Category Archives: The Basics

You Shall Travel All Year!

I’m sure you’ve heard that what you do on the first day of the year will set the pattern for the year to come.

Actually, you may not have heard it, and I may have made it up.  I did try searching that phrase, but I couldn’t find a Google link, which seems to indicate that I just randomly decided that it is a thing.  Whatever.  It’s a good thing.

How I spent New Year's Day 2016
How I spent New Year’s Day 2016. Also, watching episodes of Rome.

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Goodbye, Dear Airport Friend

It has come time for our family to visit our home.  Home being, in this case, California.  Which, to be fair, is most people’s idea of a vacation.  So that’s kind of like winning the travel lottery, really, and it can be quite a money-saver when it all comes down to it.

We’ve traveled enough that we have definite airport preferences – because any traveler can tell you exactly how much an airport can make or break a good visit.  Everything – from services, to concession hours, to cleanliness, to available connections,  to the attitude of employees, to outside traffic, to the prices of rental cars – EVERYTHING in an airport adds up.

And when I say everything, I mean everything.  Like Ebola hand washing stations.  Those definitely add up.

**Meanwhile, in Sierra Leone…

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Eh, It Will Be Just Fine

Several months ago I went to hear a talk about travel.  This one, one which I’ve had a chance to quote several times since, dealt specifically with the issue of travel safety.  Plus, we got to play with some fun toys.

Because not every travel destination is the beautiful, safe beaches of Hawaii.

Or the beautiful, safe beaches of California.  Which, as we all know, are best enjoyed with food in our teeth.
Or the beautiful, safe beaches of California. Which, as we all know, are best enjoyed with food in our teeth.

On the other hand, the vast majority of the world does not house terrifying specters of Jack the Ripper, just waiting to pounce on unsuspecting tourists and go all Sweeney Todd on their innards, either.  Still, it doesn’t help to be prepared.  But how does one do that?

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Hotels and Apartments and Campsites

I’m a HomeAway junkie, I’ll own it.  Whenever we decide to make a trip, HomeAway is my first stop to find accommodation.  We’re usually traveling with at least three children, and like any parents we like a little bit of privacy.

Two weeks in single hotel rooms with two double beds and a roll-away is a recipe for disaster.  Also death threats.  Possibly sanitarium time.  Definitely a need for a vacation-from-the-vacation.

That’s where my obsession with HomeAway comes in.

Our HomeAway rental in Rome included this baby donkey in a side yard.  For real.
Our HomeAway rental in Rome included this baby donkey in a side yard. For real.

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Dressing the Part

In my spare time I like to dress children as alternates for the It's a Small World ride.
In my spare time I like to dress children as alternates for the It’s a Small World ride.

I’m not even going to continue to try to make the case for yoga pants as the world’s best travel outfit.  It’s like arguing over the deliciousness of freshly made French croissants – it just IS.

But yoga pants on the airplane are one thing – we still need to plan out what to pack for the rest of the trip.  Unless you’re going to Vegas, you will need to actually pack clothes.  But what to pack?

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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.

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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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