You are almost ready to set and depart

This is part two the series in getting you set for your trip and preparing you for what you can expect when you arrive at your destination.  Part three of this series will be posted in two weeks, so sit back and enjoy the tips.

Your inner germophobe had to come along

  • Okay, so if yo are one of those people who can’t stand touching door knobs, sitting on public chairs, or touching other surfaces, don’t forget your hand sanitizer and beach towel.  This should keep your OCD self at bay for a while.

Prepare for wares that you will bring from abroad

  • In addition to the bubble wrap and the tape that I mentioned previously, it would be wise to bring a shoebox or something to protect your bottles and other fragile items.

Save some space for me

  • So you don’t want to pay for baggage, or you want to squish as much as possible in that suitcase and have some room to spare, invest in the space bags.  The really work well at compressing clothing so that you have extra room in that regulation sized carry on.  But, make sure that you get the ones which do not require the use of a vacuum as one may not be available for your return trip home.

Sign language is a beautiful language, but it is not universal

  • So you think the two finger peace sign is well-known and accepted by everyone, think twice.  Before you raise a hand or a finger, check with a local to make sure you are not offending anyone.

Charge!

  • I am not advocating that you go on a major shopping spree, but I am advising that you charge all of your electronic devices and take your chargers with you.  If you are taking your electronic devices, make sure you know whether or not you will need a converter to adapt to the local electrical voltage if you are traveling abroad.

Count the costs

  • Think twice before you whip out that credit card.  That nice designer purse that you purchased for $500 may appear as a charge for $515 or more on your next credit statement thanks to the foreign transaction fee.  Additionally, there are some countries where you will actually be levied a surcharge if you pay for your purchases in the local currency.  So, just be aware of all of the financial ins and outs before you go.
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Tan Up!!

So, the month of July- the most awesome month EVAH- got off to a fantastic start. This month’s travels started with a trip to one of the most beautiful and awesome places I know- Mi Yard! If you don’t know, you have to go (to find out). So why did I choose Mi Yard as the destination to kick-off the best month celebration? Have you been? Have you ever experienced the culture, the people, the music and, oh yes, the food? Well, all that aside, I chose this wonderful place because I couldn’t think of a better place where I wanted to spend my milestone birthday. And no, I shall not share neither the date of my birthday nor my age for various reasons. But, I spent seven (7) glorious days enjoying the lovely island sun, the wonderfully peaceful and soothing ocean, and the gentle breeze. It doesn’t hurt when you spend time partaking of the fresh seafood, tantalizingly fresh fruit (papaya, mango, and pineapple), and of course taking in some of the sinfully delicious, thirst quenching, refreshing beverages.

The first few days of the trip were spent catching up on some much needed rest. So, my days typically consisted of an early morning power walk, followed by breakfast– oh, t.v. timeout. I really need to highlight the fact that I was spoiled, so spoiled at breakfast. Every morning I was treated to a custom blended smoothie. My smoothie typically consisted of papaya, mango, cantaloupe, banana, and strawberry juice. Umm umm, good. Okay—t.v. time in.

After breakfast, it was time to shower, change into the beachwear, grab a towel and hit the pool or beach. The pool was usually filled with other happy vacationers enjoying the libations, playing volleyball (or keep alive), enjoying their companions, and just socializing. When I opted for the beach, I crawled into a hammock and just enjoyed my time listening to the ocean and doing absolutely nothing. There was the quick trip to the beach grill to grab some fresh grilled fish and chips and some very cool water. Yes, I consumed LOTS of water. After lunch, I would return to the pool or to my fav lounging spot and enjoy some more time doing absolutely nothing. When I soaked up my fair share of sun for the day, it was time to return to my temporary living quarters and prepare for dinner.

For dinner, I would alternate between dining at the resort’s Italian restaurant, the hibachi restaurant or the main dining hall. Again, umm umm good. Following dinner, I generally turned in early for the night. Yes, it is boring, but I was really taking advantage of the fact that I could get some rest. I am not much of a party person at home, so this was not a major departure from my normal way of life. At least from the non-partying perspective.

On the day of my birthday, I got up and took a gratitude walk. Giving thanks to God for allowing me to see one more year and having the opportunity to experience my special day in paradise. I had breakfast and returned to my room afterwards to change for the pool. The day prior one of my friends told me that he was going to cook something special for my birthday. When I reached the beach, my friend was one of the first people to give me a birthday greeting and to show me what he prepared—grilled red tailed snapper with onions and peppers. Coupled with two fresh mangoes from his trip. How awesome was that. Talk about good eating… and it was prepared with love. For that I am truly appreciative.

Later in the day, I went sailing with my friend who presented me with a lovely local bracelet for my birthday. So unexpected, yet so appreciated. I was truly feeling blessed and appreciated. It is the little things in life that mean the most. When I ventured off premise to the local craft market to visit with my friend Charlie, I was again surprised with some beautiful gifts. He presented me with two beautiful bracelets and a bamboo shot glass. How awesome was that?  That evening I dined at the hibachi restaurant and enjoyed fresh fish, miso soup, and shrimp.  Although I was nursing my drink of choice, I later found out that instructions were passed to the bartenders and service staff to cut me off after 7:30 and give me alcohol only.  I only entertained two small drinks and that was more than enough to make me sleepy and a bit buzzed.  So, needless to say, I returned to guzzling water.  The rest of the evening was spent enjoying the night time show, kicking up my heels in the disco, and enjoying the heated pool until o’dark thirty in the morning.

The last few days of the trip were spent visiting some of the local merchants and supporting the economy, playing some of the games at the resort where you could win “hedo bucks”, participating in the dance contest, and trying to stay out of trouble. I met some really kewl people during my visit, was well taken care of by the staff (Ms. Lorna (a true blessing), AJ (my likkle fren and sailing buddy), Denva (most awesome restaurant manager), and Delroy (one of the most awesome people to date). It was so difficult to leave at the end of my trip that I cried from the time the car came to carry me to the airport until the time I boarded the plane. I had to look like a complete fool, but when you love something, somewhere or someone so much, it really changes your life.

I know that I will have an opportunity to return and I look forward to that day, but it so hard to leave paradise and return to reality. But, until my feet step foot on mi yard again, I will cherish the memories, the friendships, the love and the wonderful birthday experience and gifts.

Respect.

Up Up and Await

So, the day of your lovely vacay has arrived. The suitcase is packed and all you need to do is hit the road, hit the rails, or hit the air. But wait, are you really ready to go? Well, over the course of the next few posts, I will provide a few tips that have used when preparing for my various trips.

 

Wait!  Hold up, wait a minute Mr. Postman

  • Unless there are other people living in your home, or you have an agreement with a name to check on your mail, don’t forget to put your mail on hold.  Nothing is more of a dead giveaway that the home is unoccupied and ready for criminals than having your mail pile up.

Lights, camera, action

  • In keeping with the theme of deterring the criminal element while you are away, make sure your home still looks lived in while you are away.  Using timers to control the lights in your home and one or two appliances such as a radio or television will aid with the process of making sure you home has the “occupied” feeling.

Check it once, check it twice

  • Before you get ready to check your luggage or pass through security, check your carry-on bag to make sure that there no illegal or prohibited items on your person, or items that exceed the TSA .  There is nothing worse than getting to security and realizing that  you have a pair of scissors in your bag, or that you accidentally have that $12 8oz bottle of Victoria Secrets lotion in your bag.  So, just take the time to thoroughly check your carry-ons to make sure that you do not have to make a deposit of your beloved items into the TSA bulky trash.

Money makes the world go round, but US currency doesn’t travel well everywhere

  • Before you go, make sure you get the skinny on the local currency.  Will the hotels exchange money for you?  How much will it cost to exchange money at the airport vice at a local bank?  Is it even necessary to exchange money?  There are some places that will accept US currency; however, you will be charged a surcharge, so you must count the costs.  Sometimes a local will be willing to exchange money “straight”, dollar for dollar, as was the case for me in Canada.  In the same vein, if you need to exchange money, make sure that you only exchange that which you will actually use, especially if you are not planning to visit that particular country ever again.

Tape it up

  • It may sound crazy, but masking tape/packaging tape can be your best friend.  You can use tape to protect luggage from getting damaged in transit or to secure your precious valuables in a designated hiding spot in your room.  The hiding spots should not be under a bed or behind a headboard as that is totally obvious.  But, there are some spots in a room where the cleaning staff will never look (let alone clean), but I will not reveal them, lest I compromise my safe spots.  One final, VERY important use for the tape is safely securing the liquid courage that you may bring back from those caribbean destinations.

Bubbles, bubbles everywhere

  • Bubble wrap, like tape, is a great tool to keep in your suitcase.  Not only is bubble wrap great for protecting your “love in a bottle”, but you can also use it to protect those delicate souvenirs that need a little extra tlc to make sure they journey back home safely.