Make Sure You’ve Got the Docs

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So many times I hear this classic “I didn’t know I needed a Visa”.

Here is the truth, you ALWAYS need a Visa.

“What?” You ask. Because in London they stamped your book and you were free to go as a US citizen. This is totally true, but that stamp, at customs and border, was your visa. No pre-registration and paperwork needed. Just the stamp.

Here is the thing though, sometimes the stamp doesn’t happen. And a big reason is that your passport may not have at least 6 months left on it for you to enter a specific country. Or more depending on where you are headed. In fact, many airlines won’t even let you board the plane if your passport is low on time. Meaning that week in Paris may be thrown away if you’re not prepared. This happens a lot.

Now for countries where you need advance permission, it’s vital to learn who needs what and what is needed. Meaning: countries like China may take longer and need you to buy plane tickets before you travel. Vietnam only takes a few days to process. Some countries only need a form when you land and a $50 fee. Just make sure you find out and find out at least a month or more in advance so you have time to plan.

Where do you find these details? Embassy websites and through the US state department’s website on travel: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages.html

Don’t forget to also check warnings on places you are traveling to. https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories.html/

Even consider registering with the state department in case you go missing. https://step.state.gov/step/

Other needs? Check with a travel agent or specialist that can at least point you in the right direction. Read a travel guide on your preferred country and ask around to others that have been to such locations.

Most of all, plan ahead, and have fun!

Happy Travels!

Travel Bucket List- top 10

Travel

The biggest problem about loving to travel is that there is never an end to all the place I want to go. So I put things in a box, magazine cutouts and travel guides, and make rough lists of what to do in a year or two…or three. I’ve been very lucky in that I have been able to go somewhere new just about every year  since I graduated from high school. Even if it’s just in Colorado! However, international travel has far more appeal due to the excitement of new cultures, languages, and being able to remove myself out of my comfort zone. BECAUSE I’m that kind of person!

So here is my rough list of places I want to hit in the next 5-10 years.

  1. Peru- I plan on hiking the Inca trail over four days, and I am currently “training” for such a feat! I also want to visit important Inca and colonial sights, and nerd out over weaving and clothing patterns that have been used for ages. Because I’m a nerd like that!machu_picchu_peru_machu
  2. Japan- This is a trip for Ryan and I, and maybe even Lily-bug in a few years! I think it would be a trip of a lifetime to see the diversity of the country in all its islands, eat the food, photograph the crap out of everything and just enjoy something so different from our day to day. I have even considered trying to move here for a year….I’ll keep you posted 😉kyoto_autumn_leaves_japan_heian_shrine_563821.jpg
  3. China- Ever since seeing Mulan I have desperately wanted to go to China, I’m talking 7 year old me wanted so badly to go to China. Pretty much all my elementary school projects were on China and the New Year…who knows why. Even today I’m drawn to novels on China’s past etc. Okay I want to go to China TODAY in its hustle and bustle and new meets old traditions and cities. I want to experience the joy I have met in Chinese travelers and catch some of the contagious charm of a deep and ancient culture. It’s also HUGE so this may be a long journey from North/South East and West. There is so very much to see. gate_of_heavenly_peace_188177.jpg
  4. India- This is one I want to do with my sister’s and mostly because I’ve been warned to not travel alone in India. Which may or may not be a reasonable concern, but it would be much more fun to be there with my sisters. We want to do India because of its challenge to our senses, norms, and a chance to grow closer as we take on new and exciting adventures. We want the elephants and architecture, but also the shopping and food and meeting new people. We want the diversity and the mix of old and new. It simply sounds like an amazing journey that will leave us all changed for the better! tea_estate_in_munnar_515638
  5. Korea- I have several friends living here or planning to go here. Korea is appealing due to its fantastic modern culture that is delicately blended with the past. Also the food, and the mountains and the architecture. I don’t care much about investigating the North, and the South has plenty of stories to tell and share. korea_dance_republic_of_korea
  6. Mexico- I have technically already been to Mexico, but just Cozumel. Which was REALLY awesome, therefore it must me figured that the rest of the country has a lot to share. Again this is a place with a huge mix of cultures and peoples and is full to the brim with exciting adventures for all! Can we also talk about how amazing the food is here? I’m also a huge geek for Mexico’s pre-colonial history and I can’t wait to see more Mayan and Aztec art. If you know nothing about those two cultures go read about it now, it’s so cool! flags
  7. NorthEastern United States- This is where we started as a nation, so there is a ton of architecture and history to drool over. But there is also some amazing natural areas and greenery that we don’t get here in the west. My plan is to make a road trip of it and soak up the fall leaves! declaration_of_independence_united_states_usa.jpg
  8. Oh Canada- it’s our neighbor to the north and full of poutine and mountains, what is not to love? I also want to soak in some history and adventure and hang out with REALLY nice people!toronto_canada_skyline
  9. NorthWest United States- I feel a strong need to check out that place called Washington and Oregon that are known for a rugged ocean culture and being very much like Colorado. Also their rainforests are some of the most amazing looking things I have ever seen!olympic_national_park_washington_bobcat
  10. Greece- This is one of those places in Europe that I have yet to get to experience and I seriously can’t wait to go and take in the food, ancient history, architecture and culture that seems laughable and equally loveable.symi_greece_houses.jpg

There you have it, the top ten places on my list. And of course there is much much more out there I can’t wait to see!

Best,

Rebecca Lee Robinson

Mulan

musings

I love Mulan, and I always have. From seeing it in the theater as a 7 year old, to a 24 year old watching it and analyzing its feminist message. At 7 I dressed up like her for a costume party, and carried around my barbie doll of her, always in her kung-fu outfit! At 24 I feel a tattoo is in order for my celebration of a fabulous story, and studying Ancient China in college has given more depth and inspiration to the story that pours from a rich, vibrant culture and time.

I remember being in love with the idea of a female character saving the day, I loved the funny dragon, I loved the touch on a culture so different from my own that I could only be mesmerized. I fell in love with not only the movie, but the idea that the world was so much bigger than what I had been thought to believe.

It was the art, the characters, the music, and all the other subtle details. It was getting to go to, what I believed, the “authentic” China-China in Manitou Springs and eating won-ton soup and listening to traditional music every time we were in “The Springs”. It was a fantasy and escapism for a child that longed for her own war to fight and adventure on the horizon.

Mulan wasn’t just an excitement for a child, it was further permission to dream. It encouraged me to read National Geographic’s and go into History and Journalism in academics so that I could explore more and more of the world. It has inspired me to travel alone to Europe three times, and to plan bigger adventures for the future, including China. It has encouraged me to take on scary challenged, because though the battle was hard and frightening, it was worth it. Though tiring and tumultuous, saving myself, and maybe my nation, was worth it.

Okay I am getting a little dramatic, but the sense of pride that Mulan instilled in me, the idea that as a girl i could do really AMAZING things will never be forgotten. The idea that a girl could be just as good as the boys, and that a girl could be the main reason something fails or thrives was a driving force like no other. No other princess movie in my childhood had that same message, and no other movie left my heart full of joy and confidence that I too could take on something evil and defeat it.

Regardless of some of the nonsense that inevitably comes with Disney movies, this one is still in my top five. The others came to me in my later childhood and adult life. Lilo and Stitch was innovative and hit home to how important family is to all of us and that differences make us beautiful. Tangled allowed goofiness to be charming and that we all have to save ourselves. Brave explored the complexities of mother-daughter relationships and the expectations we all have hovering over our heads. All of these movies have altered me, but Mulan was the first and the strongest.