Passports: What you need to know

This is the time of year many people start planning their winter vacations. If you want to travel out of the country, it’s important to have a valid passport. But, what many people don’t realize is that depending on which country you’d like to visit, your passport may not be “valid.” Confused? I hear you.

Family bonds locked in time at Seoul tower

The main characters in K-dramas often demonstrate their love by attaching personalized padlocks on a fence on the tower’s observation deck. Tens of thousands of “love locks” can be found here. It’s a trend well established in cities such as Paris and Prague, but the tradition has taken on an added dimension in Seoul. While couples still attach locks to declare their love for one another, the fence has become a popular spot for adoptees and their adoptive parents to leave padlocks honoring the day they became a family.

Chicago (My Kind of Town)

Our kid likes to travel. He has taken high-speed KTX trains in Seoul, played in New York City’s Central Park and fed dolphins in Paradise Island (Bahamas). All of that was amazing. But it’s wonderful having a first-rate destination with skyscapers, museums and all the dining choices right in our own back yard. We’ll be back, Chicago, because we can’t quit you.

Go Away With … Reggie Lee

Born in the Philippines and raised in Ohio, Reggie Lee currently splits his time between Los Angeles and Portland, where he has a co-starring role as Sgt. Wu on the NBC hit series “Grimm.” Lee’s film credits include “The Dark Knight Rises,” “The Fast and the Furious “ and “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End.” Lee says he loves shooting on location in Oregon, but he’s looking forward to doing some traveling soon. “I generally like to stay home and be with family for the holidays. But, right after Christmas, I’m headed to London and then Paris for New Year’s.”

Korean cuisine beyond barbecue and kimchi

When I was young, I went through a phase where I hated Korean food. My mother would make fresh, home-cooked meals from scratch. And instead of realizing what a treat that was, I would ask why we couldn’t just eat TV dinners like all my friends. But these days, there’s no cuisine I enjoy more than Korean. And if someone else is willing to cook it for me, all the better! So when my family and I traveled to South Korea this fall, eating well was a top priority.

That time I climbed a glacier in New Zealand

So, I was having a conversation with some people the other day about coincidences. And I started off my story like this: “Speaking of coincidences, I ran into someone from my hometown when I was climbing a glacier in New Zealand.” Yeah. I sounded obnoxious. Even by my standards.

Staycation is all I ever wanted

Every year around my birthday, my family and I like to enjoy a staycation in Chicago. For me, it’s a chance to return to my stomping grounds in the city where I grew up. Before my parents realized their immigrant dream of buying a house in the suburbs, we lived in Chicago. I went to school, learned to parallel park and got my first big newspaper job there. For my husband and son, spending a long weekend in Chicago is an opportunity to visit some of the world’s first rate museums, dine at some amazing restaurants and go for a swim with a view of the city’s gorgeous skyline.

Komodo Dragon Attacks Tour Guide

Remember when Sharon Stone arranged for her then husband, Phil Bronstein, to pet a Komodo dragon at the Los Angeles Zoo? And remember when dragon bit him on the foot, completely crushing his big toe? I thought about this when my husband and I were on the eastern Indonesian island of Komodo, touring an area full of the dragons for which it’s famous. There were experienced guides leading our little group, and they carried large, pointy sticks. I remember asking the lead guide if that’s what he’d use if a Komodo dragon were to attack, and he said, “Yes. It’s very effective.”

Isn’t it romantic? Here are the love locales where celebs feel the passion

There’s no specific quality that makes one destination more romantic than others. While some travelers want access to luxuries and fine dining, others search for a beautiful sunset in a rustic environment. The important thing is being with the right person. As Mark Twain said, “I have found out that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.”

I Beg Young People to Travel

I beg young people to travel. If you don’t have a passport, get one. Take a summer, get a backpack and go to Delhi, go to Saigon, go to Bangkok, go to Kenya.

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