MIT Destinations

Paragliding, Rocking and Eating My Way Through the Alps

Over dinner one evening, a fellow Francophile told me about a peculiar party in the French Alps—one that involved skiing, wine and live bands playing rock, reggae and pop on the slopes. I'm a sucker for music festivals and all things French. So yeah, the annual Rock the Pistes music festival, sounded pretty hard to miss. 

Past performers of Rock the Pistes include reggae legend Lee "Scratch" Perry, Klaxons and Babyshambles with frontman Pete Doherty (formerly of The Libertines). For me, the highlights of the most recent edition of the festival were Belgium's own Selah Sue and London singer-songwriter, Charlie Winston.

The following video shares the best moments of the free, week-long concert series and gives you a sense of what it's like to hang out and party in the snow.

This year's festival takes place from March 14-19 and includes performances by Two Door Cinema Club and Gotthard, among other musicians. 

Portes du Soleil, the ski resort that plays host to Rock the Pistes, is absolutely massive. In fact, it's billed as one of the largest ski areas in the world, encompassing some 400 square miles. So even if you're not a huge festival person, there are plenty of other ways to get your kicks.

I like to live on the edge a bit. Sometimes, that's the edge of a 6,000-foot cliff. 

Paragliding in the French Alps was one of the most memorable things I did last year. The scenery was incredible, and the introductory lesson was a bargain at approximately $83. I'll never forget this moment, and I'm so glad I had a camera on me to capture my first flight. 

There were quite a few other aspects of my trip to the Alps that blew me away. Perhaps most notable was the cuisine. In the Savoy region of France, the key to any winter meal is melted Abondance cheese — and lots of it. Abondance cheese gets its name from its origins in the Abondance (Abundance) Valley and adheres to strict guidelines to make sure that the geographical area, local cheese-making methods and traditional taste are preserved.

If you like melted cheese, you will be eating it several times during your stay (without apologies) and loving every gooey second of it. I am not joking when I tell you that I purchased a fondue set as soon as I returned home.

In this video, I hand-select my favorite things to see and do while vacationing in the Alps. (Hint: Eating lots of cheese is one of them.)

If you ever make it to the French Alps, please be sure to pour out a little fondue for your homegirl.

Skye Mayring is a travel producer and blogger on a mission to visit 100 countries by 2025. Subscribe to her YouTube channel for weekly travel videos or follow her adventures on Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat at JoanJetsetter.

Find Your Adventure in Chile

The early morning descent into Chile was one of the most beautiful I've seen. 

A dense fog settled just below the tree-tops, while the sun peaked from behind the snow-capped Andes, as if God were whispering, "Good morning, Michael. Welcome to Chile." 

What awaited was a land of contrast, offering bounty from the land and sea... the arid deserts of Atacama in the north, the bitter cold of Antarctica in the south, and the tropical breeze that blows along the shores of Easter Island.

But as a lover of nature, I had only one place in mind: Patagonia.

The sparsely populated region at the very southern tip of South America -- the Fin del Mundo or 'End of the World,' as it is known locally -- is the ideal setting for a luxury adventure.

Our gracious hosts, Remota Lodge and Skorios Cruises, treated us to an action-packed week of hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, fly fishing, wildlife watching, and my favorite, a surreal glacier cruise through the Chilean fjords that feed into the Pacific ocean.

Truly, the very basic core of a man's living spirit is his passion for adventure.

Find yours in Chile.

Michael Nobiletti is MIT’s Director of Education and founder of Rollinglobe. Follow him on Twitter @mikenobi and Instagram @rollinglobe_travel

Moving India

Contrary to what you might think, sometimes the ‘getting there’ can be the most exciting part of a journey through India!  On a recent trip with Greaves Tours, the modes of transportation experienced while visiting the famed Golden Triangle were taken beyond the expected planes, buses, trains, and cars.

There were no “Do we have to sit here any longer?” inquiries while bumping and dodging through the crowded markets of Old Delhi on the back of bicycle rickshaws.  There were no “Are we there yet?” complaints as our procession of camel-drawn carts made their way through the parched, rutted desert outside of Jaipur when our bus had no road to continue further.  These were special experiences in and of themselves which were not to be missed or rushed!

I’m not going to tell you that it isn’t a bit smelly or dusty when making your way from the Oberoi Armarvilas to the entrance of the Taj Mahal by horse-drawn carriage, but I couldn’t imagine a better way to arrive.  Although the enormity and beauty of this architectural wonder is the purpose of this stop on most India itineraries, I was pleasantly surprised that the short journey on the road to the Taj was equally as memorable.

 A few days later, one of the greatest transports I have ever experienced awaited in the desert outside of Jaipur … an evening safari on the back of an elephant!  When we arrived, the sun was setting, and the elephants loomed over us at the entrance of Dera Amer Elephant Camp.  They greeted us with beautifully painted faces and trunks, and we treated them with bananas and hugs.  Once atop our new friends, our safari continued through a dark, hillside forest, our path lit only by the moon and stars.  We considered what animals might be watching from a short distance as we trudged, the pedestals we sat on lurching back and forth with each monstrous, elephant step.  Halfway through the trek, we could hear the faint beat of drums.  Coming to a small clearing, we could now see the roof of a crumbling building alight with lanterns where musicians played and a server stood ready to hand us a glass of wine as we sauntered by.  Pure contentment is easy to achieve when sipping wine and listening to night sounds, all while towering on an elephant.

Leaving the desert behind, we arrived in Udaipur, the ‘Venice of India,’ where boats proved to be a necessity.  Each time we came and went from the opulent, lakeside Leela Palace, we had the privilege of enjoying a private, relaxing lake cruise.  At night, the lights of the city palace and surrounding hotels and residences twinkled off of the lake creating picture perfect views in every direction, especially from the water.  One evening we were surprised with a pre-dinner cruise aboard the historical Taj Lake Palace barge on which we had drinks, appetizers, and enjoyed a private performance complete with dancers, musicians, and fire!  There was definitely something romantic about smoothly gliding across the waters of Lake Pichola whether day or night.

Thank goodness for all of the skilled drivers we encountered in each destination, but especially those in Jodhpur!  As we drove toward our city-central hotel, the streets narrowed and became impossible for our bus to navigate the tight turns.  Coming to a stop, we got out, and boarded tuk-tuks, i.e. motorcycle rickshaws.  At ‘interesting’ speeds, we continued the rest of the way, darting and weaving in and out of cars, pedestrians, cows, and goats!  Again, each time we needed to come and go from our hotel, we climbed into our tuk-tuks and watched our surroundings fly by.  As an adrenaline junkie, this was exactly my cup of Rooibos tea! 

When looking back on our journey, I realize that we were not just being moved from place to place.  Our spirits were also being moved as we experienced the various, unique modes of transportation that carried us.  Seeing India’s cities and countryside from these vehicles and vantage points, immersed us into the local surroundings and culture, and helped us appreciate not only the amazing destinations, but also the ‘getting there.’

Robyn Jackson is a travel professional for Camelback Odyssey Travel and the Officer of Events for the Phoenix/Scottsdale MIT chapter. Contact Robyn for more information. 

On The Edge of Civilization In Greenland

Greenland is a land vast removed from most aspects of modern day society. An immense landmass at the top of the world, it is both stark and beautiful. As an ice cap covers approximately 80% of its surface, most human settlements have been relegated along the coasts. Even then, only the hardiest and strongest have been able to survive the harsh arctic climate. From early Eskimo inhabitants to Icelandic settlers, Norse explores, and currently as part of the Danish Kingdom, Greenland has seen many groups of people pass through its barren landscape. 

Ilulissat, located just over 200 miles north of The Arctic Circle is an unquestionable stop on any trip to the country. Located on the west coast and a 3 hour flight from Reykjavik, Iceland, the vast expanse of the Greenlandic Ice Cap below the plane is a breathtaking start to the journey. Aircraft types are generally small turboprops and don't be surprised if a few rows at the back of the plane are reserved for boxes of fresh fruit and vegetables, as getting shipments of food into Greenland can be an undertaking. If traveling during colder months, also be prepared for flight cancellations, as the weather over Greenland can be turbulent and unpredictable. 

The country has a population of fewer than 60,000 and at 4,500 people, Ilulissat is the 3rd most populous city; there are almost as many sled dogs as people here. With only a handful of hotels and public restaurants, options are limited, which is part of the allure of this isolated settlement. The best property in town is Hotel Arctic which boasts several rooms that feature incredible views out onto Disko Bay and also has the best restaurant in town, Restaurant Ulo which features amazing a la cart items such as fresh crab legs, scallops, halibut, and Greenlandic lamb.

After filling up on delicious local fare, there are numerous excursions to explore the surroundings. Greenlandic sled dogs which are integral to the way of life here are plentiful and available for rides that showcase the stark yet beautiful surroundings. The town of Ilulisat is also great for a leisurely stroll; the beautiful colored buildings and homes add an exciting pop of color plus stopping in for a visit at the Knud Rasmussen Museum provides an interesting history of the area. The building the museum is housed in was the birthplace of polar adventurer Knud Rasmussen and provides insight into the life of this explorer and his numerous expeditions.

For a bit more exertion, take a hike with a local guide out to the fjords to feel the all-encompassing beauty of this wild place. For an even more unique perspective, hop on a helicopter ride above the UNESCO World heritage site of the Ilulissat Ice-fjord. Seeing the expanse and majesty of the icebergs from above is a once in a lifetime experience. A final crowning adventure is sailing along the Ilulissat Ice-fjord. After seeing these towering cliffs of ice from both land and air, getting up close on the water allows the ability to marvel at their majesty from a new perspective. Taking this trip during the sunset hour adds to the already incomprehensible beauty of the scenery. 

Among these incredible sights, Ilulissat holds an important place in the conversation of how we treat our planet and how it will be preserved for future generations. Global warming is a weighty and divisive issue that the Ilulissat Ice-fjord and the Greenlandic Ice Cap that produces it are at the center of. The rate at which the ice here is melting is alarming and has sparked scientists, politicians and everyday citizens around the globe to unite in doing more to save planet Earth.

Greenland is one of the most remote and untouched areas in the world. It is a wild, savage and stunning country that proudly showcases the beauty of nature contrasted with its harsh and unforgiving climate. 

Kate Mayer is a travel professional for Travcoa and serves as the National Manager of Membership for Millennials in Travel. Contact Kate for more information. 


Panama, located in Central America is world famous for the engineering feat that is the Panama Canal, but few foreigners know much further. Its capital, Panama City is a fascinating metropolis with gleaming skyscrapers near dilapidated colonial buildings, colorful street art among litter-strewn beaches, and safe, well-manicured boulevards around the corner from violent stretches of the old city.

Upon arrival at the airport, ask for a cheaper shared cab to reach your destination. A trip to the city undoubtedly needs to include a viewing of the canal that has become such an important crossroads of trade, culture and diversity. An hour is more than enough to wander around the viewing area of the Miraflores Locks to see the ships lining up to pass through, as well as the small museum.

A short cab ride away is a small area called Mi Pueblito. This is a recreation of the villages of the indigenous Embera people. Despite being a bit touristy, the opportunity to buy the woven baskets and bracelets they are known for, among other trinkets is worth it.

America has obviously played a large part in the development of Panama, and American influence still resonates. Despite the use of American currency and anecdotes how more English is spoken here than in Miami, consistently finding English speakers proved difficult, yet is all part of the adventure. One glaringly apparent American influence is the shopping mall. The famous Albrook mall is a monolith mostly filled with American stores interspersed with some local boutiques; just be sure to skip the food court.

One of the most interesting and sought out sights here is Casco Viejo, the old town. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and was established in the 1670′s by the Catholic Church and Spanish colonialists as a walled city to protect its settlers. Since then, this area has experienced unbelievable neglect, leaving buildings crumbling in disrepair and a devastating slum. After driving through the sadly neglected area of Casco, there is a growing area full of vibrancy and serious restoration. It is important to be aware of your surroundings here and not wander out of the tourist-friendly areas, as muggings and violence are still rampant.

Begin taking in the sights with the gorgeous 17th Century Baroque Altar de Oro (altar of gold) in a small church. An entire day can be spent wandering the streets, popping into small artisan shops and galleries, admiring the street art (from murals to grafitti) and sampling local treats. Construction is ubiquitous and don't be surprised to find armed guards patrolling the streets. Among the classic colonial buildings are new boutique hotels and gorgeous multi-million dollar looking homes; quite the juxtaposition from the squalor a few blocks away. For some good food and relaxation stop in to the Tantolo Hotel. There is a restaurant in front of the hotel but a much more satisfying option is rooftop dining, offering a breathtaking view of the city.

Another popular district is Marbella which is known for being very safe and a nightlife hot spot. Calle Uruguay here is famous for its numerous bars and restaurants. The scene ranges from casual and hip artsy bars to full on dance clubs with bouncers out front choosing who is allowed to enter. After some indulgence, it is a bit disappointing to be left with practically no late night dining options though.

Panama boasts amazing beaches, and a trip to Bocas Del Toro or San Blas should be worked into any itinerary. But if time or money are limited, there is a lovely alternative; Isla Taboga (The Island of Flowers) is a short ferry ride from the city and a beautiful spot to relax. Find some empty sand on the beach and doze off, after, wander around the very small and picturesque town. There are quite a few restaurant options and one with a lovely ocean view should not be missed.

Panama City is undoubtedly the most metropolitan city in Central America yet still considered off the beaten path for many travelers. It's lively atmosphere and historic culture offer a fascinating glimpse into this crossroads of the world.

Kate Mayer is a travel professional for Travcoa and serves as the National Manager of Membership for Millennials in Travel. Contact Kate for more information. 


Utopia has been discovered!! This was my impression upon leaving Jamaica the first time. Even upon my second visit it seemed a veritable Eden with all of the temptations one might imagine...The parts of Negril and Ocho Rios I saw were nestled into rolling resort lawns of verdant tropical foliage where oversized hibiscus perfumed the air, leading the way down to the sand's edge. Where the green stopped, glass grain sands began, a fitting frame for a sea of glistening, liquid emerald. Jamaica is so different from the glossy, commercial appeal of so many other destinations... It is raw, green, warm, and real. I could swear that the very greenness of this country has a pulse. It is alive. The Jamaican people are proud but warm and welcoming. The food, incredible... Notable local favorites are neon-green curried goat, spicy jerked chicken, and braised ox tail. My most memorable meal, however, was cooked over a fire pit dug into the sand... lobsters we caught ourselves not far from shore. Sitting on a stump, tide licking my toes, juice dribbling down my chin, and a spice-soaked paper plate wetting my lap, I dare say I had the most incredible culinary experience of my life. 

This combined with countless other magical moments: the adrenaline-induced euphoria of cliff-diving, dancing with dolphins, scuba-diving for the first time, and the more subtle glow of pleasure derived from getting to know the heart of a people make Jamaica one of the most unique destinations in my experience.

I believe this realization crystalized when I was browsing through one of the colorful local markets. A beautiful carving of a man morphing into a lion caught my eye in one of the artisan stalls. The carver explained to me that the metamorphosis represented Rastafarian principles and the Lion of Zion, a phrase I’ve oft heard repeated in reggae songs but never really knew the meaning of. His fervent beliefs manifested in his hand-hewn art captivated and moved me. It was a uniquely spiritual moment being drawn into the folds of this man’s life as he recited the Rastafarian way in his round, rolling accent, paint-spattered hands tracing the grain of the wood.

I am honored to feel as though I were able to tap into the life-blood of Jamaica, the pulse of the nation, its people, through this man’s art and the culmination of a thousand other awakenings.

Myste Wright is a travel professional for Protravel International and the Officer of Membership for our Los Angeles chapter. Contact Myste for more information.