet, time to exercise, time to write, time to just be.

The worst thing about living in Costa Rica has not to do with the country but with me. The worst thing about living here is that I am not fluent in Spanish. Life would be so much richer if I was. But I keep learning, every day. I can’t think of anything that bad about living here – Oh! Yes I can – the bathrooms. Public bathrooms are not kept nearly as clean in this country as in the United States.

What are the top five things for travelers to do in Costa Rica from your personal experiences?

1. Go to the Caribbean, play on the beach, get to know the people and do the following:
2. Take a guided jungle hike.
3. Ride a horse in the mountains.
4. Go to a Salsa Club and watch the amazing dancers.
5. Go to the waterfalls.

What are some of your best and worst travel experiences?

There are so many…… and they’re all in my book!
The worst was the night I spent in a cheap hotel – no – it was the time all my clothes were stolen.
The best is every new day!

What is your proudest accomplishment?

In life – the two great kids I raised.
In travel – creating exactly the life I want to live in a tropical paradise, all on my own.

What do you do with most of your time?

It really varies. I write. I sometimes travel to other parts of Costa Rica. I do art work, spend time with my daughter and my friends, ride my bike and on and on……

What’s a typical day like for you?

I get up, do my yoga, eat breakfast and work online answering emails and writing. Then I’ll go out to do errands – buy some groceries, talk to people I meet on the street. Or maybe I’ll go to the beach for a few hours. Sometimes I walk the beach, sometimes I lay in the sun and read a book. At the end of the day, just as the sun is beginning to set, I like to get some more exercise by running on the beach. In the evening I usually eat at home, but sometimes go out to one of the great restaurants here in Puerto Viejo. Then I’ll stop in to one of the four or five places that have live music. Life is good!

What’s your favourite part of the TravelPod forum?

My favorite part is making connections with new people who love traveling and are interested in Costa Rica. I like to share my adventures and learn about theirs.

Featured blogs

Sort your entries to suit your needs

The List of Entries is the most used page by our bloggers. Since we launched the redesign last June, the list has been optimized for members that are already on their trip that add new entries as they go. We decided to order the list with your newest entries right at the top, so that you can quickly look over your last 10 entries and complete any drafts you needed to finish off.

However, this week it dawned on us that this ordering doesn’t make sense for someone who has just entered in a big itinerary for an upcoming trip. Clearly, you’re going to want your first entry (relatively the oldest) at the top when you start out on your trip.

Today we’re pleased to announce another small but helpful enhancement to the site: Sort your List of Entries by newest or oldest first!

It works exactly as you’d expect and we save your preference automatically.

TIP: You may like the “Oldest first” option when you first start your trip, but once you’ve crossed the half-way point, you’ll find that “Newest first” will be handy.

Let us know what you think in the comments below!

TravelPod Features Uncategorized

TravelPod blogger rebuilding Haiti featured on NBC Nightly News

Since the devastating earthquake in Haiti, I have been perusing recent blogs from the area.

The volunteer organization Hands On Disaster Response is a popular one for our bloggers.

John Hancock volunteered in October, 2008 with the organization and found himself on NBC Nightly News:

More recently, cmj helped rebuild the country with Hands on Disaster Response as well.

Follow along as he helps the Haitian people literally dig themselves out of the muck that fills their homes every hurricane season.

A couple of cmj's new friends working hard in Haiti

It’s brutal work but someone’s gotta do it.

Hats off to our members in Haiti and other areas of the world making a big difference in the lives of those less fortunate.

Also, keep an eye out for Marco, who is frightened, but alive after the disaster.

TravelPod in the news

Connecting Facebook and TravelPod

We’re very excited to announce a new feature that allows you to sign in to TravelPod using your Facebook account.

The biggest benefit for you, is that you no longer need to remember a separate username and password for TravelPod. Simply “connect” your TravelPod account to your Facebook account and from then on when you’re logged into Facebook, you’ll be able to access your TravelPod blog as well.

To get started, just click “Connect with Facebook” link in the header.

This is only the first step in an ongoing effort to make it easier for you to share your travel experiences with your friends and family.

Look for more great Facebook features on TravelPod in 2010!


Subtle improvements to the Timeline

Since we first launched the new Timeline feature then we’ve been looking for subtle ways to improve its usability while still maintaining its minimal style and cool interaction with the map.

With today’s changes, when you hover over the green dots we now emphasize the relevant city and we added a country flag that will help you scan through a trip.

You’ll also notice that the map automatically centers itself as you hover over each pin. Clicking on the pin in the Timeline now takes you directly to that entry.

These are small changes that we think improve the Timeline tremendously.

We hope you like the changes as well. Let us know in the comments.


Lifehacker loves TravelPod

Australia’s version of has featured TravelPod in their travel section.

Lifehacker shows users how to simplify their lives using TravelPod

Lifehacker shows users how to simplify their lives using TravelPod

Just another reason to blog with us. TravelPod organizes your travel memories into one convenient package, making it an appropriate “life hack” for anybody doing a trip, no matter what size.

Thanks to Lifehacker and Gail on Tech for showcasing our site!

TravelPod Buzz TravelPod in the news

Tasmania Local Expert: Will Alderton

Ever since I invited Will to become TravelPod’s Local Expert for Tasmania, he’s jumped right into the discussions in the TravelPod forums participating not only in his own forum, the Tasmania forum, but he’s also been helping people out with general travel advice and various tips from all points all over the globe. Let’s find out what makes this guy tick, shall we?

Will is one of TravelPod's most recent addition to the Local Expert team

Will is one of TravelPod's most recent addition to the Local Expert team

Why did you become a Local Expert?

I first started a blog with Travelpod back in December 2004, and since then have blogged trips through Central America, South East Asia and Europe. The site gave me everything I needed to keep a record of my travels, and once I found myself with a little extra time on my hands, I decided to give something back. And if there’s one place I know better than any other, it’s Tasmania. I was born there, spent my first 19 years there and have been living there on and off for the last 10 years. A lot of travelers to Australia leave the island off their itineraries, so I thought I’d promote it a little and try and encourage a few more people to think about visiting.

What are the best and worst things about living in Tasmania?

The best thing about living in Tasmania, or ‘Tassie’ as we call it, is without a doubt being surrounded by such amazing and pristine wilderness. Not only that, but my home city, Hobart, is one of the most picturesque cities in the world, with beaches and a mountain all within a short drive. Within two hours you can find yourself on top of a peak, in virgin rainforest, or on a secluded beach, far from anyone. There’s no better place to clear the mind. However, if there is something that’s not good about Tasmania, it’s the thing that made me get on a plane in the first place. The lack of opportunity. Furthermore, people are very set in their ways, and if you’re not settling down, raising a family, paying off a mortgage and supporting a local football or cricket team, you can feel a little alienated. Being separated from the mainland has left Tasmania with a strong ‘island culture’.

What are the top five things for travelers to do in Tasmania from your personal experiences?
Travelers could spend a month in Tasmania and still not see and do everything. So when I give a recommendation, I try to encompass all aspects of the state. For culture, a few days in the capital, Hobart, is essential. Salamanca market is Australia’s largest outdoor market and sells everything from fruit and veg through to arts and crafts and other assorted oddities. A trip up Mt Wellington is another must do for a great birds eye view of the city. For history, I recommend Port Arthur, the penal settlement ruins which serve as a harsh reminder of the dark days of Tasmania’s past. For virgin rainforest, I recommend a trip to Mt Field national park to see the largest trees in the southern hemisphere, some beautiful waterfalls and plenty of wildlife. For mountains, it’s hard to go past the world renowned Cradle Mountain, in the central highlands. And for beaches, you can’t beat Wineglass Bay in the stunning Freycinet National Park, or Lonely Planet’s top travel destination of 2008, The Bay of Fires, which is a little further to the north.

What are some of your best and worst travel experiences?
I’ve travelled to 37 countries, and the best experiences I had were spending a year in Cambodia, where I first taught English and gained a love of ancient civilisations by frequenting the amazing Angkor Wat. Other countries and regions which I have fond memories of are Cuba, Burma, and the Balkans. They all opened my eyes up to cultures and ways of life which I could never have experienced from books or TV.

Without a doubt, the worst travel experience is getting sick. I’ve had plenty of bugs, but getting typhoid in India in 2006 and being forced to cut short my trip and return home to recover was something I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

What is your proudest accomplishment?
This is a tough one. Probably, I’d say having the guts to give up the day job I hated, which involved spending 8 hours a day at a desk, to change career and embark on a new journey. I’ve met a lot of people who are unhappy with what they do, and I never wanted to be that person.

What do you do with most of your time?
I moved to Suwon in South Korea in late August, so most of my time is spent either teaching English to adults at a private language school, reading up about Korea or getting out and visiting the country. Unfortunately, I do feel I spend a little too much time on the internet, but I justify it given I am always reading about something new or hatching some new travel plans. Whether I’m working, relaxing and reading or travelling, I’m not wasting time.

What’s a typical day like for you?
Whilst I do have a Monday to Friday job, my working hours are from 2pm until 9pm, which leaves me with my mornings free. So, there’s breakfast, followed by a short run and some exercises before a couple of hours spent on my notebook catching up on the latest news, updating my blog, or preparing lessons for my classes. Teaching English is a great job, as you spent the majority of your working hours meeting interesting people and doing very little except encouraging them to speak. Here in Korea students have studied grammar to death, so as a native speaker it’s my job simply to encourage conversation to improve vocab and fluency. Although I’ve had a six month break, I’ll be continuing my Master of Applied Linguistics in 2010, which will ensure my days remain chocka block full.

What’s your favourite part of the TravelPod forum?
Probably the general dicussion, travelpod community and Travelpod support forums. It’s a great place to throw ideas for improvement around, and unlike Facebook, these ideas are heard and very often implemented, meaning the site is continuously improving. The country specific sites are also a great place to get a little extra information from people who may have done the same thing before you.

Ask Will anything in the TravelPod forums

TravelPod Local Expert profiles