Kwin Mosby

Kwin is Managing Producer of TravelChannel.com. His multimedia career has included working as a TV news reporter/producer and publications editor. What inspires Kwin to travel? It’s relaxing beach locations, vibrant urban epicenters and awe-inspiring outdoor destinations like Glacier and Joshua Tree National Parks, Barcelona, Miami, Paris, New York City and Brazil. Kwin’s travel mantra is simple: talk to the locals to fully experience the true flavor and culture of any new destination.

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Photography by Jamie Gallant and Vern Cummins

Head south! Well, 51° south to be precise, to visit the Falklands Islands! In the 6-part documentary web series 51° South, 2 young filmmakers — 33-year-old Vern Cummins from Dartford, Kent, UK, and 23-year-old Jamie Gallant from Cape Cod, MA — showcase the life on these remote Islands, located east of the southernmost tip of Argentina.

Using the beautiful landscape and wildlife as their backdrop, Vern and Jamie offer us a glimpse of life on the Islands by featuring a variety of residents, including Steve, a taxidermist; Samantha, a private in the Falkland Islands Defense Force; and Charlie, the keeper at the Cape Pembroke Lighthouse.

Some history buffs may recall that the Islands are well-known as the location for the 2-month Falklands War in 1982, but Vern and Jamie’s mission is to show the rich, low-key culture that exists today — and why the Falklands should be added to their list of must-see destinations.

We decided to talk to the off-the-beaten-track filmmakers about their docu-series, the Falkland Islands and their love of travel.

Travel Channel: Of all the locations in the world, why did you decide to do a documentary about the Falkland Islands?

Jamie Gallant: “Well, I first had the opportunity to visit the Falkland Islands in early winter of 2011, it was a dream come true for me. The 2-week scheduled journey around the Islands turned into 3 when a gale stranded me for a handful of days on Saunders Island, in the northwest portion of the archipelago. I missed the 1 flight that left the islands that week; so I did what anyone else in my position would do — I went to the pub. The friendly clinks of glasses quickly cemented my love for this extraordinary country and its people. Once back in my adopted city of Chicago, I immediately got together with Vern, who felt it would simply be a disservice not to investigate further, and 51° South was born.”


Travel Channel:
Did you know each other before filming 51° South? How did you meet?

Vern Cummins: “Yes. Jamie and I met while studying at university in Chicago. We graduated with a concentration in documentary together, one of the smallest departments at one of the largest film schools in the United States. Jamie and I have always shared a common aesthetic and approach to storytelling and this has resulted in many collaborations between us over the years.”


Travel Channel:
How would you describe the culture on the Islands?

Jamie: “I’ve never traveled some place where being an American was such an exciting novelty! That was quite something. The problem with the Falklands from our perspective was that the arguments always seemed to go over the heads of the people who actually called the Islands home. I think that is an underlying frustration with them. So, I remember being amazed by just how open and willing the people were to share their stories and experiences with Vern and me as complete strangers. As documentary filmmakers and photographers, it was such a gem of an experience. We take a lot of pride in the trust they’ve bestowed on us. What we uncovered and hopefully what people take away from watching 51° South is that the culture of the Falklands is not some simple, rough, bitter existence, but rather a truly remarkable, independent and beautifully diverse people.”


Travel Channel:
What are some must-see sights or places a tourist should explore when visiting the Falkland Islands?

Vern: “The Falklands consist of East and West Falkland, as well as hundreds of smaller surrounding islands. The capital, Port Stanley, sits on the east island and is the usual jumping off point for most tourists. The wonderful thing about Stanley is you can pretty much navigate it on foot in a day. The iconic whalebone arch adjacent to Christ Church Cathedral makes for a great photo opportunity. I also recommend stopping in for a pint at the Victory Pub.

“The locals are incredibly friendly, and as is the case with small communities, extremely knowledgeable on those off-the-beaten-path hotspots. One such hidden gem is a short drive up to Moody Brook that provides a wonderful view of Stanley Harbor. The Islands are of course known for their abundance of wildlife, Gypsy Cove is a day trip outside Stanley and great place to see Magellanic penguins strolling along the shore.

“If you have more time I strongly suggest heading over to the West Island. Jamie and I spent a breathtaking day filming amongst rockhopper penguins, turkey vultures and sea lions at White Rock, Port Howard. The best way to reach the West Island is to take an 8-seater Falkland Islands Government Air Service (FIGAS) flight. The view at 800 feet crossing the Falkland Sound is worth the trip alone. If you don’t believe us then watch our episode on FIGAS pilot Troyd Bowles!”

Travel Channel: What were some things you learned about the Islands that most people probably don’t know?

Vern:“The wildlife and landscape is much lauded, and rightly so, but it is also a stargazer’s paradise. Because of minimal light pollution the sky literally lights up at night and is a great place to view the Southern Cross. If you plan on taking a smartphone or tablet I strongly recommended loading a star-spotting app to help you pick out the lesser-known constellations.”

Jamie: “I’d have to say the differences between “lamb,” “mutton” and the elusive “hogget.”


Travel Channel:
Your documentary showcases several residents who live on the Islands. Who do you think was the most colorful or memorable person you met and why?

Vern: “That’s a difficult one because each character has their own uniqueness and quality about them. Charlie Mackenzie, the lighthouse keeper of Cape Pembroke certainly stands out as a wonderfully endearing man who still holds a passion for the lighthouse 30 years on. He is the quintessential salty dog of the ocean.”

Jamie: “One thing we have found is that in the Falklands, everyone seems to have a story worth telling, and sometimes the quirkiest or the most incredible ones come from those you least expect.”


Travel Channel:
Because the Falkland Islands are somewhat off the beaten path, how do you get to and from the Islands?

Jamie: “From the US, it’s usually around a 48-hour journey — including the layovers, by air. Pick your departure city and fly to Santiago, Chile. (You’ll usually have a connection in between.) We recommend spending a day or a few in Santiago: It’s beautiful, safe and full of fresh, colorful fruits and vegetables. From Santiago you then fly down to Patagonia’s Punta Arenas, before catching your final connection to RAF Mount Pleasant. This is the only commercial flight for the entire week servicing the Islands, so plan accordingly! Finally, it’s a 45-minute or so drive along a winding dirt road through dramatic landscapes into Port Stanley.”


Travel Channel:
What is the most important message or point you think people should get after watching 51° South? Why should people care?

Vern: “The islanders live in a very remote part of the world against the backdrop of much political rhetoric over sovereignty (between Great Britain and Argentina). Inevitably when this happens, the first voice to be lost is of those who inhabit the land. Our series was a way of giving back to the community a voice that is seldom heard on a global stage.”

Jamie: “We live in a world that is essentially growing smaller every day. The Falklands in fact may have the largest number of Facebook users per capita of any country in the world. But the fact that places exist in this world that are still difficult to get to, have minimal roads and where children fly in to the annual May Ball via bush plane is a truly beautiful thing worth preserving!”


Travel Channel:
Do you have plans to return to the Falkland Islands?

Vern: “Yes, very much so. 51° South was always planned as an ongoing series and we hope to be back in March to film another set of portraits for series 2. There were so many interesting islanders and their stories to tell that our first series is just the tip of the iceberg. The response from our global viewers has been phenomenal! Jamie and I have always said if people want to see more then we will do more.”


Travel Channel:
Do you have plans to visit other off-the-beaten-path destinations? If so, where and why?

Jamie: “Since my childhood I’ve been fond of maps, and while sprawled out over them, I was always most curious about the places charted along its fringes. As long as hic sunt dracones exist we’ll be determined to seek them out and document them. Plus, we hear Svalbard is lovely in July.”


Travel Channel:
Other than the Falkland Islands, what are your favorite vacation destinations? Why?

Vern: “I’m not really a sit-by-the-pool type of person, I need to get out there and explore, whether it is in a remote destination or bustling city. Climbing Mount Emei in China lives long in the memory for its stunning views across the Sichuan region. I recently got back from Bruges, a beautifully preserved city, and those Belgians certainly know how to brew a beer.”

Jamie: “I’ve been very fortunate to be able to travel all over the world for both work and play, but I don’t think anything compares to the pleasure I get from driving across the US from east to west with my father. We’ve done these long, often haphazard adventures since I was 12, and there is something truly special about taking your time and seeing the country the old-fashioned way. I also get a certain kick out of stopping in rural towns or places where people then ask later, “Why the hell did you go there?” The Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota, comes to mind.”


Travel Channel:
What are some must-have items that tourists should pack before heading to the Islands?

Vern: “A raincoat, a good pair of walking shoes and sunscreen. The “4 seasons in 1 day” term definitely applies to the Falklands, sometimes even in an hour! Aside from the occasional shower, a good raincoat will help shield you from the buffering winds. The Falklands aren’t a relax-and-take-a-good-book destination, you have to get out there and live it, and that can mean plenty of walking — and at times over less than easy terrain. Your feet will thank you for a good pair of shoes or boots. Also remember to take a little sunscreen, it seems contrary to ground conditions but it can be deceptive due to the thin ozone layer down there. Jamie and I would get rather rosy in the cheeks after a long day’s shoot.”


Travel Channel:
Complete this sentence: “I travel to …”

Vern: “I travel to inspire myself to go further, but also make me appreciate where I came from.”

Jamie: “I travel to interact, enjoy, learn and educate.”


Visit the
51° South website for more information about the documentary series, Vern Cummins and Jamie Gallant.

Joshua Tree National Park

Photography by Kwin Mosby

When most people think of a warm winter getaway, they think about Florida or the Caribbean as prime destinations to soak up sunrays. California can be an iffy destination if you’re looking for hot weather, but bargains abound if you’re willing to don a jacket for a quick weekend getaway.

I was looking for a somewhat inexpensive vacation spot during the holidays and found out that Palm Springs, CA, is not only a popular gay travel destination, but the resort town is also a short driving distance to Mount San Jacinto State Park and a 1-hour drive from Joshua Tree National Park. So it was a no-brainer because I needed a trip that would provide me with the possible option to commune with nature for a couple hours or even a day.

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway/Mount San Jacinto State Park
When visiting Palm Springs, rent a car and explore outside the city limits. And if you’re an outdoor enthusiast, I recommend spending about $20 (per adult) to hop on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway — just a 10- to 15-minute drive from downtown Palm Springs. The tramway (the largest of its kind in the world) offers amazing views of Mount San Jacinto, the highest peak in Palm Springs. Once you reach the top, there are several different self-guided trails as well as the Desert View trail if you want an awe-inspiring view of Palm Springs. And if there’s snow on top of the mountain, it’s a great spot to take the kids sledding.

My advice is to dress warmly and go early, otherwise expect to wait in line for an hour or more. Tourists can grab a bite to eat or warm up with spirits served at the Pines Cafe, located on the third floor of the Mountain Station. Food, alcoholic- and non-alcoholic beverages are also served at the Valley Station’s Cascade Cafe.

Joshua Tree National Park
If you have some time to kill, a day trip to Joshua Tree National Park is a must. The $15 entrance fee is a mere pittance when considering the abundance of natural beauty you’ll be able to explore. Head to Keys View to see — at a distance — Mount San Jacinto, the Coachella Valley, Palm Springs and yep, even the famous San Andreas Fault. And if the weather is clear you’ll be able to get a glimpse of the Mexico border.

I was on the road at 10 in the morning and back in my hotel room by 4 p.m., after visiting Keys View, Barker Dam, Skull Rock and eating my packed lunch at Hidden Valley while I watched experienced rock climbers scale the side of Intersection Rock. Campers can pitch their tent at 8 different campsites located throughout the park.

And if you need to make a pit stop during your road trip, bathrooms are located along the way.  As for food and water, that’s a different story. Neither is found in the park. Park rangers suggest packing ample food and water before entering the park. A small cafe next to the Joshua Tree Visitors Center, located on Park Boulevard, sells a reasonably priced packed lunch if you forget to plan ahead.

Food from Lulu Restaurant in Palm Springs

Photography by Kwin Mosby

Downtown Palm Springs
If outdoor exploring isn’t your thing, then the city of Palm Springs offers other fun activities. Explore the city’s downtown area for shopping, sightseeing and more. One of the biggest tourist attractions is the 26-foot-tall Forever Marilyn Monroe statue, located on the corner of North Palm Canyon Drive and Tahquitz Canyon Drive.  Each day, dozens of tourists stop by for a photo op with the replica of the famous star, created by American artist Seward Johnson and taken from the movie The Seven Year Itch.

Stroll down Palm Canyon Drive to see the Walk of Stars dedicated to entertainers such as Phyllis Diller, Frank Sinatra, Lena Horne and Kathy Griffin. Go bike riding on well-marked paths through the city’s historic neighborhoods or see local crafts, arts and entertainment at the Palm Springs Villagefest every Thursday night.

There’s no shortage of good food and restaurants in downtown Palm Springs. Grab lunch at the local and tourist favorite, Sherman’s Deli & Bakery. The spread of 3-layer cakes and desserts on display is a great reason to stop by. My favorite restaurant while visiting was the always-crowded, but chic Lulu California Bistro at 200 N. Palm Canyon Drive. I recommend the filet mignon or the turkey burger with the side salad.

Gay-Friendly Hotels and Nightlife
In addition to tasty food, Palm Springs has accommodations for everyone, at various price points. After a little research when planning my trip, I found several hotels and resorts that offered off-season rates — some as low as $100 per night. For gay travelers looking for au naturel sun and fun, check out clothing-optional resorts located in Palm Springs’ Warm Sands neighborhood, including INNdulge, Warm Sands Villas and Triangle Inn. Rates during Christmas and New Year’s can be pricey; so plan to stay before or after the holidays when rates are a little cheaper.

Some resorts provide great amenities, including free drinks during happy hour, a multipurpose spa, fitness center, heated pool or a Jacuzzi, which is great way to relax your weary bones after a long day of hiking. If you’re looking for a more luxurious place to stay, try the boutique hotels like The Saguaro, Ace Hotel or the East Canyon Hotel and Spa.

The gay nightlife scene is small with respect to the number of bars and clubs, but each place has a genuinely warm and welcoming crowd. Head to Arenas Road, where you’ll find diverse crowds, including an intergenerational mix of gay men at Toucans Tiki Lounge and Hunters Palm Springs. The latter venue has 2 bars, dart boards, pool tables, an adjoining dance floor and outdoor patio. If you enjoy crooning to Broadway show tunes, then Thursday nights at Spurline is right up your alley.  Across the road, Streetbar is usually a hangout for the mature gay man.

So warm up your winter! Plan a trip to the desert to explore the hidden treasures in and around Palm Springs.

Photography by Getty Images

AAA predicts that 93.3 million Americans will hit the road during the holidays, making this Christmas travel season the busiest it’s been in 6 years. More people are taking road trips this year because finding a reasonably-priced airplane ticket is like finding a needle in a haystack.

A record 84.4 million people will drive at least 50 miles between Dec. 22 and Jan. 1, according to the reputable travel agency. That’s 90.5% of holiday travelers, up from 89.3% just 6 years ago. So what does that mean to you? Expect plenty of traffic jams, crowded rest stops and bumper-to-bumper lines near highway tolls.

Need tips for dealing with this inevitable headache? Pack a couple travel-size games and snacks to keep the kids preoccupied. We recommend checking out some helpful family travel tips from Mommy Points blogger, Summer Hull, before you head out the door. Our travel expert offers up advice on everything from flying with a baby for the first time to finding hotels with health food options.

One thing travelers aren’t too concerned about is gas prices, which have dropped 50 cents since September, according to AAA. The average price at the pump will range from $3.20 and $3.40 a gallon by New Year’s Day, but that’s still not enough of a reason to thwart travelers’ plans to drive.

Although more people will be on the road, the airports will be just as busy. We recommend heading to the airport earlier than you normally would to avoid long TSA security lines — especially on the weekend before Christmas, the day after Christmas and on Jan. 2.  AAA’s economist John Heimlich expects 86% of the airplane seats to be filled with paying passengers, up from 85% last year.

Hundreds of flights have been canceled or delayed due to a major storm system making its way across the Midwest and headed for the East Coast of the US. Meteorologists predict that another storm on the West Coast may throw a wrench in travel plans next week; so before you head out the door, check out our weather forecast tool — powered by WeatherTrends360 — to find out if these 2 storms will affect your Christmas travel plans.

And if you’re headed to a big city, download The Layover app or peruse our airport guides to find out how you can kill some time during a lengthy layover.

Photography by Getty Images

Brazil lost one of its geniuses this week. Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer passed away on Wednesday, but he left behind a legacy of work that tourists and locals will admire forever. The 104-year-old architect was known for his modernist design style and he collaborated with other architects to design memorable works of art such as the United Nations building in NYC.

In 1959, Niemeyer was tasked with designing Brasilia from the ground up when it was chosen as Brazil’s new capital. He was the chief architect responsible for many public buildings — breathing life into a city once steeped in its colonial and baroque past.

Today, his architecture can be found all around the world, including Place du Colonel Fabien in Paris, the Cathedral of Brasilia, Mondadori Publishing Company’s headquarters in Milan and the Niteroi Contemporary Art Museum in Rio de Janeiro.

Niemeyer’s curvaceous style has inspired young architects to dream, and tourists may feel inspired after visiting the Oscar Niemeyer International Cultural Center in Asturias, Spain, or the Oscar Niemeyer Museum (NovoMuseu) in Curitiba, Brazil.

 By Troy Petenbrink


Photography by Troy Petenbrink

With the recent release of HBO’s The Girl and the current success of Hitchcock starring Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren and Scarlett Johansson, there has been renewed interest in one of the world’s most well-known (and somewhat creepy) movie directors.

Alfred Hitchcock fans — new and old — will be happy to know that many of the settings from his movies are still around and accessible.

I actually imagined myself as Melanie Daniels (played back in the day by Tippi Hedren) during a recent visit to Potter School House near the California coastal town of Bodega Bay. (Luckily, unlike Tippi, I was not attacked by a flock of crazed crows.) The school and the town featured prominently in The Birds. The school is now privately owned and closed to the public but is perfect for pictures. READ MORE

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably already know that the Eastern Seaboard of the US is still reeling from the wrath of Hurricane Sandy, now downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone. Powerful wind gusts, up to 80 mph, have left more than 7 million people without power. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of evacuees have been rushed to emergency shelters; to help with disaster relief, consider a donation to the American Red Cross.

And unfortunately travelers haven’t been able to escape Sandy’s stormy grip. Airports in NYC and Philadelphia remain closed, and more than 13,000 flights were cancelled at airports in some states near the Great Lakes, where heavy snow is expected. And according to The New York Times, flooding in some areas has forced subways from Boston to Washington, DC, to shut down.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that we’ve put together a few helpful tips just in case you’re stranded or you need to reschedule your travel plans. Cut through the clutter and get your travels back on track with our hurricane safety tips — what travelers should do before, during and after stormy weather strikes.

Looking for more travel tips and warm weather getaways?

READ MORE

Having to prepare for a hurricane, endure losing your luggage or drive through a snow storm are just a few examples of potential emergencies that may throw a proverbial wrench in your travel plans. Luckily, Travel Channel’s new web series, Travel 911, is here to offer precautionary advice to travelers. Our travel expert, Rob Pralgo, offers suggestions on how to handle many of the travel emergencies that we hope you never have to experience, including what to do if you have a painful jellyfish sting, how to choose the best sun screen and how to avoid a shark attack.

In addition to practical advice, Travel 911’s camping webisode has helpful tips on what you should pack on your next camping trip, and what you should do if you have a face-to-face encounter with a bear. It’s advice that’s relevant in light of a recent string of bear attacks.

In Fairbanks, AK, a bear dragged 21-year-old Julia Strafford 20 feet before letting her go, according to the Seattle Times. She survived, but 49-year-old Richard White wasn’t as lucky. The photographer was mauled and killed by a grizzly bear in Denali National Park, according to Fox News.

We hope this web series will help travelers plan ahead and take better precautions when traveling. Oh, and what about preparing for Hurricane Isaac? READ MORE

Real Housewives of New York

Photography by NBC Universal

The women on the infamous Real Housewives franchises are always traveling.  Last season, the cast of Bravo TV’s The Real Housewives of Atlanta took a grand safari trip in Africa. Here at Travel Channel, we like to focus on the cool cultural experiences that come with traveling — but where there are housewives, there’s always drama. READ MORE

London's Olympic Stadium and the Orbit

Photography by Getty Images

Before the mass exodus from London’s Olympic Park, the Spice Girls, The Who, One Direction, Pet Shop Boys, George Michael — and other notable British singers and musicians — graced the stage in Olympic Stadium for the London 2012 closing ceremonies.

And just in case you didn’t know, Team USA will take home the most medals. US Olympic athletes won a total of 104 medals: 46 gold, 29 silver and 29 bronze.  Team GB came in 3rd after China, winning a total of 65 Olympic medals.

During the closing ceremonies, spectators got a taste of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil — the host city for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. But before you start making your travel plans to Rio, we suggest you think about the 22nd Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, scheduled for February 7 – 23, 2014.

If cold weather isn’t your cup of tea, then relive the magic of the past 2 weeks and visit Britain’s Olympic venues, including Wembley Stadium and Wimbledon.  Take a tour of Britain’s most amazing spots with 2012 gold medalist and Olympic swimmer Rebecca Soni, Olympic Soccer champion Heather Mitts and other world-renowned athletes.

Travel with gymnast Nastia Liukin to Buckingham Palace, the London Eye and Westminster Abbey. Explore Scotland’s great outdoors with Track and Field champions Bryan Clay and Jeremy Campbell.

Visit Essex, Glasgow, Greenwich, Coventry, Manchester and Wales. Discover why US Olympic athletes enjoy visiting Britain as they show you some of their favorite spots in our London 2012 web series.

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