Tag Archives: travel planning

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.
Posted in Peru, South America, Trip Planning Also 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?

Posted in Ramblings and Rants, Trip Planning Also tagged |

In Search of: Awesome Travels in 2012

The semester is over.  I’m on winter break at work.  I’ve got two weeks of downtime (well, after today, really just one — seeing as how a week has managed to slip right past me).  I am officially in my new apartment, and I sort of love it.  I say “sort of” because the process of decorating (and, more importantly, buying furniture) is both exciting and exhausting.  I’d really like it all to be done.  I feel a bit like I’m bleeding money.  And if you know me, you know I don’t particularly care for bleeding money.  I much prefer to hoard it.  Ah well, soon enough, it will all be taken care of.

In so many ways, life is moving along pretty damn perfectly.  I love my job, I have a beautiful apartment, and I’m planning some awesome trips in the new year.  Which, of course, means I’m sort of waiting for something to fall apart.  Things don’t generally go so well, not without a few hiccups.  I’m trying not to think about it, but it’s hard not to worry.  This is an unfortunate part of my genetic makeup.

Enough of that though, because I’m seriously excited about my travel plans for 2012.  The other day I was sharing these plans with a friend, and it dawned on me.  2012 is going to be one damn good year.  At the end of March I’m heading to Indianapolis, Indiana for the National Conference on Science Education.  Sure, Indianapolis isn’t the most exciting destination, but I hear the conference will be awesome.  Also, I’ve never been to Indiana, which means I’ll be one state closer to achieving bucket list item 40, visit every state in the U.S.  From Indiana, I fly home, and the next day I hop on another plane, destination Peru.  I can’t even begin to tell you how ecstatic I am about my Peru trip!  I’ll spend one week with my friend, Christy, exploring Cusco and Machu Picchu (where I’m seriously thinking of mountain biking to the ruins).  The second week, I’ll be on my own, exploring the Amazon rainforest.  It might just be the coolest thing ever in the history of ever.  I’ll be biking, kayaking, tree climbing, bird watching and just plain acting like a kid in a candy store.  It will be serious amounts of awesomesauce.  Seriously.

You might think my travel year is pretty much tops with the Peru trip, but there’s more.  My summer travel plans are starting to form.  First stop — Mazatlan, Mexico.  A few days lounging on the beach and hiking a local island or two should get me ready for my real summer adventures.  Although I don’t have all the details set, here’s what I’m thinking:  four weeks in Guatemala and one week in Honduras.  Gautemala = one week at a jungle lodge, complete with waterfall hikes, caves and hot springs; one week trekking to El Mirador, a spectacular Mayan city still buried deep in the jungle (plus, the obligatory stop at Tikal, the very well known and well touristed Mayan ruins); one week exploring the phenomenal natural wonders that are Semuc Champey and the Lanquin caves; and one week I’m not settled on yet.  Perhaps I’ll explore some more natural wonders — Guatemala seems full to the brim with those.  Or maybe I’ll check out one of the cities.  I’ve heard great things about Antigua.  We shall see.  No rush to figure that out.  But before I depart from Central America, there is one thing I know for sure — I’ll head to Roatan, Honduras for a week of beach, sand and diving!  Yes, I’m going to learn to scuba dive!

I sort of want to pinch myself.  Is all of this real?  Seriously.  Is it?  It’s pretty damn fantastic that I love my job and it allows me time to do the other things I love — like travel.  For reals, folks.  Sometimes, life rocks.

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