Welcome to CaSandra’s list of Top 7 favorite travel items!
Do you need some gift ideas for that travel, nomadic friend of yours but can’t seem to figure out what to get them?
I am putzing around browsing on-line searching for upcoming Cyber Monday sales and while I have travel on my mind <shocking>, I came up with this blog post idea to put together a handpicked list of my top 7 favorite travel items found on Amazon – my favorite shopping site.
I love pink but if you’re not a fan, this 2 piece luggage set comes in tons of different colors and current price is only $29.97. Great value especially if you just need the smaller carry-on piece! Super cute. By the way, I like boxes…and suitcases so I don’t really need this, but I want it. One can never have enough luggage pieces.
I’m a fan of soft-sided carry ons but if you are looking for something a bit more rugged – here is a plastic hard-shell suitcase made by CoolLife. They offer 3 different sizes and they also come with a 2-year warranty. What I like about the plastic hard-shell is that I can put my travel stickers all over it.
The suitcase also comes with a TSA lock, so you can make sure your valuables are secure and safe. I can’t guarantee this lock will keep the TSA snoopers from going through luggage, but maybe?
Prices start at $59.99 (normally about $250 bucks) and also comes in various colors.
I usually blow up power adapters (don’t ask how) so like suitcases, I have many. Price $20.99
Covers more than 200 Countries such as Canada, USA, Mexico, France, Germany, Japan, China, Korea, India, Italy, Brazil, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Etc. and supports up to 6 devices so they can charge simultaneously. Built in smart IC chip can detect the amount of power in each devices and allocate amp wisely for maximum charging speed.
Note – this is an adapter, not a converter so it won’t convert voltage. I usually don’t find a need for a voltage converter, but if you need one, check this one out: Sokoo Power Converter 220V to 110V for $44.99. A voltage converter will convert voltage that is suitable for most American hair dryers, phones and curling/flat irons.
Ok – so maybe I do need the Power Converter one because there was that one time that I scorched my hair because my flat iron became too hot.
My son-in-law, Victor gave me my first set of packing cubes and my life has never been the same. Mostly because of the packing cubes, not because he is in it (Just kidding, Victor!).
Even if you’re not OCD like me, you need these. Current price is $14.44 – also comes in various colors. I really don’t know how using these help you to pack MORE stuff – but somehow they do. 6. Coolibar UPF 50+ Women’s Bhakti Sun Shawl
There are quite a few things I like about this shawl. It’s big enough to cover yourself up while the freezing on the airplane, it’s sun protective and it’s made out of some type of fiber that is fused with some type of antimicrobial protected thing that prevents the growth of 99.9% of bacteria to help eliminate odor. You can use it a scarf or to tie yourself to your best friend while sleeping in the Sahara so that if one gets kidnapped, so does the other.
Antimicrobial infused fabric is super important when you’re not able to wash your things for a couple of days. Which could happen while traveling.
Current price is $39.00 – and comes in different colors.
Speaking of stinky…I always have a few of these in my luggage just in case I’m not able to find a laundry mat or my AirBnb does not have a washing machine. *I rarely stay in hotels and even if I did, I refuse to pay the super high prices to wash my clothes. It’s always good to have a travel clothesline handy as well. These two items probably don’t belong on my top 7 list, but they are definitely necessary and I really do like clean clothes.
I really want to continue on for about 10 more items but I will keep it short and sweet. There you have it! Do you have any favorites you want to share? If so, drop a comment below!
While working on another blog post about what to pack in your carry-on bag for a long flight, I got sucked into reading a few things about teeth and general dental care while traveling and felt it was important enough to write about.
Sure, this is an odd subject and not too many people consider the care of their teeth when traveling.
I can’t imagine having to deal with some sort of tooth emergency while traveling and I am pretty obsessed with my teeth. I was one of those kids who had some mangled looking teefers and have spent close to $10,000 ensuring they are straight, healthy, pearly and I don’t suffer from yuck mouth. The thought of something happening to my teeth while traveling gives me a tooth ache. See what I did there?
I should inform you that I am not a dentist and these Top 7 Teeth Tips (geez – say that 3 times really fast) for when you travel are based on a compilation of other sites which I have referenced for you!
1.Get your dental work done a couple of weeks before you travel.
Go get your teeth cleaned and inspected before your trip. If you find out you need a filling, tooth extraction or a root canal, you’ll have to take care of it as long as your flight is a few weeks after the procedure. The air pressure in a flight cabin can do weird things to our bodies and while it may or may not affect you, it’s better to make sure that you are fully healed and all is well after a major dental procedure.
2. Make sure you have your dentist’s phone number with you.
We don’t normally keep our dentist’s number handy but you never know when you might need to contact your dentist, so just in case, be sure you have their phone number. In the event you find yourself needing dental care, you can always call your dentist to also get a second opinion.
3. Check your dental insurance coverage.
Are you covered while hanging out with the Sherpas?
What about while running with the bulls? Random break-dancing battle or boxing match?
You may want to call and check your dental coverage and if you’re not covered, consider getting some coverage if you plan on doing anything a tad bit risky.
If you do find yourself needing dental work, be sure to keep copies of receipts and records so you can share them with your insurance company for possible reimbursement and of course, records for your dentist.
Don’t have insurance? Google and do some research before you leave!
I’ve never been in a bar fight although came super close one time in Greece when I was accosted by “flannel girl”. I’d like to think that if I was ever in a bar fight I would either lose a tooth or knock someone’s tooth out.
Gently hold it by the crown also known as the white part and gently rinse off your tooth, but don’t scrub it.
Then put it back in your socket. (UGH!!!)
If you can’t put it back in your socket, then keep it between your cheek and gums or a cup of milk. You know…in case you happen to have a cup of it sitting around.
Next, get to a dentist quickly! Some hospitals can also provide emergency dental care.
If you happen to be prone to getting teeth knocked out on occasion, then maybe you need an emergency tooth preservation kit. Who knew these things existed? You can easily find these on Amazon.
5. If you lose a filling which is far more common than losing a tooth.
Common sense reminds us that biting down on something super hard or sticky could cause you to lose a filling but for those of you who like to open beer bottles with their teeth or love that sticky or hard type of candy, losing a filling could be a common occurrence.
In your moment of primal behavior or satisfying your sweet tooth, be sure to know what to do if this happens to you. It’s not usually an emergency, but if you don’t get it taken care of right away, it could cause you to need a root canal. For a temporary solution, use over-the-counter dental cement like DenTek Lost Filling Repair – Walmart – until you can see a dentist.
I would recommend keeping some of this in your travel kit as this may be hard to find while traveling and I can’t imagine having to translate this!
If you’re reading this while abroad, then you might have a better chance of finding clove oil which can help reduce the sensitivity and pain. Go look in a drug store, grocery store or spice market and use a cotton swab or something else soft to gently apply it to the sensitive area.
Clove oil can also act as an instant breath freshener which you might need right before a random break-dancing battle.
*Just be careful when using too much clove oil as it can irritate your gums.
Hm. I wonder if you could make a spray out of clove oil and use it as pepper spray AND breath freshener!? Dual purpose? I’m going to have to do some more research on this.
6. Finding a Dentist overseas
Do some prep work before you travel.
Depending on where you are traveling to, dental care may not be easily accessible and you also need to be aware of their cleanliness standards. I do my research in case I decide to get a tattoo in the country I am visiting. Same due diligence applies when researching dentists.
Search for dentists and check Yelp reviews, if available. If you find yourself in the dentist’s office/tent/cave, check the cleanliness of the environment and equipment.
Is the equipment sealed? Is there an autoclave? Are they actually using it? *An inspection of this sorts applies in your home country as well!
Here’s a great CNN article with great information about cross-infection in a dental office.
Remember. You want to return to your home country with memories and souvenir magnets, not diseases (of any kind).
7. Pack Dental Floss.
I floss every day. Once, I forgot my dental floss and had to buy some in Paris and it costs me almost $7.00. NOT kidding. Maybe this isn’t a typical price, but I had to have it.
Don’t forget a) to floss every day and b) pack it with you.
10 Tips Female Travelers Need to Know About Safety
Maaaaaaaaan, do we have some sketchy stories to tell about being females traveling abroad! Like most female travelers, we have found ourselves in some very uncomfortable situations. After all, in a country where not only is the language completely different but so are the culture and customs, we are bound to accidentally find ourselves in some questionable scenarios.
But hey, isn’t the strangeness and unfamiliarity all part of the attraction to travel? So we’re not going to stop traveling because of fear, are we? NO. Although some situations can somewhat be avoided, how can you be safe while traveling?
You can’t entirely guarantee that you will be safe and this applies whether you’re in your own backyard or someone else’s on the other side of the world – and I don’t mean that literally.
We’re trying to avoid actually being IN someone’s backyard, as in 6 feet under…
See how my my mind automatically goes straight to the morbid ending? I blame my mother for this. She refuses to keep a shovel in her trunk for fear it might be used to knock her out AND to dig the hole (true story).
However, the fact that my mind does acknowledge the possibility that something bad could happen is probably what has potentially saved me from some bad situations.
Here is me sharing some of my wisdom. Some of which I stole from Oprah.
1. Never let your guard down.
Just because you are blissfully frolicking through the fields of “somewhere city, somewhere country” doesn’t mean you won’t be a target for a sniper. Maybe this is drastic, but there is no such thing as a “I’m a tourist and therefore untouchable” cloak of safety that magically shrouds you when traveling. You don’t have to walk around with your face smeared with Vaseline and earrings taken out ready for a fight just don’t let your guard down.
You are a tourist and will be a target for something. This is the mindset you need to have.
2. Pretend to be married and that your husband is right around the corner.
*YES – HUSBAND even if you are a lesbian.
This means either wear a fake wedding ring or be ready to slip one onto the appropriate finger if you run into an awkward situation.
One of my many married stories. While walking on a very busy Istanbul street, I was followed by a man who suddenly appeared by my side and a little too close. Michelle was with me so I wasn’t even alone. Sometimes it just doesn’t matter if someone is with you.
As he asked me a series of questions, I could feel his hand slide up to the back of my arm. Quickly, I jerked my arm away from him and put my hands behind my back and moved a finger from my right hand over to my left ring finger. He was too busy talking and looking at my (covered) breasts to notice…
I quickly flashed my (newly) married hand in his face and I told him we were meeting my husband who is Turkish (I was making pointing gestures) who was waiting at the corner and to please go away before he got me into trouble. Worked instantly and he actually panicked a bit.
Side note: He actually did walk up to a man on the corner and started talking and pointing in our direction, but Michelle and I picked up our pace and got lost in the crowd. Also know as going into “stealth mode”.
3. Don’t be afraid to be rude.
I learned this from Oprah.
Back in my teen days, my mom would always be watching Oprah around the time I got home from school. I would watch the show with her as this was our way of “bonding” and her way of “parenting”. See…back in those days, Oprah covered some informative and controversial topics and many times, those topics would trigger the start of many conversations.
On one particular show, Oprah was interviewing a woman who had been brutally beaten and raped. The victim talked about how something felt “off” about this person who showed up at her door asking to use her phone, but she didn’t want to be rude so he let him in against her “gut” feeling. Does this surprise you?
Think about how many times you just smiled and were polite as possible in an uncomfortable situation because you didn’t want to be viewed as rude or bitchy.
Side note: Back in my younger years, before cell phones, it was common for someone to knock at your door asking to use the phone.
Oprah talked about how women are conditioned to be nice and how we need to learn that being rude is okay.
Do NOT be afraid of being rude of even appearing to be rude- it could save your life.
4. Trust your intuition.
Women have it. It’s a gift. If you feel like something is off, then it is. Don’t try to find an explanation for how you feel, just trust it. And see # 3 – don’t worry about being rude or feeling like you are crazy – just go with your intuition.
Walking straight, head up and with shoulders slightly back which not only helps to make your boobs look bigger, but also makes you appear like you have confidence.
Hey, I know you have confidence, but make sure it shows in your body language. Walk and stand like you own that place and that you will f&%# someone up if you need to.
*This also means you don’t walk while fidgeting with your smart phone. Especially because your eyes diverted down makes you a target and someone will stab you for that phone (not kidding).
Side note: If you are lost, find a safe location to check your phone or ask for directions preferably from a store owner or other employee. Not the dude on the street who could be a Ted Bundy copy cat killer. He’s either going to want money for helping you or he’s throwing you in his nearby vehicle.
And this should probably be a 5.5 or a new #6, but don’t ever allow yourself to be distracted by simple questions like someone asking for directions or asking for the time. Or any type of question that needs you to look down at your watch, phone, shoe? etc.
Something learned in Krav Maga – hold your phone up, look them in the eyes – take a pic of the person and happily give them the time from your phone and/or directions.
6. Do not accept drinks from anyone, including women.
One night, while at a popular club in London, I was approached by a few women who were super friendly. They poured on the compliments and asked where I was from and all those other standard questions. One girl tried to tell me she was from Kansas – yet she had a British accent. Go figure. They proceeded to escort me to the bar to “buy me a shot”.
Something definitely didn’t feel right and before I could even say “no,” my friend came up and very bluntly told them to “fuck off.” Suddenly, these women changed their demeanor and scurried off.
Bizarre. But my friend, a London local, explained that these “friendly” women are part of a sex trafficking ring who are paid to deliver drunk, preferably lesbian women to men. I’ll cover more of this in a future blog.
So please,do not accept drinks from anyone and be mindful of the quantity of booze you are drinking.
7. Learn Krav Maga
My girlfriend introduced me to Krav Maga and out of all the self defense techniques I have studied, this is the best – by far. Krav Maga is the official hand to hand combat system of the Israeli Defense Forces. You are not taught just a series of moves that will help you win a tournament, you are taught usable moves and techniques for real life situations. It seriously is life (and body) changing.
Warning – this class is not for the dainty types. Only those serious about protecting themselves should join.
8. Know the culture and customs of the country you are visiting.
Come on ladies…do I even need to elaborate on this one? No brainer. Don’t get me wrong however. Not following a custom or culture is not an open invite for assault. Ever.
One time, in Morocco, Michelle and I found ourselves in the back of a van. A tour van. See where your mind went?? Good, you’re learning.
So while in this van things got awkward. Intuition vibes were going and being rude was not going to work so plan C went into action. Which was me “answering” a phone call from a friend who was waiting for us. A future blog will go more into this – but the gist is, if you need to: act. Act like you have people waiting for you, like you’re a nut, act confident, act like you will slice a throat, if necessary. Throws them off, every time.
10. Share your plans and check in often.
Just because you have wanderlust doesn’t mean you just up, leave and fully disconnect. Even if you are going on a solo – “find your mind” trip, share your plans and check in every so often even if it’s just on social media. Your family and friends should know where you are at all times.
Side note: Since the original writing of this post, I found a great app for planning your trip. It’s easy to share your itinerary and it’s free! Planapple.
Last but not least, don’t let your loved one read this because then they freak out and worry about you when you are traveling. Then you will be lectured about how you should not go to <insert country>.
But hey, you can’t blame them. They watched a LOT of Oprah.
Meanwhile, God forbid something happens to you, but if it does – it is NOT your fault. Nothing you did, wore or said gives consent or is an open invite for assault on any level. Report it and get help immediately.
From Fugu to Guinea Pig – 5 Strange Delights to Try While Traveling!
I travel to eat.
Being able to experience new cultures, learn about local lifestyles and seeing jaw dropping natural and man-made wonders amongst all the other benefits from traveling are great bonuses but at the end of the day, all I want to do is devour any new cuisine or cocktail a city has to offer. As a consequence, I run (roughly 4-5 miles a day) my ass off in between trips to counteract the glorious calories I’ve ingested during my travels and it’s worth every drop of sweat. I’m often asked, “what’s the craziest thing you’ve ever eaten?” And well, this is my response to that very question.
First, you should know that I grew up in an Asian household and although we live in the U.S., we stuck to the Asian mentality that anything is edible. So while my elementary classmates ate their Captain Crunch cereal and PB&J sandwiches at school, I had rice and tripe with fish sauce packed in my Transformers’ lunch box.
Our family dinners always had rice paired with anything from a good ol’ American ribeye to blood sausage with bitter melon…and celebrating holidays continue to make me laugh when I look at our Thanksgiving day spread of broccoli casserole (thanks Paula Deen!) and turkey next to eggrolls and fried chicken feet.
So it’s hard to say what the craziest thing is that I’ve ever eaten because what is crazy to you may be a normal Wednesday lunch for me.
Instead, here are some of my most interesting eats:
This is an Asian delicacy and was often a treat my parents would make for me. As a child, I would gobble up these pre-hatched embryos, slurp the egg juice and wash it down with a nice cold yoohoo. I loved these suckers. But as I grew up and I started to realize exactly what were in these eggs…I mean, the poor little baby duck has feathers and eyes!…I became grossed out and could not stomach them anymore. Then I visited Hanoi, Vietnam where these are available at numerous street vendors so I attempted to revive my childhood delight and I ordered one. That’s as far as I got. One look at the poor little creature and I couldn’t do it so this is one cuisine I will have to consider history that I will not repeat again.
Who can say no to tasting something that could kill you? Fugu, the Japanese word for pufferfish, is a prized dish commonly offered in Japan and requires expert preparation. In fact, I personally would never try this anywhere else but in Japan because Fugu poisoning is 1200 times stronger than cyanide and in Japan there are super strict regulations to ensure the safety of consumers. It’s not worth the risk to try this dish anywhere else but from the heartland. The risk of human error didn’t dissuade me and as soon as I cleared customs at the Tokyo airport, I went straight to Torafugu Tei in Shibuya, Tokyo to get this pufferfish into my belly.
The classic preparation is sashimi style. Dip these deadly slivers of fugu into some soy sauce and it tastes
like nothing more than a thin chewy piece of latex dipped in soy sauce. I also tried the chargrilled version and poached version but it basically has a semi-tasteless flesh that makes you forget what all the fuss is about…but also makes you thankful to live another bite.
3. Guinea Pig
In many countries, guinea pig is eaten like Americans eat chicken. Growing up in the states, where guinea pigs were often pets…it was hard for me to stomach the idea of trying this when it was offered to me at a roadside restaurant in Quito, Ecuador. But I realized that I suffer from the mindset of “not wanting to see how the hamburger is made” and that this is just like any other protein source that we eat on a daily basis. And boy was it delicious. Imagine the juiciest pork you’ve ever eaten with that fried chicken skin snap and you’ve got it.
My inner teenage self just loves this one. Google any photo of geoduck and you’ll quickly see why. Commonly found on the Pacific coasts, I had my first taste in Seattle, Washington at Taylor Shellfish Oyster Bar. It’s an edible saltwater clam and I had this sashimi style. It was recommended to have this in a clam chowder, but unfortunately I have not been able to try it but I can see why that would be tasty. And it’s pronounced like “gooey duck” which is a fun name all on its own.
5. Gastronomy Cuisine
Molecular gastronomy is a subdiscipline of food science that seeks to investigate the physical and chemical transformations of ingredients that occur in cooking. Its program includes three axes, as cooking was recognized to have three components, which are social, artistic and technical. Thanks Wikipedia!
One of the best restaurants where I’ve been able to experience this cuisine is Central Restaurant in Lima, Peru. I’m a sucker for any food that I can’t wrap my head around…food science is crazy wicked!
And I can’t end a post about food without at least one obligatory photo of a cocktail…because a tasty cocktail is the best way to wash down any meal.
Travel. Nomadic Life. Wanderer. For some of us, these words spike our endorphin levels to a super, happy high. A sign that traveling the world is your destiny, perhaps an addiction.
Check these 14 signs to see if traveling the world is your destiny.
1. Home always feel temporary.
Your home is more of a storage unit and while it may be nice to return to it every so often, the big, wide open world just feels well…more comfortable than those old pair of slippers tucked under your bed. When you’re home, you spend time planning the next trip and one day you swear you’ll just sell everything you own and travel for as long as you possibly can.
2. You’re a little obsessive over your Passport Book.
If someone were to ask you what your prized possession was, you would quickly answer that it was your passport. It’s beautiful. Every so often you open its precious pages and trace your fingers over the intricate lines of your various passport stamps fondly remembering each customs agent who stamped it. The thought of having to send it off for a Brazilian visa or for renewal causes heart palpitations. If it’s still blank, you dream of filling it. When you use Passport Book -in a sentence, you capitalize the “P” and “B”. It’s just that significant.
3. You have a very large stash of travel sized items.
Tiny tubes of toothpaste (and what you think is toothpaste), hand sanitizer, cute little shampoos, shoe shiners, sunscreen, towelettes – from all different countries in various languages.
You buy them. You collect them. You love them.
You own such a large stash of travel sized items, you would convince a hoarder to have a yard sale. When www.alltravelsizes.com runs out of something, they call you first.
They are like religious icons and sometimes you even make a gift basket out of them for a special friend. But even then, you secretly hope they re-gift back to you.
4. If your significant other doesn’t like to travel, it’s a deal breaker.
If your significant other doesn’t like to travel, they won’t be your significant other for long. It’s true. Having wanderlust is the only disease you want them to have and their desire to travel is more important than if your zodiac signs are compatible. The world is your first spouse, but you’re willing to share it with the right person – which might make you a polygamist or poly amorous. One of them.
5. Travel rewards mean the world to you.
Travel rewards such as points and frequent flyer miles are so important to you that if the The Points Guy told you to drink the Kool-Aid, you would. In a heartbeat (which would soon lead to no heartbeat).
You apply for credit cards just to get the bonus points, you endlessly make your friends sign up for credit cards so you can get referral points and you ask for points instead of birthday money. You get the point.
6. You have Facebook friends from all over the world.
Even Berber friends from Morocco who send you pictures of the Sahara every so often like it’s porn. And sometimes they send porn – not appropriate.
These aren’t random Facebook pen pals, but people you have met (but never touched) while on your many travels whether it was on the train to Paris or sitting in a coffee shop bar in Amsterdam. You can never have enough global friends.
7. You have spent Thanksgiving or some other holiday in another country.
You have spent <insert holiday> in another country. Not just Labor Day, but no holiday is off limits and when Mom expects you home for Christmas meatloaf, you book travel instead. That means more time to add to your vacation days! You rebel. Thankfully, your Mom loves you unconditionally and understands. Besides, you’re pretty sure that being destined (and addicted) to travel is a hereditary gene that perhaps skipped a generation? Either way, you can’t help it. You were born this way and your parents will accept you no matter what.
8. You quit your corporate job to travel more.
Going into an office 5 days a week from 9am – 5pm then having to ask permission to take time-off that you earned just doesn’t fly anymore. So, you quit. You do freelance so you can travel more and start a travel blog. This is a definite sign that you are destined to travel the world.
9. You refuse to pay full price for anything, but you happily pay for Global Entry.
You’re cheap and all your friends make fun of you for only using Groupon or ScoutMob when you go out, but you will happily fork over the money for Global Entry and TSA Precheck. By being a TSA Precheck member you breeze through security lines faster and by enrolling in Global Entry, when you return home to the USA, you whip through customs instead of long re-entry lines. The faster you get home, the faster you can plan your next trip so the extra bucks are worth the time savings even for cheapskates like your friends, Alicia and Michelle.
10. You reference the past by countries, not years.
You don’t reference the past by a year, but by the country you visited. If someone asks you which year your daughter was born, you answer, “Oh, that was the year I fell and got attacked by a bunch of geese in Greece….Dang that hurt.” It’s just how your brain is wired.
11. You can pack “all that” into a carry-on.
You mastered the art of origami at the age of 9 months when your Grandmother found your diapers folded into a swan. Now, you are a master of the KonMari Method and you can pack 3.2 weeks worth of stuff into a carry-on. Even the European blow dryer and flat iron you bought while overseas.
12. You won’t spend 2 minutes trying to figure out anything, but you can operate any washing machine in the world.
Forget trying to learn the latest Windows or a MAC or solve a Sudoku puzzle. You don’t have time or patience for any of that, but you will figure out how to use that washing machine meant for those fluent in hieroglyphics.
Like. A. Boss.
And if you are nowhere near a washing machine? No worries because you know how to wash them using the Aloksak Bag Method.
13. As a child, you preferred National Geographic over Dr. Seuss.
The pictures of the people and the world enclosed between two mustard yellow magazine covers lured you like a snow cone on a sweltering summer day. Dr. Seuss was probably more appropriate for your age, but even then, you knew that those NatGeo pictures were just a keyhole view of your future life.
Money isn’t everything to you. You just need enough for the necessities and to get you from Australia to Zimbabwe and then to Iceland. And just maybe a few coins for a laundromat, just in case. It’s not just the destination but the amazing memories that you create by immersing yourself in the unfamiliar. The more you have, the richer you feel. And any extra money you can spare, you donate to help find a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease because it would be shame for this disease to rob you of your wealth.
If you can relate to any of these 14 signs, there is no doubt that you are destined to travel the world.
It’s just how my mind works. So it was natural for me to plan out my first international trip six years ago with Casandra in detail.
Months before departure, we had worked out our flights to Greece, hotel in Athens, transportation and key sites of interests to visit together. But similar to someone who was in the closet, I hid my real plan from her. This included ridiculously detailed lists of every place we would be – addresses and phone numbers, maps to and from these various destinations, directions by car and/or by foot, how long it would take to get to each destination, the best days to do each based on weather and location, cost and hours of operation if applicable…and in some cases even a picture or two to ensure we knew what to look for.
And maybe I compiled all of this in a 3-ring binder.
Now, this was before the rise of the smartphone. That’s my excuse. But even then, I knew my OCD had gotten the better of me and it would surely frighten Casandra to see this side of me. So I hid these print outs in my backpack and read through them like porn while she was in the shower or away. Once we had done something for the day, I had to check it off my list and start thinking about how we were going to get to the next thing. I just couldn’t help myself.
During our trip to Greece, the only part of our plan that seemed to work out was our hotel. Everything from the flight, to our cabs, to the places we visited all had varying ways of unraveling which we will write about later. And you know what? I loved every single minute of it. When I finally stopped worrying about the how and whens, I was able to just absorb the plethora of moments right in front of me. We still saw everything we wanted to and many things we never imagined because we stumbled upon them after getting lost roaming around. Our best experiences time and time again were the ones we never expected. And isn’t that what life is about? To live it as it comes.
Fast forward to the present and 25+ countries under my belt, and I can’t help but smile when I think of that trip to Greece and how it helped confirm my career choice in life – hint: it lets me plan the hell out of some plans – but more importantly how to leave room in my trip to just travel. So how do I plan a trip today?
Things I always do:
Book flights with reasonable departure times and secure a window seat
Book lodging prior to landing
List out key things I want to see or devour (I love cocktails and a good meal.)
Check visa entry requirements
Check electrical outlet type/voltage
Confirm native language and learn the basic phrases.
And yes, I still have a ‘quick list’ printed out just in case wifi doesn’t work that has key addresses and such. But it’s never longer than a page so I don’t have to be ashamed of it.
That 3-ring binder from Greece has been retired to the shelf and serves as a reminder to not suffocate a trip by planning it down to the t – let it breathe…you’ll be amazed at everything you can take in.