The Wild Pair

Posts Tagged ‘Travel Tips & Advice’

What To Do When The Hardest Part Is Going Home

In Travel Tips & Advice on November 2, 2009 at 3:55 pm

The worst part of travel isn’t the security checkpoints with prison-issue wands, puffs of air blowing in your face or gloved agents pawing through your belongings. It’s not the airline seats with their lumbar supports that spear your spine or the $2.25 you pay for a small bottle of filtered tap water at airport restaurants.  It’s not the jetlag—which can be so brutal that your left foot doesn’t know where your right foot is walking—or the suitcase that vanished with the travel clothes, gadgets and gear you have spent half a decade assembling.

The worst part of travel is actually coming home. One day you are in Peru, gaping at Machu Picchu or in Quebec City, learning about why the English and the French both coveted the area. Maybe you’ve been cycling in Italy, trekking in Nepal, cruising down the Nile in Egypt, or sauna hopping in Finland. The next day, you open the door to your digs and…chaos.

The answering machine is blinking, there are hundreds or thousands of emails, the snail mail spills over the edge of a huge tub and stares at you from the floor.  There are bills to be paid, deadlines to be met, appointments to be kept. Your hair needs new highlights, your car is due for servicing, there’s a leak in your office, you forgot to send your sister-in-law a birthday gift. The exotic fades as you slip into the quotidian and start trouble-shooting, catching up, returning calls, and squirming in the dentist’s chair.  Hooray! You are home.

I have not yet figured out how to make homecoming a celebration.  But I have a few tips if you are as overwhelmed as I am when you step over your own welcome mat.

1) Even if you are committed to NOT being wired when you travel, try to check your email at least once before the big return.

You will have a good idea of what awaits you and can perhaps forestall a crisis or two.

2) Set the vacation response on your computer before you leave on a trip. It can say something like, “Hi, there. Sorry I will be a continent away from my computer from (fill in the date) to (fill in the end date). I will respond to you upon my return.” This lets folks know that you weren’t ignoring them, and they learn when you will be back so they can re-contact you then.

3) When you set the vacation response, allow yourself a day or two to land. Pick a return date that is day or two after your actual homecoming.

4) Don’t schedule too many things for the first week of your return. Allow yourself to re-acclimate slowly.

5) Do something pleasurable for yourself. A bath in Dead Sea salts. Print out your favorite photos from the trip. Go for a wrap and massage. Go to bed early. The emails will not evaporate if you don’t answer them right away.

6) Tell selected friends and family a few trip highlights, so the memories stay vivid and fresh in your mind.

7) Contact a new friend from the trip and moan a little about how overwhelming it is to come home and how you wish you were back on the trip again.

Bon voyage and bon retour. If you have any other tips for landing softly, by all means let us know. If you get an automated vacation response, you will know that the homecoming was too much, and we’re on the road again.

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FIVE THINGS TO DO WHEN YOU ARE TRAVELING

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

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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.

 

1) THE ART OF TRAVEL

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.

2) PART WAYS WITH POSTCARDS

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.

3) NO, NO, A THOUSAND TIMES NO

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.

4) ALL THE SOUVENIRS THAT FIT IN PRINT

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.

5) THE MOST IMPORTANT ENDORSEMENT

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.

SPRING AHEAD, FALL BACK

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 www.xe.com/ucc 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.

New! Travel Tip Podcasts from The Wild Pair

In Podcasts on March 27, 2009 at 2:08 am

microphoneWahoo! We’re thrilled to announce the addition of travel tip podcasts to The Wild Pair.

Listen to today’s one-minute travel tip and learn how changing habits is just one way travel is good for your mental health.

For more, read our full posting ‘Why Travel is Good for Your Mental Health‘.

Bon Voyage,

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.