Beyond Big Ben

This is, I think, my favorite picture we’ve ever taken on any of our travels.

Baby's first photo bomb.
Baby’s first photo bomb.

Fresno the Husband wasn’t too up on appearing on the internet (weirdo), but I had to include this picture.  Honestly, this picture is what makes the best travel memories – Mr. Dirty popping up in what was supposed to be a picture of just Mom and Dad.

In any case, this picture, ridiculous though it may be, is pretty much what we expect from travel.  If you’re in London you see Big Ben, the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, and if you have time you hit up Harrod’s.  Or maybe you hit up Harrod’s first, I’m certainly not going to judge.

Continue reading Beyond Big Ben

Using The Cloud To Improve Your Travels

There are 100 bajillion and one ways to use the internet to make travelling easier, more enjoyable, and less expensive.  What I’m going to tell you today has not one thing to do with any of those things.  Instead, I’m going to tell you how cloud-based storage can help you fix things when they go wrong.

This whole thing started because of my children and their super-power of losing or breaking glasses when we are travelling.  It is truly awesome:  we’ve dropped glasses into an orchard in Ravello on the Amalfi Coast, spent an entire weekend in Venice where one child had forgotten to bring her essential glasses, lost an arm screw in Paris, and someone’s glasses broke during an unplanned overnight in Norfolk, Virginia (broken plane.)

As a form of self-defense, I started uploading everyone’s eyeglass and contact lens prescription onto my web-based email.  And it works!  First, there is the Murphy factor*:  if you are prepared, bad stuff doesn’t happen.  Second, the time that we did have glasses broken, I was able to grab a cab to a local shop, use their computer to print out the prescription, and we had new glasses in less than an hour.  (The shop was super-helpful because of our situation.)

This has worked so well that we’ve added additional documents to our online information storage:  medication prescriptions, passport main pages, visas, etc.  Next on my list is contact information on the backs of our credit cards.

There are, potentially, some security risks with keeping important information in the cloud.   However, there are tons of ways to mitigate those risks and tons of benefits to keeping useful information at your fingertips, especially when you’re going to be away from your primary sources.

The worst thing that could happen is that you’ll never need the information, which is a pretty good worst-case scenario.

*the Murphy factor:  from Murphy’s law, anything that can go wrong probably will.  The Murphy factor refers to the fact that Murphy’s law is a real thing .

photo by:  Shane Adams

Vacation Planning Junkie

Christmas is done planned.

Sort of.  I mean, we have airline tickets (yay for airline miles!).  I’m working on hotels and transportation.  I have three of four guidebooks…

The whole travel guide thing is ridiculously addictive.  I have thirty.  So far.
The whole travel guide thing is ridiculously addictive. I have thirty. So far.

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The *BIG* Trip – Take One

French!  Castles!
French! Castles!

Every year we take a big trip around Christmas time.  There are a few reasons for this – first, the kids’ school lets out for about a month around that time and we have a free travel schedule.  Second, if you plan your travel right (and far ahead) and aren’t too worried about methods, you can get some seriously excellent travel deals.  Third, and this is probably 75% of the reason for us right here, we live in a climate that isn’t very Christmasy and I feel a deep urge to go somewhere pine trees are an indigenous species.

We all have our priorities.

Our first major overseas Christmas trip involved thirty days, three countries, five major cities, two overnight train trips, several smaller train trips, a bout with norovirus,  an anti-austerity demonstration in Spain, and business class travel both to and from Europe for under $5000 (not including food).

It was absolutely fantastic.

Continue reading The *BIG* Trip – Take One

On to Jozi!

We visited JoBurg the day Madiba died.  There is no way we were going to miss seeing Nelson Mandela Square while we were there.
We visited JoBurg the day Madiba died. There is no way we were going to miss seeing Nelson Mandela Square while we were there.

Johannesburg, South Africa is not a vacation destination that immediately pops up when people talk about traveling abroad.  Paris?  Yes.  London?  Yes.  Hong Kong?  Bangkok?  Yes and Yes.  And if one actually does think about trekking to South Africa, it is generally Cape Town that does the honors (and believe me, it totally deserves that).

Johannesburg really should not be overlooked, though.  And if you’re going to Cape Town or Kruger National Park you’ll be flying through JoBurg’s OR Tambo airport anyway – why not give it a quick stop?

Continue reading On to Jozi!