The Wild Pair

Archive for the ‘Travel Tips’ Category


In Travel Tips on May 21, 2009 at 11:36 pm


It’s pretty excruciating for many people before they travel. They have to find a home for the dog or cat, close up the house, tell neighbors they are going, get tickets, pack, download boarding passes, remember to turn on the vacation response on their computers. This is not, by any stretch of the imagination, fun.  But once you board the plane….it’s all behind you. Your attention is on the excitement of the trip. And since you have a clear mind with no major worries, here are a few thoughts you might consider while on the road.



If you are a collector, you already know that the art world in your destination is your oyster. If the only thing you collect is parking tickets, then there is no better time to start collecting than now. You can start with street art—perhaps a piece from  someone selling wire sculptures on a street corner. You can wander into galleries. Or you can find art in restaurants and coffee houses. Take the plunge. Your first piece may be under $100, and, depending upon what you collect, your 100th piece may also be under $100.


You probably have friends and family who say to you, “Send me a postcard from Prague, okay?” Your answer should be, “I would love to, but I really don’t have time when I am on the road.” Why do we suggest you act like a postcard Grinch? Because it can be a hassle to find the right postcard, score a stamp, locate a mailbox or bring the postcard back to your hotel.  In the latter instance, it’s probably creased or soggy after you’ve carried it in your bag or tote all day. If you FEEL LIKE sending someone a postcard, it’s a great reminder to someone back home that you are thinking of her. But an obligation? That’s not what you need on vacation.


Once you have said “no” to postcards, it’s an easy stretch to saying “no” more often. Of course you want to compromise. Of course you want to be a good travel mate. But don’t say “yes” when you mean “no.” Say “yes” when you mean it and don’t be afraid to turn down an offer or invitation. Do it politely, do it gently, but learn to say “no” on the road to authenticity.


Almost everywhere you go—hotels, museums, restaurants, attractions—there are brochures and business cards. Avail yourself of them. Instead of having to remind yourself of the name of a hotel or restaurant when you get back home, the card or brochure will do it for you. Ask for an envelope at your hotel and put the cards or thin brochures it in. Label it “contact info.” You will thank yourself when you get back home.


When you are traveling, you are accomplishing new and perhaps difficult things all the time. You are eating fried grasshoppers for the first time. You are speaking German for the first time since high school.  You have a meal alone in a restaurant. You go to your first opera. You forego spending a wad on a pair of shoes and blow it instead on a piece of art. Each time you do something new or challenging, endorse yourself. Recognize that you are growing as a traveler and a human.

The only other thing you have to think of is this: Relax, enjoy and bon voyage from the Wild Pair.



In Travel Tips on April 6, 2009 at 7:37 pm

wall clock. twelveWe are now on Daylight Savings time. Just about the only thing we’ve been able to save lately is time, but, when you think about it, time may be more valuable than money. Money can, as we have all seen in the Madoff debacle, be swept away by someone else. Money can evaporate in the vagaries of the stock market. But your time is your own, and no one can take it away from you. You can spend it as you please and you own each second. Here are some of the Wild Pair’s thoughts on ways to maximize your time.

1.Your Internal Clock

It is important to know that you have a clock inside of you that is not the same as the one ticking on the wall. You may be a prisoner of the latter, but the former is yours to control. Play with your inner clock. Try getting up an hour later than usual, or spending a morning in bed. Take a walk for one hour and five minutes instead of one hour. When you go on the road, enjoy a lingering meal in a restaurant if you are usually a fast eater. Get used to being master or mistress of your clock.

2. Getting Timely Bargains

Looking to book a flight on Southwest Airlines? If you do it several weeks in advance, the fare can be half of what it is the week before your trip to see the folks. Searching for a cheap vacation? Plan to travel outside of peak season. Instead of sighing about the high cost of travel, make sure time is on your side. Act in a timely fashion to grab the great offers.

3. Time to Look at Currencies

The U.S. dollar is bouncing around like everything else these days, but don’t assume you know its value against foreign currencies. Go to and check the value of the dollar NOW. What the dollar was worth a year ago may bear no resemblance to its value today. In countries like Hungary, Turkey, Iceland or Argentina, time is definitely on your side: the dollar has 30,40,50 or even 60 per cent more purchase value than it did l2 months ago.

4. Your Time and God’s Time

Whether you are religious or spiritual or decidedly secular, you surely know that you may want something to happen NOW, but it happens in its own time. Instead of fighting this, relax into it. If you are attempting to sell your house, you may bust your chops marketing it, but no one buys. And then, one day, the house is ready to sell, and bingo, a buyer shows up. One way to master time is to step into the big picture: things happen when they are supposed to happen. Accept this. Instead of banging your head against your keyboard when you try to find a date when you can use your air miles to get to Lima, take a deep breath. It may not be today, it may not be tomorrow, but relax and check back with the airline often: a seat will open up for you on American Airlines. You’ll see.

5. Waiting and Acting

Whenever you use the phrase “when I have time,” stop and think about it. You have the time right now. No matter how busy your life is, you can make time for what you want to do. If you are saying to others,”I’ll travel when I have more time,” stop. Make the time. This spring. This summer. This fall. You are in command.

6. Acting in a Timely Fashion

Shakespeare tells us that Hamlet was a procrastinator. He almost drove himself nuts with his inner dialogue. If something need to be done, do it now. If you dread clearing off your desk, decide to undertake the task tomorrow. If a hotel has an offer that is only good for a week, don’t wait until a week and one day. You’ll just kick yourself in your cargo pants. You know the old maxim: don’t put off till tomorrow what needs to be done to day. What doesn’t need to be done today you can put off till tomorrow.

7. Timing the Cycles

You can’t time the stock market. You can’t time the weather. But you can time your time off. If you feel burnout coming on, get away before it happens. An ounce of intervention can prevent a pound of pain. Travel. Change your scene. Do not wait until you are leveled to crawl your way back to happiness.

8. Counting Time

In Guatemala, in the world of Maya ceremonies, there is a man who is the official Counter of Time. Every day, he recites the days and hours of the Maya calendar. He acknowledges the power of the days, the energies that protect that power, and the place of humans in the eternal calendar. He gives thanks, offers candles. You can be the counter of your time. Do a quick scan of your birth, the first day of school, your first love, first car. Think of your wedding, your dad’s 80 birthday party, the surprise party your friends threw for you. Acknowledge each. Give thanks for each. Do it often. Know that your life has and will continue to be marked by special times and memorable occasions.

And now, just smile and have a good time.

Bon voyage and happy seconds, minutes and hours from The Wild Pair.

You, Your Moolah and Travel

In Travel Tips on January 1, 2009 at 6:31 pm

Even if you have been socking away presidents since you were l5 years old and planning for rainy days by wearing a financial raincoat all your life, you are probably not immune to the economic uncertainty that is gripping the U.S.A. and much of the world. Maybe you are wincing when your monthly statements come in or calling your broker to say “hi” when you really want to scream “help.” You may have noticed that your shopping therapy outings are shorter, non-existent or you’re doing more window shopping than looking at yourself from the side and rear in a dressing room. Is this any time to be thinking about travel? You bet it is. And the Wild Pair would love to tell you why.

1) Quality of Life Issues

When you are l06, perhaps with your teeth in a glass full of denture cleaner next to your bed, you will muse about your life and how amazing it has been. What incidents or experiences will come into clear focus when you quick-scan your life? Will you dwell lovingly on your late nights at the office or the prep you had to do for meetings? Will you remember worrying about your kids’ SAT scores or schlepping them to the E.R. when they fell off their bikes and heard a crunching sound? Or—(and we are asking you to be honest here)–will you remember the wind at your back when you hiked up a mountain, the froth of white water as you whisked through the rapids or a performance of a classical opera in Vietnam?

2) Hierarchy

It could be time, for all of us, to rethink our value systems and what is most important in life. Maybe it’s not about buying a new car or needing to wear a new outfit to every cocktail party. Maybe, just maybe, there can be a direct correlation between what we spend and what matters most to us. The Wild Pair is willing to bet that the quality of our lives is more significant that the quantity that we buy and own.

3) The Last Five

Think back over the last five years of your life (you don’t have to wait to be l06 to do this). What immediately stands out? Wasn’t it that trip to Slovenia, the cooking school in Italy, the wildflowers in early spring in Provence or the man who showed you how to dowse at Stonehenge?

4) A Picture is Worth a Thousand Bucks

If you don’t believe what we are saying, turn on your computer or bring out the photo albums for the past 5 years. When you look through the pictures you shot and saved, aren’t many or most of them from your travels? Those are the images of your life you wanted to hold onto.

5) Giving Up Something to Get Something

If your financial situation is rosey, then you can smile as you read these words and feel good about your position and that you have worked hard to achieve it. But if you are saying “ouch” from the pinch, and feel guilty about plunking down money for a dreamy trip, then make a deal with yourself. How about you give something up in order to feel justified in traveling?

6) Become a Trader

What are the least essential expenses in your life right now? Eating out every night? Splurging on expensive wines in restaurants? Gassing up the buggy and making four or five short trips each day as opposed to grouping errands together or sharing rides with friends? Buying more jewelry? Trading in your car every two years? Lavish entertaining? Ordering something every time you get a catalogue in the mail? Supporting your kids’ label-happy shopping? Blowing your wad on holiday gifts? Remodeling the kitchen again? Which of these could you give up so you could–guilt free– apply the money to a trip or two?

7) The Wheel of Fortune

Now look at the kind of trip you want to take. Maybe it doesn’t have to be the most luxurious safari in the world, and you can stay at one or two of those palatial lodges/camps instead of requiring total pampering every night. Or you can take a train ride for some segments of your trip instead of needing to fly everywhere. Perhaps this is an opportunity for you to focus as much on the experience of the trip as the luxurious trappings of the journey. If you have had the good fortune to meet people, mingle with locals, have heart-opening experiences, you know that they were not dependent upon how much money you spent.

8) The Scale of Things

Perhaps your fantasy is taking your kids on a biking trip in Europe. But your kids would rather stay home and hang with their friends. Instead of forcing your fantasy, make arrangements for you to go on a trip without the kids. There’s even the possibility all of you will be happier that way, and you will save a bundle of moolah.

9) No Is Not An Option

So, in the opinion of the Wild Pair, this is definitely NOT the time to say no to that trip-of-a-lifetime. It may be a time for re-assessing, re-thinking and doing a little juggling, but it is the season for you to enjoy, flourish, expand your horizons, connect spiritually to the world around you, leave behind some of the panics that are consuming people, live, learn and build memories. In other words, there is no better time to travel. And, before we forget, Bon Voyage!

ABOUT THE WILD PAIR: Judith Fein and Ellen Barone:
They’re smart, sassy, savvy, award-winning travel journalists and photographers and now they’ve joined forces to become THE WILD PAIR, bringing you cutting-edge information and tips on how to turn your next vacation into a life-enhancing experience.

Traveling with Kids: It’s All in the Family

In Travel Tips on November 30, 2008 at 6:39 pm

They’re small. They’re adorable. They ask a lot of questions. They have more WILL than Shakespeare, and when they say “no,” they mean it. When they get bigger, they’re still adorable. They’re wired all the time, and when they’re not wired, they’re tired. They say “no” louder than ever. Does any of this sound familiar? We’re talking about that wonderful blend of egg and sperm – your children!

Sometimes you feel as though you will never have enough time with them, and sometimes you want them to visit the planet Glubis for a few hours to give you a break. When it comes to traveling, should you take them along? You want to turn them on to travel and the larger world out there, but how do you do it without being carted away in a straight jacket?

You asked. We listened. This month the Wild Pair turned to experts in the field for some kid-friendly advice. Savvy about planning family getaways, their tips for trips can make all the difference to mommy and daddy road warriors.

All Together Now

When it’s time to explore the world, planning an action-packed escape plan that’ll please everyone isn’t easy. “Traveling with an outfitter experienced in family travel can help take the guess work out of planning,” says Eileen Ogintz, author of the popular syndicated column Taking The Kids ( “Opt for a family based itinerary. They tend to be less intense and have more free time built in. But, follow the outfitters advice; if they say a trip isn’t suitable for kids, then it isn’t.”

Some Family Assembly Required

“We know from personal experience that family members who share in the planning process often have a more memorable vacation,” says Kurt Kutay of Wildland Adventures ( “We invite our family travelers to gather around the family computer to answer some questions together – What activities do you want to do? What kinds of animals do you hope to see? Is there anything you learned about a destination that you want to see first hand? What things do you feel would make this a wonderful experience for your family?”

Built for All Ages

Say the words family vacation and watch your hard-to-please teen cringe with visions of enduring another dorky Clark-Griswold-style car trip or being dragged from one European museum to another. Maybe it’s the adults in your clan whose eyes are rolling as they imagine spending their hard-won time-off standing in theme park lines. Fortunately, today’s adventure outfitters know what it takes to pull off a family trip built for all ages. Splash down the Grand Canyon, hang out in the Galapagos with marine iguanas and giant tortoises, bed-down in tented safari camps; the choices are endless. “With plenty of options and flexibility on our family vacation trips, we’ve created the perfect blend of cross-generational activity, R&R, comfort and adventure to satisfy adventurers of all ages,” says Carol Austin of Austin-Lehman Adventures ( While the guides are keeping up with the ADHD teens, you’re free to hang back, jump in the shuttle, or exchange paddling for a ride in the skiff, and experience the thrills at your own level of adventure. Or, maybe it’s the kids who want to sleep in or hang out with their own, while you’re off climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, ticking off another life-lister.

Babes In The Woods

Don’t let the name fool you. Whereas adventure travel was once the domain of just a few audacious adrenaline-fueled adventurers, today’s version has gone kid-friendly and has a lot to offer tot-toting families. That said, there’s still the question of how young is too young for family adventure. “It’s a case by case situation,” says Allie Almario, of cultural adventure outfitter Myths and Mountains ( “On group tours, we do prefer children to be at least 7 years old. At that age, they’re more mobile, can handle longer drives and flights, and can absorb information and rules more readily.” At Wildland Adventures, where the age minimum is 5 to 8, depending on the destination, “we slow the pace, minimize long drives, carry snacks and drinks, and make frequent stops for impromptu cross-cultural interactions on our family adventures,” says founder Kurt Kutay. “Kids are quick to adapt to new situations. They like interacting with children from another country. When they’re young, build in plenty of breaks at school playgrounds or parks for a change of pace,” says René Hoeve of Euro Bike and Walking Tours ( “For children,” advises family travel author Eileen Ogintz, “less is more. I recommend itineraries light on cultural sightseeing and heavy on free time. And, follow the outfitters advice; if they say a trip isn’t suitable for kids, then it isn’t.”

Having a Grand Time

Young, or young at heart, it’s a state of mind. Grandparents taking grandkids on the road was once associated with the genteel-style Grand Tour – a textbook lineup of churches, monuments and museums. That was then; this is now. Today active grandparents are eschewing the more traditional routes for roads less traveled and taking their Nintendo grandkids on up-close-and-personal trips that both enthrall and enrich. “Kids love trips that take advantage of all 5 senses. On a Myths and Mountains journey, we encourage them to: touch the earth, get dirty and not worry about their clothes; see amazing places on this planet that may not be here in 50-100 years from now, or see things that existed 1,000 years ago; smell the roses and rare orchids in a jungle, the spicy curry in India, the fecund green rice paddies of Vietnam; taste new foods, ostrich meat in Africa, zingy lemon ants in Belize, lobster in Vietnam; hear things they’ve never heard before, the ringing of ancient church bells, the sound of the wings of macaw feathers rustling overhead as they divebomb over you in the Amazon, the sound of barefoot Buddhist monks entering a monastsery, etc.” says vice president Allie Almario. “Every year we have grandparents taking high school and college grads on one of our walking tours,” says Judy Allpress of The Wayfarers ( “Both our river trips and Mediterranean yacht voyages are popular with grandparents and grandkids,” says Peter Grubb of ROW Adventues ( “You know why they get along so well? They have a common enemy (joke)! What better way to get both parties out of their usual comfort zone and to explore and learn together.”

The Gang’s All Here

Okay, it’s a done deal. You’ve booked the South African safari, the Grand Canyon river trip, the Canadian multisport. Are there ways to rally the troops and raise the excitement level before you go? “Read a book, watch a movie set in the destination, or create a scavenger hunt check list” advises Ogintz. “Learn a few words of the language together – please, thank you and hello will get them far with the locals in any country,” says Hoeve of Euro Bike and Walking. “Watch a DVD about the trip. Look up information on the Internet about the area you are going to visit,” says Sandy Harmer of Western River Expeditions ( “Begin planning early and get them excited about the things you will be seeing and doing. Our suggested reading lists always include a kid’s list as well for our family destinations,” suggests Carol Austin of Austin Lehman Adventures.

It’s In The Bag

Every traveling parent knows to pack a few secret weapons, those special items that will keep the kids smiling and the adults in your clan, and others, sane. “Don’t assume the outfitter will have it,” says Ogintz. “Throw in a deck of cards, favorite snacks, and, if traveling in remote locales, don’t forget to check with their pediatrician for any emergency medications or shots to bring along.” “Most important is to be well prepared with the proper gear that keeps kids safe and comfortable (i.e. rain gear, sandals, sunscreen and hat, good walking shoes, etc.),” Kutay advises. “Give kids a disposable camera so they can document the trip themselves, then let them create a journal,” suggests Almario. “I’ve brought a few two-way radios on trips that I’ve handed out to other kids on the tours, so they could stay in touch with each other while on a bike route or in town. These can be good for communicating with your child as well,” says Hoeve. For many traveling parents the jury is still out on whether to iPod or not to iPod? Some choose to go cold turkey. Other’s wouldn’t dream of leaving home without it. Carol Austin advises parents to “bring books, iPods or a deck of cards to keep children entertained during airplane travel. While Harmer says, “[On a river trip] it’s great to have kids in an atmosphere without all the modern devices that seem to dominate kids these days. You learn to relate to each other, and to the circumstances around you, differently when you’re not tied to a video game, plugged into an MP3 player, or any number of things.”

When It’s All Said and Done

If you’re lucky, some of your most memorable travel experiences occurred with your kids or as a kid, and that’s what keeps these traveling parents, experts and outfitters motivated and eager to share the wonders of this blue planet with families. “There isn’t a better classroom than the great outdoors. My children have been traveling since they were six and four respectively; they have seen some wonderful places in their lives and I hope they continue to love to travel,” says Austin. “I think travel is an great asset to sparking interest in history and culture and can be one of the best educational experiences a child can have,” says Hoeve. “For example, after visiting the Anne Frank House, my daughter read her diary for school and was able to relate her own personal story of her visit. She went on to read more about Anne Frank’s life on her own and has often come home to say that her class had read about a place she had visited on a trip.”

So, what are you waiting for? Bon Voyage!
ABOUT THE WILD PAIR: Judith Fein and Ellen Barone:
They’re smart, sassy, savvy, award-winning travel journalists and photographers and now they’ve joined forces to become THE WILD PAIR, bringinG you cutting-edge information and tips on how to turn your next vacation into a life-enhancing experience.

Why Travel Is Good For Your Mental Health

In Travel Tips on November 22, 2008 at 6:26 pm

These are the best of times and the worst of times. What was true yesterday isn’t true today, and the volatility of climate change, the stock market, consumer prices and the environment are enough to propel anyone into a straight jacket. Add to that relationship turbulence, kids, parents, pets, work, traffic, health and you can easily find yourself sitting on top of a heap of stress that just keeps growing. Life seems to be an assault on your mental health. Some folks binge, others take to the bottle, many seek respite in drugs (legal or otherwise) and develop situational anxieties and depression. We have another idea about how you can climb out of the pressure cooker without leaping into the fire: travel. And here is why:


It doesn’t happen when you start packing, or when you stay up half the night before your trip trying to answer emails and take out the trash. But once you board the plane, train or get in your car, you breathe a little more deeply as the daily grind gets smaller and smaller and then disappears in the rear view mirror.


When you encounter new sites, something opens up in your mind and heart and you can have new insights about old problems. A change of scene can make things back home look very different.


When you hit the road, there are infinite options for active engagement with your environment. You can walk, bike, hike, climb, paddle, skate, dance. When you are at home, it’s sometimes hard to get motivated for physical exercise. When you are away, it all seems so much more appealing. And you certainly know that an RX for depression and anxiety is—move your muscles.


To be really well, one has to be in the moment, the now. When you travel, there is so much new stimulation that it forces you to respond in the present. You slip effortlessly into the zone.


If there is a certain ennui associated with the same people and the same stories back home, then the remedy is meeting people on the road. Haven’t you made friends in faraway places when you traveled?

If you haven’t, it’s time to start. They can be part of your travel group, or people you connect to who live in your chosen destination.


An antidote to self-medicating can be self-soothing. When you travel, you do things you love, you buy treasured souvenirs, you pamper yourself with small pleasures. These actions make you feel good about yourself. They don’t rile you up. They don’t perturb or upset you. You replace a desire to escape with a real escape that is much better for you.


Maybe you’ve had a rough spell at work or with relationships. You feel a little worthless or useless.

When you travel, you exercise your high school Spanish or French, you successfully navigate your way around an unknown environment, you excel at hiking or cooking. You do things that make you feel proud of yourself and that help to build back your self-esteem.


At home, maybe you look longingly at your bed, or even spend way too much time there. On the road, you want to get out and explore your environment. You’ve paid a lot of money to be where you are. You certainly don’t want to squander your time by having bleak thoughts under a blanket.


There are different kinds of pain: physical, emotional, psychic or spiritual. They are all quite real. Somehow, by some mysterious alchemy, travel can alleviate pain. You just feel better. The sprained ankle carries you up a mountain. The wrecked love affair seems more remote and you can foresee a life beyond it. Your relationship to the Divine is renewed through nature.


Worry and the blues can sometimes be attributed to habits of thinking. You get in a mental loop you can’t get out of. You fret about the past and are anxious about the present. It is hard to change your thoughtsä.but travel facilitates that change. You literally walk new paths, eat different foods, speak to different people, hear exotic languages. These changes can help to yank you out of habitual patterns that sap energy from your life.


A good yuk can go a long way towards brightening a day. Have you noticed how much you laugh when you are traveling? You see a funny sign, an odd translation, a street performer, you meet a friend from junior high school on top of a mountain. And you let it rip with a belly laugh. Aaaah.

ABOUT THE WILD PAIR: Ellen Barone and Judith Fein,

They’re smart, sassy, savvy, award-winning travel journalists and photographers and now they’ve joined forces to become THE WILD PAIR, bringing you cutting-edge information and tips on how to turn your next vacation into a life-enhancing experience.

© Ellen Barone and Judith Fein. All Rights Reserved.

Is The Sun Fun?

In Travel Tips on August 22, 2008 at 7:11 pm

Why does everything have to be so complicated? Your computer, cell phone, Blackberry and digital camera have a thousand ways of crashing and flaking on you. You try to call a company to get service and you end up repeating yourself endlessly and talking through clenched teeth at a recorded announcement. Your calendar is covered with ink and you spend a good chunk of your entertainment time looking for parking spaces. For every appliance you have, you need a PhD to read the manual.

Sometimes you just want to get away from it all, hit the road, strip down to bare essentials, and go out in the sun. Easy, right? Hmmmm. The Wild Pair has the same love of the sun as you do, and we’ll try to make this part of your life as uncomplicated as sniffing a rose or the proverbial walk in a park.


Apparently, the sun we grew up with is not the same as the sun we are living with today. Or, more precisely, there was an ozone layer that protected us from the not-fun part of Mr. Sun. Now the ozone is holey, and we have to protect ourselves from the thing we love.


You probably think we are going to wax rhapsodic about the use of sunscreen and sunblock but the Wild Pair has a surprise for you: we have our own reservations about chemically blocking the sun. The emphasis here is on the word “chemically.” Have you read the ingredient list of what’s in your beloved sunscreen? It may include irritants, allergens, carcinogens, pore-blockers, and a host of substances you can live a long and healthy life without. It’s great that you put it on all the time, but it would be a lot better if you weren’t slathered in potentially-harmful chemicals. Which means you may want to think about….a hat.


We hate to break it to you, but your backward-facing baseball cap doesn’t provide much protection at all, except for your scalp. If you corner a dermatologist and ask her to give you the skinny on protecting your face and head, she’s likely to reply with three words: four inch brim. Yup. That’s how many inches it takes to shield your precious cheeks and skin from the sun.


If you can accept the fact that a hat is not just something made of felt that your uncle Oscar wore, and are willing to consider its benefits to you, you will be surprised to find that there are nerdy hats and stylish hats. You can try the Indiana Jones look with an explorer-like hat at Sun Precautions (, where they specialize in SPF30+ clothing. You can find the safari or foreign legion look at ExOfficio( or Coolibar ( Tilley Endurables ( and Outdoor Research ( ) also offer an attractive selection of lightweight, wide-brimmed weather proof hats. You can browse the isles of R.E.I or your local outfitting shop. Women will be pleased to find that big floppy brims are the rage. Just remember those three words: four-inch-brims. And think about buying a lightweight hat so you are not weighed down. They make featherweight hats that you won’t even remember you’re wearing.


Pretty soon, we’ll be telling you about safe sunscreen solutions, so you will always have the option of slathering. But, for an alt idea, you can…don’t faint when we say this….wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts. The new generation of travel fabrics is colorful, breathable, vented, fast drying (sometimes amazingly fast drying), wrinkle-resistant and LIGHT. You’ll hardly know you have anything on your bod.


We know this talk of covering up is not appealing to you, but is having skin cancers burned off your body or cut out with a scalpel attractive? So please read on.


“You don’t like all those chemicals, do you?” a dermatologist asked us recently. We shook our heads from side to side. “Well, then,” he said, “why don’t you look into VaniCream?” They make sunscreens that are much cleaner than most of what you find on the market, so we tried a few (


Then we found two sunscreens that really are clean. Caribbean Solutions sunscreen ( is so chemical free you can probably spread it on a slice of rye bread and eat it. Bert’s Bees ( has just come out with a sunscreen that is labeled “chemical free.” These are two very welcomed additions to the sunscreen market. However–we warned you that life is complicated–they both may leave a thin white residue on your skin. Burt’s Bees is whiter than Caribbean Solutions. You just have to scrub it off.


Caribbean Solutions says their sunscreen is safe for marine animals and will not harm reefs. On a recent trip to the Yucatan in Mexico, at a top tourist attraction we saw a sign requiring removal of all sunscreen products because they harm the fragile ecosystem under water. What’s ikky for you is also ikky for fish. So bravo to Caribbean Solutions for paying attention to this.


D isn’t good in school, but it’s good as a vitamin. It has a host of important health benefits that are being touted daily in the media. So instead of covering up in sunscreen from head to toe all day long, maybe get a little early morning or late afternoon sun on your bod. It will do you good. As little as l0 minutes may do the trick.


Do you see life through shades? Perhaps a little exposure to full-spectrum light from our friend the sun is a good thing. When there’s no glare (from water or sand or snow), it may be okay to remove your sunglasses sometimes. You’re wearing a four-inch-brimmed hat to protect your face and eyes. Now tell us the truth–aren’t those natural colors beautiful?


Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide on your relationship with the sun. We’re just offering some input from the field. The most important thing is to cherish the sun for providing light and life for us, and, whatever you do, relax and enjoy.

BON VOYAGE from the Wild Pair!

ABOUT THE WILD PAIR: Ellen Barone and Judith Fein,

They’re smart, sassy, savvy, award-winning travel journalists and photographers and now they’ve joined forces to become THE WILD PAIR, bringing you cutting-edge information and tips on how to turn your next vacation into a life-enhancing experience.

© Ellen Barone and Judith Fein. All Rights Reserved.

Tasty Adventures

In Travel Tips on July 22, 2008 at 7:06 pm

The Wild Pair knows that the way to a great trip is often through your stomach. Whether you are a vegan, vegetarian, carnivore or omnivore, what you eat on the road sometimes lasts as long or longer in your memory than other trip adventures.

So here are some of our fave food tips for your culinary enjoyment.


It doesn’t have to be expensive to be good. Your lip-smacking adventure can be at a rib joint in Kansas, a street food stall in Thailand, a picnic in the south of France or around a campfire after a safari in Africa. Once you decide to have a foodie experience, look for options and don’t let expense guide your choice.


Sometimes the key to great eats is to follow your mood and let it dictate your choice. Just because brochures and guidebooks recommend a dining experience, it may not be right for you on a particular day or at a specific time.

Do you want a long, lingering culinary experience? An intimate, romantic treat? Something noisy and exciting? Casual? Check your inclination before you make a decision.


Go to every dining experience with an open mind and palate. If you decide in advance what it will be like, you’re likely to be disappointed.

Select. Go. Order. See what happens.


If you are traveling abroad and do not want to take chances with your digestive tract, order cooked food. Don’t eat ANYTHING raw. Not even a sassy little sprig of parsley. No ice. No fruit without a thick peel. Nothing that has been standing out too long. These few rules can make a huge difference. You don’t want to spend all that hard-earned money contemplating the dÈcor of bathrooms.


Try food that is new to you. Travel is about broadening your experience. Order a plate of krill in South America. Try mushroom fungus in Mexico. Sip hibiscus tea in Egypt. Experiment with cheeses in Wisconsin. Sample eel. What have you got to lose? If you don’t like it–you can push it aside and order something else.


Ask your guide or cab driver where she or he eats. Write down the name and get directions. Go there. You’ll have an authentic dining experience.

If you ask the concierge in a hotel about food recommendations, ask him where he eats. Go there.


If you are served something you don’t like, don’t fuss. Push it around your plate with your fork and no one will know you didn’t eat it. You are never obliged to eat anything you don’t like. Ever. Even if your host is momentarily taken aback, a quick explanation about a food allergy or dietary restriction will smooth it over. This is one of the few cases in life where lying is okay. Better to lie than to lie in bed with a belly ache.


If you are climbing a mountain, re-think the drink. Alcohol will affect you more strongly at higher altitudes. So watch how much you drink and know when to say no. Drink plenty of water.


If you really want a special meal but are on the fence about spending the money on it, go for it. Order less alcohol with your meal to save money. Don’t order more than one appetizer. But don’t pass up the chance for a culinary experience of a lifetime.


What is the special of the day? Of the house? What is the house cocktail? Is service included? What do most people order? Is there a chef’s tasting menu?

The Wild Pair wishes you bon voyage and bon appetit!

ABOUT THE WILD PAIR: Ellen Barone and Judith Fein,

They’re smart, sassy, savvy, award-winning travel journalists and photographers and now they’ve joined forces to become THE WILD PAIR, bringing you cutting-edge information and tips on how to turn your next vacation into a life-enhancing experience.

© Ellen Barone and Judith Fein. All Rights Reserved.

You Are A Travel Ambassador Every Time You Hit The Road

In Travel Tips on June 22, 2008 at 6:56 pm

There doesn’t seem to be any way to discourage people from traveling. The Wild Pair is delighted to discover that no matter how many annoyances and inconveniences travelers face, they don’t stop buying tickets. Even when the price of airline seats goes up and services go down, planes are flying at capacity and airports are jammed.

The benefits of travel are obvious to all of you–expanding your mind, having thrilling adventures, meeting people, changing your habitual environment, taking time out from work and responsibility, challenging yourself, enjoying life–but have you ever thought of yourself as an ambassador without a portfolio? Here are some tips from the Wild Pair about how to step into that role.

1. Being Label Conscious

None of us like to be typed, and certainly not stereotyped, but people do it all the time. They label you by your country of origin. “He is an American,” or “She is Brazilian.” It’s important to be aware of this, because your behavior helps others to determine what they think about your country. If they like you, they tend to generalize and think Americans or Brazilians as likeable.

2. To Err is Human

Everyone makes cultural faux pas. It is inevitable, even if you are well-meaning. So it always helps to find out about cultural norms in advance, and apologize if you make a mistake and are chided.

Instead of getting defensive, apologizing shows you are willing to learn. It earns you good will points, and makes people think well of the culture you come from.

3. There Is No Comparison

People want to think their city or country is admired by others. Even if they are plagued by poverty, crime, natural disasters or manmade disasters, they love knowing that you find good things about the place they live. Try not to make comparisons to “what we have back home.” A compliment to one’s city or country is, to many people, like a compliment paid to them.

4. Investing in Bonds

The more contact you have with locals, the more they have an opportunity to get to know something about your country. If you’re eating around a campfire at night, sit next to someone you don’t know. If you’re hiking with a group, don’t just stay with your mate or travel partners. Get to know people in the place you are visiting. They will really appreciate it.

5. They Like Me, They Like Me

There has been a lot of ink lately about the bad image America has abroad. It doesn’t matter what end of the political spectrum you are on–but you can be patient, explain your point of view, ask people what they think. Every time you engage, share your opinions and really, truly listen, you allow folks to look behind the headlines and see that Americans are real people, with awareness, conscience, patience, interest in others. If they like you, they will begin to see that they may not like American policy, but the American people are a different story.

6. Sharing is Caring

Wherever you go, you can’t assume that people know a lot about where you come from. They may know a lot about American music and movie stars, but your home town is probably off their radar. Bring photos from home. The more they learn about you, the more they are apt to like you and the country you come from.

7. Turn the Other Cheek

If you encounter people who are hostile to your country, don’t get angry. Listen. Listening is the most powerful tool you have, because it shows people you respect them. Present your views in a clear, reasoned way. Remind them that you may not agree, but it is good to hear each other out and learn from each other.

8. You’re Not Mrs. or Mr. Moneybags

Some people may assume that all Americans are rich, because America is a wealthy nation. You are never obliged to give handouts or cough up money because it is expected of you. You may wish to buy from people who really need money, or make donations to charities. You may choose to return home with souvenirs and gifts for friends that you purchase during your travels. What you can always give–whether you buy or not– is attention, fairness and respect.

9. Be a Blender

If people greet each other with folded hands, try to do the same. If they cover up, make sure you are not showing a lot of skin. If they don’t drink alcohol, try to forego it. If they speak quietly, adjust the volume of your voice. Your blending behavior is an unspoken way of telling people you respect their ways. It reflects well on you and your country.

10. So There You Are…

If you follow the tips above, you are already an ambassador for your country. You will create good will wherever you go, and show what generous, open-minded people your countrymen and women are. If enough of you are ambassadors, it can affect the way America is perceived in the world, and create opportunities for peace and cooperation.

Bon Voyage!

ABOUT THE WILD PAIR: Ellen Barone and Judith Fein,

They’re smart, sassy, savvy, award-winning travel journalists and photographers and now they’ve joined forces to become THE WILD PAIR, bringing you cutting-edge information and tips on how to turn your next vacation into a life-enhancing experience.

© Ellen Barone and Judith Fein. All Rights Reserved.

Staying Safe On The Road

In Travel Tips on May 22, 2008 at 6:35 pm

The Wild Pair believes that if you are aware and prepared, travel is not only safe but good for body, mind and soul. Most destinations in the world are so dependent upon tourism for their economies that they go to great lengths to protect their visitors. So, if you feel that someone is watching out for you when you travel, you are probably right.

There are, however, scams and lousy customer services that prey on the good nature and open-heartedness of travelers and are in the business of bait-and-switch. There are also crooks at home and abroad, and we are confident that the karma wagon will roll over their toes when it makes its rounds.

Here are a few insider tips on how to protect yourselves, your belongings, your wallet and your sanity when you hit the road.


When you go through security at the airport, you are probably so busy taking off your shoes and tucking your lotions and liquids into zip-lock bags that you take your eyes off your personal belongings as they bump along the conveyor belt. Have your shoes and plastic bags prepared ahead of time, so you can watch your precious cargo when it leaves your hands. Sticky fingers can whisk away the things you need most—right under the noses of the TSA workers.


See “Eyes in Back of Your head.” The same is true when you retrieve your checked luggage after your flight. Set down your carry-on bag, attachÈ case or small dufflein front of you, not behind you, as you wait for your luggage to arrive. It’s much too easy for The Nasties to grab and run, especially since many airports no longer have officials looking at your luggage claim receipts as you exit the baggage claim area.


Howard Johnson is currently making an offer to travelers, and, in our opinion, it’s thumbs down all the way. If you are looking for a reasonably-priced place to stay and go to their website or call them, they offer to give you a free night’s stay if you can find a better price on the web. It’s not hard to do, and you’ll probably be eager to collect that free bed in a city of your choice. But what follows is a labyrinth of rules and regulations so that the offer is virtually worthless. No, no, Howard Johnson. You can do better than this.


When you buy a digital camera, it’s important to find out if it is “all weather” or is weather sealed. If it is not, you may find that water, snow, humidity or even a loose hair can get into your camera. And then, when you try to take a picture, you find out that the camera is dead.

Canon’s expensive 5D is a wonderful instrument–provided you don’t spill coffee on it, get caught in the rain, or try to use it when it’s too muggy outside. You may be lucky and have no problema, or……your camera may be irreparable. And Canon does not stand behind it. You will have to shell out money for a new camera or a refurb, and that means thousands of dollars squandered. So ask in advance: is it weather sealed?


If you want to sleep soundly at night, buy trip interruption/cancellation insurance, and get insurance in case anything is lost or damaged on the road. If you try to collect on a claim, it helps to have original receipts to prove the cost of your expensive purchases. You will probably never get back the full price of your belongings, but you will get compensated if you can prove the items were lost and have kept receipts for their purchase.


Remember when you were in school and it was a no-no to snitch on other kids? Do you have a lingering distaste for denouncing wrongdoers? When you are traveling, it’s a MUST to report any yecchy behavior to authorities. Tell the hotel manager, the police, the airline representatives. If it involves theft, have them write down the incident and give you a copy (always report the incident to the police whenever possible; this will be helpful and sometimes mandatory for insurance claims). If it is a case of inappropriate behavior, report it. Travel is a service industry and professional are there to provide service. They will generally be sympathetic and helpful.


So there you are, in Tunis, walking out of your hotel, and a friendly guy comes up to you and addresses you in English. “Do you recognize me from your hotel?” he asks. You squint in the glorious sunlight, and can’t quite figure out if he’s one of the bellmen or waiters. “Sure,” you say open-heartedly. “There’s a great festival going on in the souks (market) today, and I’d love to take you there,” he offers. Wow. What luck. He leads you through the labyrinthine market for twenty minutes and finally ends up at a perfume stall. Where’s the festival? He smiles and says you just missed it, but this is the best perfume stall in the market. If you choose to buy perfume, he gets a cut. If you choose not to buy, he says you owe him money for being his guide. you hate a public scene and pay him off. But you feel really lousy afterwards. He does not work in your hotel. He is a tout.

Maybe you’re in Bangkok, and a young man approaches you and says he wants to practice English with you. You grin, and he falls into step beside you. You walk around the city, he points things out to you, and then he says he has to go and expects you to pay him for his guiding services. He, too, is a tout.

So how do you avoid being tout-ed?

First, make arrangements up front. Ask, “how much will this cost?” If you come to an agreement, fine. If he says it will cost you nothing, clarify by saying, “This is a lot of time for you to be spending with me. Are you sure there is no charge?” Or say, “I do not wish to pay for your services. Do you still want to accompany me?” If he agrees, and you have a pleasant time together, you will probably wish to tip him. If he agrees up front that there is no charge and then demands money, you do not owe him anything. If he makes a scene, you may want to ask a policeman or shopkeeper for help. If he leads you to a shop and waits as you make your purchase, you can be pretty certain he is getting a cut. Trust your sniffer. If something feels odd, it probably is. If it feels sincere and above-board, you may make a new friend. But no matter what the outcome, it’s rarely dangerous and the worst case scenario is that it may end up costing you money.


When you purchase electronic equipment from a dealer online or at an online auction site, always ask–in writing– if it is gray market. This is especially true if the price is lower than it would normally be. If it is a gray market product, it is being sold outside of normal distribution channels by companies which may have no relationship with the producer of the goods. What this means to you is that the warrantee and/or guarantee may not be valid in the U.S.A. Sometimes the product will be slightly different from the version normally sold in the U.S.A. If the price is great, you may decide to buy it anyway. But ask first whether it is gray market, so you have no unpleasant surprises later.


When you travel abroad, your cell phone provider probably has you in a stranglehold. They may offer you an international calling plan, but it’s most certainly very expensive–like 2 dollars a minute for airtime. This means your phone is locked, and you can only use it with a plan offered by your provider. The big secret is that you do not have to be bound to your cell phone provider. You can buy an unlocked phone at a phone store or online or from another provider (as of this writing, Alltel sells them). You can take the unlocked phone abroad and buy a SIM card at the airport or in local stores (your hotel will be able to tell you the nearest place). Insert it into your unlocked phone, and you can make calls for pennies. You will be charged the local rate. If everyone starts doing this, maybe U.S. cell phone providers will be forced to sell unlocked phones. Before you buy your next cell phone from your provider, be sure to ask if they sell unlocked phones.


One of the greatest pleasures of travel is walking around the town or city you are in. When night falls, ask at your hotel if it’s safe to walk in the neighborhood. They will generally say yes, or tell you stay away from certain areas. They know the streets, and they can assure that your walk will be pleasant and without hassle.

The chances are that you will avoid most or all of these hassles if you are prepared and aware.

Bon Voyage!

ABOUT THE WILD PAIR: Ellen Barone and Judith Fein,

They’re smart, sassy, savvy, award-winning travel journalists and photographers and now they’ve joined forces to become THE WILD PAIR, bringing you cutting-edge information and tips on how turn your next vacation into a life-enhancing experience.

© Ellen Barone and Judith Fein. All Rights Reserved.

How To Have A Memorable Trip

In Travel Tips on April 22, 2008 at 6:54 pm


1) Thanks for the memories

Are you one of those blessed people with perfect recall? You can remember what happened on September 14, 1986 and what you ate for dinner three days ago? If you are not, then you know how elusive memory can be. Sometimes your long term memory lets you down, and sometimes it’s the shorty that is just out of reach.While you are traveling, you think you will remember the moments forever. But, trust us, you won’t. So you can start by making a commitment to really imprinting your trip.

2) A picture is worth a thousand words

If you are a photo hound, you already know this. If you are a technophobe, there is a three-word solution: Point and Shoot. There are digital cameras that are really digital servants–they do all the work for you. You decide what you want to capture, you point the camera, it makes adjustments and calculations for you, and all you have to do is click. When you get home, you load the photos into your computer. You can save them, send them to friends and family, print them out and put them in an album. But, once you get home, there is something you cannot do: shoot things you missed on your trip. So always shoot more than you will need and always travel with more than one memory chip. One of the beauties of digital cameras is that you can look at the photos after you have shot them, and decide what’s a keeper and what needs to be dumped. It’s as simple as selecting “delete” on your camera. We’ll be dealing more with photography in future months, but for now we’ll address the 500 pound beast that may be hiding in your closet: should you use your old, trusted film camera? Our answer is–nope. Film takes up more space in your luggage, it can be damaged when you go through repeated scanners, it costs much more. So make the digital leap.And what if you don’t want to take pictures at all? Of course that is an option, but photos are a wonderful memory aid, and looking at them can make you relive your favorite trips.

3) It’s In The Cards

When you are traveling, you will fall in love with certain hotels, restaurants, parks, museums, inns, canoe paddles in a sports store, songs, dishes, shops, bikes. You think you will always remember the name of your new fave, butä.it’s that memory thing again.Wherever you are, when you like something, take a card or a brochure. Have one place in your suitcase where you keep all the information from the road. When you get home, put it all in one envelope which you label with the place and date of your trip.Then, in the future, when you want to give information to a friend or make a purchaseäit will all be right there, in one place, waiting for you.

4) A Crib Sheet Always Comes in Handy

Always have a small pad and pen or pencil handy. If you’re chatting away with someone on a kayak trip and she recommends a book, you’ll want to write it down. If you’re in the Galapagos and you want to remember information about iguanas or blue-footed boobies, make a note. If you eat a fabulous dessert on a biking trip and score the recipe, you will want to record it in your pad. If you ask a Jordanian how to say “thank you” in Arabic and want to remember how to say it a few hours later, your pad is your crib sheet. They sell very small pads now. Scan the shelves at Office Depot or any of the other office supply stores.

5) The Write Way To Do It

Not everyone is a great writer. There’s only one Faulkner, one Shakespeare, one Moliere. But everyone can write. Even if you have never scribed anything other than a company report, believe us when we say that there is a writer hiding inside of you.Make a commitment to writing something about your trip. You don’t have to be specific. Just agree to befriend your pen.

6) The Joys of Journaling

Maybe you kept a diary when you were a kid. Maybe you scribbled down things you wanted to remember on the backs of cocktail napkins in noisy bars. Maybe you always wanted to keep a record of your life, but didn’t get around to it.Traveling is the time to start, to continue, or pick up an old habit that somehow went missing. A journal is just for you. Maybe no one will ever see it. Maybe you will choose to share it with people. Maybe you will select portions you want to send to friends when you get back home. There is always down time on a trip–waiting for meals, resting under the shade of a friendly tree, after dinner, flying or driving. You already have your little pad. Now all you have to do is write. It doesn’t matter if it’s in full sentences or short phrases. Just write down what you saw, how you felt about it, what you want to remember. The entries can be short. Or long. A few words. Or pages. Just. Write.

7) A Bump On A Blog

Some folks have caught blog fever. They have found out that they can be published writers by recording their experiences and their feelings and anything else about their lives. Travel blogs are a fabulous way of taking your friends along with you on your trips. You can write blog entries on a bumpy bus or in the quiet of your hotel room. You can think about your blog entries as you hike, bike, eat, engage with people, visit sites, paddle on the water. You can even think about your blog when you dream. We hope you’re not traveling with your laptop (unless it’s really necessary), but you can find internet cafes or internet access in hotels always everywhere. Or, you can choose to stay fully immersed in the travel experience and blog in your note pad–to be transferred to your computer when you get home.

8) Traveling Through Life

When you get back home, your trip is obviously over, but you don’t have to leave your travels behind. If you are a minister, you can incorporate what you learned or observed into your sermons. If you are a teacher, you can pass on the experience to your students. A doc? Maybe you’ll want to tell patients about healing modalities you encountered in exotic cultures, or extol the benefits of exercising on the road by taking an adventure trip. People love to learn, and love to hear first-hand about travels. If you select trip details to suit the folks you are talking to–rather than just give an I-went-there-and-did-this rundown of your trip, you are sure to have a captive audience.

9) Talk Is Cheap

While you are traveling, talk about the trip with your fellow travelers. Discuss what you like, what you are learning, questions that come up, the value of what you are experiencing. Not only does it provide a great way to bond, but it also helps to imprint the memories and impressions by verbalizing them.

10) Padding Through Life

That little notepad is, along with your photos, your best memory aid. Label it with the name of your trip and the date (i.e. Egypt, January 2008). Don’t use it for anything else when you get home. When are 150, take out the pads and the photos and experience your trips all over again.

Bon voyage!

ABOUT THE WILD PAIR: Ellen Barone and Judith Fein,

They’re smart, sassy, savvy, award-winning travel journalists and photographers and now they’ve joined forces to become THE WILD PAIR, bringing you cutting-edge information and tips on how to turn your next vacation into a life-enhancing experience.

© Ellen Barone and Judith Fein. All Rights Reserved.