Spring Break – To Be Avoided?

Caribbean, Florida, Travel, United States

Spring break is coming up for most Americans this month or next. Sometimes known as Easter Break, this annual tradition gives students and their overworked teachers a break from each other.

For the rest of us, we scramble to find care for our children and stumble into our jobs. And others of us are lucky enough to escape with our kids to tropical locations.

My advice, stay home.

Why?

Well unless you have a really good incentive for a break, it’s such a busy time of year that running away may not actually be enjoyable.

The Caribbean and Florida are the top locations for Spring Breakers, and if that awful movie sharing the same name is an indication, there is mayhem in them parts. Not that hotels and resorts don’t avoid spring break vacationers, but it’s hard to inhibit.

No doubt, at about every resort, will be those having too much fun and puking in the pool. No doubt. And on top of that rates are insane at most places in March and April, at times they can be almost double due to popularity.

At some point the vomit inhibits the fun. And let’s face it, do most college and high school aged people REALLY know how to hold their liquor?

If you do have a longer break, or decide to make it longer, there is a chance to hit the road to Europe or further afield. My only suggestion is to remember the travel time to get to and from, and how that can eat into time on the ground. A “week away” quickly can turn into only five says doing anything. And for around $1,000 a round trip plane ticket, you want to make sure it’s worthwhile.

This isn’t to say that fun can’t be had. For instance, many other locations are divine in spring, such as the Carolinas or the Bay Area. These places may not offer the surf and sand, but they can offer an enjoyable escape.

While I know all of you are itching for warmer weather, remember that sometimes good things come to those who wait.

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Spring Foods from Around the World

europe, History, italy, mexico, Travel, United Kingdom, United States

Have you noticed how with each season come certain holidays and with said holidays comes certain food?

Naturally, this is not purely American (though we tend to take it above and beyond). Other countries in the world celebrate holidays in their own way and with certain dishes. Here are some of my favorite spring treats.

 

North America

  • Easter candy- this is a given, with Easter on its way and the end of lent, food looks mighty tasty that’s full of all the bad stuff you maybe gave up for 6 weeks.

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  • Fruit on everything- Though we live in world with fruit available almost year round, when berry and cherry season arrive everything has a touch of blueberries or cherries to make life more colorful.
  • Meat- pair your fruit and chocolate with some lamb….somehow this makes sense.

South America

Due to the flipping of seasons south of the border, most of South America is entering fall. Here are some of their preferred treats for their Easter Season

  • Easter Bread Ring “rosca de Pascuahas roots in Spain, king of like a King cake in the French tradition, it’s a sweet and tasty bread.

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  • Spanish Fasting Soup “potaje de la vigilia is popular this time of year. The main ingredients are codfish, spinach, and chickpeas.
  • Ceviche is a popular dish in Peru, and that means Easter week it becomes a necessity for home and celebration

Europe

Many of our “American” traditions have European roots; here are some of the better or more surprising foods.

  • German Eggs – This one surprised me on my first trip out of the country. As Germany was my first stop my friends there had received an Easter basket from their landlord. To my surprise, eggs are not refrigerated in Europe before purchase AND sometimes after. So boiled Easter eggs are often just left out for a few days, fully decorated and then consumed. The cool thing about eggs in the shell is that they don’t really rot and eggs don’t rot in general until they are very old or exposed to oxygen.

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  • British- Guess where that odd 1994 Cadbury commercial came from, the Brits. Who make and developed those delicious, sickly sweet fill eggs that are popular this season.
  • Italian- The Italian menu for this holiday moves away form heavy and sweet into fresh and tasty. Though lamb is also common asparagus side dishes are popular, so is an egg and rice soup, and for a finish many enjoy Columba cake.

Asia

With the seasons come new foods, and Asian cuisine is all about embracing what is fresh and seasonal. Many parts of China and into Korea love to eat dumplings starting from Lunar New Year into the summer as a hearty cold weather treat and for traditions around the food. Here are some other tasty treats.

  • Japanese- As blossoms and spring plant life leads to many spring traditions in Japan, they whole-heartedly embrace it with their food. Mochi with cherry blossom leaves are common, strawberries don many treats, and mugwort comes into popularity in mochi and other treats.

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  • Chinese- Asparagus stir-fries with beef, vegetable pot stickers, and lamb when available.
  • Southeast Asia- Much of this region does not have the seasons that we associate with in the west, but that doesn’t mean some food is not seasonal. Thai Basil is popular to make refreshing drinks as temperatures rise. Rice paper spring rolls, served cool make for a crisp treat with a tasty sauce and shrimp. Indonesian cuisine embraces fried crispy spring rolls full of tasty veggies and light meats.

Australia

While food in Australia is not too obscure for the holiday, and while they are very British culturally, Australia has their chocolate eggs, hot cross buns etc. BUT in Australia instead of a bunny bringing treats, kids get a visit from a Bilby…

Bilby critters are nocturnal insect, snake- eating rodent things, with giant claws. It’s really not any weirder than someone making up a rabbit that leaves/lays eggs. So while the food is not too weird, I leave you with the Bilby.

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AMENDED March 19, 2018

So I actually asked a friend about the Bilby, he is from Australia and said they have the Easter bunny in Australia and that the Bilby is a new twist on the classic. Maybe, just maybe to confuse foreigners.

 

Happy Travels!

 

Spring Break—Better!

Caribbean, Florida, mexico, musings, Travel

I used to dream of taking Spring Break to some wild party in Florida or the Caribbean, with muscular college boys and an age 18 drinking age. Then I went to said parties in college and I realized, this is not fun.

It’s not fun because it’s a constant drink-vomit-drink-make bad choices- drink…..you get my point.

While MTV glorified the Spring Break in the 90s and early 2000s while I I grew up. I began realizing that it was all for TV, and had nothing to do with the real drama or problems that arise out of a bunch of horny, wild teens and 20-somethings believing they have no repercussions.

Anyway, as an adult, a full 27 years into my life (at least I play an adult most days), I have realized that if you have the chance to Spring Break there are a few choices that should be made to make it better.

By all means, go off to Miami and get crazy, but make sure you tell you mom you love her, and that you buy a giant box of condoms and a case of bottled water. Just be safe dear friends and children.

OR stay around and enjoy the college traffic dwindling in your town, and take local hikes with no people. OR head to a small local town and get to know new people, I can share a few in Colorado and Wyoming if you would like. OR read some books you have been intending to, while drinking at a new coffee place each day. If you are young and needing a break, take a break for something that brings you real joy, not for something that others tell you to.

 

No fun in this mess.

I think that our culture informs us at a young age that a “party” or “wild night” is the begin all end all for fun as an older teen or 20-something, but the truth is that most parties suck. Most parties end in tears, if we’re being honest, there is a point where your friend is puking in a toilet for the 10th time in a week, and you are the only one sober enough to make good decisions that you realize that there is no “fun” in this mess.

Therefore, as mentioned above, bring yourself bliss and happiness and forget what MTV had to say about it. Bliss and happiness can mean eating at your favorite brunch place, or visiting your grandma. Maybe it’s an alternative spring break where you clean someone’s house or simply visit a retirement community with a basket of kittens. (The last one sounds like my virtual heaven)

Just get out there and be good to you, find what move you, don’t make your liver cry, make good choices. Be loving in your actions.

Happy Travels!

Spring Cleaning- Travel Edition

Travel

Ahhhhhhhhh

We can finally open the windows after months of cold and misery. In Colorado, this may be short lived, as more snow is on the way. Yet these warm bursts of sun and fresh air sure make everyone ready to clear out some dust. This includes trying to clean off and out old luggage to make sure we have what we need for spring and summer adventures.

Here are my tips on cleaning out the closet to open up your bags and yourself to better travel in 2018!

  1. Take inventory
    • Go through all of your travel-related items and see what you have. Take note of what you may need and what you already have and even keep the list on your phone. Especially if you have a family, then next time you are off to a wedding you know that Sally has a neck pillow and Jason is all set with luggage tags.
  2. Get rid of the broken and sad
    • Here is a fact of life: luggage wears out. Meaning you will have to replace pieces as they get worn out. Now a few snags or scuffs doesn’t warrant a new bag, but if a wheel is broken or a strap is worn down, get something else. I guarantee you will be thankful next time you are running through the airport.
  3. Clean your bags
    • Your luggage goes through a lot to get you places, and it comes into contact with a lot on the way. I take time after every trip to empty out everything, wash it with a mild soap or cleaning wipes and then put it all away when I am done. This way when I am packing for the next trip I know its good to go, and there will be no unpleasant surprises.
  4. Fix the good stuff
    • If you have a bag that is ideal for how to travel, then hang onto it. If you can stitch up holes, if it’s leather condition and clean it, if it’s plastic smooth down scuffs. All around, if it’s a worthwhile item, take care of it. Because you often won’t find another travel friend as good.
  5. Store nicely
    • Make sure when you clean and put away your luggage after a trip that you keep your bags somewhere where the temperatures stay consistent and that is not damp or too dry. Wacky storage damages things, especially plastic and leather which can become brittle and cracked. This is especially true of items you want to keep and use for a while. Don’t abuse your good stuff and it will keep you moving for a long time.

Want an added bonus? NOW is a great time to purchase that new Samsonite you have been eyeing for a year, or that really cute carry-on that you couldn’t justify at full price. Especially department stores, which has luggage on sale for really great prices! Some are as low as 60 or 70% off their original price. The sale comes from new stuff coming in and last year’s stuff moving out, and buying a better brand means more years of travel. It also means Le Sport Sac or London Fog become really reasonable.

Spring Wanderlust

Travel

It is usually around the first of March that I begin getting antsy to get away again. I have usually been stuck at home for a few months; there are events with my stepdaughter and family, girl scouts and other obligations that have us running around Fort Collins like we’re in a marathon.

By March I am ready to get moving, to see new things, to get away from the monotony of life. It is this time of year that I plan out my adventures for the following 10 months of the year. As two months have already left us, I want to make sure the rest of the year is full of the best fun possible.

For those wanting to also plan out their best year, here are my tips for maximizing your time and money.

  1. Know how many vacation days you can afford
    • This may be paid time off or non-paid time off, whatever it looks like be realistic on what you have and don’t have.
  2. Choose one place for a week
    • Hopping around from place to place makes it hard to get the most from a vacation, instead narrow down on one spot you really want to go and then expand from there.
  3. Set a realistic budget
    • Go through your bills for the year and see what you have left to work with. If you don’t have much, see what you can cut back on. Even if you limit your coffee habit, or trips out to eat, you can save a lot of cash.
  4. Stay close
    • If you are short on time or money, choose somewhere nearby or cheap to get to. Flights to Las Vegas are usually cheap, or visit a National Park in your state. Find an AirBnB close by and bum out for a long weekend. Escaping doesn’t need to be hard.
  5. Plan ahead to maximize your time and money
    • Planning ahead means you often get batter airline, hotel, and even activity rates. It can also mean you get to see things that booking last minute won’t allow. Research thoroughly, ask questions, and seek out alternatives to bigger budget activities.
  6. Visit family
    • One way I have saved thousands is by taking time to visit family all over the world. Sometimes I stay with them, sometimes I stay nearby, but the best part is getting a local’s point of view.
  7. Make sure it’s fun
    • Sometimes traveling is not for everyone, so make sure you are actually selecting things everyone wants to do. There is no reason to pay for everyone to go to DisneyWorld all day when only one kid wants to. Instead, take everyone to a cheaper activity everyone will enjoy.

Happy Travels!