Category Archives: Trip Planning

In Search of: The Man in the Arena (in Ireland?!?)

I’m in a bit of a frenzy over here.  It is officially spring break!  And that not only means two weeks away from school (yes, two!) but also a trip to Ireland.  I like to tell my peeps I’m heading to the motherland.  (In case you don’t know, there’s a wee ‘bit ‘o Irish in my blood.)  And although I’m being totally silly when I say it, it’s also true — I AM heading to the motherland!

So as I pack and get ready for the craziness that is Dublin and hiking in Northern Ireland, I’ll leave you with this quote.  It’s a quote by President Roosevelt and was introduced to me by Brene’ Brown.  (And if you haven’t heard of her, she’s the researcher that gave the awesome TED talk on vulnerability, and you should totally check her out.  Actually, I think I’ll post it at the bottom to make it easy for you.  ‘Cause, seriously, check her out.)  Anyway, bit of a tangent there.  Here’s the quote.  Words to live by, if you ask me.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Yep.  Words to live by.  We should all strive to dare greatly.

Also posted in Europe, Inspiration, Ireland Tagged |

In Search of: Surviving the Flight, Even When You’re Scared

For those that don’t know, allow me to let you in on the worst kept secret in the history of secrets: I’m afraid of flying!  Yes.  I travel the world, yet the mere thought of getting on a plane gives me nightmares.  I have visions of plummeting to my fiery death.  I fight anxiety for at least two days prior to take-off.

This is no run of the mill, it bothers me to fly kind of phobia.  This is the kind of phobia that requires me to make peace with my untimely death prior to each and every flight.  And if there are multiple layovers?  Forget it.  Each new flight brings with it more terrifying thoughts.  In my history of flying, I have pretty much conjured up every possible horrible event that could occur.

But seeing as how I love to travel, my wanderlust overcomes my fear of flights each and every time.  Thank goodness!  Over the years, I have developed a few strategies that help me cope.  And if you’re also afraid to fly, one or two of these rituals might help.  Here goes:

  1. Drugs.  I told my doctor about my issues, and she prescribed me an anti-anxiety medication.  It relieves anxiety (at least as best it can when gallons of adrenaline are also coursing through my veins).  Top the anti-anxiety pill off with a melatonin tablet, and I pretty much have a lovely cocktail ready to send me to dreamland.  (Double bonus with melatonin: it’s an over the counter, natural sleep aid and works wonders for jet lag and time zone changes.  If I arrive in a location where the time zone is entirely different than mine, a melatonin the first night helps me get on track with the sleep schedule of my current locale.)  If you’re as terrified of flying as me, I highly suggest you talk to your doctor about getting a medication that might help the situation.
  2. Ear plugs.  This might be my new favorite trick.  One thing that scares me on flights is all the engine noise (and landing gear noise and wind noise and whatever other noise you can imagine).  In particular, when these noises change throughout the flight as flight gear is adjusted, I am immediately on high alert.  Ear plugs help block those particular noises, especially the changes in noise levels.  Bonus: they also help with changes in air pressure.  I have a terrible time with popping my ears, and earplugs make it so I don’t have to pop them as often.
  3. Sleep mask.  I do all I can to sleep throughout my flights (even short ones).  I don’t care if I’m flying in the middle of the day or the middle of the night.  It’s hard to be anxious when you’re asleep.  A sleep mask will block the light from the window or the reading light of your neighbor.  Also, the mask helps you to imagine you’re not actually on a plane.  Pretend you’re on a bus, and it’s windy (turbulence).  As silly as it sounds, these things can help.  I once slept through an entire 24 hours worth of flights, with the occasional wake-up to use the restroom or have a drink.  Additional plus:  I did NOT arrive at my destination jet-lagged.
  4. Reminders.  Prior to my flight, I give myself a few reminders.  First, and foremost, remember that the pilot did not come to work today to die.  He does this every single day (or at least on workdays), and this particular pilot has made it through every single flight he’s ever taken, which likely counts in the thousands.  Another important reminder?  Kay syrah syrah.  Whatever will be will be, people.  Whatever happens, you’re no longer in control, so regardless of how much anxiety you send into the world, it will do you no good.  If the plane goes down, there’s nothing you can do about it, and worrying and feeling anxious and giving yourself a near heart attack will not help.  In fact, it will likely shorten your life (in ways that have absolutely nothing to do with planes yet everything to do with stress wearing out your body).

So there you have it — my pre-flight rituals.  I wouldn’t call them fool proof in any way.  There are times I do every single one of these things, yet I end up spooked and scared the entire flight.  But most of the time, they help a lot.  After all, I’ve never run off a plane prior to closing the cabin doors, screaming, “NOOOOOOO!!!!”  In my book, that’s pretty damn good.

How about you?  Do you have any tips that get you through your own phobia of flying?

Also posted in Ramblings and Rants Tagged |

In Search of: Lessons Learned While Traveling

I just completed 2.5 weeks of travel.  The first few days were in Indianapolis for a science teacher conference.  I got to geek out with a bunch of other science-types, and this made me a very happy girl.  Also, I’ve never been to Indiana, which moved me closer to another goal: visit every state in the U.S.  Indianapolis was surprisingly lovely, and I can’t wait to share a few pictures and the goods from the trip (interestingly, I made some great travel contacts!).

At approximately midnight on a Saturday, I arrived home from Indianapolis.  I did laundry, packed my bags a second time and got ready to head back to the airport.  On Sunday afternoon, I stepped on a plane to begin spring break — two weeks in Peru!  I couldn’t have been more excited.  Seriously.  My socks were ready to be knocked off.  (And the trip didn’t disappoint, I assure you!)

But before I get into the awesomeness that is Peru and Machu Picchu and the Amazon Rainforest, I have to admit I learned a fair number of lessons this time around.  Let’s be honest, I’m still a newbie traveler.  I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.  I just sort of jump in, feet first, and hope there are no piranhas near.  Don’t worry though.  I only required a few band-aids.

Without further ado, a letter to myself (and any other newbie traveler out there that would prefer to learn lessons the easy way and allow me to make mistakes for them).

Dear Self (yes, you), a few simple instructions for travel:

  1. SLOW DOWN.  I know you want to see everything.  But that’s sort of impossible.  And you’ll drive yourself insane attempting to do so.  Psychiatric bills are expensive.  Take the easy way once in a while.  Avoid the mental breakdown.  Slow travel is your ideal.  (You know I’m right.)
  2. Bring an appropriate first aid kit.  This includes more than two band-aids.  An antiseptic wipe, Neosporin and a bottle of ibuprofen would do you well.
  3. Pack said band-aids and antiseptic wipes in mini Ziplock bags.  Yes, you’re cheap.  And you think buying extra baggies will kill the planet.  But sometimes these things are super useful.  Like when you don’t want to dig through the gallon size plastic bag that’s holding everything from your shampoo, your razors and your mouthwash, and you just want to reach things quickly.  Mini Ziplocks are awesome for organization.  And you know you love to organize things.
  4. Spend extra money on direct flights.  Sometimes, you’re way too cheap.  Never forget: by the end of your trip, you would gladly pay a small ransom for a direct flight home — at which point, you’re dirty, you’re tired and more than a little cranky.  And let’s not forget, you’re also afraid to fly.  The fewer flights, the healthier your heart.
  5. Buy a super cute passport holder.  Okay.  It doesn’t HAVE to be super cute.  But it should be.  On the practical side, your passport turns into a wrinkled mess every time you visit one of those ridiculously humid locales you seem to love so much.  The damn thing’s going to fall apart before you make it to the last page if you don’t protect it.  Plus, did I mention it can be super cute?
  6. Bring your netbook.  I know.  You think it sounds romantic to be without internet for weeks at a time.  It’s not.  Enough said.
Also posted in Peru, South America Tagged , |

In Search of: The Anticipation of Peru!

One of the best parts of travel is the anticipation that comes with an upcoming trip.  And right now, I’m full to the brim with anticipation.  On April first, I will be boarding a plane for Cusco, Peru!  Okay.  Not exactly accurate.  I will be boarding a plane for Mexico City, then Lima, Peru, then Cusco, Peru!  It’s going to be a damn long day.  But, seriously.  This will be the most awesome trip since the history of awesome.

Why, you ask?  Because I’ve wanted to take this trip for probably five years.  I even planned it.  Twice.  And finally.  Finally, finally, finally — I’m going!  My little self is doing kartwheels in my head right now.  That’s how excited I am.  (I would do actual kartwheels outside, but it’s a little late and kind of cold.)

I work at a private school, and we get two weeks off for spring break.  I had debated taking this trip over winter break, but I decided to move into my awesomesauce apartment instead.  It was a good move — I love the new place.  But the trip truly couldn’t be put off much longer.  My heart couldn’t take it.  Spring break it is!

My friend, Christy, and I fly out on the same day.  We’ll meet at the airport in Cusco and head off to start the adventure!  (I know.  Way too many exclamation points in this post.  But I can’t help it, peeps!!  Excited, I tell you.)  We’ll stay in Cusco a couple of days then be whisked away by train to Aguas Calientes.  Although Aguas Calientes has been described as the hole of all holes when it comes to tourist towns, we’re going to make it amazing.  We’ve got hikes planned up some pretty intimidating mountains (which include some pretty steep ladders).  We’ve got food plans.  Because you can’t visit Peru without tasting the guinea pig.  (Sorry Mr. Guinea.  You were a good pet.)  We’ve got early morning treks to Machu Picchu and photography and videos and dancing in the street planned.  At the end of our time together we’ll spend a couple of days in Ollantaytambo.  Who the hell knows what we’re gonna do there.  But I can promise, you’ll hear all about it when we do it.

After a week in the Cusco area, Christy goes home (sad face).  But I go to the Amazon rainforest (big ass happy face!).  Oh yes.  I’ll be sleeping in a room with 3.5 walls, staring through my mosquito net into the jungle at night.  Creepers.  But all kinds of amazing.  I’m going to climb trees!  I’m going to kayak!  I’m going to bird watch and hike and wander and get lost (but not too lost, ’cause I’ll have a guide).

I’m not sure the word anticipation quite explains what I’m feeling right now.  Freedom?  Exhilaration?  Child-like wonder?  But whatever it is — I’ll take some more of that, please.

Also posted in Peru, South America Tagged , , , , , |

In Search of: What’s Got You Fired Up?

During the past weeks I’ve put a lot of thought into what’s next.  Not in the I-have-to-plan-every-detail sort of way, but in the if-I-could-do-anything-what-would-I-do way.  And you know what I would do?  I would travel the world.  Big surprise, I know.  As a matter of fact, I’m sure you’re gasping at your astonishment that such a statement came from me.  But don’t fret — breathe in, peeps.

You all know I’ve been playing with this idea off and on for a few years.  And my life has sort of gotten in the way each time I tried.  But since the start of 2012, something new has crept in — a feeling of total and complete calm.  A feeling of — this is the right thing for me.

Granted, I’m not independently wealthy, so such a realization doesn’t mean I bought a ticket and am heading out tomorrow.  No, rather it means I’ve made a vague plan.  And that plan includes a new bank account — one specifically titled “Round the World Trip Fund.”  And you better believe that’s what it says when I pull that baby up on my computer screen.  It’s going to take a while to save the money and pay off my student loans, but that’s my goal.  I actually have a date in mind, but I’m not ready to put it out there quite yet.  I’m not a fan of making plans too far in advance.

Truth is, when the time comes, life may change entirely.  I may no longer be interested in taking a year-long trip around the world.  I don’t know.  But here’s what I do know:  if I don’t start saving now, it won’t matter what I want when the time comes, because I won’t have the money to do it!  Thus, I figure it’s better to be prepared.  If all is as it is today, I will go.  If it’s not, well, hopefully something even more exciting will have cropped up.

That’s what’s got my blood pumping today.  What’s got you fired up?

Also posted in Ramblings and Rants Tagged , |