Friday, January 27, 2023

Sailing Solo - My First Cruise Alone

I had always wanted to take a cruise.

Everyone I know who’s ever gone has loved it and had wonderful stories to share. It seemed like an easy and fun way to go to many different destinations and travel with others closer to my own age. I received some great advice from people about how to pick the cruise that was right for me.

First, you need to decide where you want to go and what type of activities or events are important to you. The variety of ships and types of trips is endless. Everything from peaceful, meandering river cruises to the massive, floating cities – the options are plentiful.

Choosing the Right Cruise


For my first time, I knew I wanted something a little more low-key. Perhaps a smaller ship and more casual than the average cruise. I also like to have a little private outdoor space so I knew I would want a balcony. I didn’t need any of the popular entertainment like gambling or the big Las Vegas style shows so I started looking at other types of trips.

It’s like trying to decide between going camping or visiting New York City; choose what appeals to you.

A friend recommended a travel website so that I could start to compare all the different types of cruises available. She had just recently been on one that went to the Dominican Republic and did some volunteer work with the community there. It sounded like something I would really enjoy so I checked into it and booked the trip. It was also very affordable with a low single supplement so that helped keep the cost down.

Embracing a New Experience


As much as I travel it’s not often that I have a totally new experience. I always love visiting new places and meeting new people but the process of booking accommodation and transportation is something I am quite familiar with. Planning for a cruise was all so different for me and really took me outside of my comfort zone; it was long overdue.

I felt like a young novice traveling for the first time and it was so exciting!

I didn’t know what to pack, how to check-in, how to get on and off the boat, whether I would get seasick or if I would like cruising or hate it. I’ve heard a lot of people talk about so many aspects of cruising but I had no idea how it would be for me.

What I discovered is that the same basic travel principles apply no matter where you go. There will always be others who have never done this before and many experienced people there to help guide you. That was apparent as soon as I arrived at the cruise terminal and this immediately put me at ease.

Enjoying a Fantastic Adventure


There are some real benefits that most cruisers will tell you about – you don’t have to pack and unpack for each location, you have the advantage of seeing remote places but still eating and sleeping in your own cabin on the ship. There are so many options for food and activities I can’t imagine ever feeling bored. I liked the freedom and flexibility I had to do as much or as little as I wanted and it was a perfect balance for me.

My favorite experience was meeting the amazing people on the ship and on shore. They were so warm and friendly and happy to share information with me, especially when they found out it was my first cruise.

It may not seem like a big risk to go on a cruise, but for me this was a great opportunity to do something I had never done before. To feel so young and inexperienced was refreshing and rejuvenated my love of travel.

If you think you might like to try cruising, I recommend talking to someone who has a similar travel style to your own and asking them for their advice on what type of cruise you might like. Do your research and don’t worry, it’s one of the easiest trips I’ve ever taken and I will absolutely go again!

Wishing you safe and happy travels!

Have you ever been on a cruise? Do you prefer to travel alone or with others? What questions do you have about first-time cruising? Share your stories and join the conversation.

Published on Sixty and Me

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

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Sunday, January 15, 2023

Fantasy Travel - The Ultimate Staycation

 



As someone who loves to travel, I was very surprised that I didn’t go stir crazy during the pandemic.  I have been traveling for work and pleasure for so many years that I didn’t think I would be comfortable staying in one place for any length of time.

I was very pleased to discover the many benefits it offered and it has given me a new appreciation for being at home. 

As travel restrictions are loosening, I thought about where my next adventure will take me.  Where do I want to go, what do I want to do, all of the questions I normally ask myself when I start to plan a new trip. 

What used to be a very easy and fun process has changed significantly for me.  Now, there are so many new considerations that have to be taken into account, especially if I am leaving the country.

What I love most about traveling is that it is a total departure from my real life.  I actually feel like a different person when I am away.  Getting out of my normal routine and disconnecting from the world is pure bliss.

Even in the best of times, travel can be a challenge.  Unexpected things happen and you need to be flexible enough to adjust.  Right now, I’m not really looking for that kind of experience but I do want to have the enjoyment of getting away from it all.

Find the Inspiration

Recently, I had an appointment across town and stopped by a food truck for lunch.  It was a large dirt lot that had a variety of trucks offering Mexican food.  It was mid-week, so most of the trucks were closed.  I drove toward the rear and found one that was open. 

As I sat outside, waiting for my order, I felt transported to Mexico.  Sitting in the shade on a hot summer day, music playing in the background, tattered flags blowing in the breeze, I was no longer home, I was in a tiny Mexican village.


I realized then that I didn’t have to get on a plane to go somewhere, I could do it right here at home. 

I began by making a list of some of the things that I enjoy about travel – I really like the planning, staying at a hotel, not having to cook or clean, trying the local cuisine and meeting new people.   

I also thought about what I don’t care for while traveling - crowds, flight delays, strict time schedules, noisy neighbors, access to food and services, getting help if I’m ill or injured.

Those are just some of the things that can happen when traveling but now may be even more unpredictable and difficult to manage.  My preferences have changed over the years and now I’m more interested in ease and comfort than action and adventure.

I used to enjoy long haul flights to Europe but now the thought of being on a plane with hundreds of strangers for 12 hours is not at all appealing. 

I decided to create a trip right here in the comfort of my own home.  A fantastic journey with all of the benefits and none of the issues.

Make it Realistic

In order for this to feel real you have to do everything as if you are actually leaving.  

It reminds me of playing fort at home with my brother when we were young.  It didn’t matter that we were sitting on the living room floor with blankets, we played make believe that we were far away and it was so much fun

One of my favorite places to visit is Mexico.  I love the slower pace where I can sit under a palapa, read a good book and drink a cold cerveza. I wanted to see how close I could come to replicating the feeling of those wonderful trips, so I went all in. 

A few days before “leaving”, I had my hair and nails done and told my family that I would be away for a few days.  How much you share with them is up to you.  I find that if I say too much, they will discount my idea and it takes the fun out of it.

Pack a suitcase - nothing says vacation like packing my bags.  I like to travel light but now I have no stress about forgetting something I may need.

As soon as I decided to try this, the excitement began to build.  Just as it does for a “real” trip.  The more believable you can make this the better. 

Time to Relax and Enjoy

Turn off your phone or put it in airplane mode.  Disconnecting is something I love about being away and I rarely do at home. 

I used my guest room as my mock hotel suite for the trip.  Unpacking and using only what I had in my suitcase.

Thanks to YouTube I was able to have a gorgeous beach view with the sound of waves gently washing ashore.

I gave myself permission to do everything I like to do on vacation – take a nap, have a drink with lunch, explore the local shops as a tourist, speak the language, order room service (delivery), book a massage, dress up for dinner, anything goes.

So Many Advantages

The benefits of this type of fantasy travel are tremendous.  You have total control and flexibility of how much or how little you do.  If something urgent should come up you don’t have to worry about how to get home to take care of things.

Minimal expense, no passport, no flight schedules, no jet lag, no dirty crowded airports, no check-out time, no stress – just the pleasure of having what you want most from your getaway.

I’m enjoying this trip so much, I may just extend my stay!





Published on - Sixty and Me

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Wanderlust

There is nothing that spurs my wanderlust more than not being able to travel. 

I love being free to just pick up and go whenever I want.

This year will prove to be a little tricker, but I have no doubt I will manage to make it happen.

My list of the yet to be discovered is growing by the day and I can't wait to explore those fantastic new horizons!


Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Pure Silence

There have only been a few times in my life that I have experienced true peace and tranquility.  

The first time I really noticed it was while paragliding in Mexico.  I was a little nervous at first but when the wind caught the chute and took me up into the air, all my fear faded away.  

I was overcome with the beauty and silence as I floated above the water.


Monday, January 9, 2023

What's Your Favorite?

As I was standing at the grocery store checkout counter, the cashier playfully asked me - what's your favorite color?  Blue, I answered without thinking.  

It reminded me of my trip to New Zealand when I looked out at the Tasman Sea and saw the water and the sky had merged together into one gorgeous shade of blue.  You couldn't tell where one ended and the other began.

Then he asked - where is the most beautiful place you've ever been?  Ireland, I smiled and answered without hesitation.  It isn't just the scenery that is so beautiful I explained but the people that will take your breath away!

He explained that he loves to hear people's stories so that one day he too can see these amazing places. 

Just like me when I was a young girl reading books and daydreaming about all of the wonderful journeys - sometimes it doesn't seem real, but all of my dreams have come true!

Sunday, January 8, 2023

Homeplace

Explore the world, travel near and far until you find the homeplace of your heart.