Saturday, March 30, 2013

Travel Light


When I talk about traveling light I mean both physically and emotionally.  Remember you have to carry whatever you take with you for the entire trip. 

Packing:
I keep a master travel supply list on my computer that I print out before each trip.  It has everything from shampoo to my phone charger and includes domestic and international travel needs.  Then depending on my destination I adjust the list so I have all the essentials I know I will need. 

Now here is where it gets a little tricky, deciding how much to take.  Most of us feel that we need different outfits, shoes, accessories, cosmetics, personal products etc.  This adds up very quickly and before you know it you are trying to walk over the Grand Canal in Italy with bags that you would rather toss than carry one more step.  I learned my lesson and will never, ever do it again.  It’s not easy and I still have the inclination to bring more than I really need but all I have to do is think about that trip and it stops me.   

I take a rolling backpack and one small shoulder bag for plane incidentals on all of my trips now.  I can’t tell you how many places you cannot roll a suitcase or what happens if the wheels or handle breaks.  Trying to carry it up stairs (and there will always be stairs), on and off of buses and trains, through the mud or over those beautiful cobblestone streets will exhaust you before your trip even begins.   

For my clothes, I always pick a color scheme that I can mix and match with everything I am taking.  No one offs – I don’t care how beautiful that designer blouse is, if I can’t wear it with at least 3 things I cannot bring it.  If you stick to dark color basics like Black for your skirts, jeans and slacks you can add blouses, scarves and sweaters to make entirely different outfits.  Everything, even the scarf has to do double or triple duty.  I lay everything I want to take out on my bed – making sure I like what I have and that it all goes together.  Then I try to pack my bag – usually I find it is full before I even get my shoes or shampoo in there so I know I have to pare down.   Don’t panic – it might take a few tries before you get it down.  I just got back from 2 weeks in Europe and found I actually had things I did not use!  Also it helps to remember that unless you are going into the wild you will have access to buy anything you might have forgotten. 

Traveling can be very stressful and usually it is what we are trying to get away from when we go away.  I try to spend some time thinking about what a great experience I am going to have and that I will be happy with whatever I encounter along the way.  Sometimes this is easier said than done but it does help me to set my intention and really enjoy my trip.   

Whether it is for work or play I find that I will have a good time if I remember to travel light!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Hawaii on a Whim


Sometimes I don’t pick the trip – the trip picks me.  I travel for work and pleasure so I try to be ready to go whenever the opportunity presents itself.  That was the case with Hawaii.  It was certainly one of those places I’ve always wanted to visit but I didn’t plan to go until it began showing up everywhere – people at work talking about it, TV, email specials, you name it.  I’m a little superstitious about taking hints from the travel gods about where I should and should not go (I’ll tell you about my trip to Paris another time).
 So not long after starting a new job I received a notice from my airline frequent flyer program that I had miles that would expire and there just happened to be enough for a flight to Hawaii.  Then, the hotel chain I usually stay with notified me that they had a great deal on Hawaiian vacations and I could use my points for most of it.  That was it – I booked the trip.  I didn’t even know which island(s) I wanted to visit all I knew was that I wanted to go.

I just love the spontaneity of picking up and going somewhere out of the blue; it feels like a very decadent and frivolous adventure!  It is hard for me to plan trips very far in advance because I don’t like to wait and I usually will over think everything from what to wear to what I want to do.

This trip was easy – I wanted to be somewhere quiet where I could go whale watching.  So Molokai was my island.  I was warned by everyone not to go, that I would not like it and there was nothing to do but that sounded perfect.  It was one of the most relaxing vacations I think I’ve ever had.  The added bonus was I met some wonderful people and saw many beautiful whales and dolphins!

My advice is - don’t be afraid to just let yourself go, you will never regret it.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Start Small

If you are new to travel, the first thing to remember is to start small and test the waters.  I began by driving to a city near my home and just staying 1 night at a safe and affordable hotel.  I always stay at one with a restaurant on-site so if I feel the least bit uncomfortable I can stay in and not worry about having to go out for my meals.  Another nice alternative is a B&B, very often the family will help you with whatever you need and it is nice to get to know the area from people who live there.  Do remember that they only serve breakfast so you will have to get lunch and dinner on your own.  Most of the time, I prefer hotels because I want the freedom and flexibility to come and go as I please.  If I decide to lounge by the pool all day and have dinner in my room I can do that.

Plan one short excursion while you are there – visit the local museum, baseball game, gardens or whatever appeals to you.  There is something interesting and unique about everywhere you go and it will enhance your journey and make you feel that you are really away from home without having to go very far at all.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Let the Journey Begin

Wherever I go women ask me, how do you do it, how do you travel everywhere all by yourself?  For me, the answer is very simple – because I want to.  That my desire and curiosity are stronger than the fear and every trip, near or far presents another opportunity for a grand adventure. 

Growing up we did not have a car and my mother didn’t drive so we had to walk or take public transportation everywhere we went.  That greatly restricted where we were able to go but it really helped me learn how to navigate in bus and train stations.  I learned so much about how to get around to places we otherwise would not have been able to go. 

Even then, my appetite for travel was tremendous.  I remember sitting on the floor at the local library reading stories about people and the amazing places that they lived.  I would daydream that I was that elegant lady strolling through the streets of Paris or walking along the beach on some distant island.  Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that someday it would really come true and yet that was me having dinner in London last month and walking though the Scottish countryside. 

I have had so many incredible experiences and now I would like to help other women learn how to do it as well.  All you need is a willing spirit and you can have the adventure of a lifetime!