The Optimistic Traveler
Travel Adventures after Cancer

Archive for January, 2013


Travel Style: Independent or Tour?

Posted in active adventure, active travel, adventure travel, travel  by shari on January 30th, 2013

Machu Picchu Arriving at Machu Picchu When planning a trip, consider what style fits you best. Some travelers, especially those who are planning international travel for the first time, find the prospect of travel without a group daunting, maybe even downright scary. But it doesn’t have to be. Group travel (tour groups of 25 to 50 people) suit some people. And some people would rather stay at home than join a group of that size. Consider: Do you need someone to make all of the arrangements for you?  Or would you prefer to customize your itinerary to what you what to see & do? Some random thoughts might pop into your head, like: How do I make the travel arrangements? How do I know what I’m getting? How do I make bookings? Will I get lost/scammed/robbed? I had these concerns, too, but we really didn’t want to be herded around as part of a large group. We wanted a more personalized trip. In this day & age of the internet, self-planned travel is often as safe & secure as a prearranged tour. With all the myriad travel websites and forums now available, you can research a good itinerary, find good hotels & restaurants, and find all the travel connections you need. You can find reviews of all these & recommendation by travelers who have been there. And you can get a heads-up on what to avoid. The websites will give you the general information, and the forums will give you more specific information from the travelers themselves. Some of my favorite travel websites and forums include: Trip Advisor, Lonely Planet, Virtual Tourist, Fodor’s, Frommer’s, Igougo. On another post, I will discuss researching airline fares & schedules online. I used these websites and travel forums to book a successful 2-week trip to Peru. We had exactly the itinerary we wanted, the hotels we wanted, and side trips as we pleased. This was our first trip to South America. Everything went off without a hitch, and we had a wonderful time. And no, I am not fluent in Spanish or Quechua!

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Pack Light: Travel Happy

Posted in boomer travel, travel, travel light  by shari on January 15th, 2013

After having my luggage lost 3 times in 3 years, I decided it was time to try traveling with carry-on luggage only. After all, I had come back from trips having worn 1/2 of what I took — maybe I could narrow it down to taking only the things I would actually need, and have no worries about lost luggage. Plus, lugging heavy suitcases around is no fun. And now, airlines are even adding extra fees for checked baggage. So, as an experiment, I packed for a 2-week trip to Spain, using carry-on only.  It worked great! Secrets: *Really, really think about what you need on the trip. Before you pack, spread everything out that you intend to pack  & consider if it is essential or not.  You don’t need a new outfit for every day. Remember — you’re traveling, not in competition for “best-dressed.” *Layer your clothing as temperature & weather conditions dictate. Even for cold temperatures like those found at 14,000 ft. on the Inca Trail in the Andes, you don’t need a heavy jacket — you just add layers. Then, when you are in warmer climates, shed some layers.  For example: CoolMax t-shirt, long-sleeve base layer, synthetic roll-sleeve campshirt, lightweight zip fleece, GoreTex or similar shell, synthetic hiking pants (lots of pockets). This will be enough for temperatures near freezing. *All clothing should be mix & match, easy care. I like synthetic fabrics often found in outdoors/adventure stores and online. CoolMax and similar wicking fabrics will keep you comfortable in all kinds of conditions, and are quick-dry if you wash them, and don’t really wrinkle. Ex Officio even makes quick-dry underwear you can wash at night in your hotel room & wear in the morning. Favorite brands include: LL Bean, Ex Officio, Columbia, North Face, Mountain Hardwear. Travel catalog/websites like Magellan’s & LL Bean Traveler have a lot of selections. Women can also look to stores like Chico’s and Coldwater Creek for travel-worthy clothing. *Pack one lightweight dressy option, only  if you know you will need it. Men can usually wear a nice sweater, lightweight fleece or campshirt, in all but the fanciest restaurants. Women can pack a lightweight top and “travel pants,” made of a great no-wrinkle fabric. *Wear your bulkiest items on the plane, like hiking shoes, jacket, etc. Less to carry this way. *Minimize the toiletries  & put all the liquids/gels (3 oz. or smaller)  in a quart-size Ziploc bag, kept in a handy place for the airport security check. Other toiletries can be kept in another bag in your suitcase. *For a travel tote, use a small daypack — which you will be happy to have when you are at your destination. Women, don’t bother with a purse. *Bring a small container of laundry detergent & a travel clothesline. Do a little bit of laundry (underwear, socks)  in your hotel sink each night. This way, you don’t need  to pack 14 pairs of underwear for a 14-day trip. *Choose flexible, lightweight luggage. I like Rick Steves 21″ roll-aboard,  with wheels,  so I don’t have to lug the suitcase if I have a ways to go to my hotel. Any other ideas for packing light?

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Optimistic Traveler: What’s in a Title?

Posted in adventure travel, boomer travel, travel  by shari on January 10th, 2013

Optimistic: It’s been said that optimists look at life from a “glass half full” point of view, whereas pessimists look at life as a “glass half empty.”  I am strongly in the “glass half full” category.  And, I notice how lovely the glass is.

I’ve alway approached life with a somewhat postive outlook. Then, nearly five years ago, I was diagnosed with a potentially aggressive cancer. As expected, my reactions were all negative, with feelings of fear, anger, despair, and doom.

Sometime during the course of my 18 months of rigorous treatment, I noticed a distinct change in my attitude towards life. I felt stronger than I ever had before. Without my conscious efforts, I turned to making the best of the life I have now.

Alex Linley, a prominent scholar in the field of Positive Psychology, identifies this as “growth through adversity.” I felt stronger, kinder, and paradoxically more in control of my life than I ever had before.

Traveler: I have loved to travel my entire life. I remember the excitement of getting into the car, seeing different sights along the highways, then stopping at a new place, with strange smells and exotic views.

I often joke that my brothers and I  grew up in the backseat of the car. Read the rest of this entry »