Posts tagged ‘travel’

May 23, 2018

Travel Tip #20: Use a Travel Agent

Travel Tip #20: If you’re ready to book a much needed vacation, use a travel agent. No, I don’t mean a web based travel search engine, I mean a real person. I know it’s tempting to book everything online. I do it all the time, but if you’re truly needing a break, there are benefits to having a knowledgable professional with good connections handle your travel plans.
travel agent
Planning a trip can be time consuming. If you’re already taxed from long hours, illness, or caregiving, that time can be better used for restorative activities like sleep, walking in the park or on the beach, yoga, or visits with friends. Using a professional will give you access to options you may never have considered. And if you run into a problem during your trip, a travel agent can find a solution while you relax. And that’s the key — relaxing.

Believe it or not, there are still thousands of travel agents in the US. The Bureau of Labor & Statistics listed 81,700 in 2016. Some agencies are available 24 hours per day (just like the internet) and many offer agents who speak foreign languages. A well-matched professional will offer a level of service technology just can’t duplicate.

I’m pretty independent and I don’t enjoy hiring a company that I have to beg to be responsive or do a good job. Because of that, I’m often tempted to just do things myself. I’m not kidding. I’ve cut my own hair, repaired my toilet, sold my house, repaired my washing machine, and other things I don’t know how to do. I suppose my get-it-done determination has some advantages, but it has some drawbacks as well.

Doing it myself can sometimes be the one thing that puts me past the point of exhaustion. It can be the thing that interrupts a project that’s more important. It can be the thing that keeps me from feeling that great feeling of being taken care of. I was recently reminded of that feeling when I hired a childhood friend to sell my cousin’s farm.

I thought it would take months to move that thing. The top part of the 109 acres was rocky and unusable. There’s no road through the property, no fences, and scrub trees have been running amok for a few years. I was very, very wrong. My friend sold it in a week for the price we wanted. Then, she gave me a gift certificate to my favorite store in that town. The whole thing felt great!

Last summer, I wanted to take a week off. I freed up the time, but ended up staying home. Planning a trip was more than I could muster. Did I know I could use a travel agent? Yes, I’ve had wonderful experiences using them before. The thing is, I sometimes make things harder than they could be. It’s not my best habit.

In the past two days, I’ve hired 3 new people to help me while I split my time between work, landlord, and caregiving duties. Next up, a vacation — time to call a travel agent!

https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/06/travel-agent/488282/

https://www.bls.gov/ooh/sales/travel-agents.htm

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/travel-tip-19-pack-light/

November 30, 2017

Travel Tip #19 – Pack Light

When you get ready to make that holiday trip…pack light. I’m a planner. I can be spontaneous and I don’t have to nail down every detail in advance, but I need to feel that I’m prepared for the possibilities. Being prepared for everything that I imagine might happen on a long trip can leave me at risk for severe overpacking. The fact that I always carry at least one book and usually two doesn’t help.
suitcase
When I was preparing for my first trip to Europe, an older, wiser, well-traveled coworker advised me to pack my bag then remove half the stuff and pack again. Once the bag was packed with the half that remained, she told me to remove half of what I’d packed that second time. Then, she said, you’ll have what you need.

I might have ignored that advice, but just prior to receiving it, I’d learned about the concept that the size and weight of the bags you carry reflects the size and weight of the emotional baggage you carry. I was pretty sure I wanted to appear as though my emotional baggage was small. And so, I packed a fourth of what I had planned to take.

As it turns out, that advice was worth its weight in gold! That particular trip to Brussels, Amsterdam, London, Paris, and Moscow was filled with unexpected walks while toting my bags – a task much more easily accomplished when the bags are light. The surprising thing was, I actually had everything I needed.

Learning that 3/4 of what I’d originally packed wasn’t necessary made a believer out of me. In a couple of weeks when I head back to LA, it will be with a fourth of the things I feel like I might need while I’m there. Don’t worry, I’ll still have a book in hand (the old school paper kind). I’ll leave the computer behind.

Lugging around too many large, heavy bags will soon wear on you. You want to arrive at each destination feeling energetic and excited, not overloaded and exhausted. Packing light will give you a great start toward feeling less burdened and more carefree. And isn’t that’s why we want to get away in the first place?

There are many advantages when you pack light. They include:

No need to purchase large suitcases.
Faster, easier packing before you leave.
Less stress on your shoulders, back, knees, and feet.
Easy transfers when changing modes of transportation.
Fewer bag fees.
Room to pack items you purchase during a trip.
Fewer things to keep up with.

If you can’t imagine packing lighter, here are a few ideas to explore:

*Many hotel, condo-style hotel, Airbnb, and VRBO accommodations offer laundry facilities. If you are making an extended trip, laundry access will allow you to carry less and still have clean clothes without interrupting your planned activities.

*Carrying neutral, solid colored items that can be layered, mixed and matched, or accessorized differently will allow you to vary your appearance. A couple of bright colored scarves can totally change the look of basic black pants and a sweater.

*Only packing for predicted weather variations can reduce your load. Check the weather forecast. While forecasts are notoriously inaccurate, they can be relied on to give you an overview of the likely extremes. Pack for those. Could it rain unexpectedly? Of course, but you can always pick up an inexpensive umbrella at a gas station or dollar store.

If an unexpected cold front comes through and you need a new fleece hoodie or a coat, think of it as a shopping opportunity. If your budget is tight, even small towns often have a discount store, thrift store, or flea market with an option that will serve you well. I’ve made some great purchases from thrift stores in Austin, Texas; Santa Monica, California; and Fayetteville, Arkansas.

*A pair of multipurpose shoes that can be enjoyably walked in for miles while looking dressy enough for a casual dress is a great investment for your travel wardrobe. Shoes are bulky and heavy. The fewer you have to carry, the better. It’s worth it to purchase a pair of comfortable, versatile shoes.

Of course it’s best if the shoe color is neutral and coordinates well with both light and dark clothing. It may take time to find the perfect pair, but in my experience having them can reduce the weight of my suitcase by several pounds. For most trips, I can wear one pair of shoes and take some $1 flip flops and have all my needs covered.

*Reducing the contents of your purse to the essentials means you can carry a small crossbody bag with convenient organizational pockets for travel. Pare down your credit cards to a couple of essential ones. Take only critical keys. Choose one lipstick. Leave your checkbook, library card, grocery store rewards card, old receipts, coupons, full size pill bottles, and additional keys at home.

*A review of your travel history can reveal unnecessary items you’re in the habit of packing. Do you pack workout clothes? If so, do you regularly work out when on a trip? If not, skip the workout clothes. Do you regularly use a hotel pool or hot tub? If not, and you’re not planning a beach vacation, don’t carry a swimsuit. In other words, not preparing for activities you rarely take advantage of will result in lighter bags.

Getting away can provide rest, inspiration, and a sense of feeling carefree that helps relieve stress and provides renewal. Packing light can encourage that carefree feeling. I want that!

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/travel-tip-18-push-the-limits/

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/travel-tip-12-cold-soups-vary-different-countries/

August 16, 2016

Travel Tip #16 – Be Kind

viewWhen you travel, it´s important to be kind to yourself. It´s not a bad idea to be kind to everyone you meet either, but why not start with yourself? I´ve been traveling for the past 6 days. Every moment has been packed full of something.

Yesterday evening I could have jumped in the pool, walked on the beach, or gone out for dinner. It was the first time in days that I had nothing scheduled and all of those sounded appealing. Instead, I ate chicken salad and edamame in my room, put on my pj’s and fell asleep watching the Olympics. I was worn out.

When I travel, I feel like I should pack in as many local sites as I can – after all, I´m there and who knows whether I´ll be back. This is not everyone´s approach I was reminded at dinner Saturday night when a portion of our group described their afternoon as primarily consisting of a nap. While they were sleeping, we had toured the courthouse tower, the art museum, and a dedicated gluten-free bakery.

I have also observed several of our group wincing in pain, wilting from thirst, and too hungry to decide on a restaurant. How can you avoid these traveling pitfalls? Be kind to yourself. How?

palm-Wear comfortable shoes.
-Pack light when laundry facilities are available.
-Pack a day tote in your suitcase to use for snacks, a change of shoes, a jacket, etc.
-Drink plenty of water and always have a bottle with you.
-Time meals and snacks with your home time zone in mind.
-Give yourself time to ease into the day.
-Carry food on day trips and when you fly.
-Wear sunglasses.
-Take naps.
-Be willing to say no when you´re tired.
-Map locations in advance to avoid annoyance when the GPS is slow.
-Take your time and enjoy what you´re doing.

Just a little kindness goes a long way toward enjoying a vacation to the fullest whether you relax or pack in as much as possible.

April 30, 2016

Travel Tip #15 – Food and Container in One

When you’re traveling, sometimes it’s nice to have your food and container in one and pitch it when you’re done. For the gluten-free among us, Bob’s Red Mill single serving Gluten Free Oatmeal Cups can fill the bill.
oatmeal row
I’m on the road again. I don’t think I’ve been home more than two weeks straight since December. The good thing is, the more you travel, the more you learn. Yesterday, I ran into a small health food market in hope of grabbing some gluten-free crackers to go with the tuna salad in my cooler.

I’m staying in a town of about 13,000 people in a rural area surrounded by mountains. The wireless service is severely lacking, but there are two health food markets that best the choices I have at home. In addition to gluten-free crackers, I chose 3 Gluten Free Oatmeal Cups. I thought it would be fun to try them out.

This morning, I gave the blueberry and hazelnut flavor a whirl. Making it was easy. I removed the lid (make sure to save it), pulled off the plastic seal and placed the bowl in the single serve coffee maker in my hotel room. The coffee cups provided by the hotel are similar in diameter to the oatmeal container, so I filled a coffee cup with water to a level approximating slightly under the fill line on the oatmeal container and poured it into the coffee maker. I put the coffee maker filter holder in place, but left it empty. Then I hit the power button.
coffeemaker
Hot water streamed into my oatmeal. When the level reached the fill line, I removed the oatmeal cup and replaced it with the empty coffee cup to catch any remaining water. Then I stirred the oatmeal, placed the lid back on it, and let it sit for 3 minutes. One more stir and the oatmeal was ready to eat.

In addition to oats, this flavor contains cane sugar, hazelnuts, dried blueberries, chia seed, flaxseed, blueberry powder, and sea salt. The blueberry powder gives the oatmeal a slightly purple color, but there’s no strong blueberry flavor. This oatmeal is balanced. It doesn’t really lean toward sweet or salty.

While I paired my oatmeal with eggs from the hotel breakfast bar, I didn’t dress up the flavor with any of the sugar, butter or milk available there. If I were going to, I’d probably just add a little butter, but my sister would prefer more butter and brown sugar. The 2.5 oz container was more than enough for me so I put the lid back on to see how well it holds up through the day.

I can see carrying these on a road trip or camping trip. There are 4 flavors available: Classic, Blueberry Hazelnut, Apple Cinnamon, and Brown Sugar and Maple. The cup can be microwaved for preparation or reheating. And it’s great to know I have a filling choice available when the hotel breakfast bar features cereal, muffins, waffles, French toast points, eggs on bagels, biscuits, bacon and fruit. I like bacon and fruit, but it doesn’t stick with me long.

Other single serve oatmeal can be prepared in the packet, but the process is not as neat and easy as preparing as these cups. For an easy food and container choice in one, Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Oatmeal Cups are a solid choice.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”