Solo Travel Helped Me Understand Why People Become Expats

Learn Why Solo Travel Leads to Becoming an Expat from MisticCafe.

Photo Credit: Road to Everest. Stuart Ward. Free Images.com

 

I have confession to make. Here it goes. I’m in love The UK and traveled there several times. However, I’ve always traveled with a friend or family member. In August 2007, as a graduation (graduated with a Master of Science, Management degree) and birthday gift, I solo traveled to Edinburgh, Scotland to experience the Edinburgh International Fringe Festival. Was I nervous? Yes, I was. And it surprised me. Why? Because it wasn’t my first trip to Scotland, but it was my first time traveling alone.

Rather than book a hotel room, I chose to stay in a hostel. I was supposed to stay in a 6 bed mixed dorm room. However, due to an influx of guests, I was bumped to an 8 bed mixed dorm room.

Before I left for my trip, some of my co-workers teased me about staying in a hostel because of a horror film about a group of people who were terrorized while staying in a hostel.

I also don’t think they believed me when I told them I would travel by myself. Their doubts gave me more courage to travel alone.

Getting to Edinburgh via Heathrow was a trip in and of itself. Why? Because I missed my flight to Edinburgh and had to get another ticket. The ticket agent at Heathrow wasn’t too thrilled he had to issue me another airline ticket. Oh well…

I was grateful to meet people who helped me navigate the ginormous airport.

Once I arrived in Edinburgh I was taken aback by the number of people who attend the Edinburgh International Fringe Festival. Furthermore, I was surprised at the number of expats living in Edinburgh. Some of the people who worked at the hostel were from the U.S., Canada, and other countries. [Read more…]

How Qualified Are TSA Agents?

Recently I traveled from Arizona to Ohio for New Year’s Eve. My visit was peaceful and quiet and a bit blustery at times. Going through airport security at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix, Arizona was a breeze because I left early in the morning and the airport was empty. The TSA Agents seem to be alert and knew what they were doing. Unfortunately, my experience at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport in Cleveland, OH was a different story. It made me ask the question, “how qualified are TSA agents?”

My return flight to Phoenix, AZ was scheduled and on time. I arrived very early at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport because of the weather. I checked my bag and headed towards security. It was business as usual at the airport.

I presented my ticket and ID to the agents sitting behind the podium before I went through security. They wished me a good flight, and I proceeded towards a TSA line. A gentleman was in front of me, and I had to wait until his bins were on the conveyor belt and through the scanning process. I took off my jackets, shoes, and ring — loaded them into bins and pushed them onto the conveyor belt. Another traveler was behind me. I walked through the scanner and waited for my items to come down the conveyor belt. This is where it gets interesting.

The TSA Agent left her post! I couldn’t believe it; she shutdown the conveyor belt and left without any warning. My purse and jackets came through, but my shoes were stuck somewhere on the conveyor belt. I was standing, shivering in my socks in disbelief. The guy behind me was not a happy camper.

The TSA Agent came back and asked me what I was waiting for. I looked at her and was going to say, “…my shoes,” but the guy behind me beat me to it. She looked at the screen and restarted the conveyor belt. Lo and behold the bin with my Skechers came down the conveyor belt. How did this woman get a job with the airport? What kind of airport security is this? If this is airport security then it’s a joke.

Travelers and citizens of the U.S. have every right to know what qualifications are necessary for people to be hired as TSA agents. I’m not sure a high school or GED is enough. Perhaps some college courses are necessary, especially in travel and criminal justice. It’s unheard of that an agent would walk away and shut down the screening process, especially when there’s a line forming. Hopefully she had a good explanation. Maybe Mother Nature was calling and she didn’t want to or could not ignore her! If that’s the case, what’s the protocol for leaving a post? I’m sure there’s an interesting explanation.

The next time you travel, observe the TSA Agents. Do they seem to know what they’re doing? Be aware of what’s happening around you at all times. Make sure you know how many bins you have coming down the conveyor belt. You never know when a TSA agent will unexpectedly depart from her post!

Rebecca

What has been your experience with TSA Agents? Share your experience.

Pomegranate Wine from Armenia is Almost Sinful

Armenia is known as the motherland of viticulture. “Winemaking history can be traced back to biblical times when Noah established his first vineyard in the Ararat Valley after the flood (Proshyan Wine Factory).”

The Pomegranate wine from Armenian winemakers Proshyan is a blend of both tartness and fruitiness. If you enjoy a semi-sweet red wine, you’ve found the perfect wine to adorn your table. Pomegranate wine is great complement if you’re serving lamb.

When you pull the cork out of the bottle the rich aroma is unleashed. Pour yourself a glass and breath deep the dark flavors of this wine. Your first taste may leave your head spinning. The peppery tartness mixed with the fruitiness of the Pomegranate will leave your senses wanting more.

Wine Tips and Tricks

  • Use a good corkscrew. When opening a bottle of wine, make sure you have a quality corkscrew opener. Otherwise, you’ll have difficulty trying to get the wine out;
  • Purchase a wine stopper. These can be found at any store from Old World Market to Wal Mart. Purchase a cork stopper if you don’t want to replace the cork;
  • You can never go wrong with wine etiquette. If you’re attending a party, bring a bottle of wine. Don’t bring a “chilled” bottle of wine because your host may have already picked a wine to go with dinner.

Pomegranate wine is both trendy and historic at the same time. It’s said that Pomegranate was used as aphrodisiacs in ancient times. It’s a sensual element that complements contemporary cuisine.

If you’re looking to spice things up in your life, purchase a bottle of Pomegranate wine. You can find this wine at Sprouts Farmers Market for $9.99. You’ll probably find it at Old World Market as well. Whether you’re having dinner for two or a dinner party, you’ll have a night that you won’t forget.

Bonus!

Red Wine Selections

  • Serve a Cabernet Sauvignon for big, filling entrees like casseroles, red meats, beef, and lamb.
  • Pair a Merlot with roast beef, barbeque chicken, tuna, or soups and stews. A fruitier taste will also go well with red meats.
  • If you’re serving pasta, pour a glass of Pinot Noir. This is a light red wine — a versatile wine. You can also serve Pinot Noir with ham, turkey, fontina cheese, grilled vegetables, and salmon.
  • To spice up your game meat or rack of lamb, serve Shiraz. This is a more peppery red wine. It’s lighter than a Cabernet but is strong enough to be paired with meat.

Rebecca

What are some of your favorite red wines?

What Happens to the Planet After We’re Gone?

The History Channel is airing a television program titled Life After People. What a great title! This is an interesting and intriguing program. Unfortunately, structures such as the Eiffel Tower, Sears Tower, The Golden Gate Bridge, and others will crumble. This is too bad.

Life After Man begs the question: whose fault is it that man will destroy himself and everything around him? Is it God’s fault? Where is God in all of this? After all, he’s the one that is responsible for creating man, isn’t he? Shouldn’t he have put a stop to all of the destruction that man has done? Then again, some people believe we all have “God like” qualities within us. So maybe it is just our fault. This may seem controversial, but it’s something to ponder.

It seems quite fitting that items such as styrafoam cups will outlast man. It’s ironic that this man made creation will be around longer than man. Even plastic will outwit, outlast, and outplay man! Talk about being a true survivor!

Life after man may be paradise. It’s sad to say but it’s true. Mother Nature, Father and Mother God, wildlife, some domestic animals, and wildlife may have a big party. After all, if species have evolved over time, who says they need man around to hold down the fort. As the program states, our closest relative the ape aka gorillas will take over planet Earth and it will literally be The Planet of the Apes!

What do you think about Life After People? Do you think is possible?

Travel can change your outlook on global transformation

Traveling can open your eyes to different cultures and customs. This is not a bad thing. Is it a good thing that we are striving to be one? Being unified is one thing, converting people to be “one in the same” is another.

Here’s a great video about global transformation. Watch and listen intently to the video. There are many messages within this video. It will make you think.

What did you think of this video? Do you agree or disagree with it’s message?

How You Can Travel with Your Pets

Many people travel each year and go home for the holidays. If you have pets, you have a decision to make: do you put Fido or Felix in a kennel or find someone to watch him?

The alternative is to travel with your pets. This can be tricky because some pets travel better than others. But, it may be worth it if you do not have anyone to watch your pet. and avoid costly kennels.

Air Travel

If you plan to travel by air, take your pet to the veterinarian. Some airlines will ask to see a certificate that verifies your pet is healthy. The airline may ask for proof of rabies and distemper vaccinations.

You may want to ask your veterinarian if your pet needs tranquilizers. Some veterinarians will suggest giving your pet Benadryl or nothing at all. If you choose to give your pet a tranquilizer, give them one a few days before you leave. This way you will be able to see how your pet reacts to the medicine.

Make sure you have an airline regulated pet carrier. The size of the carrier will vary from airline to airline. Find a PetSmart Store near you and purchase a carrier that is acceptable by the airlines.

You may want to feed your pet an hour before your flight. Make sure your pet goes to the bathroom before you leave. You do not want any accidents while you’re in the air!

Consider bringing some food and or small animal water feeder with you. Your pet may or may not be hungry or thirsty on your flight, but it’s best to be prepared. Many pets are too nervous to eat or drink and most will sleep for the duration of the flight.

Car or RV Travel

For those who travel via a car or RV, make sure your pet is in it’s carrier and buckled in just like you! After all, you do not want your pet to be “rolling around” as you drive, especially on a winding road.

Every 90 minutes or so, stop at a rest stop to feed your pet. It’s good for you and your pet to stretch your legs and go to the bathroom. If you’re traveling with a cat, make sure you have enough litter for your trip. Carry bags with you so you can put the litter or “doggie doo” in it. Remember to clean up after your pet.

If you plan to stay at a hotel or hotel and resort, make sure they accepts pets! You do not want to show up at your hotel and find out that Fido is not welcomed. Before you book your hotel, ask if they accept pets.

If you must travel with a pet, make sure they will be comfortable. Of course, the best option is to leave them at home. If you cannot do this, take every precaution to ensure that both of you will have a smooth and seamless travel experience.

Traveling with pets does not have to be difficult. It’s kind of like traveling with kids! You still need to bring food, water, treats, and their favorite toys. Happy traveling to you and your pets!

A Marriage of a Traveler and Animal Lover

If you like to travel and love your pet, ask yourself “will my pet be comfortable and happy on this trip?” Some animals, like humans, prefer to stay at home. A “homesick” and possibly motion-sick pet will ruin your trip. You may consider leaving your pet with a friend, relative, or hire a pet-sitter. If you have a dog, consider boarding him or her at a clean, reputable, well-run kennel. If you have a cat, consider boarding him or her at a clean, reputable, well-run cattery. Check your local listings and the internet to find a boarding place that is right for you and your pet. Before you commit to a kennel or cattery, ask for and check references. Your “best friend” will appreciate it and you will have peace of mind.

If you decide to travel with your pet, plan for your pet’s trip as your own. Are you traveling by plane, train, vehicle, RV, bus, or boat? Do you know if you pet will be a welcome vacationer? Are there specific reservations and transportation arrangements to be made? If you stay at a hotel, motel, or campground, check if animals are allowed or if kennels are available. If you will stay with family or friends, make sure you pet is welcomed. You could find yourself in the “dog house” if your pet is not a welcomed visitor!

Pet Travel Tips

Make sure you pet ALWAYS WEARS a collar with complete identification and a license tag. You may consider having your pet implanted with a microchip. To learn more about microchipping, visit Home Again – Always Looking Out For Your Pet.

Pack your pet’s favorite food, snack, and dishes, toys, a cooler of water, litter and litter box, and leash.

Make an appointment with your veterinarian before your trip. Before you book that flight, make sure your pet is well enough to be your travel companion. Have your pet examined and vaccinated, if necessary.

If your pet will travel in a crate or carrier, make sure it is strong, large enough for your pet to stand up and turn around, has a place for food and water, and a litter box. Look for a crate or carrier that is well ventilated, has a leak-proof bottom, and closes tightly. Find a crate or carrier that is right for your pet at Only Natural Pet Store or you can Shop at PetSmart.com.

If you are planning a trip abroad, check with the consulate or embassy of your destination by visiting them online or ask your travel agent for advice. Health and vaccination regulations vary greatly.

Traveling with your pet can be a rewarding experience. Do your research and contact your veterinarian with any questions you may have. That’s good advice; I’ll use it when I take my kitten to the veterinarian on Saturday.

Happy travels,
~ Rebecca

Don’t Relocate Without Reading This!

So, you’re thinking about relocating? Are you 100% sure this is the right thing for you to do? Before you decide to move 2,000 miles across the USA or the world, take time to contemplate your decision. For some people, moving is the only answer. They may be on a “soulful journey” that can only expand by leaving the familiarity of their environment. The changes they experience in their new location will bring them closer to discovering not only who they are but the desires they have for their life. On the other hand, some people may stay in their current location. Perhaps they take a break for a couple of days or weeks to figure things out. Good for you if you are ones of the those lucky few.

On a personal note, I fall into the former category. I moved over 2,000 miles from Ohio to Arizona not only to “heal myself” but to figure out what I desire for my life. Of course, hindsight is 20/20. My options could have been to 1) leave my belongings at my mom’s house, 2) put all of my stuff in storage, 3) give away or sell my stuff, and 4) rent a place for 3-9 months. I did give a lot of my stuff away before I left Ohio. I’m glad I did because it was the right thing for me to do, and I was able to use only one moving pod.

Many self-help books are written to assist you on your journey. Just go to Hay House Radio where you can purchase books by Deepak Chopra and Sonia Choquette. The bonus is that you can listen to the various programs or sign up for one of the special events. Visit Debbie Ford.com to “hire Debbie,” purchase one of her books, or attend a lecture. On a personal note, I read Debbie’s books; with the exception of “Spiritual Divorce.” I really liked “The Dark Side of the Light Chasers” and “The Dark Side of the Shadow.” These books helped me tremendously. I had many “epiphanies” during and after I read the books. FYI: Debbie has a MySpace page, check it out!

Head to Barnes and Noble and see what they have in their “self-help” section. Eckhart Tolle’s “A New Earth” is very popular (I read the book) right now. You may want to buy your copy today!

Whether or not you need to move from your current relocation in order to “expand or heal your soul” is a decision that you can only make. Exercise all of your options. Go away for either a few days or weeks. Take some time to meditate or walk in nature. Become very quiet and listen to that inner voice, your spirit, your guidance system to make the best decision for you. If moving you and all of your belongings is the answer, don’t question it; just do it. You’ll figure it out soon enough. Sometimes later is better than sooner!

The Secret of The Garden of Eden Revealed!

On Sunday, May 18, 2008, CBS’s 60 Minutes aired a re-broadcast of the December 16, 2007 story called “A Visit to The Garden Eden.” This “pristine paradise in Indonesia” has been untouched by man. The rain forest did not need more exposure to the world. It has existed beautifully without the presence of man!

CBS correspondent Bob Simon and Bruce Beehler, the lead scientist from “Conservation International,” took a 20-hour flight to Indonesia, boarded a single engine plane, and loaded into a helicopter for a 45-minute ride. Reporters and scientists do not need to add pollution to the rain forest via an airplane and helicopter! How is this helping to conserve the rain forest? According to the article, this is probably why it took Bruce Beehler “24 years of begging before the Indonesian government would let him set foot there.”

Conservation and preservation of rain forests is a fabulous idea. However, this particular rain forest has been doing fine on its own. For example, Bob and Bruce discovered “no sign of human activity, no footprints, no trails, and no Coke cans. There are no sounds except for the sounds of birds.” The exception is if you’re a native and you live in the surrounding area of this Indonesian “paradise.”

Thank goodness for organizations such as Cafe Britt. The organization “contributes 5% of the sale price of all hardwood products to rain forest conservation.” Café Britt’s operation meets or exceeds international environmental standards under the norms of ISO 14001: 2004. Programs and projects are in place to make effective use of natural resources, prevent pollution and minimize negative environmental side effects.” If you are a coffee or chocolate lover, visit Cafe Britt to purchase your Premium gourmet coffee fresh from Costa Rica. Buy online today!

Bruce Beehler was correct when he said “this is a place apart. And I think it’s good that we go away. And we take our memories but allow this place to be as it is and be a special place for centuries to come.” Amen to that!

To learn more about conservation, Indonesia, or rain forests visit Barnes and Noble and pickup some knowledge that could help preserve our Earth!

15 Secrets of Traveling Revealed

Do you have a favorite travel destination? When August, the “hottest” month appears, are you ready to book a flight to Edinburgh, Scotland for the International Fringe Festival? Whether you are a new or experienced traveler, here are some tips for you. Don’t leave home without them!

Travel Tips

  1. Do not be a tourist!
  2. Consider booking your flight online.
  3. Read hotel reviews!
  4. Stay at a bed and breakfast or hostel. Read reviews!
  5. Pack what you need not your entire closet!
  6. Bring a good pair of walking shoes.
  7. Make copies of your credit card, passport, and drivers license and carry them in a separate place. Leave a copy with someone back home.
  8. Leave a copy of your travel itinerary with someone at home.
  9. Travel during off-peak seasons.
  10. Check in early at the airport.
  11. When traveling to a foreign country bring some local currency with you.
  12. Bring a phone card in case of emergency. If you have a cell or mobile phone with international coverage that’s even better!
  13. Bring a voltage adapter when traveling to a foreign country.
  14. Travel with an open mind.
  15. Bring a guidebook, language translator, or foreign language book.
  16. Smile! Bonus!

Links to your next adventure

  1. Baja Fun. A great resource for Baja California Sur. Fun in the sun!
  2. Edinburgh Fringe Festival. This international festival is truly one of a kind! The popular Military Tattoo Festival usually sells out within the year. Get your tickets now!
  3. Budget Backpackers. More than just a youth hostel. You will find people of all ages from across the world at this hostel!
  4. Sunset Travel. Online travel agency that specializes in the “all-inclusive” vacation.
  5. Hostel World. Proud sponsors of UNICEF! Hostel World’s experienced staff is from all over the world. Book your hostel, budget accommodation center, or package tour today!
  6. Priceline.com – no one deals like we do!. Option #1 for booking your vacation!
  7. Travelocity, option #2. Top 10 Vacation Destinations! Go ahead and “Rome” with the Gnome!

    Top Travel Deals at Expedia.com. Option #3 for booking your vacation.

  8. Barnes and Noble. Find Lonely Planet guidebooks and much more!
  9. Buy.com. The place to purchase electronics such as a pocket translator, IPod, MP3, digital camera, or whatever “electronic gadget” for your next vacation.

Pack It!: Luggage at eBags.com in case you need a new set.

Jet settin’,
~ Rebecca