Through a Storybook of Places

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Another, and perhaps lighter, resolution that is popular for New Years is to Travel More.  What that means to you depends on what kind of travel you’ve already done and how often.  Some people might’ve seen the whole world but not been to any of the tourist attractions in their own town, some people may have spent their whole life in one town and want to see the rest of their state, some people might want to see the rest of the country, or some people may want to see all the wonders of the world.  Or, like me, you may want to see all of the above.  So, decide what your goal is for traveling this year. Do you have one international destination to cross off the list? Backpacking through Europe?  A trip to the mountains?  Never seen the ocean before? Want to make some day trips to learn your own state better?  Collecting post cards from your own town?  Checking out all of the National Parks within the country? Want to go practice that language you’ve been learning in a country where it’s spoken natively?

Once you’ve got an idea of what you want to do the big issue will be deciding a budget for it.  Maybe that’ll be your savings goal we talked about yesterday.  Unless you have a hospitable relative where you’re headed you’re going to be looking at having to finance hotels and restaurants in addition to travel and entertainment.  If a big trip is an important goal for you this year you may have to give up some things you’re used to having beyond the cutting expenses we already talked about.  Maybe it’ll mean spending Valentine’s Day or your birthday with a quiet night in instead of hitting the town.   Maybe you’re going to have to do your nails and hair at home instead of hitting the salon. Maybe you’ll be doing more at home movie nights and less going to the theater.  Maybe you can make a pact with all of your friends and family to put a cap on how much you’re spending on gifts for all birthdays and holidays this year or agree to homemade presents.  Or even just let friends and family know that travel is your big goal this year and see about maybe getting those birthday and other holiday presents in the form of things that can be useful in your travels. Maybe you start bringing sack lunches to work instead of buying something.  If you can cut $5 out of your daily spending, over the course of a year that adds up to a total of $1, 825.  Suddenly that daily burger and fries sounds way less appealing.

If you’ve really got your heart set on that vacation of a lifetime, you may seriously want to consider a second job.  You don’t need to do two full time jobs, 80 hours a week is a lot to hold down and still have any energy left to enjoy that vacation when you get to is, but a part time job can certainly help line your savings account and still give you a little free time to breathe in.

You can try crowdfunding your travel plans through FundAnything, GoFundMe, Indiegogog, Trevolta, or You Caring, but remember that it’s up to you to promote your campaign, get your word out, stand out from the crowd, and do it ethically.  Don’t claim it’s your dying spouse’s last wish to see the world.

Budget a percentage of your monthly income specifically for travel and have it automatically transferred into a savings account before you even have a chance to be tempted by it.  Look at using credit cards that earn you cash back or frequent flyer miles (and paying off your balance before it turns into interest.)  All that loose change you’re going to be saving in a jar can include loose singles or other bills too and they can all go toward your travel fund when you deposit them.

Save up your vacation days at work and don’t waste them on days you just don’t feel like going in.  If you have a hard time making yourself get out of bed remind yourself what you’re working towards and why it’s important to you and get yourself on up.  When it’s time to schedule those vacation days look at backing them up around days you normally have off anyway for weekends or holidays so you can get the most travel time possible to make the most of your trip.  If you ever go on business trips then consider taking off a couple days before or after your scheduled trip so you can enjoy seeing your travel destination instead of spending it all on work.  Even if you don’t normally do any business traveling, could you?  Many companies have conferences that their employees can attend, see if you might be able to attend yours if it’s in a place you’re interested in seeing.  The bonus in traveling for business is that they’re going to pay for at least part of your expenses for the trip.

Watch for deals.  You can sign up for email alerts notifying you of sales through specific airlines, or if you know specifically when and where you want to travel then both Google Flights and Hopper will notify you when fares have dropped.  There are also European-based budget airlines like Norwegian and WOW Air that consistently offer cheaper rates,  According to travelandleisure.com, Norwegian Air will be offering some $69 flights from the U.S. to Europe this year.

There are different options available as far as lodging goes.  I’m a hotel kind of girl myself, but one of our members has been gifted stays at time shares by relatives for his European trips, and while I personally don’t enjoy it I know some people who prefer to rent out someone else’s home for a trip.  Inside the country there are sites like HomeAway where you can look for a place to rent at your destination.  Internationally you may look at sites like HomeExchange where you and your international counterparts can actually swap stays at each others homes.  Of course both domestic and abroad there’s also always the option for Airbnb.  If you do have friends or family you can stay with at your travel destination, that’s awesome, but don’t stay in their house more than 3 nights.  Even the best relationships hit a strain level where people just want their space back, and you’re likely not going to be as free to explore as you’d like to be unless you’re okay with your host feeling left out and used as a result.  If you’re like me and like the convenience of a hotel then the good news for us is that many hotels give discounts when you stay more than 3 nights.  There are also memberships you can join at most hotel chains or booking sites that will allow you to accumulate points to get discounts and perks.  If you want a little luxury in your hotel stay then take a look at flash sale sites like Jetsetter.

For entertainment, look at free walking tours, free landmark tours, local events like street fairs, and parks and public places.  Look for the hole in the wall hidden gem of local culture that won’t be as expensive as the big tourist attractions, and see about providing your own food as often as possible instead of eating at a lot of restaurants.

If you’re set on the Great American Road Trip as your vacation then it might be worth seeing if you can take a temporary leave of absence from your job, rather than having to line up enough vacation days to cover all of the driving.  Make a list of all of the attractions that are must sees for you, take note of their pricing, note how long drive time is between them all, and consider whether it might be worth packing a tent instead of paying for hotels or renting an RV, which will cost more in gas but save you on lodging and on time for bathroom breaks.  Plan some drive time entertainment and try to change it up frequently or you’re likely to find yourself with a National Lampoon style vacation, and probably no matter what you do, if you have kids, expect that there’s going to be fighting with everyone cramped into the car together that long.  So, maybe consider lots of smaller road trips than one big one.  It all depends on what you need to have the time off to accomplish them.

If you haven’t seen as much of your town or your state as you’d like to, then you have the easiest job of all for making the “travel more” resolution become reality.  Take some day trips to see all the amazing things around you. You can even do them on weekends so you already have the time off, pack some food so you’ve cut another expense, and if you’re not staying over night you just need to worry about gas, souvenirs, and any entry fees to where you may be going.  Go hiking. Go camping. Google “Weird Tourist Attractions” for your state.  I’ve got a whole list of odd things in Colorado that I want to go see.  There’s a town here that has an annual festival in honor of a chicken that lived long after having its head removed.  To that I say “WTF Colorado?” but I still want to go see what this festival is all about anyway.

As for today’s small list of tasks:

It’s time to give your arms some love.  Do some exfoliating with a loofah in the shower or bath.  Check out the state of your arm hair.  Are you starting to look like Robin Williams?  If so it may be time to consider giving yourself a good wax, or my preferred hair removal choice, a Veet treatment.  Then choose a good lotion and get some moisture locked in while your pores are still open.  I get the worst dry skin in the winter and my arms show it in a big way if I don’t take good care of them.  How about stretch marks?  Did you get any from a fast weight gain or quick muscle building that your skin wasn’t prepared for? There are some great products on the market for stretch mark removal.

Clean your Dining Room.  You may have done this last week, depending on how many dining areas you have, but that’s okay, if you already did it, do it again.  A week is plenty of time to get re-dirtied and it’ll just be faster and easier to stay on top of.  Start at the top and work your way down.  Dust any light fixtures, wall art, shelves, and curios.  Wipe any dirt or finger smudges off the light switchplate.  Put away any clutter that’s accumulated.  If you have a fruit bowl or vase of flowers on the table take a look and get rid of anything past its usable stage.  Organize any paperwork if your dining table is your catch-all.  Polish your table and chairs.  If you have seat cushions vacuum off any crumbs or cathair.  If you have carpeting then vacuum, if you’ve got wood or laminate then sweep and mop.  That’s it!  The dining room can be a fast clean if you don’t let things accumulate on the dining table.

Do some Body Weight exercises for your Upper Body.  Do a 1 minute plank (I was informed the minute was hard to achieve last time I said it, so I’m not increasing it, but still try, even if you don’t make it the full minute, try to go longer than last time.)  Do 1 minute (on each side) side planks. Do 5 (one on each side counts as one) reverse planks with leg lifts.  Do 5 push-ups.  Do 5 diamond push-ups.

Listen to a guided meditation or subliminal audio-track for inner peace.

A word about music:  We include songs for a reason.  Music helps us deal with the world, helps to soothe the soul, and gives us something else we can focus on when everything is too much.  Listen to the songs we post. Even if you already know them. Listen to them like you don’t. Pay attention to the lyrics. Pay attention to what the instruments are telling you. They all have a message, they all have a purpose, they’re all chosen for a reason.  If you like the song, please support the artist by purchasing the MP3 or Album that features it.
Today’s music can be found on Amazon.com:
Album: The Chipmunk Adventure Soundtrack

I found no MP3 for this one.  This is a childhood favorite of the 80’s, but don’t forget that CDs can be ripped to iTunes or your MP3 player of choice, so if you’re a Chipmunks fan or feel nostalgia like I do buying the album is a great option to get all its awesome songs at once and then you can convert them in seconds 🙂

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9 Replies to “Through a Storybook of Places”

  1. Great picture. Made me want to see what was down that road. 🙂 I think I will stick to exploring Texas for a while. I have a cold or some sore throat malady that was not on my to do list and had to gargle salt water in the middle of the night just to be able to get back to sleep, so I am low energy today. But when I feel better I want to plan some trips. I love seeing Mother Nature’s surprises! Thanks for another great blog.

    1. I can take no credit for the picture other than having had the good sense to save it whenever I stumbled upon it somewhere. Sorry you’re feeling sick 🙁 I hope it passes quickly. Drink lots of water 🙂 and tea too.

      1. Thank you! Actually just ate some chicken noodle soup and now some frozen yogurt. No time to be sick!!! Yes, good sense to snag it.

  2. Yes, another great blog !!! Makes me want to travel some but locally. I tend to forget PA is rich with culture. As for upper body exercises I will have to improvise again. Shoulder is black and blue from the shot that Did Not work… so arm is useless for the next 6 months. I will do lower body standing work that went move the shoulder. I would definitely go for a walk down that path !!!

    1. Yikes. Shots that do not work are the worst. I can relate, though mine is my head. Lower body is important too and counts as much 🙂 most people totally hate leg day, so doing it voluntarily is awesome!!! I might still do some side planks with the good shoulder… but that’s just me 🙂 I like the stretch.

  3. I keep getting duplicate comment ???

    Yes, another great blog !!! Makes me want to travel some but locally. I tend to forget PA is rich with culture. As for upper body exercises I will have to improvise again. Shoulder is black and blue from the shot that Did Not work… so arm is useless for the next 6 months. I will do lower body standing work that went move the shoulder. I would definitely go for a walk down that path !!!

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