Category Archives: cambodia

Why I Donate and Volunteer While Traveling

There is no arguing that donating items or volunteering your time is universally a good thing to do. I especially enjoy doing this when I’m traveling. For me, it’s a wonderful way to feel more connected to a destination. In fact, my favorite travel memories and connections have been when I volunteered or donated supplies to those in need. I am so fortunate to be able to travel and visit different parts of the world. It’s a small thing I can do and it goes farther than many realize.

cambodia habitat for humanity

My first travel volunteer experience was with Habitat for Humanity in Cambodia. It was truly so meaningful to me. I learned so much about myself on that trip. I had never been to Asia before and knew no one on my build. I had never seen that kind of poverty before. But working side by side these people living in poverty to build them a better home was truly so enriching. I will never ever forget the local people working on my build. They were such kind spirits that touched my heart. And, I believe they won’t ever forget me either.


But there are other small ways to give back that don’t take a week-long commitment. When I traveled to India I worked with an organization called Globe Drop to find a donation opportunity. I was able to purchase items in India for an orphanage of girls. The purchases helped the local economy and cost a fraction of what it would in the US. It was a win-win. All I had to do was take the time to buy the items and then go deliver them to the orphanage. A small amount of time that went a long way making these girls learning and living experiences better.


Another small way I helped on another travel adventure was to collect and deliver children’s books to a foundation in Jamaica that help to educate impoverished children who would not otherwise have an education. People are always looking to give away books over time and, in many cases, they’d like them to go into good hands. I just took a little time to build up a collection and then contacted Rockhouse Foundation and asked if they would like them. They said yes so I packed them up in my bag and traveled to Jamaica. Again, the delivery just took a little time out my day and was so worth the cause.


My most recent volunteer/donation experience was in Peru. My friend and I found an opportunity to help orphan children with their school work and play with them for a few days in Cusco. To see their smiles every day brought so much laughter and joy to us. The same organization, Peru Trek 4 Good, that connected us to the orphanage also collects clothing and toys for poor people living in the mountains. My friend and I were able to bring three suitcases full of clothes, coats and toys to be delivered to a small Andean community as Christmas gifts – more than 200 parents and children. Again, so many people have things that they want to give away that others could really use. It was just a matter of collecting items, paying to get them to Peru and delivered to the organization. We were thrilled when we saw all the happy faces at Christmastime.

peru trek 4 good

This week I’m off on another volunteer adventure in travel. I’m excited to be participating in a new concept in travel – Impact Travel with Fathom. I will be cruising to the Dominican Republic and doing a few service projects over the days I’m there. I can’t wait to get my hands dirty and see the smiling faces of locals there. You really learn so much through these experiences and get more locally connected. I think Impact Travel is the way forward. You’re helping out others, raising awareness and empowering people to think about traveling and giving back.


Filed under cambodia, india, jamaica, travel

Best Traveled Dress

I travel a lot. And I’m often asked about travel essentials and how and what I choose to pack. There are few staples depending upon the climate but there is one standout dress that seems to accompany me almost everywhere for the last five years and is still going strong!

rodress     Photo 1-16     Photo 2-16    lola_blackpink

The Calypso Classic Ro Dress. Calypso St. Barth is a favorite store of mine found in some lucky locales throughout the USA and, of course, the original in St. Barth. I’ve visited a few but the Boston store is where I do the most damage. Five years ago or so I bought my first Ro dress and knew instantly what a great staple dress this was but since have truly learned it’s value. (The classic Ro dress retails at $195)

I have worn it as going out nighttime dress, a touring day dress, a beach cover up or just something to quickly throw on. This is a dress that keeps you cool and comfortable. It’s a dress that consistently gets complimented. It is a dress that’s forgiving – I think it would look good on anyone. Best of all, you can machine wash it or, in times of necessity, hand wash it in a sink. It looks great with a casual denim jacket or cardigan. It can be worn with leggings and boots. Mine has gone on fancy dinner dates, out dancing at clubs or just chilling at beach bars. Plus, obviously, it travels well in your bag. It is my go-to everything dress!

This dress has literally traveled the globe with me. It’s been to Miami virtually every time I go. Hello cover up or a dress to throw on for lunch. Same idea for Hawaii and Palm Springs. And, seen here on the beach in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.


In St. Martin and St. Barth it’s been a going out dress. Also in London, Bali and seen here in Istanbul.


This dress traveled with me for my 10,000 mile drive from the United Kingdom to Mongolia. It is that diverse and essential. In Cambodia it was a touring dress of the Phnom Penh Night Market.


In Thailand it saw the grandeur of the Grand Palace in Bangkok.

photo 1-14

And as a day dress it met children in an orphanage in Bangalore India.

photo 2-12

Calypso St. Barth has grown from a modest resort-wear boutique to a luxury lifestyle brand with a passionate international following. Inspired by travel, culture & the arts, the brand reveals unique & feminine pieces that can be mixed and matched for effortless elegance, which women of every age have come to love.

Calypso St. Barth’s namesake collection is displayed alongside carefully curated pieces from international designers for an eclectic assortment with wide appeal. To me, entering Calypso St. Barth is like taking a mini-vacation to somewhere exotic. And each of my Calypso pieces are very unique and special to me.


Filed under boston, cabo san lucas, cambodia, caribbean, fashion, miami, mongol rally, phnom penh, st. barts, travel, turkey

#CTC13: Capture the Color with @travelsupermkt

being with LOLA is like being with Skittles

Screen Shot 2013-09-08 at 12.25.52 PM

here we are, a year later and it’s “Capture the Color” time again with Travel Supermarket. i actually enjoy participating in this because it makes me really look through all my travel photos and relive my trips! the idea behind it is you publish a post with pictures that capture these five colors – blue, green, yellow, white, and red – to try and win a boat load of prizes including the grand prize grand – a £3,000 travel fund. now, you know Lola cannot put her entry in without adding a token PINK category!  i was invited to participate by my pal Erin from The World Wanderer and so i hope i do her proud with my CTC photos.

BLUE my favorite kind of blue is the blue of the ocean. this is a photo i have many versions of from over the years. me, coming in for a landing over Miami Beach – LOLA’S favorite quick escape.

photo 1 copy 3

GREEN was the color of the day at the Montreal Botanical Garden. isn’t this butterfly just so pretty? there are so many wonderfully pretty things to discover in Montreal.

photo 1-6

YELLOW i love the golden yellow umbrellas these monks are carrying shading them from the Cambodian sun. my entire CTC post could have been full of just Cambodia photos. that county is so colorfully beautiful!

photo 1 copy

WHITE isn’t this such a gorgeous shot of the Swiss Alps? i was soooo very lucky to ski in the winter of 2013 in Verbier, Switzerland where this photo was shot. now i never want to ski anywhere else.

photo 3 copy

RED Paris is such a special city. red wouldn’t be the first color i’d use to describe it but it would certainly be the color i would use to describe the Pigalle neighborhood where you can find the Moulin Rouge.

photo 1 copy 2

PINK and my token pink photo! i just adore this pink sombrero that i was gifted during my trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico from the Bahia Hotel. now i need to return so i can wear it again. ANDALE!

photo 2-3

now for the tagging on my part…

Joshua from Engineer on the Road

Calan from Discovering Your Truth

Tom from Waegook Tom

Yishyene from Small Crazy

Keryn from Walking on Travels

looking forward to seeing your photos friends. i know you all have been doing some amazing travels over the last year so let’s see your colors shine!



Filed under cabo san lucas, cambodia, miami, montreal, paris, travel, verbier

the dirty dozen – best posts of 2012

twelve of O – 12

tour de eiffel

well, well, well, what do we have here? another tagging blogger thingy-ma-jig. it is hard for me to say no to these especially when i’m tagged by someone who i think is really great like, Erik of On My Feet or In My Mind. not only do i find his stories interesting but, for some reason, the man finds lola amusing. just read this comment he wrote on one of my posts. (see #5)

You being yourself is the number one thing that makes you awesome and makes it so much fun to read your blog and follow your adventures.

Those people who pass judgement on you are trying to mask their own unhappiness by doing it- they aren’t worth any thought or time.

Just keep being your fabulous self!!!!!

thanks for your support, Erik, and for tagging me. and away i go with my dirty dozen of 2012.

1) most popular – from lola, with love!


why is this my most popular? can you guess?? i’ll give you a hint…it has to do with foreign languages and virtually nothing to do with what i wrote!

2) most helpful travel tip – 5 financial essentials you need while traveling through Europe


because if you don’t have common sense to do these things, at least have the common sense to go get yourself a sugar daddy!

3) a post that was surprisingly successful – postcards, pins, patches – what’s your favorite travel souvenirs?


since souvenirs seem trite at times i was surprised at how many people commented and liked the post. that’s what 14K gold lucky charms do for you!!! 😉

4) a post that was underrated – Ames Boston: a hotel that aims to please

photo 3

with all my star quality hotel review porn as of late, i was surprised more people didn’t like the Ames post more. it’s one cool hotel and deserves a good long sexy look.

5) most controversial post – my controversial musings for 2012

it's your story

well, the title says so – so it must be! judgers and haters make me mad. the. end.

6) most amusing post – my 7 super shots – done lola-style

in the bathroom of the playboy club in vegas

in the bathroom of the playboy club in vegas

because it’s funny. i twisted this little contest into something that is “lola true”. i mean, c’mon, there’s a photo of a blow up doll getting sandwiched. that alone is amusing!

7) the post i’m most proud of – lola’s making her dreams come true


this post made me proud of all that i set out to accomplish in 2012 and what i did to achieve my goals. here’s to 2013…

8) best travel story or travel perspective – favorite travel spots – food for thought

budapest, curaçao, cambodia

this was an unplanned post that simply came about from a great question. it made me realize something about myself that i hadn’t stopped to ponder.

9) best travel adventure – surviving Cambodia

some of my Habitat build team

some of my Habitat build team

going to Cambodia was a big adventure for me and now i have the travel bug to do more trips like this. it’s ALL GOOD!

10) best cultural perspective or insights – cambodia starts with the letter P

phnom penh monks

many people liked this post & suggested i replicate it for other locations. thing is, it isn’t something that easily replicated. it has to be true…things need to keep recurring with the same letter in order to make it work!

11) most beautiful – cocktails of cambodia

gigantic glass of red at Topaz - phnom penh

well, what can i say? i’m lola and i like my cocktails. this post has loads of photos of them & that’s a beautiful thing!

12) best photo or photo gallery – Capture the Color with Lola

deep in the heart of Art Deco Miami lives a PINK car that i must have one day

deep in the heart of Art Deco Miami lives a PINK car that i must have one day

i don’t fancy myself an award-winning photographer but this little “capture the color” contest was fun. especially adding in my own category of color – PINK!

so, there it is. what i think are my best posts of 2012! are there any that i missed and should have put in on this list?

now for who i’m tagging…

Tom of Waegook Tom

Jennifer of Scarlett Wonderland

Josh of Engineer on the Road

Anita of traveldestinationbucketlist

let them entertain you with their best of 2012 – much the way they always do lola 🙂


Filed under cambodia, travel

reduce, reuse, recycle – Cambodia

recycling lessons this first world gal learned in a third world country!

while there are a few environmentally unfriendly things going on in Cambodia, for example, scooters & truck exhaust surely aren’t meeting any emission standards. AND then there’s the littering issues – which apparently have greatly improved! there’s a lot i discovered about Cambodia that IS environmentally friendly. it may simply be that it’s a third world country and because of limited funds and resources they are more cautious with their use of things. no matter what, i found this refreshing as we are having to go back and make up for our excessive misuse in the ‘developed’ world.

one of the reasons i went to Cambodia was to participate in a Habitat for Humanity house build there. thirty percent of the population in Cambodia lives in poverty. like on a $1.25 a day. just to put things a little in perspective, the family i built the Habitat house for has a household income of $225 a month. definitely not enough to become landowners and build a home without the help of Habitat for Humanity. i truly love this organization and believe whole-heartedly in their mission. Habitat scrutinizes applicants to find the right people to help, knowing their example will in turn help others. they believe in a hand-up not a handout. the homeowners are expected to work on their own homes and future Habitat homes in their community. HOW FABULOUS!

never having done a build before, it was a very eye-opening experience, to say the least. for starters, the limited materials and tools used was interesting. talk about ways to recycle and reuse. scrap wood was fashioned into a rickety ladder. broken bricks weren’t cast away but later used as rubble to fill the foundation. trows were used to mix and place cement for wall building BUT also as tool to break bricks in half or quarters. whatever was needed to complete the walls we were building. nothing was thrown away – all materials were used in one way or another.

then there was the water people used because of the lack of piped water to the homes. they had huge ceramic pots that collected rain water. this was their everything water – baths, cooking, drinking. each house seemed to have two per household. people have asked me since, were these pots covered? how did they sanitize the water? to be honest, i’m not sure. we used this water during the build and were told to be careful not to contaminate it in any way. we used it to wash our hands AND we watched children bath in it. drinking and cooking – well, perhaps they boil it first. i really cannot say first hand. in any case, they were not wasting that precious rain water that they pray for since it’s vital to their survival.

from what i saw, they literally reuse and recycle everything. cans get turned in and glass bottles get reused to sell petrol for motorbikes. it’s fascinating. even the cement bags like we used during the build are recycled and made into items sold in stores and markets all around. i’m talking made into luggage bags, placemats and even little fashion clutches. i even witnessed scrap fabric being bagged up and sold for furniture stuffing.

it made me realize how much we toss away that could be repurposed. i think those Cambodians are actually quite wise in their use of things. have you ever stopped to think how you could reuse, reduce or recycle things you have used in your life?


Filed under cambodia, travel