The Best Lessons Have Been My Mistakes

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I have been traveling internationally for 8 1/2 years. Mostly by myself. Always on a budget. And with a few struggles along the way. Some have been all my fault. Others I can blame on fellow travelers. All of them are important.

Here are 10 of the best/worst lessons to learn on the road.

  1. Carry a phone-
    A part of me hates this but it has saved my butt more times than I can count. For instance, when you forget to learn out to read bus schedules, you can call a cab.

2. Buy good maps

    I don’t know how many tines having a bad or outdated or confusing map has messed up a day, turned me around, or got me lost. So, investing in a good map is an important way to preemptively save the day.
  • 3. self care!
    • I have become sick 2 out of 3 extended trips. If I had used more hand sanitizer, brought some vitamins, and got more sleep, I would have had an easier time with everything.

    4. Pack Light/Buy light

    • I have always made this mistake on longer trips. I pack too much, and immediately regret it. The other side is buying too much. When my aunt went with me to Europe in 2015 she bought so many souvenirs that we had to mail two large boxes home AND a suitcase. Because of the weight and international shipping fees, she spent almost $800 to mail home about $3,000 worth of merchandise. The moral of the story is that it’s better to buy the few things you REALLY want, leave room in your suitcase to bring it home, and consider purchasing some items when you get home. Pro tip- many companies get GREAT shipping discounts if you buy say $100 of merchandise.
  • 5. Eat Well
    • Don’t eat expensive, eat well. Eat your veggies like mamma told you. Don’t drink too much. Make sure you drink plenty of water, and enjoy delicacies in moderation.

    6. Say no

    • Say no to people that annoy you. Say no to drunk guys in bars. Say no to pushy “tour guides”. Say no to flirtatious Italians. Say no when it seems wrong, sketchy, scary, or if your gut tells you so.

    7. Ask Questions

    • So many mistakes and mishaps could have been prevented for myself and others if I had asked more questions, asked for directions, asked for a better map or bus schedule. See 1 and 2.

    8. Bring a Towel

    • It sounds silly, but if you have read Hitchhiker’s Guide (or seen the movie) you know towels are helpful. Truth is having a good towel on the road is also helpful.

    9. Bring a Sweater

    • Weather conditions can change in most places without warning. The times I have needed a sweater I have been so grateful to have one. When I have forgot one, boy did chattering teeth regret it.

    10. Make sure you are physically ready

    • Travel can be thoroughly miserable if you are not in shape. Being tired from long walks, or just carrying luggage can make the trip a miserable time. See 4 for extra help!

    What have you learned on the road?

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    The Busy Bee….Doesn’t Get Her Writing Done

    musings, Travel

    The hardest part of blogging is that there are only so many hours in a day. There are only so many days in a week, in a year, in a decade. Meaning…. I struggle to spread myself in all of the directions I plan to be spread.

    My biggest downfall is being a Queen Bee of busy. I run from work to the gym to home to the grocery store to picking up kids to visiting family to hiking to work to gym to….you all do the cycle. Some of you are single parents trying to make it all work. Some of you are parents of a healthy brood of youngins and some of you just work too damn hard.

    We also have a society that demands blood from us at every second of every day. Work 50 hour weeks? oh well…make sure you do your daughter’s costume for the school play BETTER than your Pinterest reference. Have five kids? Well ALL of them better have a laundry list of extracurriculars. Have a job? make sure you do everything 20 times harder than everyone else with no extra pay and no extra benefits….then maybe you’ll get the raise.

    Don’t get me wrong, hard work has never intimidated me, and at every job I have had I was quick to move up the ranks and leave my mark. However, if there is one thing I have learned through all of this, is that MY WORK, the work I do for me, is just as important. I have to draw the line on what society demands and what I need from me to be sane and happy. You should too.

    I don’t mind the occasional 45 to 50 hour weeks, but I also make sure I take a day off here and there. I schedule myself three day weekends just to have fun. I run away to local towns for a day or two just for something different. So what if the house is messy? So what if my over hasn’t been cleaned in 6 months? The reality is that my time is more precious than playing perfect. My life, and actually living it, is more important than all the laundry being put away.

    This is not an easy state of mind, and I stumble, and I make messes, and then I try again. As a “Type A” personality, I often get sidetracked in making sure things are better, organized, neat, clean. When in reality, some of the chaos is what makes us of this universe.

    There is a good chance I will always struggle in this, and my lack of writing this month has shown that. However, at the end of the day I have to acknowledge that hard work is great, but sometimes you have to play, and with that is making time for yourself.

    Happy Travels!

    BusyBee

     

    Create the BEST Staycation

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    While traveling is my preferred week off from work or school, sometimes the pocket book or life doesn’t allow for it. Thus, it’s important to know when and how to make the best of time at home, and this doesn’t mean cleaning everything.

    • I suggest planning ahead, same as you would for any vacation, to make the most of your time. Start by getting your house organized, not spotless, to make the week relaxing and easy.
    • Make a list of what you want to do locally. Maybe it’s just a few restaurants you have been wanting to try, or perhaps a new art exhibit. Make a list and plan out each day to see what you want. Plan it like you are a tourist in your own city and then see what seems like the best options.
    • Keep it simple and treat it like an easy vacation, where planning is loose and you just enjoy little things. Think of it like a reset, and a chance to revive from the stress of life.
    • Don’t over plan; make sure it’s legitimate down time and not a week of errands and running around town. Treat your stay like you’re not home to do the mundane and if you find yourself thinking about it, make a list to conquer it before or after.
    • “Treat Yo’ Self” in the totally Parks and Recreation sense of the phrase; visit the pa, shop, spoil, just make it about you and make yourself feel amazing.

    • Place your phone on “do not disturb” when you want to be left alone. Silence everything, turn it off, or unplug the internet and let the outside world melt away. Here is a news flash: The world won’t end if you are not constantly taking in information on it. I promise.
    • Turn on some rain sounds and sleep like a baby. Do this every night after the staycation and I promise it will make you feel better rested on the long term.

     

    Happy Travels!

    Between Travels, Make Home an Adventure

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    I just realized my title sounds like you are going to booby trap your house or fill it with kittens for sneak attacks. I promise that is not what this is about, although the kitten thing could be fun.

    While I love being on the road, I also enjoy being home and having down time. I should say that I NEED down time in order to refresh and recharge. It means that I snuggle my cat, read some books, watch some Golden Girls, and reconnect with friends.

    This also means that I want my home to be somewhere that I can truly enjoy being and that means bringing some of the adventures home.

    I love picking up treasures on my travels. Usually, especially as I get older, this means artwork or crafting of some sort. Sometimes it’s pottery such as the skeleton cat spoon rest from Mexico, or the Navajo-designed pottery egg from Santa Fe. Other times it’s my photographs that I get blown up to put on my wall. Other times it is souvenir books from places like Hampton Court Palace that I can refer to when I want a refresher on some facts and details.

    Even without the crap from my trips, I have a home full of music, movies, books, and people I love. All of which add to the culture and richness of my life at home. I have furniture I like and décor that makes me smile. It’s a refuge, at my refuge, and full of things that make life rich.

    This same filling a home with richness can come with or without wanderlust, just do it because it’s somewhere you spend A LOT of time at. Make it yours, make it comforting, make it a reflection of your happy place.

     

    Happy Travels!

    Take Care of Yourself

    family, love, musings

    This season is hard on a lot of people. Not only does it bring on financial pressure to travel, to buy food and gifts, but also an expectation of leaves many anxious around their finances. Myself included.

    Add on any family conflict. Myself included.

    A dash of missing loved ones that died this time of year, or that had birthdays this time of year, or anyone you spent the day with this time of year. It becomes really stressful and lonely. Myself included.

    The problem I am having is being stuck in my head too much, and stuck at home too much. I work remotely about 50% of the time, so this isn’t surprising. However, that doesn’t mean that I don’t feel isolated or even trapped. Mostly, because I’m not practicing the things I know that are important for a healthy state of being. For myself or anyone else.

    So I remind you all to take time to reconnect to what your heart loves and craves. If it’s music, find a concert- even a free one at a church or school. If it’s a social gathering, find a book group with the library or local book store. Maybe try a coffee shop and use meet-up  to connect.

    Perhaps you just really want to play with dogs all day? Try signing up as a doggy daycare provider with dogvacay or volunteer with a local shelter.

    It’s not easy to know what to do, but there are options. I am currently finding odd jobs t pay bills and connect me with new ideas and people. I am also making an effort to see friends and get back into craft projects that keep me happy.

    I leave you with an idea discussed last night, as dinner, with ones I love, BE BOLD, BE BRAVE, BE. Be your own advocate, be a voice of reason, be someone that picks themselves up and dust themselves off and carries on. Be loving, and BE. IF you have a dream, see what it would take to get there, and take a step to be there. Ask questions. Don’t be afraid of learning. Research. Imagine.

    And finally, if you are feeling sad and vulnerable and scared, then acknowledge those feelings in a friendly way. As you would to another friend. Hug yourself, drink tea, watch a favorite movie, breathe, and eat well. Hug yourself, cuddle a pet and just do anything to make you feel better.

    Sometimes it’s not even making anything better, at times you can’t, but just getting through the day, the week, the month, the year, and working on something better.

    Love,

    Rebecca Lee Robinson