Keeping Energy Up When Traveling

musings, outdoors, Travel

If anything most people can agree on, it’s that traveling is tiring. No matter how much fun someone is having or the sleep you get, the act of visiting new places is a suck on energy. Sometimes it’s jet lag or the inability to sleep. Other times it’s a chock full schedule that leaves everyone dragging.

The problem with being tired while traveling is that you don’t enjoy the experience. You may also miss vital information and details that could make a serious difference to your enjoyment or safety. If you are tired while going through security at an airport, then you may leave something behind. If you don’t pay attention while driving, you could easily make a mistake. So, while we all run on fumes at times, it’s always better to be well rested for adventuring.

Here are some of my 10 tips to keeping you, and your family, rested, safe, and happy.

  1. Sleep on your flights
    • Sleep on a flight is especially important if you are doing a red eye or transcontinental flight. Meaning, if you can at least nap your day in the next place will be MUCH better than not. I have a terrible time sleeping on flights, but I have learned a few tricks.
    • Take melatonin for long flights. Or another OTC sleep aid to help you relax
    • Follow a “bedtime” routine as much as possible. This is extremely helpful with kids.
    • Bring/wear something cozy to help you relax. Maybe a blanket, leggings, slip off shoes, and eye mask.
    • Bring ear buds/headphones to you can drown out others, especially fussy kids.
  2. Make a routine
    • Whether you are on a cruise, a road trip, or backpacking, making a routine for the day to day will help. This will mean you are getting enough sleep, planning out your days, and taking much needed down town. Much like at home, your body and brain need a break. Bring a book or laptop for some other stimuli.
    • Kids especially need this when on the road. If you can, stay as close to the schedule at home. The structure prevents meltdowns and encourages happy kids. ALWAYS plan time for breaks.
  3. Find you drug of choice.
    • There are times that you will need caffeine no matter what you do. Meaning, I think it’s healthy to track down a coffee/tea/shot of espresso anytime you need it.
  4. Limit alcohol
    • We all love a little PAR-TAY in time away, but late nights and alcohol drain the system. If you are drinking, allow for down time, eat with drinks, and guzzle water, especially at higher altitudes (Denver).
  5. Eat healthy
    • When I’m super tired the first thing that happens is I get sick. However, if I eat healthy, take vitamins, and get sleep I tend to avoid illness. If you eat poorly it’s likely your immune system won’t have the ability to fight a small or large bug.
  6. Vacation from the vacation
    • I can’t stress enough, give yourself down time on a trip. Maybe mornings to sleep in, or a day of no plans. Even a day in between vacation and work can do wonders.
    • If you can, take an earlier flight and get home mid afternoon, this will help with jetlag and stress immensely. If you can get home and get back into a routine, this will help with your exhaustion.
  7. Request what you need
    • Staying at nicer hotels (3*+) means you can get more with your money (most the time), and that means you have the right to ask for what you want. Ask for quiet rooms, rooms on higher floors, or an upgrade if you think they can accommodate. 
    • Having hotel rewards (which are free) means you get a “status” at most places. If you spend more/stay more, you will get more notice, but even just having a basic option means things like Wi-Fi and free upgrades are much easier. 
  8. Take a comfort item
    • I take my sad down pillow when I can when I travel. It helps me relax and enjoy my sleep more. This could be a blanket, essential oils, or even a stuffed animal, whatever works for you, or your kiddos
  9. White Noise REALLY helps
    • It sounds like it’s almost too good to be true, but white noise really does help my husband and I sleep. I make sure we bring our ALEXA or have some downloaded nature sounds or Spotify as needed.
  10. Call loved ones
    • My husband and I call each other every night when we are apart. It’s something we have done since we started dating my first year of college. At the time we lived between 1 and 4 hours apart, so we maybe saw each other once a week. At other times I have been in Europe for one to two and a half months, and every call was worth the charges just to share our affection. This helps feel like we have a routine, like at home, and rest our minds over missing each other. 

HAPPY TRAVELS….and sleeping!

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Clothing Kerfuffle

Caribbean, Florida, mexico, musings, Travel

It’s next to impossible to always know what to pack on a trip. There is so much to consider such as temperatures, time traveling, wrinkles, weight, coordination, and sturdiness. Practicality is great, but one also doesn’t want to look like the sad American tourist stereotype that all the Italians gawk at.

The best part of all of this is that you think you have it covered, and then something goes terribly wrong. Of course this never happens when you are only 15 minutes from home, but rather when you’re on a small Caribbean island an hour boat ride from your spare swimsuit.

I have had my share of “clothing mishaps” but nothing quite as revealing as the infamous Janet Jackson mishap. Of course some of these do deal with the bra area, as about 80% of all women can also attest to.

There have been water slides that left me flashing teenage boys (D cups have a mind of their own folks!). Then there was my favorite story in Grand Cayman.

Patiently my now husband and I were waiting for a tour to the Sea Turtle Farm, of which a highlight was to swim with sea turtles. I had on an almost brand new bikini top, that unbeknownst to me was struggling to keep up with its job. Standing in line I hear this loud POP and felt a snap on my back. It was then that I realized the back clasp had broken. BROKEN. Dead, not functioning, BROKEN.

Luckily, I was wearing a t-shirt over myself or the day may have been very different. I didn’t get to swim with the turtles (giant sad face) but I got to hold babies and see the beauties up close and personal.

Most of my other stories are about sad bags and buying too many books. There are ripped jeans, and holy underwear. Because when you travel for two months or more straight things start to give up. There are the brand new toms I took into the jungle and ruined, but it was worth it to get covered in mud and have the 4-wheeling time of my life!

The moral of the story is to pack spares to your spares. Buy better quality swim suits, and always have a t-shirt for emergency boobs!

Happy Travels!

To Camera…or Not to Camera

colorado, love, Photography, Travel

I love photography, as anyone that has followed this blog for a while knows. However, I am conflicted with a constant concern when I travel if I should bring my camera equipment or stick with my phone.

The simple answer is I don’t know.

I don’t know because it depends so greatly on how one travels, what one is doing on a particular trip, or if you have a safe way to keep your gear. So I have a few check points when determining this. It is not an exact science but it helps me sort out if my camera on my Iphone is OK, or if the DSLR is worth the extra bag, weight, and effort.

I bring my camera under the following circumstances

  1. I am doing some portrait or fine photography
    1. this is a “well duh”
  2. I have the chance or time to do some real photography
    1. This means if I am going to be in nature for a good amount or time, or if I have a long trip I am taking.
  3. I have extra luggage space
    1. If I can afford the extra ten pounds, then it goes!
  4. There is no way my cell phone camera can capture it well
    1. This is especially true in situations where a zoom lens is a good idea, such as nature or travel photography (again more time/space is a must)
  5. I can keep it safe
    1. Traveling on a cruise or boat or water-based situation can be lethal to your best camera friend. Sand, wind, dirt, rain etc. is also an unfriendly mess!
    1. I don’t want my cameras, AKA my expensive travel tools, to be ruined on a wild trips.

I don’t take the camera kit for pretty much the opposite reasons but I also keep this in mind on certain trips. Am I going to “work” on this trip or am I going to play?

Because when you do photography professionally such as for weddings and your blog. When you write off travel as a business expense, which it very much is, you have to draw a line on fun and work.

I make an effort, some times better than others, to not make every trip a working trip. When I go with my husband, I tend to leave the DSLR behind because the point is to not work and be with my husband. When I travel by myself, the camera is likely in my bag. It’s a lot about priorities and what is most important on a specific journey. Is it to get more great shots (which I love love love) or to spend time with those I love (also love love love)?

Sometimes it is hard to leave my little digital friends at home, but I don’t regret the less weight and I don’t regret focusing on reconnecting with my family.

What do you do?

Happy Travels!

Do a Lot With a Little

Allergen-free eating on the road, europe, family, food, France, geek, Ireland, italy, Travel, United Kingdom

I have never had what I would consider a lot of money or resources. I grew up in my grandparent’s house. My family lived below the poverty line. Since moving out of my childhood home I have been in school and/or working in jobs that don’t pay more than $34,000 a year. I sometimes do some work as a photographer or web designer to make ends meet. It has never been a lot. I have never had excessive means.

However, even with a little, I make it stretch. I take the advantages that have been given to me and make it work. This is, of course, been an immense lot of luck, and stubbornness, and sacrifice. However, it has meant that I have been able to do more than many at 27.

For my first trip to Europe, I lived at home and worked almost seven days a week for $8 an hour, at a crappy little fossil shop with sketchy owners. I did that for eight months, and then cheaply wandered around Europe crashing with friends, old and new, and hosteling when I needed to. I ate apples for lunch, and cooked in dingy kitchens to save cash. I walked instead of taking taxis and buses. I made it work. I took the advantages of free places to sleep and turned it into a longer trip, another museum, a nice meal.

In 2013 on my study abroad I headed to Italy on the most economical program I could find. I ate at the apartment for the most part, picking up in season produce at the markets. Savoring every sweet little strawberry and succulent squash. I bought $2 gelato on my way to classes for my “lunch” and euro store (same as a dollar store) nuts for a snack. I would scour the city for food deals on dinners. €15 three-course meals meant I could eat and drink on the cheap, street vendors served €2 polenta for a real treat. I bartered to cut down on souvenir costs. I stubbornly walked away to save another €5. I took advantage of every meal and treat that the study abroad program offered, knowing it would save me money.

2015 was the start of my M.A. and I hosteled, while others stayed in hotels. I packed lunch or ate cheap soup in the cantina at the college instead of eating a sandwich nearby. I traded books at the hostel and did my laundry in the basement. In an extra three weeks of travel I only stayed three nights in a real hotel, a 3-star Ibis. I was gifted gluten free bread from a fabulous bakery in Dublin. I bought few souvenirs and savored toast and tea and packets of oatmeal.

Don’t get me wrong, I love food. I LOVE food. However, I love seeing the world more. I love diving into museums and cathedrals and tours. I love eating cheap food that locals love, from chippies and markets, and food stalls. I like finding fresh veggies and fruits to suck down locally. I like fancy things, and fine meals, but if it means I can try three restaurants for the price of one, I’ll take more over the one.

I find this philosophy trickles into everything I do. I shop second hand clothing stores so I can afford a better quality item for much less. I shop grocery store sales, and closeout items for a better deal. I coupon and wait for deals to get the items I need. I scour for off-season travel deals and seasonal items to hit the clearance sections. Some find this cheap. I find it a means to live a fuller life.

I don’t hoard this bounty either, I gift to others, and donate like crazy. Monthly I probably get rid of at least one if not more trash bags of stuff. It consists of clothes my stepdaughter has outgrown, shoes we are bored of, and books we have read. I recycle and reuse, I pass it on and upcycle. I take a little and make a lot.

End note: I have been extremely lucky and I am fully aware not everyone can do this.

Traveling Sick

Travel

This is a fun topic than I know more than I ever expected to. Inevitably I get sick or someone in my family gets sick with a virus, stomach ache, or other annoyance. It’s part of life.

Traveling also means exposure to new germs, and viruses, and bacteria, that our bodies are not immune or adjusted to handle. It can mean annoying colds, at times it has meant stomach issues, and other times it is allergies. My trip to Europe in 2013 ended in me coming home with whooping cough.

  • Fun tip, you should get a booster whooping cough shot in your late teens or early 20s!

Regardless of how annoying it is and frustrating, I have come up with a few tips and ideas to avoid and treat the bugs of life.

  1. Bring wet wipes and hand sanitizer
    • I don’t want to contribute to the superbug problem, BUT for public areas such as planes, trains, buses, etc. it is a good idea to wipe down surfaces to get rid of lingering bugs.
    • Additional tip, these are life savers in case of a child puke party, as I learned a month ago.
  2. Plastic Bags
    • Also in case of puke parties, this is helpful with the clean up!
  3. Cough Drops
    • My favorite is Ricolla, as they are ideal for soar throats and some even have vitamins that are meant to improve the immune system. I’m not sure how accurate that claim is, but they do help with the throat and cough issues.
  4. Day Cold and Night Cold Medicine
    • Carrying a few packs of each of these can make a huge difference if an illness sneaks up on you.
  5. Allergy Medicine
    • If you are traveling in Spring and Fall, this helps immensely with pollen and dust that can irritate your system. My first trip to London I couldn’t breath due to plant life, and broke out in a rash all over my face, a little allergy medicine cleaned up the disaster and got me on with my travels.
  6. Stomach Medicine
    • I learned two things in Mexico my last trip:
      1. That I am totally okay with the food, water, and different bugs in Playa Del Carmen. However, my dear husband was not.
      2. Laxative is REALLY expensive in Mexico. Especially when bought at a resort.
    • The takeaway is that you should bring some stuff from home, just in case. Also, if you can find a local pharmacy, learn some of the local language to find what you need. Also, many people speak at least a  little English in popular American tourist locations. You’ll save a lot of money too!
  7. Translation Guide
    • To wedge into the last comment, this goes for any medicine you may need or anything else. Having some translation book, or the handy Google app makes life a lot easier to navigate language barriers.
    • Did you know that in some countries, like Italy, there is always a doctor on duty that can help employees find the medicine they need for their symptoms. If you can find one of these, life will be much easier!
    • My favorite story was in Rome, where I went into a pharmacy for tampons. I was at the counter and ready to pay when the woman looks at me, grabs my hand, and walked me to a display of mineral sunscreen. She announces “Blanca! Blanca!” and stuck the SPF 50+ in my hand. Maybe she had a sixth sense, because I DID need sunscreen, but couldn’t figure out the wording until someone pointed it out.
  8. Tissues and Comforts
    • I bring tissues with me regardless on if I will need them. ESPECIALLY with children around, you never know when you will need a makeshift napkin or something to clean with.
    • Sometimes a blanket and travel pillow can make a world of difference on a long trip and the need of something to relax with.
  9. Face Mask
    • I know our culture (Western that is) has not fully adopted this trend, but if you are sick and worried about being contagious, wear a mask. This is especially considerate if you are going to be sitting in a confined space where others can catch your cough germs.

 

Happy Travels!

sicktravel

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.

There are a ton of videos and blogs on this subject. But welcome to my take on the situation. I have only found a few things to be true when travelling and the rest to be crap.

I don’t put necklaces through straws so they don’t get tangled, because I only take one set of jewelry with me so I lessen the risk of losing something (or having it stolen). I don’t take much shampoo in little bottles because it’s far more logical to “buy it when you get there” and in small quantities.

Perhaps this sounds a little rugged and I know we have favorite hair products, BUT the reality is that one exploded bottle of shampoo or lotion in your suitcase can make a mess that’s way worse to deal with than messy hair. And unless you are going somewhere where you know they won’t sell cosmetics, then just buy something when you get there. You often can find better products in places like Europe, that will work better in the water/sun/humidity in that location.

For instance, a pharmacist in Rome noted how pasty I was, and insisted I buy some SPF50. “Blanca, blanca, come here” she told me and shoved the bottle in my hand with some tampons. This was the best sunscreen I have ever used and I wish I could find it here in the states! It didn’t cause me to break out, it was light and it worked to keep “blanca” from being “rosso”.

Travel Hacks No One Actually Tells You

Cruising, Ireland, musings, Photography, Travel