Posts tagged ‘vacation’

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/

February 26, 2018

Forget Mindfulness!

Mindfulness pshaw. Forget Mindfulness! What I need is a little MindLESSness!

Don’t get me wrong, my life is filled with mindful practices and I believe they’re important. I practice yoga 3 or 4 times a week. I may squeeze in a guided meditation. And, I’m immersed in a Daring Way class where I’m learning to practice empathy that includes mindfulness. There’s nothing WRONG with mindfulness. In fact, sitting in the moment and being present has led me to recognize that I am worn out!

I need to turn my mind off temporarily. I don’t want to consider anything. I don’t want to answer a text, send an email, or read any research. I don’t want to cook a meal, test a recipe, or review any video. I don’t want to pay a bill, wash a dish, or plan anything! And I know I don’t have the emotional energy to listen with empathy to someone who is making my life more difficult. I just don’t have it in me.
mug
I want to lie in the sun, feel it’s warmth and ENJOY it rather than feeling like I need to dig up tulip bulbs from my yard while the soil is soft. I want to float in the pool and feel nothing but the softness of the water as it supports me. I want to savor my coffee in the morning and eat chocolate at leisure with some wine at night. I want to laugh at everything silly, jump in a pile of warm laundry, take a nap at 10am, find a new show to binge watch, or read a page turner.

Feeling carefree may not be achievable, but it’s a good goal.

It takes a lot for me to feel overloaded, but if there’s never any relief — no full day off, no carefree moments, not enough laughter, no one to depend on to pick up the ball when I drop it, I can get to a point where I’m constantly poised for the straw that may break me. It’s easy to say, set better boundaries so you don’t get overtaxed, but difficult to practice if you’re a caregiver, sole provider and parent, sole proprietor, or just financially strapped.

For me, it’s better to recognize and accept that I may not be up to any greater challenge than lying on the couch than to numb my feelings with food or alcohol, to lash out in anger, or to turn in a half-assed performance at work.

Is it difficult for me to admit this? YES!!!! I am driven to achieve, solve problems, and fix things.
It’s really hard to admit I may not be up to the task. While I know this is temporary, it feels huge and frightening!

It’s worth remembering that down time often provides powerful insight. It’s easy to think of doing nothing as time wasted, but that’s selling it short. Putting my mind in neutral allows it to travel paths it would otherwise miss.

I just talked to a friend on the phone who asked what I was writing. When I told him, he said, obviously taken aback, “That’s what you’re writing!?” I could tell he thought the decision was risky. But I know I’m not alone. I’m not the only one who feels this way, and maybe, just maybe, you need to know that because you need some mindlessness too.

So, if you’re in my boat, let’s just let it float with the current. We’ll be able to get back to shore when we need to. I’m certain of it.

http://thedaringway.com/

February 20, 2017

Travel Tip #17 – Stay Home

Most staycations involve bag packing, hotels, and room service, or ventures out to local attractions, but what if you just stay home? Now before you start asking how that’s a vacation or staycation of any sort, let’s explore the idea.
house
For many of us who have young children, supervise or provide care for a parent or spouse, or have health issues that make travel difficult, the simplest of simple breaks may be what we need. My aunt Sally used to tell a story that seems fitting. When her 3 kids were 1, 6, and 7, she went back to college. Now, you probably need to know that Aunt Sally always cooked homemade meals. When we lived in the same town, I often showed up right around dinner time knowing that there would automatically be homemade bread and a delicious meal. Anyway, after endless months of very long days caring for the kids, going to school, doing homework, cleaning the house, and cooking meals, my uncle had a day off. He said he’d watch the kids while she took a bath.

Aunt Sally filled the bathtub, she put in her favorite bubbles, got in the tub and just relaxed. After what seemed like an eternity, she pulled herself out of the tub, got dressed, and put on her watch to realize that only 10 minutes had passed. She thought it had been at least an hour. She had to laugh. She was still laughing about it 20 years later.

The advantages to taking a break at home are numerous. You get to sleep in your own bed. You don’t have to worry about doing laundry in advance so that you will have the outfit you need. In fact, you don’t have to think about packing anything at all — no special food, no meds, no toothpaste, extra shoes, socks or phone charger.

The question is how to make staying home feel like a vacation. This can be done with planning over time or no planning at all. What will work best depends on your personality and circumstances.

My caregiving duties are two days per week keeping my 7-month-old grandson at my home and supervising the care of my 96-year-old cousin. That means I can carve out a long weekend at home without having to get a sitter, but if you can’t, then by all means GET A SITTER. This can be a family member, friend, professional caregiver, or a service. Sometimes insurance will cover the cost.

Hire someone to clean your house. The day before your vacation, use the money you’re saving by not going to a hotel to have your house cleaned.

Do not work. If that means turning off the phone, putting away the computer, or just refocusing your attention, then do it.

Do not use the time to catch up on chores. You can get a sitter another time to catch up on chores, but that’s not a vacation. Each time you think of your To Do list, stop what you’re doing, close your eyes, envision something beautiful, and breathe until your breathing slows and you’re no longer thinking about anything besides your breath or that beautiful vision.

Sit still. If you rarely take a break, you’ll need some transition time to slow down your body and mind. Without stillness, you cannot reconnect with yourself in order to know what you need.
food
Feed yourself. Once you’re still, listen to yourself. If you’re hungry, feed yourself food. If you’re feeling uninspired, feed your mind and your soul. If you’re hungry for rest, sleep. Whatever you choose, do it with as little effort as possible.

My city has a food delivery service that picks up from the local restaurants I frequent. I can take time off without planning anything — even gluten-free food. All I have to do is place an online order, pay my bill & tip through the site, then crack open my door enough to pull the food inside when it’s delivered. If I were traveling, I would be eating out more so I don’t mind having food delivered for a few days.

If your town doesn’t have such a service, you may be able to order from individual restaurants that deliver or pay a teenager to pick up food for you. Another option is to plan in advance by freezing a few entrees, making a pot of chili, cooking a roast, or making a trip to the store and stocking up on salad components, deli items or frozen favorites. The idea is to have already prepared food ready to grab so that you don’t spend your rest time planning menus, preparing food, or cleaning the kitchen.

Yoga and weight lifting remain part of my day during a home vacation. It’s not that I feel as though I have to work out. I do these workouts because I like the way they make me feel. They do not deplete my energy. They renew me. Anything that makes you feel renewed is a great vacation activity even if it looks like work to other people.

I love to have time to read and binge watch without guilt. I like not having to put on clothes or even take a bath unless I want to. If I want to answer my phone, I do. If I don’t want to answer, I don’t. When I’m homecationing, I make choices as I go just like I would if I were deciding whether to sit on the beach or go snorkeling.

Of course you’re not locked into staying at home. If after sitting still you feel that going to a museum would inspire you in the moment, go ahead. The point is not to feel obligated to do anything or go anywhere. Another point is to stop filling time in a manner that keeps you from knowing how you feel.

A third point is to let it be okay NOT to do. If you miss a concert, there will probably be another one you want to see just as much. If you miss a movie, it will soon be available online. If you miss a family dinner, the world will not end. A little planning can most often prevent missing scheduled events like weddings, anniversaries, and holiday celebrations, but if you need a break from those as well, then take one.
slip
The whole family can have a vacation at home. It’s a great way to make time to reconnect. Put a moratorium on social media. Work on a scrapbook. Look at old photos & videos. Learn a new board game together. Work crossword puzzles. Have a video game tournament. Play chase. Do karaoke. Take lots of naps and laugh, laugh, laugh.

There has to be some balance to a life well lived. Too much hedonistic or selfish behavior will damage relationships and possibly the hedonist. Too much selfless behavior and the servant may burn out, leave without explanation, or become resentful.

A well executed home vacation can provide much needed relief with a minimum amount of effort and expense. I recommend taking them often!

February 18, 2015

Travel Tip #11 – Buy on Location

It’s time to bring you Travel Tip #11. As I begin the countdown to my next trip, I’ve been waylaid by a knee injury. Three days ago, I could put no weight on my right leg. Of course the pain began on a weekend which has been followed by two days of icy roads. Rather than attempting to slide down my stairs and to the ER, my solution has been to put on a brace, take pain medication, and use my desk chair as a makeshift wheel chair. Of course it’s much cuter than the average wheel chair and coordinates well with my kitchen cabinets.
WheelChair
I’ve been thinking that the timing of this injury is fortuitous because the swelling has lessened on its own and I am in much less pain – as long as I spend most of my time in the recliner being still that is. Being stationary goes against my general nature, but it’s given me lots of time to complete Pre-washed list of the groceries I intend to buy once I arrive at my condo hotel. It’s also given me plenty of time to play 2048, but I still haven’t managed to beat that darn game!

As you may remember from Travel Tip #10, I’m going to carry a miniature bottle of olive oil and a multiple spice container full of paprika, curry, cayenne, garlic salt, salt, and black pepper along for the ride. These small containers will give me plenty of flavoring options while eliminating the waste that would be created by purchasing full size containers on location. And they’re small enough to carry even if I were flying rather than driving.

Once I arrive at my destination, I’m going to purchase the following:
Coffee
Plain Greek Yogurt
An Onion
Pre-washed Greens like Spinach, Kale, or Mache
Frozen English Peas (especially if the fresh greens aren’t available)
Potato or Sweet Potato or Rice
Baby Carrots
Bananas
Apples
Ground Turkey or Ground Beef or Boneless/Skinless Chicken Breasts
Cheese – whatever looks good to me at the moment
Hummus
Eggs if they have half dozens available

With these ingredients, I will most likely eat yogurt and fruit for breakfast some days and eggs with the frozen biscuits I’ve carried from home on other days. I’ll snack on carrots and hummus and apples and cheese, and create a one pot meal with the onion, greens, potato or rice, and a protein that I’ll either eat for lunch or dinner when I happen to be in the condo at meal time. My other mealtimes will be spent exploring local restaurants.

One Pot Meal

One Pot Meal


Sitting in this chair has also given me time to consult with my sister who typically follows a similar plan of eating some meals in and some meals out when she’s traveling. Since you don’t have the benefit of Travel Tip #10 from her, let me first tell you what she carries in the car: String cheese, Go-Gurt®, gluten-free pretzels, Welch’s Fruit Snacks®, gluten-free donuts, chili seasoning, salad dressing, and gluten-free protein bars.

Because she doesn’t like one pot meals, my sister’s vacation meal plans typically include crustless quiche bowls, rotisserie chicken, quesadillas, and chili. Here’s what her typical onsite shopping list looks like:

Onion
Baby Carrots
Apples
Bag of Salad
Eggs
Bacon
Ground Beef
Pouch of Tuna
Rotisserie Chicken
Canned Beans
Canned Diced Tomatoes
Frozen Tater Tots
Frozen Chopped Broccoli
Cheese
Corn Tortillas
Microwaveable White Cheese Dip
Corn Chips

Much like me, my sister’s crew prefers to eat breakfast in their pjs instead of going out. They usually eat lunch savoring local cuisine and then cook dinner in the condo or cabin. This is an even more budget friendly plan than mine.
tomatoes
Because I love shopping at a good farmer’s market, I may substitute some fresh local farm purchases when I travel in the spring and summer months. While I’m not sure that it plays well in the US, I’ve shared communal kitchens at RV parks in New Zealand with friendly strangers cooking silverbeet from a local vegetable and fruit market. If we had managed to catch any trout, we’d have prepared those for our newfound friends as well. Nonetheless, it was fun to fish in a snowmelt stream lined with tropical vegetation. It’s the kind of juxtaposition I love and the kind of experience I can’t have at home. That’s what makes a trip so appealing!

trout

The trout we wish we’d caught!


Or maybe a trip seems more appealing because I’ve been stuck in the recliner for days. I don’t know, but I know I’ll be prepared when I set out next month. I can’t wait!

http://www.gogurt.com/
http://www.welchsfruitsnacks.com/

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.”