Welcome to World Winder!


World Winder was founded as a travel blog highlighting the journeys shared by a married couple and their educational workshops designed to help “Build Your Future“.

World winder bikesMelissa Ruttanai and Neil Friedman are two teachers/presenters who grew up in the suburbs of New York City.  Within weeks of meeting at SUNY Albany, they embarked on their first road trip.  At 22 they were teaching EFL in Japan, learning how to teach ages two to eighty, and experiencing the life of expats.  After returning to New York they both obtained Master Degrees in Education and embarked on careers as K-12 classroom teachers.  Melissa and Neil have also held positions as professional speakers, technology instructors, event marketers, and tour guides.  Neil is a Wheel of Fortune game show winner who lives to make music videos.  Melissa is a reluctant hiker and social media coordinator at Nyack College.

Who we are

We are Melissa Ruttanai and Neil Friedman two teachers from New York who have explored over 30 countries, 30 US States, and 30 cities in Japan together.  We’ve also worked in seven states and seven countries as EFL teachers, professional speakers, and software instructors.

aldea yanapayWhy we built our blog

After developing our travel blog in May of 2011 we took a 14 month journey though South America and Europe.  We somehow managed to develop a thriving website despite the chaos and demands of nomadic travel.  Building our blog has helped us to appreciate the places we have been and experiment as artists and self-publishers.

More crucial to our personal mission is to use blogging and social media as a way to encourage communication across cultures and geographical boundaries.  We want to motivate people to travel by providing free travel advice, photographs, and videos.  In addition, we want to provide a free avenue for musicians and artists to promote their work.

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Melissa on a panga in the galapagos

hike galapagos






4 Responses to Welcome to World Winder!

  1. anne says:

    hi melissa-my 18 year old daughter wants to travel to Cusco,peru to stay at Fairplay for 5 weeks. she will be going alone. I am worry about her staying at Cusco and having to go traveling by bu/walk to school then to volunteer at Waaw by herself til 6 pm and back to Shimoraa’s. can you tell me a bit about where you stay and fairplay? and Waaw?
    she does not speak the language well either.

    • Hi Anne!
      Cusco is a beautiful city and has lots to offer. Most travelers study Spanish while they are there so that’s not unusual. During the day, she’ll be fine walking around to school and volunteering. But she will have to use her judgment. Be mindful of her surroundings and make good decisions. I hardly ever walked around at night by myself. As a female, she will attract attention–that’s pretty normal.

      I stayed with the family who runs Aldea Yanapay. They were very kind and I think your daughter will find a great social scene at the hostel.

      Check out some of our articles: http://www.worldwinder.com/2012/04/27/aldea-yanapay-volunteer-teach-efl/
      You can access the AirBnB reservation site from here.

      Has your daughter traveled overseas before? Has she every traveled alone?

  2. Sandy Stern says:

    Hi, Sandy
    We now a friend of yours Jay Steinberg. He said we should ask you questions for traveling. My family and I are going on special trip next year for my 13yearold boy and my 17year old young lady. One wanteds to go to rainforest and they other wants beautiful beaches. We need a trip that we all can enjoy. Not to expensive and good food and alot to do during the day and at night. Do you have any sugguests?

    • Hi Sandy!
      Well if you are looking to keep costs low then you’ll have to look in the vicinity closest to you since airfare and transportation will make up the bulk of your expenses. Where do you live?

      Teenagers can be tricky if they are expecting 5-star accommodation but if your kids are rugged with a sense of adventure you can take them anywhere. Since you have one kid who wants the rainforest and another who wants beaches, you will need a country or US state that has mountain ranges and beach front. In the US, the east and west coast offer good opportunities for road trips and camping. Neil and I have done both and are planning some big ones this year in fact!

      If you are looking for overseas adventures, check out Costa Rica, Ecuador, Thailand, Laos, Spain, and Belgium. The last two don’t have rainforests but there is hiking and tons of outdoor fun. Food is excellent in all of them.

      Feel free to leave more Qs or post them on our Facebook Page. I get those notifications more quickly. Have fun planning!

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