Matador Network
Matador Network is the web’s largest travel magazine. Our fast growing community includes independent travelers, as well as athletes, journalists, photographers, filmmakers, and writers we sponsor to produce original investigative works. Our mission is to empower, connect, and feature travelers promoting culture, conservation, and sustainability around the world.

Awesome vantage point from #MatadorN reader @eevamakinen in #Norway. Thanks for tagging #travelstoke!

#travel #blue #fjordnorway #explore #nature #outdoors

Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta
Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta
1. Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

When: October
Where: Albuquerque

Plenty of superlatives are (justifiably) thrown around to describe the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, but the most powerful is this: It’s the “most photographed event in the world.” Check out their Instagram to see why.

One of my most vivid childhood memories is of standing in a field on the outskirts of Albuquerque at dusk, breath misting into the October air, watching as the bright glow of hundreds of flames lifted flocks of colorful bubbles into the air. Yes, it’s the “largest ballooning event on Earth.” Yes, it’s the “largest annual international event held in the United States.” But all that aside, all you really need to know is: It is one hell of a beautiful sight, and one you won’t soon forget.

2. Hatch Chile Festival

When: August
Where: Hatch

Hatch Chile Festival
Hatch Chile Festival
Hatch Chile Festival

There’s one thing the small town of Hatch, NM, located in a fertile agricultural valley of the Rio Grande, is known for. And if you really want to learn what it’s all about, plan a visit during their annual Hatch Chile Festival in late summer.

The terroir of the region contributes to the Hatch chile’s unique flavor profile, and the crop is shipped all over the world every harvest season, including to many US grocery stores. At the festival, you’ll get to sample classic dishes that feature the chile as an ingredient, and of course grab a plate of rotisserie-roasted peppers to eat on their own.

AdvertisementimageFrom: 10 cultural events in New Mexico you shouldn’t miss

#MatadorN reader @gregorsnell checking out Port Douglas & Daintree from above in tropical North Queensland, Australia. #travelstoke

#queensland #australia #windowseat #nature #portdougas #daintree #ocean #travel

1. It’s fucking empowering. Any time you do something on your own, despite what the haters might think, you’re empowering yourself. This is especially pertinent for solo female travelers, who deal with all kinds of negative energy and commentary that might otherwise dissuade them from traveling. So long as we don’t let the naysayers get in the way, the experience of traveling as an independent female is about the most awesome feeling you can have.

2. It’s something to brag about. Hell yes you hiked the Sierra High Route on your own — and it was no big deal.

3. It helps promote the image of a strong woman. You’re a walking billboard for female empowerment. When others say it’s unsafe for a woman to travel on her own, you smile and show them photos from your recent solo trip to New Delhi.

4. You can do whatever you want, whenever you want. Volunteer with a women’s microenterprise group in Ghana? Spend the afternoon shopping at the Siam Paragon in Bangkok? No one’s there to tell you the way you spend your time is boring, annoying, complicated, frivolous, touristy, or too “girly” (what does that even mean, anyway?).

5. You can have sex with whoever you want. You can let your inhibitions go, especially because you don’t have to see any of your romantic prospects ever again if you don’t want to. You can practice your flirting with total strangers. You can become romantically involved with no strings attached.

6. You don’t have to have sex with anyone. No one’s there to pressure you into starting a family and settling down. In fact, it’s awesome to go somewhere and just enjoy being in love with yourself.

7. You’ll form special bonds with the people you meet on the road. Sometimes we hide behind our other travel partners, seeking familiarity over getting to know new people. But the friends we make on our own abroad are a super special bunch.

8. You’re proof that other people aren’t necessary in order to have a great trip. Some people can’t comprehend the fact that solo female travelers are able to enjoy themselves without friends, family, or boyfriends/girlfriends, but you still had a baller time club-hopping around New York City without people tagging along.

9. You don’t have to worry about makeup/fashion. The media puts so much pressure on women to “look good,” but the same standards of beauty don’t necessarily translate abroad. The people you meet while traveling are getting to know you for the first time and don’t know what you look like otherwise anyway.

10. You’re an active part of breaking down stereotypes. The more women travel on their own, the less other people will think it’s so strange. You’re able to prove that women aren’t weak, dependent creatures who can’t fend for themselves in this “big, scary world.”

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Amazing view on the way to Glenorchy, New Zealand. Photo by #MatadorN reader @blacksheeptouring. Thanks for tagging #travelstoke!

#newzealand #queenstown #glenorchy #wildflowers #nature #travel

1. No one mentions your birthday until it’s your birthday.

In Germany, mentioning someone’s birthday before the date is considered bad luck. If your German friends are nice enough to give you a birthday present, don’t open it until your actual day. Or at least don’t tell them you opened it before your actual day.

If you’re sending someone a gift, make sure to write “GEBURTSTAG” in all-caps, red-alert style, so they don’t inadvertently open it a few days early and bring unknown horrors upon themselves.

2. You buy your own cake.

Given how silent everyone is pre-birthday, you may be tempted to drift right through the day unnoticed. Particularly if you’re at work, things will get awkward around the early afternoon when everyone expects a cake and you don’t deliver. In Germany, this custom is referred to as einen ausgeben.

If your coworker drops by to wish you “Alles Gutes zum Geburtstag” (all the best for your birthday), the jig is up. You’re going to need to get that cake. Stall for time by requesting a pre-cake cigarette to ponder your advancing age and eventual doom. Everyone in Germany smokes and is a little morbid, so this won’t seem too out of the ordinary. Sprint out the door to the nearest bakery, buy the first Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte (black forest cherry cake) you see, and throw it on the office coffee table before anyone catches on.

3. You organize (and pay for) your own party.

There are pros and cons to this one. Cons first. 1. Party planning is annoying. 2. Buying food and drink for all your friends is a lot of money. And 3. It’s your damn birthday! Aren’t people supposed to be celebrating you?!

On the positive side, you get to have total control over what you do on your birthday and who celebrates with you — no randoms invited.

4. Your celebration seems to personally offend every German in sight, even the ones who are participating in it.

Get used to that prickly, “I’m-being-watched” feeling, because more often than not, your German neighbor/fellow tram passenger/coworker is expressionlessly, dispassionately observing your every move. It’s such a startling thing for most outsiders that the German Der Spiegel, one of the largest publications in Europe, wrote a whole article about the phenomenon.

So don’t let the ocular pat-down worry you, that’s just how they do it in Germany.

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Check out these reflections! Photo by #MatadorN reader @roadsruneveron from a camping trip in #NewZealand. #Travelstoke!

#nature #stars #nightsky #reflection #camping #outdoors #milkyway #astronomy #travel

Almost every week I’ve been making five-hour drives from my current home in Washington, DC, to New York for about two months now. My fiancée’s family lives up on the Shore, and she and I are in the process of moving from Our Nation’s Capital, where we’ve lived for several years, to Jersey City, the town right across the Hudson from New York.

The drive’s gotten slightly more excruciating each time. There’s the always-traffic-clogged DC-Baltimore corridor; the bridges and tunnels over and under Baltimore’s slowly rusting port; the totally unremarkable hour-long stretch through northern Maryland (I’ve formed zero memories ever about this stretch of the drive, despite it having taken up days of my life); the tall, ugly green bridge that lifts me out of Delaware and sets me down in Southern Jersey; and then the two hours through New Jersey, where my fiancée inevitably insists on listening to New Jersey 101.5 — “not New York, not Philadelphia, but New Jersey’s own radio station! Featuring Big Joe Henry, livin’ large (VERY large!), telling jokes, and playing New Jersey’s favorite rockin’ oldies!” — until finally we reach the gray moonscapes of Newark and the New York sprawl and enter into JC so we can find a bar to drink away the stress of the trip.

I hate moving. I’ve done way too much of it over the past 10 years. My current home is a 300-square-foot studio with no kitchen that I share with my fiancée and work from. It’s what hell will be like for me if hell ends up existing. It’s cheap for DC, sure, but I’ve hated it since the day I moved in, nearly two years ago, making it the longest I’ve lived in any one place since I left my parents’ house at age 18. Why would I stay in such a tiny, shitty apartment for so long? Because I fucking hate moving.

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1. You’ll hang out on stoops.

Stoop parties are definitely a thing here. Entire BBQs happen on and around building stoops, intense chess tournaments are fought and won, even marriage proposals take place on the stoops of Queens, and you’re likely to witness a few come springtime. If you’re not lucky enough to have a stoop of your own attached to your building, you better make friends with your neighbors or risk not having somewhere to hang during the warmer months.

2. You’ll drink outside until it snows.

With more outdoor drinking spaces per capita than any other borough, Queens bars and eateries make their patio spaces stretch until the first frost hits — meaning you can be drinking outside well into November and starting as early as March. This is mainly thanks to outdoor heaters and other creative solutions employed to keep customers warm, drunk, and outdoors. Queens also boasts the oldest biergarten in New York, so it’d help your cause to visit both “the old biergarten” (Bohemian Hall) and “the new biergarten” (Studio Square). Be prepared to have impassioned conversations with Queens residents about the pros and cons of each location.

3. Your friends from other boroughs will be jealous of your commute.

Most Brooklyn residents have the misfortune of transferring from the L or the G in order to get anywhere in Manhattan. And if not, they’re looking at well over an hour of commute time from places like Bushwick. The dwellers of Jersey City and Hoboken bear the burden of the PATH, and if you call Staten Island home, you’re actually relying on a ferry to get you to where the action is. Luckily for people who live in Queens, we can ride the M, E, or R straight into the city, hitting 59th and Lex in less than 20 minutes, depending on where you’re leaving from. Occasionally, the 7 train stops running on the weekends — but if you actually want to leave Queens on Saturday or Sunday, you’ve got plenty of other subway options to choose from. Not many other boroughs can say that.

4. You’ll sit down to eat an entire meal at 2am.

Queens residents are always thinking about their next meal, even in the wee hours of the morning. It’s not uncommon to walk down 30th Ave and see full entrees being served to diners at restaurants that stay open well past midnight or to pass by packed-out 24/7 eateries like Hahm Ji Bach in Flushing. If your idea of late-night food involves a 99-cent slice of pizza or a box of chicken nuggets, you’ve clearly never found yourself hungry in Queens at 2am.

5. You’ll travel over an hour and still be in Queens.

Whether you’re finally about to experience this “Spa Castle” all the locals rave about, put away an entire Banana Royal at Jahn’s, or step up to the live octopus challenge at Sik Gaek Chun Ha, you’ll be surprised at how far you can travel without technically leaving your borough. However, you’ll consistently find not only are all of these experiences absolutely worth the trip but also worth the calories consumed and every dollar spent.

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