Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Insomnia - Just another way to beat jet lag???

Ok, well... yes, it's 3 am and yes, I'm up again.  The only thing to do is listen to music and write at this hour!

I've spoken recently with my friend Sharon,the Lady Nomad travel mentor extraordinaire.  She's coming over this week sometime to go over packing options.

I know some folks will say that so much attention to packing detail seems silly.  But, if you ask a backpacker that question, they'll tell you the entire trip is centered around how you pack.  To me, it's much the same with regular travel.

I talk with folks all the time who gasp when I tell them I live out of an overhead bag for two weeks.  They tell me they could never do that!  But, honestly?  It would take you about an hour of hauling gigantic American luggage uphill to a B&B that's on the third floor of a walk-up with narrow staircases to tell you...

Packing IS important!

Especially if you aren't overly athletic!

So, I've asked Sharon to come look at three options with me.  The Rick Steves bag, my old overhead, and the new Samsonite overhead.

I typically would've gone with my new luggage, but realized (too late) that even though I saved a bundle on the price tag - it's fairly hefty, and I'm not sure it offers all the space that my previous bag did.  I'm still not convinced about the Rick Steves half suitcase/half backpack... but perhaps she can change my mind.  She typically travels that way.

I finally got a request for a travel gift! I love it when people have something specific they want.  This year, I'll be on a quest to find a lucet for a friend that weaves and spins.  I've already located a shop that sells them in  Edinburgh, though getting there will definitely be the biggest part of the adventure!  I may also be getting a request for a tartan for a co-worker's baby girl.  That would be fun (and much easier!).

Anyway, as always, I'm up for travel talk if you have any questions or discussion points.  Feel free to post here!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Travel, Love, Friends, and Rollercoasters

Hidey Ho, Neighbors!

I've been writing a few lines about my upcoming trip lately, so I don't know if you want to know or not... but things have been scary in my private life.

First, I had my very BEST travel buddy friend Sharon W. almost kick the bucket on me (don't DO that again, Sharon!!!).  Luckily, she's back and fighting.  What a trooper!  My friends Sandy and Kathy have not been so lucky.  They've both been given the news that their time here is limited.  All my emotions around THAT have been everything from humorous to dark and lonely.  Other acquaintances and family are going through a litany of things.  Dad's circulatory/diabetes/and other associated problems.  Sharon B's ongoing fight with Crone's Disease, Angela's difficulties with arthritis and other medical issues, and so on.

Sometimes you wonder if anyone is healthy anymore!  Also, it is teaching me that this moment in my life when I feel so healthy is a gift.  A true and awesome gift!  Many folks my age are valiantly fighting the good fight while my biggest problems seem to be which airline to take.

To all those out there courageously duking it out with disaster, I am totally humbled by you.  I've pretty much determined that if I was facing the same things, I'd just end up in a puddle of woe.  I'm not one of those strong folks.

Anyway, you know what?  Something in me just now clicked that I'll do this next trip for my friends who can't. For those folks that would LOVE to hop on a plane and travel to Scotland and can't.  For those who can't get out of bed or who are tied to doctor's appointments.  Maybe God gives me legs for those who can't walk.

That seems a bit pretentious, reading back, but it wasn't meant that way.  All I can say is that I love all my friends and that I carry each of them in my heart when I travel.  Many folks don't understand why I love to bring gifts back from my visits... I've talked about this a little before.  And, I think the majority of it is to share what I feel as the ultimate joy and adventure and spiritual upfliftment in my life with them.

So, take those kitchen magnets with a little bit of Joy loves you.  That's the way it's meant.

Now, off to the Llama farm to see the Brambletts.  Until next time!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

28 Days, 18 Hours, 55 Minutes

But who's counting?

I am having dreams of losing paperwork and credit cards and ending up penniless in Paris. Thank goodness I'm going to Scotland!

After all the careful planning I did, my computer died. The hard drive doesn't work. I can't get my trip data off no matter how hard I plead and whine and cry over the darn thing.

All I can say is, "Thank GOD I printed that hardcopy!" Yes, I actually had every important document printed and filed in my trip notebook. I then turned all the hardcopy into a .pdf and uploaded it to Google docs! No darn hard drive is gonna ruin my holiday!

But, here I sit in my lonely little room with my cute little dogs and the fear sits just at the back of my mind. It happens on some trips... where I begin to be just a little scared of hurling myself into the void. Tossing myself to the four winds and to an unknown adventure.

I just tell myself to breathe. Just breathe. I'm drawn to adventure, but the very thing I'm drawn to causes so much anxiety. International travel can be like that sometimes. Mind you, I've never once regretted a trip. Not even the last horrible trip to Paris. It taught me something... never take trips to Paris. :) It was an adventure that was tried and failed, but at least tried.

I hear the voice of Max von Sydow ominously echoing from the past...

"Pathetic earthlings. Hurling your bodies out into the void, without the slightest inkling of who or what is out here. If you had known anything about the true nature of the universe, anything at all, you would've hidden from it in terror." (Flash Gordon, the movie)

Pathetic earthlings

And I am shaking, but I am moving forward.
The day of the trip, I imagine will go something like this... I pack up the dogs and the luggage. I look pensively at the home I'm leaving for two weeks. I wonder if everything will be ok. I look at the dogs I'll be leaving. My babies. They will miss me, but not as much as I'll miss them. And my new friend, Priscilla. I'll miss her too.

With a huge gulp, I know I'll enter the airport in Houston. I'll calm myself by writing in my journal and having a drink at the bar. I'll magically push everything - all the sadness and the dread and the anxiety - into the background. My mind will open and the awe and expectancy of a new adventure will fill me. I'll step on the plane.

And go... go baby. GO!

28 days. 18 hours. 45 minutes.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Advanced World Travel

I went to a great class last night at REI. Enjoyed it so much, I'm posting my notes for you here.

Hope they help!

Notes from the 5/1 Class at REI
“Advanced World Travel”
Aaron Bell Presiding

Important Points

• Pack Light
• Bring Less Stuff and More Money
• Use credit cards with no foreign conversion fees
• Don’t carry cash (well, carry as little as possible)
• Make copies of your passport and hide it in your luggage
• Take pictures of your bags if you check them (you can show these pictures in places where they don’t speak English)
• Use your camera as short term memory. Take a pic of the street your B&B is on.
http://www.travelerspoint.com/ can track your journey


Vagabonding by Rolf Potts


• Identify the season you want to travel in. Traveling in warmer weather means taking less-bulky clothing. • Budget
• Examine your hobbies
• Don’t dismiss a destination
• Rarely are expectations accurate
• There’s always a bonus

Make Money

• Change your lifestyle
• Sell your junk
• Spend to save
• Look for loopholes
• Peer to peer economy - Peer-to-peer (P2P) eCommerce communities are often established dynamically with peers that are unrelated and unknown to each other.
• Challenge yourself to make money. $1000 a month in extra cash goes a long way!

Peer to Peer

http://www.guidehop.com/– become a tour guide
Airbnb.com – rent a spare bedroom
HourSchool.com – connects people who want to teach anything

Cheaper Flights

• Orbitz
Skyscanner.com – shows cheapest place to land in a country
• Check nearby airports
• Be flexible

What to Pack

• Less is best
• All-in-one like an Iphone/smartphone that does lots of things (check your data plans! These can be very expensive overseas).
• USB – large one to download your pictures to
• Multiplug if going to several countries. Don’t forget the converter!
• Visa/Mastercard – remember no conversion fee cards
• Passport – use a ziplock bag to keep it dry
• Clothes that mix and match
• Quality equipment
• Light shoes
• Packing dividers

Tip: Get shorts with lots of zippers rather than a money belt.


Foreign places (mostly not Europe):

• Ask your hotel about local scams
• Be skeptical

Taxi Service

• Choose – don’t be chosen (don’t let taxi drivers pick you up – don’t let them pick up other people)
• Taxi Tip for England: The typical black cabs are costly. Look in the phone book or ask your hotel for a local privately owned cab service – they’re a lot cheaper. Better yet, take the bus/underground.
• Never put your bag in the trunk. That takes control out of your hands.

Advice from other travelers

• Study the currency
• Learn a few phrases
• Buy a 1-way ticket
• Go with the flow
• Get travel insurance
• Slowing down saves money. (Stay in one place – don’t move around so much)
• Be nice – it pays off
• Keep a positive attitude
• Remember, this is your last life!

For more on Aaron, see: http://guidehop.com/Aaron